November 11, 2020 | Issue #15
Five Facts From Our Friend, Caroline Leavitt
The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without in quarantine:
Hope. A sense of humor. Action (I’m working to get people voting and to push the message of wearing masks and staying safe.) And on the sillier side. Horror movies! My husband won’t watch them with me, but I find nothing calms me more than watching people warned not to go in the basement who go ahead and do it anyway. No gore and blood, though. Just psychological shocks. And might I recommend a horror short on YouTube? The Smiling Woman.
Your perfect day:
Waking up with Jeff, my husband, who unlike grumpy me, wakes up silly and happy, and that makes me silly and happy, too. Then a few hours of a really good writing day. Then a walk with Jeff and a film at the end of the day. Oh, and to make it really perfect, news that says the pandemic is over and those infected can be cured quickly.

Your favorite independent bookstore:
My local in Hoboken, Little City Books! They’ve done so well that they now have both a children’s annex and an uptown store. There is something wonderful about being able to walk two blocks and there is a bookstore and a community. Plus they do wonderful, wonderful events!

The last book you raved about:
Sigrid Nunez, What Are You Going Through. Not just for the gorgeous message—that we need to pay better attention to the people around us, to dig deeper to discover our bonds, but because she gives a rescue cat a point of view to tell his story!

Your next book in ten words or less:
Days of Wonder, Was a crime committed by teenaged lovers?
Bookseller of the Week
This week’s featured bookseller is Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Since it opened in 1971, Community Bookstore has been many things to many people—bookstore, gathering place, welcoming refuge notable for their considered selection of new books, for their garden, and for their animals. This week they are offering a 10% discount on books by our guest Caroline Leavitt, as well as those by the five F&F host authors,
with the code friendsfiction10.   
Up Close & Personal with
Mary Kay Andrews


Way back in April, with our upcoming book launch plans torpedoed by the global pandemic, we five (myself, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Patti Callahan Henry and Mary Alice Monroe) launched a venture called FRIENDS & FICTION. We did it on a Zoom call wing and a prayer—fueled by desperation, rose, and the desire to connect our brand new books with readers—while supporting indie booksellers whose businesses were threatened by the Covid-19 lockdowns.

In essence, as Kristin Harmel points out, we basically backed into a business without having a real business plan. Well, we actually had a plan. We wanted to talk about books, not just our own, but books by all kinds of authors, many of whom we’ve gotten to know through our combined years in the publishing business, but also books by total strangers whose work we admired.

That first Zoom to Facebook Live was terrifying. We didn’t know if we’d actually all be able to connect. We didn’t know if anyone would watch. (True story: I was so sure nobody would watch that I appeared on camera wearing my pajamas!) But we managed. And people DID watch. And they told their friends, and their friends told their friends . . . and now we’re knocking on the door of 23,000 members! And now we all wear makeup, and cute tops over our pajama pants!

As we’ve grown, we’ve gotten serious about our mission of connecting readers with stories. We’ve hired a professional audio production company to produce our Wednesday night shows, and a “managing director” who helps with marketing and strategic planning.

Fast forward seven months, and the five of us realized we needed to get together IRL (in real life) to hammer out a plan for the coming months. So last week, we convened our first ever Friends & Fiction Summit at Ebbtide, my family’s beach house on Tybee Island, Georgia. Managing Director Meg Walker won the prize for traveling the farthest—all the way from New Jersey, while Patti drove over from Birmingham, Kristy came down from North Carolina, Mary Alice from South Carolina, and Kristin drove up from Florida.

Over jambalaya, leftover Halloween candy—and a LOT of wine supplied by Kristy Harvey—we spent four days mapping our plan for the future. We crammed in hours of planning and scheming, and even managed a couple of beach walks and sessions of midnight star-gazing. Oh, and did I mention wine drinking?!

And what a future it is. We’ve got a fabulous line-up of author guests scheduled all the way through June. All five of us have new books we’ll be launching on Friends & Fiction, starting off with Patti’s SURVIVING SAVANNAH in March, followed, in rapid succession with Kristy’s UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY in April, my own novel, THE NEWCOMER, in May, followed a week later by Mary Alice’s SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND, and bringing up the rear, Kristin’s THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS in July.

What else? We have Sue Monk Kidd coming up on the 25th, James Beard award-winning cookbook author Nathalie Dupree for a Thanksgiving weekend bonus episode, followed by what promises to be the best-ever Facebook Live Office Christmas Party in December, complete with an Ugly Sweater contest. In January, we’re hosting New York Times bestselling authors Diane Chamberlain and William Kent Krueger, followed by so many more amazing authors joining us to talk about their books and the writing life. Some of your favorite authors (paging Kristin Hannah!) will be making encore appearances, while others, by popular demand, including Pam Jenoff, Joshilyn Jackson, Paula McLain, and Lisa Unger, will be making their “debut” with F&F.

We also interviewed and hired two talented college students to become our first interns, and schemed up some more top-secret innovations in our ever-expanding quest for awesomeness.

Hint: Look for Friends & Fiction coming soon to Instagram!

In the meantime, we’re working on bringing new, exclusive content to our FRIENDS & FICTION PODCAST, which is available on all major listening platforms.

And because you’ve asked, we’re busy curating a line of FRIENDS & FICTION merchandise. T-shirts? Tote bags? Coffee mugs? The thing I’m most excited about? Our own line of F&F pajamas. Who’s with me?
Latest News From "The Fab Five"

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY received her cover and celebrity narrator for her Audible Original Florence Nightingale story, and will have more to tell you soon, so stay tuned! Also, this new video was made about Surviving Savannah.

This week, MARY ALICE MONROE will sample Charleston Coffee Roaster’s special blends to decide which one will be the 2021 special Beach House Blend! She is a coffee devotee and says, “forget perfume, I’m excited to have a coffee blend made for me!”

KRISTIN HARMEL 's THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES has made it to the semifinal round of the Goodreads Choice Awards in the Best Historical Fiction category! Vote by November 15th to help her get through to the finals! VOTE HERE.

MARY KAY ANDREWS is knee-deep in copy edits on her May 2021 book, THE NEWCOMER. Send good vibes—and wine!

KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY is so honored to have been appointed to the University of North Carolina Friends of the Library Board of Directors and has her first meeting this week! She has tons of ideas for speakers… And can’t wait to spend more time in some of her favorite places in the whole world: libraries! (Post COVID, of course.)
We're Now a Podcast!

We're so excited 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 Brenda and Lisa for The Friends & Fiction Official Book Club, discussing Kristy Woodson Harvey's FEELS LIKE FALLING all month long, with a special, book club appearance from Kristy on Monday, Nov. 16th at 7pm ET. Click here to RSVP.

Mark your calendars for The Friends & Fiction Official Book Club's Virtual Potluck Friendsgiving on Thursday, Nov. 19th at 7pm ET. We will be discussing our favorite cookbooks and sharing recipes. More details to come on the Friends & Fiction Official Book Club Page...

The book club had a great time on Monday, Oct. 19th with Patti Callahan Henry discussing her latest novel, Becoming Mrs. Lewis. If you missed the live chat, you can catch the replay HERE