Must-Read Biography & Memoir Books | March 2021

Must-Read Biography & Memoir Books | March 2021

There have been some amazing new biography and memoir book releases recently, so we wanted to share some of our favorites with you. Don’t miss the latest books by bestselling authors Hari Ziyad, Julia Cooke, Jamie Kern Lima, Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Mia Hayes, and Isabel Allende. We hope you enjoy your new books!


Black Boy Out of Time

by Hari Ziyad

Release Date: March 1, 2021

One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Kṛṣṇa mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes readers on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City. Exploring childhood, gender, race, and the trust that is built, broken, and repaired through generations, Ziyad investigates what it means to live beyond the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them.

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Come Fly the World

by Julia Cooke

Release Date: March 2, 2021

Required to have a college education, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between 5′3″ and 5′9″, between 105 and 140 pounds, and under 26 years of age at the time of hire.Cooke’s intimate storytelling weaves together the real-life stories of a memorable cast of characters.

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Believe IT

by Jamie Kern Lima

Release Date: February 23, 2021

In Believe IT, Jamie Kern Lima, founder of IT Cosmetics, shares the wild but true story of how a once struggling waitress turned her against-the-grain idea into an international bestselling sensation, eventually selling the company for over a billion dollars and becoming the first female CEO of a brand in L’Oréal’s 100+ year history.

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Professional Troublemaker

by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Release Date: March 2, 2021

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is known for her trademark wit, warmth, and perpetual truth-telling. But even she’s been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer, and nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. As she shares in Professional Troublemaker, she’s not alone.

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Always Yours, Bee

by Mia Hayes

Release Date: February 28, 2021

On a rainy November day, Mia Hayes’ husband left for work on his Vespa. Normally, she would have driven him, but Mia was waiting on a phone call with an editor and didn’t have time. She never saw that caring, loving version of her husband again. The fallout from his accident–Mia’s guilt and her husband’s PTSD, memory loss, and depression–consumed their lives over the next five years as her laid-back husband changed into an angry man with few memories of their past. Desperate to hold her fragile family together, Mia ignored her own unraveling and plunged into bipolar depression.

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The Soul of a Woman

by Isabel Allende

Release Date: March 2, 2021

“When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, I am not exaggerating,” begins Isabel Allende. As a child, she watched her mother, abandoned by her husband, provide for her three small children without “resources or voice.” Isabel became a fierce and defiant little girl, determined to fight for the life her mother couldn’t have.

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New Mystery & Thriller Books For Your Reading List | March 20201

New Mystery & Thriller Books For Your Reading List | March 20201

Have you made it to the end of your mystery and thriller reading list? On the lookout for some new book recommendations to add to your list? You’ve come to the right place because we’ve found these exciting new releases from bestselling authors Blair Howard, Willow Rose, Stephen King, Alex Finlay, T E Kinsey, and Nalini Singh. Enjoy your new books!


One Dark Night

by Blair Howard

Release Date: February 28, 2021

The sixth book in the Harry Starke Genesis Series by Blair Howard… One Dark Night… Geeze, was that ever a doozy of a case? See? It was April first, 1998 when the bodies of two teenagers, a young fella and his girlfriend, both high school seniors, were found among the trees on a lonely road just inside the city limits. The bodies had been stripped and left for the wild animals to… well, you get the idea. The cops had a good idea who the killer was, but they never could prove it, so the case went cold… until April first, 2012 when local DA, Larry Spruce, asked me to take a look at it.

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To Die For

by Willow Rose

Release Date: February 28, 2021

The eighth book in the Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Series by Willow Rose… It is a typical Tuesday morning. Scott Benton gets up, kisses his girlfriend Sarah goodbye, and goes to work. But when he returns home from work later in the afternoon, his girlfriend of two years is gone. And just like that, Scott’s life is turned upside down. The police are after him, thinking he hurt her. His friends and family have turned their backs on him, thinking the same. Meanwhile, there is one thing Scott can’t stop thinking about.

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Later

by Stephen King

Release Date: March 2, 2021

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine – as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.

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Every Last Fear

by Alex Finlay

Release Date: March 2, 2021

After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.

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The Deadly Mystery of the Missing Diamonds

by T E Kinsey

Release Date: March 1, 2021

The first book in a Dizzy Heights Mystery Series by T E Kinsey… Missing diamonds. Mysterious deaths. And all that jazz. London, 1925. With their band the Dizzy Heights, jazz musicians Ivor ‘Skins’ Maloney and Bartholomew ‘Barty’ Dunn are used to improvising as they play the Charleston for flappers and toffs, but things are about to take a surprising turn.

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Quiet in Her Bones

by Nalini Singh

Release Date: February 23, 2021

When socialite Nina Rai disappeared without a trace, everyone wrote it off as another trophy wife tired of her wealthy husband. But now her bones have turned up in the shadowed green of the forest that surrounds her elite neighborhood, a haven of privilege and secrets that’s housed the same influential families for decades. The rich live here, along with those whose job it is to make their lives easier. And somebody knows what happened to Nina one rainy night ten years ago.

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New Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Recommendations | March 2021

New Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Recommendations | March 2021

Need some fantasy and science fiction reading list recommendations? You’ve come to the right place because we’ve got a new list of latest release books from bestselling authors Kim Petersen, John Reedburg, Spaulding Taylor, Angelina J. Steffort, JMD Reid, and Kate Hope Day. Happy reading!


Blood Legends: The Complete Trilogy Part One

by Kim Petersen

Release Date: March 2, 2021

What if saving humanity meant facing your deepest fears? A deadly virus has ravaged the earth. Human survivors spend their days and nights fighting to stay alive in a world now owned by vampires. Jett’s plans to get further off-grid fall apart when his woman suddenly disappears at the hands of the hawkers – the most deplorable and dangerous humans to survive the apocalypse. Now, Jett is forced to confront evil head-on as he faces choices that he never dreamed possible. Will Jett play it safe and conform to the new world? Or will he stand firm in his beliefs and fight for freedom?

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Cracks Of Light

by John Reedburg

Release Date: February 8, 2021

Growing up in a broken home will always be a rough ride for any child caught in the crossfire. Naturally, when The Light speaks to nine-year-old Demetrius, he is too afraid to tell his bipolar mother what he has seen… However, after young Demetrius develops a secret friendship with The Light, he is taken to “The Other Side,” a metaphysical realm where he meets his ancestors and learns about coping with childhood trauma, domestic abuse, and mental illness.

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Last Star Standing

by Spaulding Taylor

Release Date: February 18, 2021

Aiden has always felt like an outsider. After the rebel assassin is captured and imprisoned by the world’s galactic overlords, he awaits execution. Then a mole working for the occupying regime alerts him to a plot that could destroy the entire resistance… Engineering a daring escape, Aiden’s growing feud with the new rebel leader leaves him out in the cold and smouldering with resentment. Faced with deceit and betrayals on every side, he recruits a group of overlooked outcasts and stakes everything on one last mission.

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Shadow Rule

by Angelina J. Steffort

Release Date: February 28, 2021

The third book in the Shattered Kingdom Series by Angelina J. Steffort… Gandrett can no longer hope that she has a dying chance to save the Prince of Ulfray nor the friend the Dragon King has taken from her. But she won’t give up—even if it means she has to travel to the forests of Ulfray first to help the Prince of Fae to wake his people. Gandrett leaves behind the ruins of the future of Sives and embarks on an adventure of her own—where she gets more than she bargained for.

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Jewels of Illumination Box Set

by JMD Reid

Release Date: February 17, 2021

Life had gone wrong for Obhin. Once a respected palace guard, now he sells his sword as a bandit. Trapped by his missteps, he has little reason for hope… Until one young woman sees more in him. Passionate and headstrong, Avena has no patience for bullies. Haunted by her own bleak past, the healer sees in Obhin a chance for escape…a chance for them both. This misfit pairing must learn to trust each other as they struggle to survive in a city of poverty and vice, for dark sorcerers, underworld crime bosses, and brutal bandits scheme to destroy them.

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In the Quick

by Kate Hope Day

Release Date: March 2, 2021

June is a brilliant but difficult girl with a gift for mechanical invention who leaves home to begin grueling astronaut training at the National Space Program. Younger by two years than her classmates at Peter Reed, the school on campus named for her uncle, she flourishes in her classes but struggles to make friends and find true intellectual peers. Six years later, she has gained a coveted post as an engineer on a space station.

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Must-Read Romance Books | March 2021

Must-Read Romance Books | March 2021

March is here and what better way to start the month than with some new must-read romance book recommendations. Check out the latest from bestselling authors Kelsey Kingsley, Lorelei James, Carly Grant, Melanie Harlow, Olivia Miles, and Kristen Callihan. Enjoy your new books!


Scars & Silver Linings

by Kelsey Kingsley

Release Date: February 26, 2021

Two little, pink lines should have been a good thing, but for Kendall Wright, it felt like the end of the world. Especially when her career as a successful romance novelist had only just begun to take off. But with the acceptance of her flaky boyfriend, and the help of a friendly bartender, she begins to see how those two little, pink lines could actually be a blessing. Except pregnancy isn’t always what it’s cut out to be, and sometimes, things can take a turn for the worst when you least expect it.

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Cowboy Bites

by Lorelei James & Suzanne M. Johnson

Release Date: February 23, 2021

New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James has whipped up six brand new Rough Riders short stories featuring fan favorite couples—Cord and AJ, Colby and Channing, Keely and Jack, Colt and India, Carter and Macie, and Boone and Sierra. These slice of life tales are the perfect accompaniment to USA Today Bestselling author Suzanne Johnson’s delicious, down home recipes—family fare created to share round the table with love, laughter, and plenty of second helpings.

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Back to You

by Carly Grant

Release Date: February 15, 2021

The first book in the Turning Tides Series by Carly Grant… Heartbroken and lost. That’s how Annie Collins left small-town Crestpoint Beach when she was eighteen and an aspiring interior designer. And that’s how she returns years later, starting over as a widow at thirty-five. Coming home to help care for her aging father while she sorts out her life, Annie moves into her grandparents’ old beach house. The big, beautiful home needs a little TLC, but Annie has the support of her free-spirited younger sister, Hannah, who dreams of turning the beach house into a B&B together.

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Call Me Crazy

by Melanie Harlow

Release Date: February 22, 2021

It was the perfect plan. I needed a wife–temporarily–in order to inherit the family business. And she needed a favor–the kind that takes nine months to deliver. We had it all worked out, from the no-touching policy on our wedding night (her rule) to the no-falling-in-love decree (mine). She’d marry me, I’d give her the means to have the baby she’d always wanted, and one year later we’d amicably part ways with no hassle, no demands, and certainly no regrets.

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Return to Me

by Olivia Miles

Release Date: February 16, 2021

The fifth book in the Blue Harbor Series by Olivia Miles… When Brooke Conway left Blue Harbor six years ago, she said goodbye to more than just her friends and family. Newly married with big dreams and plans, the future she had envisioned took an unexpected turn, leaving her on her own in the life she and her husband were supposed to share. Now Brooke is back in town to open her bridal boutique, an irony that is not lost on her. Because while she may be giving other women the wedding dress of their dreams, she knows it’s time to end her marriage to Kyle Harrison once and for all.

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Make It Sweet

by Kristen Callihan

Release Date: February 23, 2021

Life for Emma isn’t good. The world knows her as Princess Anya on Dark Castle, but then her character gets the axe—literally. The cherry on top is finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman. She needs a break, and sanctuary comes in the form of Rosemont, a gorgeous estate in California promising rest and relaxation. Then she meets the owner’s equally gorgeous grandson, ex–hockey player and current recluse Lucian Osmond, and she sees her own pain and yearning reflected in his eyes.

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Interview with Kelsey Kingsley, Author of Scars & Silver Linings

What can you tell us about your new release, Scars & Silver Linings?

This book is about Kendall Wright, a woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and eventually gives birth to a premature baby. There is a love story here between Kenny and a bartender she meets at the beginning of her pregnancy, but the majority of the book focuses on her pregnancy and then her journey through the NICU with her baby boy. It was a very therapeutic book for me to write, as I also experienced an unexpected pregnancy and the premature birth of my son last year.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve wanted to be an author since I could hold a pencil. But I didn’t decide to publish until Diana Gabaldon (of Outlander fame) told me to “just finish the book” I was writing at the time.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Lisey’s Story by Stephen King, Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Stephen King. I’d ask how he copes with being consumed by the stories he works on and if he struggles to separate the real world from his work. But let’s be honest – I think I’d be too star struck to actually speak.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

The immersion. It can become a challenge, being a method writer, but when I’m fully consumed by a story, it’s a surreal feeling but it’s the best.

What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up whenever my one-year-old son decides I’ve slept long enough. Then, I take care of him until he naps, when I decide whether I should nap with him, write for a while on my phone, or play some video games. Usually, I opt to write on my phone, but lately, I’ve been pretty into Animal Crossing. My husband comes home in the evening, and that’s when I get the majority of my writing done, until he goes to bed. Then, my son and I hang out, watching TV, until we’re ready for bed. Lather, rinse, repeat!

What scene from Scars & Silver Linings was your favorite to write?

Any relationship-building scene with Kenny and Goose. They are hands down my favorite couple I’ve ever written (so far).

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“It can’t rain all the time.” (from James O’Barr’s The Crow

Kelsey Kingsley is the author of the new book Scars & Silver Linings

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Interview with John Reedburg, Author of Cracks of Light

What can you tell us about your new release, Cracks of Light?

Cracks Of Light is an urban fantasy horror in one aspect conveys a young boy’s experiences living with an untreated bipolar mom and her substance abuse habits, while he also cultivates a friendship with a mysterious supernatural being that appears to him as an orb of light. Though, on a deeper level it’s a story and testimonial mash-up about a child and how their world of trauma coincides with their family’s history and legacy that leads him to learning more during a trip to a metaphysical realm called The Other Side where he meets loving and informative ancestors. After that, dark and disturbing secrets about his mother’s family come to light.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

Growing up, my father was the founder and original owner of a local black newspaper in South Los Angeles called the L.A. Watts Times and another one called the Watts Local. Before then (before I was born), he was an editor at the Los Angeles Sentinel and reporter at the Herald Examiner. He also wrote novels and poetry. My mother told me that every night when he wrote his stories and ideas on his favorite notepad before typing them up, I would mimic him by jotting things down on one of his blank pads without even knowing how to write or spell anything. So, I guess what made me want to become a writer was my dad and a lot of the guys he hung around. One of his friends was Mr. Alex Haley. The first actual full-length book I ever read was “The autobiography Of Malcom X.” I remember my dad giving that book to me as a gift for my 7th birthday. He always swayed my away from children books, while my mom always made sure I read books by Mr. Stephen King. So, with that said, in rephrasing my initial response. My mom and my dad inspired me to write. They always knew I had it in me. Regardless, as if, it was as an author, screenwriter, or journalist.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

  • “The Color Purple” by Alex Walker
  • “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
  • “The Shining” by Stephen King
  • “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens
  • “Different Seasons” by Stephen King

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

My first guest would be Stephen King. I would ask him to talk about the moment in his life where he first discovered his truth as an author. I would have him expound on the through lines of his inspiration, like what’s purpose behind the thing that keeps him going?

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Playing God. When you write you create worlds and lives and even have the power to decide when its someone’s time to die. You can solve problems or create as a God you can control all of that.

What is a typical day like for you?

During Covid-19 where I live in Los Angeles, there isn’t much happening, so I’m writing as much as I can while on lockdown.

What scene from Cracks of Light was your favorite to write?

My favorite scene to write was the final scene in Chapter 7 “What The Pig Told The Wolf.” In that scene you see the true dynamic of what it is like being a young boy living in a  challenging predicament and going through the things he has to go through. It causes the reader to understand the complex relationship between Demetrius and his mother Olivia and his true gift of insight. The scene is gritty and visceral.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Every breath we take leads us closer to death, so enjoy every moment as if it’s the last.

John Reedburg is the author of the new book Cracks of Light

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Interview with J.M.D. Reid, Author of Jewels of Illumination Box Set

What can you tell us about your new release, Jewels of Illumination Box Set?

It contains the first three books of the Jewels of Illumination series, an epic and dark fantasy. In the City of Kash, overrun by strife and crime, Obhin has a chance for redemption by guarding a scholar from the machinations of crime syndicate, a mysterious woman, and a dark necromancer. In a city about to explode against the crown and the rich, Obhin must work with Avena to keep Dualayn safe. But can Avean trust Obhin and his dark past? Can they find a way to work past their difference and save not just Dualayn. But the City of Kash itself.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

It was the fantasy books I read in my preteen and early teen years. Tolkien, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Weis and Hickman, and Robert Jordan were writing all these great stories. I wanted to tell my own fantasy stories like them. Make my own worlds born out of my imagination.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

The Lord of the Ring (I’m cheating and lumping them together), The Darkness that Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker, Dune by Frank Herbert, The Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan, and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Robert Jordan. I would love to ask him how he is so good at foreshadowing and utilizing prophecies so skillfully to inspire readers imaginations and misdirect them at the same time.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Getting the the stories out of my head and on to paper. That’s always such a wonderful moment to have an idea that could be rattling around in my head for sometimes years.

What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up and start writing. I am a weirdo that can get up and go. I ghost write for a living, so between my writing and clients work, I get about 20,000 words written in a day (it can vary if I’m doing more editing). I take breaks for breakfast, lunch, take a walk, to do my social media, but much of my day is spent typing away. This is my job, and I work hard at it because I love it. Writing is rarely a chore for me.

What scene from Jewels of Illumination Box Set was your favorite to write?

There are so many of them. Some of my favorites are really spoilery, but I would say it’s the opening of Ruby Ruins, the second book. It has a return of an antagonist from the last book, Avena getting to really show how much she’s grown, and then a great twist that always shocks readers and kicks off the book’s plot.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I just like to hunker down and do my writing. But the Golden Rule’s probably the best way to live. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

J.M.D. Reid is the author of the new book Jewels of Illumination Box Set

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Interview with Kim Peterson, Author of Blood Legends

What can you tell us about your new release, Blood Legends?

I wondered how it would feel to know and believe in one reality – the reality familiar to you and me, and then have human evolution reconstructed with vampirism as the evolving and dominant race.

What would earth look like if the deadly, supernatural villains you know as fictional became your new truth and you had to choose between being their food or becoming one of them?

Blood Legends is about facing your worst nightmare as an unending reality, and then learning to survive in the new world knowing that the only hope for salvation, the Blood Legend, may never even come into being. It’s pretty brutal and that’s how I intended it to be. These vampires are the real deal.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

It was a life-long love affair with story and imagination, and then life kicked me in the butt hard enough to take a leap of faith and believe in myself to get started.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

A Stone for Danny Fisher by Harold Robbins

Jessica by Bryce Courtenay

Absolute Power by David Baldacci

Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Chuck Palahniuk.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love the part when you realize that the story and characters have become a part of you in some way. Where there is no separation between you and the creative flow. It can take a bit to get out of your own way before you get there, but when it kicks in it feels amazing. As if the story is already written and you’re the conduit.

And I love the idea about writing for a better world. We can all do our bit to make a difference.

What is a typical day like for you?

There’s a log cabin deep in the woods nearby. I don’t know who owns it but the door is always unlocked and the fire burning. So, I take my laptop and my coffee, and I sit at the oversized timber desk by the window and write for hours while it snows outside.

Romantic, huh?

Maybe someday.

The real part is that I try to get as much of the housework in before dropping my kids off at school so that I don’t need to worry about hanging out the washing during the day when I’m alone with my oversized glass-top desk.

After that, I’m either working on the fiction or nonfiction aspects of my business and trying not to drift away too much into my head. I’m a drifter. It can get serious if I’m not careful.

I like to practice Yoga at least two evenings a week and take afternoon walks along the beach. I love the mindfulness and body-focus of Yoga.

What scene from Blood Legends was your favorite to write?

The last scene. Always the last scene. That’s when I get to go crazy with Prince in my ear.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Yeah. I believe the heart can do anything. 

Kim Peterson is the author of the new book Blood Legends

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Interview with Carly Grant, Author of Back To You

What can you tell us about your new release, Back To You?

Back to You is a sweet second chance romance set in a beachy small town in Florida and is the start of my Turning Tides B&B series. Back in high school, Noah Davis broke Annie Taylor’s heart and she never understood why. Now, she’s come back to Crestpoint Beach, widowed at age 35 and unsure of her path forward. For recently divorced single dad Noah, losing Annie was the hardest thing he’s ever faced. Can they find a way to start over again?

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always been a big reader, but I can’t really point to any one influence when it comes to writing. I wrote this book because I wanted to tell the kind of sweet, feel-good, small-town romance story I personally love to read. Now, I have plans for an entire series!

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Since there’s only room for five, I’ll go with books that had an early impact on me in some way. So that would be: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder; And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie; and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Debbie Macomber would be my first guest. I would ask which of her series is her favorite to write.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love coming up with stories and characters that not only make me happy when I’m writing them, but also make other people smile and feel hopeful as they turn the last page.

What is a typical day like for you?

I’m terrible with routines, but for me every good day starts with a cup of good, strong coffee and a few hours behind my keyboard working on a new book or story idea.

What scene from Back To You was your favorite to write?

There were many! I love writing all of the lighthearted scenes, but one of my favorite moments to write was when Annie and Noah both admit they want to be in each other’s life forever. I can’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil it!

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Carly Grant is the author of the new book Back To You

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Interview with Hari Ziyad, Author of Black Boy Out Of Time

What can you tell us about your new release, Black Boy Out Of Time?

Black Boy Out of Time is my debut memoir, chronicling my experience as one of nineteen children in a Black Muslim and Hindu blended family from Cleveland, OH, and the lessons I learned about gender, mental health, and prison/police abolition along the way. It is an attempt to map a journey to healing from racial and gender-based violence, with particular attention to healing my relationship with my mother before she died from cancer. It sounds heavy, I know, but it is much more than a tale of trauma! It’s a story about love, about family, about friendship and freedom, too. It was recently named an Amazon First Reads pick and has since become an Amazon best seller in multiple categories.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I’ve been interested in storytelling for as long as I can remember. It is a legacy. My mother was so invested in the power of literature that she would read to her children while we were in the womb. Our immersion in the Hare Krsna community, a religion based largely in eye-popping myths documented in spiritual images that hung all throughout our home, did nothing to discourage my wonder for stories, or the possibility of creating new worlds with them.

I started writing my first book when I was about eight years old. It was a fantasy novel about warring kingdoms on the supercontinent of Pangea, whose inhabitants lived alongside dinosaurs before an earthquake that would come and split the world in seven. I got about 100 pages in before adolescence called me away and toward sports and pretending I was interested in girls. In high school, I gravitated more toward storytelling through filmmaking, becoming the student production assistant for the television program and then attending film school at NYU. As a Black queer person with a burgeoning awareness of my identity and what it meant in relation to the world, the need for the new worlds that were made possible through storytelling was more pressing than ever, and I found myself on a mission to create them. But I quickly learned that there are only so many new worlds the film industry allows you to create (especially as someone not established in Hollywood), so after film school I returned to prose writing as a freelancer and started my own publication, RaceBaitr, to continue telling the stories I felt called to tell. Once I realized I could compile these stories into something like a book, I knew—again—what I was put on this earth to do.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

The Broken Earth Trilogy – N.K. Jemisin

Freshwater – Akwaeke Emezi

In The Wake – Christina Sharpe

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

Assuming this question refers to living authors, I am fascinated with Akwaeke Emezi, best selling author of Freshwater, Pet, and The Death of Vivek Oji. This fascination exists in part because of their very sparse social media presence, and in part because their experience as a non-binary person with both Indian and African roots resonates with me (and, of course, in part because of their brilliant prose). Aside from their background, I’d love to ask them about their process of writing non-binary and transgender characters, and what their process is like navigating a refusal to universalize their experience with gender to stand-in for all non-binary or trans people, as well as their process navigating making these lives accessible to a wider cisgender audience.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I love how it feels to figure something out you didn’t understand before—about yourself or the world—through writing. You don’t have to know where you will end when you sit in front of the page. You just have to be game for wherever the page takes you. That’s hard for me. I’m used to control, and I know that sometimes where the page takes me can be terrifying. So/but when I do let go, when I let the words lead me, it’s an exhilarating ride. An adventure. Terrifying too, but invigorating. As you can imagine, I am the type of person who loves rollercoasters!

What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up around 8 o’clock. Depending on how frigid it is (I live in New York), I spend the next fifteen minutes to an hour mustering up the courage to face the death-chill that will meet me once I escape the confines of my comforter. On my more productive days, I spend this fleeting time of sufficient warmth journaling my dreams—one of the few times my writing never sees the light of day—or reading. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I then head to the gym I’m lucky enough to have in the basement of my building, down the five flights of stairs I’m unlucky enough to have to trod because we don’t have an elevator. Then I shower and walk my dog, by which point it’s approaching noon and I scream, “How the hell is it already approaching noon?” On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my neighbors aren’t subjected to this particular soundtrack of frustration. I have a breakfast of oatmeal or a protein shake while responding to emails and catching up on any other minor tasks.

After lunch is my writing time, if my day hasn’t been colonized by meetings. Sometimes, writing time consists of composing tweets, engaging with supportive readership community I’ve built. Sometimes, writing time consists of me just staring at the computer. Don’t be fooled! This is productive, too. I am usually using this time to meditate about what it is I need to write—although I’m sure my eyes would prefer I meditate without looking without focus into so much blue light—and on good days this leads to a later spurt of productivity. It’s hard for me to write after sunset, so by then I’m settling down in the living room with my partner, fighting about what to stream and imbibing some medicinal herbs.

What scene from Black Boy Out Of Time was your favorite to write?

My favorite scene was chapter 12, when I write in the self-epistolary form to my younger self about meeting my partner and husband. It just felt so damn good to explore all of the feelings and ideas about love I imagined as a child, an imagination I have come so close to losing, and to be able to relay that those feelings and ideas were realized. It felt so damn good to be able to tell my younger self this, to remind them that they never had to give up on a care and a love that I could only dream of before.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

How can I love my community more tomorrow than I did today?

Hari Ziyad is the author of the new book Black Boy Out Of Time

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