Thursday, December 28, 2017

Guest Post - Anna Belle Rose

The Long Road to Publication 

Years and years ago, actually decades ago, I was a stay-at-home mom for a bit, with my then youngest child who would not fall asleep at nap time. Over time, I realized that while he wouldn’t sleep, he would sit in his crib for a bit each afternoon, listening to Yanni at the Acropolis, looking at story books, and I could sit and write. And write I did. I wrote and wrote and wrote over many months. By then, my youngest was talking, and he somehow understood that Mommy was writing a book, and he kept nagging me to keep going. And I did.

Fast forward many years, and I’d keep opening the word file of that first novel, print it out, edit and revise, and eventually send it out to a few agents. Rejections would come in, and I’d put it away for a while, then that same son would poke at me again, and the process would start all over again. During this same time, I also started several other novels, and kept working on them in the same way. All of them were contemporary romances, heavily linked to life in Vermont, and all have gloriously happy endings – I mean, who doesn’t love a happily ever after?

Finally, late in 2016, I decided I needed to either get serious about writing, or give it up for good. So I pulled those two complete novels out again, and hired incredible professional editors to go at them. Then I started submitting them to a few agents, and a couple publishing houses that didn’t require representation by agents. And on June 13th, a publishing contract arrived on the novel I wrote first, The Phone Call. And on July 13th, a contract arrived for my second, That One Small Omission. And joy of joys, on December 4th, a contract was offered on my third, More Than I Can Say.

On October 11, 2017, That One Small Omission was published in e-book and print versions, and on December 12th, The Phone Call was published. The joy and excitement I feel each time I look at my mantle and see my first published novel is an emotion that I think only other authors can understand!

To find out more about Anna, visit her author page!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ani Difranco might read my book!

The most exciting part about getting the rights to Ani Difranco's song lyrics in my novel, Blood & Water is the prospect that she might actually read it.

I've been a fan of Ani's since I was seventeen and I have all her albums. Her lyrics have been the soundtrack to my life and the lines I've quoted at the beginning of my novel are the premise for the story that follows:
I know that there's strength in the differences between us 
And I know there's comfort where we overlap.
When her management requested a complimentary copy, I began to have fantasies that she would read the book, love it, and we'd become great friends. I couldn't just send it in a generic envelope so I decided to have a little fun!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Female Positive Children's Books

I believe Christmas gifts are for children. In my life, there are five qualifying persons. Shopping for the offspring of my two best friends in the world is the most fun I have during the holiday season.

This year, I've decided to do books. I think kids should be exposed to more stories written by women with girls in the lead. I don't feel like there were enough of those when I was growing up. Here are some ideas:

  1. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is 100 bedtime stories about extraordinary women and illustrated by female artists from around the world.
  2. Judy Blume. Any of them, all of them, but especially Are You There God? It's Me Margaret
  3. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery.
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
  5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
  6. I preformed a scene from Autumn Street by Lois Lowry for my seventh grade oral interpretation.
  7. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is about the deep friendship between a boy and a girl. It deals with grief. I read this as a kid and was excited to learn she has a new award-winning book out called My Brigadista Year.
  8. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.
  9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madaleine L'Engle is getting a reboot as a more diverse version for Disney.
  10. For younger readers, I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont.
I'm selecting from this list and buying them from my local indie bookstore, Antigone Books. It ends up being slightly more expensive, but gift wrap is free!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Holiday shopping with a conscience

I do my best to avoid sweat shops. I don't buy clothing very often and when I do, I either spend more money for something made in America or I hit a thrift shop. My favorite new find is I recently spent around $50 for ten brand name items in good condition - including a pair of American made jeans.

Holiday shopping can be incredibly difficult. I've stumbled across a few gift guides, but their suggestions are often very specific and pricey. ABC News says that if  each of us spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs. I think that's a challenge worth taking and this is my fifth year of doing my part.

I've always had good luck with the American made section of FatBrainToys, which has reasonably priced, educational toys and games.

When I'm looking for US made kids clothes, I usually go straight to

For several years now, my family has decided to donate to charity in lieu of gifts to each other. We have given to UnicefHeiferCharityWater, and OxFam to name a few. Helping someone on the other side of the world to become self-reliant feels better to me than receiving a bunch of things I really don't need. (And it saves on standing in the exchange line on December 26th.) It's much more consistent with the Christmas spirit.

Before selecting a charity, I always check them out at to find out how much of donations go to services and how much they pay the CEO. (I can't stand charity CEOs who make millions.) I recommend checking out your charity here before donating. You can even look at their list of top-rated charities if you need ideas.

I'm always looking for new shopping sources. Please share your favorites in the comments section.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Print copies

I always get so excited when the box of paperbacks arrive! Blood & Water is my fourth novel, but this time was no different.

Over the years, I've become a reluctant Kindle user. There are definitely times when they're convenient for travel and having a diverse collection of reading material at your fingertips. But, if you're like me and appreciate the feeling of a good, old fashioned book in your hands, you'll be happy to know the print copies are now available.

Here it is with my last book, Finding Charlie. (Kindle Scout is running a 99 cent sale for that one all month.) Don't they look good together? Shout out to Deb, my amazing cover designer at

How many of you are ignoring the ebook "trend" in favor of paperbacks?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Opening

Delilah: Tuesday, October 17th 2017

It isn’t yet dawn as I ransack my apartment for things I can’t leave behind.  The list is surprisingly short.
       Handfuls of clothing stuffed into a duffel bag. My laptop. An awkwardly-sized cardboard box full of nostalgia, the only things I’d allowed myself to take from my parents’ house after my mother died. I wrap both arms around it, hefting it onto my hip as I cast my eyes in nervous darting circles, contemplating what doesn’t make the cut. The futon. The microwave. Sheets and towels and curtains. I leave it all.
       Everything fits quite easily in my Mini Cooper, the box and the duffel bag smooshed together on the backseat like sleepy children apprehensive of the spontaneous road trip. I go back to lock up, remembering to take a pale blue scarf from the hook just inside the door. I drape it over my fleece, which I zip up to my chin on the way back to the car. I slide into the front seat and turn the key. It starts right up – nothing like nightmares and old movies, where people can never leave in a hurry when they need to. Everything goes smoothly. Leaving is easy. As I pull out of the lot, and my apartment building gets smaller in the rearview, my breathing slows. I’m certain I won’t miss any of it. I wonder why I never thought of this before. 
       I feel no attachment to material things. I take some degree of pride in that. Near the end of her life, my mother asked me to take her antique furniture. She had an oak dresser and nightstand that were a set and she didn’t want them separated. She was dying and she was worried about keeping the furniture together.
       After the funeral, there’d been an estate sale. I don’t believe in an afterlife so I don’t believe my mother is upset with me or proud of me or looking out for me.
       Dead is dead.
       The cardboard box contains twelve file folders that hold report cards and artwork and essays from every year I went to school. If I looked closely, I’m sure I’d find my SAT scores. I haven’t looked closely, though. I saved a shoebox full of loose photos, but I haven’t looked closely at those either. When I first lifted the lid in the basement, my throat started closing. I replaced the lid and set it aside. For later. Whenever that is.
       My mother died five years ago, six months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. She’d never smoked. My father had smoked, though he quit before I was born. He’d died before her diagnosis. A heart attack we hadn’t seen coming. She’d just begun to shake off the most crippling parts of her widowhood when she got the news that she wouldn’t need to get used to living without him after all.
       My father’s death was sudden and shocking and devoid of the opportunity to say goodbye. It was terrifyingly fast: the fear in his eyes, his twisted face, the ambulance sirens too late. My mother’s death was miserably slow, an endless terror with a million goodbyes until there was nothing left to say and nothing left to do but wait for the guilty relief when it was over.
       Tucked into a corner of that box, wrapped in a checkered kitchen towel, are their wedding rings and her quarter carat diamond in yellow gold, the only jewelry my mother owned.
       As I wait at the intersection on the way to the highway, remembering my favorite frying pan with grooves in it that made burgers look like they’d been grilled, I see a police cruiser in my rearview mirror. It turns into the parking lot of my apartment complex and I take a right on red.

Blood  & Water is available on all platforms.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The best laid plans

So, on Monday I found out that the online distributor I use, Pronoun, is going kaput.

I have a very involved launch strategy for this book and started the pre-order phase October 1st. This news means reformatting the book for each platform and contacting all the promotion sites I had set up and losing my rank and losing the sales I was building for the past month and a half. 

After having a good cry, I've regrouped and spent yesterday doing all those things. I'm not done yet. 

Apologies to those who already purchased my book, but those sales have been cancelled. Here's the new link for
 Blood & Water
There are two more weeks to get your copy during the 99 cent launch.

If you're not an Amazon person, don't fear. Here's a link to all other platforms.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Long Thaw - an excerpt

There are just a few more days to get my novel, A Long Thaw, for 99 cents. This is a multi-generational story about the power of secrets and the unbreakable bonds of family.Here's an excerpt: 

             Abby hasn’t seen Juliet in ten years. That summer, they had both been thirteen and had that special kind of girl-love that precedes the insecurity and competition of adolescence. They could spend an entire afternoon balancing precariously on rocks at the edge of the ocean, looking for starfish and empty crab shells and other beach treasures. They wore bathing suits that had been stretched and faded with overuse. They pulled snails from the rocks, slowly as not to harm them, and sat with them on their hands waiting for them to suction to their palms. They took turns burying each other in sand and then washed themselves off in the bone chilling Atlantic, squealing as they bent their knees so that the water rose to their belly buttons, their armpits, and finally, their throats.
            They’d had no way of knowing it would be the last summer. If Juliet knew her parents were bound for divorce, she hadn’t let on. By fall, Juliet would be starting school somewhere in California. The exact address was never given. There would be no postcards between cousins, no more family outings to the beach.
            Their parents sat low in beach chairs, talking and giving out snacks periodically. Juliet’s mother was still breast-feeding Lilly. Hannah sat at her feet, the architect of a primitive mud castle. She was four then, too young to want to follow her older sister around.
            “Stay where we can see you,” Abby’s mother would remind the girls whenever they were in earshot.
            “They’re fine,” Juliet’s father assured. “Juliet's a good swimmer, aren’t you Jules?”
            Juliet beamed and puffed out her chest, nodding.
            “They’re both good swimmers, Allen.” Rachel was squinting up at her brother with her hand against her brow like a visor. “This is the ocean.”
            “Just be careful, girls.” Abby’s father sat under an umbrella, reading a book about the Civil War.
            Abby nodded and Juliet took her hand, pulling her back to the frothy water’s edge.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Long Thaw 99 cent sale!

This week, A Long Thaw is on sale for 99 cents! I'm gearing up for the launch of my new release, Blood & Water, November 28th.
I don't write sequels, but all my novels are connected and a familiar face from A Long Thaw shows up in the new book.

I’ve always imagined A Long Thaw as a modern interpretation of the old prince and the pauper story. Abby and Juliet are cousins who, until the age of ten, live the same privileged, sheltered lives in a big Irish Catholic family. When Juliet’s parents divorce, her mother moves across the country so that she no longer has that safety net. The cousins reconnect in their twenties and the book deals with the ways we are changed by our experiences as well as the ways we are unchangable.

As a writer (and human being), I am endlessly fascinated by issues of identity and family dynamics, by the nature vs. nurture debate. These are things that inevitably find their way into my fiction.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review Team!

I'm a hybrid author. My debut novel,  Monsoon Season, was traditionally published along with A Long Thaw, which I later rereleased on my own. Finding Charlie, was chosen for publication by KindleScout in 2015. I'll be releasing my fourth book, Blood& Water, before the end of the year. I write family sagas with overlapping characters, so they're all connected. 

Would you like to be part of my review team? To get my books for free, before they've been released to the public, just sign up here. I'll send you an email reminder on the book's release date and you'll leave an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads. 

If you’d just like to get updates about sales and new releases, please join my newsletter.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The blurb!

My amazing writer friend Mary Vensel White wrote me the best new promo blurb for Blood & Water:

"Delilah is leaving her cheating boyfriend and she has nowhere to go except the home of her brother, whom she hasn’t seen since their mother’s funeral five years before. David is a single father trying to manage his teenage daughter, and he’s not exactly pleased when his wayward sister shows up. 

From the opening of this absorbing novel, as Delilah nurses a black eye and ransacks her apartment, trying to decide what she can’t leave behind, I was fully along for the ride. The widening ensemble of characters each have their own voice, their own journey to define family and home. 

Blood & Water is Katie O’Rourke’s most compelling and heartfelt novel to date, a story about family—past and present, predetermined and chosen—and the deep veins that keep them connected. "

Such great words to hear from a talented writer I admire. Doesn't it make you want to get your copy right now, during the 99 cent launch sale? (Available at all major booksellers.)


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Launch!

I'm very excited to let you all know about the release of my new novel, Blood & Water  It's currently available for pre-order.

I'm a hybrid author. My debut novel,  Monsoon Season, was traditionally published along with A Long Thaw, which I later rereleased on my own. Finding Charlie, was chosen for publication by KindleScout in 2015.

I write family sagas with overlapping characters, so if you've read my previous books, there should be some familiar faces. The stories in these books exist on their own and can be read in any order, independently from each other. I don't write sequels, but because all of my characters live in the same world, there's an opportunity to revisit the past.

Here's the book description: 
Tucson, Arizona is a place for runaways. Everyone you meet here came from somewhere else and has a story about what they left behind. Blood & Water tells these stories in five alternating first-person narratives: a young mother named Ally, the deliberately childless Tim and Sara, single dad David with a college-bound daughter and David’s little sister, Delilah, who shows up on his doorstep with a secret.
Order your copy today!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cover reveal!

I've been sitting on this for awhile, as I weighed the pros and cons of different publication routes, but the decision has been made! I'm planning to release Blood & Water in November.

I just got permission from Ani Difranco('s management) to use lyrics from her gorgeous song "Overlap" at the beginning of the novel. I still can't quite believe my luck.

Blood & Water is about family, in its various manifestations: the one you're born into, the one you choose and the one you create. I'll give more details in the next couple of months. Until then, Finding Charlie is on sale with Kindle Press for $1.99.

(Thanks to Debbie at for her work on this, as always.)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Using song lyrics in your fiction

I've always heard that getting permission to use a musician's lyrics in a book is impossible. Everybody says so. Barring a huge publisher with deep pockets and a bunch of lawyers or a close personal friendship with Bono, it's best to avoid it.

So I emailed Ani Difranco's management knowing it was a long shot. The lyrics from her song "Overlap" are essentially the thesis statement for my new novel, Blood & Water:
I know there is strength in the differences between us
And I know there’s comfort where we overlap.
After sending the email request, I began to emotionally prepare to delete the quote before publishing. Honestly, I didn't expect I'd ever hear back.

But I did. First for more specifics on the terms of the request and then to approve the request. I am beside myself with unexpected joy!

I will write more soon about the book, which I'm planning to release in November. Stay tuned for the cover reveal!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Book Review: Gringo

I've read and reviewed Cass McMain's first two books. They're great. As a fellow writer, I admire her ability to create relatable characters living simple lives. What McMain is genius at is transforming the ordinary into the profound.

To say I was rooting for the characters in Gringo would be an understatement. The fury I felt when the bar manager insists on a uniform change was the kind of anger I generally reserve for actual things happening in my real life. That is how good the author is at building tension and making you invested.

Main character Daniel works nights and sleeps days and manages to have little time for much else. A temporary schedule change, along with the neighbor's barking dog, deprive him of sleep. His unlikely friendship with the elderly neighbor seems to provide the human connection he hadn't realized he was lacking. He's spent the last few years hiding out, licking his wounds after a break up. It turns out he and Ellie have something in common: they're both so stuck in the past that the passage of time has become difficult to gauge.

The ending is clever and will make you want to go back and reread the whole novel. Don't worry if you don't get it right away; just be assured it does all make sense. It's not a case of the author painting herself into a corner and throwing up her hands. I hesitate to explain too much because I think figuring it out is half the fun.

(We can discuss spoilers in the comments.)

I enjoyed every moment of this read and raced through it. I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Review: Once Upon a Time, There Was You

Many years ago, I read a book by Elizabeth Berg that I didn't enjoy and I've been avoiding her books ever since. After reading Once Upon a Time, There Was You, I've realized that was a mistake and I'm excited to read her extensive list of other works.

In this book, Berg captures that particular angst of being an eighteen-year-old girl lucky enough to be overprotected and loved by her parents. It will be years before Sadie understands she was lucky. For now, she is just desperate to get her life started and have it belong to her.

The novel alternates third person narratives, allowing the reader to identify with each of the three main characters: Sadie and her parents, John and Irene. When Irene resolves to have a conversation with her daughter in which she finally just listens, the reader is both frustrated by her and heartbroken for her when she fails, launching nearly immediately into a lecture.

The age range of these characters makes it appealing for a broad audience. You don't have to be eighteen if you remember being eighteen; you don't have to be a parent if you've had one. The peripheral characters are also expertly drawn, giving other examples of how people figure out how to love and be loved.

At one point, family friend Henry becomes aggravated with how hard Sadie is on her parents:

"Oh listen, Sadie. You know who does it right? You know who does loving right?"



And that's the main message of the book. We may not do it right, but most of us are trying.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: Shelter

I intended to read the first few pages at the Barnes and Noble cafe, but this sucked me in for the whole first chapter.

The crises that begins this family drama is followed by a series of blows it seems impossible for one person to withstand. This is a fast-paced page turner that explores the way we are damaged by the past and whether we can find the strength to change.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

KindleScout Anniversary Sale

Just over a year ago, my novel Finding Charlie was selected for publication by KindleScout.

This month KindleScout is celebrating its 2nd anniversary with a sale on over 200 titles currently supported by the imprint.

All KindleScout books, including Finding Charlie, will be available for 99 cents until April 3rd.

It isn't like Charlie to stay out all night without calling, but maybe Olivia doesn't know her little sister as well as she thought. 

When Charlie vanishes without warning, the people who love her are worried sick. Even if the law considers her an adult at nineteen, Charlie's still the baby of her already broken family. Older sister Olivia is determined to figure out what's happened. She finds a lost cell phone, an abandoned car and a shady boyfriend she's never met before. And he's not the only secret Charlie's been keeping.

This disappearance feels uncomfortably familiar, reminding Olivia and her father of another loss years before. But this will be different, Olivia swears. Charlie's coming back.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Top Five Reasons to Join a Critique Group

1. Find your tribe
Finding a group of people who spend their energy doing the same thing you do can make you feel less alone in what is otherwise a pretty solitary endeavor. When I'm forgetting to make my writing a priority, it's often my fellow writers who motivate me. And when I'm bummed out by an agent rejection or a bad review, they're great emotional support.

2. Trade wisdom
If you're rubbish at commas, make friends with the Punctuation Nazi. Offer something in return. Maybe you are really great at plot organization or dialogue or designing book covers or Kindle formatting. Maybe you have great contacts: reviewers, graphic artists, advertisers. When we share skills, it makes us all better.

3. Learn which advice to take
Everyone has an opinion. If you take on every suggested edit, it will no longer be your story and it may not even make sense when you're done. Think of the horse designed by committee. Wait for the advice that resonates, that hits on something you had a sneaking suspicion wasn't working. Pay extra attention to suggestions that are repeated by multiple group members.

4. Find your own mistakes by critiquing others
It can be hard to see your own work objectively. You're just too close to it. Sometimes it's easier to identify an issue in someone else's work and then apply it to your own.

5. Get a thicker skin
If you plan on submitting to agents or self-publishing where reader reviews determine sales, it's helpful to ease your way into listening to criticism. Your book will not be universally liked. Don't let it hurt your feelings. I like to read Amazon reviews of my favorite books to remind myself that anyone can get one-starred.

There are more than five reasons to join a critique group. What are your reasons?

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Long Thaw - FREE Book Offer

Somewhere between the successful release of my best-selling debut, Monsoon Season, and the lackluster release of my second novel, A Long Thaw, I began to feel like the publisher I was working with just wasn’t the right fit for me.

Getting out of the contract without an agent was a bit tricky, but I did it and I re-released A Long Thaw on my own. The process has been exciting, giving me complete control over how the book is promoted and getting immediate feedback regarding sales.

Since A Long Thaw was previously traditionally published, it's already been professionally edited and vetted by a standard gatekeeper, which hopefully will help give it that little extra bit of credibility in the sea of self-published books. All I had to do is find the cover, which I love.

I’ve always imagined A Long Thaw as a modern interpretation of the old prince and the pauper story. Abby and Juliet are cousins who, until the age of ten, live the same privileged, sheltered lives in a big Irish Catholic family. When Juliet’s parents divorce, her mother moves across the country so that she no longer has that safety net. The cousins reconnect in their twenties and the book deals with the ways we are changed by our experiences as well as the ways we are unchangable.

As a writer (and human being), I am endlessly fascinated by issues of identity and family dynamics, by the nature vs. nurture debate. These are things that inevitably find their way into my fiction.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Fates and Furies

It is both shocking and reassuring when I read the reviews on Amazon for a book like this and see that there are actually people with the nerve to leave one star.

Yeah, the nerve.

This may not have been the best book I've ever read (though even those books have been one-starred), but Lauren Groff did not make the National Book Award finalists by accident. Who are these people who one-star a book because they were disappointed by the ending or they didn't fall in love with the main character, or they didn't get the point? They're certainly not writers. There are 201 one-star reviews. It's mind boggling.

The opening of this novel is so beautiful. That first page is what made me take the book home. Usually, I do extensive research before investing my time in a book. For this, I read the opening, closed the book, and set it in the "to buy" stack.

The book is divided into two main sections: the first is Lotto, the second is Mathilde. The reader gets to see their love story from the perspectives of each. The first section drags in places and Lotto comes off as arrogant but deeply loyal. You get the sense that this union has its share of dysfunction, but it's real. Mathilde's section sheds new light on events that seemed somewhat pointless in Lotto's. The second part is much darker and makes you wonder if these people ever really knew one another. The way events are retold from another angle is so well-done.

Criticism that it's pretentious because of its many high-brow literary allusions and it's focus on affluent white people is accurate if those things bother you. But that's what three-star reviews are for.