Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.


Cambria, CA
USA

Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.

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Better Than Blurbs: A House of Light and Stone by E.J. Runyon

Catherine Ryan Hyde

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Because I no longer write blurbs, but still very much want to help other authors, I've launched a blog series called Better Than Blurbs. The authors and I have in-depth discussions about their books, which I hope will help readers identify whether they'd enjoy reading them.

This is the eleventh post in the series. The author is E.J. Runyon, and the book is A House of Light and Stone.

Me: Eve, will you please tell my readers about the book in your own words?

Eve: Strangers. It’s about all the ways a world can be filled with strangers. How we can be strangers within even the closest family. Strangers to our immediate environment, like Duffy’s Mother is in the new neighborhood she’s moved everyone into. How old, good friends— like she and Mrs. Bettencourt, ‘Lise are, how they end up treating each other when they reconnect. How being a stranger even to your own self, as Duffy is, can affect whom and what you let yourself be. So, that’s the biggest thing it’s about.

On a literal level, it’s about a 10 year-old’s quest to try and be what she feels a ‘real girl’ should be. Duffy’s a kid from a world, back in 1966 & ‘67 East Los Angeles, where what she sees on TV is a world of white folks. And she’s, as she puts it, “just Duffy, with the brownest eyes and as jet-black hair as you could get.“ Even though all her four brothers and sisters are half white-half Mexican, she feels she’s different. So there again, we’ve got a stranger within her own tribe. A stranger, she feels, to her own people.

There’s the whole world of folks around Duffy who treat her like she’s family. And family members who she thinks have problems treating her that way. There’s the second thing this book’s probably about: disconnects that life can seem to be made up of. Mama and “Lise take forever getting on the same wavelength, no matter how attracted they are to each other. Duffy feels she’s always a step behind those who like her and want to help. Her actions turn from well-meaning to failure at nearly every turn, because she’s not had any way of seeing life done well.

Hopefully, by the end of the novel, we’ll see it’s about an inimitable quest for what self-knowledge can bring to one single soul. Duffy becomes a much stronger person. A butterfly out of a chrysalis, a wholly new girl. One she can be proud to be. Mama finds that being her true self is not the end of the world. And though some family members are lost to the city around them, some are gained, and a family’s balance is restored.

Me: Talk to us about the word “literary.” Because I feel this book is a great example of literary fiction, using the term in the most flattering possible way. But most people, at least in the publishing industry, don’t use it as a compliment. Literary fiction is a hard sell to publishers, and often another hard sell to readers. Any thoughts on where we slipped off track with this?

Eve: I think you and I spoke about this many years in the past. How I wanted my work to not be categorized. How I wanted it to stand as Literary, over genre. I haven’t changed. And I will argue, we don’t need to if our literary fiction works are, at the same time, accessible as genre work is to the reader. Sure there are themes here in Duffy’s story of Childhood - Growing up - Abusive relationships - Innocence - Love and friendship.

But I wrote this as a single little girl’s story, using my finest storytelling abilities I could bring to this. And perhaps those themes are only list-able, now in retrospection of what I’ve created. Not because I planned or built them in there. Perhaps my novel won’t be another hard sell to readers, because of that storytelling tact.

Me: You told me once, many years ago, of a time when your whole very large group of siblings was gathered together one morning and sent into foster care. If you don’t mind doing so, will you talk a little bit about that experience? Did it inform Duffy’s story in a significant way? If so, how?

Eve: Actually, even though I have my memories of that time. It involves others and their realities are their own. I hesitate to give too much weight to this book vis a vie my own background, as I didn’t write this as a roman a clef. There were times of great joy because I was with my brother and sisters, and some awfully hard times also when we’d get split up. I basically felt motherless in my early youth. Unlike Duffy who has a very present mother in this novel, I was 6 months old going into foster homes and nearly six coming out. We lived in more than one home.

Beyond that, I tried to write here a story about a girl who knew the type of life I did, but who was her own little soul. Not me. Like you mentioned once, to the question about ‘if your characters are based of folks in your life’, you said something like, you tried making them busy enough being themselves, that they didn’t need to be based on anyone you knew, yes? No matter who you may think you know I am, this is Duffy’s tale—not mine. [Me, note: I never doubted that. I know how it feels to give a character one tiny aspect of your history and still have her be 100% her own person.]

Me: Duffy worries at one point during the book (on her way to creative writing class) “What if they say I’m stupid? Or too Mexican? Or that this neighborhood isn’t the one I should’ve come to”? I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a trace autobiography there, simply because how could you grow up in this culture and not feel those pressures? Is it ever a temptation simply not to mention it—not to give people what might feel like ammo for them to use against you? And, if so, what are the associated burdens?

Eve: I like to think I write for three reasons. And those reasons have informed my whole body of work, fiction, poetry, short stories, or plays. I find myself speaking for those who’ve gone though the harsher things— so, through my attempted empathy on the page, others will know what’s happened in the quieter lives. Not my personal life, but any small life out there. Then, doing that, I also speak to a reader who really may have no idea that some lives roll the way they do, with so many valleys and peaks. I have to mention things aloud to them there on the page. And lastly, I write about folks who do their worst, SO that folks will see that yes, that type of behavior is out there; being done to us smaller souls. And they can't hide any longer. Folks are writing about their lives as well.

I’d definitely allow Duffy to voice all those truths she feels; facing them is how we are able to hold ourselves upright and walk right past those inner fears and outer abuses. And if anything, I wanted Duffy to be that deeper thinking little soul. Speaking her own truth to the powers she sees surrounding her.

Me: Duffy has a very positive influence in her life in Mr. St. John, the social worker. And this is somewhat unusual. The foster care and child welfare systems are full of good people, certainly, but also rife with abuse, and we tend to hear more about the abuse, both in real-life news stories and in fiction. What made you decide to show that system in a positive light?

Eve: That dynamic between those two just came to me. I didn’t write ‘A House of Light & Stone’ as a condemnation of a system. So there was no need to go the other way with their interactions. As you mentioned before our time here, you felt this novel was one that was ‘pure character-driven literary fiction, rather than having an obvious theme or issue to discus’. So we aren’t going to find sensationalism here.

I think it was less a decision to show that system in a positive light, and more of a light touch with what it was I did show about the man as a positive, hopeful guy faced with a very tough nut to crack in our little Duffy. And this is set in 1967 Los Angeles, there were more idealistic folks in the system at that time, I think.

Me: Authors tend to be people who love creative writing (well, duh) and books. But it’s fairly unusual for those loves to bleed over into their main characters. Will you talk a bit about why Duffy shares those passions with her author?

Eve: Okay, _smiles_ I’m going to give away a huge secret here. I came up with the last lines of the book first, where Duffy paraphrases the prayer. That was the first inkling this novel was built on. From that ending scene I built backwards. So seeing her say that, I then had to have scenes after scenes about why this little kid would have said that in the first place. It wasn’t planned, her wanting to be a writer; it grew from her uttering that phrase on my pages. I had to follow her path from there.

And then of course, there’s the adjusted adage I teach my coaching clients, it’s less a case of writing what you know, as it is using what you know in your writing. I knew I’d be a writer from a very small age. Before I could write in handwriting even. And that came through here, me using some sense memory of what I know.

Me: Will you tell my readers a little about the coaching and other services you offer to aspiring writers? There maybe be someone within the sound of our virtual voices who would be interested.

Eve: The next logical step to my 1-on-1 coaching that I’d been doing since 1997, was to expand into an online business. I quit my Software career, sold my house to go back to school, got a BA in Creative Writing, and did graduate work in Online Teaching and Learning. Then, my 2008 National Novel Writing Month effort ended up getting published as my writers guide, ‘Tell Me (How to Write) a Story’.

That came out last year from my UK Publisher, Inspired Quill. But between 2008 and 2013, in 2010, I built a writing website called ‘Bridge to Story’. That entailed creating 52 free lessons. I’m all about the service of midwifing creativity. I’m glad to give all that to folks without charge. One client revamped the whole site for mobile users, he liked what I did for him, coaching-wise, so much. So that social enterprise vibe is strong in my work.

With my 1-on-1 private clients, I spend 1.5 hour sessions with them on Skype, sharing their screen, working about the same stretch of time I run my Community Ed courses. They get my undivided attention and we work, literally, right on their own pages, as I coach them in stronger ways to do what they have in mind.

Folks give the most surprising feedback on my method. And several have their books out to agents and publishers; others have already published what we’ve worked on too. Some are getting some glowing reviews. One client calls me a Bodhisattva, and another was so happy with the level his work was brought to, he sent me a MacBook Pro as a thank you. I guess you could say, I enjoy my twin-calling as a coach and author, it’s going well. I’m on Facebook, and welcome anyone who wants to speak to any of my clients about what I do and how it’s done.

Me: Please write your own question, and answer it.

Eve: Do you feel this novel would make a good, ‘little film’ for some Indy filmmaker?

Do you remember the small film quite a while back called 'Echo Park'? With Tom Hulce? It came out in the late 80s I think. It was set in a L.A. neighborhood. And it told a sweet story about people’s lives. Like 'Laurel Canyon', or the one called 'Quinceañera', that’s another one. If I remember, that came out about a dozen years ago, that film, too, was also called 'Echo Park' in it’s L.A. release. (That’s weird! Hah.) Well, that was another one set in L.A. and telling a tale of real lives intersecting and making ripples.

No gratuitous shoot outs. Just the damage of living in our worlds. Especially in the Los Angles area. I think this book is in that vein. Close, small lives. But very watchable. I could see it being translated well, by some ardent new director. Someone who can see the potential of telling the quieter lives on film, so yes. If the fates allow. I could see that.

Me: Thanks, Eve! Eve's website is here, or you can follow her on TwitterFacebook, or Google+.



Check out my new photo site!

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Saddlebag Lake at dawn, after a night of light snow

Saddlebag Lake at dawn, after a night of light snow

All of you who know me know that amateur photography, especially nature photography, is very important to me. And when I first created this new site, I struggled with how to fit them all in. I could only show about five of each gallery without bogging everything down and causing slow loading. I don't want to complicate this site too much, but I don't want the photos to be an afterthought, either.

My solution? catherineryanhyde.photo 

I still have a page on the navigation bar above for my photos, but its purpose now is to link you to the new site. I think you'll find it easy to navigate. 

I'll keep adding to it, of course, and the most recent galleries will be right up front, so you can always see what's new.

Take a look around. Let me know what you think.

Better Than Blurbs: Again by Lisa Burstein

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Because I no longer write blurbs, but still very much want to help other authors, I've launched a blog series called Better Than Blurbs. The authors and I have in-depth discussions about their books, which I hope will help readers identify whether they'd enjoy reading them.

This is the tenth post in the series. The author is Lisa Burstein and the book is Again.

Me: Lisa, please tell my readers about your book in your own words.

Lisa:  I've written before about my experience being sexually assaulted by my ex-boyfriend when I was seventeen years old. You can see a post about that here. But response is about something else. This is not about me, or the boy who raped me, this is about the boy who watched.

The boy who saw what was happening right in front of him and left.

The boy I considered a friend who saw me being assaulted and chose to do nothing.

The boy who made me wonder what he did with his guilt.

It was this boy who made me want to write Carter as a character who does the same thing. In Again, Carter witnesses a sexual assault about to occur at his fraternity during his freshman year, but does nothing to stop it. He leaves. He doesn't know the girl his brothers are going to assault, but the guilt he feels is immense, intense and cripples him for years after.

How would you react in a similar situation? How would I have reacted?

If you have a friend who you see needs help; you help, right?

Or is it more complicated than that when it involves sexual assault, especially when you are a guy? When maybe it seems easier to stay out of it, or ignore it. 

I’ve thought about this a lot.

For years I've wondered how my friend felt after walking away from me that night.

What he did with what must have been the gnawing feeling in his gut as he walked away? If he could go back would he have done things differently?

With Carter and Again, I've fictionally given him a second chance.

Additionally, I’ve always wanted to write about someone who truly rewrites their life. Who sees no other option but to literally go back in time. I think that wish is something we all have sometimes. It was enlightening to travel to that place with Kate. I got the idea for Again from my own feelings about turning 30. 

Who was I? What had the choices I'd made turned me into? What the hell was I doing with my life?

Kate in Again feels like her whole life has been a series of bad decisions. The only way to fix them is to go back and make new ones.

I found this idea so appealing. If I had the option to go back to college and make different decisions knowing what I know now, would I make better ones?

Would you?

Me: Many of my readers might not be familiar with the genre NA, or New Adult. It's fairly new on the scene, and might not be all that well understood. Will you please bring us all up to speed?

Lisa: New Adult is a genre that has come about in the last couple of years. It consists of characters that are not Young Adult, but not Adults yet either. Usually it includes characters that are between 19-25. In Again, I wanted to combine this genre with the contemporary romance genre so I decided to make my protagonist a 29 year old who pretends to be 19. She is "acting" like a new adult even though she should be an adult.

Me: As I began to read, I noticed that the structure of the book had a lot in common with the romance genre, in that the love interest is right there in the first scene, clearly setting up the goal of what's important here. This is not an insult, or even a judgment in any way. Clearly, if it's a type of romance, it's a very modern take on the genre. Maybe you could tell us in your own words how you think they are similar, how you think they are different.

Lisa: New Adult is different from a typical contemporary romance in the fact that new adults are not only dealing with their romantic relationships but also with trying to figure out their place in the world, who they really are, without the safety net of parents. You are over eighteen and out on your own. In Again specifically, Kate at 29 is completely unhappy in her place in the world and who she is. This is why she goes back and tries to live her life over "again" by pretending to be 19.

Me: I was interested in the fact that your main character struggled with alcoholism. Probably because I’m an alcoholic with 25 years of recovery. At first she tried to go it alone. She mentioned rehab, and mentioned AA once. I know you wanted us to see her struggle, but I wonder if there’s a reason why she didn’t use the AA program as her life resolved itself. Did you feel that the target audience would not be open to 12-step programs, or not see them in a positive light? Or is it just something that is foreign to you as the author as well? Was any research involved in capturing the feelings of an alcoholic (which, by the way, I think you did well)?

Lisa: I have struggled with alcohol abuse as well. I have gone for treatment, but never AA or rehab. I guess I saw Kate as someone who would try to fix herself before she asked for help. It was about who she was as a person. She is extremely immature for her age and believes she has control over something that in many ways is uncontrollable-- alcoholism. I am certainly not against anything that helps a person deal with their issues. I wanted to write a book about someone who thinks she can go it alone and realizes her addictions are stronger than she knows.

Me: Based on your original description of why you wrote this book… well, many things come to mind. That it’s brave. That I can understand how our struggles to understand the behavior of others can turn into novels. But my question is this. We’re all people at some level. All human no matter how badly we behave. And yet not everyone who commits an act like this feels deep remorse. Which do you think is worse? To feel there are people in the world who are inherently “bad”? Or to know that basically decent people can do terrible things?

Lisa: I think it’s far worse to see people as inherently bad. It was why I wrote Carter the way I did. I think everyone has to have at least some good in them, some part of them that feels guilt for doing anything that hurts someone else. I might have rose-colored glasses on here, but I guess making Carter someone who felt the impact of what he did so deeply, helped me come to terms with what my friend did to me. He might not have struggled with it the same way Carter did, but working through that guilt with Carter allowed me to finally forgive my friend.

Me: You made a reference to sexual attraction as being “another kind of addiction,” but it didn’t seem to come up again, at least not so clearly. This is a book that very much concerns itself with sex. How much do you think sex and love can become confused, or used addictively, in people of this age? And how much of that felt important in the writing of this book? 

Lisa: I think in your twenties sex and love are sometimes the same thing. I think both women and men can become caught up in that aspect of a relationship where it becomes all that matters. How they define themselves, how they wield power, how they feel. Before Kate meets Carter it is one of the main ways she defines herself, as a sexual being. That is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, but throughout the book she learns that sex can mean more than just sex. 

Me: In my older books, I have some adult material, some brief sex that is described in a relatively detailed way. And all of my books include some level of what people call “language.” And I’m surprised by how much grief I get about it in user reviews. There are people who write that they never would have read a book if they had known it contained “swearing.” As the author of a book with a fair amount of sex and language, do you get negative feedback from some readers? Or is this a difference in our two audiences?

Lisa: I usually don’t get grief for this. I think in romance and New Adult specifically people expect a certain level of language and sex. I have a Young Adult book titled Dear Cassie that has over 200 mentions of the F word. Perhaps we have different audiences. ;) 

Me: Please write your own question, and answer it.

Lisa: What do you hope readers get from Again?

I hope they find that any mistake you make isn’t too big to forgive yourself, once you come to a place to accept that forgiveness.

Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She is the author of Pretty Amy, The Next Forever, Dear Cassie, Sneaking Candy and The Possibility of Us. As well as a contributor to the essay collection, Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors On Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself. Again is her self-publishing debut. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.

Like Lisa on Facebook or Follow Lisa on Twitter (I do). 

An Award for Paw It Forward!

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Notice anything different about the cover of my kid's nonfiction book Paw It Forward? Now it not only features my dog Ella, but a sticker announcing that the book won the Mom's Choice Award! It's a lovely honor, and one that I hope will bring this simple story about the kindness shown by animals to even more kids. It's always nice when your book gets to sport a nice shiny award sticker. If you have kids, or grandkids, or are just a kid at heart, I hope you'll give Paw It Forward a try! And drop by the Paw It Forward LLC website and check out the other amazing Ella-based merchandise. Good thing Ella doesn't know about all this--there'd be no living with her. By the way, the Ella Journal won a Moms Choice Award, too! We're on a roll!

Where We Belong is Only $0.99!

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Two important bits of news regarding my novel Where We Belong. As you can see, it has a terrific new cover, with a custom-shot image courtesy of photographer friend Leslie Moroney. That's one.

Two, it's on a Kindle Countdown Deal right now. Today, Sunday, and Labor Day Monday, you can grab a Kindle copy of this novel for only $0.99. After Monday at midnight the price will go up in increments each day. But if you haven't read this one, I suggest now is a great time to buy it. Hard to argue with $0.99!

And don't forget the part where you come back and tell me what you think!   

Happy Labor Day weekend and happy reading!

Paw It Forward Giveaway

Catherine Ryan Hyde

The previous giveaway (a coffee-table sized softcover copy of 365 Days of Gratitude) is officially over. The winner is Susan Oberholtzer.

Now I'd like to go straight to a new giveaway. I bought a big handful of these from Cara Warren of Paw It Forward LLC, in both hardcover and softcover. Now that I have figured out that Ella can "sign" these, too, I just had to give one away so you can see this with your own eyes.

Up for grabs is a hardcover copy of Ella's and my Paw It Forward book, with my autograph and Ella's "Pawtograph." Great for your kids, grandkids, or, well... if you're a dog lover and you just want it for yourself I'll understand.

As always, please do me the courtesy of reading a few simple instructions to make this smooth and simple:

Leave a comment below to be entered. Please DO leave your email address in the comment form (even though it will say it's optional). I promise I won't use it for any other purpose but to notify you if you win. Please DON'T leave your email address in the body of your comment unless you want everybody to see it. Those familiar with my old website might be a little confused by the new comment system. It will seem there is no place for your name and email. But when you hit "Post Comment," you'll see those fields come up.

A very small handful of people have had trouble leaving comments. Please email me (using the "contact" page) if that happens to you. 

***One very important addition: If you're reading this blog on Goodreads, please click through to the original post on my website and leave your comment there. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll forget the Goodreads people one of these times when I go to draw names***

I'll collect entries for a week or so and then choose a winner at random. If you don't win, don't be discouraged. Read my post about the new "No Losers" seven entry rule.

Good luck!

8/30/14 UPDATE: Aaaannnd the winner is... Sandra Gonzales!

Better Than Blurbs: Much Ado About Mother by Celia Bonaduce

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Photo by William Christoff

Photo by William Christoff

Because I no longer write blurbs, but still very much want to help other authors, I've launched a blog series called Better Than Blurbs. The authors and I have in-depth discussions about their books, which I hope will help readers identify whether they'd enjoy reading them.

This is the ninth post in the series. The author is Celia Bonaduce and the book is Much Ado About Mother: A Venice Beach Romance. But before the word "Romance" causes you to tune out, please give us a chance to adjust your thinking.

Me: Celia, will you please tell my readers about the book in your own words?

Celia: Much Ado About Mother is the third book in my VENICE BEACH ROMANCE Trilogy.  If you’re now frantically mousing away from this page because you are not a fan of romantic novels, please hang around.  When Kensington Books (a highly esteemed publisher of romance) told me they wanted to buy my series, I was stunned.  Grateful to be sure, but stunned. Because I didn’t think I was writing romance.  I thought I was writing comedy.  Book One: The Merchant of Venice Beach is probably the closest to a classic romantic novel as this series gets, since the protagonist is very focused on seducing a mysterious dance instructor in and around Venice Beach, California. But it’s very tongue-in-cheek. While the emphasis of the story is Suzanna’s maniacal pursuit of an emotionally unavailable man, the theme of the book is about a woman finding herself.  Book Two: A Comedy of Erinn is about Suzanna’s older sister, Erinn, a had-been Broadway playwright who moves to Southern California ostensibly to be near her sister, but basically because she has no where else to go.  She is jobless and friendless.  If Suzanna refuses to face adulthood, Erinn is old before her time.  While there is a romantic element – actually, several romantic elements -- once again, the point of Comedy of Erinn is that Erinn has to come to terms with herself. It’s not about the guy.  Which brings us, finally, to Much Ado About Mother.  In this third book (the characters appear in each other’s books, but each book can be read as a stand-alone.)  Erinn, Suzanna and their mother, Virginia each have a say in “ADO”.  In this book, I was writing in all three voices, and named each chapter ERINN, VIRGINIA or SUZANNA as a way for the reader to be clear who was speaking. I learned that from you at that seminar in Big Sur a few years ago.  

Much Ado About Mother is the story of three women – a mother and her two grown daughters – who all feel that life has been good, but not great.  I thought it would be interesting to look at life from three different age groups (Suzanna is in her early thirties, Erinn in her early forties, Virginia is just turning seventy). Each of the woman is thinking “Is That All There Is” – which of course, is flawed thinking.  Unless you’re dead, it’s never all there is.  This book is about family. It’s about how, when all is said and done, no matter how the dynamics change, your family can be the greatest joy – while being the greatest thorn in your side – in your life. And yeah, there is some romance.

Me: I’m actually not a fan of romantic novels. But I’m a fan of this one. And I agree that for a romance it’s very much not a romance. How do you feel/how does it work to have your work put in a box that may not quite fit? It opens you up to new readers, yes. Does it shut you down from others? Or do people see that the book transcends its genre, so no problem?

Celia: I’ve tread lightly into Romance territory.  The description of my books “not quite fitting into a box” is accurate.  That’s one of the reasons I am so grateful for Sharon Bowers – my agent and Martin Biro – my editor at Kensington – for taking a chance on me.  I’d like to think there are readers out there who normally wouldn’t touch a romance were happy when they stumbled upon my books.  To be honest, though, from the few really stinko reviews I’ve gotten on Amazon, there were those romance readers out there who felt tricked by the covers and description.  Frankly, I think they had a valid point.  If you order a soufflé and someone serves you Eggs Benedict – it doesn’t matter if the Eggs Benedict are terrific or not.  You wanted a soufflé, you ordered a soufflé and that’s what you were entitled to get.  On the whole, though, my reviews have been very positive – although a goodly number of those reviews said “This was not what I was expecting, but I really liked it.” Next series out, I’m hoping people continue to like my work, but won’t be surprised.  The Eggs Benedict crowd will already be with me!

Me: Talk to me about quirk. I found this to be delightfully quirky, encompassing characters who are, among other things: 1) named Dymphna; 2) a herd of Angora rabbits; 3) a not very likable Chihuahua named Piquant, whom we tend to like anyway; 4) a man who runs into a burning building to save his ex-wife’s moose head art sculpture, and 5) a large tree. Do you purposely infuse quirk, or is your mind just naturally quirky?

 Celia: I guess my mind is just naturally quirky!  I will say that I am always on the lookout for the unpredictable!

Me: What do you like to read, and is humor a big factor in what you look for as a reader, or do you read different tones for different moods?

Celia:  I read all kinds of stuff – humor, classics, non-fiction, travel books.  One favorite genre is “southern women writers” – from Flannery O’Connor to Fannie Flagg to my new favorite Joshilyn Jackson.  These women rewrite true, believable characters infused with humor and love.

Me: In your own opinion, are you funny in person, in the spoken word, or more so on paper? Do you speak easily and comfortably in front of a crowd, with this same lighthearted manner you use when you write?

Celia:  Well, this is certainly a “toot my own horn” moment, isn’t it?  I humbly submit that I am funny in person, on paper and in front of a crowd.  While I long to be an introspective artist, who is quietly pondering big questions when not “at work”, sadly, I attempt hilarity 24/7.

Me: Will you please tell my readers, many of whom are writers, about your road to publication? 

Celia: My road to publication was long and filled with rejection.  I expected that, though.  My parents were both professional writers, so I knew from a very young age, that rejection was part of a writer’s life and you couldn’t take it personally.    I also had the great good fortune to go to a writers’ conference early in my foray into novel writing – where I met you, Catherine, and Jodi Thomas.  I’m sure the readers of your blog can visualize what a boost it was to have these two wildly successful women take the time to tell me that my “voice” was unique as well as funny.  You both encouraged me to get in touch if I felt stuck or frustrated (and I don’t have to tell you, I availed myself of that more than once!)  Both of you warned me that my style “didn’t fit on a shelf” – and there would be rejections from agents and publishers, but to believe in myself and my work.   Also, my feeling has always been “ You only need ONE.  ONE agent. ONE publisher. I just needed to stay true to the process.  As each rejection came it, one new submission went out. Sharon found me.  Kensington found me.  I knew they were out there and I just needed to hang on until they did.

Me: Please write your own question, and answer it.

Celia: Do you “cast” your characters, either with actors or with people you know?

I actually don’t have a physical sense of my characters at all.  I HEAR them.  It’s actually one of the most intriguing parts of writing for me.  I’ll create a character and I can suddenly hear them speaking to me.  Currently, I am writing a character who sounds exactly like Johnny Mathis.  It’s awesome!

Me: Thanks, Celia. Those who want to know more about Celia and her work can visit her website and/or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Let's Give Away Another 365 Days of Gratitude

Catherine Ryan Hyde

I promised I'd give away one of these a month for the foreseeable future, and I'm staying true to my word. This is the huge, full-color softcover coffee table edition of 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World. (The other books are only there for scale.) And a new giveaway for August starts now.

I'll collect entries for a week or so and then choose a winner at random. If you don't win, don't despair. Read my post about the new "No Losers" seven entry rule.

As always, I ask only that you read a few guidelines below so this giveaway goes smoothly: 

Leave a comment below to be entered. Please DO leave your email address in the comment form (even though it will say it's optional). I promise I won't use it for any other purpose but to notify you if you win. Please DON'T leave your email address in the body of your comment unless you want everybody to see it. 

Those familiar with my website might be a little confused by the new comment system. It will seem there is no place for your name and email. But when you hit "Post Comment," you'll see those fields come up.

***One very important addition: If you're reading this blog on Goodreads, please click through to the original post on my website and leave your comment there. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll forget the Goodreads people one of these times when I go to draw names***

Good luck!

Notice Anything Different?

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Just putting this photo front and center might be worth the price of admission for creating this new site. People are already telling me they're discovering books they never knew about.

Just putting this photo front and center might be worth the price of admission for creating this new site. People are already telling me they're discovering books they never knew about.

Happy to announce that the brand new site has launched. With a great deal of help from my friend and tech mentor Bob DeLaurentis (thanks, Bob!), I've come up with something that I hope will be simpler, yet provide you with all the information you need. 

I'm happy to hear any feedback you might have. After all, you are the ones who will use it.

One quick apology: I realize that everyone who subscribes to this blog got an email announcing... well, every single blog post I ever wrote (all in one email, I'm happy to say). That must have been confusing. When the site went live, in a sense those were all published at the same time. But I don't launch a whole new site often, so it's not something you're likely to encounter anytime soon. And I think the new browsing experience will be worth that slight inconvenience.

I hope you'll look around and tell me what you think.

Last Giveaway for July

Catherine Ryan Hyde

It's been at the back of my mind that I promised one more giveaway for July. The goal is to give out one of these big softcover "coffee table" editions of 365 Days of Gratitude every month for the foreseeable future. (I picture it here with two other books just so you can see the sheer size of it.)

Then I got all wrapped up in the new Take Me With You release and its incredible numbers (like #3 and #4 in Kindle). And it's a bit of a distraction.

But July isn't over yet. So let's go ahead and do this right now. I'll collect entries for three days or so and then choose a winner at random on the first of August. If you don't win, don't despair. Read my post about the new "No Losers" seven entry rule.

As always, I ask only that you read a few guidelines below so this giveaway goes smoothly: 

Leave a comment below to be entered. Please DO leave your email address in the comment form. I promise I won't use it for any other purpose but to notify you if you win. Please DON'T leave your email address in the body of your comment unless you want everybody to see it. And remember the "author" in the comment form is the author of the comment, not the book. In other words, you. In each of these giveaways one or more people comment as "Catherine Ryan Hyde" because they see "author" and think it means me. Please use your own name, otherwise I can't enter you, because I'll have no idea who you are!

***One very important addition: If you're reading this blog on Goodreads, please click through to the original post on my website and leave your comment there. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll forget the Goodreads people one of these times when I go to draw names***

Good luck!

Pay It Forward Book for Children

Catherine Ryan Hyde

This is a giveaway. But I'd like to do it a little differently.

While I was away on vacation, Simon & Schuster sent me a big handful of advance reader's copies of the new Pay It Forward: Young Readers' Edition.

It's scheduled to release on August 19th. It's the same book, edited by me, just pared down to a solid G rating. And it's suitable for kids as young as eight.

I want to give some of the ARCs away.

But rather than draw names out of a hat, I'd like it if you'd tell me why you want one, and one you'd do with it if you had it. You see, this book is for kids, and the people who read and follow this blog are adult readers. With any other of my books, the answer to that question would be you'd want it to own and read. But all who are reading this post would be better suited to the adult edition. The idea of this edition is to get the Pay It Forward idea into the hands and hearts of kids, kids who weren't even born when the book and the movie first came out.

So what would you do with one of these? Are you a teacher? Do you have kids of your own whose lives you shape every day? Do you have other ideas for how to get this book into the hands of kids?

Just let me know in the comment section. I'm not deciding yet how many of these I'll give away. I'm going to wait and see the responses and then decide. I probably don't have one for everyone, but let's try it and see what happens. And if you don't win one, read my post entitled "No Losers." This giveaway counts toward that magic number seven.

As always, please read some basic instructions for entering:

Leave a comment below to be entered. Please DO leave your email address in the comment form. I promise I won't use it for any other purpose but to notify you if you win. Please DON'T leave your email address in the body of your comment unless you want everybody to see it. And remember the "author" in the comment form is the author of the comment, not the book. In other words, you. In each of these giveaways one or more people comment as "Catherine Ryan Hyde" because they see "author" and think it means me. Please use your own name, otherwise I can't enter you, because I have no idea who you are!

***One very important addition: If you're reading this blog on Goodreads, please click through to the original post on my website and leave your comment there. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll forget the Goodreads people one of these times when I go to draw names***

I'll run this for about a week. Good luck!

No Losers

Catherine Ryan Hyde

I've been doing giveaways on my blog for years. Pretty regularly. Right now I'm giving away six of the ten Take Me With You audiobooks the publisher sent me. I enjoy it. I don't mind the postage costs (it's a tax-deductible promotional expense, after all). And I know avid readers struggle with book budgets. And I like rewarding the readers who are so faithful to me and my books.

There's just one thing I don't like about it.

Every time I pick winners, a few of my wonderful fans who did not win leave comments, here or on Facebook, that quietly say something like, "Congratulations to the winners." You can hear the sigh. Some are more directly honest and say, "I never win." Or just sigh.

I don't want readers signing up for giveaways over and over and over and coming away feeling like they never win. That it's always somebody else's name coming out of the hat.

So I've come up with an idea. I sat on it a while. And the more I sit with it, the more I like it.

If you enter seven giveaways and don't win a book, just point out to me the seven you entered. And I'll send you a book. For the dedication of that continued effort. For being someone who's so closely involved with my blog and my books. You can even pick which book you want me to send. Just don't pick an audiobook, please, because I don't keep extras of those lying around the house.

This can be retroactive, too. Think you've already entered seven giveaways? Look back and see which ones they were and then email me. Count them up and only get five or six? Well, I have a giveaway going on now and at least one more for the month of July. Won't take you long to get there.

No more sighs. More reading, less sighing. 

July: The Giveaway Month

Catherine Ryan Hyde

As some of you may know, I was just away on vacation. While I was gone, quite a few fun things turned up on my doorstep.

First of all, I got my author copies of the brand new Take Me With You, due out from Lake Union/Amazon Publishing on July 22nd. In the box were both MP3 and CD audiobooks. Five of each. And as you know if you follow this blog, I archive two of each. Send me five and I give three away.

I also got advance readers' copies of the new Young Readers' Edition of Pay It Forward, due out August 19th. So that will be the next giveaway.

And of course I have to give away another 365 Days of Gratitude photo "coffee table" book in July.

I thought about doing it all at once, but it made me tired to think about it. Too many ways that could get complicated. So I'm going to start with these six audiobooks.

As always, I ask only that you read the following to know how to enter:

All you need to do is leave a comment to be entered. Please DO leave your email address in the comment form. I promise I won't use it for any other purpose but to notify you if you win. Please DON'T leave your email address in the body of your comment unless you want everybody to see it. And remember the "author" in the comment form is the author of the comment, not the book. In other words, you. In each of these giveaways one or more people comment as "Catherine Ryan Hyde" because they see "author" and think it means me. Please use your own name, otherwise I can't enter you, because I have no idea who you are!

***One very important addition: If you're reading this blog on Goodreads, please click through to the original post on my website and leave your comment there. Otherwise I'm afraid I'll forget the Goodreads people one of these times when I go to draw names***

And if you have a preference between CD and MP3, please state it clearly in your comment.

I'll run this giveaway for about a week and then move on to the next. Good luck!

The ARCs Keep Coming!

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Most of you know I have another brand-new novel releasing in December. Yesterday, just a week or two after receiving the advance reader's copies of Take Me With You, my July release, the UPS guy brought me these.

Must. Give. Away.

Now. There's just one catch. I'm going off on a two-week trip in the new camper van (photos to follow). So I won't be around for this giveaway. Which doesn't really matter when you think about it. It just means I won't answer your comments with my own. You just have to trust that when I get home in the first week of July, I'll have them all in one place and draw names.

I'll give away four of these. As always, I ask only that you read the few simple directions below:

All you need to do is leave a comment to be entered. Please DO leave your email address in the comment form. I promise I won't use it for any other purpose but to notify you if you win. Please DON'T leave your email address in the body of your comment unless you want everybody to see it. And remember the "author" in the comment form is the author of the comment, not the book. In other words, you. In each of these giveaways one or more people comment as "Catherine Ryan Hyde" because they see "author" and think it means me. Please use your own name, otherwise I can't enter you, because I have no idea who you are!

After the 4th of July holiday, I'll draw four names.

Good luck!

You Really Can Buy the 365 Book in Paper

Catherine Ryan Hyde

I made this change fairly quietly, but a lot of people are asking me about it, so I'm going to make a bit more noise. Yes, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World is available as a big, full-color coffee table book. If I may be allowed to say so, it really turned out well. (This is more praise for the print-on-demand printing process than for myself.) If you look for it on Amazon, you won't find it. You'll only find the $3.99 Kindle. But it's available to buy. You just have to have the link.

I've placed the link on the right-hand sidebar of its book page on this site, where it will live forever. But of course I'll offer it in this blog as well. It's HERE.

As you can imagine, the book is not cheap. Because the production costs on 365 large full-color photos is huge. The book is for sale for $35 on CreateSpace, and believe me, there's not much in the way of profit there. It's basically production cost, plus CreateSpace's cut, plus pennies left over in royalties. It's a rounding-up to a nice round number from the very lowest price I could put on it. It would have been nice to sell it on Amazon. A lot more people would find it. But then I would have had to price it at $45 across the board.

Now for the good news: I honestly believe that when you receive your copy you will not feel overcharged. It really is a $35 book. It's 8 1/2 by 11, huge and heavy. Not hardcover, but still a genuine coffee table book. If I'm wrong, and you disagree, I'll happily buy it back from you.

The other good news is that there are cheaper ways to enjoy the book. The Kindle edition is only $3.99. And I'll be giving away a copy a month on this blog for the foreseeable future. I have a giveaway going right now, in fact.

I think you'll find it's a nice gift idea. I'm having a lot of fun giving them as gifts.

Feedback welcomed. 

Yet Another Giveaway

Catherine Ryan Hyde

On Friday I received a carton of these from Lake Union (Amazon Publishing). I was so happy to have them and so eager to give a few away that I posted to Twitter and Facebook that the first three people to say "I want one" would get one. They were gone in about a minute.

That was fun while it lasted, but of course only served to make many more readers feel bad because they didn't see my post in time. So I promised I would do a slower givewaway here on my blog. I am now keeping that promise.

I have three more to give away. All I ask is that you PLEASE read the instructions below:

Simply leave a comment to be entered. Please DO leave your email address in the comment form. I promise I won't use it for any other purpose but to notify you if you win. Please DON'T leave your email address in the body of your comment unless you want everybody to see it. And remember the "author" in the comment form is the author of the comment, not the book. In other words, you. In each of these giveaways one or more people comment as "Catherine Ryan Hyde" because they see "author" and think it means me. Please use your own name, otherwise I can't enter you, because I have no idea who you are!

I'll leave this open until Friday. Comment away!

Let's Keep the Giveaway Going

Catherine Ryan Hyde

I just chose (at random) my first four winners of the huge, gorgeous (sorry to be immodest, but I'm really crediting the printing process) coffee-table-size softcover edition of 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World. 

They are Kit Cooley, Rose Lamatt, Fran Simmons Schouten, and Claudia Robinson.

Now. I always feel bad for all the people whose names I didn't draw. But I have a lot more of these. So what I'd like to do is extend this to a monthly giveaway.

If you didn't win, but still want one, leave a comment below. At the end of June, I'll draw another winner, and we'll start again for July. That way everybody gets another chance. (And another. And another.)

As always, please do leave your email address in the comment form. I promise I won't use it for any other purpose but to notify you if you win. Don't leave your email address in the body of your comment unless you want everybody to see it. And remember the "author" in the comment form is the author of the comment, not the book. In other words, you.

More winners is better, right?

Better Than Blurbs: Lost in Transplantation by Eldonna Edwards

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Because I no longer write blurbs, but still very much want to help other authors, I've launched a blog series called Better Than Blurbs. The authors and I will have in-depth discussions about their books, which I hope will help readers identify whether they'd enjoy reading them. This is the eighth post of the series. The author is Eldonna Edwards, and the book is Lost in Transplantation: Memoir of an Unconventional Organ Donor.

Me: Eldonna, please Tell us about the book in your own words:


Eldonna: Lost in Transplantation isn't just a chronicle of a living donor, it's a book about life and the decisions we make when given difficult choices. The memoir is interwoven with stories about growing up as a Bible-thumping preacher's kid, my work as a massage therapist, raising children—mostly as a single mother—and the seesaw transitions of menopause. There’s a good deal of humor in the book to balance the serious topic. My goal is for others to relate to me as a real person rather than putting me on a pedestal for giving a kidney to a stranger, thereby dismissing me as an anomaly. I believe we are all capable of being someone's hero and you don't have to undergo surgery to achieve that end.

The memoir describes my journey as an organ donor but it also tells Kathy's (my intended recipient) story and hopefully the reader's as well. We all struggle, we all have dreams and hardships, but it's our attitude that alters one’s perception of those challenges.  Lost in Transplantation seeks to connect with that place in each of us that wants to make a difference. My hope is to inspire others to take steps—no matter how small—toward balancing the inequality and unconscionable inhumanity that persists in the world. You never know exactly how far the results of your actions reach— and the life it alters the most just might be your own.

Me: I want to ask a set of questions that will establish my focus on organ donation in the past. So I’ll ask you (and I suppose ask my readers at the same time): Have you read Second Hand Heart, which is about organ donation, but not living donation?

Did you know that one of the UK editions included a real-life living kidney donor story that I also wrote about on my blog? And for those who have no access to that UK edition, I also wrote it up for Positive Impact Magazine. (But I can't seem to establish a direct link, so readers can use the link to their home page and search for Betty Ann and erin or organ donation). 

I’m also wondering if you’ve heard about Garet Hill and the National Kidney Registry. They form donation chains that start with an altruistic donor like yourself, and just keep going. (He was kind enough to be in contact with me, because the Pay It Forward connection is easy to see). They even made it into the New York Times.

Yes, I realize this is a long question. I also realize that no two living donors are alike. So can you tell us how you feel when you read these stories? How much are they like you, and in what ways are they different? How much change do you think we might see in the world if this kind of giving gets a foothold?

Eldonna: I have read Second Hand Heart. What interests me most is the cellular memory aspect of the story. I’ve communicated with many transplant recipients who voice a strong desire to reach out to the families of cadaveric donors. I think that in addition to gratitude, recipients feel a connection beyond what can be explained or expressed. My recipient claims to have lost an appetite for a few things that I don’t care for, like lamb and ice cream. I’m still waiting for my former kidney to switch the recipient’s political parties. ;-)

In answer to the second part of your question, my surgery was the very first at CPMC (California Pacific Medical Center) to occur as a result of a National Kidney Registry match! I was the initial domino in a series of surgeries beginning December 16, 2010. Fortunately transplant chains have since become the norm. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Alvin Roth, who won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. The algorithm he co-developed increased NKR matches by up to 167% over the previous method.

Me: Of course the best way readers can get this question answered is to read your book. But it’s on everyone’s mind. So please give us a sneak peek at the answer to the big question: Why?

I get this a lot. Here’s how I explain it in the book:

Wealth might make you comfortable but it can’t save you from eventual death. Education might keep you from poverty but it can’t prevent disease. Geography might help protect your civil rights but it can’t protect you from unpredictable tragedy. Where we’re born and most of the opportunities we’re born into all come down to chance. Some disease is generated by bad habits like smoking or diet, some is environmental like chemical exposure or lack of available prenatal care, and some is just wonky DNA.

Perhaps one day science will figure out how to prevent or cure a lot of the diseases that are inherent in our society. I recently heard NASA has invented a 3-D printer that can print “food” for astronauts so it doesn’t take up valuable space. Maybe printing a human kidney isn’t that far off. But for now, beyond one’s belief in a higher power, all we have to sustain our hope is the grace of our fellow human beings to help us through our struggles.

A logical or left-brained person might look at the data, decide the evidence is overwhelming against self-sacrifice to aid others, and leave it to politics or science to determine another's fate. And here is where I invite Captain Obvious into the conversation to state that I am not left-brained. In fact I am so right brained that I sometimes wonder why my head doesn’t rest on my right shoulder. I’m a touchy-feely, tree-hugging, artsy-fartsy human being who truly believes we are all brothers and sisters in this world, and that by helping one person you help the collective. I believe each of our deeds, good or bad, creates a ripple. Birth might be about circumstance but life is about choices within the events that occur year to year, day to day, and most importantly, moment to moment.

The encounter with Lucy might or might not have been chance—I don’t know. Had I not moved to California with my son, had he not attended Cuesta College, had I not chosen one class over another, I never would have met her. What looks random in the immediate moment might seem like fate for those that believe in predestination. For me, it was merely an encounter with another human being who raised my consciousness about a particular form of suffering and I chose to act upon it.

No matter how hard I try to communicate the need for donors, people remain skeptical. No matter how deeply I underscore the extraordinary sense of purpose in helping another human being, I continually bump up against fear. What I’ve gradually come to understand is that it’s naïve to presume anyone’s motivations for donating or not, other than my own.

Me: I know you have a writing background that predates this book. Will you please tell my readers more about how you came to the written word and what else you have done?

Eldonna: I love language and have always taken great delight in the satisfaction of stringing together a tapestry of words that results in a good story or poem.  I used to facilitate journal-writing workshops and later turned the exercises into a couple of journaling workbooks. Loose Ends and Journaling from the Heart were published in 1999/2000 respectively.  I currently have other works-in-progress but I set the novels aside to work on this memoir. Living donation is a timely subject and I'm compelled to get it out there ahead of the fiction.

Me: I have no idea if anyone reading this is considering becoming a living donor. But I know it must be a big decision. And I know that, no matter how sure the donor may be, it’s often a hard subject to broach with family members. Any advice to someone considering this gigantic act of selfless giving?

The best thing a potential donor can do is to become informed. I regularly participate in several living donor and kidney patient forums where people like me offer support, encouragement and advice to potential donors. In terms of sharing plans with loved ones, you have to stay centered in your intention and not let well-meaning family members pull you off course. When challenged, I would usually say, “I hear your concerns and I appreciate you supporting me in my decision.

Me: Can you sum up for us how this act and this book changed your life? Yes, I do know it’s hard to compress it. But if you had to write a paragraph or two about it, what seems like the most important thing to say?

Eldonna: Having witnessed their pain and suffering up close, I am truly humbled by the strength and determination of all the people on dialysis who don’t know if they’ll get a kidney in time. The act itself didn’t change me so much as it reinforced my belief that when you help others it takes you out of yourself and your own struggles. But I definitely came away from the donation with a deeper sense of purpose and believing my life had more meaning. People talk about what an amazing gift I’ve given but I feel equally blessed by the experience.

As a donor, my goal was to inspire people. As a writer, I hoped to inspire readers in an entertaining way. Since writing the book I’ve been overwhelmed by enthusiastic support not only from the standpoint of living donation, but from readers who reported that they were moved to “be a better person” after reading Lost in Transplantation.  I can’t tell you how much it means knowing this story has had such a profound an effect on people. I’m unable to read the reviews without tearing up. It’s one thing to tell a story that touches people, but to be acknowledged for the art of the telling itself is icing on the proverbial cake.

Me: Please write your own question, and answer it.

Eldonna: You were the subject of a documentary titled “Perfect Strangers”. What was that experience like?  What’s next? (You meant two questions, right?)

While researching living donation I couldn’t find a single film on the topic so I contacted Jan Krawitz, the Director of the M.F.A. Documentary Filmmaking Program at Stanford. I told her someone needed to make a film about this so that the tragic need for donors would reach more people. We met in a coffee shop and talked for four hours. By the time the meeting ended she’d decided to make a film and I’d agreed to let her follow my journey. Her crew was amazing and I often forgot they were in the room. (Word of advice to anyone thinking of being in a film: Turn off your wireless mic before using the bathroom!)

Over the course of four years Jan and I became dear friends. I’ve attended several screenings of the film, which has played to enthusiastic audiences all across the country. I think she did a fantastic job of artfully capturing the experience of both donor and kidney patient. We’re hoping to show it locally again soon but I also host public and private screenings. The DVD will be available this summer. You can view the trailer at www.perfectstrangersmovie.com.

As a result of the film and the book, I’ve been invited to book clubs, film Q&A’s, and conferences to speak about my experience. I realize not everyone is a candidate for living donation (but hopefully some of you are!) so I tend to talk about altruism in the grander sense of how one can find happiness through kindness and compassion.

I love my work as an advocate for living donation, but I’m also making time to write. What’s next is a coming-of-age novel set in the sixties about a psychic little girl born into a fundamentalist Christian family who feels threatened by her paranormal gifts. The opening of This I Know recently won the Lillian Dean Award for fiction.  The novel is planned for publication in 2015.

Thank you so much, Catherine, for all that you do to promote kindness through your non-profit and to support other authors through this blog. In hopes of inspiring others to offer hope to desperate patients, I’m asking your readers to spread the word about Lost in Transplantation. You can find me on Facebook and on the web at my website, where I’ve just started a blog. I’m available to answer questions about how to donate as well as inquiries about speaking engagements.

The book is availableon Amazon as an eBook and in paperback, and at Barnes & Noble. It’s also available for Kobo and iTunes.

Cover Reveals: The Backlist Gets a Big Makeover

Catherine Ryan Hyde

My wonderful agency and I took a look back recently. When we first put out our own independent ebook editions of my backlist novels Funerals for Horses, Electric God, and Walter's Purple Heart, we didn't really know what to expect. We didn't know how much interest there would be for these titles. Plus, I was working on a shoestring.

The titles are doing quite well, I'm happy to say, due to a great number of wonderful new readers (thank you, wonderful new readers!) who are going through the full body of my work.

We all agreed it was time to give these ebooks a makeover. Help them stand right up there with my newer titles.

So here are the wonderful new covers. If you haven't read the backlist, maybe this is a great time to start. The ebook editions are affordable at only $2.99. And they will give you something to read while you are waiting for my two brand new novels to come out this year.

Hope you like the new look!