Ellen Birkett Morris chats about her debut short-story collection this week on the blog. Welcome, Ellen!

Author Name: Ellen Birkett Morris

Book Title: Lost Girls

Book Genre: Short Stories

Release Date: Out now

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Please tell us about Lost Girls.

The Southern Review of Books described Lost Girls this way. I couldn’t put it better: “The female characters in Lost Girls both startle and uplift us, but most importantly they demand to be seen. Set in and around the fictional southern mining town of Slocum, each of the seventeen stories in this collection features complex women and girls in pivotal moments of loss, self-discovery, and rebellion.”

Great description! What sparked the idea for the collection?

The kidnapping of a young girl from my neighborhood when I was 18 sparked the creation of the title story. As I wrote more about women and girls I realized that their stories needed to be told.

What drew you to the short story genre?

I love writing short stories because I get to decide where to enter the action and when to leave. I get to be with the characters as they experience peak moments when their lives change forever and watch them as they become more fully themselves.

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

Revision is challenging, knowing when a piece is finally done.

And what do you love most about it?

The ability to take things I’ve felt and transform them through fictional situations. The chance to create characters and worlds that come close to capturing the beauty of human life.

If you were talking to someone who wasn’t familiar with your writing, why should they want to read Lost Girls?

Because they’ll get to accompany the women and girls in my stories as they take a stand, fall in love, stand up to those who want to silence them, find their colors and let go of their grief. It’s a chance to feel something, to be transported.  

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

I love to cook and I also love to enter contests.

Are you working on a new project?

I’m sending out a finished novel and working on a second novel set in Hawaii around the world of astronomy.

Where can readers find you?

Website: https://ellenbirkettmorris.ink/index.html 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellenbirkettmorriswriter/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/birkett_morris

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellenbirkettmorris/

Lost Girls explores the experiences of women and girls as they grieve, find love, face uncertainty, take a stand, find their future, and say goodbye to the past. A young woman creates a ritual to celebrate the life of a kidnapped girl, an unmarried woman wanders into a breast feeder’s support group and stays, a grieving mother finds solace in an unlikely place, a young girl discovers more than she bargained for when she spies on her neighbors. Though they may seem lost, each finds their center as they confront the challenges and expectations of womanhood.

Bio:

ELLEN BIRKETT MORRIS is an award-winning writer, teacher and editor based in Louisville, Kentucky. Morris is the author of SURRENDER (Finishing Line Press). Her fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Notre Dame Review, and South Carolina Review, among other journals. Her commentaries have been heard on public radio stations across the United States.


Debut women’s fiction author, Linda Rosen, joins the blog this week to discuss her novel, The Disharmony of Silence. Welcome, Linda!

Author: Linda Rosen

Title: The Disharmony of Silence

Genre: Upmarket Women’s Fiction

Release date: Out now

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Could you briefly describe your book in just a couple of sentences?

How about five words? I hope they spark your interest: A rare cameo brooch, A painting nobody wants, Family secrets and lies, A shocking reveal from genealogy, and Is there ever a good reason to lie?

Well done! What sparked the idea for The Disharmony of Silence?

The inspiration for The Disharmony of Silence came from a chat I had with my sister-in-law and a dear friend while sitting on the beach in Hilton Head Island. My sister-in-law was preparing to sell her mother’s home and she didn’t know what to do with the painting that had hung in the living room practically her entire life. There wasn’t an empty wall in her own home to hang it and no one else in the family wanted it. Tossing the portrait or selling it to some unknown person wasn’t an option, so she decided to return it to the artist… Ah ha! I thought. What a great storyline. And Disharmony was born!

How long did it take for you to write the book? Any research?

In total, it took ten years from writing the first word to publication, though the manuscript slept on my laptop for a while. Once I sat myself down and got serious, it took three years to complete. Yes, I did do some research on genealogy and diabetes. It was also fun looking up styles from the 1920s to include.

What drew you to the women’s fiction genre?

Honestly, when I started writing I had not heard of the genre. I knew the types of books I enjoyed and that’s what I wanted to write. I believe it was when I started querying agents (to be honest, way before I should have), that I learned of the term women’s fiction and then the term upmarket fiction, which is another way of saying book club fiction. I enjoy novels with a female protagonist who grows, in some way, during the story. And I love a book that leads to discussion, has the reader digging into the characters and themes. Therefore, I write upmarket women’s fiction!

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

Knowing when the story is done. By that, I mean accepting that I’ve done my absolute best and there is not one more thing for me to tweak or polish, not a word, a simile, or an entire sentence – and then finally write The End with a smile on my face.

What do you love most about it?

I love rewriting. I know that sounds strange to many writers, though I’d rather rewrite than pour the words into a first draft. That’s where I feel the most creative.

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

Good question! If you love long-held family secrets, this is a book for you. And the ending is not tied up in a pretty bow which makes this novel perfect for book club discussion.

How does your day job inform your novel writing?

For the past thirty-eight, until Covid 19 hit, I’d been a fitness professional teaching group exercise and working with private clients. My experiences show up in the novel in several ways. Carolyn, the protagonist, is also a fitness professional which plays a large part in her determination to reveal the secret. I also have a few scenes with Carolyn and her clients where readers can actually learn new exercises. My favorite is in chapter three where I use the exercises as a metaphor for what’s going on in Carolyn’s life. And maybe you’ll sing along to the songs she uses. In addition, I’ve always been in awe of my older clients and created two characters to show that elderly doesn’t always mean frail. I hope you’ll adore Kate and Nan, as I do, and find them an inspiration.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

I love swimming with the sun shining down on me as I slice through the water. I’m very happy on a tennis court and pickleball court, even when I miss a shot. And strolling through botanical gardens, or digging in my own garden, is a true pleasure.

Are you working on a new project?

Thank you for asking. My second book, Sisters of the Vine, will be out in March 2021. Here’s a sneak preview: Eight Hundred Grapes meets A League of Their Own.  The story of a woman’s determination to keep the land she loves and the sisterhood that’s formed around her on a hillside vineyard in the 1960s and ’70s. And yes, there’s wine!

Where can readers find you?

The best way to keep up with me and find out about upcoming events, or link to past ones, is to follow me on:

Website: www.linda-rosen.com

Facebook: lindarosenauthor

Instagram: lindarosenauthor

Twitter: lrosenauthor

LinkedIn: linda-rosen-5130b513

Thank you, Linda! The Disharmony of Silence is OUT NOW.

In her desperate quest for family, Carolyn Lee, fitness professional and amateur photographer, is determined, against all advice, to reveal a shocking eighty-four-year-old secret that she has uncovered. It has the potential to tear lives apart, or to bring her the closeness and comfort she longs for. It all depends on how she handles it.

BIO

Linda Rosen’s books are set in the “not-too-distant past” and examine how women reinvent themselves despite obstacles thrown their way. A central theme is that blood is not all that makes a family–and they always feature a piece of jewelry! Her debut novel, The Disharmony of Silence, released in March 2020 from Black Rose Writing. Linda was a contributor to Women in the Literary Landscape: A WNBA Centennial Publication for the Women’s National Book Association and has had stories published in online magazines and print anthologies. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the Women’s National Book Association, where she is National Recording Secretary and Selections Coordinator of the Great Group Reads committee, which chooses books for National Reading Group Month. Her second novel, Sisters of the Vine, releases in March 2021.


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