February 17, 2021 | Issue #29
Five Facts from Our Friend, Susan Meissner
The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without during the pandemic:
Call it schmaltzy but I can’t live without hope. I have to believe this won’t last forever, that there’s another side and we’re approaching it, and when we cross over, we’ll discover we’re all better humans for having had to walk this tough road. Good coffee, fun cocktails, and doughnuts have sure helped to ease the trauma, but only hope gets me through each day.
Your perfect day:
A year ago I would’ve said the perfect day is a sunny stroll on a lovely beach somewhere, followed by lunch at a sidewalk café known for its dessert menu, followed by a lazy afternoon on same beach but in a comfy lounger with a great book and an iced coffee, followed by dinner and a show. Today, I’d be happy with just seeing a world of unmasked, smiling faces, but seeing them in above said locale would be uber-perfect.
Your favorite independent bookstore:
Warwick’s in San Diego’s beautiful coastal suburb of La Jolla is my go-to. Not only is it an amazing store with wonderful staff and brimming with fun finds, but it’s in an enchanting location.
The last book you raved about:
I was utterly spellbound by The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. The premise is haunting – a desperate young woman bargains with a dark deity to get out of an arranged marriage – but the writing is gorgeous and the ending is the most satisfying conclusion to a novel that I’ve read in a long time.
Your next book in ten words or less:
A mail-order bride’s world crumbles on eve of massive earthquake.
Five Facts from Our Friend, Greer Macalister
The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without during the pandemic:
Decaf coffee from local roaster Qualia. Great decaf is hard to come by, but Qualia's is always excellent, and they deliver to my house.
Your perfect day:
At this point in the pandemic, my perfect day would definitely include my kids getting to go to school in person! I'd write for six hours straight while the house was quiet, then take a break for a delicious dinner cooked by someone else.
Your favorite independent bookstore:
One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of DC. They sell books, chocolate AND wine! I'd live there if I could.
The last book you raved about:
I adored Julia Claiborne Johnson's Better Luck Next Time, both witty and touching, set at a Reno "divorce ranch" in the 1930s.
Your next book in ten words or less:
Epic fantasy! Like a feminist Game of Thrones.
Bookseller of the Week
Our featured independent bookseller of the week is Warwick's in sunny southern California. Located in the Village of La Jolla, Warwick's is the country's oldest continuously family-owned and operated bookstore. Get 10% off with the code WARWICKSFRIENDS this week on new and recent books by our guests Greer Macallister and Susan Meissner as well as on recent and upcoming books by the Fab Five.
Up Close and Personal with Kristin Harmel

Each week, the Friends & Fiction authors will take turns writing an essay for, the online home of Parade magazine. This week, Kristin Harmel is at bat with a column about being the light in the darkness.
It’s been 11 months now since the proverbial lights went out across the United States.

Eleven months ago today, the paperback version of my novel The Winemaker’s Wife debuted—into a world that had abruptly closed down just days before. I was supposed to be traveling up and down the east coast to meet readers. Instead, my book tour had been hastily canceled in a flurry of panicked phone calls, and I was sitting at my desk, head throbbing with guilt as I called or emailed the bookstores I should have been visiting, asking each bookseller, “Are you going to be okay? What can I do to help?”

In the coming months, we saw the terrible impact of the pandemic in every corner of our communities. The most serious toll was in the lives lost and the grief left behind, of course, but small business owners across the country were hit hard, too, and, in many cases, entirely ruined. According to a University of California, Santa Cruz study, published in the Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, the number of active business owners in the United States fell by 3.3 million, or 22%, between February and April of 2020—the largest such drop on record.

It was into this new world that, less than a month after that canceled tour was set to begin, four author friends and I launched Friends & Fiction, which Mary Kay Andrews told you about in this column last week. Initially envisioned as a platform to connect with our readers in a world that no longer hosted live bookstore events, it soon became a way to extend a hand to some of the booksellers we’d worked with over the years. As many of them pivoted to online sales, we were there to remind people why it was so important to keep these small, local businesses up and running. It wasn't just about the stores themselves surviving; it was the terrible chain reaction we feared if local businesses we loved began dropping out of our lives....

To continue reading Kristin Harmel’s essay on, click HERE.
And Now a Word from our Partners

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Latest News From "The Fab Five"

KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY had the best time sharing her most-anticipated reads of 2021 with BookTrib! It’s going to be a great reading year! Read the full list HERE.

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY is preparing so many unique things to present during “book tour”  but not in the way she once did; it’s all virtual so she can see all of you, not just those of you in the towns she would have visited in real life. Although she’s sad not to see you in person, she can’t wait to “see” you in all the ways possible. Each event has its own unique surprise from live music in Charleston to a first peek at treasure in Savannah! So join her on the virtual road!

KRISTIN HARMEL is reviewing first pass pages for The Forest of Vanishing Stars this week, which means she's seeing them laid out in book form for the first time--and is checking for typos and mistakes. The funniest error she has found so far? Somehow, the transition from Word to book layout changed the Białowieża Forest in Poland to the "Bia≈Çowie≈ºa Forest." Try saying that five times fast!

MARY KAY ANDREWS just signed off on the final book jacket for her May 4, 2021 novel, THE NEWCOMER, as her publisher gets ready to send it to print. Meanwhile, she continues to fluff Coquina Cottage, her new beach rental-in-progress while writing her next work-in-progress. Follow along on her Instagram.

MARY ALICE MONROE is spilling the beans about her new partnership with Charleston Coffee Roasters! She’s worked with them for twenty years on behalf of sea turtles and now they’ve come together to create the BEACH HOUSE BLEND coffee! Mary Alice chose her private blend after much “cupping” and declares it the perfect brew while at a beach house, or reading about a beach, or any time. The Beach House Blend coffee will be available in April. Stay tuned! Also! Her publisher is running a giveaway of her May 11, 2021 novel THE SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND on GoodReads now through March 1st. Enter to win one of 50 advanced reader copies.
News from the F&F Official Book Club
On Monday Feb. 15: with Kristin Harmel, joined the book club to discuss her book The Winemaker's WifePatti Callahan Henry also popped in to preview Surviving Savannah. If you missed the livestream, you can watch the replay HERE.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming book club discussions!

Feb. 19: Join Brenda & Lisa for a Happy Hour with Ron Block🍸. Details HERE.

March 15: The Book Club with Mary Alice Monroe, plus a guest appearance by Kristy Woodson Harvey to 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 January 18th with Mary Kay Andrews discussing of Ladies Night. Click HERE to see the replay.
We are so excited that our book club has reached 4,000 members!
We would love to have you!
Listen to the F&F Podcast!

In our most recent episode of the F&F podcast, Mary Kay and Mary Alice interview author Marie Benedict about her new novel, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie.

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