How to develop an elevator pitch

Describe yourself in three words. I’m sure you’ve been faced with this dreaded, near-impossible task at some point. The longer you consider your options, the farther you seem to be from your goal. How can anyone distill their identity, with its many layers, into only three words?

As an author, you’re about to face a similarly head-scratching challenge: creating a 1-2 sentence elevator pitch for your book. Packaging the plot, emotional interest and core selling points of your work into such a small container may feel daunting, but with a systematic approach it can be simple and pain-free. And, as you navigate through the various stages of your book’s life, you’ll quickly find this pitch to be one of your most valuable assets!

What is an elevator pitch?

Also called a logline, an elevator pitch is a brief description of a book that serves as a plot summary and presents a sales hook. Traditionally, this logline will be no longer than two sentences, so concision is key. 

Your goal with your elevator pitch is to grab your audience’s attention–whether they are an agent, publisher, bookseller, librarian or general reader–and get them excited about your book. That said, your pitch can’t be full of empty promises. It has to accurately describe your plot, match the tone of the book, and reflect what makes your work compelling and unique. 

How do I write an elevator pitch?

A good logline will use original, descriptive words and will address the following questions in a clear and concise way:

  • What is the setting?
  • Who is the protagonist?
  • What does the protagonist want? What is their central motivation or goal?
  • What is at stake for the protagonist?
  • Who (or what) is the antagonist, and how do they relate to the protagonist?
  • What will the protagonist actually do in the story? What action will they take?

25-Word Example (based on André Aciman’s “Call Me By Your Name”):

  • Italy in the 1980s: 17-year-old Elio falls passionately in love with an American man. The six weeks they spend together, though fleeting, change him forever.
  • What is the setting? Italy in the 1980s
  • Who is the protagonist? 17-year-old Elio
  • What does the protagonist want? To find love
  • What is at stake for the protagonist? Heartbreak (implied)
  • Who (or what) is the antagonist? The fleeting six-week time limit that restricts their romance; a society that doesn’t understand love between two men (implied)
  • What will the protagonist actually do in the story? He pursues a life-changing romance with an American man

50-Word Example (based on Mason Deaver’s “I Wish You All the Best”):

  • When 18-year-old Ben comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re kicked out of the house and forced to switch schools. Dealing with heightened anxiety, they’re torn between their desire for anonymity and their growing attraction to charming student Nathan, whose friendship helps Ben believe a happier life is possible.
  • What is the setting? High school
  • Who is the protagonist? 18-year-old Ben
  • What does the protagonist want? A happier life
  • What is at stake for the protagonist? They risk losing the safety net of their anonymity 
  • Who (or what) is the antagonist? Their parents who kicked them out; their heightened anxiety
  • What will the protagonist actually do in the story? What action will they take? They attend a new school, and they fall into a promising new friendship with Nathan

75-Word Example (based on Lisa See’s “Shanghai Girls”):

  • In Shanghai in the late 1930s, 21-year old Pearl and her younger sister May have their glamorous lives upended after they learn they’ve been sold as brides to suitors from California. As bombs drop suddenly on their beloved city, traveling to the United States may be the fresh start they need; but living with these strange men in an unwelcoming country puts their bond as sisters and best friends to the ultimate test. 
  • What is the setting? Shanghai in the late 1930s
  • Who are the protagonists? 21-year old Pearl and her younger sister May
  • What do the protagonists want? A fresh start; safety from the bombs that fall on Shanghai
  • What is at stake for the protagonists? Their bond as sisters and best friends
  • Who (or what) is the antagonist? The war that’s destroying their city, the unknown suitors they marry, and the unwelcoming Americans they encounter
  • What will the protagonists do in the story? Marry suitors, and move from Shanghai to the United States to escape the threat of war

What should I avoid doing when writing an elevator pitch?

Avoid major spoilers

You’ll want to share enough information in your logline to pique the reader’s interest, but not so much that they know every major plot detail. You should leave the reader wanting to know more. 

Avoid buzzwords, cliché phrases, and vague language

Words that are overused in book marketing lose their impact and become vague over time. They can also detract from what makes your book unique. Instead, opt for original adjectives and precise language whenever possible.

Avoid focusing too much on themes

When asked “what is your book about?” it may be tempting to reply with the book’s core themes or philosophical talking points. “It’s about liminality; second chances; the risks we take for the ones we love; the power of storytelling.” You get the idea. While important to the story, without an explanation of plot to contextualize them, these themes can end up feeling lifeless.

Avoid excessive name-dropping

Unless the protagonist is famous and the sales hook relies on their name-recognition, cutting out character names can save you lots of precious space. 

Avoid “meanwhile” statements 

Focus on one major conflict whenever possible. Mentioning too many subplots in your elevator pitch can be confusing for the reader and may detract from your primary selling points.

How should I use my pitch when it’s ready to go? 

Your elevator pitch may be one of your single greatest assets as an author. It can:

  • Help you get connected with an agent
  • Help you or your agent find the right publisher
  • Help you or your sales team pitch to buyers
  • Help you grab the attention of booksellers and librarians
  • Be adapted into a book blurb to hook readers
  • Be adapted into social media posts to promote your book

Is it okay to have more than one elevator pitch?

Absolutely! It can be useful to have a few options to choose from. So if you can’t decide on just one logline, don’t stress. As an exercise in building your repertoire, consider creating different loglines based on length– one at 25 words, one at 50 words and one at 75. Then, mix and match, or select your favorite from the bunch.

When writing an elevator pitch, try not to think about all of the exciting details you’re leaving out. You’ll inevitably have to keep much of your novel’s plot hidden from view, but that’s a good thing! Those will be the surprises that shock and delight your reader down the road. 

Instead, think of what you can include in your pitch by addressing the list of questions above. Focus on what makes your book stand out from the crowd. Keep your pitch fresh, compelling and concise, and you’ll be all set!

New 1920s mystery follows PI on his twisty case which features legendary figures of the time

Award-winning author’s book includes Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker and many more

Brunswick, ME – Award-winning author of over ten mysteries and historical novels, Matt Cost is releasing a fast-paced historical mystery, “Velma Gone Awry: A Brooklyn 8 Ballo Mystery” (April 13, 2023, Encircle Publications), which is set in the roaring ‘20s and follows a PI on a surprising, peculiar case to find the flapper daughter of a wealthy businessman.

Matt Cost brings us back to Brooklyn in the roaring 20’s and introduces us to Hungarian PI, 8 Ballo. The search to find Fritz Hartmann’s daughter will lead him to cross paths with Dorothy Parker, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Bugsy Siegel, Babe Ruth, and many more. As the 8th child in his family, Ballo’s mother simply named him 8. Now in his mid-thirties, the jilted, college-educated, Great War veteran has his own private investigator business and is on a jarring journey to discover why Velma has gone awry.

Matt Cost is an award-winning author and also a runner up in the RONE and a finalist in the Silver Falchion. He owned a mystery bookstore and was a history major at Trinity College. After reading Cost’s work, Grace J. Reviewerlady said, “a fine cast of characters and always a sprinkling of humor… engrossed from the very beginning until the final word. Thrilling and exciting, this one comes highly recommended and easily earns all five glowing stars, and InD’tale Magazine said, “…twists and turns and added thrilling lures will ensnare readers and keep the pages turning!” of the Clay Wolfe/Port Essex series.

“Velma Gone Awry”
April 12, 2023 | Encircle Publications | Mystery / Historical Fiction
Hardcover | 978-1-64599-418-3 | $27.99
Paperback | 978-1-64599-417-6 | $17.99
Ebook | 978-1-64599-419-0 | $6.99

Praise for Matt Cost:

“Clay Wolfe and crew are back with another round of hijinks, thanks to author Matt Cost. I have liked this series because of the shenanigans, the budding romance, the action sequences, the sexy scenes, and the fun, ridiculous narratives.” – The Traveling Cloak Reviews

“Clay Wolfe, the nattily-dressed, roguishly-charming, ex-Boston-homicide-cop-turned-PI, is unfurling – expanding his reach (both emotionally and professionally) into thornier, darker and more challenging arenas – a fascinating budding shift for this already top-notch PI crime series.” – Terri at BooklyMatters

“The reader is hooked into the story from the first page with the possibly innocuous, yet nonetheless, chilling words “Sometimes bad genes need to be stamped out and good ones need to be fostered. There’s really no difference between mice and human beings when it comes to genes.” – I Read What You Write: Book Bites

MATT COST writes the Mainely Mystery and the Clay Wolfe/Port Essex Mystery Series. He’s also written several books of historical fiction. This is his first jaunt in combining his two loves of histories and mysteries into a historical PI mystery. Cost was a history major at Trinity College. He owned a mystery bookstore, a video store, and a gym, before serving a ten-year sentence as a junior high school teacher. In 2014 he was released and began writing. And that’s what he does. He writes histories and mysteries. Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing. Find out more about him at https://mattcost.net.

Follow Matt Cost on social media:
Facebook: @MattCost8 | Twitter: @MattCost8
Instagram: @mlangdoncost | TikTok: @MattCost8

In an interview, Matt Cost can discuss:

  • The process of researching and writing historical mysteries, and the fun in bringing infamous literary characters to life
  • How he manages to write three new books a year in three different series
  • Being a seasoned, award-winning author in the world of mystery books
  • Owning a mystery bookstore, inspirational anecdotes, and what the book industry looks like as a bookstore owner versus an author
  • What exactly a Ballo is, interesting facts of them and the history behind them
  • His evolution as a writer of histories and mysteries and the blending of these two genres
  • The importance of a strong writing community, the support of important people, and the backing of an involved publisher
  • The importance of setting as a character in the plot of the novel

An Interview with Matt Cost

What does the writing process and research process look like for a book set in the roaring ‘20s, and how did you decide which famous literary characters to include?

As I delved into the research of the Roaring ‘20s I became increasingly excited about all that was going on, Prohibition, speakeasies, jazz, baseball, gangsters, and so much more. I read books about all these things, visited historical sites in Brooklyn, and got lost in internet research for days at a time. I wanted to include a sprinkling of the many legendary people of the time and had a hard time tamping the numbers down. In the end, Dorothy Parker emerged as a major character, but there were cameo appearances by Coleman Hawkins, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Babe Ruth to name just a few

What was it like owning a mystery bookstore? What are some fun, behind the scene stories from that time, or lessons learned that contributed to your storytelling?

I opened The Coffee Dog Mystery Bookstore in Brunswick, Maine, in 1994. It was named after my chocolate Lab at the time, making him, and the place, the two non-fictional pieces to the mystery novels that would follow in the Mainely Mystery series. The UPS man would always bring treats for the Coffee Dog, so that one day when this friendly canine saw a UPS truck at the top of Maine Street, he ran it down and boarded a different driver’s truck, a young man who was quite surprised. Interacting with customers about fabled mystery writers such as Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen, and Robert Parker was fabulous and cemented the groundwork for my future mystery writing.

What exactly is a Ballo? What are some interesting facts and history about them?

The Ballo family emigrated from Hungary to America in the 19th century, at which pointed the A at the end of their name was mistakenly changed to an O on the paperwork. 8 Ballo was the eighth child born in America in 1888, and his mother was certain that he was going to be a girl to even the scales at four and four. When it turned out he was a boy, and Dad was out to sea, she merely wrote the number 8 on the birth record, meaning to change this at a later date, but never did. Dad was a hardworking man who left his seafaring job to be at home working in a German beer brewery in Bushwick and Mom raised the eight children with love and kindness.

How do you decide which of your characters lives or dies? Is it hard killing off characters?

Killing characters’ in my books is a very sensitive topic. Readers don’t seem to mind when you kill the baddies off, but the slaying of a likable character can lead to outrage, but an occurrence that I believe whole-heartedly as necessary to raise the stakes, so that the reader isn’t able to coast along knowing that everything is going to work out, and only the bad will die and the good will live. Many times, in my writing, I’ve gotten to that pivotal point where a person of the pages life hangs in the balance, not yet knowing their fate, and then moving forward with or without them.

Is there anything else in the works for PI 8 Ballo?

The second book in the Brooklyn 8 Ballo series, City Gone Askew, is well underway, and is looking at a publication date of April 2024. 8 Ballo is hired to investigate a murder and the theft of an Aquila, a golden Roman Eagle Standard from the first century, which proves to be only the tip of the iceberg of this scintillating mystery. Joining 8 are his close friends Pearle, McGee, Marty, as well as Dorothy Parker, Coleman Hawkins, and other legendary newcomers to the pages.

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New book by EU foreign policy chief offers unique insight into international diplomacy and shares her experiences during some of the most turbulent periods in modern history

LONDON – So much of modern-day diplomacy still takes place behind closed doors, away from cameras and prying eyes. But what does this vital role really look like in today’s world?

From 2009 to 2014, Catherine Ashton was the EU’s first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security. Arriving in Brussels as a relative novice to international diplomacy, she faced the challenge of representing the views and values of 28 nations during one of the most turbulent times in living memory.

From Russia’s invasion of Crimea to the Iran nuclear negotiations, she led the EU’s response, charting a path toward collaboration and stability. There were challenges, failures and moments of success. She encountered dictators and war criminals, and witnessed the aftermath of natural disasters, military action, and political instability.

Now for the first time, in “And Then What?” (Elliott & Thompson, Feb. 23, 2023) she takes us behind the scenes to show what worked and what didn’t, and how it felt to play a part in tackling some of the major international crises of our time.

  • An expert author with a ringside seat: Catherine Ashton was responsible for coordinating the EU’s response to international crises and led historic negotiations such as the Serbia-Kosovo Accord of 2013. Her account includes encounters with Vladimir Putin, Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron and many more.
  • Incredibly timely: Many of today’s crises around the world have their roots in this period, and this book offers crucial insight into contemporary international relations.
  • Essential reading: For anyone interested in geopolitics, international diplomacy and current affairs.

And Then What?
Inside Stories of 21st-Century Diplomacy
Catherine Ashton | Feb. 23, 2023 | Elliott & Thompson | Nonfiction / Politics
Hardcover | ISBN 978-1783966349 | $29.95
Ebook | $29.95


About the Author

Catherine Ashton served as the European Union’s first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy from 2009 to 2014, and the first female EU Commissioner for Trade. She is a life peer and former Leader of the House of Lords, and served as a UK government minister in the Education and Justice departments. She is a Distinguished Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC and a consultant to the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Topics that Catherine Ashton can explore in an interview:

  • What is diplomacy? How does it work? Do we need more of it, or is it just talking instead of action? As the U.S. looks at the challenges of the future – Putin’s war in Ukraine, Xi Jinping’s determination to put China ahead, Europe’s inability to shoulder more of the burden – how could international diplomacy resolve some of the problems we face?
  • “And then What?” poses the ultimate question faced by leaders as they try to grapple with all of the crises and problems they face. It can be easy to work out the first steps – but then what? How do you deal with the uncertainties that will inevitably follow? What lessons can we take away from some of the challenges we have already faced?
  • Diplomacy conjures up different images: from dinner parties in chandelier lit ballrooms to convoys of UN vehicles on dusty roads. What is it really like to be thrust into that world and face some of the most pressing challenges of a generation?
  • The problem with diplomacy is we don’t have enough of it, and we don’t give it enough tools in the toolkit. How do we equip diplomats with what they need?
  • “And Then What?” was written for people who want to know what it is really like to be in the room during the Iranian talks; to see how President Putin works close up; who want to understand how diplomats work and the real dilemmas they face.
  • President Putin is much on people’s minds now as they contemplate the effects of the ongoing war with Ukraine. But where did this all begin? How did the Ukraine crisis start?
  • The origins of other significant crises around the world (for example, in Libya and the Arab Spring) – Going back to the beginning and seeing the role that key leaders played is important to our understanding of how we got here.
  • As the world waits to see if the nuclear deal with Iran can be revived, how did the U.S., China, Russia and three European countries (UK, France and Germany) working under EU chairmanship get the deal in the first place? What was it like in the room?

Praise for Catherine Ashton’s “And Then What?”

“A riveting, absorbing account of modern diplomacy by one of the greatest international diplomats of recent times. ‘And Then What?’ is hugely informative, full of tremendous insights, and a truly great read!”
– General David Petraeus (US Army, Ret.), former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and NATO/US Forces in Afghanistan, and former Director of the CIA

“Brilliant – suspenseful and dramatic. I read it in a day.”
– Ken Follett, international bestselling author of “The Pillars of the Earth”

“Cathy Ashton was not a diplomat, but she became the EU’s top diplomat overnight in 2010 and was immediately plunged into a host of global crises. Her account of some highlights of her time in and away from Brussels makes fascinating and illuminating reading. From Haiti to Libya, reconciling Serbia and Kosovo, the Iran Nuclear deal and the start of the Ukraine drama, she was immersed in the hard grind of global crisis management. Modest but highly professional, she made a major impact – and this book is truly remarkable history.”
– Lord (George) Robertson, Former Secretary General, NATO

“‘As I read ‘And Then What?’ I couldn’t help but think of the bar scene in Star Wars. A prerequisite for future diplomacy among such characters, including our progeny, is the success of diplomacy such as Cathy Ashton reports here, in lieu of war and a dead-end future. If generations of Earthlings-to-be do indeed engage in cosmic negotiations with other lifeforms, it will be because of the success of Cathy and her diplomatic compatriots in bringing us to realize we are Earth-life, together.”
– Rusty Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut

“This is not an ordinary diplomatic memoir. Cathy Ashton worked tirelessly to mitigate the devastating consequences of real and political earthquakes while the EU’s de facto Foreign Minister. She combines acute analysis with moving portraits of the many people she engaged with, from dictators to shopkeepers; from overworked civil servants to distressed toddlers searching in vain through rubble for their parents; from the revolutionary youth of Tahir Square to jaundiced negotiators who wanted a deal but didn’t know how to strike it. During her time in office, Ashton eschewed the limelight. While avoiding self-promotion and deflecting the arrows of appalling misogyny from the quivers of the media as well as of some of the EU’s male establishment, she was at the heart of at least two of the most important international agreements of the early twenty-first century, the Iran nuclear deal and the first major step towards rapprochement between Kosovo and Serbia. Perhaps most surprising is her story-telling ability – each episode in this book has the element of a thriller combined with that of the most perceptive travel writer. And together it throws an entirely new light on the monumental political processes that shook the globe in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. A must for students of politics and a treat for lovers of general non-fiction.”
– Misha Glenny, Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, and author of “McMafia”

“A surprise appointment as High Representative – effectively the EU’s Foreign Minister – and initially dismissed as too inexperienced, Catherine Ashton became recognised as a brilliantly effective diplomat and negotiator, winning international acclaim for two personal triumphs: her brokering of an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo in 2013 and her leading role in the Iran nuclear deal of the same year. This riveting, deeply personal and wonderfully accessible book takes the reader inside the room during the successes, setbacks and personalities of this turbulent period of history.”
– Sir Kim Darroch, former British Ambassador to the USA, National Security Advisor, and UK Permanent Representative to the EU

“Cathy Ashton’s gripping memoirs are not only a perfect combination of very precise facts and touching personal emotions, but for all foreign policy observers they convey important lessons of the past to serve for the crises of today.”
– Pierre Vimont, former French ambassador to the EU and the USA

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Teen struggles with eating disorder in gorgeous, moving graphic novel from critically acclaimed author and artist

Teen struggles with eating disorder in gorgeous, moving graphic novel from critically acclaimed author and artist

Pasadena, CA – Disney and DC artist and author Victoria Ying pulls at readers’ heartstrings and explores her past in the poignant YA graphic novel, “Hungry Ghost” (April 25, 2023, Macmillan/First Second). Ying has seen tremendous success with many of her works, including DC’s “Diana Princess of the Amazons,” and fans will rejoice in the new story and its moving imagery.

Valerie Chu is quiet, studious, and above all, thin. No one, not even her best friend Jordan, knows that she has been binging and purging for years. But when tragedy strikes, Val finds herself taking a good, hard look at her priorities, her choices, and her own body. The path to happiness may lead her away from her hometown and her mother’s toxic projections—but first she will have to find the strength to seek help.

“Hungry Ghost is heartbreaking, hopeful, and frank about figuring out how to love yourself and even the people in your life who might stand in the way of that self-love. It’s a beautiful, compelling book.” — Trung Le Nguyen, creator of The Magic Fish

“Victoria Ying gives us an unflinching look at eating disorders and loss in this heartbreaking story about learning to love yourself.” — Lily Williams, creator of Go With The Flow

“Such a beautiful, tragic, uplifting story about friendship and love. I wish I could have read this when I was a kid, but I’m also grateful that I’ve read it now. I’ll be thinking about its message for a long time.” — MariNaomi, creator of Distant Stars

“Hungry Ghost”
Victoria Ying | April 25, 2023 | Macmillan/First Second | YA graphic novel
Hardcover | 978-1250766991 | $25.99
Paperback | 978-1250767004 | $17.99


More about Victoria Ying

Victoria Ying is a critically acclaimed author and artist living in Los Angeles. She started her career in the arts by falling in love with comic books, this eventually turned into a career working in animation and graphic novels. She loves Japanese Curry, putting things in her shopping cart online and taking them out again and hanging out with her husband and furry friends. Her film credits include Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Paperman, Big Hero 6, and Moana. She is the illustrator on DC’s “Diana Princess of the Amazons” and the author and illustrator of “City of Secrets,” and the sequel “City of Illusion” in stores everywhere! Her upcoming graphic novel projects include the sequel to “Diana Princess of the Amazons” and a YA debut, “Hungry Ghost.” Find out more about her at www.victoriaying.com.

Follow Victoria on social media:
Facebook: @artofvictoriaying | Twitter: @victoriaying | Instagram: @victoriaying

In an interview, Victoria can discuss:

  • Why this story is important to her and her personal recovery story
  • Balancing being an artist and an author
  • Her storytelling process and how it has evolved through her projects
  • Disordered eating in the Asian-American community and raising awareness around the issue
  • How the pandemic affected her writing and health

An Interview with Victoria Ying

How did you transition from making art into storytelling?

I was always told by my father to write my own stories, but I was too scared to do so when I was a young artist, I wanted to just work on other people’s stories, but after working at Disney for 8 years and watching the storytelling process, I wanted to speak my own truth and tell the stories that I had inside of me.

How would you describe your art style and artistic process?

My art style is all over the place. I’ve always had an interest in exploration, so I try to use art techniques that match the tone of the story that I’m working on. Diana was a very fluid and simple style, while Hungry Ghost is a scratchier, more mature, but anxious style.

Recovery looks different for everyone. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience and why you decided to share a story that was so personal to you?

Recovery often looks one way because of how it is portrayed in the media. We often see a thin white girl who’s family is horrified at her revelation, but that was not my experience and in my desperation to be seen, I wrote this book.

Was creating this story of Valeria therapeutic for you?

This story flowed out of me in a way that no other writing has. I had an experience close to what happened in the book and I had to get it out. I wrote it as fiction because there are elements that speak to a larger truth than just the facts and processing it as fiction has been helpful.

The start of COVID-19 and lockdown was hard for a lot of people, but you mentioned that it made you reevaluate yourself and your body. How so?

I was in recovery for ED, but I hadn’t really made peace with my body or food. I was still dieting and over-exercising at the start of the pandemic, but I had made a commitment to change myself for the better and that meant addressing my mental health. During the pandemic, the freedom of having to see people, of having outsiders or friends or family judge my appearance went away and that space helped me to recover.

How can people make space for those with marginalized bodies?

While my story stars a thin character, I want it to be known that many if not most of the people suffering from Disordered Eating and disordered behaviors are often people we don’t expect. People often make judgments about what people’s lifestyle habits are just by looking at them and we often encourage people in larger bodies to engage in disordered eating because we see thin as being healthier. In my experience, I was the sickest when I was thinnest and we need to see people in larger bodies and their experiences with disordered eating as just as valid as those of thin people.

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Books Forward November 2022 Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter featuring our award-winning authors and industry news. This issue features upcoming book releases, recent media coverage and much more!

Read the November 2022 newsletter here!

Acclaimed author returns with uplifting, entertaining crash-course to surviving divorce and what comes after

“One is unlikely to find a funnier guide to surviving divorce.” — Publishers Weekly

SACRAMENTO – Divorce is no joke, but renowned author Dawn Dais leans into the chaos in the vulnerable fifth installment to her series, “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Divorce” (Hachette Books, Jan. 10, 2023).

After 12 years together, two children, 10 pets, and five properties, Dawn and her partner decided to call it quits. In the newest installment of her bestselling Sh!t No One Tells You series, Dawn tries to figure out what happened … and what happens next.

Dawn takes you on her own bumpy, meandering — and often absurd — journey through the destruction of a life exploded by divorce. She dodges legal hurdles, irrational decisions, alarmed therapists, random hobbies and a concerning number of dating app profiles that look like the beginning of a true crime podcast. But somehow, she found herself stronger — and happier — on the other side. Leaning into the mess, Dawn helps you learn the art of embracing Netflix and cry, the healing power of profanity, the importance of assembling the right support squad, how to survive the sh!tshow of co-parenting, and much more.

Joined by an insightful chorus of divorced friends, Dawn delivers a true-to-life and funnier-than-it-should-be guide to discovering the unexpected value in the wreckage. What if divorce isn’t just a loss — but an opportunity?

“The Sh!t No One Tells You About Divorce: A Guide to Breaking Up, Falling Apart, and Putting Yourself Back Together”
Dawn Dais | Jan. 10, 2023
Hachette Books | Nonfiction/Self-Help Paperback | 9780306828546 | $18.99


About the author

DAWN DAIS is a freelance writer and designer. Her previous books, including “The Sh!t No One Tells You,” “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Pregnancy,” “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Toddlers,” “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Baby #2” and “The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women” were published by Seal Press, have topped Amazon.com bestseller lists, and have been featured by countless TV and print media sources. Her uniquely sarcastic yet inspiring tone has entertained and guided an enthusiastic core of readers toward their various ridiculous parenting and athletic goals. Dawn’s most recent book, “The Sh!t No One Tells You About Divorce” will be released in 2023.

Dawn lives in Roseville, California, with her two kids, one dog, four chickens (unfortunate quarantine decision), two cats and the occasional mouse brought into the home by said cats. You can find out more about Dawn and her books on her website.

Follow Dawn on Social Media:
Etsy: @quotesbydawn | Facebook: @dawn.dais
Twitter: @bydawndais | Instagram: @dawndais

In an interview, Dawn Dais can discuss:

  • Why she deviated from her initial theme of parenting to discuss her divorce
  • How writing about divorce differs from writing about parenting — as well as how the two are connected
  • The different dynamics of parenting, relationships, and divorce with LGBTQ+ couples
  • Why, post-pandemic, divorce is becoming more common
  • The dichotomy of grief and renewal that divorce provides
  • The nonstop fun of navigating dating in middle age
  • How divorce has big time mid-life crisis vibes, and why that is a good thing
  • The biggest challenges, as well as the joys, of co-parenting

Praise for Dais and her acclaimed parenting series

“Dais offers a commonsense yet comical view of the toddler years, which she wryly sums up as a “confusing cluster-f of a time.” ​– Publishers Weekly

“Humorous revelations offer insight into a natural process that can and often does completely overwhelm the mother … An amusing and accurate examination of life with an infant.” — Kirkus Reviews

“From poop to post-partum depression, she presents a no-holds-barred look at all of the changes and challenges that new moms and dads can face, along with the three little words every infant-toting parent wants to hear: It gets better.” – Parade Magazine

“Pregnant women who want an honest peek inside what’s to come will be convinced to nap while they still can, and moms with kids will laugh out loud at Dais’ quirky insights and strong opinions.” — Parents Magazine

An interview with Dawn Dais

What compelled you to write a book about your divorce?

Shortly after my divorce, when everything had gone ass over teakettle, a couple of my divorced friends reassured me that everything would be OK. They were a few years ahead of me on their divorce timelines and they knew from experience that things would eventually calm down. They’d tell me, “Just give it time, everything will be fine, you guys will be fine. Just give it time.” I’d respond with, “Yeah, that’s great. But what the hell am I supposed to do in the meantime?”

The “meantime” of divorce is brutal. It’s the time between the end of your marriage and the beginning of feeling normal in the new version of your life. I really wanted to write a book for people who are still going through their meantime. I wanted them to feel less alone during a really isolating time. I wanted to give them a place to come rage and laugh and cry with someone who understands that sometimes all of those emotions happen within a 20-minute span of time during divorce.

How was writing this book different from your other Sh!t No One Tells You books?

My other Sh!t books were about parenting. It turns out divorce is decidedly less entertaining than parenthood. This was by far the most difficult book I’ve ever written. I’ve never written, rewritten and cut, cut, cut as much as I did for this book. I wanted to be as honest as possible while still being conscious of the fact that I was writing in permanent ink about quite a few other people whose lives were exploded along with mine. It was a delicate dance that I hope I pulled off.

How did you find humor is such a traditionally serious subject?

This book is all over the map when it comes to emotions. Some chapters are really serious and others are completely ridiculous. Initially, I didn’t know if this range of emotions was a good idea, but then I realized it actually aligns perfectly with the overall shitshow that is divorce. Some days you are eating take-out while embracing the Netflix, and Cry and other days you are acting like a giddy teenager while on your first date in 15 years. The experience has range, is my point.

A lot of the humor of divorce can be found in the absurdity of life after it has been exploded by the ending of a marriage. How do you figure out dating apps when you haven’t dated since dial-up? How do you fix the blasted sprinkler system in your backyard when that used to be your ex’s job? And what do you do when it’s time for dinner and you just realized your ex got the can opener in the split?

I like to lean into the absurdity and shake out the funny wherever I can. I balanced the book out with deep thoughts and introspections as well, but taking time to laugh is a really important part of making the meantime bearable.

What are some of the biggest challenges of co-parenting?

Establishing a co-parenting relationship with your ex is by far the most difficult part of navigating divorce with children. All the rest of the divorce stuff sorta fades away in time (and therapy), but if you have kids together, the two of you are going to have to figure out some way to do this project together for the long haul.

This can be mind-bogglingly frustrating in the early days of divorce because didn’t you just blow up your whole life to get away from this person? And now, lucky you, you get to deal with them every 48 hours at kid exchanges. It is simply the most fun.

What would you say are some good tips and tricks for parents navigating the new dynamic of co-parenting?

Divorce, to me, is a giving up of sorts. A standing up from the partnership table and announcing you are all done with any and all efforts to make this thing work. But then it turns out you still have to collaborate with this person on the most important group project: raising tiny humans. So you have to get back to the table. And the two of you have to figure out a way to do this project well for your kids, because they deserve a solid team effort.

My biggest piece of advice for successfully pulling off co-parenting after divorce is this: Start from today. Your old way of communicating and collaborating didn’t work out so well, so it’s time to change it up. And the only way you can successfully redefine how you are going to work together moving forward is if you mutually agree to leave the past in the past. Every interaction can’t be a contest to see who can pull the most of the past into the present day, or this project is going to go off the rails every 13 minutes. Start from today, over and over and over again. It won’t be easy, but it is the only way this project is going to work.

What do you hope that readers will take away from this book?

I hope this book can simply act as a soft place for people to land during a really shitty time. I hope the book can help them realize that there are better things waiting for them on the other side of their meantime.

It can be really hard to imagine better days when the bad days fill up most of the calendar. So, I just want to provide a little glimmer of, “Keep going, you are going to be absolutely dazzled by the version of yourself that is waiting for you just up the road a bit.”

What are you working on next?

Right now, I’m working on my first fiction book, a middle grade novel. I’m writing it with a lot of help from my kids, and it is the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. It has been really great to go from writing the emotionally taxing divorce book to tackling a fun fiction book about alien robots.

So many parts of me came back to life in the years after my divorce, and my creativity has been one of the most rewarding lights that has been turned back on. I’ve always wanted to tackle fiction, and my kids and I are having a blast collaborating on a story together.

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For fans of “Tomb Raider,” “Uncharted” and a dash of 007, preeminent international lawyer pens electric espionage thriller

“A taut globe-trotting thriller .. told with eloquence and ruthless efficiency.”
– George Nolfi, screenwriter, “The Bourne Ultimatum”

LONDON – Debut author Gary Born erupts into the literary scene with a nail-biting thriller centered on international espionage in “The File” (Histria Books, March 28, 2023). Leaning into his experience as a preeminent international lawyer, Born weaves an exciting tale that spans Africa, the Middle East and Europe in a relentless pursuit of WWII Nazi intel that will enthrall the reader from the first page.

Enter Sara West, a tenacious botany graduate student on a scientific expedition in the heart of the African jungle. During her research, she stumbles upon a cache of WWII Nazi files in the wreck of a German bomber hidden deep within the jungle. Those hidden files reveal the location of a multibillion-dollar war chest, secretly deposited by the Nazis in numbered Swiss bank accounts at the end of WWII.

But Sara isn’t the only one interested in the war chest. Former KGB agent Ivan Petronov and Franklin Kerrington III, deputy director of the CIA, both have deeply personal reasons for acquiring the files Sara has found.

With two dangerous men — and their teams of hit men — on her trail, will Sara be able to escape the jungle alive?

“The File”
Gary Born | March 28, 2023 | Histria Books | Spy Thriller
Hardcover | 9781592112050 | $29.99


About the Author

Gary Born is widely regarded as the world’s preeminent authority on international commercial arbitration and international litigation. He has been ranked for more than 20 years as one of the world’s leading international arbitration advocates and authors. “The File” is his debut novel.

Connect with Gary Born on LinkedIn

In an interview, Gary Born can discuss:

  • His background in international law and how his experiences in the industry inspired the book’s premise
  • Why he decided to set the book primarily in the African jungle
  • His experience travelling and working around the world and the research he conducted to accurately write the novel’s setting
  • Why the relationship between heroine Sara and Jeb is crucial to the story’s narrative
  • What makes the main character Sara intriguing and what he hopes she exemplifies to readers
  • Future projects he’s working on

Praise for Gary Born and “The File”

“A thoroughly enjoyable, engrossing thriller with a captivating young, beautiful American botanist at the center of the fast paced action. Rooting for Sara West as she evades a Russian assassination team through the dense jungles of central Africa – her expedition experience and wits her only weapons in a race to safety – will keep you up past your bedtime. Can Sara trust CIA operative Jeb Fisher or will the likable, attractive American also betray her trust? This well written adventure will take Sara from the rainforests of central Africa to the shores of north Africa and on to the cobbled streets of Europe as she struggles to identify friend from foe. Is it all a trap? The suspense will keep you guessing and eagerly awaiting a sequel…..” – Gina Haspel, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

“I loved ‘The File,’ a debut thriller that’s so good it’s impossible to believe it’s Gary Born’s first. An international lawyer par excellence, he writes with an insider’s expertise that shows on every page of this lightning-fast read, which races through the Rwenzori Mountains, the halls of the CIA, and the banks of Zurich with aplomb and authenticity. The novel opens when botanist Sara West finds a secret file in a plane that crashed in the Congolese jungle, and the action never lets up, twisting and turning its way around the world. West is one of the strongest and smartest heroines I’ve read in recent years, and I cheered for her every step of the way. Welcome, Gary Born!” — Lisa Scottoline, No. 1 bestselling author

“A taut globe-trotting thriller, as American and Russian intelligence operatives race to hunt down the discoverer of a long-buried secret, told with eloquence and ruthless efficiency.” – George Nolfi, screenwriter, “The Bourne Ultimatum”

“ ‘The File’ is everything you want in a globetrotting, Nazi-hunting, desert-traversing survival epic and pressure cooker spycraft thriller!” – Joshuah Bearman, author, Wired

An interview with Gary Born

How did having a background in international law shape the planning and execution of this novel?

One of the central themes of the novel involves secret Swiss bank accounts, holding Nazi deposits from World War II. My practice in international law has involved both Swiss bank accounts and WWII assets, which provided vital background for this aspect of the thriller.

You tackle a lot of settings throughout the book, how do you do research to write about different settings and countries? Do you pull from your own personal travel experiences?

I have travelled almost everywhere in the world, for both work and pleasure. I drew on hikes in Uganda and Congo, on road trips in the Sahara, travels in Italy and many weeks in Zurich for the settings in the book. It is never easy to capture the heart and soul of a place in a few sentences, but these travels helped me along the way.

Sara is a 28 year old graduate student, why did you decide to write a main character with significantly different life experiences then your own?

Sara’s experience isn’t that different from mine, in some important ways. I spent time in the Ruwenzori mountains — without killers on my trail, to be sure — when I was Sara’s age. And I have a daughter who is also from Sara’s generation. I think the character has some of both my daughter and myself in her.

Did you conduct any kind of research to help write the book?

I spent time researching Nazi warplanes and Tempelhof; walked the streets of Zurich, imagining chase scenes; spent a few days in Lucca and the surrounding area, developing Jeb and Sara’s time there. I also researched what FSS and FSB operatives would and wouldn’t have been good at — thoughts that I passed along to Sara for her use.

What do you hope the readers take away from your book?

Many things, but especially Sara’s determination and resilience, even when nothing seemed possible. Her objectivity and resourcefulness. The complexity of Sara and Jeb’s relationship, as it unfolds. Sara’s reactions to her father’s death and fiance’s betrayal. The different forms of malice and evil that Petronov and Kerrington personified, and Sara’s responses to that.

What projects are you working on next?

Another thriller — “The Priest” — a former Mafia enforcer is posted abroad after giving up his life of mayhem and becoming a priest; by chance, he befriends a former high-ranking general, whose deathbed confession and will sends the priest in search of documents that would reshape the map of Asia, while chased by intelligence services intent on stopping the priest in his tracks

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Emmy nominee and former “Seventeen” editor-in-chief releases debut women’s fiction

Fans of author Taylor Jenkins Reid will enjoy story of self-made women gambling with love, sex and careers

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Three-time-Emmy nominee and former editor-in-chief of “Seventeen Magazine” and “Soap Opera Digest” Meredith Berlin is releasing her debut women’s fiction, Friends With Issues (January 24, 2023, Warren Publishing), which follows three glamorous, self-made women in their 40s who gamble with love, sex and their careers in NYC and L.A., as one charismatic man captivates them all.

Friends With Issues follows Brooke, Elizabeth, and Susan, three friends who have made their mark on Manhattan but who now struggle with the daily balancing act of career, friendship, and intimacy. Brooke thought she married the man of her dreams, but now she’s questioning her marriage as she embarks on a new venture to Hollywood. Elizabeth’s sex life is incredible, but only on her husband’s terms–and after a shattering diagnosis, she attempts to remake herself in order to recover some semblance of her identity. Susan should be ecstatic when her media mogul husband catapults them into financial security, but as her uncertainty about their relationship grows, she opens a Pandora’s box of new passion by finally admitting that her sexual and romantic preferences do not lie exclusively with men.

In Meredith Berlin’s provocative debut, these women discover that their relationships to sex, love, friends, and personal identity can transform at any age–and money doesn’t protect you from the unimaginable. Fans of Big Little Lies, The Manhattan Girls, Valley of the Dolls, and novels by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Jessica Anya Blau will devour this absorbing drama to its powerful end.

Friends with Issues
Meredith Berlin | January 24, 2023 | Warren Publishing | Women’s Fiction
Hardcover | 978-1-957723-72-3 | $32.95
Paperback | 978-1-957723-73-0 | $18.95


MEREDITH BERLIN: Meredith Berlin was the editor-in-chief of several magazines, including Soap Opera Digest and Seventeen. Her freelance articles and profiles have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines. Meredith is a three-time Emmy-nominated executive producer and has been a regular on-air contributor to television news and entertainment shows. Like a few of her characters, she worked as a jeweler and lived in the northern suburbs of New York City. Meredith has been married for over thirty years and has three adult children and one perfect granddaughter. Like many former New Yorkers, she currently lives in Florida. This is her first novel.

Follow Meredith Berlin on social media:
Twitter: @meredithberlin | Instagram: @meredith_berlin

In an interview, Meredith Berlin can discuss:

  • How her life as editor-in-chief for Seventeen Magazine in NYC and her diagnosis of MS inspired her writing
  • What her Emmy-award-nominated work in the world of soap operas taught her about crafting unputdownable drama and characters
  • Why it’s important to understand that life can transform even after you think you’ve “settled” or “made it”–or if you worry you haven’t done either (yet!)
  • The importance of portraying vibrant, dynamic women at any age
  • How she created her characters: writing three glamorous, successful women who are simultaneously aspirational and realistic in their triumphs and struggles
  • How vital sex is for relationships – the lust and intimacy – and how all of her characters’ sex-life changes affect them over the course of the novel, despite the common misconception that women don’t want sex as much as men do

An Interview with Meredith Berlin

How has your professional life, working as editor-in-chief for Seventeen Magazine and Soap Opera Digest, influenced your writing?

Soap Opera Digest not only taught me about that particular community of actors and actresses. More importantly, it taught me about the art of storytelling. Daily soap scripts are the length of most movies. No reruns. Soaps are where writers learned about arcs and long form storytelling. They’ve been around since the early days of radio. Seventeen, is considered a national treasure. A girl’s first real magazine. It taught me about fashion, respect for teens, what is current and on the minds of girls. It taught me how to capture a reader and not let go.

How has your MS diagnosis impacted you and your writing?

MS taught me that I have to respect my body. It’s a disease that doesn’t allow you to “push through” When you need to rest, you must rest. Because I look fine, with no outward symptoms, it’s also called on me to be more of an advocate for myself. My disability is not seen but I must communicate that I have one, IF the situation calls for it. It’s taught me about self advocacy in general. I have learned to accept what my body tells me and listen to it. I would LOVE to expand on this.

What made you decide to return to writing, and how has your life changed since you have?

I saw a movie on TV 20 years after I wrote the book and said, “That’s my book!” Of course it wasn’t, but the relationship between the women, the fact that they were wealthy but also self made, had strengths, weaknesses, love problems, children problems and relied on each other, made me realize that my book’s themes were evergreen. I was enthused to return to it. And finishing the book became a fever goal. My family pushed me on.

Let’s talk about your characters. You mention that people are not just “one thing”. How does this show up in your characters?

I can expand more fully! If you see a well dressed, wealthy woman, you can come up with an idea of what kind of life that person lives. If you talk to someone who’s confrontational, and rude, you want to stay away. If you meet someone with a wrenching disease, you imagine that their life is a struggle. But you don’t know their backstory. It’s only by listening and investing the time in someone else that you might learn, ie, that the confrontational person, ie, has been severely emotionally crippled in their past and it colors what they say and do. Listening, giving people second chances and believing that everyone has a story is, for me, a more connected way to live. Doesn’t mean you have to like them. It’s just interesting to remember that most of us have layers and reasons for what we do.

How does this book show the truth of life – that we all struggle and have to adapt?

Yes, it’s a good subject to expand on. Well, the most recent example of that is that my entire family has come down with CoVid and I’m on deadline. I’m here in Massachusetts, meant to take care of my granddaughter, while being slayed with the disease. Didn’t plan on it. I’m exhausted, anxious, worried. I want to push through but I can’t. So what to do? Ask for help, lower my expectations, believe that I will still show the world the best book I can write and rely on family and friends to support me when I tell myself a million times a day, “Oh God, what if I can’t?”

As somebody who has interviewed a lot of celebrities – who was your most interesting interview?

The first interview I ever conducted was with the most famous man in the world — Muhammad Ali. It was also the easiest because he did all the talking. I was 20 years old and scared to death! I was also paid the “ridiculously high fee” of $25 for for writing the story for my local newspaper. How I got the interview and why Ali said yes is a story of persistence, fear, and the generosity of an incredible boxer.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

I want them to relate to my characters. I want them to see themselves or someone they know in them. I want them to know that we–as humans–have inner strength to get us through the worst. I hope they see that humor, love and support can help us through the good times and bad.

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New bio of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis pieces together First Lady’s lost legacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jackie. One name was all you needed. A paragon of femininity, fashion, American wifeliness and motherhood, she was also fiercely independent, the first modern First Lady.

Traumatized and exposed after her husband’s murder, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy nonetheless built a new life for herself in an America similarly haunted by upheaval. She traveled relentlessly and dated widely before her marriage to a shipping magnate scandalized the world in 1968. There were so many stories, so many pictures: Jackie living abroad, Jackie climbing ruins, Jackie cruising the oceans, Jackie wandering Europe braless and with bare feet. But, in the decades since, that Jackie has been almost entirely erased.

Treated like a national soap opera and transmitted through newspapers, magazines, images, and TV during the 1960s and 1970s, Jackie’s story became wired into America’s emotional grid. In “Finding Jackie,” author Oline Eaton pieces the story back together, rediscovering Jackie as an adventurer, a wanderer, a woman and an idea in whom many Americans and people around the globe deeply, fiercely wanted to believe.

Touching down everywhere from Athens, Paris, Cairo, and 1040 Fifth Avenue, “Finding Jackie” returns Jackie’s story to its original context as a serialized drama unfurling alongside the Civil Rights movement, women’s liberation, and the Vietnam War. In “Finding Jackie,” Oline Eaton reveals the kaleidoscopic Jackie we need now: the most celebrated, exposed, beloved, reviled, written about, and followed “star of life.”

“Finding Jackie: A Life Reinvented”
Oline Eaton | Jan. 31, 2023 | Diversion Books | Biography
Hardcover | 978-1635767933 | $28.99
Ebook | $28.99
Audiobook | $22.64


About the Author

A scholar of biographical writing and a writer of creative nonfiction, in her work, Oline Eaton examines the intersections of celebrity, feelings, feminism, language, and trauma. She holds degrees from Mississippi State University, the University of Chicago, and King’s College London, and teaches first year writing as a non-tenure track lecturer at Howard University. She lives in Washington, DC with her cats, Claude and Marcel. Find out more about her at www.findingjackie.com.

Follow Oline Eaton on social media:
Facebook: @finding.jackie.onassis | Twitter: @oline_eaton | Instagram: @oline.eaton

In an interview, Oline Eaton can discuss:

The stark juxtaposition between Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ poise and elegance in the public eye, and her private struggles with insecurities, trauma and gossip as she yearned for independence and adventure — “Finding Jackie” establishes the impact those stories and the public’s interest had on how Jackie lived her life, while also deepening our understanding of how and why she became so wired into the nation’s emotional grid. In doing so, it also provides further evidence of how her story, in particular, contributed to the expansion of celebrity beyond Hollywood film stars, such that celebrity ultimately came to encompass, in the words of one movie magazine, “the stars of life.”

Taking Jackie’s life into context beyond the typical domestic drama — which is the approach of many biographies of women — and putting it into historical context. Jackie’s is a story that largely unfolded around major social progress in the 1960s and 70s (the Civil Rights movement, the movements for gay rights and women’s liberation), cultural change (a rise in divorce rates, changing attitudes towards privacy and public figures), historical events (the Vietnam War, Watergate), and technological advancements (the American space program, the intrusions of telephoto lenses, the acceleration of the news cycle). In fact, her story often intersected with these developments.

How she became interested in the enigmatic life of Jackie O — Being a bit of a pre-teen news junkie, Oline had been following the Clinton administration closely and was well aware of the hatred directed at Hillary. Upon her death, Jackie was the first American first lady that Oline saw who was beloved by the American people. And yet, there were major gaps in the story being told at the time.

What she learned from sifting through old letters and having conversations with the people who knew Jackie best, including her friends, family, and acquaintances, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

Visiting iconic places where Jackie spent important moments of her life, including her childhood home in Newport, Rhode Island, and Aristotle Onassis’s private yacht, Christina.

New insights into Jackie’s marriages to JFK and to Aristotle Onassis.

Colorful tidbits and stories that peppered Jackie’s life – the time hundreds of fans chased her through a potato field at a funeral in Poland; selling her old couture clothing to make quick cash (á la Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads, but high-end); her office’s strategic leaks to the press in an effort manage her coverage, etc.

How Jackie’s legacy has been celebrated for style rather than substance, and why her story is relevant in today’s world.

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Author to donate sales of feminist fantasy to Girls, Inc.

Politics, revolutions and sisterhood in European-inspired historical debut

NASHVILLE – The battle for the throne of Karkov commences in this epic feminist fantasy from debut author Dale Griffin. “The Last Lion of Karkov” (March 14, 2023, Books Fluent) dives deeply into the worlds of its characters, creating an epic fantasy debut that amplifies the hardships of politics, the sacrifice of love and the enduring bond between two sisters.

Using his experiences traveling across Europe and his passion for developing complex and endearing characters, Griffin’s epic features twin sisters who must fight for their rightful place in a male-dominated world. And in honor of the sisters within the story, he also plans to donate a portion of sales of his book to Girls, Inc., an organization that believes in empowering young girls to be independent and bold.

For royal twin sisters, Jillian and Natalia, there’s nothing that can come between them. Natalia is set for marriage to another kingdom and Jillian prepares to take up the throne as the first Lioness of Karkov. Raised to be warlords and rulers, Jillian’s path to the throne is met with opposition when the old warriors bring forth a male rival. Jillian must fight for her rightful position on the throne, but things change when she starts to develop feelings for her challenger. As destinies are altered and nations are spun into turmoil, Jillian and Natalia must reckon with the consequences of love and war.

For fans of Guy Gavriel Kay and Tamora Pierece’s Lioness series, “The Last Lion of Karkov” will give readers two new feminist icons to root for and suprising twists to linger in the mind well after reading.

“The Last Lion of Karkov”
Dale Griffin | March 2023 | Books Fluent | Epic fantasy
Paperback, 9781953865601, $22.99/$16.99
Ebook, 978-1-953865-61-8


About the author

DALE GRIFFIN is a historical fantasy writer releasing his debut novel “The Last Lion of Karkov” in March 2023. Griffin considers himself a traveler and a writer as a result. Married to his best friend and travel partner, the two explore Europe as frequently as possible. Inspired by those journeys, Griffin uses his experiences to influence his imagined worlds and the memorable characters who dwell in them.

In an interview, Dale Griffin can discuss:

  • Why he’s motivated to donate sales of the book to Girls, Inc.
  • His passion for writing characters and developing them throughout a story
  • The process of creating Jillian and Natalia to be a dynamic and evolving duo
  • The inspiration to write a fantasy story featuring two female lead characters in a male-dominated world
  • His knowledge of horses and bull-training from experience as a bull rider and rodeo champion
  • The book’s hidden messages and love letters to his wife
  • How the book’s setting was inspired from his travels throughout Europe

An interview with Dale Griffin

Jillian and Natalia are deeply developed characters in this story. Could you go into what it was like to create these characters and the work it took to evolve them throughout the story?

I wanted to create twin sisters who were subjected to the same cruel upbringing yet emerged from their circumstances with completely different personalities. Natalia’s character evolved more over the revisions than Jillian’s.

Despite some readers finding Jillian too quick-tempered and unfair, my thoughts are that she is the direct result of her childhood. Natalia, being a person who puts others before herself, should be considered the enigma. Early drafts did not portray her as spoiled during her youth, but I preferred to show her evolve into a proper heroine, with her love of Jillian being the reason.

The story is set in a European setting despite being an epic fantasy world. What went into creating the world Jillian and Natalia live in?

Europe — its people, its landscapes, its cities, and its history — inspires me to write. I set out on writing the Euro-inspired story without knowing what the reader would think about my imaginary places obviously being taken from real places. Luckily, early readers found that it helped them picture the setting, so I fully embraced the method and ran with it.

As a male author, what was your motivation to write a fantasy story focusing on two women fighting in a patriarchal society?

My favorite characters are feisty female protagonists who refuse to conform to what is expected of them. With Jillian in particular, I created a near-insurmountable obstacle to overcome and unleashed a ferocious lioness to attack it.

You must have also drawn a bit from real life. Can you tell us a bit about what parts inspired your real life?

It’s easier to write about what you know. I was riding horses by the age of 4, which helped to write a book set in this period. My engineering degree was part of the inspiration for Lorenzo. Most importantly, my wife provided many influences throughout the book.

You also plan to donate sales of your book to Girls, Inc. What is your motivation there and how do you believe this connects to the story?

It’s what Jillian and Natalia would want — to support girls in becoming bold and independent women.

What do you hope readers gain from the story?

I hope that I created characters who will linger in the thoughts of readers between readings and well after completing the book.

Are you working on any additional projects?

Yes, I have outlined a new book in a similar style where the lands are inspired by Scotland and Northern England, including their rivalry. A druidess is taken from her Highlands homeland to serve a Scottish-like ruler trying to preserve his title of king. But also, the continued “Last Lion of Karkov” story with the threat from the Desert Lion is never far from my thoughts.

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