October 7, 2020 | Issue #10
Five Facts From Our Friend, Lian Dolan
The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without in quarantine:
Books. Hear me out because I know that sounds a little self-serving! But I’ve found a lot of comfort, joy and escape in books during the last six months. Friends have told me they struggled to focus on reading, but I found the focus energizing. I’ve been catching up on all kinds of fiction and it’s been a joy. E-books, hard backs, paperbacks and audio books—all formats welcome, too. Less Netflix, more reading has been a stress-buster for me. 

Your perfect day:
My perfect day includes coffee, walking my dog, doing some work on my writing or my podcast, cooking & feeding people I love and some sort of special physical activity, like dancing or yoga or skiing or gardening. Not to be too greedy, but an after-dinner fire and conversation, either indoors or outside, would be the cherry on top of a perfect day.
Your favorite independent bookstore:
I live in Pasadena, California and we have an amazing indie here called Vroman’s. It’s over 100 years old (which is ancient for California), still family-owned, and central to the intellectual life of a community that prides itself on its intellectual life! The author events calendar is jam-packed with great writers, thinkers and scientists. There’s a coffee bar! There’s a wine bar! There’s chocolate at the checkout station. It’s a special place.
The last book you raved about:
I have a thing for witches. You can keep your zombies, your vampires and your wizards, just leave me a good witch tale. I’ve discovered The Vine Witch series by Luanne G. Smith and it’s been a magical escape over the last month. The audiobooks of The Vine Witch & The Glamourist have kept me company while walking the dog, cleaning the house or folding laundry. A wonderful blend of history, fantasy, romance and wine! Yes, wine! These early 20th century witches work at French vineyards and influence the harvest. So much fun with spells, poisons and potions. Perfect for the Halloween season!
Your next book in ten words or less:
An art history treasure hunt and romance set in Paris.
Bookseller of the Week
Our bookseller of the week is Vroman's Bookstore, Southern California's oldest and largest independent bookstore. In operation since 1894, Vroman's is renowned for their excellent customer service, extraordinary staff, extensive inventory, and wide range of gifts, ranging from stationery, cards, and fine writing instruments to jewelry, handmade gifts, fair trade merchandise, candles, purses, scarves, and much more! With world class author events and signings, Vroman’s is a Pasadena institution, a literary landmark, a community center, and a wonderful tradition. This week they are offering 10% off books by Lian Dolan and the Fab Five if F&F with the code FFHH.
Debut Spotlight
THE MOUNTAINS SING by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is the first English-language book from a prominent Vietnamese poet, and the words fall beautifully on the page. Set to the backdrop of the Vietnam War, it tells the tale of a family whose lives are changed forever. Searing, enchanting, and lyrical—yet at the same time, easy to read and accessible—it will enchant you and introduce you to a side of Vietnam you never knew. (Kristin is excited to chat with the author tomorrow at her Reading With Robin event. See above.)
Up Close & Personal with Patti Callahan Henry

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But for some of us—they say about 1 in 8 of us—every month is breast cancer awareness month. Because, in my experience, we who have been diagnosed, are always aware of it. Even when we are healed and even after complete recovery, there is a lingering awareness.

So I thought I’d touch briefly this month on BC awareness, talk about what we sometimes don’t like to talk about—the fear of those words: breast cancer.

I’m not here to nag you about getting your mammogram. There are enough people reminding you, right? So I will just tell you—I did get my mammogram. And even when they found that early lump, and even after they biopsied that lump, I swore it was okay.

One of my best/worst qualities is that I have incredible capacity for denial—or I can call it optimism. So, I didn’t dwell on it. I was at a speaking engagement in Atlanta the night before my result’s appointment with my dear Mary Kay Andrews, and she asked me about the bandage poking out from my neckline, and I told her, “It was a biopsy, but I know it’s fine. Really, it’s fine. It’s nothing to worry about. I know it’s okay.”

Mary Kay looked at me with that look (and you all know the look because you’ve seen it here on Friends and Fiction), and she said, “Well, then okay.”

But it wasn’t okay.

The next day, I waited for almost two hours in the doctor’s office, growing angry about my wasted hours (I’ve always had a weird anxiety over wasted hours or days, which is why car pool killed me), until they took me back and the doctor said, “It’s cancer.”

And there I was, an educated woman, a graduate degree nurse, a professional. And do you know what I said? What profound beautiful statement I spat out?

I said, “Not the real kind, right?”

As if there is any other kind.

What I wanted, what I needed, was for this to be the kind of thing where it’s cancer but not really. Like pre-cancer, or a thought of cancer, or a warning sign of cancer. But it wasn’t, it was cancer.
After he assured me that it was the real kind, I did all kinds of embarrassing things, like curse and drop my head to the examining table and cry. Eventually, after he drew pictures and told me what I had and talked about options, I found myself in the hallway where I fell to the floor and curled into a little ball. I said to my husband, “I’m not the kind of woman who can do this. I’m not…like that. I’m not strong enough.”

Well, it turns out that sometimes we aren’t what we can be until we need to be.

I am healed, and seven years out. It was a bumpy journey and it’s a long story that maybe someday I will tell.

So, now, on second thought, I take it back, I AM here to nag you to get your mammogram. Now! Go get one. Stop procrastinating. Do the beautiful and healthy thing—take care of yourself.

With great big love,
Latest News From "The Fab Five"

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY has an Audible Original coming out on December 10th. Keep your eyes out for Wild Swan: A story of Florence Nightingale. More information coming soon! 

KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY's design blog, Design Chic, was featured on FOX Business this week. 

KRISTIN HARMEL had fun Zooming with authors Alyson Noel, Wendy Toliver, Allison Van Diepen, Emily Wing Smith, and Linda Gerber, whom she calls her "Swan Valley sisters"—five young adult novelists who, pre-pandemic, Kristin did a writing retreat with each year in Swan Valley, Idaho. The Book of Lost Names is dedicated, in part, to them.

MARY ALICE MONROE is excited to announce that she will have her cover reveal for her May 2021 novel THE SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND on the Wed. Oct. 14th episode of Friends and Fiction!

MARY KAY ANDREWS finished revisions on her summer 2021 novel, The Newcomer, and the good news is, my editor loves it! This week she will be polishing that final final draft. And then on to her next project. So far it's super secret, but she can tell you it's got a strong romantic comedy vibe!
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
This month's pick for the FRIENDS AND FICTION Official Book Club is Patti Callahan Henry's Becoming Mrs. Lewis. The Facebook Live meeting featuring Patti will be held on Monday, Oct. 19th. That give you a couple of weeks to read the book!