December 16, 2020 | Issue #20
Five Facts From Our Friend, Lisa See
The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without during the pandemic: Netflix

Your perfect day: A great cup of Pu’er tea, a hike, writing, and then reading a good book.

Your favorite independent bookstore: Vroman’s

The last book you raved about: Michael Connelly’s The Law of Innocence. He’s a master storyteller in his prime.

Your next book in ten words or less: It’s based on the diary of my great-grandmother.
Bookseller of the Week
This week's guest Lisa See chose Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA, as our bookstore of the week. As Southern California's oldest and largest independent bookstore, Vroman’s is an institution, a literary landmark, a community center, and a wonderful tradition. In operation since 1894, Vroman's is renowned for their excellent customer service, extraordinary staff, extensive inventory, and wide range of gifts! Now through Sat 12/19 they are offering 10% off books by Lisa See and those by the Fab Five of F&F with the code FFHH.
Up Close and Personal with Kristin Harmel


It’s something I have found myself returning to again and again in my writing: the idea that it is sometimes in the deepest darkness that we find the brightest light within us.

That’s a theme that runs through my last three World War II novels (The Room on Rue Amelie, The Winemaker’s Wife, and The Book of Lost Names), and of course in those cases, the darkness in question was the shadow of the German Occupation during the Second World War.

But 2020 has been dark for many of us, too. Even those of us who have weathered the storm of the pandemic so far have had moments of despair, sadness, and hopelessness as we look out at a world that has changed beyond recognition. We miss our families, our friends, the ability to do simple things we once took for granted.

But there is always light—and today is a perfect day to be reminded of that, because we’re in the midst of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, which began last week and continues through Friday.

The holiday, of course, celebrates the miracle that occurred in the second century B.C., when, after reclaiming their temple in Jerusalem from their oppressors, the Jewish Maccabees relit their sacred lamp, which only had enough consecrated oil to burn for a day. Instead, it burned for eight days (until more oil could be procured)—hence the eight days of Hanukkah.

So why is this such an important story to be reminded of now? Because 2020 has been difficult, and Hanukkah tells us of miracles, of finding light in the darkness, and of the capacity of underdogs to be victorious against all odds.

It reminds us, too, that there is always hope, and that we must always seek brighter days ahead. In Christianity, light also plays a tremendous role, and it does in Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, too. Light in the darkness is a thread that runs through all the major world religions—and through our everyday lives. It’s something that connects us all.

So let’s take a moment now, too, during the final days of Hanukkah (whatever religion we follow), to reach for that spark of light within all of us, to believe in it, and to do our best to be part of bringing more light to the world.

Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate. And to all of you, whatever your faith, I wish you hope, light, and brighter days ahead.
Debut Spotlight
All of us at Friends & Fiction are super excited about this intimate debut novel, written with deep compassion and sharp wit. In Pamela Terry’s The Sweet Taste of Muscadines, a woman returns to her small southern hometown in the wake of her mother’s sudden death—only to find the past upended by stunning family secrets. —in this. #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs calls it “a deeply moving work of Southern fiction that will appeal to fans of Where the Crawdads Sing . . . a story to remember long after the last page is turned.” Pre-order today and mark your calendars for March 16th when this one is released by Ballantine Books. You’ll be hearing more from F&F about this book in January…!
Latest News From "The Fab Five"

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY’s novella about Florence Nightingale, WILD SWAN is now available on Audible as an Audible Original! Narrated by Tony Award winning Cynthia Erivo, this novella brings to life the woman before she became the Lady with the Lamp. Meanwhile, she is busy writing, and enjoying time with her family while celebrating her son’s graduation from graduate school.

KRISTIN HARMEL is celebrating having turned in the second draft of The Forest of Vanishing Stars (due out in July) and is looking forward to a socially-distanced, masked holiday visit with her in-laws this weekend.

MARY KAY ANDREWS is embracing all things holiday-baking, gift-wrapping and binge-watching and binge-reading ALL her fave Christmas movies and books.

MARY ALICE MONROE is enjoying a much-needed respite and a little downtime after turning in her revisions on next summer’s book and looking forward to a small but festive Christmas with her family.

This holiday season may feel a little different, but KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY is still soaking in all that Eastern North Carolina has to offer this Christmas season including the parade, candlelight tour, and flotilla, all while wondering how many times is too many to watch Love, Actually.
We're Now a Podcast!
We're so excited that Friends & Fiction is officially available as a podcast! Download, listen, and subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.). If you like what you hear, be sure to rate us and leave a review. Your review could be featured on a future episode.

Our first episode produced exclusively for the podcast will be released later this week! MKA & Kristin met up with two fabulous indie booksellers to talk about creative ways to thrive in the current difficult retail climate. Stay tuned to Facebook & Instagram and be the first to know when it drops!
News from the F&F Official Book Club
We have a lot of fun things planned in December! We would love for you to join us for the following events:

Dec. 21, 7 pm ET — Book Club meeting on Facebook Live with Mary Alice Monroe discussing A Lowcountry Christmas. RSVP Here

Dec. 28, 7 pm ET — Virtual Birthday Bash for Lisa Harrison and Informal Chat. RSVP Here

We had so much fun discussing Feels like Falling with Kristy Woodson Harvey on Monday November 16th. If you missed it live, click HERE for the replay.