Please help me welcome Carrie Callaghan to the blog today. Her second historical novel, Salt the Snow, was released earlier this year.
Author Name: Carrie Callaghan
Book Title: Salt the Snow
Book Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
How would you describe Salt the Snow ?
Real-life American journalist Milly Bennett has chased fires in Hawaii and war in China, but when her broken heart brings her to Soviet Moscow in the 1930s, she meets bigger challenges than ever before. She finds a new love, but when he is arrested by Soviet secret police, Milly must uncover painful truths about her marriage and her vocation as a newspaperwoman.
Milly is such a fascinating character. What drew you to the idea for the book?
I learned of Milly while researching a different project, and I couldn’t get her brassy personality out of my mind. I read her posthumously-published memoirs, accounting for the first part of her life, and knew that I wanted to write the rest of her story. I learned in my research that Milly had wanted to publish a novel of her time in Russia, but she wasn’t able to. I loved the idea of exploring her intriguing combination of brave, sassy, and vulnerable.
This is your second historical novel. In what ways do you think you’ve evolved as an author since your first book came out?
When my first novel was published, I was incredibly nervous. Not everyone in my life knew I wrote fiction, and I had was afraid of both the opinions of people I knew and strangers. But the whole experience was very positive, and even the stray bad review didn’t bother me in the way I had feared. Now, I feel more confident. At the same time, I understand that my books are just one of the many stories readers can choose among, so I’m also grateful for all the kind people who have taken a chance on my novels of history’s forgotten women.
What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?
Conjuring worlds from the past and bringing forgotten stories to light is such a delight. Reading is the only magic I know, the ability to directly connect one mind to another, and I love that joy of creation and connection.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Books are so important to my life, it’s hard to think of anything outside of writing and reading (beyond day job and family). In fact, my volunteer work is also with books — I am a senior editor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. In addition to reviewing some books, mostly historical fiction, I help match books we’ve selected for review with appropriate reviewers. I’m passionate about spreading conversations about books and reading, and making sure that all sorts of books receive attention from intelligent readers.
Where can readers find you? Any upcoming live events?
I would love to see folks at a Historical Fiction Happy Hour I’m co-hosting with three amazing authors this Friday, May 29, at 8pm Eastern. We’ll be sharing drink recipes, playing silly games, talking history, and doing giveaways. It’s free to join: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/historical-fiction-happy Otherwise, I would love to connect with readers on Twitter or Instagram.
Thank you, Carrie! Salt the Snow and her first book, A Light of Her Own, are both available now.
From Carrie Callaghan, author of the critically acclaimed A Light of Her Own, comes a story of the trailblazing and liberated Milly Bennett, based on the life of one of the first female war correspondents whose work has been all but lost to history. American journalist Milly Bennett has covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. But his arrest reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve. Disillusioned, and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience, and her heart.
Carrie Callaghan is the author of the historical novels A Light of Her Own (2018) and Salt the Snow (2020). Her short stories have been published in multiple literary journals around the country, and she is a senior editor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She lives in Maryland with her family and two ridiculous cats. She loves seasons of all kinds, history, and tea.
Debut author Sherri Leimkuhler joins us on the blog to chat about her journey to publication of What’s Left Untold, which launches today!
Author Name: Sherri Leimkuhler
Book Title: What’s Left Untold
Book Genre: Women’s Fiction/Book Club Fiction/General Fiction
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Welcome, Sherri! How would you describe What’s Left Untold?
A woman reunites with her estranged best friend and uncovers a devastating secret that threatens to unravel the life she has created with her husband and daughters.
What sparked the idea for your book?
I found a trunk in my parents’ basement that contained my high school yearbooks and a box of old letters. A postscript on one of the letters read: “I need to see you. I have something important to tell you.” Or something similar to that. And I briefly wondered what the postscript had been referring to before tossing the letter back into the box thinking, it was probably nothing; typical high school drama… or was it? I began to imagine what kind of secret one could uncover twenty years after the fact that could still have a major impact on one’s life.
I can see how an intriguing secret could inspire a story! Did it take you long to write the book? And how about research?
My journey to publication was 11 years in the making! It was 2009 when I discovered the box of letters and I spent the next five years sporadically crafting the story. In 2014 I got serious and dedicated myself to finishing the book. A year and three beta readers later, I submitted my manuscript to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association’s Rising Star Contest and What’s Left Untold was selected as one of the finalists. After the contest, several agents reviewed my manuscript and offered feedback and I spent the next year revising and editing. The biggest change was altering the manuscript from its original chronological format to a flashback format.
I am a chronic researcher, regularly investigating small details such as popular foods in various parts of the country or songs that topped the charts during a given year. But, toward the end of the What’s Left Untold, a complicated and controversial issue is raised, which definitely required more in-depth research into specific social, medical, legal and cultural implications. To avoid spoiling one of the books most surprising twists, I can’t elaborate on the issue. But I will say I am definitely not an expert on the topic, so any errors are completely mine. I did, however, research multiple reports and articles written on the subject by various specialists, universities and medical institutions.
For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?
Sticking to a routine.
And what do you love about it?
I love escaping into an imaginary world of my own making.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read What’s Left Untold?
My favorite books are those that take me by surprise. I love an unexpected twist that I didn’t see coming, and I especially like a story that makes for a lively book club discussion. So when I began writing What’s Left Untold, I set out to write the type of book I would enjoy reading, one with twists and turns and shocking moments that would provide excellent book club conversation and possibly even spark respectful debate; one that might take readers out of their comfort zone, cause them to question societal norms, and ask themselves, what would I do in this situation?
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I can’t sit still for very long. I like to keep moving, and fitness has always been a priority in my life. I spent nearly ten years as a competitive triathlete and I love to be outside, so when I’m not writing or reading, I am most likely to be enjoying the great outdoors in some way: hiking, trail running, paddleboarding and skiing are among my favorite things to do. I also enjoy spending time with family, traveling to new places, and experiencing different cultures.
Any new projects in the works?
I’ve almost finished the first draft of my second novel, currently titled Sauce. Sauce tells the story of a woman who quits her sales job to start her own event planning business and finds herself in dire financial straits. When a former client dangles the prospect of discreet, lucrative work as a high-end escort, she finds the temptation hard to resist, though venturing into this risqué business threatens to destroy the relationships that are most important to her and forces her to question the strength and integrity of her moral compass.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)?
Thank you, Sherri. What’s Left Untold is available as of today!
Every secret has its price.
Anna Clark and Lia Clay were unlikely best friends in high school, but their yin-and-yang personalities drew them together in a sister-like bond. Then during college, Lia inexplicably walked out on their friendship and disappeared, leaving Anna hurt, confused, and disillusioned.
Twenty years later, Anna discovers a letter Lia wrote the summer after high school—a letter that contains a cryptic postscript concealing a devastating truth. With her twenty-year high school reunion approaching, Anna moves closer to uncovering the secret in Lia’s letter and the heartbreaking consequences it set in motion.
As the layers of deceit and betrayal begin to unravel, Anna is forced to question everything she believes and come to terms with what it means to forgive the one person who hurt her in the worst way imaginable.
Sherri Leimkuhler has written professionally for more than twenty years but is a Jill of many trades, with experience in sales, marketing, public relations, event planning, aviation, and yoga instruction. Her health-and-fitness column, “For the Fun of Fit,” appears bi-weekly in the Carroll County Times.
A competitive triathlete and two-time Ironman finisher, Sherri also enjoys reading, hiking, paddleboarding, trail running, traveling, and wine tasting. Sherri lives in Maryland with her husband, three daughters, and two Labrador retrievers.
Please welcome Mary Keliikoa. Her debut mystery–the first in the PI Kelly Pruett series–launches today!
Author Name: Mary Keliikoa
Book Title: DERAILED
Book Genre: Mystery
Release Date: May 12 (TODAY!)
Publisher: Camel Press
How would you describe Derailed?
After burying her father and marriage in the same year, single mom PI Kelly Pruett takes on her first case to investigate the death of a young accountant hit by a commuter train; but after discovering the victim was doing more than crunching numbers, she’s on a crash course with her complicated family and the killer who wants to keep the truth hidden.
What sparked the idea for the book?
I’d worked downtown Portland, where the fictional crime is committed, for years as a legal secretary and rode public transportation. It always intrigued me how perilous the space between safety and death was on the commuter train tracks. Once that idea was sparked about the crime, I just went backwards and asked a bunch of what ifs. Of course the victim had to work at a law firm because it’s what I knew. As far as my PI Kelly Pruett, I always knew I’d write about a PI because it was the genre I loved. Kelly Pruett came in fully formed in my mind and once I knew the crime, I married the two ideas together.
For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest part of me is really coming up with the concept or crime. Once I have the crime and motivation, I can hash out a first chapter and a last chapter, and a synopsis to be used as a guideline. But sometimes just getting that crime down solid is the hardest part.
What do you love most about it?
When the characters surprise me. Once I’m in writing mode, I may have an entire idea of where I’m going. But just when I think I have it all figured out, my characters do something or say something that leads me in a new direction. Usually in a much better one! I always ask myself how to make it harder for my characters and they surprisingly show me the way.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Derailed?
I think Derailed has a lot to offer the lover of the PI genre because it has more than a few twists and turns along the way. But more than that, Kelly Pruett is a complex character who is not only trying to solve her first real case, but find her place in the world. I believe that most women can relate to her because she’s trying to be a good mom and at the same time honor a request from beyond the grave of her father, all the while finding her place as a PI.
Did your day job inform your novel writing at all?
I spent nearly 18 years in the legal field as a secretary, paralegal and office manager. Not necessarily all at the same time. Being around the workings of law, interacting with police officers, private investigators, judges, and running to the courthouse, has given me the background and the desire to write mysteries.
Are you working on a new project?
I’m currently in deep editing mode for Book 3 for the Kelly Pruett series which will be due to my publisher at the end of the year. Book 2 has already landed in the publisher’s mailbox.
Where can readers find you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Keliikoa/e/B084Y77521
Thank you, Mary! Derailed is available as of today!
A dying wish. A secret world.
Can this grieving investigator stay on the right track?
PI Kelly Pruett is determined to make it on her own. And juggling clients at her late father’s detective agency, a controlling ex, and caring for a deaf daughter was never going to be easy. She takes it as a good sign when a letter left by her dad ties into an unsolved case of a young woman struck by a train.
Hunting down the one person who can prove the mysterious death was not just a drunken accident, Kelly discovers this witness is in no condition to talk. And the closer she gets to the truth the longer her list of sleazy suspects with murderous motives grows. Each clue exposes another layer of the victim’s steamy double life.
On a crash course with a killer, she must piece together the puzzle of what really happened to the victim that rainy night, before her own fate is sealed and she loses everything near and dear, including her life. If you like intricate family dynamics, secrets, including plot twists and turns, then this story is for you. DERAILED is the first book in the Kelly Pruett Mystery series.
Mary Keliikoa spent the first 18 years of her adult life working around lawyers. Combining her love of all things legal and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails. She has had a short story published in Woman’s World and is the author of the PI Kelly Pruett series which debuts with DERAILED in May 2020.
At home in Washington, she enjoys spending time with her family and her writing companions/fur-kids, Bella, a bossy golden retriever and August, her mischievous kitty. When she’s not at home, you can find Mary on a beach on the Big Island where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.