Monday, January 28, 2013

What's Coming Next

With Athena, the last of the four 2012 books in the series, being released in November, we have many readers asking, "what's next?" We've been asked about whether or not there will be second installments of the four books or if we'll write about the other women in the group. The answer is yes and yes.

We have all completed our second 'set' of books in the series:

Ruby by Heather Moore (Romance)
Shannon by Josi S. Kilpack (Women's Fiction)
Ilana by Annette Lyon (Women's Fiction)
Victoria by Julie Wright (Romance)

They are all in the hands of our editors and timetables are being decided, covers coordinated, and semi-colons fixed (except for Annette's cause she knows her punctuation.) Shannon is expected for release in May, but we're unsure if one of the other books will beat it to press. Each of our careers are continuing forward and moving us in new directions that didn't allow us the same time together that we enjoyed so much the first time around, but we still very much enjoyed taking the journey with these new women as

These four books will be the final 'set' in the series, but we're not quite done yet. Because most of the books do not end with a tidy little bow in top, we will be working on a Reunion Book, where all eight women will get a few chapters each to give readers an update on what's happened since we last left them. We are very excited to put this volume together and hope that it will come out shortly after book 8. Stay tuned for more details. We'll have book information, release dates, first chapters, and covers posted here as soon as we get that information.

Thanks for all the great feedback we've had on the books--we sure do appreciate the support. It's been a labor of love and brought each of us so much enjoyment. Knowing it does the same for readers is frosting on the cake.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Interview with Deseret News, with reporter Hikari Loftus

In December, we had a great meeting with Deseret News reporter, Hikari Loftus. She was fascinated by the idea of a parallel-series written by four authors. We met at Mini's Cupcakes in Salt Lake City, which is incidentally a Cupcake Wars finalist.

Eating a few too many cupcakes, we had a great time recalling all that went into the series. As I listened to everyone chat, I marveled at how we pulled it all over. It was a three-year journey from idea to when the first 4 books in the series was completed and released.

We met on a December day in 2009 at Amber's Restaurant in Spanish Fork. That was the beginning of our brainstorming session:

Today, Hikari's article was released. I loved what she said here: "It is easy to make assumptions when you don't know the full story."

This is referring to meeting someone new and making an assumption about their lives or personalities. Once you get to know that person, you almost always change your first impression and your understanding and compassion for the person expands. This is a central theme of The Newport Ladies Book Club series. Compassion, friendship, and understanding.

For the full article in the Deseret News, go HERE.

Thanks, Hikari!

Monday, January 7, 2013

We Just Don't Know

by Annette Lyon

I imagine that I'm like many writers in that often a certain theme will latch on to my psyche and find its way into my writing in different ways.

For me, the current theme my brain apparently loves looking at from different angles is that of judging others, and how no matter how much we think we know another person, including who they are and what they're going through, we really don't. Even when we have a lot of information. We just don't know.

I explored that theme extensively in my novel Band of Sisters, and it was something that came up again and again from readers who appreciated the book. (It went on to win a Whitney Award in its category; I think the idea hit a nerve for many people, in a good way.)

Going into the Newport Ladies series, I didn't realize how much the same concept would become a dominating element of not only my book, Paige, but of all the books.

For that matter, at its core, these books are about seeing the world, and often the very same situation, from a different point of view. I remember one reader saying that after reading Olivia, they felt that Paige was rather spineless and mousy. Until they read Daisy, and saw more scenes with her and realized that there was more to Paige than Olivia saw. That reader looked forward to the release of Paige so they could see the story from her perspective.

Fans of the books seem to frequently come back to the same thing. They appreciate the rare opportunity to see into someone else's head to understand what is really going on in there.

As time has gone on, I've wondered why this theme has resonated so much with me personally. After some time of pondering, I realized that, like so many of us, I've been misjudged at times in my life, and have wished I could explain, that I could crack open my brain so someone else could see what I see, feel what I feel, think what I think.

Part of my problem (and I'm aware it's mine, not something I can blame on anyone else) is that I'm horribly shy, but not in the classic way. If I'm in a room with even one good friend, I can be chatty and comfortable and look like I'm totally in my element. Just don't ask me to interact with the other 50 strangers in the room, and I won't have an anxiety attack.

I've realized that in some situations, people have viewed my behavior as stuck-up (their word, not mine), because, as far as they can see, I'm deliberately leaving others out of the conversation, that I'm "too good" for them.

The reality: I am paralyzed by shyness to the point that I have a painful time opening my mouth around people I don't know. The one exception is when I'm teaching a workshop. Somehow lecturing a room of people is different than engaging on an individual level. It's a different kind of scary. Instead of thinking I'm somehow better than others, I almost always see myself as not good enough, that I'm lucky to be allowed into the group of friends I have or other circles I'm in, and that at any moment, I could get kicked right out.

An example: My senior year of high school, I was walking across the commons with a friend I'd been on the drill team with for three years. Her mother was with us, and she said something like this: "I'm so glad we've gotten to know you over the years. You've been such a good friend to my daughter. You're just great. Good thing we had a chance to get to know you, though, because when I first met you, I thought you were totally stuck up."

I was 18, stunned, and ready to burst into tears. I had no idea why she'd thought those things about me (although I have my suspicions now--it was the shy thing), but to this day, I'm still stumped as to why she'd tell a teenager such a thing. I was devastated.

More than two decades later, I can look back and see her words as a blessing of sorts. This wasn't the first or the last time someone said something similar to me, but it was enough of a pattern for me to finally see that people viewed me a specific way even though it wasn't remotely close to reality.

Understanding how others have viewed me, and how they may view me in the future, has helped me in a couple of ways, but the most important is to recognize exactly what the Newport Ladies books have hammered home to me so well: That I shouldn't judge others, because chances are, I have no clue what's really going on in their heads and hearts.

For all I know, they could be inwardly shy, like me, and show it differently than I do.

In short, I'm reminded to give others the benefit of the doubt. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm learning. I hope that in some small way, our readers may look on other women, whether in their family, their neighborhood, or their community--and view them with a softer lens too.

I know doing so has been a great thing for me. Seeing people and the world from new perspectives is a wonderful gift fiction writers receive in spades.