Interview with Carolyn Menke + #DebBallGiveaway of RETURN TO ME

I’m really excited to welcome Carolyn Menke to the Deb Ball today because she’s my person. My book bestie. My go-to in this crazy book world. I also happen to LOVE her book (and spent the last 20 or so pages sobbing and laughing interchangeably). But since I’m biased, here’s what someone else had to say: A sweeping, romantic debut that brings the war-time forties to vivid life in this Titanic meets Philomena tale…” – RITA award-winning author Gwyn Cready

return-to-me-coverAnd here’s what the book’s all about: 

Eighteen-year-old Sadie Stark, raised by the governor of Pennsylvania, has the world on a string. She doesn’t need the mother who left her any more than she needs the fiance who promises to change. What she needs is to finish college, and keep her wits about her.

When war-bound James Pasko returns her stolen clutch, and shows her what’s missing in her life, she gains the courage to search for the truth about her past. What Sadie uncovers rattles her to the core. But James’ steadfast love gives her hope for the future—for the first time—even as the war tears them apart.

When James disappears over enemy lines and Sadie makes a startling discovery, she must decide to follow in the footsteps of the mother who gave her away, or face a life of hardship like she’s never known.

Sounds amazing, right? You can purchase RETURN TO ME and you can also enter to win a signed hardcover by retweeting on twitter or sharing the post on Facebook.

We will select and contact the very lucky winner on Friday, December 9th at noon (US Only).

Now, onto the interview!

When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?

If you told my teenage self that I could do what I loved and people would actually pay me for it, I would’ve called you crazy. I loved writing too much to think of it as real work. Everyone around me had clear direction: engineering, medicine, banking, teaching. I didn’t know any writers. Initially, I decided to try technical writing because it seemed to combine a skill I was good at with a decent paycheck. Then I turned to my true love of fiction.

Jenni: Yeah, screw that technical writing 😉

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

I love singing along to my favorite songs, but when I can’t understand the lyrics, I make them up. This becomes a problem of epic proportions while driving around with my teen daughter. Teenagers do not appreciate such creativity.

Jenni: Bahaha, I can hear your three daughters say, “Mommmmm….”

Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? How did that turn out?

Yes! After publishing Return To Me and I’m Yours, I decided to try my hand at writing for kids. Middle grade stories are where my heart is. I read some of my all-time favorite books when I was ages 9-12. And, having kids those ages now means I’m surrounded with middle grade conflict on a daily basis. I get ideas for dialogue while driving the carpools. I witness the heartache and triumph of the middle school experience, and I enjoy swapping books and discussing them with my kids. Not only that, I have built-in beta readers, which is always a bonus. I’ve been known to hold a kid or two captive during sleepovers. Kidding. Sort of.

Jenni: I’ve been lucky enough to read Carolyn’s middle grade and I can say it turned out AMAZING. 

What are the hardest and easiest things about your job?

The hardest part is definitely the waiting. You hear about authors becoming an overnight success, but that’s not the reality. This industry is slow, and so much of the timeline is out of your control. Another difficulty is promotion. You constantly have to put yourself out there and it’s not like you’re selling something insignificant like shampoo. It’s your book baby on the line. The easiest part? Probably the fact that I can work anywhere, and write during those precious pockets of time in between when life happens. I love that I can work from home, with my goldendoodle sprawled across my office doorway like a speed bump. I love that I’m here when my kids barrel off the school bus.

Jenni: Totally agree with all of this, especially the doggie-speed bump. I have one of those too.

Do you have a regular first reader?  If so, who is it and why that person?

Jenni L. Walsh. Jenni and I have been critique partners for years. She has this big picture understanding of who I am as a writer and isn’t afraid to tell me when I’ve missed the mark and why. She makes me a better writer because while she’s enthusiastic, she’s honest, and she has this incredibly careful eye for all the little things that are so very important.

Jenni: Aw, you make me blush. And I’m so fortunate to also have YOU as my regular first reader.

Thanks so much for joining us, Carolyn!! It makes me so happy every time I get to tell someone about you and your book (which I do often).


A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Carolyn Menke is the author of a WWII women’s fiction, Return To Me, and the Roaring Twenties-set companion novella, I’m Yours. She works as a copywriter and lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, three daughters, and goldendoodle. When she’s not tapping away on her keyboard, Carolyn loves horseback riding and geocaching with her family.

For more information about Carolyn and her book, she’s just a click away on TwitterFacebookGoodreads, and at


Author: Jenni L. Walsh

Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years ​chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia's countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni's passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet. BECOMING BONNIE (Tor Forge/Macmillan, 5/9/2017) is her debut novel that tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. SIDE BY SIDE, telling Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree story, will be released in the summer of 2018. Please learn more about Jenni's books at

2 Replies to “Interview with Carolyn Menke + #DebBallGiveaway of RETURN TO ME”

  1. Love your commentary! Every day I count my lucky stars that our paths crossed and we’re in this together. You’re up next !

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