Catherine Ryan Hyde's Blog

April 15, 2015

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Apparently not.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of The Bet, it goes a little something like this. Well, actually, it goes a lot like this. Several years ago, Author Brian Farrey read an article somewhere about Steven King making a bet that involved, rather than money, the writing of a short story. The "winner" got to dictate the title to the "loser." (Now I ask you, how can you be a winner if you don't get to write a story and a loser if you do?) He proposed the idea on Twitter to see if any authors were crazy enough to take him up on it. Fortunately for Brian, authors are nothing if not a crazy bunch.

The call was answered by authors Andrew Smith, Kimberly Pauley, and yours truly. As of this upcoming Kentucky Derby, we've answered it five times. Five. Times.

For the purpose of the bet, there might as well be only those four horses running. The winner doesn't need to come in first in the race.He just needs to beat the other players' horses. The person whose horse does best hands a story title (usually torturous) to the person whose horse comes in next, and so on. Winner does not write a story. Big loser does not get to torture anybody with a title. 

This year I have Mubtaahij. Brian has Carpe Diem. Kimberly has Rock Shandy. Andrew has Keen Ice.

If it seems like I've told you too soon, and now you're just waiting too long for stories, you can read my three stories from years past while you're waiting. Last year I chose the winning California Chrome, and so did not write a story. The story links are:  The Art of Being Stuck Here, Uncle Mo Hold a Grudge, and Even Pigeons Can Sing.

Wish me luck. Then again, the stories are fun to write, so it hard to say what luck would look like in a case like this.

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Published on April 15, 2015 01:00 • 23 views

April 1, 2015

You know I often have promotional pricing on some of the books. And you know I always tell you about the deals. Because, even though a lot of the goal is to interest new readers, I firmly believe that my faithful current readers deserve to save some money on books.

Boy, is this ever your month!

First, my most recent release, The Language of Hoofbeats, is a Kindle monthly deal on Amazon. It's normally $4.99, but all this month the ebook edition is $1.99. So if you haven't tried this one yet, this would be the time.

Then there's the ebook of Walk Me Home. It's on sale for the whole month of April in 50 Kindle Books for $2 Each. So, right. From the normal $3.99 to $2, all month.

Then there's the paperback edition of Walk Me Home. It's marked down from $14.95 to only $7.54 in the Amazon promotion Up to 50% Off Select Books. This is also for the whole month of April.

I know that sounds like a lot--but it's actually not all. Funerals for Horses will be featured for one day in April as part of Amazon's Daily Deal cycle. But I'll let you know separately when that happens.

What can I say but... happy reading! 

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Published on April 01, 2015 09:29 • 31 views

March 25, 2015

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 fifteenth post in the series. The author is Barbara Amaya, and the book is an important memoir about a very serious subject. It's called Nobody's Girl.

Me: Barbara, please tell us about the book, and the experiences that led you to write it, in your own words.

Barbara: Writing this book has meant so very many things to me. During my life the few people who heard snippets about my past have each said to me 'you should write a book!' A lot easier said than done, at least for me.

Nobody's Girl is about the many years I spent growing up in the streets of New York and Washington D.C. while I was under the control of a vicious human trafficker and his criminal associates. It's a cautionary tale for potential victims and a story about overcoming adversity and the strength of the human spirit.

I believe inside each of us is the ability to change our lives and also make differences in the lives of others. If you would have asked me two years ago if I believed that, I would have said no. I feel I have a responsibility to share my story in hopes that it can help others. One element of the criminal world of human trafficking, and of any atrocity against fellow human beings, is silence. I will never be silent again for me sharing 'my story' and speaking out is a real statement, of saying I've found my purpose and taken my life back.

Me: This was one of the most striking aspects of your book, in my mind: You managed to pull yourself out of your abusive circumstances, but in many ways that was not the turning point in your story. The turning point seemed to be the moment when you saw a news story about human trafficking. That seemed to change your whole perspective of what had happened to you. There was a name for it, and others were going through it. Then you realized it was not your fault. I mention this because I feel it makes your book a very important one, as you’ve shown that the very act of shedding light on this issue can prove redemptive. What is your biggest dream for the book and what do you hope you can accomplish in the lives of vulnerable young girls?

Barbara: One of my greatest hopes is that my book will reach vulnerable populations and the people who work with them. And that while Nobody's Girl serves as a cautionary tale and it touches people. That it shows readers that it is possible for us all to experience great change in our lives. That transformation can happen and that within all of us the will to move beyond just surviving and onto really finding and living our purpose is waiting to begin.

Part of the problem is that victims do not self identity as victims incredible as that sounds. It shows how expert the manipulation and exploitation of traffickers is as they prey upon their victims. And is exactly what happened to me.

Me: People in our society seem to want to blame the victim. I think it makes them feel a thing like this could never happen to them or their loved ones, when of course it could. Have you had experiences with victim blaming as you’ve shared your story? Do you anticipate any in response to this book? How will you handle that?

Barbara: Sure I think when people don't clearly understand something, or are afraid of it they sometimes blame the closest person: the victim. No one wants to think something as horrible as abuse or the horror of being exploited and trafficked for monetary gain could happen to themselves or their loved ones. Sadly it happens every day right here in the United States. The thing is, human trafficking happens to vulnerable people whether it's a 35-year-old man desperate to fed his family whose needs are preyed upon or a 12 year old run away like I was, who is seeking love and understanding and those needs are met in a twisted way by a human trafficker. What I mean is traffickers know how and who to target, and without education and awareness victims will continue to be exploited. I've had people ask me why I would choose to share my story now and my reply is I chose to never ever be silent again. Silence is a great part of the problem and I believe it needs to be broken.

Me: How hard is it to publish something this personal? What are your hopes and fears as it makes its way out into the world? What drove you to overcome those fears?

Barbara: Wow it's so hard! And the closer I get to launching my book it seems the more afraid I get! Just writing some of the text especially the first chapter about my early abuse was terribly hard for me to get onto the page. I had to push forward and keep telling myself this book needed to happen so it could get out there and hopefully help others. I still have fears they are not all gone! But I hope that readers will feel my intent and that this book really helps people understand the form of human trafficking I experienced. Just thinking about who I could help kept me moving forward. One of my fears is that people won't 'get' my intention on writing this book. I can't stand the term misery memoir, my book is so far from that. Far from being miserable it is a story of transformation of going from being completely beaten down so many times and somehow rising up and moving forward. So I hope readers get that.

Me: When I was a young girl in school (I can now see, looking back) I was programmed to accept abuse from my peers. I had low self confidence, and other kids could see it and feel it, and they pounced on it. People I had never met would tease and torment me in ways that bore a striking resemblance to past abuse. So I understand at a deep level the way we can be “set up” at an early age. When you’re in the middle of that, it’s nearly impossible even to see it, let alone find your way out. So I understand that aspect of human nature, and this next question does not come from my own doubts. But some who read the book may expect the kind of human trafficking in which a girl is kidnapped and literally held captive. What do you say to those who ask why you didn’t run away?

Barbara: This is a great insight and a good question! One I love to answer when I do presentations about human trafficking. Why don't they just leave? Why did you stay? How is it possible you were trafficked for ten years? I am not a doctor but I do my best when I get these type of questions to share what I have learned about what I went through mentally during the years I was being trafficked. I was experiencing the same things that those who experienced Stockholm Syndrome experience, it's called trauma bonding when a captive bonds with their captor. The same thing happens when during domestic violence when a battered and abused wife stays with her husband. Why doesn't she just leave? She cannot explain it but she feels compelled to stay. I was a child when I was exploited and manipulated and inside I was scared and reacted like the child I was. During the trauma and violence I began to bond with my captor, my mental captor. I did sometimes try to run away but would find myself returning either by force or of my own accord. The mental chains he put in place were stronger than any metal chains would ever have been.

Me: Who, if anyone do you still blame? And what advice would you give to parents who want to raise their girls to be safe in this world?

Barbara: Sadly I feel we as a society are to blame. Human trafficking is about supply and demand bottom line. And until we teach young men and boys how to love and respect themselves and the women in their lives, there will be men who grow up and think they have the right to 'buy' a woman. Until we learn that we are all connected by our very humanity, that we must all love and respect each other enough to believe fellow human beings should not be bought, sold and exploited for financial gain there will be victims and traffickers to exploit them. I have had to let go of anger and blame especially blame for my mother, and it's been a long journey doing so. I know now that she was only doing the best she knew how to do.

Learning to stop blaming myself has been even harder, but today I finally understand I was a child and I was preyed upon and it was not my fault.

I would tell parents to arm their children with self love and self esteem so that they are not vulnerable to the type of trafficking I experienced. Human traffickers prey upon those they consider weaker than them, a child with high self esteem is harder to coerce and control than one such as I was at age 12. I was pretty much a walking target with non-existent self esteem.

Me: What’s next for you? Do feel you have one book in you and this is it? Or can we expect more from you in the area of published work?

Barbara: This is not the end! I have actually published a graphic novel, The Destiny of Zoe Carpenter, and an accompanying Curriculm aimed at middle school age students and other readers. I wrote the book in hopes of educating young readers about human trafficking. The main character Zoe is a crime fighting super hero who along with her sidekick Carl discover their unique destinies and a powerful amulet that helps them fight the bad guys! ( I tried to be creative and hold young readers attention while also giving real facts about trafficking!) I am also working on a collection of short stories from my own life as well. Writing Nobody's Girl was difficult for many reasons, one was having to pick and choose what to include in the book. I pretty much grew up on the streets of New York and Washington D.C. From the age of 12. So many things happened that got left out of Nobody's Girl so I'd like to give my readers the rest of my stories in another book!

Me: Please ask your own question and answer it. 

Barbara: I'd like to ask myself if I could go back in time and go through all of the trauma again would I?

That's a hard question to answer! I'd like to say of course I would go back and go through it all again because it all made me the person I am today, someone who has the ability and compassion to help others so they never have to live through what I have. And that's mostly true. I honestly don't want to change who I am today, I just wish that my younger self didn't have to suffer so much horrific trauma and that she didn't have to lose so much time as she found her way and purpose in life. I do feel that I've taken my life back and I know I'm helping others. My greatest hope is that my book gets into the hands of those who will benefit from reading it the most.

Me: The book is being released in May, but I'm posting this blog interview now because you can currently purchase the book at Animal Media Group. You can learn more about Barbara and her books on her website.

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Published on March 25, 2015 01:00 • 24 views

March 22, 2015

Amy Gopel and Keryl Pesce

Amy Gopel and Keryl Pesce

A few days ago I got an email from a reader named Amy Gopel, who wanted me to see how she was personalizing the PayIt Forward idea and helping to take it one step further. Here's what she said:

Hello - I love so much what you are doing. So many believe changing the world is dependent upon political leaders in position of "power." I believe changing the world is in each of our hands through the power of one act of kindness at a time. I know what you stand for and honor and respect your ability to recognize that life is about setting boundaries but still allowing others to reach out to you on your terms! I don't want to take too much of your time, I am not asking you for anything other than to know that you are responsible for a book that I co-created with my friend Keryl Pesce. It is called "Share This Journal" and it is a book designed to encourage and document random acts of kindness. How it works is the owner of the journal records his or her name and contact information inside, performs an act of kindness for someone, records the act inside and gives the recipient of kindness the book. That person then records his or her reaction, performs an act of kindness for someone else, records it and gives the journal to that person. There are 26 opportunities for acts of kindness with the final act being to contact you as the journal owner and return the completed journal to you. You then a re able to see the ripple effect of your one kind act and the impact it had. The idea was born when I , following the death of my father in law, wanted to show our 9 year old daughter the power of a chosen response to adversity. I gathered our daughter and her friends, disassembled the flowers from the funeral, reassembled them into small bouquets and took the girls out in the community to gift them away as random acts of kindness. We came upon a woman who was brought to tears as her son had recently passed and she had asked for a sign he was OK. The next thing she knew, a young girl was handing her flowers. It was such a powerful moment that I wanted a way to recapture this type of experience for others.  I just wanted to let you know that the book is third best thing I've ever done (the others are my daughter and husband).  I would not have come up with this concept  had you not come up with yours!  I believe we are all connected and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude resting in the belief that somehow we were connected. We love what you are doing and wish you much success in spreading kindness around the globe.  All "your children" are beautiful, not just Pay it Forward. Thank you again, Amy Gopel


I looked up Share This Journal on Amazon, and I think it's a terrific idea, so I want to share it with my readers. I may end up buying a few of these to give as gifts. If any of you, my readers, choose to try this journal, I'd love to hear about your experiences!

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Published on March 22, 2015 16:05 • 35 views

March 12, 2015

...and a brand new website!

I'm pleased to announce that the Pay It Forward Foundation has a new direction, a new executive director, and a brand new website that better defines our work and goals.

First I want to thank Charley Johnson, whom many of you know, and Kerry Taylor, who worked behind the scenes for many years as part-time director. Both have decided it's time for them to move on, but both were nice enough to stay in place to smooth the transition.

Then I want to introduce you to David Goodwin, our new full-time executive director. I also want to show you the website he created for our foundation. We are turning a huge amount of our focus toward our Young Readers Book Program. For those of you who haven't read the earlier posts about it, it's a program in which the foundation acquires discounted copies of Pay It Forward: Young Readers Edition and donates them to classrooms at no charge. Sounds too good to be true... and in some ways it is... but only to this extent: there are only just so many books we can afford to buy at this point. We are counting on your for small donations, and for spreading the word that they are needed, and how much good they will do.

Please take a look at our brand new website,, and join us if you can! 

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Published on March 12, 2015 11:26 • 34 views

March 6, 2015

I'm very happy to report, all in one place and at one time, what I've announced in bits and pieces over the last month or two.

Audible audio approached us several months back about acquiring four of my independent (in the US) titles and adapting them into unabridged audiobooks. They are: Where We Belong, Don't Let Me Go, Second Hand Heart and When You Were Older.

I'm please to say they are now all available for purchase/download. Note the titles above are links to each audiobook.

But now here's what I'm even more pleased to say: Audible was kind enough to send ten promotional codes for each title. Each code is good for one free download. I'm only keeping one of each, and I've already given one more of each away to a sight-impaired reader. That leaves eight free downloads of four audiobooks, for a grand total of 32 free audiobooks. So a hundred people could enter this giveaway and each still have a one in three chance of winning.

Here's how it always goes (with one addition--please indicate if you have a preference among the four titles):

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. (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.)

If you have trouble, email me and let me know (my address is on the Contact page) but it seems commenting is fixed for most of you.

And last, if you're reading this on GoodReads, please click through and leave your comment on the original blog on my site. Otherwise I worry I'll forget the GoodReads folks when the time comes to draw names.

I'll collect entries until about the end of the month and then choose names at random. Good luck!

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Published on March 06, 2015 08:41 • 27 views

March 4, 2015

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 fourteenth post in the series. The author is Molly D. Campbell and the book is Keep the Ends Loose. It's available in Kindle, and in paperback as of today. (Hooray, book birthdays!)

Me: Molly, please tell my readers, in your own words, a little about your novel.

Molly: Keep the Ends Loose started as a character study of a woman who lived alone, happy in her little cottage. But it ran away with me as I began, and it morphed into a book about family secrets, the wisdom of youth, and the idea of forgiveness—what is it, really, and how do actual people deal with forgiving those whom they feel have wronged them. I wrote it in first person, through the eyes of a very precocious fifteen year old girl. Mandy Heath is an amalgam of all of the youthful protagonists I have read and loved through the years, especially Anne Shirley, Holden Caulfield, Jo March, and Flavia De Luce. Mandy is able to talk about her family crisis as a member not directly “hit over the head” with the debacle, but as a somewhat objective observer. And, of course, the book has a humorous and ironic tone, as I am a humor writer at heart.

Me: I first planned to ask you for a little bit more of a plot synopsis. But then it hit me that your book is very character-driven. There’s plot there, but it’s the quirkiness of the characters that’s really your stylistic signature. So instead would you please tell my readers a little about your major characters and what makes them each such individuals?

Molly: I have always been more interested in characterization than plot. When a book has both fascinating characters and a brilliant plot, I am amazed. Here are the people that drive Keep the Ends Loose:

Mandy Heath is fifteen, very smart, and a wry observer. She sees herself as boringly average, and when she compares herself to her mother, Winnie, Mandy feels a bit inferior. Mandy clings tenaciously to childhood, because she fears all the things that adulthood offers: college, career choices, leaving home, and of course, sex. Mandy has no idea how mature and competent she really is. She has a keen sense of irony, and her story telling ability is what sets Keep the Ends Loose apart from other novels about teens. I have always been drawn to precocious narrators, since I read Anne of Green Gables as a child and completely identified with Anne Shirley. 

Barley Crowder is Mandy’s best friend. Barley and Mandy are complete opposites. Where Mandy plods, Barley glides. Mandy is overwhelmingly average. Barley is a junior-high superstar. Barley has gleaming blonde hair, a perfect complexion and figure, and she is wildly popular at school. Mandy enjoys life safely in Barley’s shadow. Barley is a take-charge type who is the catalyst for much of the plot resolution—she is a lot like Winnie, actually.

Roy Heath is the kind and gentle pharmacist who is Mandy’s dad. Mandy sees him as saintly, in compared to her mother. I modeled Roy on my husband, who is the definition of unconditional love. 

Adam Heath is a typical teenaged boy. Mandy’s older brother is, of course, portrayed through her lens, and so we see him as very one-dimensional: the way most siblings view one another. He is annoying, stupid, and monosyllabic. Until he isn’t.

Iris Heath is Mandy’s aunt. She is another complete opposite--of her sister Winnie. She is willowy, beautiful, musical, and graceful. But, as Mandy reports, there just isn’t much in there…Iris is bland. I invented this bland woman around whom the entire plot revolves, because once again, I like the contrast between the two sisters, and I also wanted to focus the plot around Mandy and her immediate family without too much complication from Iris. Iris, of course, is not what she seems, because once again, she is portrayed only as Mandy sees her. As the plot unfolds, Iris gains dimension, and we see how Mandy’s view of her aunt, and actually her entire family, evolves as the book progresses and as Mandy matures.

Winnie Heath is the chubby dynamo about whom Keep the Ends Loose swirls. She is determined, bossy, and she doesn't have one bit of impulse control once she has made her mind up to do something. The book is in large part about forgiveness, and in Winnie, we see a woman who is obsessed with "tying up that one loose end" that has hounded her for years. That is all I can say without spoilers, but I have often wished I had a little more of her dogged determination!

Mandy is able to tell the story of her family’s debacle through a wry and slightly detached lens. She is really me—I have always been a watcher. I wanted to tell this story through a humorous and slightly innocent viewpoint, and this is how Mandy is. She can be both upset and hilarious at the same time.

Me: You’ve done something unusual with Winnie. You’ve made her a big woman—that is, overweight—but also attractive and sexy, someone who has never had trouble getting men’s interest. That’s unusual. In most books, big characters seem purposely placed as tragic and unfulfilled figures. I like it better your way. What inspired you to break that (unusually moldy) mold?

Molly:  I had a good friend in high school who was very popular with boys. I could never understand it, because she wasn’t really pretty. She was  a little overweight-- extremely confident, however, and seemed to think of herself as a siren. And it worked. I thought of her as I created Winnie—and I loved the idea of a chubby woman as a mankiller. I like to tweak stereotypes.

Me: What’s your ideal target audience for this book? Your main character is a teen, of course, so Young Adult seems to go without saying. But did you write this fairly exclusively for young adults, or are you hoping to appeal to a variety of ages? Who is/are your ideal readers?

Molly:  I wrote it for adult readers, but then halfway through, I realized that it would have appeal to young adult readers as well. I am very comfortable writing as a young girl, because I actually feel as if I am still a teenager inside.

Me: You called yourself a humor writer at heart. Talk to us a little about your background as a writer. Is this a debut novel, or is there a rich body of work behind it? And once you’ve told us a little more about your history, please tell us why your heart is drawn to comedy.

Molly:  I have always been “funny.” I initially wanted to be an actress, and comedy was my forte. I have always loved quirky people, and I am drawn to comedy. I think that pain is often very well expressed via comedy, and heartbreak often has a funny flip side. I love words as well, and I like to mix things up. For instance, in Keep the Ends Loose, Mandy calls her father “a cross between a genius and a stuffed animal.” This is just the way I think, I guess!

In terms of a rich body of work, yes. I spent an entire year making up character names and then writing a character sketch for each one. I self-published many of them in my first book, Characters in Search of a Novel. I have always wondered how a name might influence a person’s life: wouldn’t John Smith have a much less eventful life than Rollie Sidebottom?  And then about a year ago, I downloaded a drawing app, and I discovered how much I like to draw the faces of my characters. This opened up a whole new world of fun for me!

I also have blogged weekly for about nine years.  Practice, practice.

Me: What’s next for you?

Molly:  I am writing a book about a lonely woman who makes her living writing erotic fiction, and the friendship she makes with an eleven-year-old girl. They save one another. Wait—this sounds like a Catherine Ryan Hyde novel!

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

Molly: If you could have great talent in another area, what would you choose to do?

I would love to be an animal rescuer. I have always loved animals, and one of my goals in life is to hold a baby lion. This will never happen.  I would also like to hug a baby beaver. Again, no way.  Because I could never actually be a rescuer—I would end up trying to keep all the animals I rescued. I would be a complete failure. I know this, as I have five cats sitting in my kitchen at this very moment.  Catherine, thank you so much for having me!

Me: No, thank you, Molly. You are always fun. Readers can learn more about Molly by visiting HER WEBSITE, or you can follow her on Twitter.

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Published on March 04, 2015 03:00 • 26 views

March 1, 2015

I could just sit here and amuse myself by trying to say "paper people" ten times fast, but instead I want to tip you to a deal. The paperback edition of my novel The Language of Hoofbeats is marked down (from $14.99) to $9.49, and that price will last for the entire month of March.

So if you prefer paper books, and get slightly ticked that the price deals are always on ebooks, here's your chance.

If you've read this one, or already have the paperback, may I plant an idea in your head? [[ Gifts for readers. ]] Who said that? Wasn't me!

I just always want to tell you about deals because you're my faithful readers and you deserve all the price breaks I can share with you.

Happy reading! 

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Published on March 01, 2015 08:35 • 52 views

February 13, 2015

Look what the UPS guy just brought me. A carton of advance readers' copies of Worthy. This is my next release, due out in June of 2015. You can't buy it yet.

Does anyone else smell a giveaway coming?

Please, as always, read the following before putting yourself in the running:

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. (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.)

If you have trouble, email me and let me know (my address is on the Contact page) but it seems commenting is fixed.

And last, if you're reading this on GoodReads, please click through and leave your comment on the original blog on my site. Otherwise I worry I'll forget the GoodReads folks when the time comes to draw names.

I'll collect entries for about a week and then choose three names at random. Good luck!

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Published on February 13, 2015 16:28 • 145 views

February 4, 2015

I'm thrilled to report that another of my titles is now available for preorder in an unabridged audio edition. Audible recently purchased four of my backlist titles and is producing and releasing their audiobooks one after the other. This time it's When You Were Older. It releases on February 10th (soon!) but can be preordered right now.

Just go to THIS LINK.

Two more announcements to follow shortly.

Usually I say "Happy reading!" In this case I should probably say "Happy listening!" Or "Happy commute!" Because nothing makes a commute better than a good audiobook. 

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Published on February 04, 2015 17:16 • 19 views