Author Challenge, Day 6: Favorite Review

As an author, I may not have sold the most books, but I have received some truly incredible reviews.  Over the years, two stick out to me:

  1. With the release of the final book in my marching series, a reader commented (with love) how she couldn’t wait to pass these books along to her children.  Seriously, I was crazy excited.
  2. With the release of Room 702, I received a private and very personal message.  In the book, a character goes to the room to end their life (but in the end, chooses not to).  Apparently, this reader had a nearly identical experience and had never know how to share that moment in their life with friends and family.  Reading the chapter was a way to bridge what happened and talk about it openly.  I cried.  In fact, I still tear up thinking about it.
  3. Bonus!  As the subject of Life After Joe is a sensitive one (the journey — literally and figuratively — of a widow), I’ve been very happy with the reception from real widows.  Their opinions mean a lot to me.

    Slothilda knows what’s up. Imagine this is me when I get a positive review.

Life After Joe: Book Club Questions

I did this exercise with Room 702 and although I’m fairly certain no one read it, I thought I would try again.  I am nothing if not an optimist.  Also, for the first time in my publishing experience, I’ve included these questions at the end of the book – kind of a little bonus piece for my readers.  FYI – while these give some indication of themes and characters in the book, there are no true spoilers.

Shall we get started then?

1.  Given loss and grief are a universal experience, how did you find the portrayal of these emotions in the book?

2.  If you were in a similar situation (hypothetically), what would you do?  Would you react similarly to Liz?

3.  In your opinion, what was the most meaningful interaction Liz had during her journey on the road?

4.  With the introduction of Adrian back into Liz’s life, do you agree with her choices?  What would you have done?  Is Liz ‘allowed’ this happiness?

5.  At the end of the book, do you think Liz is still running from her loss?

6.  While Joe is unexpectedly taken away from Liz, do you think it is more difficult to copy with the sudden death of a family member, rather than having the chance to prepare yourself for their passing (as the case might be in a prolonged illness)?

7.  Hollywood time!  Who would you cast in the lead roles of Liz, Joe and Adrian?

8.  How different do you think the book would be if Liz and Joe had a child or children together?  Would Liz have been able to work through her grief in the same way?

9.  Liz knew that Joe wouldn’t mind being cremated after his death, have you thought about what will happen to you?  How do you want your memory to be honored?

10.  What do you think of Stephen’s actions?  Is he justified?  Did you think there was a possibility he and Liz could have made things work?

11.  Liz identified herself primarily as Joe’s wife and a teacher, to what extent are we defined by the people we know and love? How would we be different without them?  What impact did she have on other’s lives?

12.  Given her loss, does an awareness of mortality affect the attitudes and decisions of Liz?

13.  What’s your favorite kind of ice cream?

Buy the Book: Life After Joe

The other post was so fun, I thought I’d do a similar one (still inspired by this post).

1. Kia Soul (starting msrp $15,190) Getting Liz safely around the country, here is the version I imagined her driving around in.


2. Ice Cream ($3.97 for pint)  One of Liz’s favorite things on earth, ice cream has a mention in almost every chapter.


3. Urn (prices vary) After an incident in an early chapter, Liz is forced to choose another final resting place for her dead husband, Joe.

4. Ouija Board ($19.07) Somewhat reminiscent of Room 702, there is another scene involving main characters and a Ouija board. What? Author’s can have objects they like to use.


5. Dinner at Hakkasan (Las Vegas) (prices vary) After a long visit with Aunt Suze in Nevada, Liz treats them to a final dinner together.

6. Burberry Cotton 3-Piece Set ($200) When Liz visits her (surprise) pregnant former roommate, she feels the need to spoil her friend (and eventual goddaughter).


7. Toothpaste ($3.47) Liz is notorious for forgetting toothpaste during her trip.


8. The Year of Magical Thinking ($7.47 for the Kindle version) I like the idea that Liz would read a book about another widow (and somehow feel better about her situation).


9. Gallon of gas (prices range per state and county)  Given the amount of time Liz spends on the road, I’m not entirely certain how many gallons she purchases during the novel.the

10. Red Sox Cap (prices vary) In honor of Joe’s beloved Sox (and Liz’s er, flawed visit to Fenway), here is what I pictured Liz wearing for much of her trip.


I’d love to read your suggestions!

Go Book Yourself: Life After Joe

Inspired by this Tumblr, I decided to make a post out of it.  Of course, I realize I’m kind of working in backwards order, because most people will have heard of the other books, but I am nothing if not optimistic.  (Have you picked up your copy of Life After Joe yet?)

Like this? (I hope you did (or will)!)

You might want to try these (many of which were novels I read as research for writing Life After Joe):


51KjKy0mjhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ fso-cover


Casting couch: Life After Joe

In case you missed the news, Life After Joe is now available!  I had a lot of fun writing it, and am more than ready to start getting the word out via my attempts at marketing (hopefully you won’t get sick of me in the coming month, but a self published author has to hustle now and then #pimpingainteasy).990331622f89c1ecdfdeabaff5078a3dHaving worked in the entertainment industry, and even being accepted to USC for my MFA in Directing once upon a time, I’ve always thought cinematically about my novels.  Many of the images are taken from the Pinterest board I have for the book (if you’re interested).

Liz McNeil (Emily Blunt)

I love Emily Blunt as an actress and think she would be perfect as the protagonist.  Sure, she’s British and my characters are American, but she’s really who I’ve pictured while writing Life After Joe.  What do you say, Ms. Blunt?  Any interest in taking on this project?


Dr. Joseph ‘Joe’ McNeil (Adam Kaufman)

Although Joe is not technically alive in the book, I’d like to think a film adaptation would have room for flashbacks, etc. and for that, I’d need an actor.  Furthermore, my hope is the representation of Joe is a fairly developed one, such that he feels like a ‘real’ character in the book.


Adrian Boudreaux (Theo James)

I don’t want to have too many spoilers, so let’s just say he’s an important-ish character and leave things there, shall we?


Dr. Stephen Schwartz (Logan Marshall-Green)

This is Joe’s best friend and source of great support to Liz during her trip.

Logan+Marshall+Green+Guy+Pearce+heats+up+blue+Kld1VyJC_NslAnd finally, in the role of lead supporting character is Apollo – Liz and Joe’s beloved mutt.


There’s actually a fairly large cast in the book due to all the stops Liz makes on her trip, but these are who I see in the principal roles.  Anyway, I’d be curious to hear who you pictured!