Bright Authors, Smart Readers, Good Books.

Poppies are a National Book Award Finalist, New York Times Bestsellers, USA Today Bestsellers, a Book of the Month Club Main Selection, a Globe & Mail Top 100, Indie Book award winners, Target and Costco Book Picks, and more.

#PreFridayReads: Becoming Bonnie

Tall Poppy Heather Webb suggests Becoming Bonnie for your next #Friday Reads!

In Becoming Bonnie, we get to see the transformation from hard-working, church-going teen to gun-slinging legend—one half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo. Bonnelyn Parker loves her family and knows exactly what she has to do to keep the electricity on, and the pantry full. If only she hadn’t lost her job at the diner. She quickly relies on her best friend Blanche to help her find work. Yet when Blanche tells her to change into a revealing shirt and red lipstick, and follow her to a dark jazz club, Bonnie’s nerves thrum with anxiety. What in God’s name could they be doing there? Certainly nothing she’s comfortable with.

Though working in a juice joint—speakeasy—isn’t what Bonnie wanted, nor expected, she rapidly adjusts, putting her keen mind and survival skills to good use. Soon, she finds herself pulled into a life of illegal booze runs, pistols, and clubs run by notorious men. Suddenly she realizes she’s not the simple and sweet southern girl she was raised to be.\

What I like most about this book is its fresh approach. Nearly every roaring twenties novel I’ve read or seen advertised takes place in New York City, Chicago, or occasionally, a European capital. Dirt-poor, small town Texas (and Dallas) is a refreshing change and utterly fascinating. Debut author Jenni Walsh deftly pulls the reader into Bonnie’s world, and then deeper into her mind, so we see exactly how and when she made her choices—and her bed. I have to admit, I rooted for Bonnie to connect with Clyde all along, because who can resist a handsome, dangerous man who also happens to be your soul mate? Even if it means you’ll never be that good girl again.

Booze-soaked, southern-fried, and fully immersive, BECOMING BONNIE is a rocking good read. It releases May 9th from Tor.

Official Description:

The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family’s poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her, and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas’s newest speakeasy, Doc’s.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school, and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, he embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—she tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. But her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.

Bonnie Parker is about to meet Clyde Barrow.

About Heather Webb:

Heather Webb is the author of historical novels BECOMING JOSEPHINE and RODIN’S LOVER, which have sold in six countries and have been featured in the New York TimesWall Street JournalCosmopolitanElleFrance Magazine, and moreas well as received national starred reviews. RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Pick of the month in 2015. Up and coming, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS, an epistolary love story set during WWI will release October 3, 2017 from HarperCollins. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend.

Meet debut author Jessica Strawser & ALMOST MISSED YOU

Let’s give a warm Tall Poppy Writers welcome to debut author Jessica Strawser and help her celebrate the launch of ALMOST MISSED YOU.

Here’s a bit about the book:
Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Jessica Strawser’s Almost Missed You is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

read more…

#PreFridayReads Recommendation: MARLENE by C.W. Gortner

By, Sally Koslow

In the course of writing a biographical novel*—the tumultuous love story between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sheilah Graham, a Hollywood gossip columnist with her own juicy past—I read extensively about Tinseltown and gobbled up other biographical novels. One that I found especially interesting brought to life Marlene Dietrich, someone whom I thought I knew, but clearly didn’t.

Marlene begins with the subject’s schoolgirl years in Weimar, Germany. Surrounded by a dragon lady mother and insipid older sister, young Marlene is put-upon yet spunky. But hold on to your hat. It doesn’t take long for her to move to the Berlin of the Weimar Republic, the seedy scene of Cabaret. She takes an older, married man as a lover–her violin teacher–and not long after that, a female lover and throughout her life, remains openly bisexual. Marlene marries, and in her own way, stays loyal to her husband, with whom she bears a daughter, but this does not preclude dozens of affairs, some with names you’ll recognize. (No spoilers here!) As her career builds, she eventually moves to Los Angeles, where she becomes the legend we know as both singer and actress. The best parts of the book, however, center on Germany. The author, C.W. Gortner, vividly captures the decadence and despair following post-WW1, and offers insights into the experience of citizens who were disgusted by Hitler, yet went along to get along.  I have read many books about World War II, the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, but this one offered a new perspective. I not only liked Marlene, I learned from it.



Sally KoslowSometime you need to reinvent yourself. My first career was in the world of magazines. I worked on several titles you may have read, including McCall’s, where I was the editor in chief. I also headed up some other magazines, and started one called Lifetime, associated with the cable TV channel. But reading habits have changed, as have magazines—if they’re still alive–and many editors who busted their chops on editorial staffs have looked for new work. For me that’s meant stepping out of my suit an stilettoes into jeans and flip-flops to teach creative writing, report articles, pick my brain in essays and the best part: write four novels and one work of non-fiction in the last decade, with a new one novel, *Another Side of Paradise, coming next year. I welcome you to my website:

My Mother Kept Our TV In The Closet Like A Wretched Family Secret

By Cathy Lamb

My childhood was a little bit quirky.

One of the quirky things about it was my sweet mother’s utter distaste for TV.

Bette Jean kept our black and white TV in the closet. Yes, in the closet. As if the TV was a wretched family secret that had to be locked away.

Our TV was as heavy as a crate of steel and as wide as a Mack truck. It was a looming black and gray blob. The unwieldy antennae looked like it came off a space ship. It had to be adjusted, stabilized, propped up. The picture was none too clear, often fuzzy.

The Blob had a handle on top and had to be heaved out of the closet and up onto a bench in the family room so we could watch it. You could darn near throw your back out hauling that TV in and out, but our inevitable broken backs and whining did not prevent my mother from insisting that we haul it right back into the closet the minute our show was over.

Bette Jean thought the TV was unsightly and she thought that the vast majority of TV shows were unsightly, too, and should not be watched. It rightly followed that she should not spend any hard earned money on a new TV and that TV should be somewhat difficult to view.

Now no one else’s mother thought this. Everyone else in the neighborhood had a color TV. Everyone else in the country probably had a colored TV. But not us. Oh, no. Many years after color TVs came out, we watched the ole’ black and white.

That TV was pretty embarrassing for a kid who really wanted to fit in but knew from a very early age she wasn’t quite going to.

Friends would say, “Where’s your TV, Cathy?” And I would, with great shame, open the door to the dark closet, as if I was letting out a roaring monster. Or the wretched family secret.

The only thing I could compare not having a colored TV to, at that time, is not having a refrigerator.  In place of a refrigerator, you would have stacks of ice in your kitchen. Or, perhaps instead of an oven, you would have a cave in the kitchen that held hot rocks.

So what were we allowed to watch? Very few shows. One was The Waltons. For those of you too young to know, this was a show set on a farm in Virginia. It was about seven kids and their parents during the Great Depression. They prayed at dinner. We could also watch the Brady Bunch now and then. Bewitched.

Only good, clean, wholesome family shows.

We were also allowed to watch Saturday morning cartoons. I don’t think my mother liked us watching cartoons, (also unsightly) but she had four kids, she was wiped out, and the cartoons allowed her to sleep in a couple of hours one day a week.

Bette Jean could not sleep in on Sunday, God forbid, because she and my father had to cattle prod four kids out to Catholic mass, hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee, do not let your children watch TV.

So why the aversion to television shows? That’s a pretty simple answer. My mother was an English teacher.  She believed in books. Books were far superior to any show.

She also believed that children should play outside. So we headed out the door to play hide and seek and kick the can and had all sorts of fun, and when we headed back in we often dove into the world of books.

I think of her and that hulking TV in the closet sometimes when I’m watching a show. My favorites? Property Brothers. Fixer Upper. Madam Secretary. A couple of reality shows I’m really too embarrassed to admit that I watch. My TV is up in a cabinet. The screen has to be three times the size of The Blob.

I like my shows, but Bette Jean had it right.

There is a rare show that is better than a great book.

Playing outside is really fun.

I hope to do more reading and more playing outside this spring, and less TV.

I’m going to wish you the same. And let me know if you put your TV in the closet. Bette Jean would really like that.


*** This is a photo of my parents’ first house in Huntington Beach, California, about 1965. It’s where the anti – TV saga began before we moved to Oregon and The Blob found a new home in the closet.

Cathy Lamb lives in Oregon and writes women’s fiction for Kensington Publishing. She has been married to Innocent Husband for twenty four years. She calls him Innocent Husband because he is not to be blamed for any of the crazy stuff she says or writes. They have three children: Darling Laughing Son, Adventurous Singing Daughter, and Rebel Dancing Daughter.  Sometimes they are naughty. Their cat pretends to be deaf. They know she isn’t.  She is working on the ninth mind-numbing edit of her eleventh novel.  She wants to bang her head into the wall.
She loves visiting with book clubs.

A Poppy Book Recommendation: MY (NOT SO) PERFECT LIFE

Our very own Anita Hughes is on the TPW Blog today with a recommendation for your #PreFridayReads!

Who doesn’t love Sophie Kinsella’s books? Her Shopaholic series are some of the most hilarious, sweetest, books I have read, and her stand alone novels are always a joy. Her latest novel, MY (NOT SO) PERFECT LIFE falls into the latter category and it’s a treat from start to finish.
MY (NOT SO) PERFECT LIFE is about Katie (Cat) Brenner who works for a high powered marketing firm in London and secretly longs for her boss, Demeter’s perfect life. Like in most Sophie Kinsella novels, nothing goes as planned and Cat suffers through many highs and lows until the satisfying conclusion.
I won’t give anything away (I always love to be surprised when I’m reading) but I will say that Cat is one of Sophie Kinsella’s most endearing characters. She is spunky and smart and we can’t help but root for her. I always reach for Sophie Kinsella’s books when I need a quick escape from daily life and I’m so glad she has a new one out. It’s a perfect book to get rid of the mid-winter blues and I encourage everyone to read it!
Official Description:

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

About Anita:
ANITA HUGHES is the author of Monarch BeachMarket StreetLake ComoFrench Coast, Rome in LoveIsland in the SeaSantorini Sunsets, and Christmas in Paris. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.

#PreFridayReads Book Rec: Siracusa

Today’s #PreFridayReads is brought to you by the amazing Sonja Yoerg. She tells us all why Siracusa by Delia Ephron should snag a spot on our TBR piles!

Don’t you love it when you happen to read the perfect book for a particular occasion? The stars must align and that kind of magic doesn’t happen often, at least not to me. A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were flying back from New Zealand (thirteen hours of flying followed by six more) and I started reading Siracusa by Delia Ephron. It had been languishing on my Kindle for some time. I didn’t remember buying it and if I ever knew what it was about, I’d forgotten. Hey, it happens to you, too, right?

The essentials: Two couples are vacationing in Siracusa, Italy. Lizzie and Michael are writers, although Lizzie is underwhelmed by her work as a journalist–underwhelmed by life, really—and anxious about her marriage. The other couple, Taylor and Finn, aren’t doing much better, in part because Taylor is fixated on their daughter, Snow, a bizarrely adult ten-year-old who comes along to jolly things up. Also, Lizzie and Finn used to be an item. That’s awkward.

The story is told by these complicated, troubled adults in alternating points of view. Ephron knows what she is doing with this shifting focus, divulging tidbits here, occluding the truth there. It makes for compulsive reading; I almost forgot to order wine when the drinks cart came by! This book is a little bit of everything: touching, creepy, sexy, sad and, at times, hilarious. And it is dark. (Not The Dinner Party dark. Not take a shower afterward dark.) Did I love these folks? No. But it felt very real to me. And the shenanigans certainly did pass the time.

One more thing. Ephron can write the heck out of a page.

So, my friends, when the flaps are up, what sort of book do you want to curl up with in the window seat?

Official Description:

An electrifying novel about marriage and deceit from bestselling author Delia Ephron that follows two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from one another are exposed and relationships are unraveled. 

New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn; his wife, Taylor; and their daughter, Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage.

With her inimitable psychological astute­ness and uncanny understanding of the human heart, Ephron delivers a powerful meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none will see coming.

Headshot of Author Sonja Yoerg

Sonja Yoerg grew up in Stowe, Vermont, where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and published a nonfiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox (Bloomsbury USA, 2001). Penguin/Berkley publishes Sonja’s novels: HOUSE BROKEN (Jan 2015), MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE (Sep 2015) and ALL THE BEST PEOPLE (May 2017). She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Crossing the Genre Chasm

I don’t think it’s a surprise that most of us writers are fairly voracious readers. Though I think many of us long to be able to read in the same carefree fashion that we did before we started dissecting books like so many biology class frogs in order to learn the anatomy of a story. Gone are the easy days when we could curl up with a book and just let the magic of story take us away from the drudgery of everyday life.

For us, reading is just an extension of our own writing.

Back before I began writing seriously, I spent lazy high school summers in my parents rickety above-ground swimming pool (hey, in 100+ degree Northern CA weather, no one was judging) floating on a rubber inner tube and devouring Nora Roberts and Julie Garwood novels by the truckload. All I needed for a good summer was enough credits at the used book store and a large enough bottle of SPF 50. Sweet books. Feminine ones. Romantic. Preferably set in far-off locales that I dreamed of visiting. We rarely traveled other than up to the Sierras to go camping (an 8 hour road trip to Disneyland was the highlight of my youth) so places like France, Ireland, and Greece seemed about as attainable as the moon.

In my college years, I had precious little time for pleasure reading, but I did get to see some of those far-flung destinations for myself (still hoping to get to Greece someday). My tastes became more polished, and I generally wanted more substance to my pleasure reads–though a Roberts or a Garwood could still find its way onto the nightstand pile–it just had more diverse company. And then as I began on the quest to become an author myself, I found that my favorite genres–the ones in which I write–are no longer my escape. They’re another day at the office.

So to mitigate this, when I read for pleasure now, I have to expand my horizons away from historical fiction and women’s fiction and redirect myself to well crafted mysteries, sci-fi, suspense, and fantasy in order to recapture a measure of that sense of wonder I used to have when reading for fun. I still analyze them for story structure, pacing, and dialogue. I don’t any author can help themselves. And it’s no to say I can’t pick up a lovely women’s fiction title and not get swept away–it’s just much harder than it used to be.

And these are all good things.

By expanding my horizons as a reader, I’m enriching myself as a writer and a thinker. As a person. Each genre has its own grace and beauty, and by breaking out of my reading ‘comfort zone’ I’ve exposed myself to different worlds. If you look at four different reader conventions, one each for romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and historical readers, you would find a widely different demographics at each of them. Some might cross over, but it’s a pretty diverse group of people. By reading the books that speak to them, I, in turn, learn how to speak to them. How to speak to them through my prose, and how to relate to them as a person.

And that, dear readers, is a precious gift.


Aimie K. Runyan is an author of historical fiction that celebrates history’s unsung heroines. Her first two novels , PROMISED TO THE CROWN and DUTY TO THE CROWN (Kensington), explore the lives of the early female settlers in Louis XIVs Quebec. Her forthcoming novel. DAUGHTERS OF THE NIGHT SKY (Lake Union) follows the lives of the Night Witches, the fierce all-female regiment of combat pilots who flew for Russia in the Second World War.  Aimie lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and two children. Find out more about Aimie at

#FridayReads Book Recommendation

Just in time for the weekend, our very own Sandra Block has a book recommendation for your #FridayReads pleasure!!!

You Will Know Me, Megan Abbot.

Suspense lovers: don’t miss the one! Meg Abbot has a knack for creating an eerie atmosphere out of everyday suburbia. Who would imagine murderous impulses in a girl’s gymnastics studio? Why, Meg Abbot of course. The story revolves around a girl with the world of her family’s expectations on her gym-muscled shoulders. She is a gymnastics phenom, clawing her way to the Olympics.

But this satin-shiny, seemingly glamorous world is not always easy. The desire to win is all-encompassing. There is the over-involved father, the forgotten sibling, the second -mortgaged house, the jealous team-mates and the non-so-innocent crushes. When tragedy strikes, who is to blame, and who must be protected at all costs? The young woman in the center of this universe remains unknowable, perhaps as all teenagers ultimately are to their parents. Add Abbot’s killer descriptions and vibrant writing, and you have a winner!

Official description:

How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits–until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.

As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers–about her daughter’s fears, her own marriage, and herself–forces Katie to consider whether there’s any price she isn’t willing to pay to achieve Devon’s dream.

From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl” (Janet Maslin), You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of parental sacrifice, furtive desire, and the staggering force of ambition.

You can learn more about Megan at

Sandra A. Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan, and lives at home with her husband, two children, and impetuous yellow lab Delilah. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. “The Girl Without a Name” is her second Zoe Goldman novel. Her debut was “Little Black Lies.”


Happy Book Birthday to Jacqueline Sheehan & The Tiger in the House!

Today we’re celebrating the release of Jacqueline Sheehan’s The Tiger in the House! Heather Gudenkauf, author of The Weight of Silence, says it is “teeming with excitement and heart-stirring emotion.” Here’s how Jacqueline describes her book:

Delia Lamont has had it. Though she loves her job at Portland, Maine’s child services agency, its frustrations have left her feeling burned out and restless. She’s ready to join her carefree sister Juniper and start a seaside bakery, celebrating and serving life’s sweetness for a change. Then the call comes: a five-year-old girl has been found at the side of the road, streaked with someone else’s blood.

As she seeks to discover where the child belongs, Delia is forced to reexamine her own painful history. With no guide but her own flawed instincts, Delia must decide how deep to venture into the unknown, whether in shaping the destiny of the child who has no one else to turn to—or in exploring the fierce dark corners of her own soul.

There is a dark underbelly to this story. The opioid crisis is storming through rural New England (and every part of America). I researched the evolution of this crisis for two years while writing this book. My essay in Psychology Today gives a summary of what I found and how it influenced The Tiger in the House.

Now Jacqueline answers some fun Poppy questions to help you get to know her!

Where would you love to be?

I truly love being home because Western Massachusetts is the mother lode for writers. But the other place where I feel at home is Ireland. The first time I visited Ireland twenty years ago, I felt my entire body relax in a profound way. Not only did I look like I belonged, but I felt like I belonged. Everything about Ireland, the wind, the rain, the easy conversation between strangers, the warm fire in a pub, and the nearly religious appreciation of literature all made my heart sing. I’ve returned many times, but one memorable time was a research trip. In the book, Now & Then, a present day woman and her nephew are pulled back in time to the year before the start of Great Famine in Ireland. I made a map of where my characters traveled and then my sister and I followed my characters all over Ireland.

If you were a drink, what would you be and why?

No question about it, I would be a hibiscus Marguerita. My friend from Canada, Jane Mortifee, developed this drink a few years ago while we were on a writing retreat in Guatemala. Here is the recipe: Toss a handful of hibiscus petals (I get them at the local food coop) into a teapot. Let steep, add a Tablespoon of honey and cool. Pour a shot of really good Tequila into a glass, plus half a shot of Triple Sec, and the juice of one lime. Add half a cup of the hibiscus liquid, and ice. And there you have a gorgeous drink. This is definitely my avatar drink, my alter ego.

Do you have advice for aspiring writers?

First and foremost, read broadly. Read at least one good quality newspaper every day, read fiction, non-fiction, science bits, read it all. Follow a lead in the news that fascinates you. Don’t depend solely on Google to give you answers. Make friends with your local librarian; they can research the daylights out of anything. They are the true super heroes.

What are the hardest and easiest things about your job?

I am now self-employed as a full time writer. The hardest part is that I am a hard-driving boss. For example, I started working this morning at 9 and I’m still working now at 7 PM. I am going to ask for a raise, shorter worker hours, and an annual bonus! But the best part of my job is that my life is something that I’m designing. I’m working ten hours today, but tomorrow I’ll work for two hours. I also get to decide what to wear, how much of my time to donate to causes that are important to me, and if I want to take a walk at 2 in the afternoon, I just do it. Or if I want to juggle baking a loaf of bread in between writing a scene in my book, I can easily do so. My income flow is unpredictable but I have learned to flow with it.

Share one quirk that most people don’t know about.

While this doesn’t seem like a quirk to me, I know it does to many others. I write down my dreams every morning and I often use parts of my dreams in my books. If I am stuck with the direction of the plot, I will incubate a dream about the plot. I do this by writing down a very specific question before I go to sleep, such “What is missing in X’s character? What is he hiding?” And I will write down whatever dream I have that night, no matter how unrelated it seems. I have learned to count on the unconscious mind and I am grateful when my more mundane mind can be still so that the more creative unconscious can be hear.

Jacqueline Sheehan, Ph.D., is a New York Times Bestselling author. She is also a psychologist. A New Englander through and through, she spent twenty years living far from home in Oregon, California, and New Mexico doing a variety of things, including house painting, photography, freelance journalism, clerking in a health food store, and directing a traveling troupe of high school puppeteers.

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A Poppy Book Recommendation: The Turner House

It’s #PreFridayReads when a Tall Poppy author recommends a book she loved. So if you’re looking for a great recommendation for your #FridayReads or another book to meet your 2017 Poppy Reading Challenge, read on.

We’ll help you turn the page …

Katie Rose Guest Pryal recommends THE TURNER HOUSE by Angela Flournoy

I first heard about THE TURNER HOUSE when it was nominated for The National Book Award (for which it was a finalist). Once I learned more about the book, I bought it immediately: Here was a novel about a large family, their family home, and the reconciling of childhood memories, and a ghost (outstanding!)—all set against the backdrop of post-financial-crisis Detroit.

The amount of love that Flournoy shows her flawed characters—the 13 siblings of the Turner family, their spouses and children and friends, and the ailing matriarch, Viola—is palpable. These are not perfect people, but they are perfectly gorgeous in their rendering and in their loyalty and care for one another.

The Turners are the most American of American families, struggling in the most American of ways, with hard choices about money, addiction, parenting, and marriage. You will fall in love with every Turner, just like I did.

Here’s the official description of the book:

A powerful, timely debut, The Turner House marks a major new contribution to the story of the American family.

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family’s future.

Praised by Ayana Mathis as “utterly moving” and “un-putdownable,” The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

And don’t forget the ghost!

You can learn more about THE TURNER HOUSE and Angela Flournoy on her website:

Katie is a novelist, freelance journalist, and erstwhile law professor in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of the Hollywood Lights Series, which includes ENTANGLEMENT, LOVE AND ENTROPY, and CHASING CHAOS, all from Velvet Morning Press. As a journalist, Katie contributes to QUARTZ, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THE (late, lamented) TOAST, DAME MAGAZINE and other national venues. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship. A professor of writing for more than a decade, she has also published many books on writing.

Click here for more info on Katie.

Celebrate the release of Unstrung by Laura Spinella

We’re thrilled that Laura Spinella joined us over on Bloom to talk with us and our readers about her newest release, Unstrung. If you haven’t joined Bloom yet, you are missing out on some great stories, insider perks, and exclusive giveaways! (Hint, hint.) Unstrung is out today and we’re helping Laura celebrate!

This book, called a “wrenching tale of love and loss” in a coveted starred review by Publishers Weekly, is a “true page turner.” Here’s what it’s about…

Even as a violin prodigy, Olivia Klein courted trouble. But when her marriage to high-stakes investor Rob Van Doren takes another wrong turn, Olivia acts out once too often. A night of bad behavior results in community service hours. Time is to be served with Theo McAdams, an inner-city teacher whose passion for music eclipses Olivia’s. As she inches toward a better place, life surprises Olivia in the form of her first husband—baseball legend Sam Nash.

Years ago, Olivia fell in love with Sam. Their impulsive marriage imploded with a fateful car crash and harsh parting words. Olivia never expected to see him again. But now Sam is back, and he wants her forgiveness. He also wants to recapture their volatile love affair. Olivia is torn between rekindling romance and saving her marriage. To her surprise, it’s the presence of the young music teacher—and the lessons from a reckless past—that may bring harmony to Olivia’s off-key life.

Be sure to check out the book trailer for Unstrung and head over to Bloom to keep the celebration going!

Laura Spinella is an East Coast author, originally from Long Island, New York. The bestselling author pursued her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia. Her next novel, Unstrung, releases February 2017. Learn more about Laura at

A Poppy Book Recommendation: You’ll Grow Out Of It

It’s #PreFridayReads when a Tall Poppy author recommends a book she loved. So if you’re looking for a great recommendation for your #FridayReads or another book to meet your 2017 Poppy Reading Challenge, read on.

We’ll help you turn the page …

Kelly Simmons recommends You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein.

There are books you can’t put down.  That make you leave the laundry in the washer till it goes moldy.

And other times, you just need a taste of something.  A chapter or two to keep you company.

Like, when you wake up in the middle of the night and hear imaginary burglars breaking imaginary windows.   Or you have a nightmare that democracy is coming to an end.

Maybe that’s just me.

Of course there are other small pockets of time that cry out for companionship. Like when you’re eating lunch alone at a restaurant where everyone is dressed up but you.  Or when you’re waiting in your cubicle for a call from your gynecologist that might make you cry.

Maybe that’s just me.

But when I need a book for company, for distraction, for calm —  there is a whole category that I love.  Let’s call it “quirky girl memoir.”  In the middle of the night, or in the middle of biting my nails,  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the famous quirky girl memoirs – Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling.   But I’ve also truly enjoyed the not-so-famous.

Like YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT, by Jessi Klein, a writer and comedienne.  First off, she muses about what happens to a tomboy who grows up.  Is she a tom-man?  And why is a tomboy so darned cute and a tom-man a freak of nature?

Tom-man.  Maybe that’s just me.

But I found Jessi Klein to be excellent company for the middle of the night, or the middle of a #fridayreads, or the middle of a weekend.

Because let’s face it, your funny friends aren’t always available when you need them. But a funny book is RIGHT THERE.

Kelly Simmons is the author of the critically acclaimed novels STANDING STILL, THE BIRD HOUSE, ONE MORE DAY, and coming in September, THE FIFTH OF JULY.  Her website is

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Click here for more info on Kelly.


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