Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill


I’m excited today to tell you about author Abbi Waxman’s new release, THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL (Berkley Trade Paperback Original, July 9).

Inspired by the incredible young female booksellers she’s met while touring, Abbi’s third novel introduces confirmed introvert and twentysomething bookseller Nina Hill—whose carefully plotted life is about to go way off-script.

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL is what happens when Liane Moriarty’s skewering of suburbia meets the endearing quirkiness of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.
 
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is? 
Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

Author Abbi Waxman/Photo:
© Photo by Leanna Creel
Abbi Waxman, the author of Other People's Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings, is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction.

She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband. She can be found online at abbiwaxman.com, Facebook.com/abbiwaxmanbooks, and on Twitter @amplecat.

Thanks for stopping by today. What are your thoughts on the solace and sanctuary of a good book? When someone asks for a book recommendation, what’s your first response?

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Saturday Night Ghost Club


I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday and is ready to find some new books to read. I’d delighted today to welcome acclaimed Canadian author Craig Davidson (horror pen name Nick Cutter) to Thoughts in Progress to talk about his new gripping, suspenseful novel, THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB.

A coming-of-age story set in Niagara Falls, in the vein of Stranger Things (season 3 premiered July 4), Craig’s novel is the perfect paranormal, 1980s fix for fans of the show.

Set in 1980s Niagara Falls—a seedy, but magical place surrounded by intrigue and lore—THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB centers around Jake Baker and his uncle Calvin, a kind, but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turns twelve, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town, and so Uncle C decides to initiate them all into the “Saturday Night Ghost Club.” As the summer goes on, what begins as a light-hearted project leads to uncovering dark secrets beyond their imagination. With complimentary narratives of Jake as a twelve-year-old and as a neurosurgeon adult, Craig explores an intricate dynamic between one’s childhood and adulthood not often written in literature.

At once a suspenseful, gothic story of hauntings real and imagined, and also a poignant portrait on how childhood experiences influence the adults we become. The genre-bending novel is more than meets the eye as Craig gradually unfurls a twist you will not expect. THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB is the type of book you will think about for weeks after reading—about its emotional weight, its unforgettable characters, and its complex themes interwoven in the narrative, such as the mutability of memory and the power of familial love.

Now join me in a conversation with Craig.

You’ve previously published four literary fiction books, including the short story collection Rust and Bone, which was adapted into a Golden Globe-nominated feature film, and penned bestselling horror novels under your pseudonym Nick Cutter. Already a prominent writer in Canadian fiction, THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB seems poised to be your big, breakout book in the U.S. Why do you think this novel will resonate with so many people? How did your previous books and your horror novels as Nick Cutter influence THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB?

Craig:
Well, it would be nice to break out, sure! I think this is probably the most, I guess you’d say, the most accessible book I’ve ever written? With my earlier work, well, those are the books of a young man, full of the things that some young men worry about, obsess over, aspire to—as a result, they were kinda violent, myopic in the way that twentysomethings can occasionally be, navel-gazing, all that. They were a true expression of how I felt at the time, for sure—all the things that vexed and bothered and energized me, they’re all on display. But they may’ve been narrowly focused for all that. The Cutter books … I’m really proud of those, but again, perhaps narrowly focused. They’re likely seen (fairly) as pretty extreme in some ways. They’re a product of the horror books I grew up reading; in addition to King and McCammon and Barker—who is himself a rough pill to swallow sometimes—I enjoyed David Schow, Joe Lansdale, Poppy Z Brite, Skipp and Spector; writers who had a real dangerous edge. So again, if your influences are those, and you set out to have your writing have those kinds of sharp teeth … well, likely it won’t be for everyone. But that’s not to say The Saturday Night Ghost Club is some sort of toothless pap. It’s just that it’s concerned, I suppose, with the things that now matter to me: being a parent, nostalgia and what it felt like to be a child, the mysteries innate to that time of one’s life. Maybe I’ve become an old softie, I don’t know.

THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB beautifully addresses sophisticated concepts of memory, trauma, family dynamics, and mental health, but it is also very accessible and includes fantastical elements that appeal to wide range of readers. How were you able to create a story that transcends both genre and generation and why was that important?

Craig:
I suppose to be honest it was a lot of luck! Most writers will likely tell you that they aren’t 100% sure where their ideas come from—although there’s often a hint of their own selves and history in their stories, as there is for me in this one—but ultimately I just find some characters who I want to follow, to invest myself in their fictional existences, and I guess to work through some element of life (my own, or just some ambient question that I’ve wanted to try to answer, in this case about the power and frailty of human memory) that I find fascinating. Where it goes from there, how successful it eventually is in capturing those characters or addressing that question … well, that’s one of the challenges and fears of writing a book. How close did I come to accomplishing my ambition, lofty though it may have been?

The mutability and fallibility of memory is a clear theme of THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB, which makes the protagonist Jake an unreliable narrator as he looks back on his summer as a twelve-year-old. Memory continues to be a thread throughout the narrative with adult Jake’s profession as a neurosurgeon and his eccentric Uncle Calvin’s severe brain trauma. How do you think readers will look back on Jake’s story after revealing himself to be an unreliable narrator? Why does the function of brains in relation to memories interest you?

Craig:
I think we’re all fairly unreliable narrators when it comes to chronicling our own lives, or even the lives of others. Some of that is pretty harmless—say, a person’s Instagram page presenting a narrative of that person that is more glamorous or wise or instructive than their lives most likely are; so, basically a curated presentation of one’s life—and some are probably more problematic. But I mean, I’ve curated my own memories over time. I remember things differently than they happened, I’m sure. I could talk to old friends about a given event from our childhood or even our twenties, and we all may remember it slightly (or vastly) differently. Why is that? Well, we evolve as people. The things we felt and believed at one point in our lives—and acted on those beliefs—may not prevail when we look back at those events years later. So we kind of … sanitize our past selves, I guess. Make our past selves measure up in some way to the people we believe ourselves to be now. Unless there’s definitive proof to dispute our memory, then I suppose it can hold up in the only place it really matters—our own minds. So however readers react to Jake, I suppose it may inform the way they think about their own memories, and how reliable they really are.

THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB introduces its central characters to the supernatural world. However, they come to learn that the real monsters, and ghosts that haunt us, are human. Through the scenes depicting human violence, you weave in stories of how far one will go to protect those they love. What were you trying to convey about the challenges of protecting someone from the world and themselves and, as a father yourself, particularly the desire for parents to protect their children?

Craig:
I think a lot of that comes from being a parent now. Someone wrote that being a parent opens up this new intensity of love—like, something that registers on a different tenor or timbre than romantic love, or love for a friend. I’m not sure that’s the case. It could be for some, that’s not for me to say. But I do feel that it unlocked a new level of fear. I feel fear that I never really dreamt was possible when I think of all the terrible things that could happen to my kid. A lot of it is stupid, daydream-y ridiculous things, shark attacks and bizarre unfeasible threats, but they feel real to me! But in the end, I won’t always be there to protect my son. I won’t be there when he needs me, not always, and anyway, he may not take any advice I have to offer. So a great deal of that kind of love—of all love, really—is helplessness. You’re helpless to make someone love you, and you’re helpless sometimes to help those you love so much.

In THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB, you alternate between scenes of twelve-year-old Jake and adult Jake’s perspective, which creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the experiences that shape us as children and who we become as adults. How do you write such complex children?

Craig:
I just came back from picking up our six-year-old from daycare, and it always amazes me the innocence of emotion and, I guess, need, on display. As adults, we withhold things, don’t say what we mean (or not quite), and sometimes fail to let other people know how we feel about them, good or bad. And that’s likely the way it needs to be to have a functioning adult society. But the kids in this novel (and in a way, Uncle Calvin, who exists in somewhat of a permanent, willfully childlike state) are in that middle zone: old enough to know you can’t just blurt out your feelings like you did when you were five, but not yet cynical or wounded that they might chastise themselves for feeling things as deeply as they do. So, to be honest, I think any ability I may have on the front is really a “feel” kind of thing; you try different ideas and different thoughts out, as presented through your younger characters—and if they feel accurate, representative of how you yourself may have felt at that age, then you go with them.

Niagara Falls is not only the perfect setting for a ghost story given its surrounding lore, such as the “Maid of the Mist,” but it is also your hometown. As someone who grew up in Cataract City, how much of the book is inspired by your own childhood? Why was it an important setting for the narrative?

Craig:
Author Craig Davidson/Photo Credit Kevin Kelly
A great deal, yes. A huge amount. The Niagara Falls of the book is more the Niagara Falls of my childhood and teenage hood: the taffy stands, the cheap tourist junk shops, the cheesy haunted houses and wax museums. Clifton Hill’s really corporate now! They’ve got Starbucks and IHOPs on the strip now. All the mom and pop places are kinda gone. So again, it’s that feeling of going back, for me. The more I write, the older I get, the more I inevitably seem to retreat to those times and places and people in my past. It’s not that I don’t love my life now. I do. I’m so lucky, so grateful for it. But the world now has a complexity and threat that unnerves me sometimes. You’ve got people in positions of great power who don’t seem like they belong there, aren’t doing the right things, and vast swathes of people who support them anyway. So maybe I just skedaddle back into the past as a mental health measure!

From Stranger Things to GLOW to The Americans, eighties nostalgia has become increasingly prevalent in media and pop culture over the last five years. Why do you think that decade is captivating viewers and readers right now? Why did you choose it as the time period for THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB?

Craig:
Yes, well, the simplest answer is: I grew up and came of age in the 80s. I basically thought, what year was it when I was Jake’s age? 1988. So I tried to put myself there, at the tail end of the 80s, and write from that perspective. I would guess the popularity may be due to simple nostalgia value, plus the fact that a lot of creative people from that generation are now in their thirties and forties, and are writing books and TV shows and films, and that’s the time-frame they gravitate to for the same reasons I do. The 80s feel like such a lightweight, untroubled decade now. The Amblin decade, right? The nineties, everyone became Wall Streeters. So it feels like the right decade to tell stories for some of us who grew up at the time, and it’s perhaps an embraceable decade for those who didn’t.

Craig, thanks for sharing this insight into your story. Knowing background of a story always adds more depth for me.

For those who aren’t familiar with Craig, here’s a bit of background on him.

Craig Davidson has published four previous books of literary fiction: Rust and Bone, which was made into a Golden Globe-nominated feature film, The FighterSarah Court, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated Cataract City. Davidson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his articles and journalism have been published in Esquire, GQ, and The Washington Post, among other places. He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his partner and their child. He also publishes bestselling horror fiction under the pseudonym Nick Cutter.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today during Craig’s visit. What are your thoughts on humans sometimes being more monsters than anything the supernatural world can throw at us?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Heal Your Self with Journaling Power


I’m delighted today to welcome author Mari L. McCarthy to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her latest release, HEAL YOUR SELF WITH JOURNALING POWER, as well as recreating the magic of NaNoWriMo writing.

Mari is stopping by as part of the WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR. You can check out her complete tour below.

Mari’s international bestselling book, Journaling Power, started a movement. Now, Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is igniting a revolution!

You’ll discover the life-changing magic of journaling through moving personal stories told by just some of the thousands of people who have tapped into the proven therapeutic power of expressive writing.
          These are people just like you, and their challenges are the same ones you have.
          Heal Your Self with Journaling Power reveals the inner strength and grace that comes with living your life in the present from the inside out. It will help you transform your life and…
● Manifest everything your desire
● Fill you with uplifting positive energy
● Put you on a path to better health and wellness
● Give you the inspiration and motivation to live your best life
● Show you how to use journaling to solve your most pressing problems

The only right way to journal is YOUR way. Just grab a pen and paper and do it!

Print Length: 143 Pages
Genre: Non-Fiction/Self-Help
Publisher: Mari L. McCarthy
ISBN-13: 9780463807361
ASIN: B07R47JT1T

Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is now available to purchase on Amazon.comKobo.comBarnes and Noble and also on Mari's website CreateWriteNow.com (where you can get a signed copy).

Now join me in welcoming Mari as she tells us “How to recreate the magic of NaNoWriMo in any month.” Welcome, Mari.

Every November, hundreds of thousands of writers from around the world participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s free to sign up, and the only objective is to write 50,000 by the end of the month.

NaNoWriMo fans love the structure, rigor and accountability this month of intense writing gives them. Instead of saying, “I’d love to write a book someday,” you have a tangible goal, a fixed timeline and a supportive community to keep you focused. But NaNoWriMo is just one month out of the year. What do you do for the other 335 days?

Try adopting these practices to recreate the magic of NaNoWriMo throughout the year.

Sign Up for Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat with sessions in both April and July. Register your personal writing project, which can be a novel, a movie script, poetry or any other writing you are passionate about. Set a word count, between 30 and 1,000,00, and join a “cabin,” a 20-person online writing group. You can start your own cabin with a group of friends, or you can be randomly assigned to a group or request to be sorted by similar interests.

Keep On Tracking

Use an app to set and track your writing goals all year long. NaNoWriMo has a goal tracker that is available year-round, and others include WordKeeperAlpha and Pacemaker. You can also use the old-fashioned notebook and paper approach; set a goal for each week or month, and record your daily totals (words written, time spent, etc.).

Start Your Own Group

If you like the community aspect of NaNoWriMo, create it on your own by starting an accountability group. Reach out to people you know who also want to make time for their personal projects. They may be fellow writers, but they don’t have to be. Group members can work toward their individual goals, whether that’s recording an album, training for a marathon or filming a documentary. Have each group member set a clear goal for each week or month and set a regular time for your group to meet in person or check in virtually.

Write Offline

Take a break from your computer screen and make time to write by hand in your journal every day. Set a timer for a few minutes and let all of your stream-of-consciousness thoughts out on the page. Don’t pressure yourself to come up with any brilliant ideas – just write. Give yourself a well-deserved break and give your mind room to explore and play.

Praise for Heal Your Self with Journaling Power

Mari McCarthy's latest, Heal Your Self with Journaling Power, represents the voice of a warm friend who not only talks the talk but also has lived first-hand the transforming power of writing. Packed with focused, fun prompts to jump-start the journaling process, this book is a motivation and an uplift! I especially enjoy the stress-bucket exercise. Not to be missed." -- Melanie Faith, educator and author of In a Flash and Poetry Power

In a world of ever-present scary news, stress, and technology that distracts us from genuine human encounters, Mari McCarthy invites us to do something both simple and radical: pause daily to encounter our own souls. And she not only tells us to just do it, she shows us how with her own life story, the stories of others, and her many ideas about how to maximize the transformative power of journaling time. -- Kevin Anderson, Ph.D., Author of Now is Where God Lives: A Year of Nested Meditations to Delight the Mind and Awaken the Soul and The Inconceivable Surprise of Living: Sustaining Wisdom for Spiritual Beings Trying to Be Human.

The most important lesson illustrated in Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is that anyone can enhance their health and wellbeing through the therapeutic power of expressive writing. This is the definitive book that shows you how. So just grab a pen and a pad of paper and do it! —Mike Bundrant, Co-Founder, iNLPCenter.org
Testimony from Casey Demchak, copywriter and consultant; also featured in Chapter 8, "Design Your Future" of Heal Your Self with Journaling Power

For those not familiar with Mari, here is a bit of background on her.

Author Mari L. McCarthy
Mari L. McCarthy is the Self-Transformation Guide and Founder/Chief Inspiration Officer of CreateWriteNow.com. She is also author of the international-bestselling, award-winning book Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live.

Mari began journaling to relieve the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) over 20 years ago. Through journaling, Mari was able to ditch her prescription drugs and mitigate most of her MS symptoms. Now she teaches people throughout the world how to heal, grow, and transform their lives through the holistic power of therapeutic journaling.

She lives in a gorgeous beachfront home in Boston, where she has the freedom, flexibility, and physical ability to indulge in all her passions, which include singing and recording her own albums.


 Blog Tour Dates
June 17th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Stop by Women on Writing's blog The Muffin and read an interview with author Mari McCarthy and win a copy of her book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

June 18th @ Karen Brown Tyson's Blog
Visit author Karen Brown Tyson's blog today where you can read Mari McCarthy's guest post about why you might still be experiencing writer's block.

June 19th @ Conversations Live with Cyrus Webb (Originally Aired June 12th @ 10:30 AM EST)
Cyrus Webb interviews Mari McCarthy of Create Write Now about her latest bestseller Heal Your Self With Journaling Power.

June 20th @ Look to the Western Sky
Visit Margo's blog today where you can catch her review of Mari McCarthy's incredible new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

June 22nd @ Lapidus 
Visit Lapidus, words for well-being association, where you can read Francesca's review of Mari McCarthy's eye-opening book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. 

June 23rd @ Life Like a Galaxy Girl
Stop by Alanna's blog today where you can read her review of Mari McCarthy's new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. 

June 24th @ Thoughts in Progress
Do you love the energy in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? Well, if you do, you will not want to miss today's post at the blog Thoughts in Progress where Mari McCarthy shares her tips on how to recreate the magic of NaNoWriMo in any month.

June 25th @ Bev Baird's Blog
Make sure you stop by Bev's blog today where you can read her review of Mari McCarthy's book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

June 26th @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra's blog today where she highlights Mari McCarthy's new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

June 27th @ The Frugalista Mom
Make sure to Rozelyn's blog and read her review of Mari McCarthy's book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. Plus enter to win a copy for yourself!

June 29th @ Coffee with Lacey
Grab your coffee and visit Lacey's blog today and read her thoughts about Mari McCarthy's powerful new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

June 30th @ Wild Woman Writer
Visit Anne's blog today where you can catch her review of Mari McCarthy's inspiring new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 1st @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog today and read Mari McCarthy's poignant guest post about our conversations with our inner critic and how to silence them.

July 1st @ Writing Through Life
Be sure to stop by Amber's blog and read her interview with author Mari McCarthy and also enter to win a copy of the book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 2nd @ Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde
If you are in need of a new book in your life, make sure to stop by Lindsey's blog today where you can read her review of Mari McCarthy's new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 2nd @ The Frugalista Mom
Stop by Rozelyn's blog again today where you can read Mari McCarthy's guest post about why we procrastinate and how to avoid it.

July 3rd @ The World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog today and catch her thoughts about Mari McCarthy's book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 5th @ Bring on Lemons
Make lemons into lemonade today when you visit Crystal's blog today and read her thoughts about Mari McCarthy's new book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 7th @ One Sister's Journey Keeping it Real
Visit Lisa's blog today where you can read Mari's blog post about disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with yourself.

July 8th @ A Day in the Life of Mom
Want to inspire your kids to journal? Visit Ashley's blog today and read Mari McCarthy's guest post featuring imaginative journaling activities to do with kids. 

July 9th @ Bev Baird's Blog
Visit Bev's blog again where you can read Mari McCarthy's guest post about mindful journaling for mindful eating. Don't miss!

July 9th @ Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde
Visit Lindsey's blog again where you can find out more about Mari McCarthy and her book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 10th @ Lapidus
Join Francesca at Lapidus again where you can read Mari McCarthy's guest post about why journaling is part of self-care.

July 10th @ Look to the Western Sky
Make sure you visit Margo's blog again and read Mari McCarthy's guest post featuring more imaginative journaling activities you can do with your kids.

July 12th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog
Stop by author Anthony Avina's blog today where you can read his review about Mari McCarthy's inspirational book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power

July 12th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette's blog today where you can read her interview with author Mari McCarthy and also be sure to check out Mari McCarthy's guest post about journaling power for emotional health.

July 13th @ A Day in the Life of Mom
Make sure your day today includes visiting Ashley's blog where you can read her thoughts about Mari McCarthy's life-changing book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 14th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog
Do you procrastinate too much? Well, visit Anthony Avina's blog again today where you can read Mari McCarthy's guest post on how to use your favorite types of procrastination to your advantage.

July 15th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Do you like to journal? Stop by Wendi's blog today where author Mari McCarthy talks about journaling power for mental health. Don't miss it!

July 16th @ Reading Whale
Visit Caitlin's blog today and read her interview with Mari McCarthy as they talk about Mari's book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 17th @ Michelle Cornish Blog
Stop by Michelle's blog where she reviews Mari McCarthy's book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power. You can also check out her interview with Mari and find out more about the author!

July 19th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Do you love journaling? Well if so, you will want to visit Wendi's blog where she shares her thoughts about Mari McCarthy's powerful book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 19th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette's blog again where you can read her review of Mari McCarthy's book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.

July 21st @ Jill Sheet's Blog
Visit Jill's blog today where you can read Mari McCarthy's blog post about overcoming writer's block. Don't miss this if you are struggling with staying inspired!

Thanks for stopping by today. Have you ever signed up for NaNoWriMo? If so, did it work for you or not?