January 20, 2020 | Issue #25
Bonus Episode!
Lucky us! We've got a special Sunday Bonus Episode this week! We will continue our conversation about debut novels, welcoming TWO more debut authors.
Come meet Susan Zurenda whose
BELLS FOR ELI hits shelves on March 5th; and Alison Hammer whose first novel
YOU AND ME AND US came out last April. Both women had full careers in other fields before getting a publishing deal and we will chat with them about these career shifts and their road to becoming published authors.

Join us SUNDAY at 5pm ET LIVE
and on our YouTube Channel.
Bookseller of the Week
This week’s featured bookseller is Gramercy Books—a locally-owned, independently-minded neighborhood bookstore located in the heart of Bexley, OH. The philosophy at Gramercy Books is all about inspiration and discovery, community and adventure. Sounds just right for F&F! They are featuring ALL the debuts we are talking about on BOTH of our shows this week. They've got the debut novels (and our 2021 books for pre-order!) from the Fab Five. PLUS they've got the brand-new debut novels from our guests Nancy Johnson, Sarah Penner, Pamela Terry, Susan Zurenda & Alison Hammer—ALL FOR 10% OFF! Get your hands on all of these books at a sweet discount, no code required! SHOP NOW!   
Up Close and Personal with
Kristy Woodson Harvey

You Never Forget Your First

Debut. It’s such a magical word. The first. The beginning. The start. And there were times when I never believed, couldn’t imagine that the term “debut novelist” could apply to me. Now, with my seventh book about to release, sometimes I still don’t believe it.

I knew that if I ever actually got a book deal, it would feel like winning a contest. But I had no idea that I would get my first book deal by actually winning a contest. The Tampa Area Romance Authors’ TARA contest. Women’s fiction division. I still have the email from the contest coordinator letting me know that an editor at Berkley was my final round judge and had requested the manuscript. Come to think of it, I should probably have that framed…

Life, by and large, is a series of managed expectations. Publishing is to an extreme degree. I spent a considerable amount of time trying not to get my hopes up, but, let me tell you: my hopes were up.
I was lucky enough to already have an agent who was actually shopping another manuscript for me, a bit of a prequel to the one in the contest, so he was guiding me along the process. And I had gotten to the point where I would lie in bed at night and envision what would happen when I finally got that first yes.

After a rewrite (If you’ve ever read my debut, Dear Carolina, fun fact: Jodi’s accent, as it appears on page, wasn’t originally written that way. That’s how I heard her, how she spoke to me in my mind. But, in the first draft, Jodi talked a lot like any other Southern girl.), and weeks and weeks of pushed publisher meetings, I finally, finally got my yes.

It was right around ten in the morning, which I remember because I had just strolled my son to preschool. And, for some unknown reason, my frantic pacing on the phone with my agent had led me to my bathroom window. We lived on a cul-de-sac across from the most beautiful wooded lot. So, when I looked out that window, when I was receiving the news, all I could see was the way the light shone on the magnolia trees.

I remember the way my breath caught, the way I felt a little like that light must be shining on me too. I didn’t rush to my husband’s office, the way I had planned. I didn’t call my parents or text my friends. Instead, with full intention, I walked downstairs to the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of champagne, one of the flutes Will and I had gotten for a wedding present, and walked upstairs.

I popped the cork sitting behind the sleek glass desk in my pretty attic office with the charming little floor-to ceiling windows that let in so much morning light. I poured myself a flute of champagne and I sat, smiling in my swivel chair, looking out that window and, let it sink it: I was going to be an author. I was going to be an author.

It never gets old, that feeling. Truly. I just signed a contract for my eighth novel, which will release in late 2021 and my ninth, which will release in 2022, and, even now, I agonize over whether my editor will like each manuscript, over whether it’s good enough, over whether this dream will continue. And when I find that it is so, I pop the champagne. (Maybe not at ten a.m….)

Mary Kay, Kristin, Patti, Mary Alice and I are so excited to share a bit about our debuts with you this week—and hear from a few special guests about their very special debuts. And I know for certain that none of the other four of the fab five ever take a book contract for granted, that number twenty-something is still almost as thrilling as those early days. But, well, cliches are cliches for a reason, and this one is undoubtedly true: You never forget your first.
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Latest News From "The Fab Five"

KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY is swooning over the gorgeous words her darling friend Kristin Harmel lent to UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY (April 20, 2021)—and will be sure to send her plenty of her favorite Haribo Gummy Bears as a thank you! "I've always been a Kristy Woodson Harvey fan, but she has taken things to a whole new level with Under the Southern Sky, her best novel yet. I laughed, sobbed, and gasped at the story's clever twists and turns; I couldn't flip the pages fast enough to see how Amelia's and Parker's story turned out. You'll need plenty of tissues--and maybe some of Cape Carolina's beloved bourbon-spiked sweet tea--to make it to the end. Deliciously plotted, intricately constructed, gorgeously written, and brimming with hope, Under the Southern Sky will steal your heart and make you think about first loves, second chances, and the unforeseeable twists of fate that guide us all." -- Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY is trying to juggle releasing Surviving Savannah in 7 weeks and starting a new novel that she’s excited about! Yes, you can love two stories at the same time.

KRISTIN HARMEL just turned in her copyedited revision for The Forest of Vanishing Stars and is taking a brief breath before she has to start looking at page proofs. Did you know that many traditionally published authors see their novels several more times after their initial edits are done, just to check (and check and check and check!) every single sentence and word for accuracy, with the help of copy editors?

MARY KAY ANDREWS was glad to get the first dose of the Covid vaccine yesterday. She is spending time on Tybee Island putting finishing touches on her super secret project (watch this space for the announcement!) and shopping for vintage treasures for her new/old beach vacation house, Coquina Cottage. You can follow her progress on her Instagram feed

MARY ALICE MONROE has begun a new book! She'll admit she’s excited, but won't say much more just yet!
News from the F&F Official Book Club
Mark your calendars for these upcoming book club discussions!

Feb. 15: The Winemaker's Wife with Kristin Harmel, plus a guest appearance by Patti Callahan Henryto preview Surviving Savannah
March 15: The Book Club with Mary Alice Monroe, plus a guest appearance by Kristy Woodson Harveyto preview Under the Southern Sky
April 19: Surviving Savannah with Patti Callahan Henry
May 17: Under the Southern Sky with Kristy Woodson Harvey
June 21: The Newcomer with Mary Kay Andrews
July 19: The Summer of Lost and Found with Mary Alice Monroe
Aug. 16: The Forest of Vanishing Stars with Kristin Harmel

We kicked off our first 2021 book club discussion on Monday with Mary Kay Andrews discussing of Ladies Night. Click HERE to see the replay.

We have a secret Valentine gift exchange coming up!

We would love to have you!
Listen to the F&F Podcast!
Patti and Kristin interviewed both Michael Farris Smith and Rachel Hawkins about their new novels for a new podcast episode coming soon!

Next week, Mary Kay and Mary Alice will interview author Marie Benedict about her new novel, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie.

Coming up in February, Mary Alice has an episode planned about audiobooks with a narrator and producer as her guests, and Kristy is working on one about bookstagrammers with a couple great influencers joining her.

Meanwhile, we have one episode already up—an interview with two of our favorite indie booksellers.

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