DARLING GIRL by Terry H. Watkins * Signed book & Interview


“My family is good at going away.” Darling Girl

In DARLING GIRL(GreenPlaceBooks), we meet DG at age 5 and follow her as she grows into a girl ready for college. She’s the oldest of a Catholic family that keeps adding boys. Mom suffers from severe depression and is often sent away for days, weeks, even months to rest.

“Your mama, I think she just feels too much. Feels everything too much. Something that doesn’t bother somebody else just breaks her heart, makes her too sad to go on.” Grandpa

At five DG doesn’t know why her mother leaves. She does everything possible to behave thinking her actions will keep her mama home. But as she gets older, she learns more about how mental illness isn’t her mother’s only problem, it’s her controlling father who physically abuses her and the whole family emotionally.

From the outside they are the perfect family, but the father’s job makes them move often, carrying the stigma of mental illness with them. The best description of how the family behaves is “like so many dancing bears in a traveling circus with her father as the ringmaster.” DG’s story is both personal and universal. She’s on a journey from innocence to the real world and all of the ugliness it entails.

DG’s story just ripped my heart out. It’s written in a young voice that matures and realizes the danger of the world she lives in. It’s short, under two-hundred pages, but I could have easily read another two-hundred pages of DG’c story.

Buy Darling Girl

We got the opportunity to ask Terry some questions about writing DARLING GIRL.


1. First of all, the cover. It’s stunning. Tell me how the cover came to be.
I had three covers to choose from. All created by the very talented Asha Hossein. One was too provocative for this book. I thought the second was perfect. This cover was initially my third choice. However, when I polled the women in my writing group, “Shoes” won hands down! It was the first choice for everyone whether they’d read the book or not. Since all three covers were fantastic, it was really easy to give in to the popular demand. Now I can’t imagine any other cover. It suits the book perfectly!
2. I’ve read that the chapters can stand alone as short stories or one can read DARLING GIRL as a novel. What did you write it to be and why?
It was just the way I saw the book. A child’s memory is very fragmented. That structure just seemed to fit the book. It was always intended to be a novel. I never thought of the vignettes as stand alone until several readers pointed it out to me.
3. DG: She’s quite a wise little girl-young woman. Did you have to put yourself in a different mindsets as you wrote her at the various ages?
Yes! I literally sat down at the computer and said to myself, “Today, I am nine-years-old.”
Or “…sixteen-years-old.” Or whatever age it was. Sometimes I used the playlist of songs mentioned in the book. Sometimes, just a little light self-hypnosis.
4. Why do you believe readers love stories about family?
Well, we all have one! You read about other families to find out whether yours was better or worse. I think we are all voyeurs when it comes to families whether real or imagined.
5. “My family is good at going away.” You used this sentence several times and it seemed to be much of the theme around DARLING GIRL. What are they running away from? Toward?
The father in DARLING GIRL is never satisfied with his life and always wants more. I think that desire drives his every action. The mother withdraws from the world where everything is too much for her. Her mental illness is a form of going away emotionally and not just physically. The family as a whole is prepared to pull up stakes at a moments notice.
6. Mental illness and domestic violence are running themes, yet you don’t slam the reader over the head with these heavy topics. How did you approach writing about such “emotional” subjects?
Since the book was written from a child’s perspective, I tried to approach those themes as a child would. At first you are naive; you don’t fully understand what’s going on. As you grow up in those circumstances, they become your normal. You only occasionally see other people’s intimate lives so you don’t know just how not normal yours is. Additionally, this book is set in the fifties and sixties. People were a lot more circumspect about their personal lives and topics like mental illness and domestic violence were completely off-limits. It made it easy to handle those themes obliquely rather than head-on.
7. I really enjoyed how the grandparents were so important to the story. Tell me about the advantages you had being a grandparent to write such characters.
I confess that the grandparents are all based on my own. I had some interesting role models from which to draw. Being a grand parent helped me understand that pull that your children’s children exert on you. It’s almost physical.
8. ANYTHING you’d like to add … that I didn’t address, or you feel is important for readers to know.
I am very excited to finally see DARLING GIRL out in the world. I hope that readers are able to relate to it and, perhaps, find some comfort in it.



A native of nowhere and a traveler everywhere, Ms. Watkins has been on the road since the day she was born. Although rooted in the deep South, she has visited all seven continents and particularly enjoyed being ship-wrecked in Antarctica. Having worked in banking, computers, a nonprofit educating girls about STEM opportunities, and in education teaching middle-schoolers everything from American History to Comic Books to Philosophy to Writing, she retired in 2014 and began writing shortly thereafter. When not writing or traveling, she reads and putters in the garden. A survivor of a large family, she has one stepson, two grandsons, and daughter-in-law, all of whom she adores. She shares a home with her husband —Mr. Wonderful – three cats, and a great deal of clutter.


Thanks to Green Writers Press we have one copy of DARLING GIRL to giveaway. Just tell us what novel you’ve read lately about family and your thoughts. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please




On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual false alarm. As one fireman recounted later, “Once that first stack got going, it was Goodbye, Charlie.”

The fire was disastrous: It reached 2,000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more. Investigators descended on the scene, but over thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

In her new book, THE LIBRARY BOOK (Simon&Schuster), Susan Orlean weaves her love of libraries with their history. At a time, when many communities face the end of financial support for local libraries, Orlean delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world. In her investigation, she reveals that local libraries are more than buildings with books and how they are needed now more than ever.

Susan was featured in the New York Times Book Review Sunday and I found her “By the Book” Q &A Fascinating. Here’s a sample.

“What moves you most in a work of literature?

“I’m a sucker for a sad book. As wrenching and messy as it is to have a big cry while reading, I consider it one of life’s great pleasures. I’m partial to beautiful, heartbreaking sentences about loss and about the ultimate futility of the human condition. I’m particularly gutted by the idea of missed connections and doomed families.”

How do you read? Paper or electronic? One book at a time or simultaneously? Morning or night?

One book at a time, at night, usually on my Kindle – I love physical books, but as someone who travels a lot, I’m grateful to have my entire library with me at all times.””



ABOUT SUSAN, courtesy of http://www.susanorlean.com

What can I tell you? I am the product of a happy and relatively uneventful childhood in Cleveland, Ohio (back when the Indians were still a lousy team, and before they became a really good team and then again became a somewhat lousy team, although I have hope again…) This was followed by a happy and relatively squandered college career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (back when Ann Arbor hosted a Hash Bash every spring). I studied literature and history and always dreamed of being a writer, but had no idea of how you went about being a writer – or at least the kind of writer I wanted to be: someone who wrote long stories about interesting things, rather than news stories about short-lived events. There is no guidebook to becoming that kind of writer, so I assumed I’d end up doing something practical like going to law school, much as the thought of it made me cringe. After college, I moved to Portland, Oregon (back when Portland was cappucino-free) to kill some time before the inevitable trek to law school – and amazingly enough I lucked into a writing job at a tiny now-defunct monthly magazine. That led to a job at an alternative newsweekly in Portland where I wrote music reviews and feature pieces. While I was in Portland, Mt. St. Helens erupted; I started writing for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice; I learned to cross-country ski; I failed to learn how to cook.


Yes, he is the most handsome dog in the world. His name is Cooper and he’s a three-year old Welsh Springer Spaniel. I got him from a breeder near Port Chester, New York – check out her website at welshspringers.com and be forewarned that she has very annoying music playing in the background. Still, she breeds a heck of a dog. Cooper is now about forty-nine pounds; enjoys swimming, eating plastic, sitting on top of the newspaper when I’m reading it, and chicken.

I moved to Boston in 1982 (back before they built the Ted Williams Tunnel and long before the Red Sox reversed the curse). I wrote for the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Globe, and started work on my first book Saturday Night. Four years later I moved to New York. After moving to New York, I learned how to snowboard; wrote The Orchid Thief; became a staff writer at The New Yorker; got married; got a Welsh Springer Spaniel; learned how to order take-out food. These days I do some lecturing and some teaching, but most of the time I’m writing pieces for The New Yorker and occasionally for other magazines, and working on books. My latest project, a book about the Los Angeles Public Library and the arson fire there in 1986, will be published in October, 2018, by Simon and Schuster. Right now, I split my time between Los Angeles and the Hudson Valley of New York, with my husband, my son, and a small menagerie of animals.


Thanks to Simon and Schuster and BookExpo, we have one signed copy to giveaway. Just tell us which of Susan’s numerous books, is your favorite. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY USA only please.













"Steely-vented hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei), perched on verbena plant, Costa Rica, July"

















BEDSIDE MANNERS by Heather Frimmer & Giveaway



In Heather Frimmer’s novel, BEDSIDE MANNERS, Joyce Novak’s daughter, Marnie, completes medical school and looks ahead to a surgical internship, her wedding, and a future filled with promise, but a breast cancer diagnosis throws Joyce’s own future into doubt. Always the caregiver, Joyce feels uncomfortable in the patient role, especially with her husband and daughter. As she progresses through a daunting treatment regimen including a biopsy, lumpectomy, and radiation, she distracts herself by planning Marnie’s wedding.

When the sudden death of a young heroin addict in Marnie’s care forces Marnie to come face-to-face with mortality and her professional inadequacies, she also realizes she must strike a new balance between her identity as a doctor and her role as a supportive daughter. At the same time, she struggles with the stark differences between her fiancé’s family background and her own and comes to understand the importance of being with someone who shares her values and experiences.

Amid this profound soul-searching, both Joyce and Marnie’s futures change in ways they never would have expected.

This is an honest and refreshing true to life novel that takes readers into the medical field. It’s the relationships between a new doctor, med student and patient. That being said, at time, it’s not for the squeamish. It’s also a lovely picture of a family comprised of the wonderful and the frankly, nutty. The Novaks are people I could easily imagine being neighbors with.



Heather Frimmer is a physician by day, specializing in diagnostic radiology and breast imaging, and an avid reader and writer at all other times. A published book reviewer across multiple websites, including Books, Ink and Booktrib, and a member of the Westport Writers’ Workshop, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and two sons.


Thanks to SuzyApprovedBookTours, we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us about your last experience with a doctor.

We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

UNSHELTERED by Barbara Kingsolver & Giveaway



The legendary Barbara Kingsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible, among others) is back with another compelling read, UNSHELTERED (Harper).

As Willa Knox’s life falls apart around her, she — in an act of desperation — begins to research the history of her home. That’s when she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s: Thatcher Greenwoon, a scientist living in a Utopian community, who found himself under siege for speaking about Charles Darwin’s exciting new theories.

Alternating between two centuries, Kingsolver’s latest book is perfect for these politically turmoil times. She once again doesn’t hold back, writing from her point of view confronting politics and science. At nearly five-hundred pages, UNSHELTERED gives you a lot to think about. Unfortunately, I felt myself drifting off at times. Kingsolver has written over fourteen books and although I haven’t read all of them, this was my least favorite. Perhaps you will have a different experience.



Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955, and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePaul University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985. At various times in her adult life she has lived in England, France, and the Canary Islands, and has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico, and South America. She spent two decades in Tucson, Arizona, before moving to southwestern Virginia where she currently resides.

Her books, in order of publication, are: The Bean Trees (1988), Homeland (1989), Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike (1989), Animal Dreams (1990), Another America (1992), Pigs in Heaven (1993), High Tide in Tucson (1995), The Poisonwood Bible(1998), Prodigal Summer (2000), Small Wonder (2002), Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands, with photographer Annie Griffiths Belt (2002), Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007), The Lacuna (2009), Flight Behavior: A Novel (2012), and Unsheltered (2018). She served as editor for Best American Short Stories 2001. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and have been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation. She has contributed to more than fifty literary anthologies, and her reviews and articles have appeared in most major U.S. newspapers and magazines. Click here to view complete bibliography.


We’re lucky to have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us which of Barbara’s numerous books is your favorite. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

THE LOST LETTERS of WILLIAM WOOLF by Helen Cullen & Giveaway



Lost letters have only one hope for survival… The Dead Letters Depot.

THE LOST LETTERS of WILLIAM WOOLF  (GraydonHouse) takes readers inside the walls of a converted tea factory. It’s there letter detectives work to solve mysteries of fate: missing zip codes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names—these are the culprits behind missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

But when letter detective William Woolf discovers letters addressed simply to “My Great Love,” his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to the soul mate she hasn’met yet, the missives capture William’s heart in ways he didn’t know possible, and he must embark on a journey to solve what may be the most important mystery to come his way.

THE LOST LETTERS of WILLIAM WOOLF is an enchanting novel about the resilience of the human heart and the complex ideas we hold about love—and a passionate ode to the art of letter writing.



Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London.

She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.

The first draft of this novel was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.

Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.


Thanks to Graydon House, we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us about whether or not you write letters … real letters … with a pen and paper.

We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

THE WAITER by Matias Faldbakken & Giveaway



Welcome to The Hills, Oslo’s most esteemed restaurant, an institution stewed in tradition and clinging to the faded grandeur of old Europe.

In Matias Faldbakken’s novel, THE WAITER (ScoutPress), a neurotic waiter tends to the desires of his regular – and irregular – clientele. Aristocrats and artistes, wealthy widows and roguish entrepreneurs, he observes all their dramas with a wit as sharp as a filleting knife.

At table ten sits the impeccable Mr Graham, the most demanding of them all, impatiently awaiting a special guest. When at last she arrives – young, beautiful, mysterious – she proves a challenging new flavor, throwing into disarray our waiter’s nerves, and the delicately balanced ingredients of the room.

THE WAITER is a delicious read for anyone who enjoys dining in restaurants, eating and appreciates good food and wine. It’s treat for patrons and employees. I’d couple this with two fingers of smooth bourbon.



Matias made his literary debut in 2001 with The Cocka Hola Company, the first part of his Scandinavian Misanthropy TrilogyMacht und Rebel was released two years later, following most recently by Unfun, in Spring 2008, which completed his trilogy. All three novels are published under the pseudonym Abo Rasul.

In 2006, Faldbakken released Kaldt produkt (“Cold Product”) under his own name. It is a contemporary update of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. Faldbakken commented to Dagbladet when it was released: “I am a spokesperson for totally anarchistic mayhem on a bed of traditional family values”.[1] It was performed at Staatstheater Stuttgart in 2008.

He has also released a collection of short stories called Snort Stories.

Matias is also an internationally known artist represented by the Paula Cooper Gallery.

Thanks to Scout Press we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us an experience you’ve had in a restaurant – good or bad.

We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.