That’s How I Blog! Highlights: Julie, Booking Mama

On Tuesday, December 29, 2009 Julie from Booking Mama was a guest on Blog Talk Radio Show, That’s How I Blog! Thanks so much to Julie! And thanks to all of the people who listen in the chat room, write, and call in with questions that make the show such a great success. If you missed the show you can go here to  listen to Julie and I Talk on That’s How I Blog! Here’s a little guide to what went down!

  • Introduction & Christmas Holiday, blogging break for the holidays, reading over the holidays.
  • What did you get for Christmas? Asks Candace from Beth Fish Reads (4:10)
  • Hubby doesn’t buy her books (4:50)
  • How many books do you have? Asks Cindy from Cindy’s Love of Books (5:40)
  • How did you come up with the name for Booking Mama? (8:30)
  • How did you start finding things to post about? (10:00)
  • How many books do you read a week? (12:00)
  • Time drains- Twitter & Google Reader (14:40)
  • How did you start reviewing books from publishers? (15:05)
  • How does Julie’s little boy help her at home? (15:50)
  • How do you determine what to read and when? (17:40)
  • Any genre of book that you love and very turn down the opportunity to read? (19:00)
  • BEA- How did you find out about it and decide to attend in 2009? (20:10)
  • What’s Julie Reading? (23:30)
  • What’s Julie favorite meal to cook? (27:00)
  • Julie talks cookbooks. (29:00)
  • What book is a must-read  that you recommend to everyone? (35:40)
  • Nicole and Julie talk book monogamy and promiscuity (37:30)
  • Has blogging changed what you read? (41:17)
  • Julie talks book clubs, author chats with her book club, and whether the books that she chooses for book club have changed. (42:50)
  • Booking Pap Pap, Booking Daughter, Booking Son, Booking Aunt – It’s a Franchise! (47:30)
  • Does the book club enjoy the author chats and what is the good and the bad of doing that? Heather from Age 30+… A Lifetime of Books (50:00)
  • Julie’s Book Club Exchange Feature (56:50)
  • Favorite aspect of blogging (57:55)
  • Booking Mama in 2010 (59:45)
  • Announcements (64:20)
  • THIB! Challenge (69:00)
  • Julie asks Nicole what her best books were of 2009 and the decade (71:00)
  • The Twenty Minute Book Club Discussion on 31 Hours, by Masha Hamilton

Books Mentioned in this Podcast

  • The Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois
  • Angel Time, by Ann Rice
  • Jane Bites Back, by Michael Thomas Ford
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barberry
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, Nell Harper
  • Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, Charles J. Shields
  • North River, Pete Hammill
  • Man Gone Down, Michael Thomas
  • Nefertiti, by Michelle Moran
  • Loving Frank, Nancy Horan
  • The Heretic’s Daughter, Kathleen Kent
  • Dragon House, John Shors
  • This One Is Mine, Maria Semple
  • The Book of Night Women, by Marlon James
  • City of Refuge, Tom Piazza
  • 9 Lives, Dan Baum
  • Columbine, Dave Cullen
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • Anne Of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
  • Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  • Sounder, William H. Armstrong
  • Kindred, Octavia Butler
  • 31 Hours, by Masha Hamilton

Food Mentioned in this Podcast

  • Chicken Pomodoro
  • “Peasant Risotto” – Tomato Based Risotto with Sirloin

Book Discussion – 31 Hours, by Masha Hamilton


  • Nicole – Linus’s Blanket
  • Julie – Booking Mama
  • Jen – Devourer of Books

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Theoretically something like this should go up right after the show and in the same order as the guests, but in the real world …well, not so much since my intern called in sick.  I eventually plan to get all of these up and have an easily navigable guide to all of the shows.  They are not going up in particular order, but I am just getting to them as I have some free time.  This time around it happened to be Julie.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you would like to be a guest on That’s How I Blog!

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The Lionel Shriver Challenge!

Photo of Lionel Shriver by Jerry Bauer

Lionel Shriver is one of the few authors I can say  left an indelible and immediate mark on my reading as an adult.  I remember

Photo of Lionel Shriver by Jerry Bauer
Photo by Jerry Bauer

first seeing her book,We Need To Talk About Kevin, in an airport book store. I don’t remember where I was on my way too or from, but I remember thinking that it looked like a really interesting book on a subject that had been dominating the headlines in recent years.  Surprisingly, with the way I buy books, I didn’t get it at the time, but the description stayed with me  and in January of 2008 I made it my selection for book club.

All of us reading the book were stunned by many things, from the thoughtful and smart writing, to the carefully considered viewpoints and the controversial subject matter- this book offered so much in the way of food for thought that it has stayed with me over the years.  So much so that when Mari and Alyce wanted to read Lionel Shriver books for That’s How I Blog! I quickly said yes to both.  Mari and I will discuss Double Fault on March 16 and Alyce and I will discuss The Post Birthday World on May 18.

From New York Times bestselling author Lionel Shriver (The Post-Birthday World, We Need to Talk About Kevin), comes a searing, deeply humane novel about a crumbling marriage resurrected in the face of illness, and a family’s struggle to come to terms with disease, dying, and the obscene cost of medical care in modern America.

So now the challenge part- and where you come in!  This is all so very exciting because Lionel Shriver has a new book coming out on March 9, called So Much For That, and in anticipation of that book Erica (from The Olive Reader) and I are running a small but fun challenge to help you read more Lionel Shriver and get excited (not that you weren’t already) about the new book.

Just read one book (or more!) by Lionel Shriver by March 9th.  Erica and I will be giving away two copies each of each of Lionel’s back list books (listed below).  All you have to do to win one of these books simply tell us why you want to read her book, or in some cases more of her books. Erica and I will calculate winners separately so you can enter here and over at her post as well to increase your chances.  We’re so sweet! If you tweet or blog about it, leave another comment with the link and we’ll count that too. We will accept entries until Feb 1!

We’ll all post our reviews on March 9, and anyone posting, commenting, etc will be entered to win a copy of So Much for That (more details as we get closer to the date.)

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I will be reading Double Fault for That’s How I Blog on March 16th! What will you read?

All books won in this challenge/giveaway will be sent by the publisher, Harper Collins.  Yes this is an attempt at shameless publicity and promotion of Lionel Shriver, but she is a great writer and I enjoy her books, so sue me.  No animals or people will be harmed in the making of this challenge/post.

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Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel, by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin – Book Review

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel is my second experience reading a graphic novel and I really enjoyed reading it, even though I had very mixed feelings about the anti-hero/protagonist Artemis Fowl.  I mostly didn’t like him or the methods he used to retrieve his family fortune.  I was rooting against him for most of the novel.  It’s interesting to note that my 9-year-old cousin read this book too and she didn’t like Artemis either.  While I waffled on how I would characterize his exploits, she immediately labeled him as bad and his mother as crazy.  Always one for strong female characters, she loved that the book had fairies in it- especially when one is a take charge female crime-fighter.

This comic had a more complex style than the Nancy Drew that I read earlier this year.  Complete with FBI styled profiles of each of the characters, it was fun to read and to see the confidential parts of the files which had been blacked out because the information was classified and not to be revealed.  A genius, Artemis comes from a  line of criminals- his father is mysteriously missing and he has taken it upon himself to recover the family fortune through nefarious deeds. At this point in his life, his family is comprised of a Special Ops type bodyguard and the bodyguard’s sister who functions as an assistant to Artemis’ mentally unstable mother.

I loved that the action started right in the first scenes and the characters quickly and firmly established. While I didn’t care that much for Artemis I enjoyed seeing him put his criminal mastermind to work and was entertained by the schemes he concocted.  Artemis’ relationship with, and the fact that he is mostly alone in taking care of his mentally ailing mother serve as grounding for his character and provides some insight into what motivates him.  The story is peopled with fun and entertaining secondary characters who are at times worthy of matching wits with Artemis.  This quick and fun read had intriguing illustrations and sharp dialogue which moved the plot.  Curious to see how Artemis develops, my cousin wants to read more of these graphic novels and I will more than likely be reading along with her!


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I am an Amazon Associate. This book had been a part of my personal library collection until I gave it to my little cousin.

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Government Girl, by Stacy Parker Aab – Book Review

Cover for Government Girl book

Cover for Government Girl bookStacy Parker is just 18 years old and attending George Washington University when she starts as an  intern in the office of George Stephanopolous.  A native of Detroit, Stacy has always excelled at school, and she quickly falls into a routine riddled with varying levels of constant stress while she tries to do the best job ever and find her place in life and on the scene in Washington, DC.  Over the years Stacy finishes her schooling and goes on to a staff position as the special assistant to Paul Begala all while becoming acquainted with President Clinton, Vernon Jordan, Rahm Emmanuel (on whom she has a crush), and a bevy of other players on the Washington, DC scene. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal breaks, it changes everything that Stacy knows about her president, working in the White House and the dangers of any missteps, real or perceived, when dealing with powerful men.

This book really resonated with me because while Parker Aab does talk extensively about her life and experiences working in the White House and her interactions with powerful men- relevant because all women deal with this on varying scales and degrees- she also delves into and examines her personal life and what it was like for her to adjust to being a woman and what that meant in terms of being vulnerable, but also the power of it which she didn’t fully understand.  She explores her expectations of men and relationships and the naive ideas that she had about both and what they may have stemmed from in her childhood.  She speaks candidly about what it meant to be an African American woman dating and building a life in predominantly white world. Parker Aab presents her views clearly, and makes no attempts to hide the ways that she trusted in her government and the men around her, even when it makes her seem painfully naive.

Government Girl is told in a loosely chronological fashion with the author dipping back and forward in to time to provide further illumination and parallels to pertinent issues being discussed in the section.  While I think the intention was to explain further the result was a bit distracting to keeping place within the story and keeping track of what was going on with different people and their presence in her life.  Still,  Parker Aab has recounted her experiences to create a riveting story which gives readers a backstage glance down the corridors of power from the point of view of one of its most vulnerable participants.

It never occurred to me when I was in high school or college that I could ever work in the White House.  I think this is probably more because I didn’t plan to go in any direction that a DC internship would have led, but it was interesting to hear about people involved in this world at such a young age.  Parker Aab was also heavily involved on the President’s advance staff and would travel to other countries ahead of time to prepare for a presidential stay- complete with close working relationships with the Secret Service, and all before she was 23. It’s easy to see why it took  me only a few short sittings to get through this book because once I started reading her story, I just didn’t want to put it down. Highly Recommended.

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I am an Amazon Associate.  This copy was sent to me for review by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.

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Among The Thugs by Bill Buford – Book Review

When Bill Buford started investigating the extreme violence among the soccer “firms” in the UK he was, newly an American in England and as a result looked upon as an outsider when approaching members of the different groups.  His continued attendance at soccer matches, presence at several brawls between the firms and other soccer fans, and dogged perseverance led to him becoming more accepted as part of them, and he eventually gained access to the leaders of these ultra-violent clubs.  Buford started out wanting to understand everything about the culture of the firms and what motivated their ultra-violent behavior, but by the end he seemed to be as involved in the culture as the other members.

I was shocked by the violence in this book and completely horrified by the behavior of these most ardent soccer fans.  Though these men chose the life of being in these firms and fighting amongst one another- which is appalling enough,  they often brought innocent bystanders into the fray.  The willful destruction of property along with the lack of respect they had for the establishments they visited, and the people that waited upon them, were extreme.  I cringed while reading the entire book- there were several violent beatings that made you wonder if the person could have possibly have escaped without being extremely disfigured or handicapped for life, if indeed they were able to survive at all.  This was coupled with the destruction of property, excessive drinking and aggressive acts towards women.  It is hard to talk about because the events that occurred and the level of violence is so fantastical as to almost not be believed.

I was ambivalent about the author’s role in reporting on what he saw and where he went, and was acutely conscious of my own complicity while reading this book.  As it progresses he was more deeply involved with the soccer hooligans and swept along in the power of the crowd- enjoying the adrenaline rush of each mounting situation.  I could see his excitement about being one of the boys and was disturbed by it, but aware that I wouldn’t be privy to this information without his investigation. At the same time I don’t think equal consideration was given to finding the underlying causes and motivations of the violence, nor to any of the solutions which law enforcement might have be been considering contain the firms. One of the things that made this book so scary is the groups seemed to be unchecked and virtually unstoppable, and it was much like a weekend job for the participants. Through the week they held down jobs, which though blue collar were usually highly paid, and had families.

Some of the firms were linked to virulently nationalistic groups that pretty much hated everybody, and had no qualms with using deadly force against those not fitting into their definitions of what was racially or culturally acceptable.  Buford attended their meetings, only leaving when overcome with disgust for their politics and violence.  He would eventually stop his investigation of the firms when he reached a breaking point, considered just how deeply he had become immersed in the life. He was overwhelmed by what he sought to understand.

I read this book as a part of My Friend Amy’s investigation into Newsweek’s claims that they had 50 Books for Our Times. I have gone back and forth whether I think Among the Thugs is one of them, and I think I have decided that it is. While it may not have provided the reassurance that there are workable solutions to mob mentality and group violence, Among the Thugs certainly  provided a startling overview of the situation, and definitely paints and indelible picture in the mind. It’s a book that I will not soon forget.

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This Just In! Top Secret Recipes Unlocked, by Todd Wilbur

You can only imagine why I was interested in reading this book- recipes of famous food that I can play around with in the comfort of my own home- sweet!  January is usually the time where we pull out our resolve to eat more healthfully, exercise more and generally be better people.  I have a feeling that this book is like having a little devil sitting on my shoulder, and it hasTop Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur already given the little angel on the other shoulder a beat down and kicked it to the curb.

There are many recipes that I am looking forward to testing out for comparison with the original.  I was overjoyed to find that they have several recipes from Starbucks listed- my fave being the Lemon Loaf (lemon poundcake).  I think I might make that for book club next month and take a few pieces of the original to try out as well.

Candace, Vasilly and Dawn are deprived children this month as they attempt to get through this round of their Game On Diet.  But the end of the month is drawing near and I figured that I would throw them a bone and give then something to look forward to on February 1.


Lemon Loaf Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of booking  baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon extract
  • 1/3 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Lemon Icing Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus tablespoon of powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract


(which I will invariably modify, but I’m giving you the real thing)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To make the loaf, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Use an electric mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend until smooth.  Add the oil and mix well.
  5. Pour the ingredients into a well-greased 8 1/2 X 4 1/2- inch loaf pan.  Bake for 45 minutes , or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Make the lemon icing by combining  the ingredients in a small bowl with an electric mixer on low speed.  When the lemon loaf has cooled, remove it from the pan and frost the top with the lemon icing.  When the icing has set, slice the loaf into eight 1 inch thick slices.

Makes 8 slices.

Other recipes of interest are:

  • Nuts 4 Nuts Candied Nuts
  • Starbucks Coffee Cake
  • Starbucks Carrot Cake
  • Popeye’s Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Popeye’s  Cajun Gravy
  • The Soup Nazi’s Mexican Chicken Chili
  • Taco Bell Chicken Quesadilla

There are many others, but since I can’t list the entire TOC, I will stop here.

This post might eventually wander over to the Weekend Cooking feature over at Beth Fish Reads.  You should check that out.  It’s yummy!

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The Girl on Legare Street, by Karen White – Book Review

Melanie Middleton and Jack Trenholm, that quarrelsome investigative duo is back, and in between falling in love or maybe just getting on each other’s last nerve, they have another mystery to solve.  Melanie’s mother, from whom Melanie has  been estranged since childhood, has returned from living overseas and wants to buy her own mother’s old home on Legare Street and warn Melanie of the grave danger that surrounds her.  Melanie’s mother  claims that she has always had her best interests at heart, but among other things, Melanie is still hurt by her abandonment and is suspicious now because she seems to know more than she will say about the strange goings on in the Legare Street house.  It remains to be seen is if she can put aside differences with her mother long enough to save both their lives from ghostly presences.

Karen White has created an engaging yet thoroughly frustrating twosome with would be lovers, Melanie and Jack.  What’s so appealing about them is that their characterization is truthfully rooted in the defenses and coping mechanisms they each have formed due to painful events from their past.  There is something a bit endearing about watching Melanie trying to keep control of a life that she used to be able to manage through careful and rigid planning. With Jack, and her family and friends trying to help her restore old houses and solve old mysteries, the days of order are gone forever. I was happy to see that best friend, and ever questionably dressed Dr. Sophie Wallen was back along  with her “boyfriend”.  They were great sources of comic relief.  I also enjoyed the interaction that both Jack and Melanie had with former lovers more than how they interacted with each other, especially  since any gains that they had previously made in their relationship seemed to have vanished.

While Jack and Melanie tried my patience, I did really love all of the research that went into this novel and the descriptions of the old houses, their restoration and the history and practices of the people who settled and became South Carolina’s most illustrious families.  I was particularly interested in the “wreckers”, people who intentionally shined lights at ships and directed them into dangerous and rock waters where they killed the passengers on board and stole their cargo.  The ghost story kept me guessing until nearly the end, and the ending clearly paves the way for the next in the series, and it seems that it delve more deeply into Jack’s past.

Both the House on Tradd Street and The Girl on Legare Street walk the line of being fun and well written mystery/ghost stories while still exploring the more serious issues of abandonment and alcoholism.  I might not be able to continue with Melanie and Jack because their relationship just frustrates me to no end, but I enjoy White’s writing and I am looking forward to the new book, On Folly Beach, that she mentioned when she stopped by Linus’s Blanket earlier this month for an interview (read Karen White’s interview).

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This Just In! Murder Behind The Badge, by Stacy Dittrich

Sociology and English were my two biggest loves in college I still have almost all of the books that I needed for English and Sociology on my shelves.  I don’t spend as much time as I would like reading Sociology or Psychology related books, but I still like to pick up books that explore those perspectives from time to time.

Murder Behind the Badge arrived last week and the blurb on the cover from Nancy Grace promises that the book “exposes the dichotomy between the police who fight crime every day versus those who have been criminals themselves…A real mind twister!”

A mind twister it might be, but from the quick skimming and overview I gave the book I don’t know if it’s I’ll have the stomach for anytime soon.  I have not given this book a thorough reading, and have not even completed reading one of the 18 cases presented, but from what I have seen there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of analysis of the cops behavior or any context about how any of the police departments have been dealing with the sociopaths that they have been employing.

Dittrich was a decorated police officer and former veteran of the force before she turned to writing and consulting.  She has a memoir of her experiences coming out in 2010 that might be more my speed.  To be honest I find this book a little scary, even to skim.

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Tonight: Don’t Miss That’s How I Blog! with Natasha from Maw Books Blog!

Natasha Maw, Maw Books BlogJust a reminder that I will be interviewing Natasha of  Maw Books Blog tonight on Blog Talk Radio show, That’s How I Blog!, at 9:00 pm Eastern Time.  You can listen live or to the archived version later on.  If you listen live you can join the conversation in chat room, which is usually just as lively as the show!  If you have any questions or comments, you can send them to me at: nicole AT linussblanket DOT com before the show, ask in the chat room or call 646-381-4606 to ask yourself.  Natasha doesn’t bite as far as I know. At the end of the show, stick around for what I am calling the Twenty Minute Book Club.  If you’ve read the book or even if you haven’t- in this case there is no way to spoil this one because you already know the ending and the story- we will be discussing War Child by Emmanuel Jal.

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Out of Twenty: 14 Questions for Karen White

Author Karen White

Back in November, I read my first Karen White novel, The House on Tradd Street.  Karen is one  of those novelists whom I had heard so much good stuff about that I had amassed quite a collection of her books before having the time to read one (The House on Tradd Street, The Lost Hours, The Color of Light)! I cut my teeth on her novels with the quarrelsome crime fighting duo of Melanie Middleton and Jack Trenholm, and I can’t wait to see if they ever work out their issues and enjoy one another. Karen was gracious enough to stop by and answer a few questions about Melanie and Jack, her  own writing process, and her latest novel, The Girl on Legare Street (stop back tomorrow for my review).

Hi Karen. Welcome to Linus’s Blanket. Will you tell me a little about yourself and how you started writing?

Author Karen WhiteAfter working in the business world for several years, I decided to become a stay-at-home mom when my daughter was born.  It was during her nap times (and 21 months later, her brother’s) that I began to dabble with writing.  I’d always been encouraged to write by teachers and friends, but never thought I’d have the patience to create an entire novel.  My first attempts were just to see if I could, and I never anticipated publishing my first novel—much less 12!

My children are now 16 and 17 (thanks for your condolences).  We live outside Atlanta with my husband, a guinea pig, and a spoiled Havanese dog who stars in the Tradd Street series as General Lee.

How did your characters present themselves to you?  Do you make an outline or do they come to you some other way?

I do very little “pre-writing” for my novels, and never an outline!  I like to write a book in the same way I like to read them—without knowing exactly what’s going to happen next.

When I start, I do know the main characters, but that’s pretty much it.  My favorite character in the Tradd Street series, Sophie, just sort of walked on to the page from out of nowhere.  I love it when that happens!  I like to think that all the secondary characters evolve organically, depending on what the protagonists need.

Melanie and Jack are two very dynamic characters with distinct personalities.  Which character did you think of first, and what made them stand out for you so much that you would write about them multiple times? Had it been your plan to write a series?

When I first started thinking about The House on Tradd Street, I knew that I wanted to create a series so when I started thinking about the two lead characters I knew that I had to like them or at least be interested in them enough to be able to write about them multiple times.  They had to have emotional baggage (of course—that’s one of my trademarks), and a few flaws to overcome.  I mean, if characters are perfect, they don’t have a lot of growing room and I wanted my characters to change and evolve over a course of several books.

Melanie was easy since (according to friends who think they know) she’s the one character I’ve created who’s the most like me. J  I don’t know if I completely agree with that, but I definitely see some resemblance—especially in her need to have order and control around her.  And Jack came out of Melanie’s desperate need to loosen up and have a little fun.  He exasperates her, but I think the opposites attract thing really works for them.

Who was your favorite character to write, and why did you have an affinity for that character in particular?

As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Sophie Wallen, Melanie’s best friend, just sort of emerged and I immediately fell in love with her character.  She’s exactly what Melanie needs.  She’s the ideal best friend—honest and uncritical, what you see is what you get.  It doesn’t hurt that she’s an expert in historical restoration and a great resource for Melanie.  She’s also a perfect foil for Melanie’s hyper-control and a real steadying influence.  I loved creating the anti-Melanie—and had a great deal of fun dressing Sophie. J

Did you have to do much research when working on your books, and do you tend to write first or research first?

I definitely research while I write as research usually turns up serendipitous facts that I can use in the story.  It didn’t hurt that I’m a frequent visitor to Charleston so I already knew quite a bit about the city and its history—and don’t mind visiting it often for more “research.”  I also have a lifelong interest in the paranormal so I didn’t have to go much further than my own bookshelves to research the paranormal aspects in the Tradd Street series.

What was the most interesting thing that you found out while researching this book but ultimately decided not to include?

I’m fascinated with the Marquis de Lafayette (don’t ask me why, I just am).  He was a huge figure during the Revolutionary War and spent time in Charleston.  I wanted desperately to include him—living or dead—in the book but in the end couldn’t find a place.  I haven’t given up hope, though, for future books in the series!

What types of books would some of your characters have if they were readers?  Given their issues what book(s) would you suggest for them to read?

For some reason, I see Sophie reading historical romance novels—maybe because I think she’s a romantic at heart and loves historical architecture.  Melanie is strictly non-fiction, probably self-help books that she never has time to apply to her own life.

For Sophie, I would definitely recommend What Not to Wear, a companion book to the popular television series to help her with her wardrobe choices.  For Melanie, I’d suggest she borrow one of Sophie’s historical romances to help her with her relationship with Jack.

In the past I have visited a blog called Daily Routines and it’s all about the schedules of writers and creative people.  I’m kind of obsessed with it- probably because there is so much that I am involved in and like to do, that I’m always looking for ways to make all of it work time wise.  What does a typical day look like for you?

In my world of writing/kids/house/pets/life, “typical” doesn’t exist.  I get up at 6:15 every morning (yes, even weekends) and bring my laptop wherever I go.  If we visit a museum on the weekend, my husband will drive while I write on my laptop in the passenger seat.  Tonight my son has his guitar lesson so I’ll bring my laptop so I can wait in the car and write for that half hour.  I’m in the middle of copy edits for my next book that are due on Friday so I worked on that for a couple of hours this morning after I took my son to school, then took a half hour to put more Christmas decorations away.  Then I did my workout, ate lunch, answered some fan mail and other emails, and now I’m working on this.  It’s almost 3:00 and I figure I’ll get my shower in around 4:00.  On Friday, I have a book club visit at 10:00 in the morning so I’ll have to have my copy edits finished by Thursday night since they’re due Friday morning.  It’s not unusual for me to still be at work at 11:00!  I have revisions for my November 2010 book due February 15 and the proposal for the next Tradd Street book due May 1st.  No, there’s no rest for the weary…

So that’s my “typical day” in a nutshell.  I find time to get it done.  Period.  Excuses will never fill a blank page.

Do you like to read when you’re writing and if so what books inspire you when you’re working on a novel?

I love to read!  Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time to do it anymore so my selection is pretty much determined by two things:  what my book club picks and what’s available on audio so I can listen to a book while I’m driving in the car.  I love books with great characters, a great story, and a satisfying ending.  Two books I’ve listened to recently that were wonderful was The Help and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

What’s next for you?

My next book, ON FOLLY BEACH comes out in May, 2010.  It’s a great story with two parallel storylines in 2009 and 1942.  The storylines merge in present day with a really cool mystery.  I loved researching for this book!

Anything else your readers and potential readers might like to know?

There will be two more books in the Tradd Street series (out in 2011 and 2013, respectively) and two more books (not in the series) out in 2010.  For excerpts, interviews, contest etc., please visit my website at

Fascinating! I love that Sophie needs a copy of What Not To Wear!

Thanks Karen!  I love the The Help too, but haven’t read Guernsey yet.

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