DIY MFA Radio Episode 139: Be the Gateway — Interview with Dan Blank

diy mfa 139 dan blank

This week, Gabriela Pereira interviews marketing mentor Dan Blank about his nonfiction debut, BE THE GATEWAY. In this book, Dan offers a fresh approach to marketing for writers, focusing not on hollow metrics or arbitrary numbers, but on forging genuine connections with their readers. Listen in to learn how to make similar mindset shift in looking at your own platform, so you can focus on what really matters for your author career.

Here’s a secret no one ever tells you. The typical MFA (Master of Fine Arts) boils down to one simple formula:

Writing + Reading + Community = MFA

This means that to create a do-it-yourself version of the MFA, all you need to do is: write with focus, read with purpose, and build your community. Read on to learn more or use the menu above to explore each category. We’ve also highlighted some key DIY MFA articles below to help you get started.

‘The Can Opener’s Daughter’ is Unlike Anything You Have Ever Read

can opener's daughter review

It’s the most inventive graphic novel since Watchmen. Rob Davis’ The Can Opener’s Daughter disorients and intrigues, rolling itself into a pent-up coming of age thriller set in a dystopian landscape you’d find in a teenage schizophrenic’s fever dream. Let me clarify, I’m not saying this graphic novel is as good as Alan Moore’s superhero magnum opus. What I am saying is that there are few artists that have singlehandedly changed the game. Watchmen invoked that comic book heroes could have a deeply literary element. Rob Davis shows graphic novels can delve into a surrealistically absurd stratosphere that even sounds ridiculous for a comic book. His work has the potential to turn the genre on its head.

Can Opener's daughterHere’s the premise, the daughter of a neo-fascist dictator who’s also an alcoholic weather clock, literally, tries to save one of her best friends from his planned, mandated death with the help of her friend suffering from a brain disorder and her reluctant father who’s a talking can opener, literally, travelling through a world where it rains knives and suicides are a matter of law, literally. Still with me? Good.

The second in a series, but also serving as a standalone, we follow Vera Pike, a grinning sower of discord and odd righteousness. Davis does a stellar job crafting Vera as the heroine in this snarky, disturbing work. Rather than make her an innocent, shy, uncertain little girl caught up in a big, bad world, she thinks for herself, wisecracks at every opportunity and stands up to authority. She is utterly human. Human in the sense that she can be downright selfish, doing anything it takes to accomplish her goals and save her friend while feeding her ego at the same time.

This book is beyond crazy in the premise, the artwork and even the wordplay that Davis employs in a not-so-subtle fashion, like he wrote it with a shit-eating grin. That might encourage or deter the casual reader. For me, it was stimulating and forced me to pay attention. The Can Opener’s Daughter reads like a translated section of Finnegans Wake with accompanying imagery drawn by a Ralph Steadman. If you enjoy wordsmithing and straight-up weirdness, buy this book immediately. It’s unlike anything you have ever read or seen.

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Just the Right Book! Podcast with Roxanne Coady Now Available on BookTrib

just the right book

It’s a match made in booklover’s heaven! The new Just the Right Book! Podcast, hosted by Roxanne Coady of Connecticut’s acclaimed, award-winning, independent bookseller R.J. Julia, is now available on, the premier website where readers meet writers. The podcast and BookTrib are both dedicated to helping readers find their next favorite read and this pairing will open up a world of great possibilities.

Thousands of readers have asked Coady, owner of the beloved R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT, for her insightful advice when choosing a book. Not everyone can travel to her Connecticut shop, but Coady’s keen instinct for choosing the next great book is now available to everyone on her new podcast. Writers who have appeared on her show include James Patterson, world-renowned French chef and cookbook author Jacques Pepin, Saturday Night Live writer Maria Semple and “Ask Amy” advice columnist and NPR regular Amy Dickinson. Coady has a knack for drawing out fascinating details from her guests and listeners are sure to enjoy surprising literary revelations.

how propaganda worksIn this latest episode, author, professor, philosopher Jason Stanley stopped by the Just the Right Book! Podcast studios to talk propaganda, how it works and how language influences the way we think and reason about public issues. The author of How Propaganda Works holds a PhD from MIT, has taught philosophy at Cornell, University of Michigan and Rutgers, and is now a professor of philosophy at Yale University.

Also in this episode, Roxanne gives us some of her favorite picks from the National Book Critics Circle Awards.

Be sure to like us on Facebook and join our mailing list to hear more news about “Just the Right Book Podcast.”

Books in this episode:

How Propaganda Works by Jason Stanley

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Soujourner Truth

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

5 Book-Themed Subscription Boxes We’re Signing Up for ASAP

book subscription boxes

I recently binged a bunch of monthly subscription boxes. From jewelry to clothing to artisan cheeses, I became obsessed with delivered boxes filled with handpicked goodies. It felt like someone was sending me a special present every month, and the surprises and originality kept me coming back for more and more. But I soon discovered that the best monthly subscription boxes are definitely book boxes.

Compiled by clearly devoted readers, book-themed subscription boxes bring you the best of everything lit-related. Not only do you get actual, physical books, but you also get a bunch of other things guaranteed to appeal to any reader. Including bookmarks, figurines, fancy tea, stickers, and so much more. Every box is different, catering to your own specific reading tastes. And they change up every month, delivering a new reading experience, fun surprises and unique trinkets that are usually themed to the book. So if you get a Harry Potter novel, you might also get a Time Turner necklace, Butterbeer flavored candy, or a sorting hat quiz to decide your house. The possibilities are endless.

With prices ranging anywhere from $10 to $50 a month, finding a great subscription box can be hard to navigate. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are five awesome subscription book boxes, handcrafted for every type of reader:


uppercase box

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For all you young adult fiction lovers, Uppercase is an awesome choice. Not only does it feature some of the top YA titles, all the books are also signed by the author. The box promises a bunch of “surprises,” which range from things like book-themed socks, to fantasy-inspired maps, to advance copies of must-read books. Seriously, the swag in this box is out of control. Harry Potter cookie cutters! Quotation mark earrings! I would invest in this box for the goodies alone (not to mention that signed book!).

The Book Drop

the book drop

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Created by an independent bookstore called Bethany Beach Books, The Book Drop aims to bring lesser-known titles to a wider audience. The books are hand-selected by the bookstore staff, and are all books they’ve personally read and loved. You can pick between four different boxes, including “The Jane,” which delivers heartfelt emotional stories, and a children’s box that offers up new and loved books for ages 8-12. While The Book Drop might not have all the swag of the other boxes, it does have that special, personal touch of knowing that the book you’re receiving is well loved by voracious readers like yourself.

Novel Tea Club

novel tea club

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Everyone knows that a good book goes hand-in-hand with a good cup of tea. Which is exactly the premise of Novel Tea Club, a box that includes an awesome novel and a unique type of tea. There are also lots of other goodies, like coasters, candy, bath bombs and more. This box screams cozy night in with a good book. You can also choose between three different genres: young adult, fantasy/scifi and romance. The hardest part might be choosing just one!

Owl Crate

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Owl Crate has two options: the junior version for middle grade readers, and a young adult version for readers 14 and up. Both are completely adorable, featuring monthly themes and exclusive items from authors and publishers. Not only do you get a new, hardcover book, you also get all kinds of cool swag. Things like Funko figurines, literary-themed temporary tattoos, and even Game of Thrones coasters. The tagline for the box is “Magical Monthly Reads,” which should tell you everything about how whimsical and adorable it all is.

Paper Street Books and Comics

paper street books and comics

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If you love graphic novels and comics, then the Paper Street box might just be for you. Shipping every two months, the box features all sorts of comic-related items, graphic novels, books, swag and more. There are three options, including Book Addict, Comic Addict and Book Warrior. Each receive different items, with the Book Warriors taking home it all – an adult fiction novel, a graphic novel and a few fun surprises as well. This box is a great way to discover more artists and novelists who just might become your new fave.

Q&A with Jennifer Donnelly Discussing ‘Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book’ (A No. 1 Amazon Bestseller!)

lost in a book jennifer donnelly

BookTrib is partnering with Bookish to bring you more great content, including this Q&A with Jennifer Donnelly about Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book!

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly sat down with Bookish to discuss her latest release, the No. 1 teen and YA Amazon bestseller, Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book. Below she discusses how she worked with Disney to make this enchanting tale come together!

Belle craves adventure in the great wide somewhere, but she gets more than she bargained for when she opens a mysterious book in the Beast’s library and is transported to a world created by Death herself. Jennifer Donnelly’s middle grade novel, Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, follows Belle in her early days in the enchanted castle. Here, Donnelly shares the challenges of capturing such iconic characters and developing them for a new story.

Dying to read this new take on a classic tale? Check out Bookish’s Belle’s Library giveaway.

Bookish: You were given a sneak peek at the script for the 2017 movie, Beauty and the Beast. Were there any other guidelines you had from Disney for the plot or characterizations?

beauty and the beast jennifer donnellyJennifer Donnelly: I did get the script! And it was a delight to read—deft, charming, funny, and moving. It had a combination of sweetness and groundedness that I found very appealing.

The main guideline from Disney was that my story had to fit within the script’s timeline. So I was thinking: What other adventures did Belle have that we don’t know about? I had to find a dusty, untraveled corridor in the enchanted castle, so to speak, for her to explore, but make sure it didn’t stop the forward action of the major events we all know and expect.

Bookish: As Belle discovers, a truly fulfilling life isn’t one devoid of struggles. In your own journey of writing this book, what was the most challenging aspect of tackling such an iconic tale?

JD: The deadline! Because of scheduling constraints, I had four months to write Lost in a Book. I had never, ever attempted anything that crazy before. My other novels had all taken me a lot longer to write. But I took the challenge on and I learned something hugely important that I want to share with aspiring writers: Whether a first draft takes four months to write, or four years… it’s going to stink. That is a fact. So just get on with it. Jump in and make that big fat messy first draft. Take a breath, and then start your second draft. Your third. Your fourth. Because that mess? That is writing—making the mess less messy until it’s no longer a mess.

Bookish: Some of the scenes in the book reflect the animated Disney classic (such as Beast giving Belle the library), while others are from the original fairytale (the father picking a rose from the Beast’s garden). How did you decide which elements to include?

JD: This is a very rational question, and I wish I could give a rational answer, but I can’t because the process of making a story isn’t terribly rational. The story dictates what it wants and what it doesn’t, and the author’s job is to listen, and to feel her way, and basically to be a servant of that story.

Bookish: Belle’s relationship with the Beast is one of friendship, rather than true love. Why did you decide to take that direction?

JD: I’m really interested in Belle’s early days in the castle, when Belle is discovering who the Beast really is, and he’s discovering who she really is. I like how they take each other’s measure. I think true friendship—an honest appraisal and appreciation of another human being—is the genuine basis for true love, and I really like how Belle and the Beast’s relationship progresses from friendship to love.

Bookish: You write about Love and Death as sisters. Why did you choose to give them that bond, and what do you think it represents about their relationship?

JD: I see Love and Death as true relations, and true adversaries. We can’t escape Death, but we can defeat her by loving each other. And I’m not talking only about romantic love. I’m talking about the love between parents and children. That love makes Belle the strong person she is. The lack of that love damages Beast—almost irreparably. I’m also talking about the love between friends. Death nearly scores an early victory in Lost in a Book when Belle succumbs to the ease of false, pretty, glittery friendships and forgets to engage in the hard, messy work of making true friends.

Bookish: Belle realizes how easy it is to lose yourself in something you love and forget the world around you. Her passion is nearly her downfall. Why did you decide to tie her love of books to the danger she faces? Is there a message there for readers about not neglecting the outside world?

JD: I think it’s important for all of us, myself included, not to let an escape become escapism. I recently saw a documentary in which a teen girl spent almost all her free time on social media churning out fan posts. It seemed like her whole life was defined by the achievements of others, which made me really sad. I wanted to make the point, especially to younger readers, that it’s wonderful to read stories (or posts, or tweets) that others have written, but don’t neglect to write your own story. Define yourself. Don’t let anyone else do it for you.

Bookish: If you could step into a book, which one would you choose?

Jennifer Donnelly: You can’t possibly be serious about limiting me to one book. You just can’t. So here goes: Every single one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. My whole life, I’ve wanted to take a bite out of the gingerbread house, see a pumpkin turn into a carriage, and watch the evil queen flip out as the mirror tells her she’s not the fairest. Where the Wild Things Are, to join the wild rumpus! The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to hang with Aslan and see what Jadis is wearing. The Golden Compass, to see what my own daemon looks like. The Shining, because I’m insane. And pretty much every history book I’ve ever read so I can step into the court of Elizabeth Tudor, watch the sans-culottes storm the Bastille, and listen to Mozart play live.

Bookish: We already know that every reader wants the giant library. But is there anything else in Beast’s castle you’d like to possess?

JD: Ha! Where do I start? Cuisiniere, so I never have to cook again. That would make me very happy, and my family even happier. Madame de Garderobe, so I could have a gorgeous new outfit every day of my life. And the castle itself! It’s spooky and gorgeous—my favorite combo!

Bookish: If you were able to write a book in the world of any other Disney character, which would you choose?

JD: Cinderella’s fairy godmother might be fun to write about. What does she get up to when she isn’t turning mice into horses, and raggedy dresses into ballgowns? What does she eat? Who are her friends? What does her house look like? Hmmm…

Bookish: What is it about fairy tales that you think continues to resonate with modern readers?

JD: Fairy tales were therapy before Freud invented it. Though grounded in their time, fairy tales still matter in ours because they give voice to our deepest fears, and by doing so, they help us resolve them. They tell us there are monsters, but they also tell us how to beat them. We humans need that—no matter how modern we may think we are.

Jennifer Donnelly is an award-winning, best-selling author of books for young adults and adults, including the Waterfire Saga: Deep Blue, Rogue Wave, Dark Tide, and Sea Spell. Her other young adult novels include These Shallow Graves, Revolution, and A Northern Light, winner of Britain’s prestigious Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature, and a Michael L. Printz Honor. She has also written Humble Pie, a picture book, and the adult novels The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. You can visit her at, or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @jenwritesbooks.

Is Your Man Cheating? Author Rob Weiss Can Help a Girl Out.

cheating men rob weiss

These days, we love superficial intimacy. That Instagram photo you posted of yourself on the beach. Ice cream all over your face. We offer the world a sort of intimacy that is posed, chosen, cute. We’ve all done it. I think I posted one of myself having a good time at the beach a couple of weeks ago to get over this cold winter we’re having in Connecticut. You have to wonder though, what would sex and relationship expert, Rob Weiss, have to say about these forms of intimacy? Could they possible lead to cheating within your relationship?

I want to talk about the raw, ugly truth about relationships. We can all relate—they are messy and sometimes blurry. And typically, when relationships start to become more demanding emotionally, there are two things many men do to deal: communicate or cheat. Add digital devices—like dating apps and web cams to the mix—and it’s all the more confusing. Is he just communicating or CHEATING? HELP A GIRL OUT.

Out of the Doghouse
Get great advice from relationship expert Robert Weiss in his newest book.

Have you searched your man’s phone, emails, receipts, maybe even the garbage and through the pockets of his jeans to prove to yourself that you’re not crazy? It’s distressing, this intimacy mystery. Until recently, there hasn’t been a guide that plainly explains what the hell is going on when a man is cheating, and WHY.

Author Rob Weiss is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in intimacy, sex and relationships in the digital age and he might be on to something. Weiss’ new book, Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating is the guide to cheating’s who, what, when, where, why and how. What’s really radical about his book is the notion that a betrayed relationship can be saved. Stay with me here. Because first, you have to catch him.


  1. Secrets and lies: You wonder where your man really is when he says that he will be “staying late at work.” There is that empty, distant look in his eye, even when he makes eye contact.
  2. Manipulation: He tries to hide his behavior by convincing you to believe all sorts of excuses. He kept at it until he wore you down. He tries to make you believe that you are the problem in the relationship. You’ve probably heard these lines before: “You’re just paranoid!” or “Why don’t you trust me?!”
  3. Broken Promises: He promised that he would be more present in the relationship but hasn’t been able to follow through. He’s distant and emotionally disjointed.
  4. Mood Swings: He vacillates from loving and happy to periods of irritability. If you questioned him, the moods were blamed on the actions of others or events out of his control. Most likely, affairs, sexting, hookup apps contribute to an imbalanced temper.
  5. Financial Issues: Extramarital affairs cost money. The courting through drinks and dinner, travel expenses all contribute to the infidelity.

This kind of exposure is ugly. However, like the romantics have always said throughout time, love can overcome all obstacles. If you or a friend is struggling with this all-too-common relationship issue, enter our giveaway below for a free copy of Rob Weiss’ new book, Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating.

This Week’s Four NEW Giveaways and Stories from AuthorBuzz Authors

Dear Reader, see what this week’s AuthorBuzz authors have to say! In each note you’ll receive invitations to join contests, get free books, bookplates or bookmarks, read personal stories, and more.


the two family houseauthorbuzz authorsDear Reader,

Since my 1947 family saga was published last March, the response has been overwhelming! One of the year’s greatest thrills was when The Two-Family House was selected as a finalist for the 2016 Goodreads Readers Choice Awards. I’ve loved meeting so many of you at book clubs, libraries, and book festivals, and I can’t wait for more of you to discover this story. Find out what happens when two sisters-in-law give birth during a blizzard in a Brooklyn brownstone, and follow the consequences of the secret choice they make that snowy night. I’m giving away five books to readers – write to me at [email protected] to win!

lynda cohen authorbuzz authorsLynda Cohen Loigman

spies and stilettos authorbuzz authorsDear Readers,

I’m thrilled to announce the MacKenzie Family World is returning! I asked four of my favorite authors to create their own characters and put them into the world you all know and love. These amazing authors revisited Surrender, Montana, and through their imagination you’ll get to meet new characters, while reuniting with some of your favorites. These stories are hot, hot, hot and packed with action and adventure—exactly what you’d expect from a MacKenzie story. It was pure pleasure for me to read each and every one of them and see my world through someone else’s eyes. They definitely did the series justice, and I hope you discover four new authors to put on your auto-buy list.

So grab a glass of wine, pour a bubble bath, and prepare to Surrender.

Love Always,

liliana hart authorbuzz authorsLiliana Hart

Please write to [email protected] to win one of five copies.

avenged authorbuzz authorsDear Reader,

I’m so excited that my crazy crossover between three fantastic series is finally here. I’ve been dying to do a series mashup between the saints in Denver and the sinners in the Point for a long time. This was the perfect opportunity to do that. Throw in some sexy MacKenzies on top of it and you have a hot, irresistible time lost deep in the heart of Surrender.

I always knew I was going to give Echo a story when she first appeared in Built. Benny, well he took me by surprise. But if anyone was going to get out of the Point alive it was going to be him.

jay crownover authorbuzz authorsI hope you enjoy Avenged and all the worlds colliding. It was a blast to write and I’m still thinking about these characters.

Please write to [email protected] to win one of five copies.

appointment with yesterday authorbuzz authorsDear Reader,

In Appointment with Yesterday, I wanted to share a message of perseverance in the search for the “sweetness of life.”

In the story, the brutality of Nazi occupation shatters
a happy childhood. After the war is over, immigration, alienation and cultural diversities cause extreme pain, emotional breakdowns and family conflicts. Ultimately, love and the will not only to survive but also to succeed triumph over hardships and family tragedy.

I hope you will find, in Yanni’s story, inspiration for your own journey.

christopher stratakis authorbuzz authorsI’m giving away 5 copies of Appointment with Yesterday: email [email protected] to be entered to win one.

Interview with Cathy McDavid, author of ‘A Baby for the Deputy’ (Video)

Watch our author video interview, “15 minutes with… Cathy McDavid,” now! Here, we discuss her latest release for Harlequin, A Baby for the Deputy, and what other projects she has coming up for 2017. You don’t want to miss this interview brought to you by Meryl Moss Media and


a baby for the deputy cathy mcdavidA secret, no-strings relationship with Aaron Travers has suited Melody Hartman just fine for the past eight months. The lives of the Mustang Valley veterinarian and the deputy sheriff have always been complicated—and are about to become more so, because Mel is pregnant!

Raising his toddler daughter and protecting his Arizona town are Aaron’s priorities. But this unexpected pregnancy is a life changer. The widowed single dad is ready to do the right thing and marry Mel. Can he say the three words she is waiting to hear? Will she think he wants to marry her only because of the baby? Or will she acknowledge that their feelings for each other run deeper than either of them realized?


cathy mcdavidIn the third grade, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Cathy McDavid made it her goal to read every Black Stallion book ever written. Who knew such an illustrious ambition would eventually lead to a lifelong love of all things western and a career writing contemporary romances for Harlequin? With over 1.2 million books sold, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll.
An “almost” Arizona  native, she’s married to her own real-life sweetheart, whom she re-met a few years ago at a high school reunion. Her grown twins are out on their own and finding their happily-ever-afters. In 2014, Cathy retired from the corporate world to write full-time. She now spends her days penning stories about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting a bronc, and sweeping gals off their feet. It a tough job, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice.

The Top 10 March Books for Those Sunny Spring Afternoons

march books top 10

Spring is officially here and so are March books! Sadly, we’re getting warm days, then cold ones. Snowy mornings and sunny afternoons. But the end of winter is finally in sight, which is gearing us up for potential BBQs, beach days and leaving the house without a bulky parka on our backs.

That renewed spring energy is making us excited about March books, too. We just want to sit on a sun-soaked porch and dive into a great new read. Luckily, from fantasy to poetry, there are some awesome new releases this month. Here’s a preview of the top 10 March books we can’t wait to wile away the afternoon with, that have either just released or are coming out soon:

March Books

Silence Fallen: A Mercy Thompson Novel, Patricia Briggs (Ace, March 7, 2017)

silence fallen march booksThe latest addition to Briggs’ bestselling Mercy Thompson series might also be her deadliest. Kidnapped and separated from her lover and her pack, Mercy finds herself more alone than ever. After escaping her abductors, she’s forced to navigate the ancient forces and complicated underworld politics of Europe, all the while trying to avoid war — and make her way back to her love, Adam.

Mississippi Blood: A Natchez Burning Novel, Greg Iles (William Morrow, March 21, 2017)

mississippi blood march booksIles ends his epic Natchez Burning trilogy with Mississippi Blood, the final installment that fans have been waiting years for. Murder trials, complicated family dynamics and unlikely alliances all come together to create a conclusion for the Cage family that is sure to satisfy Iles’ devoted readers.

You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds, Jenny Lawson (Flatiron Books, March 7, 2017)

you are here march booksKnown online as The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson has been cracking up her fans for years. Her latest book is a little hard to define: part self-help, part humor, and part coloring book, this collection of Lawson’s doodles and drawings will delight you from the very first page.

Wait for Dark: A Bishop/Special Crimes Unit Novel, Kay Hooper (Berkley, March 7, 2017)

wait for dark march booksHooper delivers another heart-stopping addition to her Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series, this time bringing us to North Carolina where a killer is targeting residents of a small mountain town. The only clue to each is a note that comes shortly before the murder: “Wait for dark.” It’s up to Hollis Templeton and her team (including her lover, telepath Reese DeMarco) to get to the bottom of the deadly mystery.

Just Fly Away, Andrew McCarthy (Algonquin Young Readers, March 28, 2017)

just fly away march booksMcCarthy’s debut young adult novel tells the story of Lucy Willows, a 15 year old who discovers that her father has a child from a previous affair. The news isolates Lucy from her family and friends and sends her on a path of discovery that will uncover even more mysteries and buried family secrets.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Lisa See (Scribner, March 21, 2017)

the tea girl of hummingbird lane march booksA member of a remote Chinese village, Li-yan grows up surrounded by tea farming and a strong sense of tradition. But when she becomes pregnant outside of marriage, instead of raising her daughter herself, she abandons the girl in a nearby city. Her daughter, Haley, is adopted into a well-off California home. See’s latest novel explores culture, tradition and the bonds of family as Li-yan longs for the daughter she gave up and Haley searches for the roots of where she came from.

Black Obsidian, Victoria Quinn (March 7, 2017)

black obsidian march books

The start of a new romance series, Black Obsidian promises a strong heroine and an alpha male who falls for her instantly. Fans of 50 Shades will definitely be drawn to the submissive relationship and the devoted love story at the heart of this erotic novel.

If I’m Found: If I Run Series, Book 2, Terri Blackstock (Zondervan, March 21, 2017)

if I'm found march booksBlackstone follows up last year’s If I Run with this sequel continuing Casey Cox’s story. After being accused of a murder she didn’t commit, the fugitive is still on the run. She has to decide who she can trust, all while trying to find the real killers. When she runs into others in her same position, she’ll risk everything to discover the truth.

The Song Rising: A The Bone Season Novel, Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury USA, March 7, 2017)

the song rising march booksIn this sequel to Shannon’s bestselling The Bone Season, Paige Mahoney must learn how to rule London’s seedy criminal world as the Underqueen. When a deadly new technology sweeps through their realm, it threatens to destroy everything Paige has fought to protect.

Wildly Into the Dark, Tyler Knott Gregson (TarcherPerigee, March 28, 2017)

wildly into the dark march booksGregson is an internet sensation, known for his heartfelt and intimate poetry. This is his third collection of poems, showcasing his popular “typewriter” style. Combining photography with Gregson’s unique way with words, this is a must-have collection for any poetry fan.

DIY MFA Episode 138: Writing By Numbers— Interview with Ben Blatt

ben blatt diy mfa

This week, Gabriela Pereira hosts Ben Blatt on the show. Ben is the author of the No. 1 Amazon bestseller, Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve and in this interview he and Gabriela tackle major writing questions like:

  • Which authors use the most adverbs?
  • Do men and women write differently?
  • Have books gotten dumber over time?
  • What makes for an excellent opening sentence?

Here’s a secret no one ever tells you. The typical MFA (Master of Fine Arts) boils down to one simple formula:

Writing + Reading + Community = MFA

This means that to create a do-it-yourself version of the MFA, all you need to do is: write with focus, read with purpose, and build your community. Read on to learn more or use the menu above to explore each category. We’ve also highlighted some key DIY MFA articles below to help you get started.

Interview with Kate Moore, author of The Radium Girls (Video)

Watch our author video interview, “15 minutes with… Kate Moore,” now! Here, we discuss the different genres Moore writes in, her inspiration behind writing about this American scandal and what new project she’s working on. You don’t want to miss this interview brought to you by NetGalley, Meryl Moss Media and

The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger

the radium girls kate mooreThe Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive ― until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…


kate mooreKate Moore is the author of more than ten books across the genres of gift, humour, biography, history and children’s brand publishing. A Sunday Times top-three bestselling author, she is extremely versatile, equally adept at creating projects to clients’ briefs, ghostwriting memoirs and innovating her own ideas.

Moore’s work has been published in national newspapers, translated into more than twelve languages, used in national advertising campaigns and performed at the South Bank Centre, London.

Big Library Read Kicks off This Month’s eBook Club with ‘Art of the Pie’

big library read art of pie

pieThis past week I’ve only been watching one thing on TV: The Great British Baking Show. Netflix recently added more episodes of the addictive British show about amateur bakers who compete to be crowned the best baker in the tent. It’s charming and wholesome and has basically convinced me that I’m secretly a whiz at baking cakes, pastries, biscuits and more. That’s why I’m currently all about Big Library Read‘s eBook club!

Logically, I know I can’t learn how to make a perfect blueberry pie by watching it happen on TV. Still, I might be in luck, as Big Library Read just launched their latest digital book club choice: Art of the Pie, by Kate McDermott. For two weeks, from March 16 through March 30, participants can download a free digital copy of McDermott’s bestselling cookbook from participating libraries around the world. All you need is a library card to join in on the fun, and, awesomely, 20,000 libraries in 28 different countries are participating in the event. I basically love everything about this idea, and not just because it combines my two favorite things: baking and books.

Big Library Read is the largest worldwide digital book club, and it’s the first one ever to use libraries to connect readers with new, awesome titles. It’s completely free to participate in their book club reads, and you’ll be able to download a temporary copy of Art of the Pie to any of your digital devices. The book will automatically expire on March 30, but until then you can dive into baking all sorts of sweet and savory pies. You can also join in on the eBook club discussion that’s currently taking place on the Big Library Read website. Having trouble with that pastry crust? Not sure how to properly prepare those fillings? Take to the eBook club discussion to ask your fellow bakers/readers for advice.
art of the pie big library readArt of the Pie has been named one of 2016’s best cookbooks by many (including!), and was personally selected by Big Library Read members as the current eBook club pick. The recipe book tackles everything pie-related, imparting McDermott’s baking wisdom in an accessible and delicious way. Learn how to make the perfect crust, as well as some classic pie recipes, including Chicken Pot Pie, a Quintessential Apple Pie, and even some gluten free options. For all you amateur bakers out there who may or may not be obsessed with The Great British Baking Show, McDermott’s pie bible is a must-read. The fact that Pi Day was on March 14 should provide some great mathematical inspiration.
Now is definitely the time to check out the Big Library Read eBook club and join all the pie-related discussions. I almost can’t believe that you can read this awesome baking cookbook for free for the next two weeks, as well as potentially meet some new online friends who love baking (and reading!) just as much as you do. Book clubs are such an awesome way to connect with other readers who share your interests – and it’s even better when those interests happen to be about pie.
Do you love book clubs as much as we do? Are you part of any yourself? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned for our upcoming article on our favorite online book clubs!

Ann Claycomb Explores the Life of a Mermaid in ‘The Mermaid’s Daughter’

Ann Claycomb bookish

BookTrib is partnering with Bookish to bring you more great content, including this article from Ann Claycomb!

Fiction and creative nonfiction writer Ann Claycomb has become the master of the underwater life of mermaids since researching for her latest novel, The Mermaid’s Daughter. Below, she shares with Bookish her discoveries and the ultimate lure of the fictional creatures that live under the sea.

ann claycomb the mermaid's daughterMermaids. What would you give to be part of their world? When studying mermaids, Ann Claycomb found their portrayals fascinating. They were either tranquil, pastel sunbathers or powerful, deadly sirens. Here, Ann Claycomb explores that dichotomy and shares how it inspired her latest novel, The Mermaid’s Daughter (William Morrow, March 7, 2017).

When you write a book about mermaids, people buy you mermaid-themed gifts. You don’t need to receive many of these to identify the trends: pastel washes of color, a predominance of shimmer and turquoise, coyly-placed scallop shells and tails that are look too long or too fat or just weird. Last summer, beach shops featured a t-shirt that read: Always be yourself, unless you can be a mermaid. Then be a mermaid.

As the parent of a 7-year-old boy, I thought the mandate was to always be yourself, unless you can be Batman. I found it confusing when repurposed for mermaids. Batman is clearly a badass. Mermaids are—well, what are mermaids? The ones featured on sun-catchers and t-shirts are dreamy, abstracted creatures, sweetly pretty but not sexual. They swim in warm, sun-dappled water and spend a lot of time combing their hair. They appeal because they embody a fantastical extreme of a leisurely life in paradise. Forget sitting by the pool; why not imagine yourself immersed in a crystalline tropical sea, having solved the problem of how to hide your thighs in a bathing suit and enjoying the best hair day of your life.

But there are other mermaids, who swim in deeper, colder water. Their seas are turbulent, uncharted, leading down into black depths rather than up onto white sands. These are alien creatures, perhaps still beautiful, but dangerous too, and nothing we can aspire to be, any more than we can aspire to be dragons or tigers or stars. They embody not a blurred watercolor femininity but a more sinuous and shadowy one.

Let’s not forget that in most folklore mermaids lured human men to their death in the sea. Surely they must have felt a kind of scorn for the creatures who threw themselves foolishly to their deaths for a song only half-heard and little understood. And what did they want with men anyway, these mermaids? Not sex or romance, clearly. Did they just thrill to their own power as the bodies tumbled into the water? Or were the deaths accidental and faintly regrettable, noted and sighed over the way we might sigh over a groundhog that lumbers in front of our car?

We can’t know. That’s the lure of these mermaids—perhaps for sailors of old, but definitely for us now. We can’t know them, not how they think or feel or sound or even how they can stand to swim in cold water and never need the sun on their faces. We can’t know them and they don’t seem interested in knowing us. Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Mermaid,” and Ariel, her technicolor sister, are remarkable in part because they are mermaids fascinated by humans. Go back and read the original story and you’ll see: The rest of her family isn’t frightened or cowed by humans. They just find us a bit of a yawn. Legs, you say? (“Walking around on those—what do you call ‘em? Oh, feet!”) Who needs them?

That’s why I wanted to take on Andersen’s tale (pun inevitable) in The Mermaid’s Daughter, because I always thought it hinted at the lives of one kind of mermaid—the one with the siren song—while claiming that its heroine was the other kind, the one who just wants a prince to love her and her pretty scallop-shell bra. I wanted to write some of the unknowability back into the story, to reclaim the Little Mermaid’s strangeness for her. That’s hubristic, I get that; the mermaids who don’t care about us certainly don’t care about our stories about them. But mermaids themselves are not, after all, my readers. I want the human readers of my book to experience the mermaids they can’t find in gift shops, both their power and their alien nature. I wanted to evoke the deep waters we can never plumb, the songs we can hear but never sing ourselves. I wanted to offer readers a glimpse of the truly mysterious and unknowable. I don’t know if I have, but it was a thrill to chase those mermaids through their depths.

Ann Claycomb’s fiction has been published in American Short Fiction, Zahir, Fiction Weekly, Brevity, Hot Metal Bridge, The Evansville Review, Title Goes Here, and other publications. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University.

If You Love ‘The Shack,’ Check Out These Inspiring Novels

the shack spirtual books

The movie adaptation of William P. Young’s bestselling inspirational novel, The Shack, came out on March 3, and we could not wait to get to the theater and check it out. We’ve been fans of Young ever since reading The Shack almost nine years ago — and we’re happy to say we finally saw it and the movie is just as good as the heartfelt novel. Even the trailer is guaranteed to give you goosebumps:

Starring Sam Worthington as Mack Phillips and Octavia Spencer as “Papa,” the story is about grief, healing and how we find the strength to go on after extreme tragedy. Despite his dark past, Mack has created a happy family life with his wife, Nan (Radha Mitchell), and their three children. But on vacation their youngest daughter Missy disappears, sending the family into a panic. To their horror, they later realize that she’s been brutally murdered by a serial killer in an abandoned shack deep in the woods.

the shack william p youngBut that’s not the whole story, as in his grief and suicidal depression Mack receives a mysterious note from “Papa” (his wife’s word for God), asking him to come to the shack. He reluctantly travels back to the place of his nightmares, and there finds three mysterious strangers who lead him on an incredible journey, forcing him to face his past and find healing in his present.

The Shack is the kind of movie that will make you sob buckets of tears, even as you leave feeling strangely uplifted. Its spiritual message is sure to stay with you long after you watch the film (or read the book!). With that in mind, here are four other upcoming books about healing and redemption that you should definitely dive into after finishing The Shack:

The Broken Road, Richard Paul Evans (Simon & Schuster, May 2, 2017)

the broken roadThe first book in a new trilogy, The Broken Road tells the story of celebrity Charles James. After a rough childhood, Charles has found wealth, success and fame. It’s all he ever wanted, so why isn’t he actually happy? Haunted by dreams of a broken highway on fire, Charles knows he’s not done searching for peace. When one of his clients commits suicide, he’s forced to confront his shady business practices, and the choices that have gotten him to this point. But then Charles gets a second chance to find happiness, and he knows that it’s finally time to take it. This inspiring tale of redemption will definitely remind readers of Mack’s journey toward his own grace in The Shack.

The Delight of Being Ordinary: A Road Trip with the Pope and the Dalai Lama, Roland Merullo (Doubleday, April 11, 2017)

the delight of being ordinaryIf you’ve ever wanted to read a road trip story about the Pope and the Dalai Lama, look no further. Blending humor and spiritual insight, Merullo creates a world in which two of the leading religious figures decide that they just need to blow off a little steam. When the Dalai Lama visits the Vatican, the two men decide to don disguises and sneak out into the Italian countryside. Along with the Pope’s secretary, Paolo, and his exuberant estranged wife, Rosa, the four go on an adventure that will affect all of their outlooks on life. Merullo’s novel confronts what it’s like to be a famous figure in a hilarious way, but it’s also a thoughtful look at religion, spirituality, and how we make sense of the world.

Love Story, Karen Kingsbury (Howard Books, June 6, 2017)

love storyKingsbury’s inspiration family, the Baxter’s, have won over the hearts of readers everywhere. This is the first book in a new series about the iconic family, bringing us the story of John and Elizabeth, and their grandson Cole, who’s determined to write about them for a school project. His grandparents had a truly happy marriage of 30 years that ended when Elizabeth passed away from cancer. Despite his grief, John relives those memories for Cole, finally sharing the secret events that made the two fall in love. And it’s not the only story of love and redemption in the book – we also see family friend Cody Coleman trying to save his own fractured love story. Filled with heartfelt moments and the strong bonds of family that Kingsbury is known for, any fan of The Shack is sure to fall in love with this book.

Into the Water, Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, May 2, 2017)

into the waterHawkins latest novel isn’t necessarily a spiritual read, but it is a story about how grief shapes us and how we move on from tragedy. A small town is rocked when several women get swept away by the river that runs through it – including a single mother of a fifteen-year-old girl. In order to take care of her, the girl’s aunt returns, though the older woman vowed that she would never come back to the town that holds so much of her grief. But things aren’t always what they seem, and soon it becomes clear that the women may have been murdered. With an intricately woven mystery at its core, Into the Water examines how memories can deceive us, and how our childhoods continue to shape our perceptions of reality.