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July 2017

I’m in the mood to celebrate. Want to win some cool prizes?

Good, because I have something special for you:

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Bestselling author, Caroline Leavitt, will give away 3 signed copies of her incredible, haunting novel, Cruel Beautiful World. I read this book in one sitting, my heart racing, as a lonely girl makes a series of terrible choices in order to feel loved. Here’s the official description:

Sixteen-year-old Lucy Gold is about to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy’s default parent for most of their lives, Charlotte has seen her youth marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy’s dream of a rural paradise turns into a nightmare.

Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, chaos and control, as it explores what happens when you’re responsible for things you cannot make right.

Set against a backdrop of peace, love, and the Manson murders, the novel is a reflection of the era: exuberant, defiant, and precarious all at once. And Caroline Leavitt isat her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.

So, wait. A signed copy of this extraordinary book is not the only thing you will win…

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…because Caroline is also going to watercolor a bookmark just for you!

Okay, so she only knows how to paint these things, but you get to choose:

1. mermaid
2. dogs
3. fishes
4. a hand wearing a pair of pants (I know! Wha?!)
5. cups of coffee

6 cats

How do you enter to win? Easy. Just post a comment below, and I will make sure your name goes into a hat. This is the hat.

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At the end of the week, I’ll draw three names and announce the winners!

One last thing. Remember that first picture with a cover of Caroline’s book in it? Scroll back up to the top and look at the painting. I love this story: This painting (by Eileen Patten Oliver) is very important to Caroline because she’s terrified of the ocean but also loves it. So Eileen painted a small figure standing in front of a tsunami. And Caroline says this painting gives her courage.

And I love Caroline—for this and a million more reasons.

Okay, post a comment, and I’ll put your name in the hat. Hope you win because this book is spectacular!! (And if you’ve already read it, you can post a note to Caroline just because.)

UPDATE! UPDATE!

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As promised, one week after I posted this, I put all the names of you fantastic people into the hat. The 3 winners of a signed CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD and watercolored bookmark of your choice are:

Ric Marion
Nikki Dawson
and Joanne Mielczarski

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(See, I chose with my eyes shut and let the winners fall on to my filthy keyboard.)

Caroline will be in touch with each of you about prizes. Congratulations! And thank you, everyone, for playing!

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Question of the Month: Endings and Beginnings

by Susan Henderson on July 3, 2017

How do you transition between endings and new beginnings?

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So much happened last month. My oldest son graduated from college, and my youngest son moved in with him, so they’re now sharing an attic in Boston. This will be the first summer since they were born when I don’t have a child living at home.

I’m also experiencing a deep sense of being finished with my book that will launch in March of 2018. Lots of steps have now been completed. I’ve done my big edits and my copy edits and my first-pass edits. The layout designers have chosen a font and a look for the inside of the book. I got my author photo taken. (I highly recommend Taylor Hooper Photography!) And we’ve chosen a cover, which I’ll share when I’m allowed.

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We’re getting awfully close to the stage where a galley (sort of a pretend copy of the book) will be sent to potential blurbers and reviewers. The book is basically out of my hands at this point, and this lull before its March publication date is a good time for me to dive deeply into the new work.

But what exactly is that new work?

I definitely have a sense of the next book I’m trying to write—its premise, its setting. The characters and plot are coming more into focus. But it’s early in the creative process, and so much is still unknown. Also, I don’t know that I’ve fully left the last one behind.

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It’s a funny feeling, shifting gears. Like my son, I’m considering my next steps and still feel like I’m decompressing from the intense work that’s consumed my mind for the past few years. Right now I’m in some weird in-between space.

Talk to me about where you are in your own writing process, and how you transition from endings to new beginnings in your work or just in life.

As always, I’ll end by sharing the books I’ve read since my last post:

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Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye
Elisabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Elizabeth Crane, Turf: Stories
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Taylor Larsen, Stranger, Father, Beloved
Samanta Schweblin (translated by Megan McDowell), Fever Dream
Claire Cameron, The Last Neanderthal
William Landay, Defending Jacob
Lidia Yuknavitch, The Book of Joan
Kim Chinquee, Veer
Stephen Pimpare, Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Patrick B. Osada, Changes
Karen Dionne, The Marsh King’s Daughter
Jennifer Gilmore, The Mothers
Kate Clifford Larson, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

And one re-read…
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

That’s it for now. I look forward to your stories in the comments section!

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