Please help me welcome Valerie Taylor to the blog this week. We chat about her debut novel, What’s Not Said.

Author Name: Valerie Taylor

Book Title: What’s Not Said

Book Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Publisher: She Writes Press

Please describe What’s Not Said.

When a middle-aged woman learns her husband has a life-threatening illness, the secret lives they lead collide head-on, revealing a tangled web of sex, lies, and DNA, forcing her to decide whose life to save—her husband’s or her own.

How long did it take you to write What’s Not Said? Did you do any research?

The idea for What’s Not Said rattled around in my head for more than a decade, with horribly disappointing starts and stops. In 2017, a year after I retired, I decided to either sit down and write the story or perhaps take up knitting. Giving it one more college try, I found a self-paced online novel writing course, jumped over my hurdles, and wrote the draft in about eight months.

In the process, there were three aspects of the book that I researched.

First, the antagonist needed a life-threatening disease. After checking out a few, I landed on chronic kidney disease and just read about it. Since I wanted to keep references to it at a high level, the Google machine gave me everything I needed.

The second area I researched was the hospital setting. At first, it was MassGeneral, but I killed that idea because it’d been years since I’d been there, and I feared readers would catch me on details that were no longer accurate. So, I fictionalized Boston Clinic. To bring the hospital scenes to life, I binge-watched episodes of Gray’s Anatomy; mostly the early years when George Clooney starred…for obvious reasons.

Lastly, there’s a revealing scene in Venice. Describing Venice was easy since I treated myself to a retirement trip there in 2016. I returned in July of 2019 before I submitted the final manuscript to the publisher, She Writes Press, with the intention of editing that scene if necessary. Surprisingly, it wasn’t.

What drew you to the women’s fiction genre?

For most of my life, I classified books the way we’re taught in elementary school—as either fiction or non-fiction. When I started to write What’s Not Said, I knew it was fiction, a novel; not giving any thought beyond that. But that changed when I began the querying process, realizing agents needed more specificity. That’s when I discovered I’d written women’s fiction. Who knew?

In retrospect, I’ve realized I wrote What’s Not Said for the 75 million mature women looking for stores with relatable characters. Why can’t an older woman be with a younger man? Wouldn’t the movie Something’s Gotta Give have been more fun if Diane Keaton rode off with Keanu Reeve instead of Jack Nicholson?

Apparently, I’ve struck a chord because several readers have commented that they appreciate, and are enjoying, reading a story about women who are not in their twenties or thirties.

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read What’s Not Said?

I think I’ll let the exciting words of one reader explain why everyone should read What’s Not Said. On Halloween, I received this review:

“This book reminds me of the little bit of summer I got to enjoy at a water park. You wait on line to get on this ride, your heart is racing, you are excited, you finally get on the ride, and you have this feeling this ride is going to be so much fun. Then it starts off. Some parts of the ride are not as enjoyable, then some parts just make you scream and your heart is going CRAZY, you feel like it’s about to come out of your chest. Then the ride ends and you are like, WOW, we need to get on more of THOSE types of rides.”

What’s Not Said is the first wild ride in a series. The sequel, What’s Not True, will be published by She Writes Press in August 2021. Why wait to catch the wave next summer, when you could enjoy it now!

Are you working on a new project?

As I’m putting the manuscript for What’s Not Trueto bed, I’m also knee deep into the third book in the series. At the same time, I planning to complete a mostly true story about a brave Turkish woman who emigrates to the foreign land known as America after she marries a man she hardly knew. Beyond those two projects that are in progress, my next major endeavor will be a cozy mystery, or two, or three. Stay tuned!

Where can readers find you? Website, social media, upcoming events.

Besides being an author, I’m a published book reviewer. Readers can go to to read more about me, my books, and my reviews.

I’ve challenged myself to meet with 21 book clubs by the end of 2021. I’d be tickled pink to meet with book clubs anywhere in the world at their convenience. Just email me at valmtaylor@gmail to set a date.

As a matter of fact, What’s Not Said has been chosen a Finalist as one of the Top 3 Best Fiction Books of 2020 for Canadian Book Clubs. In addition, What’s Not Said has been named an Official 2021 International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club Selection.

I’d be honored for readers to follow me: 

Twitter: @ValerieEMTaylor

Instagram: ValerieETaylor

Thank you, Sarahlyn, for the opportunity to showcase What’s Not Said!

Thank YOU, Valerie! What’s Not Said is out now.

What’s Not Said is a fun and twisty story about Kassie O’Callaghan, a middle-aged woman on a mission to divorce her emotionally abusive husband and start a new life with a younger man she met while on a solo vacation in Venice. When she learns her husband has chronic kidney disease, her plans collapse until she pokes around his pajama drawer and discovers his illness is the least of his deceits.

Then again, Kassie is no angel. The separate lives they lead collide head-on into a tangled web of sex, lies, and DNA. As she helps her husband find an organ donor, Kassie uncovers a secret, forcing her to decide whose life to save: her husband’s or her own.


Valerie Taylor was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut. She earned a B.S. Marketing degree and an MBA from Sacred Heart University, as well as a graduate certificate in health care administration from Simmons University (formerly Simmons College). She had a thirty-year career in the financial services industry as a marketer and writer.

After her divorce, she spread her wings and relocated her career to Boston and then to Seattle. When she retired, she resettled in her home state to be near her two grown children and granddaughter.

She’s a published book reviewer with; and a member of Westport Writers’ Workshop, Independent Book Publishers Association, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She enjoys practicing tai chi and being an expert sports spectator.

What’s Not Said (She Writes Press) is her debut novel. Its sequel, What’s Not True (She Writes Press), will be published in August 2021.

Amanda Brainerd joins us to discuss her 1980s-set novel, Age of Consent. Welcome, Amanda!

Author Name: Amanda Brainerd

Book Title: Age of Consent

Book Genre: Literary Fiction

Release Date: Out Now

Publisher: Viking

Please tell us a bit about Age of Consent.

Coming of age in the early 1980s. Sex, drugs, new wave and cocaine. 

What sparked the idea for the book?

I was at a dinner party with a writer friend and we were talking about the insanity of the laissez-faire parenting of the early 1980s and how different it is today and I thought, I’m writing that story.

How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do have to do any research?

At first, I saw the book as an oral history, as I was not a trained writer, but thought I could report. I started to interview, and slowly realized I wanted to tell this story in novel form. The first draft took me three years. After that,I shelved it, then pulled it out several years later and revised for another two years. 

What drew you to the literary fiction genre?

It is practically the only genre I read! 

For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time. I have a full time job and three kids. 

What do you love most about it?

I love the journey, and love to discover things and have ideas pop into my head as I am writing. Sometimes I sit at my desk and laugh out loud!

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Age of Consent?

I think there is something universal about the struggle for power between adults and teenagers. 

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

I am a huge opera fan, and I love to cook. 

Are you working on a new project?

Yes, a story set in contemporary times about two women who look alike. 

Where can readers find you?

Thank you, Amanda—Age of Consent is available now!

It’s 1983. David Bowie reigns supreme, and downtown Manhattan has never been cooler. But Justine and Eve are stuck at Griswold Academy, a Connecticut boarding school. Griswold is a far cry from Justine’s bohemian life in New Haven, where her parents run a theater and struggle to pay the bills. Eve, the sophisticated daughter of status-obsessed Park Avenue parents, also feels like an outsider amidst Griswold’s preppy jocks and debutantes. Justine longs for Eve’s privilege, and Eve for Justine’s sexual confidence. Despite their differences, they form a deep friendship, together grappling with drugs, alcohol, ill-fated crushes, and predatory male teachers.

After a tumultuous school year, Eve and Justine spend the summer in New York City where they join Eve’s childhood friend India. Justine moves into India’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment and is pulled further into her friends’ glamorous lives. Eve, under her parents’ ever-watchful eye, interns at a SoHo art gallery and navigates the unpredictable whims of her boss. India struggles to resist the advances of a famous artist represented by the gallery. All three are affected by their sexual relationships with older men and the power adults hold over them, even as the young women begin to assert their independence.

A captivating, timeless novel about friendship, sex, and parental damage, Amanda Brainerd’s Age of Consent intimately evokes the heady freedom of our teenage years.

Tracey Enerson Wood stops by the blog this week to discuss her historical fiction debut, The Engineer’s Wife. Welcome, Tracey!

Author Name: Tracey Enerson Wood

Book Title: The Engineer’s Wife

Book Genre: Historical Fiction/ Book Club Fiction

Release Date: April 2020

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

How would you describe The Engineer’s Wife?

She built  the Brooklyn Bridge, then was lost in its shadow.

How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do have to do any research?

It took about a year to do the research, another 2 years to write it, and then another 2 years to find an agent and publisher. All told, it was nearly ten years between initial concept, and holding the book in my eager hand.

What drew you to the historical fiction genre?

I have loved HF ever since I read Herman Wouk’s Winds of War as a teenager. It was  the first time I could really picture historical events, and having characters to follow made history ever so much more enjoyable to me.

For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?

Having the discipline to ignore the whining dog, social media, and whatever fun events everyone else is doing. In my former occupations (nurse and interior designer) I was always contained in a work space. It’s much harder to keep focused when you don’t have that physical separation from your non-work space. And you need intense focus to write well.

What do you love most about it?

I thoroughly enjoy using the creative part of my brain. I love bringing characters to life. But mostly I enjoy talking with readers, and learning how my words affected them, what they enjoyed (or didn’t).

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

I enjoy being with family, traveling, cooking. Also important to me is honoring military veterans and their loved ones, for whom I have co-written non-fiction books.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes, I am working on my second novel, The War Nurse. It is the story of Julia Stimson, a WWI nurse who bravely recruited, trained, and led nurses in wartime France. I’m also working on a cute and helpful non-fiction book: 101 Life Hacks for Military Spouses.

Where can readers find you?

My website:

I’m also on Instagram: @traceyenersonwood and twitter @traceyenerson.

Thank you, Tracey! The Engineer’s Wife is out now!

Emily Warren Roebling refuses to live conventionally―she knows who she is and what she wants, and she’s determined to make change. But then her husband Wash asks the unthinkable: give up her dreams to make his possible.

Emily’s fight for women’s suffrage is put on hold, and her life transformed when Wash, the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, is injured on the job. Untrained for the task, but under his guidance, she assumes his role, despite stern resistance and overwhelming obstacles. Lines blur as Wash’s vision becomes her own, and when he is unable to return to the job, Emily is consumed by it. But as the project takes shape under Emily’s direction, she wonders whose legacy she is building―hers, or her husband’s. As the monument rises, Emily’s marriage, principles, and identity threaten to collapse. When the bridge finally stands finished, will she recognize the woman who built it?

Based on the true story of the Brooklyn Bridge, The Engineer’s Wife delivers an emotional portrait of a woman transformed by a project of unfathomable scale, which takes her into the bowels of the East River, suffragette riots, the halls of Manhattan’s elite, and the heady, freewheeling temptations of P.T. Barnum. It’s the story of a husband and wife determined to build something that lasts―even at the risk of losing each other.


Tracey Enerson Wood has always had a writing bug. While working as a Registered Nurse, starting her own Interior Design company, raising two children, and bouncing around the world as a military wife, she indulged in her passion as a playwright, screenwriter and novelist. She has authored magazine columns and other non-fiction, written and directed plays of all lengths, including Grits, Fleas and Carrots, Rocks and Other Hard Places, Alone, and Fog. Her screenplays include Strike Three and Roebling’s Bridge.

Other passions include food and cooking, and honoring military heroes. Her co-authored anthology/cookbook Homefront Cooking, American Veterans share Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom, was released by Skyhorse Publishing in May, 2018, and all authors’ profits are donated to organizations that support veterans, currently chef Robert Irvine’s foundation. 

Her debut novel, The Engineer’s Wife, a historical fiction about the woman who built the Brooklyn Bridge, was released by Sourcebooks in April, 2020. A New Jersey native, she now lives with her family in Florida.

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