March 28th, 2017
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A bachelor, his left hand now sports a gold wedding ring.


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Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all?


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True love is even better the second time around.


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The renegade cowboy returns


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Do they have the recipe for true love?


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sweeping WWII thriller set at an English country house, described by Lee Child as "like binge watching a great British drama on Masterpiece Theater.



Great March books to "roar" about!


Get to Know Your Favorite Authors

Blogging Soon:

Jade Lee
Donna Alward

Barnes & Noble

Writing a Woman's Life
How Women's Fiction Charts Our Course

Meet Ella Joy Olsen, author of ROOT, PETAL, THORN

Ivy Baygren has two great loves in her life: her husband, Adam, and the bungalow they buy together in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the moment she and Adam lay eyes on the home, Ivy is captivated by its quaint details—the old porch swing, ornate tiles, and especially an heirloom rose bush bursting with snowy white blossoms. Called the Emmeline Rose for the home’s original owner, it seems yet another sign that this place will be Ivy’s happily-ever-after…Until her dreams are shattered by Adam’s unexpected death.

Striving to be strong for her two children, Ivy decides to tackle the home-improvement projects she and Adam once planned. As she attempts to rebuild her house—and her resolve—she uncovers clues about previous inhabitants, from a half-embroidered sampler to buried wine bottles. And as Ivy learns about the women who came before her—the young Mormon torn between her heart and anti-polygamist beliefs, the Greek immigrant during World War II, a troubled single mother in the 1960s—she begins to uncover the lessons of her own journey. Writing a Woman’s Life columnist Yona Zeldis McDonough asks Olsen some questions about how the idea “blossomed” into the finished novel.

About Ella Joy Olsen

Ella Joy Olsen

Ella Joy Olsen lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, in a century old brick bungalow with her husband and three children. She has spent nearly a decade on the Board of Directors for the Salt Lake City Public Library system (and even more years browsing the stacks), and is a member of Women’s Fiction Writers and the best book club ever, (SLC Bibliophiles).

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YZM: You’re a debut novelist; tell us a bit about your journey to publication day.

EOJ: Well, like most authors, except maybe Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), my journey was a long one. I started writing Root, Petal, Thorn in 2010 with no idea that I was actually writing a book. I thought I was teaching myself to write. But as the characters started to coming to life on the page I wanted a permanent home for them.

I typed THE END for the first time toward the end of 2012. I say “for the first time” because the manuscript had a long way to go. After much critical feedback (and oodles of changes) I started querying. I likely sent over 200 query letters and continued to make edits based on feedback I received from agents, until I signed with Rachel Ekstrom of IGLA in late 2014! The manuscript sold to Kensington in April 2015. It took until September 2016 to land on the shelves. Whew… That’s a lot of years!

YZM: Can you talk about the challenges—and rewards—of using multiple narrators?

EOJ: I have five narrators in my novel and several of my early readers thought this would stop me from selling the manuscript…but I’d written each story separately and I felt like each woman had a place in the hundred-year-old home—and in the book—so I fought for it. However, I knew I must braid the stories in a way readers wouldn’t get lost. A lost reader means a closed book…and that’s the risk. So after each character was written, I started braiding. Smoothing the transitions and creating a cohesive narrative was probably the most challenging part of the whole process. I couldn’t have done it without Scrivner.

YZM: Describe your typical writing day.

EOJ: On a perfect day I get up at 6:30am and start some coffee. I work silently until my coffee is gone and the kids are out of bed. I make them breakfast and get them out the door then I get back to work. My best writing hours end about 10:00am. After that, I’ll mess around on social media, return emails, edit, and so on. If I’m stuck on a plot point, I try to go on a hike. The movement and silence help me sort things out.

YZM: Do you write in longhand or on the computer?

EOJ: Absolutely on the computer. I can’t write a full sentence in longhand. With that said, I do keep an old fashioned calendar where I write tasks for each day and sometimes brainstorm scenes. I love crossing things off a list.

YZM: What kind of historical research did you do for this book?

EOJ: I did a bunch! The story takes place in surroundings very familiar to me: my hometown and my neighborhood (although in a fictional house). However, the book spans a century, so I went to the Utah Historical Society and combed through old photos to see what Sugar House looked like across the decades. I found old newspaper clippings to determine which stores and buildings were in the retail district throughout the years, and what events were making headlines. I studied clothing styles and popular home furnishings. And I did a lot of research on WWI. Although some of what I discovered was cut from the manuscript, I didn’t know much about this war, and it was fascinating! Hopefully, I’ll be able to use the rest of the information in another book.

YZM: Can you talk about the role Salt Lake City played in the novel?

EOJ: I wanted to illustrate the effects of world-wide events on a very personal level. So within the five stories the women live through WWI, WWII, lunar landings, the Great Depression, and so on…but regardless of which world event, each is seen through the lens of home and personal experience. As such, Salt Lake City, the religious environment, and especially the geographical features (particularly the Rocky Mountains) affect each character.

YZM: Your next book, WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS, is described as a companion novel; care to elaborate?

EOJ: Sweet Bird (as I call it) is a companion to ROOT, PETAL, THORN, in that the books have one common character…the stories are linked, but not in a sequel-y way. Each book could be read individually, or in any order. I think the mysteries found in each novel will enhance the other story. I’m really excited for Sweet Bird so here’s the teaser:

Though she has a loving husband, Emma Hazelton is adrift, struggling to rebuild her life after a tragedy. But one day, a simple question and an old black-and-white photograph prompt Emma to untangle the branches of her family tree, where she discovers a legacy of secrets. Where the Sweet Bird Sings explores the meaning of family and identity. What connects us to another? Is it shared history? Is it ancestry? Is it genetics? Or is it love?

ROOT, PETAL, THORN by Ella Joy Olsen

Root,
Petal, Thorn

In this beautifully written and powerful debut novel, Ella Joy Olsen traces the stories of five fascinating women who inhabit the same historic home over the course of a century—braided stories of love, heartbreak and courage connect the women, even across generations.

Ivy Baygren has two great loves in her life: her husband, Adam, and the bungalow they buy together in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, Utah. From the moment she and Adam lay eyes on the home, Ivy is captivated by its quaint details—the old porch swing, ornate tiles, and especially an heirloom rose bush bursting with snowy white blossoms. Called the Emmeline Rose for the home’s original owner, it seems yet another sign that this place will be Ivy’s happily-ever-after…Until her dreams are shattered by Adam’s unexpected death.

Striving to be strong for her two children, Ivy decides to tackle the home-improvement projects she and Adam once planned. Day by day, as she attempts to rebuild her house and her resolve, she uncovers clues about previous inhabitants, from a half-embroidered sampler to buried wine bottles. And as Ivy learns about the women who came before her—the young Mormon torn between her heart and anti-polygamist beliefs, the Greek immigrant during World War II, a troubled single mother in the 1960s—she begins to uncover the lessons of her own journey. For every story has its sadness, but there is also the possibility of blooming again, even stronger and more resilient than before…

Women's Fiction Historical | Saga [Kensington, On Sale: August 30, 2016, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9781496705624 / eISBN: 9781496705631]

About Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis
McDonoughYona Zeldis McDonough is the author of six novels; her seventh, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND, will be out from New American Library in February, 2016. In addition, she is the editor of the essay collections The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns Forty and All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader. Her short fiction, articles and essays have been published in anthologies as well as in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She is also the award-winning author of twenty-six books for children, including the highly acclaimed chapter books, The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop. Yona lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children and two noisy Pomeranians.

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Comments

2 comments posted.

Re: Meet Ella Joy Olsen, author of ROOT, PETAL, THORN

Thank you, Ms. Olsen and Ms. McDonough, for this blog. I have
"Root, Petal, Thorn" on my TBR list and I've read just the
trailer for the book. Thank you for revealing more insight
into the book for your readers and future readers.
(Edward Washington 4:28pm January 22)

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