Thank You, Gail … by Deb Jess Riley




Funny. (“Fuck you, Joan Didion.” “Eat a lot of red dye.”)


Damn good writing…magnificently written.

All of these were thoughts–some redundant, none adequately capturing quite what I feel–that I scribbled while reading Gail Konop-Baker’s amazing debut memoir, Cancer is a Bitch.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Gail, and she’s just as honest, funny, and true as her writing. She’s also incredibly kind, gentle, and generous. (Apparently, my adjectives are like pairs of tube socks: they come in sets of three.)

Cancer is a Bitch resonated with me on a level I didn’t anticipate before I opened it. Because it so eloquently sent me back to a time in my own life that I don’t like to remember…and I’m not sure I’ve ever blogged about it. When I was a junior in college, my annual gynecological exam revealed moderate cervical dysplasia. Sadly, a common enough finding for many young women today—but at the time, at the naïve, still relatively unbruised age of 21, all I heard were the words “cancerous cells.” And then, “biopsy.” And “cryotherapy.” And my world unraveled.

The worst part of my own diagnosis was not the understanding that I would need to go through myriad humiliating, cramping tests and treatments, or the fear that the dysplasia would return again and again and again (it did), or the worry that I’d have so much of my cervix melted off that it would never help hold a baby inside when that time came…the worst part to my 21 year-old mind was the belief that I did this to myself through my own carelessness. And all of the shame and self-reproach and reckoning with my own fledgling sexuality that entailed. Compounding this was the awareness tucked in the back of my mind that I was damn lucky to have the regular medical care that caught those ugly, insolent cells early, that my parents’ insurance would pay for my timely treatments, that most likely, I’d be alright. Thousands of women don’t have that luxury. So knock off the self-pity already, right?

Anyway, I parlayed some of those emotions, and my resultant hypochondria, personal lifestyle changes, and obsession with my own mortality into lots of bad poetry (“Like turtles flipped on their backs before oncoming trucks, we don’t consider the sky until forced to.” Urgh!). I also funneled those feelings into a major health challenge I inflicted upon my protagonist in Driving Sideways.

The bottom line: Gail NAILS it in her response to her cancer diagnosis and treatment—from the ‘blurry pods of artificial light’ above an operating bed to the sudden and alarming urgency of time, and the aftershocks sent throughout her relationships with her husband, family, friends, and herself. And she does so beautifully, in a way so raw and real, brave and afraid, that reading her memoir actually felt like a form of therapy for myself. Her honesty is uplifting and heartbreaking. It made me laugh and cry and worry and cheer, it reminded me that every day is a gift. Look around, make peace, be grateful, be authentic, revel in life…call that friend, the one you always promise to meet for lunch. Just do it. No matter how busy you are.

Gail’s memoir is a gorgeously written love letter to life–one to savor, one to learn from, one to celebrate. One that will have an honored spot on my bookshelf.

Deb Jess


Good-bye Yellow Brick Road by Deb Jess

When I read Danielle’s post yesterday, I just shook my head. How on earth was I going to follow that? And this was only a fitting reaction, because I had the same one after reading her FIRST post last fall.

Lately I’ve been describing Driving Sideways as a twisted update on The Wizard of Oz, so forgive me if the next few paragraphs are all “Dorothy saying good-bye to the Tin Man and Company before she gets on the hot air balloon.”

To Gail, the first Deb that I met face-to-face: Without knowing me more than a month, you graciously invited me to attend the Wisconsin Book Festival and stay at your house. You introduced me to your friends, put an organic chocolate on my pillow, and your thoughtful son made me a veggie omelet for breakfast the next morning. I so enjoyed getting to know you; you are funny, lovely and kind, and I feel incredibly lucky that we only live about an hour from one another. I don’t mean that in a stalking way, either. But don’t worry, you’re totally stalker-worthy. I mean, if I were a stalker … not that I’d want you to have one … I think I should just move on here.

Jenny, I first saw you in your trademark hot pink chatting with a group of friends in the lobby of our hotel for RWA. I wasn’t sure it was you right away, so I circled a few times, and when I met you, you were so warm and outgoing, and has anyone ever told you what a beautiful voice you have? Thank you for your hospitality that first night (when my luggage had yet to arrive and I was all disheveled and ill-humored), and thank you for your friendship, your honest advice, and for cracking me up regularly over the past year. You really did. And you really do have such a smooth, radio-friendly voice! Can you podcast some things for me? Maybe do my voicemail message? I hate my own voice.

Danielle, I had such fun visiting bookstores with you in San Francisco! I’m honored to have spent your launch week with you, and you can bet I’ll be attending more of your readings in the future. Because you know how to BRING IT! In print, voice, and dance. Also, I will always think you look like Julianne Moore, even if people say you look like Drew Barrymore. And I’m really glad I don’t have to blog the day after you anymore.

Lisa, how much fun did I have rooming with you at RWA? I haven’t stayed up ‘til 2 a.m. talking and laughing with someone in years. You are one of the most savvy writers I know, and you so generously share what you’ve learned. Your tireless dedication to your family and your work inspire me. Heck, just YOU inspire me! Thank you for the laughs and friendship; you are an absolute blast, and if we were in second grade, I’d totally fight the other kids to sit next to you on the bus.

Eileen, my posting buddy, I was thrilled to meet you in Chicago last February during the Midwest leg of your book tour. I had a giddy feeling before we first spoke, because we’d emailed back and forth and I was (and still am) such a starstruck fan. You have taught me so much about both the craft of writing and the business of publishing, and you kept me laughing all the way. You have the best anecdotes ever, and you tell them with aplomb. Do you do parties? Can I adopt you as my big sister? And can you bring your little dogs, too? Daisy would dig them.

You are all talented women of such grace, wit, and heart, and I am honored to know you. Your support and friendship over the past year has elevated an already amazing experience to something so much more meaningful for me. (The sap! It is flowing freely now!)

And to all the readers and guest authors who have made our time as Debs so memorable (and to Kristy for starting it all): thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous.

I wish the Debs Class of 2009 loads of luck, fun, and love. Any time you feel lost during the sometimes crazy ride that is publishing your first book, just click your mouse three times and remember: there’s no place like home, and sharing the yellow brick road all the way to Oz and back is a wonderful thing.

(After today, you can find me regularly at my own blog here: http://jessriley.blogspot.com. Where I make fun of all kinds of things. Mostly myself.)

PS: Danielle, I am too from a farm.

News Flash, Sunday August 24 2008

Deb News:

Deb Jess will be doing a reading at the Appleton Public Library this Thursday, August 28, at 6:30 pm. Join Jess for a sneak peek at her novel-in-progress plus a candid chat about all things writing and publishing-related. (225 N. Oneida St., Appleton, Wisconsin)

Deb Jenny will be appearing in the following places in the next several weeks:
WaldenBooks Charlottesville, VA, 1 p.m. Saturday September 6.
•George Mason University’s Fall for the Book Festival, 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 24.
James Rivers Writer’s Conference, 11 a.m. October 10.

Debs are Reading
Deb Jenny is reading Alan Weisman’s compelling bestseller The World without Us. It seems nature always does win out in the end…


A Tale of Two Schedules by Deb Jess

I have two daily schedules, depending on the time of year. Between late May and early October, my daily routine is free, open, and limited only by my own tendency to flake out and flit from one task to the next. I get up around 8:30, pour myself a giant mug of coffee, check on the caterpillars in my monarch ranching project, make sure the dog is fed and watered, and sit down at the computer to begin procrastinating immediately. I don’t like to waste any time on that.

Book promotion and the writing of book number two are actually twisted together in a strange kind of braid—I’ll be wrapping up emails or visiting blogs when the perfect phrase will hit me, so I have around seven windows open on my toolbar at a given time (I have six going right now): email accounts, Word files, blogs I mean to visit, and so on. I flip back and forth between them all in a crazy kind of dance, sometimes actually investing a few hours in my work-in-progress, and yes, it is as unorganized as it sounds.

Around eleven I take a break to walk the dog and water my flowers. I’ll get the mail, and lose an hour reading an article in the latest Writer’s Digest or Mother Jones magazine, do a load of laundry or start a sinkful of dishes, and maybe somewhere in there I’ll shower, then run to the post office, stop at Target or Festival Foods, read a novel in the backyard, meander about. Later, hey! Time to meet D & Nic for happy hour at Peabodies.

I will finish the final six chapters of my novel in progress starting next week. I swear!

I’m very fortunate to have this schedule in summer, because my employer is generous and flexible and all-around awesome. However, when I return to work in October, this is the schedule I will shift into on weekdays:

7:30—up, shower, iron outfit, walk dog as quickly as possible, coffee poured in travel mug, lunch briskly packed
9:00—leave for work commute
9:20—experience minor road rage at idiot drivers befuddled by construction
9:40—enter parking ramp, park, and walk two blocks to the office
9:50—check work email, phone messages, make daily To-Do list
1-1:30—eat at desk and check email again
1:30-2—visit with coworkers in hallway. There is always something new to gripe about.
2-5:30—work some more. If it is our ‘busy grant season,’ this will extend to 8 or 9 pm.
5:40 (or 9 pm, depending)—leave for commute home. Sing loudly along with Journey.
Later, dinner…a work-out, perhaps…a new blog entry…more emails…phone…and bed.

Rinse, lather, and repeat from October 1 – May 20. Notice there is no fiction writing in there.

As it is now mid-August and I still have sixty pages to crank out by the end of the month, it’s time to get serious. If we sell my next novel, I will need to figure out how to complete revisions while grant writing full-time (and cooking and shopping and cleaning and paying bills and caring for the dog and maintaining friendships and a marriage and participating in family events and blogging and working out and and and…).

So tomorrow I’ll take a deep breath and do a little more meandering while the meandering days are still here.

Have a great, meandering kind of weekend!

Jess Riley


News Flash, Sunday August 10 2008

Deb News:

Deb Jess is so happy to share a review of Driving Sideways from Book Room Reviews: “I flat out loved this book! Driving Sideways is full of adventure, humor, hope and most of all love. It will make you want to grab your best friend and go for an adventure and experience this wonderful life that we have.”

Also, there’s still time to enter to win a signed copy of Driving Sideways here.

If you’re in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area this Wednesday, August 13, Jess is doing a reading and signing at the Mequon branch of Harry W. Schwartz Bookstores at 7 pm. (10976 N. Port Washington Rd.) Stop by to hear Jess read the first chapter of her novel-in-progress!

Deb Danielle has had a fabulous couple of weeks launching Falling Under in San Francisco and New York and the book has received some amazing reviews and mentions. Here are some highlights:

From Canada’s National Post, yesterday: “Danielle Younge-Ullman’s Falling Under is one of the most compelling debut novels I have read in a long time. It is gutsy, emotional, sexually charged and, because of its second-person narrative style, unremittingly intense.” To read the entire review, click here.

From the fab Literary Ezine, Roses & Thorns: “In alternating second-person and first-person sections, we follow young Mara as she grows up and inward, and adult Mara as she grows up and outward—and the two meet at the end of the book to create an entire image, complete, replete, but never perfect, for Younge-Ullman understands there is no beauty in perfection. [Falling Under] builds to a fevered pitch of power and depth… what may at first seem superficial and sparse, turns full and rich and alive.”-Kathryn Magendie

“Writing that screams from the page…a must read for anyone who loves a good character study, brilliant writing and book that will make them question everything they ever thought about love, life, marriage and personal contentment.”– Andrea Frazer at MOMformation–check out the amazing and heartfelt conversation about families, marriage and divorce that Andrea provoked with her post about Falling Under. (This is an amazing blog and community of readers!)

From an excellent review site, “>Athena’s Bookshelf: “…an intense and satisfying dramatic read.” – Malena Lott. Thank you, Malena!

And, from Julie at another great review site, Booking Mama: “…fascinating…brilliant…this book is likely to cause a lot of strong opinions. Book clubs everywhere should read Falling Under.”

Danielle would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate the launch of Falling Under at Vbar in NYC on Friday night.

And also, thank you to all who organized and attended the Backspace Writer’s Conference–it was amazing!

Guest Deb – Jane Green on Wednesday, August 13
NYT Bestselling author Jane Green will be joining us on The Debutante Ball on Wednesday, August 13 to talk about her fabulous new book, The Beach House. Don’t miss it!

Deb Founder/Deb Friend News:

Founder Tish Cohen and Inside Out Girl will be presented on Seize a Daisy this Monday, August 11th. Keep the presentations coming, Larramie! You do a wonderful job.


Okay, Deb Danielle actually forgot to run her own contest during her debut week. Oops! However, you can still win a signed copy of Falling Under, plus mystery gift from Deb Danielle. Check for details on how to win on the contest page, starting tomorrow.


Deb Danielle’s Debut FALLING UNDER Soars, by Deb Jess

I read an early copy of Danielle Younge-Ullman’s debut novel Falling Under on my computer last winter. I usually dislike reading so much on-screen, as I have wonky eyes that are quick to redden after too much pixilated exposure. But with Falling Under? I could. Not. Stop. Reading. I found myself wanting to both savor the story and race ahead to see how things ended for Mara, a deeply conflicted and broken but true, compelling, and fascinating character. I ignored husband and dog and urges to eat and sleep as I scrolled through page after page, devouring the story.

The story, in my opinion, is the main reason to read a book. But the real treat here is that Danielle is a kick-ass writer. She marries stellar storytelling with deft, gritty, and brave writing in a way that completely satisfied me. Though the story is told through a somewhat dark looking glass, there are moments of levity throughout: Mara’s friendship with Bernadette has some wry and fun moments, and Falling Under contains some truly witty dialogue. This haunting story of hard-won redemption and healing covers the full range of human emotions, and it stayed with me for a long time after I closed the book.

If you get a chance to hear Danielle read scenes from Falling Under (or any of her future books, because this is only the beginning of what is sure to be a long and successful career), do not miss it! I was lucky enough to hear several scenes during Danielle’s in-room rehearsal at RWA, and her reading of each selection gave me goosebumps. When she read the chosen chapter that evening at Books, Inc., I was riveted, along with the rest of the crowd.

Performer, storyteller, and writer: Danielle, I am in awe of your talents. I’m thrilled to help you celebrate your launch week!

Deb Jess


News Flash for Sunday July 27, 2008

Deb News:

Deb Danielle’s critically acclaimed debut Falling Under finally hits the stores on Tuesday!! Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore to be the first on your block to own a copy of this amazing first novel.

Deb Jess just found out Driving Sideways is heading back to press for a THIRD printing! She’s still speechless about this–if she could find her voice, she’d tell you she’s ecstatic.

Deb Eileen was pleased to see a great review for Unpredictable on Krishna’s Books “Unpredictable by Eileen Cook is a unique and hilarious addition to the chick lit genre…it is a highly enjoyable, laugh-out-loud novel that I would recommend to anyone, young or old, male or female – and I don’t have to be psychic to predict that they would enjoy it!”

Deb Danielle got some buzz this week!

Check out Seize A Daisy’s Monday July 21st post where Falling Under is described as “painfully breathtaking” and “a significant dramatic debut”.

And Writer Unboxed is calling Falling Under “stunning” and “a super fast, dark and dynamic read”. They are running a two-part interview of Danielle and have posted a sneak peak at the first two chapters…just in case you can’t wait until Tuesday.

Debs Take San Francisco!

This week the debs (minus Deb Gail) will be in San Francisco to attend the RWA National Conference.

On Wednesday from 5:30-7:30, Debs Eileen, Jenny, Jess and Danielle will be signing books at the Literacy Autographing

On Thursday at 3:15, Debs Eileen, Lisa, Jenny, Jess & Danielle are giving a panel presentation “How Six Debut Authors Partnered for National Publicity”

On Thursday at 7pm, Deb Danielle will be doing her first book store event at Books Inc in Opera Plaza–a reading and signing with fellow Plume author, Kate Veitch.

Deb Founder’s News:

This Monday, July 28th ‘”Kristy Kiernan and Matters of Faith“‘ will be presented on Seize a Daisy.”

Debs are reading:

Deb Eileen just finished Founder Deb- Jennifer McMahon’s second book
Island of the Lost Girls. She stayed up to the wee hours to finish it and she gives it a double thumbs up!
Deb Danielle is reading Without A Backward Glance by Kate Veitch.


Wild Kingdom in Miniature by Deb Jess

I grew up two dunes from the beach in Kohler Andrae State Park, along the western shore of Lake Michigan. My mom and I lived with my grandparents until I was five, and lucky for me, my Grandfather was the Superintendent of that state park. He and my Grandma had a house tucked right into the woods just beyond the dunes, and I couldn’t imagine a more idyllic place to spend your childhood: exploring the dunes during the day, falling asleep to the sounds of whippoorwills calling to one another at dusk, the smells of white pine, wild raspberry, and campfire mingling in the cool night air. If the wind blew the right way, you could sometimes hear the waves washing onto shore, distant and soft—better than any white noise machine ever made.

Even after my mother married and we moved an hour from the lake, I still returned summer after summer to log countless hours reading and sunning myself on that beach. Two of the books I know I read on the dunes include Stephen King’s The Stand and Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters. Of all my books, these are the two that I’ve read and reread more than any other.

Now, I do most of my reading in my own backyard. I’ve seen placemats larger than our lawn and I’ve swapped a lake for a birdbath, but it’s all I need. Over the last three years I’ve stuffed every nook and cranny back there with shrubs and flowers carefully selected to attract all of the critters large and small that usually end up distracting me from whatever I’m reading: butterflies, monarch caterpillars, bumblebees, chickadees, goldfinches, and now a family of house wrens in the nestbox mounted to the garage. (The baby birds are just days away from fledging, and I hope I catch their first flight.)

Despite the distractions, I do lose myself in a good book back there, including most recently:

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum
Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
Leave the Building Quickly by Cynthia Kaplan
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of my Father by Augusten Burroughs
Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
And currently, an advance review copy of time of my life by Allison Winn Scotch (which you’re going to love this October, if you haven’t gotten your hands on an ARC already).

When I return from San Francisco in early August, I’m going back to the beach to recharge and, of course, do some reading. My Read Me Next pile has begun actually growling at me whenever I walk past—clearly a sign that I need to whittle it down book by book. Next up? Throw Like a Girl by Jean Thompson and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.

And if you have any of the Deb books still on your Read Me Now pile, throw ’em in your beach bag and head for the shore! (Or pre-order Cancer is a Bitch and Falling Under, which is out on Tuesday.)

Have a great weekend!

Deb Jess


News Flash for Sunday July 20, 2008

Deb News:

Deb Jess is thrilled to report that sales of Driving Sideways have been strong enough at Target to merit its move from the “Break-Out” section to the “New Release Bestseller” section on August 12.

This Monday, July 21st, the Seize a Daisy post will be:
“Presenting Debutante Danielle Younge-Ullman and Falling Under.” Please come check it out!

And, Deb Danielle is starting to get reviews…!

“I highly recommend Falling Under. There are compelling subjects for discussion for book clubs– alcoholism, absentee parents, and then that wonderful ending. Believe me, the discussions will be heated.” -Book Room Reviews

“Falling Under is a moving, fast, gritty novel that will pull you by your boot-straps and make you feel stoned.” -Girlie Girl Army

“Readers who relish a realistic study of a tormented lonely person will appreciate FALLING UNDER as the quince will wonder whether Mara finds her groove or remains tortured in self afflicted hell. PS the ending is realistic but not easy to swallow.”
4 star review from Harriet Klausner


Newsflash, July 13 2008

Announcing the Debutante Ball Class of 2009

We are most excited to announce the 2009 Debs, who will take over the Debutante Ball on September 1, 2008. We had so many extremely talented authors from which to choose, all with exciting books debuting next year, and narrowing it down to five was no easy task.

Without further ado, our 2009 Debutantes are:

Eve Brown-Waite, author of the memoir First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life (Broadway Books/April 2009).

about the book: With wit and candor, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria chronicles Eve’s misadventures as an aspiring do-gooder in the developing world. From intestinal parasites to being held hostage, from eating termites to cultural misunderstandings, here is an honest – and hysterical – look at the search for love and purpose – from a woman who finds both in the last place she expected.

Tiffany Baker, author of the literary novel The Little Giant of Aberdeen County (Grand Central Publishing, January 2009).

about the book: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is about how Truly, a woman born a giant, overcomes her small town’s prejudices, uncovers decades of family secrets, and learns that love doesn’t always come ordered to size.

Katie Alender, author of the YA thriller Bad Girls Don’t Die (Disney/Hyperion, April 2009).

about the book:When 15-year-old Alexis Warren suspects that her younger sister Kasey’s strange behavior is more than just angst, she thinks she can handle it on her own. But creepy parlor tricks are just the beginning, and it soon seems that Kasey may actually be living out the violent legacy of the Warrens’ gothic home. Alexis is forced to seek out the help of her arch-rival, cheerleader queen, Megan Wiley. Only by working together can they try to save Kasey. But what if the green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?

Kristina Riggle, author of the women’s fiction book All Happy Families (Avon/HarperCollins, May 2009).

about the book: Faded flower child Mira Zielinski isn’t about to have surgery for her newly diagnosed breast cancer, which will no doubt upset her grown children — when she gets around to telling them. They’re coming home with their own lives falling apart over spousal secrets, an elopement, and withered dreams. As this all comes to light on one pivotal weekend, will it shake Mira’s resolve?

Meredith Cole, author of the mystery novel Posed for Murder (St. Martin’s Press, February 2009).

about the book: Lydia McKenzie, an edgy art photographer who recreates murder scenes in a film noir style, finally achieves her dream of putting her art in a gallery. But when someone starts killing her models just like they were posed in her photographs, she has to catch the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Deb News:

This week, Deb Jess will be on tour at the following locations…join the fun if you’re in the area!

Wednesday, July 16, 7 pm at The Book Cellar
4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL

Thursday, July 17, 6 pm at the Portage County Public Library
1001 Main Street
Stevens Point, WI
(Enter to win a beach bag full of goodies!)

Saturday, July 19, 11 am – 1 pm at Conkey’s Bookstore
226 East College Avenue
Appleton, WI

Jess is also thrilled to share Swapna Krishna’s glowing review of Driving Sideways for Curled Up With a Good Book. Five out of five stars! From the review: “The novel has a lot of heart and emotion, but it is never cheesy or sappy, demonstrative of Riley’s talent as a writer. She manages to touch her readers and evoke the emotions she wants them to feel without telling them to do so. It is a mark of her ability to write sympathetic and believable characters that the reader really does care about.”

Get an online goodie bag worth $500
when you purchase Fifteen Minutes of Shame at Amazon on Monday, July 14.

Fifteen Minutes of Shame, by Lisa Daily, is a romantic comedy about what happens when America’s favorite TV love guru finds out her husband is cheating – live, on national television.

To get the free $500 online goody bag, purchase Fifteen Minutes of Shame before 12 midnight PST on Monday, July 14 at Amazon.com (where it’s currently bargain-priced around $10) and email your receipt to swagbag (at) lisadaily.com.

For a details and a complete listing of all the swag, which includes one week free at Bag Borrow or Steal, a two-month subscription to Cupid.com, a free lip-plumping serum, an exclusive T-Tapp exercise video download, free mineral makeup, free cellulite firming cream, sneak peek chapters of books and not-yet-released books from debs Eileen Cook, Jenny Gardiner and Danielle Younge-Ullman and former debs Mia King and Kristy Kiernan, (plus Jane Porter, Mary Castillo, Mike Robbins and Lisa McLeod and others) plus lots of other goodies, check out www.lisadaily.com/swagbag on Monday 7/14.

Deb Gail has a cover for her book!!

Deb Jenny’s novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver got a fabulous review from Book Room Reviews: “If you want to laugh until you pee your pants, then pick up this book. If you want to gain some insight into what goes into a marriage, then pick up this book. I loved the character of Claire. She is someone that every woman can relate to, young or old. Jenny Gardiner has a gift for finding humor and at the same time tackling tough issues. This is a great mom lit book to read by yourself, or giggle about with your book club.”
I might suggest you go to the bathroom before you start reading my book 😉 .
Book Room Reviews is raffling off their copy of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver here.

Founder News: Founder Kristy Kiernan’s new novel Matters of Faith (Aug.5) continues to garner great reviews! The newest from Bookpage:

Everyone believes in something. Whether our beliefs are rooted in religion, experience or just intuition, faith is one of life’s strongest arguments. Many believe that life’s trials are there to test faith. However, the true question just might be where we should place our trust—can we even trust ourselves when a crisis is at hand? Kristy Kiernan, the author of last year’s Catching Genius, has centered her new book on a South Florida family with more than a few trust issues. Matters of Faith is a tense but touching novel that forces its characters and readers to re-examine their beliefs.

Chloe Tobias, a free-spirited mother, is constantly at odds with her pessimistic husband Cal. Along with her contentious marriage, her preteen daughter Meghan’s severe food allergies are a constant reminder that all is not as carefree as she would like. When their oldest child Marshall arrives home from college with a new girlfriend, Ada, an uncomfortable tension develops. Ada is from a religious Nebraska community. She looks down on Meghan’s strict diet and strongly pushes her beliefs on the unprepared family. Unfortunately, Marshall seems to agree.

Chloe struggles with her manners until Ada’s faith in prayer over medicine results in a disastrous fate for Meghan. Suddenly the couple must simultaneously deal with Marshall’s betrayal, Meghan’s condition and their deteriorating marriage. The story has the suspense of a blockbuster film with the internal examinations of a breakthrough therapy session. Kiernan draws exquisite parallels between different forms of faith, protection and abandonment. Ultimately, however, the book is about choices: which of their children will Cal and Chloe choose to protect? Will Marshall choose his love for Ada or his family? Should faith be put aside in favor of modern medicine, or can the two work together?

The story gives plenty of perspective on both sides. Matters of Faith begins as a recognizable family story and transforms into a view of human nature under pressure. How open will minds be when lives are interrupted? Will we believe the same things when loss tests our faith? How do we choose between the two things most precious to us? Kiernan’s portrait of the Tobias family is a study in emotional turmoil that will stay with any reader when their beliefs are, inevitably, called into question.