For My Friends in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Just in time for Christmas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, and 2017, my first two books, Secrets of Hallstead House and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, are on sale through Kobo for just 90p/1,09€! Below are descriptions of each book and the links where you can find them. Thanks for your time and I wish you all the best as 2016 comes to a close and a new year begins!

Amy

 

Secrets Of Hallstead House (eBook)

 Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead. But her first sight of Summerplace is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions. Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming. Watching eyes, veiled threats…slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House…

UK:

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/secrets-of-hallstead-house-1

Ireland:

https://www.kobo.com/ie/en/ebook/secrets-of-hallstead-house-1

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor_ebook cover

“Do you know what stories Sarah could tell you about the things that happened in these little cabins? They’d curl that pretty red hair of yours.”

Outside of Charleston, South Carolina, beyond hanging curtains of Spanish moss, at the end of a shaded tunnel of overarching oaks, stands the antebellum mansion of Peppernell Manor in all its faded grandeur. At the request of her friend Evie Peppernell, recently divorced Carleigh Warner and her young daughter Lucy have come to the plantation house to refurbish the interior. But the tall white columns and black shutters hide a dark history of slavery, violence, and greed. The ghost of a former slave is said to haunt the home, and Carleigh is told she disapproves of her restoration efforts. And beneath the polite hospitality of the Peppernell family lie simmering resentments and poisonous secrets that culminate in murder—and place Carleigh and her child in grave danger…

UK:

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-ghosts-of-peppernell-manor

Ireland:

https://www.kobo.com/ie/en/ebook/the-ghosts-of-peppernell-manor

Book Club Resources

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I’ve got book clubs on my mind this week. My first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, is being discussed at the inaugural meeting of a local book club during March and they’ve invited me to attend (woo hoo!). Once the meeting is over I think I’ll join the book club (because I already know I love their taste in books).

Recently I tried to join a pop-up book club which meets at a hotel about a half hour from my house. They meet for three months a year and this year the topic is Ernest Hemingway. They’re reading The Sun Also Rises by the man himself, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, and Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck. Alas, the book club was full by the time I heard about it, so I’m on the wait list and it doesn’t look like they’re going to have any open slots for me. I’ll just have to make sure I join early next year.

You may remember a while back I mentioned I was writing book club questions for my new novel, House of the Hanging Jade (coming out in about three months!). They’ll be in the back of the book. I also composed lists of discussion questions for Secrets of Hallstead House and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, though those questions are not in the books– they’ll be going up on my website instead. While I was researching book clubs and discussion questions, I came across some useful and interesting websites. I thought I would share them with you in case you’re part of a book club and are looking for discussion ideas. They’re even good if you’re not in a book club and just want a way to dig deeper into a book you’re reading.

  1. The best site I found was for the Westfield Memorial Library in Westfield, NJ. It has an extensive list of discussion questions for fiction. You can find the list here: http://www.wmlnj.org/bookclubkits/generalquestionsfiction.asp.
  2. Another great site is https://multcolib.org/talk-it-book-groups-kids. It’s billed as a list for a kids’ book group, but I think the questions are great for anyone, adults or children.
  3. Here’s another: http://classiclit.about.com/od/bookclubs/a/aa_bcquestions.htm.
  4. This is a good one, though you have to scroll down to find the sample discussion questions: https://www.bookbrowse.com/bookclubs/advice/index.cfm/fuseaction/diy_guides.

I’ve also composed a list of a few good websites to find discussion questions for non-fiction books. You’ll note the first website is familiar–the Westfield Memorial Library again!

  1. http://www.wmlnj.org/bookclubkits/generalquestionsnonfiction.asp.
  2. http://www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org/yourlibrary/specialcollections/bellinghamreads/Reading%20Guides/General%20NF%20Bio%20Discussion%20Questions.pdf.
  3. http://lagrangelibrary.org/lagrange/images/general%20questions.pdf (this list contains questions for both fiction and non-fiction).

Want to know my favorite place to look for discussion questions? Go right to the source–the author! If there isn’t a list of discussion questions at the end of a book, email the author or visit his or her website to ask if there are any questions he or she could suggest for your book club. Trust me, the author will love it!

Do you have any resources you’d like to share?

Until next week,

Amy

Need Last-Minute Gift Ideas?

Give

This year I’ve noticed something a little unusual on social media. With each passing day, there are more and more posts by people who can’t seem to get into the spirit of Christmas. Now, I know not all of you celebrate Christmas, but since I do, this is something that’s caught my attention.

It seems there are more than a few people who aren’t interested in decorating, baking, shopping, going to parties, hosting parties, singing carols, you name it. And many of them say the same thing: this year they just aren’t interested. Their apathy reminds me of a short story I read online recently by Nancy W. Gavin (to read the wonderful story yourself, click here). The story is about a man who didn’t like the commercialism of Christmas. He thought it was all too much– too much money, too much stuff, too much everything. So his wife came up with a solution. Every year she secretly invested in one thoughtful gift which would benefit a person or a group of people who were in need of help. Eventually, that one gift, which she shared with him and their children on Christmas morning in a white envelope tucked among the branches of the Christmas tree, became the gift the family most looked forward to opening.

Reading the story got me thinking about the post I wanted to write for today’s blog. With Christmas just ten days from tomorrow, time is getting short for buying stuff, having it shipped, wrapping it, etc. But ten days is plenty of time to think about opportunities out there for giving to those who are in need. Today’s post highlights just a few places you can visit online and in person to give a helping hand.

First, start local. Many communities have food banks which always need donations of food, toiletries, and school supplies. In my community, the grocery stores, churches, schools, and other organizations have food drives. Many of those same institutions also have “mitten trees,” which don’t collect just mittens, but all kinds of cold weather gear, including hats, gloves, scarves, and even coats.

Second, many local organizations have an angel tree, sometimes called a giving tree. Instead of ornaments hung on the tree, there are tags with the gender, age, size, and a few wish list items of a person in need (usually a child, but not always). You simply take one or more tags, pick up a gift or two for the person on the tag, and return the gifts, usually unwrapped, to the place where you got the tag. These angel trees are a great way to help families who might not otherwise be able to provide their children with any Christmas gifts.

Third, go online and find a charity that needs your help. Some people like to give to the same charity every year, some like to mix it up a little. Whichever you prefer, there are about a gazillion charities to choose from. A good place to start is Give Well, which gives online visitors a primer in charitable giving. A valuable site if you want to make a charitable donation is Charity Navigator, which has a pretty cool tool for rating charities from around the world. The navigator scores charities based on objective data on financial performance, accountability, and transparency.

So now that I’ve listed the basics I think are important, let me suggest a few places which could use your help.

How about an organization which provides service animals? Check out 4 Paws for Ability.

Want to help defeat cancer? Check out Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

Disaster relief? Try International Relief Teams.

There are so many organizations out there that need help, not only at this time of year, but every single day. I encourage you to check out Charity Navigator to have a look at the sheer number of charities seeking financial assistance.

And if you can’t provide financial assistance, how about reading holiday favorites to kids at the local library? How about visiting a nursing home and offering to play carols on the piano for residents? How about volunteering to ring the bell for the Salvation Army? There are lots of things you can do without having to open your wallet if you can’t do that this year.

If your holiday spirit has gone missing or if it just needs a kick-start, try visiting some of the places I’ve mentioned. Because sometimes it’s the act of helping others that puts people in the spirit of Christmas. After all, that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? And if you find that missing holiday spirit? Share it with someone!

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. Show an author some holiday love! Is there a local author you like? Contact him or her and ask to buy an autographed copy of one or more books. I guarantee that author will be thrilled to accomodate you! And ahem, I know of one author in particular whose books make great gifts, in my humble opinion. Here’s her website, check it out: amymreade.com. Just sayin’.

A HUGE Milestone to Share!

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor_ebook cover

My editor called me this morning to tell me that The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor is now on the USA Today Bestseller list!!

Thank you to everyone who has read the book, read Secrets of Hallstead House, read my blog, visited me on Facebook or Twitter, and/or reviewed either of my books–it means the world to me!

Until next week,

Amy

House of the Hanging Jade Cover Reveal

Before you scroll down to see the cover for my new book, let me thank you for your support in making The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor Amazon’s #1 bestseller for Gothic Fiction! I am thrilled and honored.

And there’s more good news, too! Secrets of Hallstead House is on that same bestseller list at #20!

It’s been a while since I posted any information about where the books can be found, so I’m going to do it again today.

And bonus! The ebook version of The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor is on sale for 99 cents at all major online retailers. Here are the links:

Amazon: Secrets of Hallstead House

Amazon: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor

Barnes & Noble: Secrets of Hallstead House

Barnes & Noble: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor

Kobo: Secrets of Hallstead House

Kobo: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor

itunes

Indiebound.org: Secrets of Hallstead House

Indiebound.org: The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor

For international readers who may be interested in either of my books, they are available at amazon.ca, amazon.co.au (Secrets of Hallstead House), amazon.co.au (The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor), amazon.co.uk (Secrets of Hallstead House), amazon.co.uk (The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor), amazon.in (Secrets of Hallstead House),  and amazon.in (The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor).

So now for the cover reveal!

As you may already know, I am in the copy-edits stage of my third novel, House of the Hanging Jade, which is due out in April, 2016. It is the story of Kailani Kanaka, a Hawaiian-born sous chef in Washington, DC, who decides to head back home to the tropics to take a job as a personal chef to a family living on the Island of Hawaii. I’ll be telling you more about the book in future posts, but for now I’d like to share the cover with you.

Drum roll, please…

 

House of the Hanging Jade cover

What do you think? The Art Department at Kensington Publishing went a little more modern with this one. I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me.

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. If you’re interested in pre-ordering House of Hanging Jade, you can do it on amazon, bn.com, and kobo.com!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Three Favorite Book Club Recipes

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I heard from a reader last week who is planning to discuss Secrets of Hallstead House at her November book group meeting. She was wondering where to find questions that her group might discuss after reading the book. My first thought, no joke, was “I wonder if they have snacks at their book group meetings.”

After I emailed the reader a list of questions, I got thinking about a couple things:

First, I’d love to have book club discussion questions at the end of each of my books. I can’t do that for Secrets of Hallstead House or The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, but I quickly contacted my editor and he thinks he can get some discussion questions into House of Hanging Jade before we get any farther in the production schedule. So thanks, Susan, for the idea!

Second, I started wondering what I would serve at a book club meeting. I am not in a book club, but I’ve been to plenty of book club meetings. There’s always food. I’ve been to meetings with cheesecake samplers, pizza bites, cookies, chips, pretzels (the kind covered with chocolate and dipped in nuts and sprinkles), sandwiches, and other foods too numerous to mention.

I decided to come up with my three favorite appetizer recipes and I’m going to share them with you here. Please note, at least two of these recipes are not for people who are trying to diet!

 

Jalapeno Popper Dip (I got this from “EveryDay with Rachael Ray”)

3 slices bacon, chopped

1 c. panko

3 cans (4 oz. each) diced jalapenos, drained

2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature

1 c. mayonnaise

1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1 small fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 T. of the bacon drippings; add the panko and stir to coat. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, mix half the bacon with the canned jalapenos, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and cheddar cheese. Transfer mixture to a 2-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with the panko, remaining bacon, fresh jalapeno, and Parmesan cheese.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips.

 

Tomato Sort-Of Bruschetta (I adapted this from “Food Network Magazine”)

2 lbs. tomatoes, cut into large chunks

3/4 t. Kosher salt

2 T. olive oil

1 T. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. chopped chives or basil

1 baguette, sliced

Toss tomatoes with the salt and set in a colander placed over a bowl: let drain for 15 minutes. Whisk the olive oil and the vinegar into the tomato juices. Toss tomatoes with chives or basil and serve with bread.

 

Fruit Dip

2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding

3 c. cold milk

8 oz. container whipped topping

almond extract to taste

cut-up fruit

Mix pudding and milk for about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Add almond extract to taste. Serve with cut-up fruit.

 

What would you serve at a book club meeting?

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. Wine is also a staple at many book club meetings! If you’re interested in my thoughts on wine, please check out the “Wines” section of my blog or go to my website (http://www.amymreade.com) and select the “Home” tab then select “Wines.”

The Waiting Game

Great Escapes post #1 ghosts

I heard from my editor last week about my third book, which comes out next April. He forwarded me the wording that will be on the back cover of the book and asked for my input. He hopes to send me his editorial notes on my manuscript this week and then I can get started on the serious business of editing.

His email got me very excited about the book all over again. He’s had the manuscript since the beginning of May; during that time I’ve been working on two other books and, of course, promoting Secrets of Hallstead House and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, but I found that I’m chomping at the bit to get back into that manuscript.

But taking a break from a manuscript is essential.

Why, you ask?

By the time a manuscript is sent to the editor, the writer has read the book at least a billion times and it’s hard to take a step back and look at it critically. It’s like trying to take a critical look at a newborn baby. It’s impossible. Taking a break and working on something else allows the writer’s subconscious to ruminate on the manuscript. It also allows the writer to read the manuscript, once it comes back from the editor, with relatively fresh eyes. It’s easier to catch mistakes, easier to see plot holes, easier to see the story arc. I know my manuscript contains mistakes and plot holes–I just couldn’t find them when I submitted it. The story was too fresh–it was the only thing I could think about. I needed to get away from it for a while and now I’m ready to delve into it again, to polish it and make it better.

This isn’t just true with manuscripts, by the way. I’ve found that taking a break from something, a problem or an issue, often helps me see things more clearly. Even if it’s just overnight. You’ve probably heard it said that “everything looks better in the morning” (can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that). It’s good advice. There’s a reason people say they have to “sleep on it” before making a decision. Taking a break before making a decision or taking some kind of action gives you the distance you need to see an issue more clearly, to see options and alternatives.

Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

I’m glad I got a break from that manuscript, but I’m ready to tackle it now. I hope to get the cover art soon, too, and when I do I’ll share it here first. I can’t wait!!

Until next week,

Amy