Happy Monday, Everyone! I’m so happy that you’ve stopped in today! It’s a Belle Book Club Week here at SouthernBelleView, and I’m doubly excited, because we’re gathered here on the porch with our our tall glasses of sweet tea to talk about Firefly Island, my newest book, which just hit the shelves. For a writer, there’s nothing like that moment when one of your book babies spreads its wings and flies off into the world. I’m thrilled that the Belles have gotten together to celebrate the book release with me and chat about the story.
We’re talking about the Sisterhood Of the Book this week, which seems appropriate, since that’s what we Belles are – a Sisterhood Of the Book. My favorite thing about writing is the human connection we form through books, and reading, and book clubs. So often, books connect us to people we never would have met — both real and imaginary. There’s something special about sharing the experience of story.
The “Sisterhood Of the Book” is a fitting topic for Firefly Island in so many ways.
In the story, Mallory, a busy DC Congressional Aide, finds herself suddenly craving sisterhood of any kind when she jumps headlong into a marriage that, in many ways, resembles the mail-order bride tales of old. She and Daniel have only known each other a short time when his job move forces a huge leap of faith in their relationship. Mallory suddenly finds herself married to a man she adores, but barely knows, and living on a ten-thousand acre ranch, miles from the nearest neighbors. Like any newly-married couple, Mallory and Daniel have much to learn about each other, but Mallory is also facing the sudden step-parenthood of three-year-old Nick, and the trials of leaving behind her family, her career, her friends, her identity, and her four sisters.
Suddenly, life is remote, foreign, challenging, and very… lonely.
Generations ago, young pioneer brides often faced many of the same challenges. Our great-great grandmothers attempted to solve the problem by writing letters home, joining in sewing circles and ladies’ societies in their new locations, and sometimes by documenting their experiences in journals. Mallory finds herself unwillingly drawn into the tradition of journaling, but in a much more modern way, and her world is expanded in ways she could never have dreamed.
People often ask me if I have the books all planned out when I start to write them, and the truth is that each story is a brew of truth, fiction, and serendipity. Some of the story is planned, and some just grows out of the characters, and some is simply a God-given gift of the moment as the book progresses.
Here’s a bit of the truth, fiction, serendipity, and a special Sisterhood Of the Book that found its way into Firefly Island:
Truth: My husband really did walk out of a back bedroom after a phone call years ago, and say, “I uhhh… think I’ve just… ummm… been offered a job on a big ranch in Texas.” That was the beginning of one wild adventure that inspired Mallory’s experiences in Firefly Island.
Fiction: Okay, there were no dead bodies buried on the ranch where we lived, nor did we suspect the presence of any, and other than a few critter-inspired near heart attacks, and one rattlesnake curled up by the back door, I was never in fear for my life in our years on the ranch.
Serendipity: While I was writing the book, my publisher and I ran a “Join the Cast Of Moses Lake” contest, in which a reader could win the chance to move to the town of Moses Lake by naming a character in the book. We asked each person, “Who would you want to be in the story and what would you do in the town of Moses Lake?”
The answers were various and often hilarious. There were people who wanted to own a business in town. There was one woman who wanted to be the town busybody who knew everything about everybody. There were people who wanted to put their pets in the story. One reader wanted to be a transplanted New Yorker who couldn’t understand all the Texas accents and didn’t have a clue what was going on when she got to Moses Lake.
The winner was a sweet lady named Alice Steele (pictured in the center here). This is what she says about her big win, “The day I learned that I was the winner, I felt like the Publisher’s Clearinghouse had shown up at my door with balloons and an oversized check! It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that kind of excitement. I immediately called my sister, Paula. I knew she would be as thrilled as I was.”
In fact, Alice wanted to take her sisters, Paula and Cindy, with her into the book and into Moses Lake – in a very special way. She wanted to add their sisters’ book club to the story. They call it Binding Through Books. They invented it when Paula moved away, and it was their way of staying close. They read books 3 chapters of the time and then call on the phone and discuss them – sort of a long-distance book club.
What a neat idea, huh? Such a neat idea that these sisters’ annual Sisters Weekend actually made the pages of Woman’s Day Magazine once (which also worked its way into Firefly Island, of course!)
Their Binding Through Books club was the perfect addition to the story of Firefly Island — a God-given gold nugget that worked perfectly into Mallory’s adventure in ranching, marriage, and motherhood. One of the things Mallory is really struggling with is in the story is the fact that she misses her sisters. Those new girls in Moses Lake and their Binding Through Books club help Mallory to reconnect with the world outside of the ranch in a surprisingly wonderful way.
I won’t tell you what that is, because that’s a story-spoiler, but I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Alice, Paula, and Cindy, and sharing their special Sisterhood Of the Book. Now that “their” book is out, they’ve even made me an honorary little sister! Wave at them for me as you pass by their new little lake house on the shores of Moses Lake, will you?
Or better yet, stop over for a glass of tea and a little visit, and join the Sisterhood Of the Book, yourself!
**WIN A COPY OF FIREFLY ISLAND AND BE INDUCTED INTO THE PRECIOUS PEARL CLUB, TOO! (to learn more about Precious Pearl Club, click here)**
To celebrate the release of Firefly Island, Lisa’s publisher is giving away 5 copies of Firefly Island (one each day) and Lisa is inducting a new Precious Pearl Club member each day!(adorable groundhog not included)**
To ENTER: answer the question of the day: What about you? Have books brought you together with friends in special ways? Leave a comment and share your Sisterhood Of the Book with us!
To learn more about Alice, Cindy, and Paula’s Sisterhood Of the Book, in their own words, check out there special feature below today’s post!
Blue Moon Bay one of BOOKLIST’S 10 Must Reads Of 2012!
Firefly Island hits shelves in February, 2013!