December 9, 2020 | Issue #19
Meet Susan Mallery!
Get in the Christmas spirit with us on this week's special Sunday Bonus Episode! On Sunday December 13th, we are so pleased to welcome the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 150 novels and 16 Christmas books, Susan Mallery. Susan's warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live—and with 40 million copies of her books sold worldwide, it's clear her readers seem to agree! Join us Sun 12/13 at 5pm ET via Facebook Live on the F&F Facebook Group page (or on the F&F YouTube Channel!) as we sit down with Susan and talk about her career, her new book Happily This Christmas, and all of our favorite holiday novels.  
Five Facts From Our Friend, Susan Mallery
The one thing you’ve learned you can’t live without during the pandemic: My friends. Although we’re keeping apart out of respect for our healthcare professionals and the amazing work they’re doing to care for all of us, we’re finding lots of ways to stay connected to each other through the pandemic. I’m so grateful for the technology that’s enriching our lives through all of this.

Your perfect day: A glass of truly great red wine, a book I can lose myself in for hours, my husband reading in the next chair over, our pets sleeping nearby—capped off by a fabulous meal prepared by someone else.

Your favorite independent bookstore: I had my best book signing of all time with
Mac’s Backs Books in Cleveland and their amazing local library—so much fun, and so many enthusiastic book-lovers. Thinking back on that really makes me miss meeting my readers face-to-face. Someday soon, we’ll be able to do that again.

The last book you raved about: Dance Away with Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Your next book in ten words or less: The Vineyard at Painted Moon—a winemaker’s search for happiness.
Bookseller of the Week
Our bookseller of the week is The Little Boho Bookshop. After working in the publishing industry for more than 15 years, founder Sandra Dear decided to realize her lifelong vision of opening an independent bookstore in her beautiful, quiet city of Bayonne, NJ. Nestled downtown with a café next door, Little Boho is a cozy getaway with a focus on kids, young adults, and current bestsellers. Now through 12/13, in-store or online, Little Boho is offering 10% off books by our Sunday Dec 13th guest Susan Mallery as well as those by the five F&F host authors. Be sure to browse their selection under the Friends & Fiction tab on their store website as they have highlighted a special group of holiday novels!  
Up Close and Personal with the Fab Five

A Note About Our Mission

When we founded Friends & Fiction back at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown, one of our major goals was to support independent booksellers.

It still is.

Never could we have imagined then that seven months after our April 15 launch, we would have recorded nearly forty live episodes—or that independent bookstores would still be suffering so greatly. But they are—and they need your help more than ever.

The impact of the pandemic on bookstore sales has been drastic and terrible. According to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), more than one independent bookstore has closed each week since the pandemic began. In a poll conducted in July by the ABA, more than a third of booksellers reported that their sales were down 40 percent or more for the year so far. In a recent poll from Small Business Majority, a national organization of small businesses, more than a third of small business owners reported that their businesses were unlikely to survive past the next three months.

Even under perfect circumstances, bookstores are often teetering on the edge, with razor-thin profit margins. People don’t open bookstores because they want to get rich; they open them because they have a passion for books, because they want to foster community, because they want to give back, because they want to do good.

In other words, they’re the beating hearts of their local communities—and of our broader literary community as a whole. We can’t let them die. As the ABA's CEO Allison K. Hill said in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, “Where we spend our money this holiday season will determine the communities we find ourselves in come 2021.”

So this holiday season, even if you’re shopping elsewhere too, please consider going the extra mile to make at least one purchase (maybe even more!) from an independent bookseller. It could make an enormous difference—and it could truly help save the literary world as we know it.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever to support indie stores. Each week on our show, we tell you about stores that are doing a great job with e-commerce—meaning that it’s nearly as easy to order from them as it is to order from a big online retailer. We even negotiate discounts from some of our favorite stores and share them with you each week. You can also check out to locate your local store, or you can make a purchase directly through, which has raised nearly $10 million for independent booksellers in 2020 alone.

It’s rare that we have a true opportunity to change the world through something as simple as making a different choice about where to spend our dollars. But this is one such chance. So when you’re doing your holiday shopping this year—or shopping for yourself in the future—we simply ask that you stop and consider the difference a few extra dollars could make in the life and livelihood of an independent bookseller. We know you can't shop local all the time--but even making a choice to do so sometimes could make a world of difference.

We’re so grateful to you—this holiday season and always—for being with us on this journey. Let’s continue to work together to help make our literary world a better place.
Mary Kay, Kristin, Kristy, Patti, and Mary Alice
Debut Spotlight
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner is coming out on March 2, 2021. It has been called “a bold, edgy, accomplished debut” by New York Times bestselling author Kate Quinn. Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. Sarah Penner will be popping into the January 20th episode of F&F when the Fab Five discuss their own debut novels and how each of them got their start.
Latest News From "The Fab Five"

KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY loved putting together this fun list for BookTrib: 10 Books to Keep You Warm This Winter! Check it out HERE if you’re all out of the Fab Five’s books to read! 

Tomorrow is the release date for PATTI CALLAHAN’s Audible Original novella Wild Swan based on the fascinating life of Florence Nightingale. It’s narrated Tony Award winning actress Cynthia Erivo of The Color Purple and Harriet. Look for Patt’s posts on Thursday with the link to Audible to download it!

MARY KAY ANDREWS and Kristin just recorded our first podcast (audio only) episode. It was an interview with two rockstar indie booksellers—Tim Ehrenberg of Nantucket Book Partners and Laura Taylor of Oxford Exchange—about the creative things they are trying to expand their reach and do what it takes to survive in this challenging climate. Stay tuned to the F&F Facebook & Instagram feeds for news on the release! 

KRISTIN HARMEL would like to wish a Happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating this week. As she works on revising The Forest of Vanishing Stars, she is thinking about the hauntingly beautiful Hanukkah celebrations that took place in the depths of the Polish wilderness in the winters of 1942 and 1943, one of which she has included in her new book. 

MARY ALICE MONROE is busy planning her annual Christmas feast. Each year her family chooses a theme and a country. This year it is England and Dickens is the theme. The best part? The men do all the cooking!
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.
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. 14, 7 pm ET — Informal chat about our favorite holiday books and favorite books of 2020. RSVP Here

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.