The Things We Said Today A Bennett Sisters Novel Author: Lise McClendon Publisher: Thalia Press Pages: 274 Genre: Women’s Fiction
Five sisters, all lawyers, well-trained in the art of demanding what’s necessary.It’s enough to drive a wedding planner to tears. Then add in a European venue, a Scottish hunting lodge, and a reluctant bride, and things get dicey. Can the middle sister, Merle, rally the troops, deal with the in-laws, and stop a powerful storm from ruining everything? Merle has powers of persuasion, especially when it comes to her French beau, Pascal, but in Scotland she has no clue how to corral her out-of-control sisters who are hellbent on wringing every bit of drama from a bad situation. Annie Bennett is getting married…. At the ripe old age of 55. She’s turned down a few proposals over the years and stayed true to her motto: Stay single, stay happy. When she met handsome Scot Callum Logan she had no intentions beyond her own personal Highland fling. Then it happened: she fell in love. Annie’s doubts about marrying a much-younger man continue to plague her. Callum wants to get married in the bluebells of his native Highlands. But does Annie want to get married at all? Join the Bennett Sisters in their third rollicking novel, after Blackbird Fly and The Girl in the Empty Dress, in another summer adventure with romance, intrigue, men in kilts, plus wine and whisky, as they navigate the treacherous waters of middle-age, self-discovery, and understanding your fears. For More Information
The Scottish landscape sped by the window in flashes of greens, ruby reds, and golds as Merle Bennett sat curled into the train seat, holding Pascal’s warm hand. All the planning, coordinating, and anxiety of the last few months evaporated as they passed fields of sheep, horses grazing on emerald pastures, trees aglow with new finery, and tiny villages squatting low along roadsides. As a pessimist Merle never thought it could all come together, even with her prodigious check-lists. But there is one important reason to be a pessimist. As one you are subject to pleasant surprises, and Merle was experiencing one now. Things had come together. Stasia, the hyper-organized sister, had wielded her mighty binder full of maps, weather charts, and suitcase-packing diagrams. Merle provided lists of clothing required for each day of the week. Annie, the eldest and the bride, had floated along on everyone else’s plans. The younger sisters were blissfully ignorant of all lists, treating the whole thing as a big adventure. And it was, Merle supposed, if you looked beyond the machinations to make it all happen. Annie’s wedding was in five days. Merle was crazy about Callum Logan, as he made her sister happy. That was easy to see. But it would be stretching it to say that she thought six months ago that this wedding would happen. Moving entire families across the Atlantic Ocean, coordinating flights, getting passports for some, renewals for others, hotel rooms, rental cars, all that plus the actual wedding planning. Not to mention trying to make everyone happy. It was a nightmare to Merle. In the end she only had to coordinate herself and Pascal. And that, as it turned out, was easy. He had his head back, eyes shut, black curl drooping on his forehead. The sway of trains made most people sleepy but Merle rode one almost every day. She rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb. Almost everything about Pascal was easy, she thought, and that made her twitchy. Life in general didn’t fit that pattern. There were compromises and disappointments, failures and chaos. People left you, grew up, moved away, died. There was so much room for loneliness and disaster. Life was irritatingly random. So she made her lists, trying to control what she could and cross the rest off. They slowed to a stop in a small town. The station was bright, cheerful, with splashes of blue paint. Sunshine poured through glass panels in the roof. Everything she’d heard about Scotland seemed wrong. It was beautiful, peaceful, full of spring flowers, blue skies, and happy faces. She made a quick promise to herself to smile all week. Her son Tristan wouldn’t be here to remind her. A glance at Pascal might do the trick. It shouldn’t be that hard. She was happy for Annie, who despite years of protestations and bohemian ways, was actually getting hitched. It was amazing. It was romantic. And it felt inevitable the way the best things do, as if life had finally given up throwing obstacles in your path and wrapped its warm arms around you and whispered those happy words you’d been longing to hear. This is your moment. Go live it.
Lise McClendon writes fiction in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She has been a film reviewer, a film maker, a journalism professor, and a PR flack. Since her first novel, The Bluejay Shaman, was published in 1994, she has served on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers/North America, as well as on the faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference where each year she critiques, speaks, and learns from writers new and old. Lise McClendon also writes as Rory Tate. Her latest book is the women’s fiction, The Things We Said Today. For More Information
Agony and Anticipation: Writing and Reading a Series by Lise McClendon
When you pick up a book in a series you’ve read before, there is a moment of joy, the anticipation of renewed pleasure, like the days leading up to your birthday when you were a kid. Here come the goodies! There will be cake and ice cream and presents! With a mystery novel—or any series— the eagerness for the next book in the series can be powerful. Why can’t she write faster? What’s he doing off writing a stand-alone? I need my visit from my old friends and I need it NOW. My first books were series mysteries where the main character solves the problem of who murdered the victim, and a few other issues as well. I love serial fiction, and adore finding a writer that I can follow from book to book. Someone steady who won’t let me down but is clever and funny, who takes me to somewhere I’ve never been with someone so real they seem like a best friend. Someone who is predictable but not boring. Reading as comfort food is a thing, and I’ve eaten it up in mounds. As a writer it’s different. Ask any writer who is 20 or more books into a series and you will probably hear more about ‘product’ than amazing moments of excitement or imagination. Bless those writers who can fire it up book after book – you rock! Myself, I got a little antsy after six series books. I wanted to stretch. Series fiction in all its glory has much to offer – easier world-building for a big one -- but I wanted to write about multiple characters, to dig into a fuller, deeper story. Longer maybe, definitely more complex. So I wrote what I thought would be the first book in a series of linked stand-alones, hoping to have the best of both worlds. Familiar characters but new situations, new points of view, new problems to open up the stories. Five sisters who would each have their own book, their own spotlight moment. As it happened the first book, Blackbird Fly, ended up going rogue, leaving the cozy bookshelves of New York publishing to reappear as my first original title with my own Thalia Press. (We call this indie publishing now, right?) I figured it would just be a stand-alone after all, and that wasn’t bad. I went on to write a couple more stand-alones and let Blackbird Fly go off on a solo journey. Then I went on a walking tour in France with five women, through the heart of wine country in Burgundy. It was fabulous (as you can imagine) and I decided I would use a similar event to anchor another story with the five Bennett Sisters from Blackbird Fly, called The Girl in the Empty Dress. I had always intended the sisters’ stories to continue and the first book was set in France. Now I found a way to do that. I changed the walking tour to the Dordogne, where the main character, Merle, has a stone house, and I was off and… well, writing. Flash forward to 2015. I spent nearly two years writing and editing a delightfully whacky, darkly comic mystery with four other writers (Katy Munger, my partner at Thalia Press, plus Kate Flora, Gary Phillips, and Taffy Cannon.) Our labor of love was an unwieldy beast (until we polished it up) of laugh-out-loud sex, food, and murder caper called Beat Slay Love: One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge. I love our latest review: “Funny in a sick way.” But the time had come to do my own thing again and I returned to the continuing story of the Bennett Sisters. I set up the new book with a novella, Give Him the Ooh-la-la, getting the oldest sister, Annie, engaged at the ripe old age of 55. A confirmed bohemian, her engagement shocks her sisters, and having all involved travel to Scotland for a destination wedding in a creepy hunting lodge set all sorts of possibilities into motion. Wedding novels are a staple of romance fiction, but alas, I am not a romance writer. I enjoy an occasional romance novel but write one? I doubt if I could. So how could I make this novel about a wedding something else, something deeper, less frothy — something more me? I set to work and, well, somebody dies, I can tell you that. More than one somebody. But there is also humor, all sorts of events that Scotland is famous for including the drinking of whisky, plus allusions to the Pride and Prejudice namesake sisters in Jane Austen’s novel (my all-time favorite novel—surprise!) Have you ever wondered how you could weave a few choice Austen quotes into everyday life? I have an idea or two on that. I adore Scotland, but its weather has sometimes failed to charm me, like the time I took my whole family there at the beginning of August and it never hit 60 degrees. Many lovely sweaters were purchased. Then I went again, in May, when the bluebells were blooming in carpets in the Highlands, when the skies were blue and the temperatures balmy. It was amazing, like summer in a week. It probably only lasted a week but I knew I had to set my new book in May. Are the skies always blue in The Things We Said Today? No, that would be boring. The Scottish skies give us danger and drama. I hope the Bennett Sisters newest tale brings you drama, exotic locales, charm, insight into life, plus some laughs. Oh, and a few men in kilts. Happy reading.