September 23, 2020 | Issue #8
Meet Christina Lauren!
September 27th!
We have a bonus episode this week! Join us on Sunday September 27th at 5:00pm Eastern as we chat with the writing duo Christina Lauren. Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The #1 international bestselling coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fifteen New York Times bestselling novels. Published in over 30 languages, their latest novel is The Unhoneymooners which earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal. 
Five Facts From Our Friends,
Christina Lauren
The one thing you can’t live without in quarantine:
Christina: Two things: Lo and BTS
Lo (aka Lauren): Two things: C and BTS

Your perfect day:
Christina: Pre-pandemic: a day at Disneyland. Pandemic times: a day where I can work in my garden with no responsibilities

Your favorite independent bookstore:
Christina: The Ripped Bodice

The last book you raved about:

Your next book in ten words or less:
Christina: Longtime crush, mistletoe, Groundhog Day, the ultimate holiday do-over
Lo: If you like holidays, kissing, and CLo, read this book.
Bookseller of the Week
Bethany Beach Books is an independently owned bookstore, located only a few steps off the boardwalk in Bethany Beach, Delaware. The store was established in 1991 and has been independently owned since the day it opened. They are open every day, year round! They are offering 10% off our latest books (and Christina Lauren's!) with the coupon code WELOVEF&F2020.
Debut Spotlight

In The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux, French-born American chef Sophie dreams of running a prestigious American kitchen--until her career is sabotaged by an ex. Then her grandmother has a stroke, so with her tail between her legs, Sophie returns to her childhood home, only to discover it's not at all what she remembers. If you've ever dreamed of picking up and moving to France to start over--or even simply of whipping up delectable French meals in the kitchen--this book has your name on it. It's the debut novel from an American who has written two memoirs about falling in love and moving to France (to marry a French rocket scientist, no less!), so you know the book's French setting is authentic. The recipes in the back just sweeten the deal.
Up Close with Kristin Harmel
           On tonight’s episode, Mary Kay, Kristy, Patti, Mary Alice, and I will be talking about one of my favorite topics: the magic of books. So this seemed like the perfect time to share with all of you something pretty magical that happened to me.
           You see, back in late March—less than two weeks into the pandemic shutdown—I was reeling. The Winemaker’s Wife had just come out in paperback, and I’d had to abruptly cancel my book tour, which was supposed to have begun on March 16. My 4-year-old was suddenly home from preschool indefinitely, so I had also simultaneously lost my entire work week for the foreseeable future. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to cope. Do you all remember feeling like that back in March and April, when everything was happening so quickly?
           I was lost and adrift and sad and worried—just like so many of you were. I had entirely stopped working on my new book, because how was I supposed to squeeze that in? How was I going to do everything and be everything to everyone who needed me, and still stay sane? I was starting to panic.
           But then, I got an email from Mary Alice, who was reaching out to some of her author friends—including Patti, Mary Kay, Kristy, and me—who had new or upcoming releases. There were nine other women on that initial email, too—many of whom you’ve met now on Friends & Fiction. Strong women. Authors I admired. Authors who were going through the very same thing I was. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone.
           The replies to Mary Alice’s email came in fast and furious. Everyone wanted to support everyone else. We were all eager to put our heads together and to figure out a way through this. It was my first reminder during the pandemic of the magic of books. We were all united by a love of the written word… and we were going to get through this together.
           A week or so later, Mary Kay suggested the happy hour Zoom call that would ultimately give birth to Friends & Fiction. On Friday, April 3, the five of us Friends & Fiction authors (plus Kristina McMorris!) sat down for a virtual happy hour with no idea of what would come out of it. We talked about our own releases, yes, but we also talked about our concern for independent booksellers. We talked about our worry for our readers. We talked about how the industry might change.
           And we talked about how to use our books—and our platforms—to make a difference. To support independent bookstores. To support our readers who might be feeling as adrift as we were. To create a community for those who loved books.
           It was just the barest outline of an idea then. But six months later, here we are. More than nineteen thousand of you have joined our Friends & Fiction group, and we’re growing by the day. We’ve helped support twenty-two different bookstores, stretching coast to coast. We’ve welcomed fifteen bestselling authors—and two rock stars!—to the show and invited them to open up their lives to you. And perhaps most meaningfully, we’ve connected with so many of you—readers who love books, readers who find the magic in words, just like we do. 
           Without books, we wouldn’t have come together. Without a shared love of reading, none of us would be here. Without that amazing power of the written word, we wouldn’t have found all of you. And we are so grateful. None of the five of us can imagine life now without Friends & Fiction, without this, without you. Your support has meant the world to all of us. We adore you, and we adore this community that you’ve helped to build.
           And me? I’m forever changed. Before the pandemic, I only knew Kristy and Mary Alice a bit, and I didn’t know Mary Kay or Patti at all. Now, they’re four of my closest friends. We’ve embarked on this strange, amazing journey together, and in them, I’ve found four sisters and four kindred spirits. We’re all different people with different interests, different lives, and different types of novels. But we’re forever bound together by our love of books, our love of reading, and our love of opening that world to you.
           That’s the magic of books. And I’m so happy and grateful that all of us are on this magical journey together with all of you. Thanks for being a part of our world.
(Photo caption: A screenshot from the very first time we all had a happy hour together, on April 3. This is the Zoom that led to the creation of Friends & Fiction!)
Latest News From "The Fab Five"

KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY will be revealing the cover for UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY tonight on Friends & Fiction—and celebrating the cover reveal all week long on Head over there for fun giveaways and prizes!

KRISTIN HARMEL was glad to see her mother this week for the first time since the pandemic began. Join her on Monday Sept. 28th for a rare doubleheader! Event details above.

PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY recorded a podcast with the MonaLisa Monologues on storytelling and historical fiction (she accidentally sang a little bit also). Listen HERE.

MARY ALICE MONROE is thrilled the ebook of her novel The Butterfly’s Daughter was a #1 hit on Amazon and a top hit on B&N!

MARY KAY ANDREWS celebrated fall with firsts and lasts—picking the last of the garden goodies at Squirrel Hollow, followed by first fire on our new patio. Follow her on Instagram for all the fun pics and stories!
News from the F&F Official Book Club
Last Monday night, FRIENDS AND FICTION Official Book Club hosted Mary Alice Monroe to discuss her new novel, On Ocean Boulevard, the book club's September pick. If you missed the discussion live, you can watch it on their Facebook page HERE.

Next month's pick will be Patti's BECOMING MRS. LEWIS. The Facebook Live meeting featuring Patti will be held on Monday, Oct. 19, so you have plenty of time to read the book!