Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book club love

I was supposed to be there, and I was so sorry a looming deadline caused me to miss out when a group of lovely readers, members of the Happy Bookers book club, recently met one evening to discuss CROOKED LITTLE LIES.

I can honestly say I write for book clubs or more accurately for the member discussions they give rise to. Readers form clubs for that very reason, so they can talk about what they’ve read. A book is a great way to discuss the good stuff, the sometimes-hard life stuff. You can review a fictional situation and the resultant actions of a character with far less emotional investment than if those same circumstances were personal. Unlike real life, reading about a difficult journey gives us distance, a perspective, and time to sort through our feelings. It’s easier to talk in the abstract and still, it can be its own form of therapy. That’s always my hope, anyway, that along with sheer enjoyment, a story I write will be inspiring of openhearted, in-depth and spirited conversation.

The members of the Happy Bookers called me before they began what I heard was a lively discussion of CROOKED LITTLE LIES. They passed the phone around to say how much they enjoyed the story and a bit about what it meant to them. I was thrilled.

Thank you Happy Bookers! Your phone call that evening was a delight.

Pictured are: Jink Willis, Teresa Brown, Beth Fletcher, Sandy Singletary, Betty Channing, and Julie Jakubson

Members not shown: Carol McVey, Shirley Morrell, Jane Presley, Windy Bordo, Mary Van Compernolle and Rebecca Gilman

Friday, September 11, 2015

A shout out to Amazon & Lake Union & to readers everywhere!

When my wonderful agent, Barbara Poelle, and my lovely editor, Tara Parsons, let me know that CROOKED LITTLE LIES was slated to be a July pick for Kindle First, a program offered by Amazon to their Prime members where they can choose one of what was that month 4 books and download it free, I was excited. Being a Prime member myself, I was familiar with the program and knew it would mean the novel would get a lot of exposure. Kindle First is a great way to find new authors. But I never imagined, and still have trouble wrapping my head around the actual end result. Unwrapping this plaque that was sent to me by the wonderful team at Amazon/Lake Union and seeing the actual number of downloads there were in the month of July quite literally gave me goosebumps. It's incredible to think that more than 175,000 readers chose to download and read my book on their device!

Thank you can hardly begin to express my appreciation. This could never have happened without the support of so many people, Barbara, Tara, and the whole Amazon and Lake Union publishing teams. A huge shoutout to them and to all the Kindle First readers who participate in this fantastic program every month and to readers everywhere. As long as you keep reading, I, and other authors, can keep writing!

I love hearing from readers. If you read Crooked Little Lies, let me know. Let's keep in touch!

Monday, August 31, 2015


Amazing TREASURE HUNT starts TOMORROW, September 1.

Don't forget that BEGINNING tomorrow you can look for CROOKED LITTLE LIES on shelves at 1700 WALMART stores across the U.S. (It may appear later in some locations.)

And if you FIND it and PHOTOGRAPH it there in the store, then SHARE the photo on social media Facebook and/or Twitter, naming your location and TAGGING me (on Twitter, @barbarasissel, on Facebook, Barbara Taylor Sissel, Author) you will be entered to win one of five $20.00 AMAZON gift cards!

The hunt will last all month, giving you plenty of chances to find, photograph and share CROOKED LITTLE LIES and be entered to win a CROOKED GOOD treasure! A drawing for each of 5 WINNERS will be held on October 1.

Can't wait to see all your PHOTOS. One of the most exciting things for me about a book debut is HEARING from readers and seeing WHERE a book I've written has TRAVELED to and been read!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Exciting News! Crooked Little Lies on sale September 1 at 1700 Walmart Stores!


I'm thrilled to announce that as of September 1, 2015, CROOKED LITTLE LIES will be on sale at 1700 Walmart stores in various locations across the U.S.! And to commemorate the event and add to the celebration, I'm organizing an old-time TREASURE HUNT! Remember those, where folks were divided into teams and given a list of items to find, and the team that got all the items on the list
first won the grand prize?  Well, I'm making this treasure hunt way simpler. You only have to find one item: a copy of CROOKED LITTLE LIES, in one location: on the shelf at your local WALMART store, then follow these easy steps to be entered to win 1 of 5 $20 Amazon gift cards:

First: Beginning on September 1(please be mindful that your local store may get the book on the shelves a little later than September 1 - the date can vary by store) look for copies of Crooked Little Lies in your local Walmart store.

Second: Take a photograph of the book and yourself INSIDE THE STORE, post it on social media and tag me:
FACEBOOK: @ Barbara Taylor Sissel, author

TWITTER FEED: @barbarasissel

Please include the location of the store where you found copies.

That's all you have to do to be entered to win ONE of FIVE $20 AMAZON gift cards. The drawing for 5 winners will be held on September 30 and I'll announce the winners on October 1.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Where do authors and readers meet? Fairmount Community Library Event!

Even Elijah was held rapt. He was so good!
Sara Karashin, Director, with son Elija

 I had a fantastic time, sharing CROOKED LITTLE LIES on Thursday, August 13, at the launch party and fundraiser at the Fairmount Community Library. I want to thank Sara Karashin and the other library board members and volunteers who helped organize the event. Thanks so much, too, to my niece, Heather Wilson for putting together the gift baskets that were given away in the drawing. Donations for the baskets were much appreciated and included everything from wine to books to spa services, good food and gift cards. Thank you to Mary Elizabeth Sheehan of Yoga Potential and John Marsh of Sera Dining and Wine, both located in Fort Worth, for their donations. And congratulations to winners, Rhonda Sanders, Valerie Bigler and Kris Savage. Huge thanks to all who attended. It was a lovely evening!

We had a lively discussion after the reading


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Launch Party, Thursday August 13!



If you're in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex area tomorrow evening, come and join me at the Fairmount Community Library. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Kindness of Strangers

I am thrilled to share that an article I wrote about a very difficult time in my life was published in Women's Day on-line. I titled it The Kindness of Strangers. It's always been curious to me, how rather than a family member or a close friend, it is so often a stranger whose presence provides the help or comfort you need during a trying time.

The whole encounter might last as little as a moment, but somehow when you walk away, your day is brighter for their smile or a kind word. This particular encounter made me so aware of that, and I've paid attention ever since, hoping to repay this gift.

Enjoy the read!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

It's no lie! Kindle First books have something for every reader....

It is an honor and also exciting that my latest novel, CROOKED LITTLE LIES, has been chosen to be an Amazon Kindle First selection for the month of July. One of the most gratifying aspects of such a promotional opportunity is that the book will be introduced to thousands of readers. Some will be familiar with my books, but for so many more my name and my work will be new.

As a writer, it’s wonderful, imagining the numbers of readers who might hold my book in their hands. Who might read and become engaged with the characters and the story as it unfolds. It’s a huge part of why I write, and it means so much to me to hear from readers. It’s the most gratifying thing learning that something I wrote has resonated with a reader in some way, or perhaps sparked a discussion, or even helped them see a similar situation in their own life in a different way that was of help to them.

My desire to write came from the joy of discovery I found in reading. Reading was and continues to be one of the great loves of my life. But sometimes, given the plethora of books published every month, it’s hard to find one I want to read. And that’s another reason I was so thrilled that my novel was chosen to be a Kindle First pick. As a reader and also an Amazon Prime member, I already knew the value of the program. First, only four novels are offered each month, which narrows the scope, and each one is presented in a straightforward manner with great cover art, a succinct description and a letter from the editor further defining the premise. With all this great information offered in a nutshell, it’s hard to make a mistake. And you can’t beat the price of the Kindle First books! If you’re a Prime member you can pick one for free. Non-Prime folks can have one for a $1.99. Another aspect of the program I like is that the books/authors are generally not the hot list, the ones you see over and over everywhere. Many times, they’re new and fresh, at least to my story hungry mind.

If you haven’t checked out the Kindle First authors, I recommend it. I’ve found so many books I’ve enjoyed through the program. To name a few: I was pulled into Catherine McKenzie’s book, HIDDEN, from the first page. The opening scene is a heart stopper. I couldn’t put it down after that. D.M. Pulley’s, THE DEAD KEY. First, I fell for the title. And the story behind it is every bit as compelling. I was reading it on my phone in the grocery check-out line of all places! Emily Bleeker’s WRECKAGE is another page-turner. The idea behind it … of people, modern-day, cell phone using, connected 24/7 people being stranded on a tiny deserted island after a plane crash with zip for electronics … was really interesting, but what kept my attention riveted was what happened in the wake of their rescue, the stories that were told, the lies that became truths. THE PERFECT SON by Barbara Claypole White was another discovery with a different sort of theme. There are family dynamics at the novel’s heart, but not your ordinary family dynamics. The book addresses issues that evolve from a dynamic that isn’t so perfect. I always wonder about it when, as humans, we describe a family or a person as normal. What does it mean really? This book made me reexamine that particular question again. Read it to the last page no matter what because the ending is just perfect.

In closing let me mention one last book. I only just found it. In fact, when it was offered as a Kindle First selection, I didn’t download it because it sounded so dark. Titled A DARK LURE, it’s by Loreth Anne White, and it’s billed to be about a serial killer, hunting the one victim who got away. I returned to look at it a few times, finally downloading the sample and after reading just a couple of paragraphs, I was hooked on the gorgeous writing, not to mention the immediate edge-of-the-seat thrill that’s present from nearly the first word. Then getting into the story, I’m finding it’s far more absorbing and layered than the simple hunt by a killer for his lost prey. So although I’m reading with my eyes wide shut, I couldn’t stop if I wanted to.

I have other Kindle First books queued on my Kindle. My TBR list is long enough now that no matter where I find myself, I know I’ll have something good to read. Go check them out, if you haven’t already. There’s something for everyone, every month. You won’t be sorry.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How much joy can you stand?

I’m always excited to begin a new project. Usually the idea for another book has been hanging about
in the corner of my mind, fighting for attention, while I’m working on the final edits for a current project. The transition between stories can be disconcerting, though. The book I’ve handed off to my editor is full of people I know and love; folks I’ve worried over and listened to and encouraged from the first page to the last. I know how these characters talk and act. Now there’s a group of strangers in my head. I have no clear idea who they are. Still, I’m glad they’ve showed up, glad when I can set something about them down in writing: an opening scene, the gist of their trouble. After handing in CROOKEDLITTLE LIES, I did just that, began a story with a new family, a new dilemma, feeling confident I had something, that I’d forge ahead.

But very shortly into it, I hit a place where I felt I was writing in circles. The people in my head moved stiffly, like marionettes. They mumbled their lines or had nothing whatever to say. It got frustrating. I walked out on them many times. Some days I resisted even coming to sit at my desk. Why had I ever thought the idea was so great? But some interior knowing—my muse or guardian angel, the little voice in my head—kept me going through the fog and finally in the last week (now around 50 decent pages in out of the approximately 150 I’ve actually written) the book is taking off. The characters have come to life. They’re up and dancing and all I have to do is write down the steps. What a thrill. Once again, I understand why I’m doing this. When I reach this sweet spot, I couldn’t stop if I wanted to.
So here I am, closing in on the launch of CROOKED LITTLE LIES, while in the meanwhile, I have this compelling new story to engage my imagination and keep me occupied. It’s a good place to be, the best. And as I write this blog post, two things occur to me: one is that persistence does pay off. The second thing is that very often persisting can feel dumb … like the dumbest thing going. And here’s something else. It actually might be dumb to continue a project that isn’t working. Or it might turn out to be a brilliant move. The trick lies in knowing the difference and that’s not always easy.   

But it’s so gratifying when the persistence does pay off, when the view clears and you can see where you’re going. And this time, when the new story gelled, I got up from my desk, thinking how lucky I am to be doing work that I love, thinking, can it get better? I feel such a wave of gratitude for all the readers of my books, and of books in general. They make my work, that is such a source of joy in my life, possible. I’m so grateful, too, to Barbara Poelle, my agent, and to Tara Parsons, my editor, and to the whole Lake Union team, Gabe and Dennelle, and everyone else there, for their faith, enthusiasm and support. Working with them has brought more joy.

I’m reminded of a little book I read years ago while passing through one of the darkest nights of my life. It’s by Suzanne Falter-Barns and it’s titled, HOW MUCH JOY CAN YOU STAND? The question is one I ask myself from time to time, still. How much joy can I stand? I don’t know yet. Let me see once this next novel comes into the world. Let me see after I finish the new one I’m working on. Meanwhile, thank you! Thank you so much!