Sneak Peek at SWEET SALT AIR

While writing SWEET SALT AIR (on sale June 18, 2013), I’ve been dropping hints in my blog about characters, plot, and setting.   Here are those hints, all in one place.  

On Sale Now!  What do I feel?

  • For starters, I feel like it’s about time!  What else am I feeling as my on-sale date finally arrives?

Snapshots of Sweet Salt Air

  • Since Sweet Salt Air is a highly sensual book, I have favorites in terms of see, smell, feel, hear, and taste.  I’m calling them snapshots, because they’re just quick little moments from the book.

My favorite character in Sweet Salt Air

  • Do I play favorites when it comes to my characters?  That depends on how you define playing favorites.

Learning about the ingredients in Sweet Salt Air

  • I’m talking about doing research, so that I know what I’m saying when I write a book like Sweet Salt Air.  Okay.  This being fiction, technically I can do what I want.  But I pride myself on writing books that are realistic, and in cases where serious things are involved (like cord blood and stem cells and MS), I owe it to my readers to get it right.

Where Sweet Salt Air came from

  • Most of my books are inspired by things I read about in the newspaper. The inspiration for Sweet Salt Air was much more personal.

How much of me is in Sweet Salt Air

  • I write about things I like, and, inevitably, little bits of me sneak through.  Four such bits crept into Sweet Salt Air.  Do any of them resonate with you?

Dealing with the loss of my characters

  • Readers feel this.  You’ve been engrossed in a book and then, suddenly, the characters are gone.  You write me asking what they’ll do now and whether they’ll ever be back. But if you miss them, think of what I’m feeling when I finish writing a book.

Are you a typo freak?

  • Doesn’t anyone proofread anymore?  Yes!  But styles change.  Read on to learn more.

Revising Sweet Salt Air

  • Here’s how it works.  The author writes her book and sends it to her editor, who reads it, thinks about it, reacts to it, hopefully loves it – but also comes up with a few recommendations for making it even stronger.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Well, it isn’t always….

Are you healthier eating organic?

  • Since one of the protagonists in Sweet Salt Air is a die-hard locavore, and the trend among local farmers is for organics, I was naturally interested in this.

I believe!  I believe!

  • Magical elements sometimes creep into my work.  Here’s the dish on herbs with hidden benefits.

What comes after THE END?

  • All 408 pages of Sweet Salt Air have gone off to my editor in New York. What’s next?

Do you talk to yourself?

  • There are times I talk to myself. In the midst of writing the climactic scenes of Sweet Salt Air, I think about this a lot. Where is that fine line between the right amount of internal narrative and too much?


  • I have special reason to be excited about fiddlehead ferns this year.  They’re in the opening pages of Sweet Salt Air, served at the Chowder House in Quinnipeague Harbor.  How does the chef prepare them?  The same way I do, and I share my simple method here.

When characters are name-callers

  • Here’s a question a writer has to consider:  In a single stretch of dialogue, how often should the characters call each other by name? Take a look at an excerpt from Sweet Salt Air written two ways.  Which do you like better?

Novelist as shrink

  • Charlotte analyzes why she’s never married. Can she blame her reluctance on her parents? Her lousy taste in men? Psychology does enter my work, simply because books like Sweet Salt Air are about understanding my characters and helping them understand themselves.

A watershed moment for Sweet Salt Air

  • Some of those threads?  Bear, for one.  He’s the dog.  Knitting for another.  Just bits here and there for anyone who’s ever struggled with cables.  Sex, for a third.  Think of long nylon shorts hanging at just the right place on a pair of leanly masculine hips.  And chewy chocolate almond candies, homemade and individually wrapped, for a fourth.

What’s a BFF?

  • Do you have a BFF?  Nicole and Charlotte, of Sweet Salt Air, are that – at least until Charlotte confesses to having wronged Nicole in a totally reprehensible way.  It remains to be seen whether she can regain that BFF status.  There’s lots of repair work to do.

How emotional am I writing my characters’ emotions?

  • You wouldn’t ask if you’d seen me this week.  I’ve been writing three consecutive scenes in Sweet Salt Air, each pivotal to the plot, each filled with high emotion, and I’ve been wringing my hands, pacing the floor.  We’re talking betrayal, heartache, and fear.  You may read it in passing, but I live with it.

Starting 2012 with a good book

  • This month’s snippet on Sweet Salt Air?  Leo knows boats.

Meatloaf recipes, anyone?

  • I’m determined to get a meatloaf recipe into Sweet Salt Air – which, if you recall, involves a food blogger.  Can you help me out here?

My post traumatic weekend

  • I’m about to write the first sex scene in Sweet Salt Air, but it won’t be about juggling body parts.  There are emotions involved.  More details once I get it written.

Life’s little surprises

  • I’m far enough along in writing to have one of those surprise author moments when something happens in the story that I didn’t plan. In this case, it’s Bear. Bear, being slightly scary but totally heart-wrenching, brings something to the plot that I hadn’t planned.

Should grammar matter?

  • Charlotte and Nicole are discussing an artist who lives on Quinnipeague. He makes ceramic ramekins, but won’t be in their book, because the book is about food and foodies, not artists and plates.

How to research a novel

  • In researching Sweet Salt Air, I’m working with a doctor who is an expert on using umbilical cord blood stem cells in treating disease.
  • After poring through the Maine Coastal Island Registry, I decided to go for a Native American feel and name my island Quinnipeague.
  • One of my lead characters is a food blogger.
  • Charlotte first sees Leo when he’s up on a ladder. He is struggling with a heavy storm shutter. Having built houses with charity groups, she knows that two pairs of hands are better than one, and offers to help.

How to describe a voice

  • The challenge is to make each character’s voice unique. I’m facing this right now with Sweet Salt Air.
  • There’s petite Nicole, who speaks in a high, childlike voice. Nicole has led a charmed life.
  • Charlotte, on the other hand, grew up in a dysfunctional home and had to be brief and direct if she wanted to be heard. That’s how she talks now.
  • Leo’s voice is low and flat, compatible with the image of an ex-con from Maine who works with his hands.

Naming the baby

  • Using the word “salt” in my title seemed like a good idea, since the book involves the ocean, tears, spices, and a man who lives on the sea. But what to put with it? My editor called this morning and proposed SWEET SALT AIR.

My book is a go

  • The opening line of the book is, “Charlotte was used to feeling grungy.”

How to write a book proposal that sells

  • If I were to describe my book in a single sentence, it is this: A woman has a secret that may save the life of her best friend’s husband – or destroy him.
  • Where is the book set? An island off the coast of Maine.
  • What is the book’s appeal? The ocean, the food, the guy whose house is at the very tip of the island.