Legions of authors adore Narrator Theresa Bakken, who produces and hosts The Desideratum Podcast. The ultimate in author-talk happens on Desideratum, and I’m excited to share that I just got booked to record for an appearance on this wonderful Podcast in late August. Watch this space! Desideratum is available now on Anchor, Spotify, Apple, Google and more! Now also carried by Authors on the Air Global Radio Network!
Desideratum is a Latin word meaning things that are desired as essential. Longing for stories to share and wishing for moments with gifted storytellers inspired this podcast. Each episode features a recorded short story or excerpt from an author’s latest book or audiobook, and a conversation with the writer about their craft and what they believe is essential. Tune in to hear an author you love, or to find your next favorite storyteller.
Meet Theresa Bakken, a multi-talented Podcast host and audiobook narrator!
It won’t surprise you to learn that the author of Boop and Eve’s Road (that’s me for the uninitiated) loves herself a smashing southern story. I’ve put together a refreshingly diverse list here–all southern, all sensational, but so very, very different. Do yourself a favor and pick up one (or heck y’all, all three of these reads).
Purple Lotus by Veena Rao is the story of Tara who immigrates from India to Atlanta, Georgia to be with her husband Sanjay. Theirs is a horribly ill-suited arranged marriage. Tara finds herself lost in a new country with an abusive husband and an unfortunate lack of self confidence. Eventually, she makes friends in her new community giving her the courage to leave her husband and make her own life in her new country. Some might argue that Purple Lotus is more of an immigrant story than a southern story, but I’d point out that Rao beautifully captures the experience of someone fresh to the South, that the south is more than its traditions, that the South with its world renown hospitality has room for all. Tara’s story of empowerment will steal your heart. Don’t miss it.
Sharp as a Serpent’s Tooths the best collection of short stories I have ever read. The characters, like June Bug and Eva, are delightful, quirky, and engaging. The plots are mesmerizing, unique, and page-turning. The southern country setting adds texture and delight with its Pentecostal Preachers, snakes, and speaking in tongues. Mandy Haynes has put together a beautiful collection with a southern voice that drawls off the page.
Little Tea by Claire Fullerton explores some of the more traditional southern motifs, complete with plantation homes and racial tension. Three childhood friends come together at a lake in Arkansas where an old boyfriend forces them to face the past. Through the voice of the main character, Celia Wakefield, Fullerton explores the evolution of racial relations in Mississippi. White daughter of a wealthy old southern family, Celia befriends the daughter of the black couple who runs her family’s plantation. Tucked away in the country in 1980s, their friendship flourishes. However, once the friends leave the plantation behind it becomes more difficult to navigate a mixed-race friendship in a world not quite ready for such things.
If you are a fan of all things Southern, you might also enjoy these posts:
“The Invisible Husband of Frick Island links the modern world with the past on a small island struggling to stay afloat literally and figuratively. It’s a lively, heartwarming story with eccentric characters depicting the lengths a small community will go to in support of one of its own.”
Piper Parrish lives on Frick Island and works at the local deli. At the end of every afternoon, she waits on the marina’s dock for Tom’s boat to come puffing into the harbor after “squeezing in every minute of the government-allotted eight hours of crabbing per day.” Piper and Tom are newlywed, childhood sweethearts, and Piper is patient for her husband’s return. “Time on the rustic Frick Island had always been more of a theoretical concept measured in jiffies or whiles or later ons,” so she is used to delays. When a boat captain tells her Tom radioed for help during a storm earlier that morning, and that his boat is now missing, Piper holds out hope for Tom’s return, even when his boat is found at the bottom of the sea four days later.
Colleen Oakley is the USA Today bestselling author of You Were There Too, Close Enough to Touch,Before I Go, and the forthcoming The Invisible Husband of Frick Island (May 2021). Colleen’s novels have been longlisted for the Southern Book Prize twice and Close Enough to Touch won the French Reader’s Prize. Her books have been translated into 21 languages, optioned for film and have received numerous accolades including:
A former magazine editor for Marie Claire and Women’s Health & Fitness, Colleen’s articles and essays have been featured in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Women’s Health, Redbook, Parade, Woman’s Day, Fitness, Health, Marie Claire and Martha Stewart Weddings. A proud graduate of the University of Georgia’s school of journalism, Colleen currently lives in Atlanta with her husband, four kids, four chickens, two guinea pigs, and one fish.
Book Description: THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND
Sometimes all you need is one person to really see you.
Piper Parrish’s life on Frick Island—a tiny, remote town smack in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay—is nearly perfect. Well, aside from one pesky detail: Her darling husband, Tom, is dead. When Tom’s crab boat capsized and his body wasn’t recovered, Piper, rocked to the core, did a most peculiar thing: carried on as if her husband was not only still alive, but right there beside her, cooking him breakfast, walking him to the docks each morning, meeting him for their standard Friday night dinner date at the One-Eyed Crab. And what were the townspeople to do but go along with their beloved widowed Piper?
Anders Caldwell’s career is not going well. A young ambitious journalist, he’d rather hoped he’d be a national award-winning podcaster by now, rather than writing fluff pieces for a small town newspaper. But when he gets an assignment to travel to the remote Frick Island and cover their boring annual Cake Walk fundraiser, he stumbles upon a much more fascinating tale: an entire town pretending to see and interact with a man who does not actually exist. Determined it’s the career-making story he’s been needing for his podcast, Anders returns to the island to begin covert research and spend more time with the enigmatic Piper—but he has no idea out of all the lives he’s about to upend, it’s his that will change the most.
USA Today bestselling author Colleen Oakley delivers an unforgettable love story about an eccentric community, a grieving widow, and an outsider who slowly learns that sometimes faith is more important than the facts.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND:
“An utterly charming story brimming with heart and humanity. This is the hopeful book we all need right now. I loved it!” —Emily Giffin, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Sweet, quirky, surprising, and altogether lovely, The Invisible Husband of Frick Island is everything I long for in a book. I fell in love with Oakley’s sparkling prose, charming characters, and quaint island setting. This is a story I can’t wait to revisit, again and again. A must read.”—Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read
“What’s a town to do when a recent widow keeps talking to her husband that no one else can see? Follow along, of course. Colleen Oakley’s captivating The Invisible Husband of Frick Island is populated with quirky characters that stole my heart. Make this your summer read and discover the joys of a delicious Frick Island cake, the sanctuary of a tight-knit community, and the hope of second chances.”—Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
“A gently told story of grief, community and ambition, The Invisible Husband of Frick Island is imaginative, lovely and full of surprises.”—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of Always the Last to Know
“This twisty, never-predictable novel is exactly what we’ve come to expect by Oakley—a romantic mystery with a hopeful message and wonderful characters. I was surprised on every page!”–W. Bruce Cameron, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose
An unprecedented, live event will take place on Sunday, March 14 from 8:00 AM Eastern Standard Time on Facebook. 8 Book Pages will coordinate to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and the idea is for attendees to join the group pages ahead of time then hop from page to page as events happen! You can see the Book Pages here, at the right of the image below.
I will have the great pleasure of being “in conversation” with my favorite author, Billy O’Callaghan, who hails from Douglas, County Cork, Ireland, and who is the author of 4 short story collections and 3 novels, his latest being the newly released, Life Sentences, which I loved!
The Irish Echo released the article below yesterday. Below the image is the actual link!
All hail The Pulpwood Queens, the largest book club in the world! The International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club is more than its 800 book club chapters, it’s a literary culture populated by avid readers and enthusiastic authors who fraternize under the Pulpwood Queens literary umbrella to share the love of books!
In existence for more than twenty years, The Pulpwood Queens hold an annual, book club conference experienced more like a party. Featured authors and attendees dress up in the Pulpwood Queens’ signature leopard print and tiaras for three days, in what becomes the ultimate meet and greet between authors and readers. Featured authors are panel guests in the most unique forum imaginable. Nothing staid and stuffy about the proceedings, rather, the panels are conducted as a celebration, where authors share more than the synopsis of the books they’ve written– they tell their background story: where they’re from, their writing process, and what inspired them to embark upon the craft of writing in the first place.
Since a picture tells a thousand words, here are some photographs from the Pulpwood Queens previous, annual event billed as Girlfriend Weekend:
This past Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend was different. What made the January 14-17th’s Girlfriend Weekend unique was that it was a Zoomathon fueled by the power of its good intention! Hundreds of us fretted over a possible Girlfriend Weekend cancellation due to Covid restrictions, but Kathy L. Murphy, the Pulpwood Queen herself, the visionary mastermind and rallying point of the largest book club in the world fit the needs to the moment and conducted the entire weekend on line! It was billed as The Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy’s Reading Nation Slumber Party, and its aim was all about connections. Authors met readers, readers watched authors introduce themselves and their books, panel discussions were followed by keynote speakers, a popular audiobook narrator with a gorgeous British accent read excerpts from featured books and there was great audience participation! You can see a little about it here:
Here are highlights from the Pulpwood Queens January 14-17 Zoomathon:
I had the immense pleasure of being a part of the Pulpwood Queens’s Virtual Weekend by interviewing illustrious literary agent, Marly Rusoff, who shed light on the mysteries of the publishing world, past, present and future. Marly was fascinating, and we all were honored by her presence!
All told, the 2021 Pulpwood Queens Book Club Zoomathon was a rollicking success and an enthralling series of firsts, in that it essentially set the standard of excellence for online, book-related events!
It has been my great honor and joy to align with author and book-blogger, Sally Cronin, who lives in County Wexford, Ireland and spearheads the wildly popular WordPress blog, Smorgasbord. If you’re unfamiliar with Smorgasbord, don’t miss out. Look into it here!
Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general
Recently, Sally released an E-Book that I want to tell you about:
Book Description: Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.
The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.
Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.
I enjoyed this e-book immensely and left this review on Goodreads, Amazon, and Book Bub!
Author Sally Cronin wields heartwarming magic in this delightful collection of short stories, each written with a keen eye focused on the nuances of human nature. Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a series of lovely vignettes written with a clean hand as Cronin builds her common man, everyday stories. It’s the little things in life that matter, and Cronin depicts such topics as random acts of kindness, unforeseen good fortune, falling into and out of love, and the magic of animals in such an optimistic way that the reader is morally encouraged and given great hope. Each story lulls the reader with neat, simplistic beauty even as it takes an unexpected turn. In Cronin’s The Scratch Card, Elsie Thompson wins twenty pounds on a scratch card, which she puts to use in such a way that events are set in motion and change a young man’s life. In Friday Night, a young woman is taken for granted by her clueless boyfriend, until a stranger whispers a line that puts her life on another course, and in the satisfying The Gaffer, a duplicitous wife-abuser gets creative comeuppance. Interspersed throughout this e-book are poems and photographs that poignantly highlight the collective spirit of the book. The characters persevere, help each other, and come to their senses in a manner suggestive of hard-won insight, and written with all the impact of a parable. A pleasurable, enchanting read with a heart of gold, Sally Cronin’s latest release is nothing short of a charming assembly of uplifting stories.
Behold: the delightful Sally Cronin!
Here’s a little something about Sally you’ll want to know! She writes:
“I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996.
My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another twelve books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. My latest collection is Life’s Rich Tapestry : Woven in Words.. verse, micro fiction and short stories.
I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.
As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.”
I read and enjoyed Sally Cronin’s book, Tales from the Irish Garden!
My Review of Tales from an Irish Garden:
I was attracted to this book because of its title. Show me a title concerning Ireland, and you’ve got my attention! I had seen good reviews of this book and, as are legions of others, have been a devoted fan of author Sally Cronin’s blog Smorgasbord on WordPress for years. And so it was that I bought Tales From the Irish Garden, not fully knowing what to expect. To say I was roped in from the onset puts it mildly! I was immediately bowled over by the minute details in this highly creative story, one part fantasy, one part fairy story and all parts sheer, delightful suspension of belief. Only, and here’s the kicker, as I read this engaging story, lured along by its romantic, magical undercurrents, I began to intuit the deeply human parables! Sally Cronin is a writer gifted with insight, humor, whimsy, and unparalleled story pacing abilities. Tales From the Irish Garden invites the reader to enter a plausible, magical realm so real as to make the reader want to stay there
I also read and enjoyed Life’s Rich Tapestry:
My Review of Life’s Rich Tapestry!
We come to know a person’s mind through the words they speak; their personality through what they create, and their heart through what they write. Put this all together and you’ve been gifted a glimpse into an artist’s soul. This is how Life’s Rich Tapestry Woven in Words impressed me. Author Sally Cronin’s precious gem of a book is nothing short of fluid insight into all that it means to be human in a round-robin way as to address the entire sphere in bits and pieces that leave a lasting impression. These are musings delivered artfully, the perfect melding of heart, mind, and soul. In sharing her personal views, the author invites us to examine our own impressions of the day-today by shining light on life’s rich nuance. There is something profound in these meditative pages, something joyous and real that takes nothing for granted by sheer virtue of the fact that Sally Cronin has called them by name. In addressing the natural world, celebrating pets, seasons of the year, and random thoughts, Cronin speaks to the reader conversationally in such a manner that told me I’d revisit the pages. Her flash fiction, speculative fiction, and short stories are vignettes to savor—all told, this book is a work of art at its finest. All praise to author Sally Cronin, who has earned a constant and significant place in the blogging world by selflessly serving as the fulcrum of focus for so very many. That she has stepped forth by assembling and publishing this collection of letters has gifted us all with the awe-striking opportunity to see a writer’s career shine at its brightest.
Many of us who follow Sally on Smorgasbord are familiar with the storied life of her collie, Sam, of whom Sally wrote ANOTHER book!
Another of Sally Cronin’s 10 published books!
Sally has a grand total of 10 published books, which you can learn about on Goodreads:
There’s a come-down phase after an author attends a book conference—an adjustment period that has something to do with going back to the real world through the logistics of travel. My last trip back from a book related weekend involved a mini-van ride from Jefferson, Texas to Shreveport, Louisiana; a flight to Dallas; another flight to Los Angeles; and a one-hour car ride to the loving arms of my husband and three German Shepherds. Under usual circumstances, somewhere along the journey back home, I manage to switch channels, but for days after the The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in mid-January, the energy lingered like a good kind of hang-over.
If you’re going to get out of your daily routine and travel half-way across the country, then let it be for a three-day combined book and love fest. It’s the only way to describe the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend, which takes place annually in Jefferson, Texas, the weekend before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s unlike any other assembly generated by the book world; different than other conferences because there are no agent pitches; no tutorials on book marketing; no instructional workshops, nor panels geared toward the how-to of writing. What makes Girlfriend Weekend unique is that it’s predicated on the 765 international book club chapters under the banner of The Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys, who show up in Jefferson, Texas en masse, dressed in leopard-print costumes—the more outrageous, the better. They settle in for three days to listen to authors talk about whatever comes to mind, be it their books, their writing process, or how they find inspiration. That the last evening of Girlfriend Weekend is a closing-night party billed as the Big Hair Ball ( the higher the hair, the closer to God) charges the entire weekend with electrical anticipation.
There’s a visceral magic that comes from spirits colliding in a room full of people who share the same passion. It’s like a country with its own language, a secret society whose membership is granted by the simple fact that you’re there. This year’s Girl Friend Weekend was the very definition of the book community in action: authors congregating within the scrum of each other with the unified intent of fraternizing with readers, and readers in attendance because those who write books light their fire.
Have you ever stood back and watched the dynamic of a crowd when everyone in it is thrilled to be there? Dress three-hundred literary lovers up in leopard-print, balance a tiara on their heads, show them the way across the railroad tracks at the tail-end of Jefferson, Texas, and believe me, anything can and does happen. What stood out for me the most during 2020’s Girlfriend weekend was the scene between the scenes of the scheduled panel discussions. It was clear to me that authors and readers alike were there for the right reasons, which is to say they were there for the love of books. Nobody there was selling anything; working an angle; on the take; stacking their mailing-list, staging a hustle; or there “to network.” The 2020 Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend was basically a celebration of the book club’s 20-year anniversary, where authors came from all over to give from their literary hearts, so that readers received every ounce of gratitude they have for them. The atmosphere was joyous. The mood was infectious. The well-written story was honored as a high art, and the release of the 58, first-person essays in the book, The Pulpwood Queens Celebrate 20 Years, was featured to prove it.
There are photographs with this piece as it appears in Southern Writers Magazine February 7 edition of Suite T online because every picture tells a story about the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend. Let’s just say had the convention center in Jefferson, Texas been outfitted with chandeliers, you would have seen tiara-topped women swinging from them.
Full confession here, because now it strikes me as funny: I remember packing my carry-on for Texas, thinking any interruption of my work in progress was a hassle. I obsessed over securing the four corners of my desk, so it’d be just as I left it when I returned. Don’t get me wrong.
Although I looked forward to going to Girlfriend Weekend, a part of me felt like I had to press pause on my life. Now I’m realizing that was the good news, because pressing pause on my life is precisely what happened. Summarily, I left my writer’s cave and went to the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend and found myself rejuvenated in a jury of my peers.
Claire Fullerton is from Memphis, TN., and now lives in Malibu, CA. Her latest book, Little Tea is in pre release on Amazon. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a Southern family saga set in the genteel side of Memphis. Mourning Dove is the 2018 Literary Classics Words on Wings award winner for Book of the Year. It is the 2018 bronze medal winner for Southern Fiction by Readers’ Favorite, a finalist in the 2018 Independent Authors Network Book of the Year, and was listed in the International Faulkner Society’s 2018 William Wisdom competition in the novel category. Claire is the author of Kindle Book Review’s 2016 award for Cultural Fiction, Dancing to an Irish Reel, and paranormal mystery, A Portal in Time. She contributed to the book, A Southern Season: Four Stories from a Front Porch Swing, with her novella, Through an Autumn Window. Her work has appeared in Southern Writers Magazine, and was listed in 2017 and 2018 in their Top Ten Short Stories of the Year. Claire’s work has appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature; Celtic Life International; The Wild Geese, and The Glorious Table. The manuscript for her next novel, Little Tea, is a finalist in the 2018 Faulkner Society’s William Wisdom competition. She is represented by Julie