October 21, 2020 | Issue #12
Five Facts From Our Friend, Elizabeth Berg
The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without in quarantine:
The sight of the birds hopping around my front porch and eating from the saucer of seed I set out for them daily. (Also the sight of the chipmunk who shows up occasionally to have some, too, although he eats quickly and without apparent enjoyment, looking often over his shoulder. But he's welcome, too.)
Your perfect day:
You mean pre- or post-Covid? If we are talking about the times we live in, my perfect day involves coming to a place of calm and caring, despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. Pre-Covid? Well, let's see.....I wake up in Positano, Italy, and head for the bakery for breakfast. You can imagine the rest.

Your favorite independent bookstore:
Honestly, there are so many! My neighborhood's The Book Table. Brookline Booksmith. Tattered Cover. Elliott Bay Book CompanyBook Passage. And many more. But what stands out in my mind is a store that is no more, the old New England Mobile Book Fair. It was not mobile. It was not exactly a fair. It was a huge warehouse, full of books grouped by publisher. The people who worked there seemed to know everything. There was a remainders room where I found great bargains on first editions by fabulous (and well known) authors. All kinds of children's books, coloring books; I think they even had paper dolls. You could find everything there, and to borrow from Garrison Keillor, if you couldn't find it you probably didn't need it. I used to spend blissful hours there, looking for what I came for but finding so much more. Once I bought a book in the science section just for the title: Longing for the Harmonies. No coffee shop there, just the nourishment of words upon the page. When two publishers wanted to buy my first novel, I went to New England Mobile Book Fair to see what they thought I should do.

The last book you raved about:
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart. What writing! What characters! What dialogue! What a story! He's nominated for the Booker and the National Book Award, and he deserves to win both, in my opinion.

Your next book in ten words or less:
Probably it'll be Bluto's Girl: A Life in Boyfriends
Bookseller of the Week
This week’s featured bookseller is The Book Table in Oak Park, IL. Owners Rachel & Jason Weaver met in 1998 when they were both working at their umpteenth indie bookstore, fell in love, got hitched, and instead of babies they decided to have a bookstore. They’re in this business because they love books and they love putting the right ones in customers’ hands. The Book Table has the most exciting new releases at discount prices as well as a selection of quality used books. This week they are offering 10% off books by our guest Elizabeth Berg, as well as those by the five F&F host authors. Use the code FRIENDS&FIC to get your discount! 
Celebrating 20k Members!

Wow! We are overjoyed that the Friends and Fiction Facebook Group has hit 20,000 members! We started this group and our weekly Facebook Live web show—and now podcast!—back in April. What began as a way for us authors to support one another and our beloved independent bookstores during the pandemic, has grown into a beautiful community of book lovers. Thank you to each and every one of you who is helping to make F&F a great place to share our love of books. Join our group if you aren't already a member. And spread the news to your book-loving friends!  
Up Close & Personal with Mary Alice Monroe


This week I got to show you the cover of my May novel THE SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND and I finished the first draft and sent it to my editor. That first draft is a journey of discovery—full of the blood and guts of your story. 

This is my 27th book, but writing The Summer of Lost and Found has been a different journey for me. I didn’t set the story against a backdrop of a new species. Rather, as I’ve been sheltering in place, my attention was directed to the fascinating, even exotic, critters living in my own backyard. I’m also writing about a young generation—talk about exotic species.

The biggest shift, however, is I chose to write about the summer of 2020. I write about families, yet nothing in my experience has been as challenging as trying to gain perspective on families today as they struggle—sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding—in navigating this pandemic. Not in hindsight, however. I’ve been writing in real time. My ideas about what I wanted to say changed as my experiences and feelings evolved. What I wanted to say in March wasn’t what I wanted to say in August.

Like many of you, Covid-19 has been a roller coaster. It brought me a few delightful surprises. My two sisters who were stuck in Los Angeles and Chicago came to live with me in my mountain house for a “summer to remember.” My niece also joined as she, in the service industry, was out of work. We shared glorious moments of bonding and memories. The cottage became a workshop of writing, painting, pottery and gardening. 

Then there was the tragedy of Covid-19. My brother was ill in the hospital and due to the pandemic, he was unable to have visitors. With dementia, he remained alone and frightened until, last month, he passed away. This came on the heels of my nephew’s death—his son. And now my mother-in-law is dying alone in hospice and we cannot visit her. This is the harsh face of the pandemic. It’s very real. 

What I realized in the journey of writing this novel is though we say Hindsight is 2020, in this year of 2020, there is no hindsight to be had! All of us are trying to make the best of this year like no other. As wise old Flo says in the novel, “If it’s not one thing it’s another.” I’ve written a novel as I witnessed a nation adjusting to this new, awkward, and temporary normal. We are still in flux. It ain’t over yet.

And so, in The Summer of Lost and Found I wrote about all those elements of the human condition—love, emotion, aspiration, conflict, and mortality—that we’ve lost and found during the summer of 2020. I wrote about the good times and the bad. Relationships forged and tested. And always, the hope—the deep faith—that with our loved ones, we will persevere. For despite all the changes, one shining truth has remained constant throughout—we are all in this together.

I hope you all find joy, humor, and comfort as you read The Summer of Lost and Found. After you pre-order your copy, remember to enter my giveaway for a chance to win fun prizes. Click the image above for details.
Latest News From "The Fab Five"

This week, MARY ALICE MONROE is giving away sea turtle bracelets to fans who pre-order her Summer 2021 book, The Summer of Lost and Found, while supplies last. Click HERE for details.

When not buried in the pages of Elizabeth Berg's The Story of Arthur Truluv, (which she LOVED!) MARY KAY ANDREWS has been junking and posting her estate sale "loot shoots" on her Insta. Oh, and writing next year's book, of course!

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY got her Advance Reader Copies of Surviving Savannah and she is over the moon to talk about and give you hints about the book in the coming months! 

KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY did a fun interview with New York Live TV host and producer Ashley Bellman on “The Middle” about FEELS LIKE FALLING, UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY and what’s going on with the Peachtree Bluff Series. 

KRISTIN HARMEL's mother-in-law, Wanda, is in town this week to hang out with Kristin's son, which is a godsend for Kristin, who is in the final stages of writing the first draft of The Forest of Vanishing Stars (which is due to her publisher a week from Sunday...eek!)
We're Now a Podcast!

We're so excited to announce that Friends & Fiction is officially available as a podcast!

Never fear! Our weekly web show on Facebook Live is not going anywhere! But we have been working hard to produce our episodes in audio-only format. So, the episodes we've recorded will be up on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and all other major podcasting platforms.

Not in front of the computer? Pop in your ear buds and listen in. Have a road trip planned? Take Friends & Fiction along for the ride!
News from the F&F Official Book Club
Make sure to join the Friends & Fiction Official Book Club, who will be discussing Kristy Woodson Harvey's FEELS LIKE FALLING all month long, with a special, live appearance from Kristy on Monday, Nov. 16th at 7pm ET. 

The club had a great time talking on Monday, Oct. 19th with Patti Callahan Henry, who joined them for a Facebook Live to discuss her latest novel, Becoming Mrs. Lewis. If you missed the live chat, you can catch the replay HERE.