How did you decide to write the WHAT’S NOT Series?
Initially, I wrote What’s Not Said as a standalone book. It was only when my early readers asked, “What’s next for Kassie and Chris?” did I consider writing a series. Luckily, I could conceive of an ongoing saga, and thus What’s Not True was born.
How did you become a novelist?
I could say I became a novelist one word at a time, but that would be a bit snarky! In reality, I spent most of my career as a writer creating and editing marketing communications for financial and investment services firms from Boston to Seattle. Pretty important, but not your next great American novel!
In 2002, just after my divorce, I read Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner, and I shouted out loud, “I could write that!” So, I would say that is when I decided I really wanted to write a novel. Of course, it took about 16 years, and several starts and stops, for me to write What’s Not Said and publish it in 2020.
How many revisions do you do on your books?
Before I started writing What’s Not Said, I took an online novel writing course. The instructor, who is a famous writer, explained his process of revising as he goes. So before he starts his writing for the day, he reviews and edits what he accomplished the day before. In this way, he gets his head back into the story and corrects anything that needs to be. I’ve adapted that somewhat to my process. However, once my manuscript is complete, I probably do two or three “revisions” even before I send it to the publisher for layout and proofreading. With each read through, I focus on something different, like dialogue on one pass through, punctuation on another, verb tenses on another. Bottom line, I’ll revise however many times it takes to be comfortable that I’m sending off the best manuscript possible.
What’s the worst review you ever received?
One reader exclaimed that she didn’t know why she finished the whole book (What’s Not Said). At first, I grimaced, of course. It stung like a bee, but only briefly. Because she finished the book! While I take reviews seriously, I’ve found for every negative review, there seems to be four or five positive ones. Just as I don’t love every book I read, I’ve come to accept the fact that my style of writing and the stories I tell may not be for everyone. But there are 85 million mature women in America. More than enough women to reach and lots of time in which to do so!
What’s next after What’s Not True?
The third and last book in the trilogy is underway. Some of the same characters continue on their journey, while a new villain appears to upend the apple cart. Hopefully, I’ll submit the manuscript to the publisher early in 2022, and then they’ll determine the publishing date. I have a working title for it, but I’m hesitant to reveal it too early because there’s a chance it’ll change!
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Why Should You Read This?
Kassie O’Callaghan’s meticulous plans to divorce her emotionally abusive husband, Mike, and move in with Chris, a younger man she met five years ago on a solo vacation in Venice, are disrupted when she finds out Mike has chronic kidney disease—something he’s concealed from her for years. Once again, she postpones her path to freedom—at least, until she pokes around his pajama drawer and discovers his illness is the least of his deceits.
But Kassie is no angel, either. As she struggles to justify her own indiscretions, the secret lives she and Mike have led collide head-on, revealing a tangled web of sex, lies, and DNA. Still, mindful of her vows, Kassie commits to helping her husband find an organ donor. In the process, she uncovers a life-changing secret. Problem is, if she reveals it, her own immorality will be exposed, which means she has an impossible decision to make: Whose life will she save—her husband’s or her own?
I felt the character development was a bit weak. In multiple instances, Mike’s character description seemed at odds with the way he reacted. None of the characters left a mark, and I didn’t really end up vouching for any of them to get their happy endings. The characters kept being bombarded with lies and deceit, and their responses to most of these seemed lackluster. It also felt that almost everything that could go wrong was going wrong for the characters. Too many things happening at the same time.
However, the author has done a great job of dealing with a sensitive issue. For sure, worldwide, there are marriages where one partner manipulates, and controls the other. Also, multiple instances where two people stay together, in spite of being worlds apart. Kassie and Mike’s marriage is authentic and relatable in that sense. Mike is controlling, selfish and obnoxious in many ways. But worst of all, he is manipulating, and a cheat. The author does for sure succeed in making the reader hate Mike. I wish the author had given ample time and space for the characters and the story to play out. The end seemed hurried, and I hated the climax.
I give the book 3/5 stars. It is good fit for people who like books that address issues of modern womanhood.