Intimate memoir recalls journey with abuse, addiction, and disordered eating

An inspiring story perfect for fans of “Drinking: A Love Story” by Caroline Knapp

BOSTON, MA – In a raw and poignant coming-of-age memoir, “Make a Home Out of You” (She Writes Press, September 3, 2024), Ginelle Testa spends her adolescence searching for a home in one destructive place after another. Grappling with addiction after addiction – to sex, love, weight loss, drugs, and alcohol – she must find a way to claw herself up from rock bottom in order to find a joyful home within herself. 

Born to an abusive mother and a drug-dealer father, Ginelle Testa is not exactly set up for success. By the end of her thirteenth year, she’s started experimenting with alcohol and drugs, has fallen prey to anorexia, and has been sexually assaulted. And that’s only the beginning of her spiral down into addiction and disordered eating.

As Ginelle progresses into young adulthood, she plunges deeper into substance-related lows. In her senior year of college, after blacking out and ending up naked in her dorm’s community shower, she goes to Alcoholics Anonymous and gets sober. But steering clear of drugs and alcohol, she discovers, is not a cure-all—she still has a long way to go before she can truly heal.

Powerful and relatable, “Make a Home out of You”, is a riveting tale of making the slow, confusing, and surprisingly funny slog back from the brink—and learning to make a home in oneself instead of in substances and other people.

“A raw and honest portrait of unhealed trauma and its ripple effect on a young life. With an intense yearning for things, people, and vices, the author earned a heap of battle scars on the journey to self love and acceptance. This story reminds us that love starts at home, and that home resides within.”

–Suzanne Simonetti, USA TODAY bestselling author

“Make a Home Out of You: A Memoir”

Ginelle Testa | September 3, 2024 | She Writes Press | Memoir

Paperback| 9781647427443 | $17.95

GINELLE TESTA (she/they) is a writer originally from Hudson, NH. She has an MS in digital marketing and design from Brandeis University and a BA in sociology from Rivier University, and has been featured in Insider, Byrdie, Tiny Buddha, and other places. She’s a queer person in recovery. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys doing restorative yoga, playing video games, and thrifting eclectic clothes. Ginelle lives in Boston, MA. Find out more about them at their website.

Follow Ginelle Testa on social media:

Instagram: @ginelletesta

TikTok: @ginelletesta 

Facebook: @GinelleTestaWriter

In an interview, Ginelle Testa can discuss:

  • Ginelle’s experiences in both Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)
  • How Ginelle’s experience with AA and SLAA has changed since writing their memoir
  • How pursuing sobriety empowered Ginelle to boldly embrace her authentic, queer identity and become an advocate for body positivity 
  • How Ginelle’s profound drive to share their story stems from a deep-seated conviction to inspire and uplift others
  • The process of writing this memoir and how it healed trauma from her childhood

Advance Praise for “Make a Home Out of You: A Memoir”

“Raw and uncompromisingly honest, Ginelle Testa’s memoir takes readers on a whirlwind journey through her teens and early twenties in her search for love and self-acceptance. Set in rural New Hampshire and Boston, Make a Home Out of You is Ginelle’s story of addiction, recovery, and the search for her soul. Like me, you’ll cry at her failures and rejoice in her triumphs. I guarantee you won’t be able to put down this beautifully crafted memoir.”

–Susen Edwards, author of What a Trip: A Novel

“Testa’s intimate memoir is a harrowing and ultimately triumphant tale of her decades-long odyssey of self-destructive addiction… With superhuman courage and conviction, Testa transcends a life of setbacks and despair to emerge as a powerful, purposeful woman. So many will be inspired by her brave story.”      

Shary Hauer, author of Insatiable: A Memoir of Love Addiction

“Make a Home Out of You shines with honesty and introspection. Reading it feels like taking in the intimate diary of a friend as she grapples with body-shame, sexuality, and longings to feel safe and loved. At times heartbreaking, Testa’s memoir is more a story about perseverance, resiliency, and transforming trauma’s aftermath into something meaningful and brimming with hope.”

–August McLaughlin, Girl Boner podcast host and author

An Interview with

Ginelle Testa

1. Thank you for sharing this inspiring and vulnerable memoir! Why did you feel compelled to write this memoir? Has writing helped your healing journey? 

Writing this memoir healed me in a way I never could have predicted. I have found forgiveness for the broken parts of me that I have slowly put back together over the years, for the mistakes I made, and the person I was. I felt the need to share because many of us suffer in silence, and I’d like people to feel less alone. 

2. How did you stay sober during recovery? And do you have any advice you’d like to share with others who are experiencing similar struggles? 

At first, AA was immensely helpful. Now, support structures like therapy and meds, communities like writing groups and a cornhole league, and strong friends, are what keep me afloat. I recommend finding a community of some sort of sober people, hang in there, and talk about your struggles and triumphs. 

3. After writing this memoir and having reflected on your experiences, how has your relationship with 12 step programs (like Alcoholics Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) changed? 

I needed these programs for almost a decade; they provided structure, healing, and support. Now, without them, I lean much more heavily on my intuition and my own experiences to inform the decisions I make and the way that I live. I still have a lot of love for SLAA & AA, but no longer feel I need them. 

4. How has your identity as a queer, non-binary person impacted your path towards self-acceptance and recovery? 

Being in recovery has helped me to embrace myself more fully. I was self-conscious of my queerness, and felt like I wasn’t queer enough in the early days. Now, I still have those moments but I have much greater acceptance and compassion that I’m allowed to be who I am, which is bisexual and a little genderqueer. 

5. What do you hope that folks reading the book take away from learning about your experiences? 

I hope they feel a sense of enoughness. Many of us spend time seeking comfort and validation in other people and in substances or behaviors, but my journey encourages people to seek enoughness inside themselves, and to build a home there. 

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Unlock your inner spy: New book exposes real-life espionage tactics and persuasion skills

NEW YORK CITY–In “Sell Like a Spy” (Diversion Books, Aug. 27, 2024), espionage expert and corporate intelligence agent Jeremy Hurewitz dives into the clandestine world of intelligence-gathering – drawing from his extensive network of former CIA, FBI, and special forces operatives – to unveil field-tested spycraft strategies.

Hurewitz knows that spies are the world’s best salespeople. He’s built his career around former CIA case officers, FBI agents, and other intelligence officers—people like Steve Romano, former Chief Negotiator at the FBI; former Director of the Secret Service Mark Sullivan; General Stanley McChrystal (Ret.), former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command; and former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service John Sipher. 

Drawing on in-depth interviews about their skillsets, stunning anecdotes from the history of espionage, and science-backed principles of emotional intelligence, Hurewitz has created a handbook of tradecraft lessons and tactics that will strengthen readers’ ability to foster better relationships, to persuade, and to sell anything—in business and everyday life.

Though a spy’s targets may be odious — terrorists, criminals, corrupt diplomats, and more — the agent’s focus is on cultivating relationships and understanding people’s motivations to better persuade them to give something up: information, hostages, money, or simply their feelings. Elicitation, Radical Empathy, Disguise, and RPM (Rationalize, Project Blame, and Minimize Fault) are just a few of the methods in Sell Like a Spy that readers can use as sales professionals or people who simply want to connect more deeply with friends and family.  

Packed with interviews and anecdotes from intelligence officers of all stripes, and with a foreword by Robert Grenier, former Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, “Sell Like a Spy” puts James Bond in its dust, offering a secret playbook of persuasion tactics from the real world of the Secret Service, special forces, law enforcement, and international espionage.

“Sell Like a Spy: The Art of Persuasion from the World of Espionage”

Jeremy Hurewitz | Aug. 27, 2024 | Diversion Books | Nonfiction 

Hardcover | ISBN: 978-1635769937 | $28.99 

About the Author

Jeremy Hurewitz spent the first decade of his career overseas building the media association Project Syndicate while based out of Prague and Shanghai. He spearheaded a business development strategy that saw the association grow from a few dozen member newspapers in mostly Eastern Europe, to a truly global association of over 300 newspapers in over 100 countries. 

During Jeremy’s time abroad he also worked as a freelance journalist writing on a variety of topics for dozens of publications around the world. Jeremy continues to write regularly with recent articles appearing in Bloomberg, USA Today, and The Hill. 

Upon returning to the U.S. after his time overseas, Jeremy settled in New York City and worked for several well-known global consulting firms in the world of corporate security. These companies are staffed by former intelligence officers and Jeremy worked closely with these former spies. He came to notice how good these individuals were at connecting with clients, how quickly they were able to establish rapport and put people at ease and get them to open up. In addition to former spies, his colleagues included former members of the FBI and the law enforcement community, the Secret Service, the military, the State Department, and other government agencies. Jeremy learned unique and impactful skills from all these former government employees, and he began utilizing the methods he picked up. He quickly noticed the tangible difference it made in his salesmanship and his ability to connect with clients. By practicing the same methods that government officials use to develop relationships and overcome a range of challenges, Jeremy was able to achieve some of the biggest and most meaningful sales of his career.  

Jeremy has synthesized these lessons from government service into the Sell Like a Spy program and works with clients to share these strategies to help them improve their ability to connect with targets, develop creative approaches to close deals, and overcome challenges. Find out more about him and his book at www.selllikeaspy.net.

Praise for Jeremy Hurewitz and “Sell Like a Spy”

“Brilliantly illuminates two misunderstood skills: spying and sales! Jeremy Hurewitz pulls back the curtain on effective spying to reveal thoughtful, empathetic people – the same kind we trust enough to buy houses, cars, and businesses from. A great guide to mastering the intensely human side of building trust that determines success or failure.” 

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Afghanistan and former commander of the nation’s premier military counter-terrorism force, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)

“Part memoir, part practical guide, Jeremy Hurewitz’s “Sell Like a Spy” brings together lessons from the world’s most elite information gatherers and people influencers, distilling the spymaster untrained readers can apply to succeed in business. Hurewitz draws on decades of experience as an investigative journalist turned jet-setting corporate security expert, as well as interviews with intelligence agents, law enforcement officials, hostage negotiators, special forces, and more, to ground his writing in real-life case studies. An essential read for anyone interested in becoming a better salesperson – or a half-decent spook!”

Ian Bremmer, President, Eurasia Group

“Popular culture portrays salesmen and spies as transactional and inauthentic. Jeremy Hurewitz knows what the best sales and intelligence professionals understand: espionage and business are about relationships, and the secret sauce of success is the ability to seek connection and develop purposeful and authentic relationships. In ‘Sell Like a Spy’ Hurewitz illustrates with stories and examples that persuasion is not the ability to find the right words, but the ability to build real relationships of trust and empathy, and even share vulnerability. ‘Sell Like a Spy’ is a fun primer on the skills, traits and professional discipline to succeed in business.” 

John Sipher, founder of Spycraft Entertainment, previously a member of the CIA’s clandestine service for 28 years

“Reading ‘Sell Like a Spy’ is time well-spent for anyone, whether you’re a salesperson or just someone who wants to get along with people in your everyday life. Jeremy Hurewitz brings his real-world experience and provides readily usable techniques that are easy to assimilate. From the streets of Pakistan to the boardrooms of New York City, ‘Sell Like a Spy’ will help you listen, connect, and influence.”

Stephen J. Romano, former FBI Chief Hostage Negotiator

“The lessons of espionage directly relate to sales – it all comes down to the art of human persuasion.  That’s why this book is so useful and fascinating – because modern sales teams can adopt practices that have been employed by governments for years.  And not in a nefarious way but in a way that actually builds trust.  This is a great read and a lot of fun!”

Sam Jacobs, CEO & Founder, Pavilion

More praise for “Sell Like a Spy” HERE

In an interview, Jeremy Hurewitz can discuss:

  • The riveting world of espionage through his unique journey from journalist to corporate intelligence operative
  • The fascinating psychology behind spycraft tactics, why they are so effective, and how they can be applied to elevate your game in business and everyday scenarios
  • Intelligence insights from his extensive network of former CIA, FBI and counterterrorism operatives (including former FBI chief hostage negotiator Gary Noesner, former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Bob Grenier, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal)
  • Cultivating relationships by having a better understanding of persuasion and human motivations
  • The role of emotional intelligence in both spycraft and everyday interactions with others, whether work or personal
  • The art of negotiation, from sealing high-stakes business deals to convincing your teenager to do their homework
  • How to detect deception and read body language to understand your counterparty better
  • How to overcome challenging situations through insights from elite law enforcement agents
  • Agent development methods that bridge the worlds of sales and everyday relationships, unlocking your full potential in both realms
  • Moving beyond the theoretical and curating a handbook-like approach to “Sell Like a Spy” – including field-tested strategies and government tactics

An Interview with

Jeremy Hurewitz

Can you share a bit about your professional background and how it led you to explore the intersection of sales and espionage in your work?

I crossed paths with spies when I was a journalist overseas and I reported on intelligence matters, all of which increased my interest in this world. Returning to the U.S. I jumped at the chance to work directly with them in the corporate security world, and I soaked up lessons from these individuals. At the same time, I was in a new position of cultivating relationships with clients, so I was immediately putting these lessons to work and seeing results. As I continued in this industry I came to learn from other former government officials – FBI agents, military negotiators, secret service agents, members of the special forces and others – and I applied lessons from these amazing individuals as well. 

“Sell Like a Spy” draws heavily from your network of former CIA, FBI, and counterterrorism agents. What inspired you to tap into these connections, and what unique insights did they bring to the table?

Even though I never served in the military or government, I’ve always admired those who have, and that admiration drew me to these people, and I’ve wanted to learn more about them and how they do their often dangerous work. Because the work they were involved in was so high stakes, they had unique experience and skill-sets that they applied to these situations. Applying radical empathy, for instance, in order to really find a way to connect with and recruit a potential agent who might be a terrible person that they would otherwise someone they would want nothing to do with is an example, and one with an application to the world of sales, where salespeople often have to sell to people who they don’t like. Or negotiating like an FBI agent needing to understand whether the hostage-taker is motivated by an instrumental or expressive need, where there is also a direct application to the business world. 

Why are spies the best salespeople?

Spies are often recruited into the intelligence world because of their unique personality gifts and emotional IQ. They cultivate these instincts and refine them to become masters of connecting deeply with their targets, no matter how sketchy those individuals may be. I believe that convincing someone to commit treason against their country or organization is the hardest sale to make, and one that spies are experts at. They apply battle-tested methods of emotional engagement, an understanding of body language and the role it plays in rapport building, along with cultural smarts to become masters of the art of sales. 

Your book emphasizes the application of spycraft tactics in both business and everyday life. How can these strategies be implemented in different contexts?

Anyone in business should first start practicing the techniques in the book in their everyday life, which offers low-stakes chances to try new rapport-building methods with friends and family. Skills like mirroring (both physical and verbal) can be tricky to get used to and can be easily seen if done poorly, so practicing is a good idea. But that practice in everyday life is a good example of the universal aspect of these techniques. Practicing empathy, being a good active listener and paying attention to body language are not just skills that can help someone make a sale or recruit a foreign agent to conduct espionage – they are methods that can bring us closer to people in any circumstance. 

What do you hope readers will take away from “Sell Like a Spy?”

I hope it will bring more fun and intellectual satisfaction to their work and help make people more successful. I write about people leaning in their passions, cultivating those passions, and how doing so can open up hidden doors to success – I also hope that by doing that people will lead richer lives. I hope readers will have better conversations, learn the value of listening, and that in doing so we might foster a bit more societal amity than what we have in the divisive age we’re living through. 

What roles do empathy, vulnerability, intellectual curiosity and cultural awareness play in forging meaningful connections in espionage and the business world alike?

These are essential traits in the most successful spies and salespeople. The idea of vulnerability is personal to me, and I share how I lost half my hearing and how that misfortune has had the silver lining of helping to draw people close to me when I share what I went through. Not all of us experience tragedy, but we all experience misfortune and commune together when we share these experiences – people almost automatically respond in-kind when you do so and it will draw you closer. Cultural awareness – whether it’s at the level of different countries or just different subgroups within an organization – can give you an advantage when seeking to cultivate someone. 

In “Sell Like a Spy,” you discuss the importance of cultivating relationships and understanding people’s motivations. Could you elaborate on how these principles from the world of espionage translate into effective sales strategies?

Spies and the support groups around them invest tremendous efforts in ascertaining what might motivate a potential agent to spy for their government. For instance, if they find out a diplomat has a child that can’t get the medical care they need in their impoverished autocratic country, they might consider the right overtures from a spy to work for them. In the sales world, not enough is done to understand a prospects’ motivation – salespeople think they are charming and their product or service is compelling and that’s enough. But if you know a bit more about what is going on with that company (is it struggling or thriving?) or more about your target’s career and life you might be able to subtly push different buttons in your pitch to connect with them. This is just one example. 

Salespeople, despite their charisma and expertise, often struggle with active listening, missing out on crucial client engagement. Why is this such a challenge? What successful techniques do spies use to be better listeners?

The answer resides in our evolution. When archaic man was wandering the plains language developed in short, clipped phrases so they could keep an eye out for opportunities and dangers. The mind still works in this way, processing small bits of information and then retreating internally to assess how this fits into our world. Our minds then work to think of a similar anecdote, or a contradictory opinion, rather than really taking in what the other side is saying. But if you can steady your mind to really focus on the individual you’re speaking with and what they are saying, and if you ask clarifying questions, your conversational counterpart will feel seen and respected and think highly of you. 

What is it like to be a spy? Is it anything like we see in the movies?

I’ve only been a corporate spy, not working for any government. When I do the work I do I need to get people to open up to me quickly and share their point of view, and that’s part of what’s in the book. But I do know a good bit about government-sponsored espionage and I write in the book about how it is quite far from what you see in the movies. I think a better analogy would be making friends with someone and then being there for them during some difficult times. Most spies agree that their job is closer to that of a therapist than Jason Bourne. 

What are defusion skills, and how do spies use them? How can we use them in a business setting?

It’s more about how FBI and other law enforcement use them, that’s what I write about in the book. FBI hostage negotiators, for instance, are experts at maintaining a slow, calm speaking voice because people tend to revert to the social mean that someone is insisting upon. So a quick lesson from that is if you’re in a meeting and someone gets angry and raises their voice, don’t raise your voice as well, continue to speak calmly and somewhat slowly and hopefully they calm down. Also, remain seated if you can, invite that person to sit, because if you stand up it will raise the temperature of the encounter. 

What is mirroring?

Mirroring is a short-cut to rapport building using human psychology. We are programmed to mirror – it’s one of the first things we do as infants looking up at people around us to mirror their behavior and observe how to act like a human being. It has been shown to have a physiological explanation rooted in the neurons of the human brain. When you combine physical mirroring with verbal mirroring – which is a key tool in the tool-kit of FBI hostage negotiators – you can powerfully augment your process of connecting with someone. 

What can we learn from how spies navigate cultural differences and build trust in high-stakes situations?

You need to get outside yourself and your particular cultural experiences and how you view the world and allow yourself to not pass judgment. Spies are deeply mindful of being sensitive to who they are talking to and where they might be coming from, and we can all do that to foster great connections. Whether you’re a New Yorker dealing with someone from the midwest or you’re from Texas and talking to someone from China, being empathetic and sensitive to cultural differences, and trying to understand them, can distinguish you from others. 

How does your book address detecting deception, particularly in corporate environments?

It references how the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use verbal and nonverbal clues to try to understand whether someone is not fully telling the truth. I don’t believe that anyone can be “a human lie detector” despite what some claim; humans are simply too complex. But there are some very strong methods you can utilize to see a red flag in someone’s behavior – whether it’s their failure to answer a question directly or being cold in a room where the temperature is comfortable – to make better decisions about whether someone is being deceptive. 

What’s next for you?

I’m focused on this book reaching as wide an audience as possible. While the methods in this book are great for corporate sales, I highlight whenever I can that there are “skills for everyday life,” and I have a strong desire to promote that because I want people to have better conversations, to connect more deeply, especially because of how highly polarized society is at the moment. I want to help people to lean into their passions and interests, to develop new ones, because it can open hidden doors to success and lead to a more enriching life. And I want to highlight the world intelligence professionals, the real work, not the Hollywood version, because I deeply admire their skills, experience, and public service.

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Maximize the power of your author email list

Authors often ask the Books Forward team: How important is it to have an email newsletter? Do I really need one? I don’t even know where to start! How do I build my email list subscribers? What do I use an email newsletter for exactly? What should my newsletter look like?

As you grow your author brand, build your backlist and plan upcoming book releases, having an email list is helpful to give you direct access to your most loyal readers and personal contacts. An engaged email list helps you effectively promote upcoming books/projects, events, special pricing and any other reader incentives.

But as with anything in book promotion, it can feel overwhelming to dive into something from scratch. And it’s important to give yourself time to learn and the space to be yourself and true to your own author voice.

Here are some basic tips to help you get started if you’re considering an email list:

Sign up for other email lists

Before you even dive into planning your own newsletter, pick three authors in your genre and sign up for theirs. Give yourself time to monitor what they are doing and the types of things they announce. Just observe for a while and don’t put pressure on yourself to do anything yet. Or if for example you are focused on raising awareness around a particular topic, consider if there are other activists and thought leaders in your space to follow and get a feel for what they are doing.

Plan your reader magnet

Think about some sort of incentive you can provide for an interested reader who signs up for your email list. Do you have any extra freebie content? A deleted chapter from a previously published book, a related short story or something else? Or maybe you have a list of helpful resources by state for people interested in becoming more active in the conversation around your topic of choice? This will give readers a taste of your writing style and what they can expect from your books. Be sure it’s more than is offered with the free sample on Amazon. Or you could consider doing drawings for bookstore gift card giveaways of your book or other prizes related to your book!

Consider your logistics

We do recommend the paid version of Mailchimp as it’s rather intuitive and user friendly, and Substack is having its moment. There’s also MailerLite and other email providers out there like Constant Contact and Active campaign. And also check out Book Funnel; recommend either the Mid-List Author plan or the Bestseller plan. The differences between the two aside from price is the mailing list integration. With the Bestseller plan, Book Funnel will integrate your subscribers directly into your email provider account like Mailchimp, MailerLite and others. It’s pretty simple to navigate and offers many features.

Create your email list template

You’ve already signed up for comparable author newsletters to get a feel for what others do. This will help as you start envisioning what your newsletter could include. Take these other steps when you’re working on crafting your template:

  1. Draft a friendly automated welcome message for anyone who signs for your newsletter. This can be thanking new subscribers for signing up and gifting them with their free content — so they hear something from you immediately after submitting their email address. It’s a great opportunity to plug your book! You can add even more emails to an automation sequence, another to go out a week later, a month later, etc. But remember: You are starting fresh and just dipping your toes in. Start with something realistic and manageable.
  2. Don’t worry about immediately committing yourself to monthly newsletters or some strict schedule. Focus first on when you have bigger news to announce like an early sneak peek of your forthcoming book, the cover reveal, the opportunity for subscribers to receive an ARC in exchange for review, etc.
  3. In terms of content strategy, always stay authentic to yourself and your author voice. Glean inspiration from others, but don’t try to fit a formula someone else is doing. Remember your readers want to know you. Sprinkle in some behind the scenes looks at your publishing journey and writing process. We live in a day and age of social media, and people like to know the artist behind the art. Give readers a peek into who is behind the book.

Sign up for email list building promos

Consider sites like BookSweeps, which has an email list builder ad option for a more nominal cost, and Crave Books. Also look into the Independent Book Publishers Association’s eblast option focused on reaching librarians. There are other ways to drive more traffic to your website and newsletter via paid advertising, but these are good ways to jumpstart things. More organic subscriber growth takes time, but it’s also the most worthwhile way to build up a loyal, engaged audience!

Collaborate with others

Consider featuring comparable authors, activists, influencers or related voices in your newsletter. There’s a good chance they will share the Q&A on their own website, blog or social media platforms and give you and your book some exposure to the people who follow them. Or consider your goals: Are you looking to make connections with librarians? Interview and feature librarians in your newsletter! This is a great way to personally connect with librarians and other industry insiders all over the country and in turn have them learn about you and your book.

Keep plugging content

As media coverage, reviews and accolades begging appearing online for your book, you’ll be able to share those reviews, interviews excerpts, guest articles and other features in your newsletter.

In addition to adding your email list sign-up to your website, add it to your LinkTree, social media bios and even your email signature. Announce your newsletter on your social media channels, inviting your supporters to join you there for more on this literary journey, exclusive content, etc. And don’t forget to have sign up sheets at in-person events.

New urban fantasy takes readers on thrilling journey into Bay Area’s supernatural underbelly

SAN FRANCISCO – In the pulsating heart of San Francisco lies a world hidden from ordinary eyes, a realm where supernatural forces shape the fate of humanity. This is the captivating backdrop of “The Others,” (September 2024, SparkPress) a spellbinding urban fantasy novel by acclaimed author Evette Davis, which is set to enthrall readers with its potent blend of mystery, romance and magic.

Olivia Shepherd is a political consultant with a secret: She possesses empathic abilities, the power to sense the emotions of those around her. Keen to keep her supernatural gifts hidden, Olivia’s world is upended when Elsa, an ancient time-walker, appears in her kitchen, unveiling a destiny she never knew she had. As Olivia delves deeper into the hidden world of the “Others” who lurk beneath San Francisco’s foggy streets, she finds herself drawn into the clandestine organization, the Council, and Gabriel Laurent, the enigmatic leader of a realm where vampires, witches, fairies and demons navigate a delicate balance of power. Caught between her burgeoning abilities, her new role within the Council, and her blossoming romance with the centuries-old vampire William, Olivia must confront shocking revelations about her own past and embrace the true extent of her powers. 

“The Others” is a tour de force, weaving together themes of self-discovery, empowerment and the timely issue of the dangers of political extremism. With its richly drawn characters, pulse-pounding plot twists, and atmospheric San Francisco setting, the novel promises a gripping ride from start to finish. With its darkly seductive tone, sophisticated storytelling, and cliffhanger ending, fans of urban fantasy and paranormal romance will be captivated and left eagerly awaiting the next installment.

“A rollicking supernatural jaunt through time that leaps out of the famous San Francisco fog and right onto our latest news pages. Davis combines her inside knowledge of Bay Area politics with a gripping tale of vampires and shape-shifters that leave us never quite looking at the city the same way again.”
— David Callaway, former editor in chief, USA Today

“The Others: Book 1 in The Council Trilogy”

Evette Davis | Sept. 17, 2024 | SparkPress | Urban Fantasy 

Paperback, 9781684632701, $17.95

Also by Evette Davis

“48 States”

June 21, 2022 | Flesh & Bone | Science-Fiction
Paperback, 979-8985813302, $14.99

What if trusting a stranger is the only way to save your life?

Widow, single mother, and Army veteran Jennifer “River” Petersen works as a truck driver in Energy Territory No. 1, formerly known as North Dakota. Forced to enlist after her father’s death, the lines of River’s life have been redrawn, much like the United States’ map has changed. Living in a motel room with nothing but her books and a Glock handgun for company, River is weeks away from returning home when an injured man standing in the middle of the highway upends her plans. From the moment he encounters River, Finn Cunningham knows he must conceal his identity or be left for dead. His deception draws them into a megalomaniac’s deadly conspiracy to ignite a civil war and overthrow the government. If River and Finn want to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust one another and themselves.

Perfect for readers who loved “Station Eleven,” “California,” and “Gold Fame Citrus,” “48 States” is a one-of-a-kind dystopian thriller about the dangers of extremism and the power of love and forgiveness. 

About the Author

Evette Davis is a science-fiction and fantasy writer. She is most recently the author of “48 States,” which Kirkus named one of the Best Indie Books of 2022. The book was also a quarter-finalist for the BookLife Prize 2023 and longlisted in the 2023 Indie Book Awards.  

Davis is also the author of “The Others,” the first installment of The Council Trilogy, which will be released in September 2024 by Spark Press. 

Davis is a member of the Board of Directors for Litquake, San Francisco’s annual literary festival. In 2023 and 2017, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library honored Davis as a Library Laureate. Her work has also been published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

When she’s not writing novels, Davis advises some of the country’s largest corporations, nonprofits and institutions as a consultant and co-owner of BergDavis Public Affairs, an award-winning San Francisco-based consulting firm. Before establishing her firm, Davis worked in Washington as a press secretary for a member of Congress. She previously was a reporter for daily newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Davis splits her time between San Francisco and Sun Valley, Idaho. For more information or to sign up for her newsletter, visit www.evettedavis.com.

Follow Evette Davis on social media:

Facebook: @evette1364 | Twitter: @SFEvette | Instagram: @evettedavis.author

In an interview, Evette Davis can discuss:

  • Timely themes of fascism, xenophobia and political unrest: As echo chambers across the internet create increasingly polarized communities politically, the book examines how extremist values can harm the creation and functioning of communities.
  • The book’s empowering protagonist: Olivia Shepherd is not your typical heroine. As a political consultant with empathic abilities, she grapples with her newfound powers while navigating the complexities of her own past. Olivia’s journey of self-discovery and empowerment resonates with readers seeking strong, multifaceted female characters — particularly with Gen X, millennial and Gen Z women.
  • The novel’s richly imagined world: “The Others” transports readers into a vividly realized world where supernatural forces lurk beneath the surface of San Francisco. From hidden magical realms to secret organizations, the novel offers a captivating blend of fantasy and reality.
  • The series’ intriguing mythology: Readers are introduced to a rich tapestry of supernatural lore. The novel explores the intricate relationships between beings such as vampires and witches and the delicate balance of power that governs their existence.
  • All the romance and suspense: At its core, the novel is a gripping tale of romance and suspense. The burgeoning relationship between Olivia and William adds an extra layer of intrigue to the story. The author can also discuss plans to explore different types of relationships — including polyamory — in future installments.
  • Exploring themes of identity and acceptance: As Olivia grapples with her heritage and the truth about her family, the book delves into themes of identity and acceptance. Through Olivia’s journey, readers are invited to explore their own sense of self and the importance of embracing one’s true nature.
  • The novel’s appeal to fans of urban fantasy: “The Others” offers a fresh and compelling take on the genre. Its blend of magic, mystery and romance makes it a must-read for readers craving an immersive and thrilling literary escape.
  • Where the author gets her inspiration: Davis draws inspiration from the vibrant city of San Francisco, where she’s a resident, and a lifelong fascination with the supernatural. She can also discuss real-life locations that are featured in the book, as well as additional Easter eggs that those familiar with the Bay Area can expect to find in the story.

An interview with Evette Davis

1.What different mythologies did you draw on when deciding what supernatural creatures to include in the book? Did you have to conduct any special research to help you write these characters?  

I have a robust collection of encyclopedias and anthologies about supernatural creatures that inspired my thinking. First and foremost though, I read a lot about ancient women leaders, from Hecate to Boudicca. I was looking at traditions that place women at the center of a culture for their gifts as healers and seers. At its core, “The Others” is a meditation on women finding their power and making peace with it. I also have an impressive library of books about poisonous plants and weapons. 

2. Are any of your characters inspired by people you have known in real life? 

As some of them are still alive, I will say yes, but offer the caveat that I am a lifelong observer of people and a notorious eavesdropper. I collect a lot of data in my head about human behavior and use it to shape characters. What partially inspired this story is my experience co-managing a PR firm for 25 years.  I remember vividly being worried about the competition in the early years. 

3. How have your own political ideologies, as well as your work in politics and with governments, shaped this series? 

I dislike extremists in all forms. When I first began my career, there was no email, no social media and cable TV was nascent. The ability to say anything you like, to anybody, at any time, with no way to reflect on it, is not a net positive for society. The chaos creates an atmosphere and the people who thrive, are often the ones who can survive the toxicity. In politics, that brings out interesting personalities. 

4. What’s the process like for a writer sitting down and creating scenes that are more romantic or erotic? Are those more or less difficult for you? 

I love writing sex scenes. It’s so difficult because you have to find a way to engage people without being cliche — at least I do. I often prefer the flirty banter more than the actual mechanics of who does what to whom. I read a lot of other sexy paranormal books, so I get good inspiration.

5. Can you talk a bit about your history with San Francisco and why you set the first book of the series there? 

I’ve lived in San Francisco for 20-plus years. My husband and I raised our daughter here and have lived in the city near Golden Gate Park for most of that time. I grew up in Los Angeles but visited San Francisco with friends when I was in high school and decided it was going to be my home one day. There is really no other city in the world where I want to live. Its combination of natural beauty, proximity to the outdoors and cool-ass residents makes it home for me. You have to be here to understand — even more so after the whole doomloop thing, which only made us more resolute to stay. It seemed like a no brainer to base my characters here. 

6. You’ve dipped your toes into speculative fiction already with “48 States.” How does this book differ from your previous work? 

It’s a bit lighter in terms of the characters and subject matter, but it’s still toying with the same themes of the danger of extremism and women leaders finding their way. Although I should say, the third book in the trilogy, “The Campaign,” which comes out in September 2025, is very dark and will feel similar to “48 States.”

7. You own a public affairs firm — how do you manage to successfully run a business while also writing? 

I would say some days I’m successful and some days I’m not. I love writing; it’s an essential part of what makes me feel like me. So I forgo other things to make time to write, and I’m grateful my family over the years has supported me. 

8. Why is this story important to you personally? 

I am interested in how women become leaders. How they find their power, how they express it and what that journey looks like. I’m on the same journey of self-discovery, and it’s fraught at times, especially with social media and the false realities it lays out for us about what success looks like. 

9. What do you hope readers gain from this book or the series as a whole?

First and foremost I hope they are entertained and enjoy digging into a heart-bounding series full of danger, adventure and love. I also hope they enjoy Olivia’s journey to become a leader and have confidence in herself, which is something I think everyone can relate to. 

10. No spoilers! But what’s next for the series?

Josef is going to run his own detective agency and investigate missing or lost magical objects that may or may not affect the fate of humanity. Readers can expect the characters of The Council Trilogy to continue on, albeit in a slightly different way. 

Download press kit and photos

Industry Interview with Sensitivity Reader Sachiko Suzuki

For our 2024 blog series, we’re highlighting industry professionals to find out more about their time in the book world. Follow along for insight on what catches a reviewer’s interest, things to avoid when pitching a media outlet, what librarians are searching for and more. 

Today, we’re chatting with Sachiko Suzuki, the sensitivity reader chair at Salt and Sage Books and project manager of their Incomplete Guides (more on this in a moment)!

Sachiko is a Japanese-American with an insatiable appetite for a good story. She’s worked as a sensitivity reader with multiple authors, illustrators and game designers, including Penguin, Asmodee, Abrams Books, Choice of Games and Harper Collins.

If she’s not reading or writing, Sachiko is probably quilting or fostering kittens and forgetting to give them away. Sachiko has yet to meet a genre she didn’t like, and she will absolutely make you katsu if your story has Pleistocene megafauna. Learn more from Sachiko in these online course offerings.

At what point in the writing process should authors consider engaging a sensitivity reader?

This is a question that I am always hoping people will ask! The short answer: the sooner, the better. Sensitivity reading addresses potential issues from the micro (proper terms and phrases) to the macro (themes and character motivations). The greatest frustration I see in clients comes from hiring a reader too late in the process to change anything, or when a great deal of investment has already been made in a direction that the author now would rather change. Since sensitivity readers work on a per-word rate, it’s relatively inexpensive to have one put eyes on a story in the outline phase, just to see if the story is headed in the right direction.

How can authors ensure they find the right sensitivity reader for their particular project?

This one can be challenging, both because many authors find it difficult to find and connect with sensitivity readers—some people end up broadcasting a call on social media—and also because each sensitivity reader speaks from individual experience and cannot speak for everyone. We sensitivity readers are not gatekeepers or permission-slip dispensaries.
My advice to an author looking for a sensitivity reader would be this: Look for someone whose lived experience most closely matches the character experiences in your story. You may not find a perfect match, but it’s good to try to get close. If you’re not sure, ask.
Also, look for readers who are familiar with publishing and genre expectations. SR feedback is something an author is purchasing, and it should be something useful for revision.

Salt and Sage offers a sort of one-stop-shop for authors looking for SRs from different backgrounds, many of whom have a lot of experience working with publishers or game developers.

Can you share an example of a positive outcome resulting from the input of a sensitivity read?

I’d love to! I can’t add identifying details, because part of the benefit of any edit is that it’s confidential, but I’ll do my best to describe it in general terms.

The author and I were working on a piece where I noted that this draft’s character motivation boiled down to “because she is Japanese”. This motivation, by definition, relies on stereotypes about Japanese culture and women.

The author took my feedback and used it to move forward into a new idea that not only didn’t rely on the common stereotypes, but also elevated the character and her series arc. The whole story was tighter and the character more relatable as a result. When the author contacted me with their new ideas, I was delighted to see how much better they’d made their book.

Sensitivity issues can often be identity-related craft issues. When an editor like me notes these issues, I’m not calling my client racist, sexist or anything else, and I’m also not calling them a bad writer. We writers know that we all need other people’s eye on our work to catch what we’ve missed!

This just means that an edit that focuses on authentic identity, and experience often uncovers places where the grammar is great but the narrative needs work. Stronger craft nearly always fixes the problem.

In my experience, once a good author knows why something story-related can hurt people, they are brilliant in changing the how.

I want to add that this effort between sensitivity readers and authors to find solutions is often collaborative and, to me, that’s another positive effect. I know people who started out as my clients and are now my friends. Sensitivity reading can be a great way to support other authors in the publishing industry.

What are some common misunderstandings surrounding the role of sensitivity reads?

We’re not censors. I’m laughing ruefully as I say this. This one comes up a lot!

Censors: 

  • Gatekeepers
  • Speak from power
  • Use their authority to control book access and content
  • Remove content
  • Override the will of authors being censored
  • Work in the public eye
  • Benefit those with power and authority
  • Require permission slips

Sensitivity readers:

  • Not gatekeepers, but guides
  • Speak from experience
  • Offer feedback as an invited editor
  • Add feedback and information
  • Collaborate with authors
  • Work in private consultation
  • Help authors match intent with impact on marginalized communities
  • Cannot write permission slips

Sensitivity reading isn’t an unwanted and offensive act done to authors any more than line editing is; it’s a professional service intended to help.

The vast majority of clients that I’ve worked with are eager to get another perspective on their story because audience connection is the key to commercial success.

Is it necessary for sensitivity readers to review the entire manuscript, or can authors request feedback on specific sections?

Great question! I’ve seen a split on manuscript selections among SRs, and I think both the For and Against folks have great points.

Many SRs are reluctant to read selections because it’s like asking a writer to identify all their line-edit errors in a manuscript. SRs strive to identify possible pain points and inaccuracies, which are there precisely because they may escape the best-intentioned notice of the author. How can an author know their piece’s greatest struggles—isn’t that why they’re hiring a SR?

Many SRs feel a degree of responsibility for the finished manuscript and don’t feel they can ethically consent to or sign off on a piece that they haven’t vetted.

Another reason some SRs avoid selections is that most of us are freelancers just trying to pay the electric bill, and selections require the same amount of admin and project structure as longer, more profitable projects.

On the other hand, many SRs are happy to read handpicked selections. I’m part of this group. I love selections because they maintain market rate payment for SRs, while also maintaining affordability and accessibility for authors. An author can pay a fair wage while still staying within budget!

My approach is that the author is always responsible for their story. I am an interested advisor, and hope for the best for both clients and readers, but I’m not a body shield and not culpable for anything harmful that remains in the story, especially if it’s something I didn’t see.

My advice to authors is to ask potential SRs if they’re willing to read selections, and see if their approach will be a good fit for your needs.

Are there specific terms or themes sensitivity readers consistently advise against including?

I love this question, because don’t we all want clear expectations?

The short answer is: Sort of.

It’s hard to create a list of DOs and DON’Ts, because so much of what makes a phrase or concept harmful is its context and application. That’s why a SR is so useful in the first place: we can view these ideas in their natural habitat of story, assess potential issues and be able to tell our clients which ones might maul paying visitors, so to speak.

That said, every SR I know has a running list of issues that they encounter repeatedly within their own frame of reference.

Salt and Sage Books has started compiling these common issues into books called the Incomplete Guides. Each guide names some of the top issues that we’ve seen pop up, explains why they’re harmful and then offers practical suggestions on what an author might try instead.

What I love about these Guides is that they’re short, easy to read, written by #ownvoices and cost the same as a fancy coffee. You don’t even have to be an author to find them useful. They’re not an exhaustive list—that’s not really possible—but they can be an easy place to start!

Should authors provide content warnings when handling sensitive topics or language?

Yes, please! It’s not only a kindness, it’s also a great way for authors and editors to get (forgive the pun) on the same page for what a work has and needs help with.

Salt and Sage Books editors are pretty up-front about the topics that they prefer or avoid. This makes it a lot easier for authors to find editors that are a good fit.

Are there additional insights or considerations authors should keep in mind when seeking out a sensitivity read?

The number one thing an author can do to get the most out of a sensitivity read is this:

Write a short note to the sensitivity reader.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be specific. The best notes go beyond content warnings and include these bits of information:

  1. Author level of personal experience with the subject
  2. Which story elements and genre expectations the piece contains
  3. Author’s specific concerns

For example: “Hi! I love Kurosawa movies, I visited Japan, but I don’t know any Japanese-Americans. I wanted to write a fun action novel, and I want to make sure my portrayal of the Japanese-American romantic lead is okay.”

Great! Now, as my client’s SR, I know which things to look for, how to have a conversation with them via my edit letter about what’s working, what isn’t, why it isn’t and any additional thoughts or encouragement I can offer towards those goals. If an author has more concerns, by all means, please list them.

I get excited when I see a client note like these, because they allow me to be that much more specifically helpful in helping the author meet their goals for the project.

I want to end with this thought to authors, given with my warmest heart: Sensitivity readers want you to succeed.

Every time I work with a client, I’m hoping for a book that says something true about my experience, so that I can recommend it to other people in my community and share copies with my kids. We’re usually fellow authors and creatives, and we know how hard it is to write and how vulnerable an edit can feel. Sensitivity readers are here to help you make your book better.

Snatched from her family at 4 years old, childhood abuse and adult cult survivor shares story

Mill Valley, California Penny’s life was like a fairy tale–the terrible kind. Penny Lane was four years old when she was snatched from her home. The strange man’s foreign accent was as rough as his kisses; her beloved Aunt Charlotte introduced him as Penny’s father. As the girl and her suitcase were bundled into a car, Aunt Charlotte revealed a horrifying truth: Penny’s mother died when she was a baby, and her Hungarian father had suddenly claimed her. Her illusion of family shattered, from that moment Penny’s uprooted life became an exercise in survival. 

The abuse started quickly: Her new stepmother beat her bloody for eating a slice of bread without asking, beat her for lies she never told, beat her without excuse. As she grew into a young adult, Penny’s boyfriend introduced her to church. But instead of finding solace, she was sucked into a too-familiar cycle of manipulation as the charismatic leaders exerted cult-like control. After being pressured into marriage and enduring years of forced confessions, Salem-style accusations, secretive disciplinary actions, and ostracization, Penny reaches her breaking point. Could she leave the church and her husband–and confront her abusers–and finally navigate life on her own terms?

A harrowing story of survival, this deeply poignant narrative explores learning to give yourself what others have denied you. 

“Redeemed: A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood”

Penny Lane | June 25, 2024 | She Writes Press | Memoir 

Paperback | 978-1-64742-700-9 | $17.95 

Penny Lane is a writer, wife and mother with an insatiable passion for life and books. Originally from Jackson Heights, Queens, she loves being outdoors-cycling, hiking, traveling, and connecting to, and inspiring people. She has a BS in business and management from the University of Phoenix and an MA in industrial/organizational psychology from Golden Gate University. In her spare time, she helps underserved youth learn to read, apply to college, and find jobs once they graduate, and in food pantries and other non-profits near her home in Mill Valley, California. Find out more at her website here.

 

Follow Penny Lane on social media: 

Facebook: @pennylanewriter | Instagram: @pennylane_writer | TikTok: @writerpennylane 

In an interview, Penny Lane can discuss:

  • Navigating the turbulent waters of enduring abuse amidst the weighty burdens of societal expectations and the rigid constraints of religious pressures
  • Empowering individuals to bravely sever ties with detrimental religious doctrines and toxic familial environments, igniting a journey towards freedom and self-discovery
  • Embarking on her writing journey, particularly when revisiting the terrain of childhood trauma, is akin to navigating through a labyrinth of emotions and memories, where each step is a courageous act of self-discovery and healing, unraveling the intricate layers of her past to unveil the resilience that lies within her narrative
  • The effects of childhood trauma on us as adults, how to navigate it, and how to be a better person for it
  • A path toward healing,overcoming and thriving

An Interview with

Penny Lane

1.Thank you so much for sharing your vulnerable story with the world. Why do you feel it’s important for you to speak out about your abuse and write this memoir?

I felt compelled to write this book- people have told me for 30 years that I need to write. When we are abused, we are also silenced. Writing about it is a way to say, no! I won’t be threatened anymore. I will speak the truth because truth heals. When I was finally strong enough to deal with my abuse at age 30, there were very few books about people surviving or living after abuse. We (abused) are damaged people, and tend to hide our abuse; we’re ashamed of it. I was taught to hide it, and not talk about it. I wrote this book to inspire others to speak out, get help and know that by being open about it instead of hiding it, they will find kinship, connection, and healing.

2. Do you feel you were able to capture the depth of your pain and abuse and your abuser’s malice? Why or why not?

I was not a writer, so this was my first attempt at writing anything. I simply did not have the language, or the ability to convey how ongoing, all-consuming, and constant my pain and mistreatment was. Also, when I learned to write memoir, I was told no one wanted to read a “misery-memoir.” Also, Mary Karr said in her famous book “The Art of Memoir” to try to be as kind as we can to our enemies, so I was. When I worked with my editor- who was wonderful- he said, “enough; we get it, you were abused. We can’t keep listing your abuse- people can’t take it. So, I let it go, but it was much worse than I could convey.

3. How did your trauma affect you after you left, or as an adult?

When I first left, at 16, I had no idea how traumatized I was-or that my abuse would affected me even though I had left home. When I joined the church at 17, they would not discuss any type of trauma, or mental health issues because anything that happened was “God’s will,” therefore no need to discuss it. As I started dealing with my trauma, I started to see that it affects every part of my life, some for better, some for worse. For example, most of my decisions are motivated by fear- or insecurity- fear of failure, of being poor, or unloved, or being a bad mother, or alone. I can be distrusting, nervous, fearful. On the positive side, I always root for the underdogs, and help people who are hurting or suffering as much as I can. It’s made me a better person, but also a more fearful person.

4. How do you avoid bitterness and anger and focus on working hard and being kind after such horrible treatment?

What I wanted more than anything else was to be treated fairly, to be loved and to be happy. You can’t be happy and bitter at the same time. Also, in my family and in the church, I was always accused of being “bad,” or a liar; I was always in the wrong, they were always right, so when I finally left, I worked really hard to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong, so no one could accuse me of doing anything wrong. I became an overachiever, the doer. Healing is not linear- just because you know intellectually it wasn’t your fault- doesn’t mean you always know how to live that way. You keep working on it every day.

5. Who did you look to for inspiration to get through your abuse? Who did you look to for inspiration as a first time writer?

In the ‘90’s when I was in my 30’s, I read the Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, when I first realized there are other people like me in the world. For the first time, I realized I was not alone. Then I met a very good friend who was in recovery, and because she shared her dysfunctional upbring with me- I was able to confide in her, and it was a huge release. She made me to go to Al-Anon meetings. I went to therapy. I started reading psychology books like Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman. As a first-time writer, I looked to Jeannette Walls, Anne Lamont and Mary Karr.

6. Is there anything you would like to share or say to people who have gone through similar childhood abuse?

I’d say, please know that you don’t have to hide anymore. People are more open to talking about our mental health today- because that is what this is- our mental health. Talking about your abuse – to a friend, therapist, or partner, will start to heal you. The abuse was never about you- it was about your abusers’ issues- yet it’s up to us to decide to heal. To decide to be happy. To decide not to let anyone or anything stop you from finding that release, validation, and freedom from those chains. It won’t be easy- but it is very rewarding. Standing up to your truth is very empowering. You are not alone- in sharing, you will find kindred souls to share the journey.

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Award-winning authors team up on middle-grade mystery

Best friend duo works to solve baking competition puzzle in charming story

The Great British Bake Off meets a tween-friendly Knives Out in this fun and propulsive middle grade novel following two best friends who must solve the mystery behind a baking competition gone awry.

This sweet treat early readers are calling “completely sublime” comes from author buddies and Middle Grade favorites Alechia Dow, an American Library Association notable and Indie Next Kids pick novelist, and Tracy Badua, a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ multi-award winner.

Laila gave Lucy a cupcake on the second day of kindergarten, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. But the summer before eighth grade, they find out that since they live on opposite sides of town, they’ll go to different high schools. Yuck!

Then Laila’s invited to compete at the Golden Cookie competition, which awards its winner admission and a full ride to the prestigious Sunderland boarding school, and  
  it’s the perfect opportunity. Sunderland doesn’t just have an elite culinary program;
it’s also home to an elite journalism track, if only newscaster-hopeful Lucy could build up a strong enough portfolio to impress the scholarship committee.

But when one of the celebrity judges collapses after sampling Laila’s showpiece, rumors of foul play swirl, with Laila rising to the top of the suspect list. Even worse, a major storm has effectively cut off all access to the outside world. Can the girls find the real culprit and clear Laila’s name before it’s too late?

“The Cookie Crumbles”

Tracy Badua and Alechia Dow | June 11, 2024 | Quill Tree Books (Harper Collins)

Middle grade/mystery

Hardcover | 978-0063254589 | $19.99

Ebook | B0CHW5X621 | $9.99

Audiobook | B0CJ5V5J9F | $14.95 

More about the authors

Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, a librarian, and an award-winning author of acclaimed young adult sci-fi fantasies, several short anthology pieces, and magical (sometimes mysterious) middle grade stories. When not writing, you can find her having epic dance parties with her family, baking, reading, taking teeny adventures, and exploring her local food scene.

More from Alechia:

Instagram: @alechiadow | https://www.alechiadow.com/ 

 

 

Tracy Badua is an award-winning Filipino American author of books about young people with sunny hearts in a sometimes stormy world. By day, she is an attorney who works in national housing policy, and by night, she squeezes in writing, family time, and bites of her secret candy stash. She lives in San Diego, California, with her family.

More from Tracy:

TikTok: @tracybwrites | Instagram: @tracybaduawrites | Facebook: @tracybwrites | Twitter: @tracybwrites

https://tracybadua.com/

An Interview with

Alechia Dow and Tracy Badua

1. How did you decide to write a book together? What was that process like? 

Alechia: Tracy and I have been writing buddies for eight years, so we understand each other’s style and how to work together to tell the best story possible. As for the process, we communicated the entire time and kept finding ways to have fun. There was a lot of laughter involved and so many cookies! 

2. Alechia, can you tell us a bit about your background in food and how you incorporated that into the book?

Alechia: So as you might’ve read, I am a former professional pastry chef with my Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts and a concentration in food writing–which means I LOVE writing about food. When it came to The Cookie Crumbles, I finally got the chance to deep-dive into a school kitchen and describe all the intensity (and hot tempers) that comes with competing in such a creative environment!

3. Tracy, what’s something you do differently when writing middle grade instead of young adult?

Tracy: When figuring out what my character will do next, it matters whether it’s a middle grade book or a young adult book. Middle grade book characters like Lucy in The Cookie Crumbles might hit an obstacle and seek adult input (and hello, there is a possible murderer running around this baking competition, so I’d hope young folks would get more people involved). In contrast, an older teen character may feel more confident in their abilities to problem solve and handle tough situations themselves, and they may then take slightly different approaches than a younger character would–though, again, I hope everyone of all ages seeks appropriate assistance when attempted murder is involved. 

4. What do you enjoy most about writing books for children?

Alechia: I enjoy exploring themes that I know children can relate to; friendship, compassion, growing up, family, and learning to stand up in a world that sometimes makes you feel small. I want kids to read this and feel empowered!

Tracy: Not only are the readers wonderful, but writing for kids is far more fun than legal writing for adults. 

5. Why is it important to you to include loving representations of marginalized identities?

Alechia: It’s so important––and impactful––to not only represent characters from marginalized identities as the main characters: when they see someone like themselves having a blast, going on adventures, exploring new spaces, solving mysteries, they know they can do all of that too. They feel seen and for readers outside of marginalized identities, they can learn to empathize and relate. 

6. How do you craft a mystery? Did you know whodunnit from the beginning?

Alechia: Writing a mystery with your favorite writing friend has been a highlight of my career! Crafting this story together meant we had to know the who and how in our whodunnit from the beginning. From there, we just had to explain the why of it, and let me say, we spent so much time getting creative with the red herrings and trying to figure these characters out.  

Tracy: This was the first mystery book I’d written, and I was so lucky to have Alechia as a partner in this. In addition to the work we did together, I immersed myself in the genre to make sure I was getting it right. This meant not only reading a lot of other mystery books for kids, but also watching a ton of mystery movies and television shows. My daughter was a teensy bit annoyed at how often I suggested we spend our screen time on the latest Scooby Doo animated series.

Download press kit and photos

Comedian Claire Berger’s Newest Book Promises Laughter and Self-Reflection on the Quest for ‘Enough’

BROOKLYN, New York – In her new book releasing on June 4, 2024, acclaimed writer and comedian Claire Berger is asking out loud the question you’ve been silently pondering for years, “How Much Is Enough?” 

Claire wrote this book to start a long overdue conversation. Her innovative mashup of memoir and self-help genres invites readers to join her in the search of “enough” in all aspects of our lives. Health, money, family, success, food and sex are just a smattering of the topics up for discussion in a touching, highly relatable, often hilarious conversation that features thought-provoking questions and creative prompts for deeper personal reflection. Readers will leave with a renewed appreciation for all that they are and all that they have, which is often more than enough.

Early Praise for “How Much Is Enough?”

“As Claire asks and answers her book’s thematic question, How Much Is Enough?, I couldn’t help but examine my own—what is enough travel, childhood, friendship and work. As always, I look to Claire and am pulled to her gentle, steady example. Claire, thank you for writing this book!”

Jennifer Garner, actor, activist and entrepreneur

How Much is Enough?, Claire’s Berger’s poignant and sassy book crackles with wit and smarts. It’s a blend of deeply personal stories and provocative questions that will make you think, reflect and maybe even spit-take!”   

Nancy Giles, commentator, CBS Sunday Morning

“In a world where we are encouraged to want more, buy more, and be more, How Much is Enough? is a wonderful exploration into what truly fills us up. If you want to get to the place where you can say “I am enough, I do enough, I have enough”

 you’ve just got to read this book.”

Peggy Klaus, author of the New York Times bestseller, “BRAG! How to Toot Your Horn Without Blowing It”

“How Much is Enough?: Getting More By Living With Less”

Claire Berger | June 4, 2024 | DartFrog Books | Memoir / Self-Help 

Paperback | ISBN 978-1-961624-467 | $17.95

E-Book | ISBN 978-1-961624-474 | $5.99 

Audiobook | ISBN 978-1-961624-481 | $19.56 

About Claire Berger

For over four decades, Claire Berger has been earning a living as a comedian, improv actor and writer. She began her career in Chicago with The Second City and in local comedy clubs. She found big laughs in Los Angeles, earning acclaim as a warm-up comedian on over 65 of your favorite sitcoms, including Seinfeld, Murphy Brown and Mad About You. Claire was the first comedian HGTV hired to host a series (Fantasy Open House).

Transitioning from the sitcom soundstages to the corporate boardrooms, Claire helped businesses have fun while getting the job done with her memorable, bespoke events and her book “Funny Works: 52 Ways To Have More Fun at Work, 52 Ways To Have More Fun In Life.”

Claire finds humor in unlikely places, including Italian kitchens where she served as resident writer, ambassador and cookbook contributor for two popular culinary immersion programs, Tuscan Women Cook and Italian Culinary Adventures.

Claire began writing “How Much Is Enough?” (June 4, 2024, DartFrog Books), her interactive memoir, to give voice to the ever-present conversation we’ve all been having in our heads. How much is enough… Exercise? Religion? Sex? Shoes? Family? Food? Through 22 engaging chapters, readers are invited to explore this universal conversation. Find out more about her at www.claireberger.com.

Follow Claire Berger on social media: 

Facebook | Instagram: @4claireb | Threads: @4claireb

In an interview, Claire Berger can discuss:

  • Questioning “enough:” The concept of “enough” and exploring profound questions about various aspects of life, such as social connections, material possessions, financial stability and defining success on your own terms.
  • Personal reinvention: The origins of the idea for “How Much Is Enough?” including a pandemic-era decision to move across the country from Los Angeles to Brooklyn to completely reinvent her life in her 60s. And how this decision speaks to the courage and resilience it takes to embrace change.
  • Humor as a coping strategy: The role of humor in navigating life’s challenges.
  • Courageous storytelling: Her willingness to share difficult aspects of her life, such as divorce, health challenges and family issues.
  • Balancing personal fulfillment and societal expectations: How she stayed true to herself throughout her career in comedy, and how to prioritize what brings you genuine happiness and fulfillment, even if it diverges from conventional paths to success.
  • Community building: Her efforts to create an online community around the concept of “enough” and providing a platform for people to continue to support each other on their journeys of self-discovery.
  • Interpersonal connections: How the concept of “enough” applies to various types of relationships, from family dynamics to romantic partnerships.
  • The influence of social media: How social media can perpetuate unrealistic standards of wealth and beauty, contributing to a sense of inadequacy and the never-ending pursuit of more. Plus, how to cultivate a greater appreciation for what you have.
  • Travel as a catalyst for growth: How travel fosters personal growth and gaining perspective on one’s own life.

An Interview with

Claire Berger

What inspired you to explore the concept of “enough?”

Mid-pandemic, I decided to totally reinvent my life. I left everything familiar—my home, my steady income, and many people I loved, including my adult son, Sam—and I moved from my deeply rooted life in Los Angeles to Brooklyn with my daughter, Jenna, my son-in-law, Patrick; my granddaughter, Natalie; and their French bulldog, Bridget. It was a bold move. At 64, I had to dive into the unknown and reinvent every aspect of my personal and professional life. I found myself asking questions like, “How many new friends are enough to make me feel socially secure in my new world? How much New York square footage is enough to live in after living in spacious California homes? How much money is enough to live on?”

Why is it so difficult for so many people to appreciate what they have? Why are we always searching for more?

I think social media puts an enormous emphasis on material wealth and physical beauty, creating an unrealistic expectation of how we should look and live. One of the many gifts of age for me has been to feel more secure about all that I have and not feel driven to live anyone else’s life but my own. Feeling a sense of competition with others can be a positive motivational tool, but more often than not, it can also create an insecure sense of self; always striving for someone else’s success without stopping to appreciate your own.

How did your background in comedy and improv influence your approach to deeper topics like religion, family and money? Why was it important for you to incorporate humor while exploring life’s most baffling questions? 

Humor is a lifeforce for me. It always has been, from the time I was quite young. We moved around a lot when I was growing up and I quickly learned that humor would be my social currency with each new school I attended. I would never be the class beauty, but I had a shot at being popular as the class comedian. It’s how I moved through the world.

I am hard-wired to find humor in most things, even difficult events and tragic moments. There is a great deal of mental illness and substance abuse in my family and I believe a sense of humor has kept me healthy and wired with a positive outlook on life. 

Why did you decide to format “How Much Is Enough?” as part self-help and part memoir? How did you navigate the balance between sharing personal stories and offering self-help and guidance in your book?

I wrote this book to start a conversation. I want my readers and audiobook listeners to connect with my personal stories that explore various concepts of ‘enough.’ Infusing each chapter with questions and self-reflective exercises felt more inclusive, like I was reaching through the pages and encouraging readers to get personally involved in each topic. I am very honest, and at times quite intimate in my own stories of ‘enough.’ Hopefully readers will follow my example.

You cover a lot of ground in this book. Were any subjects particularly difficult to write about?

Yes. But I didn’t shy away from sharing difficult aspects of my life because variations of my story are shared by many. Discussing divorce, personal health obstacles and even honoring the way my father chose to end his life represents reinvention and recovery that can hopefully help others.

What role do you think humor should play in our personal growth journeys?

A sense of humor will open doors, personally and professionally. I discovered at an early age that my positive energy and outlook on life makes me a better human in all aspects of my life. My role as a daughter, a parent, a partner, a friend, and in my profession is greatly enhanced through humor. Nothing makes me happier than to hear my adult children reminisce about their childhood, fondly recalling offbeat things I initiated, like our wacky themed playdates or ‘Cuss Day.’

What do you hope readers take away from “How Much Is Enough?”

That regardless of our bank account balance, what we have is often more than enough. Even in challenging times, when we are in transition, when we are between jobs, homes or relationships, it is so important to appreciate what we have vs bemoaning what we lost.

Can you tell us about the community you’ve created on Facebook?

My hope is that my book will create community through ongoing chatter about the concept of ‘enough’ beyond the pages. I wanted to build an “enough” clubhouse where we could gather and continue to share stories.  Facebook seems to be a comfy locale. You can find the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2034107663612081 

What topics does your book explore?

  • Space
  • Apparel
  • Childhood
  • Family
  • Health
  • Marriage
  • Friendship
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Work
  • Substances
  • Fun
  • Education
  • Memory
  • Love
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Money
  • Time
  • Life

How does the concept of “enough” come into play with relationships of different types (family, parenting, romantic, friendship, etc.)? Similarly, can you also discuss how your experiences with health challenges and family illnesses influenced your perspective on what is “good enough” in terms of health?

This is such a deep question because it reinforces how often we do an emotional ‘enough’ inventory in so many of our relationships. Here are three examples I explore in depth in my book. As a child growing up with a mentally ill mother, I always thought that if I could just be a better kid, she would be able to have enough energy to focus more on herself and get better. As a parent, I was devastated when my teenage son received a grim health diagnosis. I thought I had enough resources, compassion and moxie as a parent to heal him, which wasn’t true. And, when I came to realize that my husband was an alcoholic, I was forced to acknowledge that our family wasn’t  enough of a reason for him to seek treatment. 

How does your book explore personal growth through travel?

I am a huge fan of travel and firmly believe that a deeper appreciation of our own lives grows from witnessing others’ lives first hand, up close. This was certainly true for my son and I when we traveled to Benin, West Africa, but you don’t have to travel around the world to discover humanity’s depth of resilience, beauty and diversity.

I also think that giving the gift of travel instead of material objects can be the most profound and enduring gift you can give. My college graduation gift to my daughter was a 10-day road trip where the two of us visited many of our country’s most spectacular national parks. It was also the most selfish gift I ever gave anyone because I had as much fun making memories as my daughter did!

You’ve had an incredible career in comedy, from Chicago’s legendary Second City to performing as a warm-up comic on Seinfeld. How have you balanced the pursuit of personal fulfillment with societal expectations of success?

In the 80’s, when I was coming up in the comedy business, the societal expectation of success meant national tours, stand-up spots on late night TV, your own comedy specials and/or being in the cast of Saturday Night Live. These are all incredibly fulfilling accomplishments and I am deeply proud of my friends who accomplished this level of success. But unlike many of my contemporaries, I married young and I wanted children. So I was open to alternate paths in comedy that wouldn’t pay as much and wouldn’t make me famous, but would make it possible for me to be home to raise my children. Being a warm-up comic was the perfect job for me. I could be with my kids during the day and work in television studios at night, in front of wonderful audiences, on hit shows with brilliant, talented people. I had a great run, working on over 65 different series as a warm-up, and then getting hired by HGTV to host a series when my kids were older.

Reflecting on your own relationship with exercise, what role do you believe physical activity plays in achieving a sense of “enough” in terms of health and well-being? 

I’m guessing my chapters exploring the concept of ‘enough’ with regards to health and exercise will be the most relatable to readers and listeners. Who hasn’t asked themselves, “Did I exercise enough today? Did I eat healthy enough today?” And, “Am I setting enough of a healthy example for my loved ones?” This sort of self-reflection is a way of taking personal inventory and can be helpful in living a healthy life, provided we don’t become obsessed or harshly judgmental. I live in a world where an invigorating, long workout can end with a chocolate almond croissant. A healthy balance is my optimum goal.

What’s next for you?

You know, if I represent anything to my friends and family it’s the power of resilience and reinvention. Change is not only possible, it’s inevitable. Staying open to new pivots is how life stays interesting. Writing “How Much is Enough” at this age and stage of my life has been an amazing experience. Sharing my stories, with the hope that I am inspiring  other people to explore their own concept of ‘enough,’ makes me feel proud, excited and happy. And that is certainly enough for me.

Download press kit and photos

 

Wounded soul encroaches in upbringing of best friend’s child

Complex intergenerational mother-daughter relationship in contemporary debut

KIRKWOOD, MOPrepare to be swept away on an emotionally charged odyssey through the heartland of America in debut author Anne Shaw Heinrich’s captivating novel, God Bless the Child (Speaking Volumes, Jun 7, 2024). Heinrich delves deep into the intricate relationship between Mary Kline, her compromised best friend, Pearl and Pearl’s daughter, Elizabeth. Through alternating perspectives, we’re invited into Mary and Elizabeth’s lives spanning from childhood to adulthood in a darkly poignant exploration of family, love, and resilience.

Anne Shaw Heinrich, a seasoned writer with over 35 years of experience as a journalist, columnist, and nonprofit communications professional, brings her wealth of expertise to this compelling narrative. Anne deftly weaves a tale of love, loss, and redemption, exploring the bonds between mothers and daughters and how Elizabeth’s upbringing with her two misfit mothers created a disturbing adulthood filled with personal traumas brought on by an early abortion, mental health battles, and motherhood. 

About the book: Mary Kline has always confronted the challenges of her obesity and infertility with unyielding determination, refusing to succumb to societal expectations. But she desires one thing above all; a child of her own. When her vulnerable friend Pearl unexpectedly finds herself pregnant, Mary steps forward as both caregiver to Pearl and guardian to her child, Elizabeth. Mary sees an opportunity in motherhood to heal the wounds of her own loveless past, but Elizabeth resents Mary, finding her repulsive and stifling her upbringing. As the years pass, Elizabeth grapples with unresolved anger and struggles with her mental health, seemingly destined to repeat the same mistakes with the family she makes for herself. Can Elizabeth break free from the pains of her adolescence finding forgiveness for her mothers’ shortcomings, in order to become the mother she’s always wanted?

God Bless the Child

Anne Shaw Heinrich | June 7, 2024

 Speaking Volumes | Contemporary Fiction 

Paperback | 9798890221438 | $17.95

eBook | 9798890221421 | $7.99

Anne Shaw Heinrich: Since she fell in love with writing in high school, Anne Shaw Heinrich has been a journalist, columnist, blogger and nonprofit communications professional.   Her first article appeared in Rockford Magazine in 1987. She’s interviewed and written features on Beverly Sills, Judy Collins, Gene Siskel, and Debbie Reynolds. Anne’s writing has been featured in The New York Times bestseller The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2: Your Turn (Atria 2006) and Chicken Soup for the Soul’s The Cancer Book: 101 Stories of Courage, Support and Love (2009). Anne’s debut novel, God Bless the 

Child, is the first in a three-book series, The Women of Paradise County, to be published by Speaking Volumes. She and her husband are parents to three adult children. Anne is passionate about her family, mental health advocacy and the power of storytelling. You can find her on her website anneshawheinrich.com

Follow Anne Heinrich on social media:

Facebook: Anne Shaw Heinrich | Twitter: @AnneHeinrich5 | Instagram: @anne_shaw_heinrich

In an interview, Anne Heinrich can discuss:

  • How the themes of empowerment and breaking societal norms echo throughout the narrative
  • How the themes of motherhood and abortion are not portrayed in black and white but rather in nuanced shades of gray, reflecting the multifaceted nature of real-life experiences
  • How the characters’ struggles with mental health issues are portrayed with empathy and authenticity, shedding light on important societal conversations
  • How the author spent 18 years working on this novel and how this achievement represents the triumph of perseverance and resilience, proving that dreams deferred can still come to fruition with determination and dedication
  • How the characters’ imperfections add depth and authenticity to the narrative, inviting readers to empathize with their struggles and root for their growth and redemption
  • What readers can expect in the second and third books of the series

An Interview with Anne Shaw Heinrich

1. Describe your journey of writing and publishing this book. 

I started God Bless the Child with a pencil and yellow legal pad back in 2006, while my youngest daughter attended preschool a few hours a week. It was right after I’d had an essay published in The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2: Your Turn (Atria 2006). The editors of that essay collection encouraged me to do more writing. I finished the first draft of the manuscript and started  pitching to agents, getting really close once. But life got in the way as I was raising a family, working. It seemed self-indulgent to pursue further when I was needed in so many other ways. It wasn’t until Summer 2023 that I decided to start writing fiction again. I reached back out to my editor, David Tabatsky, who was willing to read some of my new short stories, and encouraged me to dust off GBTC for another look. We dusted it off, did some more work on it, and saw the potential for a series. I’ve written a blog about this. The universe said “yes”! Here’s that link: https://medium.com/@annesh51/when-the-answer-is-yes-7e6248b44f08

2. How did you discover your love of writing?

I have always been entranced by the magic of storytelling. As children, my brothers and I were surrounded by good books. Our mother was a voracious reader of fiction, and Dad preferred the news and nonfiction. My first magical moment with storytelling happened when I was a very little girl, sitting in the living room with my Dad listening to Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” together as he pointed out the characters represented by the different instruments. I spent much of my childhood with my nose in a book, often reading the same stories over and over again. It wasn’t until I was in high school, and at the encouragement of two very influential teachers, that it occurred to me that there were stories swirling around me, waiting for me to be their teller. (This has guest article potential for me, for sure.) 

3. How did you create your characters? Was it difficult to make them deeply flawed while also giving readers reasons to root for them?

Next to writing, watching and wondering about people is my favorite thing. Where have they been? What have they left behind?  Where are they going? And what have they brought with them for the next leg of their journey? I tend to lean into characters who are rough around the edges, but also vulnerable. It’s that space between the grit and the most tender spots that some of the most courageous exploration and storytelling can catch its breath. Most people I know have flaws, but they also hold potential to love and be loved.

4. Tell us about your passion for and experiences with mental health advocacy.

Mental health has taken up a lot of real estate in my life and my family’s story. Our son has battled serious mental illness for the last ten years or so, and we landed on a definitive diagnosis of schizophrenia about seven years ago. He’s such a courageous young man, who still craves connection and joy and love. The impact for families who love and support someone with a serious mental illness cannot be understated. It sets you apart, tests individual and collective spirits, and can be a dream snatcher if allowed. There are thousands of families like ours managing the full gamut of emotions and practical considerations that come with mental illness, which is not different from physical illness. (This is a big, important topic for me. I could definitely write about it and talk about it.) I’ve written a blog, too: https://medium.com/@annesh51/gravity-and-grace-ede26b294389

5. What can readers expect in the rest of the series?

Books Two and Three in The Women of Paradise County Series also have complex characters. The binding agent for all three books is that the stories take place in the same Midwest town during some of the same time periods, and a few of the characters. These stories are not linear in nature, but I’m really having fun with them. Just like God Bless the Child, Violet Is Blue and House of Teeth have some dark themes, but the characters have strong voices. They are keen observers of their worlds and looking for where they belong.

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New book by Inside Edition executive producer honors U.S. Navy on the 80th anniversary of a mission that turned the tide of World War II

NEW YORK CITY – In “Codename Nemo” (June 4, 2024, Diversion Books), Inside Edition’s Charles Lachman masterfully transforms a pivotal moment in history into a gripping narrative, chronicling the daring exploits of American sailors who outsmarted the Nazis by capturing a U-boat and unlocking its trove of intelligence secrets. 

On June 4, 1944 — two days before D-Day — the course of World War II was forever changed. That day, a U.S. Navy task force achieved the impossible — capturing a German U-Boat, its crew, all its technology, Nazi encryption codes, and an Enigma cipher machine. Led by a nine-man boarding party and the maverick Captain Daniel Gallery, U.S. antisubmarine Task Group 22.3’s capture of U-505 in what came to be called Operation Nemo was the first seizure of an enemy ship in battle since the War of 1812, one of the greatest achievements of the U.S. Navy, and a victory that many believe shortened the duration of the war.  

Lachman’s white-knuckled war saga and thrilling cat-and-mouse game is told through the eyes of the men on both sides of Operation Nemo — German U-Boaters and American heroes like Lt. Albert David (“Mustang”), who led the boarding party that took control of U-505 and became the only sailor to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the Battle of the Atlantic; and Chief Motor Machinist Zenon Lukosius (“Zeke”), a Lithuanian immigrant’s son from Chicago who dropped out of high school to enlist in the Navy and whose quick thinking saved the day when he plugged a hole of gushing water that was threatening to sink U-505.  

Three thousand American sailors participated in this extraordinary adventure; nine ordinary American men channeling extraordinary skill and bravery finished the job; and then — like everyone involved — breathed not a word of it until after the war was over. Nothing leaked out. In Berlin, the German Kriegsmarine assumed that U-505 had been blown to bits by depth charges, with all hands lost at sea. They were unaware that the U-Boat and its secrets, to be used in cracking Nazi coded messages, were now in American hands. They were also unaware that the 59 German sailors captured on the high seas were imprisoned in a POW camp in Ruston, Louisiana, until their release in 1946 when they were permitted to return home to family and friends who thought they had perished. Following Operation Nemo step-by-step, Lachman has crafted a deeply researched, fast-paced World War II narrative for the ages.

“Codename Nemo:  The Hunt for a Nazi U-Boat and the Elusive Enigma Machine”

Charles Lachman | June 4, 2024 | Diversion Books | Nonfiction 

Hardcover | ISBN 1635768713 | $29.99 

 

Charles Lachman is the author of “Codename Nemo” (June 4, 2024, Diversion Books). His previous books include “Footsteps in the Snow,” “The Last Lincolns,” “A Secret Life,” and the crime novel, “In the Name of the Law.” He is also the executive producer of the nationally syndicated news magazine, Inside Edition. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, History Channel, Lifetime, C-Span and other local and national media. He lives in New York City. Find out more about him at CharlesLachman.com.

Follow Charles Lachman on Facebook: @AuthorCharlesLachman


In an interview, Charles Lachman can discuss:

  • The 80th anniversary of the capture of U-505 and the legacy of this mission as a monumental achievement in naval history
  • How a serendipitous encounter at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago sparked his curiosity about U-505 and led him to uncover a captivating story that deserved to be shared with the world
  • How “Codename Nemo” distinguishes itself from other accounts of WWII missions by focusing on the human experience, delving into the lives of the U.S. sailors on the boarding party and their German counterparts
  • How the seizure of this German U-boat helped expedite the end of WWII, and understanding the significance of this military mission in the broader context of WWII
  • The incredible men behind Operation Nemo, and the bravery and skill necessary to the success of this mission
  • Discovering a treasure trove of videotaped interviews with the American and German sailors involved in the raid, and how these personal anecdotes provided invaluable insights that enriched the narrative of his book
  • His writing process — including what drew him to this subject, and how he balanced a demanding work schedule while delving into dense and complex subjects for his book
  • Larger ethical discussions about warfare, espionage and the treatment of enemy combatants

Early Praise for “Codename Nemo” by Charles Lachman

“Crisp as a torpedo striking the water, ‘Codename Nemo’ pulls you along with a deeply personal account of the hunters on both sides of an amazing drama.”

—Walter R. Borneman, author of “The Admirals” and “Brothers Down”

“A relentless, pressure-packed plunge into the depths of war. ‘Codename Nemo’ is a story-telling tour-de-force—indeed, the quintessential story of the Battle of the Atlantic, rendered in taut prose, and with an immediacy and intimacy that all but makes a participant of the reader. In the wake of this story, you’ll feel a profound sense of gratitude to the men who went after U-505, and to Charles Lachman for bringing them back.”

—James Sullivan, author of “Unsinkable”

“‘Codename Nemo’ is a pulse-pounding tale of high-stakes espionage and daring courage, detailing the pursuit and capture of a German U-boat at the height of World War II. Charles Lachman masterfully builds a cast of characters, German and American, whose destinies intersect in the perilous waters of the Atlantic. The vivid description of life aboard a U-boat immerses you in the claustrophobic, terrifying world of underwater warfare. As the tension builds, with each ‘ping’ of the Sonar, the thrilling plot keeps you turning the pages. A riveting narrative combining historical research with visceral scenes, ‘Codename Nemo’ is a must-read for anyone in search of a thrilling maritime adventure.”

—Andrew Dubbins, author of “Into Enemy Waters”

“The best missions involving submarines often start with an outlandish idea, and the very best make a hell of a story. ‘Codename Nemo’ does both.”

—Sherry Sontag, co-author of the New York Times bestseller “Blind Man’s Bluff”

“What a terrific read from Charles Lachman! A suspenseful, fast-paced but little-known saga of hide-and-seek between a US ‘baby flattop’ and a German U-boat during World War II. Who can resist an Irish-American commander, nicknamed ‘Full Flaps’ by his crew—always beyond his hearing of course—because of his protruding ears, who embarks with his dog, a border collie named Flabby, instigates nail-biting nighttime takeoffs and landings on his carrier for the first time in Naval history…and if that’s not enough, then proposes some cockamamie scheme of commandeering a German sub filled with secret stuff by actually attempting to board her with a nine-man team! It’s a wild, engrossing ride from start to finish with extraordinary details and insights into daily life—clashes, arguments, even suicide—aboard both German boats and American ships during the Battle of the Atlantic. This one is a winner!”

—Carole Engle Avriett, author of “Coffin Corner Boys” and “Marine Raiders”

“Charles Lachman weaves the incredible story of the capture by American forces of a German U-boat and its secrets during World War II, an operation which allowed Allied forces to shock the German Navy. Richly detailed with undeniable suspense and action, ‘Codename Nemo’ is destined for the non-fiction best seller lists.”

—Bill O’Reilly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Killing Series

An Interview with

Charles Lachman

What drew you to this story, and why is this subject so important to you? 

I realized this could be the subject of a great book the moment I saw the U-505 exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I turned to my wife and said, “This is a book.” Pure curiosity drew me into the story. How was it possible that a Nazi U-boat of such immense size could be seized on the high seas? And how in the world did it end up in the basement of a museum in Chicago?  

How does “Codename Nemo” distinguish itself from other accounts of WWII missions, and what unique perspectives does it offer?

There have been a few books written about U-505, but once I dived into the subject I quickly realized that they had all missed the essence of the story. Most are “tech” books focusing on U-boat technology. But my book tells the story from the point of view of the U.S. sailors on the boarding party, and their German counterparts on the U-boat.

Did you come across any unexpected discoveries while researching this topic?

Yes. Buried in the archives of the museum were hours and hours of videotaped interviews made by the American and German sailors who were involved in the raid or served on U-505. The interviews were conducted at the museum in 1999. They were old men by then, and they knew this was probably their last opportunity to talk about what happened in 1944. It was a gold mine of material. Without it, I probably could not have written the book.

What was it like to see U-505 in person at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago?

Awesome. Absolutely breathtaking. I urge everyone to see the museum in person if they ever travel or live in Chicago. Stepping into the interior of the U-boat was like stepping into another era of history. The funny thing is, my wife and I were visiting Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter. Her boyfriend wanted to keep “the parents” entertained and set up the itinerary. He suggested the museum. If not for him, I would never have seen the exhibit, and “Codename Nemo” would never have been written.

How did the U.S. Navy manage to accomplish what seemed like an impossible task with the capture of U-505?

It was an achievement of the impossible. Several events had to take place for the raid to end in triumph. Captain Daniel Gallery was the innovative genius who conceived the raid. Nine brave U.S. sailors volunteered for the mission. If not for their skill and courage the U-boat would have sunk. They were all “grease monkeys” who knew their way with a tool box. And Gallery and his sailors never gave up. When Plan A didn’t work, they went to Plane B, then Plan C and down the line. But don’t ignore the value of pure luck in the equation. Add to that the dysfunctional crew of German sailors who served for the morally bankrupt Nazi regime and failed in their duty to scuttle the boat. And let me repeat – a crazy amount of good luck. 

Could you elaborate on your writing process, particularly how you juggled your demanding role at Inside Edition with the rigorous research and attention to historical accuracy required for writing this book?

The key to writing a book when working full-time in a demanding job like mine is discipline. You have to be determined to see the project through. It’s OK to get obsessed. In fact, it’s a necessity. It’s like solving a mystery. You dig and dig until you find the answers. Let me also say that you can accomplish a lot of “side-hustle” work an hour or two every night. Working weekends is a must. It also helps to have no friends or social life – and I’m only half kidding.

What insights can today’s military and intelligence agencies glean from the capture of U-505 and its aftermath?

Maintain your intelligence activities at a top secret level. No leaks. Other than the capture itself, the most extraordinary thing to me about the “Codename Nemo” story is the fact that 3,000 U.S. sailors witnessed the capture. It wasn’t as if they heard scuttlebutt. They saw it. Yet there was not one leak. Had the Nazis learned about U-505, the entire enterprise would have been useless. In today’s era, I hope our military personnel would adhere to the same oath of allegiance. But with the ubiquitous presence of cell phones and social media, you have to wonder.

How does the U-505 mission fit into larger ethical discussions about warfare, espionage, and the treatment of enemy combatants?

Fifty-nine German sailors were taken captive in the aftermath of the seizure. They were all brought to a POW camp in Louisiana. They were not allowed to write home. Their families in Germany assumed they had been lost at sea. This was a violation of the Geneva Convention. Yet, it had to be done. It was not even a close call, in my opinion. The security of the raid had to be maintained. Otherwise, it threatened to expose one of the great secrets of the war – the Ultra Secret, which was the cracking of the Nazi code. World War II was an existential fight against the forces of Hitlerism. The war for freedom had to be won.

While this story is based on true events, “Codename Nemo” reads like an exhilarating thriller fit for the silver screen. If your book would be adapted into a movie, what actors would you like to see portray some of the key players?

The dream cast? Bradley Cooper (with a crew cut) as Capt. Dan Gallery, the mastermind behind Codename Nemo. Chris Pratt as Lt. Albert David, the commanding officer of the boarding party who died of a heart attack before he received his Medal of Honor for heroism.

For the boarding party: Austin Butler as Mac, the high school quarterback from Texas. Also Timothy Chalemett and Jeremy Allen White. And Tom Hanks playing cranky old Fleet Admiral King.  

For the captain of U-505 – Christoph Waltz. He won’t even have to imitate a German accent.

What do you hope readers take away from “Codename Nemo”?

I’d like readers who may know just a little about World War II to come away from the book with a fuller understanding about the Battle of the Atlantic and the U-boat menace and how close the Nazi submarine fleet came to strangling the Allied war effort. Another key takeaway is discovering what motivated the patriotic young American sailors who volunteered in the war and fought so valiantly. The nine members of the boarding party were mostly the sons of first generation immigrants. After the war they raised families, lived humbly, and showed a love for their country that we can all learn from.

Praise for Previous Books by Charles Lachman

“The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family”

“This engaging book traces three generations of Abraham Lincoln’s descendants in the century following his assassination . . . notable for its liveliness.”  

—Publishers Weekly  

“An absorbing, well-researched account. . . . Compelling. . . . An important and engaging contribution not just to the burgeoning field of Lincoln studies, but to our understanding of American social history.” 

—Jean H. Baker, author of “Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography” 

“A spellbinding account of Abraham Lincoln’s family.”  

—Frank J. Williams, Founding Chair of The Lincoln Forum and Chief Justice, Rhode Island Supreme Court 

“An intimate portrait of decline. Throughout, the contrast between the great President and his descendants—living lives of little social impact or public purpose—is crystal clear.” 

—Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of “Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield”

 

“Footsteps in the Snow: One Shocking Crime. Two Shattered Families. And the Coldest Case in U.S. History”

“Lachman does an outstanding job making the resolution of a horrific cold-case murder into a gripping page-turner. . . . Lachman paces it perfectly, carrying the reader along on a narrative full of twists.” 

—Publishers Weekly 

“A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland”

“Delves deeply into the affair . . . in florid cinematic detail.” 

—The New York Times

“Forget Arnold Schwarzenegger or John Edwards. One of the greatest political sex scandals happened to Grover Cleveland.” 

—The Daily Beast 

“Grover Cleveland is hot! Former Post reporter Charles Lachman rips the lid off the sex scandals–and coverups–of the man who became the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms.”  

—New York Post 

“‘A Secret Life’ is a masterfully researched biography.”  

—New York Journal of Books 

“Splendid . . . amusingly sordid.” 

—Men’s Health 

“‘A Secret Life’ is another success, a blend of sharp detective work – he even finds out what happened to Cleveland’s supposed son – and history that reads like a gripping novel.” 

—Christian Science Monitor 

“Lachman’s research and crisp, clear writing keep the reader eager to learn more about the Buffalo native who twice was elected to the nation’s highest office.”  

—The Buffalo News 

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