“It’s for a friend…”

So, I am still making my way through a pile of self-help books (not really!), while actively procrastinating the completion of the final edits to my YA novel, The Rain Catcher. The more I learn about myself, the more I start to wonder if I need to make yet more changes to the novel… But enough about that. What I really wanted to talk about was the dilemma many face when  purchasing books with “exposing” titles at brick-and-mortar stores.

Self help books often have embarrassing titles that spell out personal problems — think divorce, low libido, panic attacks, bankruptcy — and then you have to go up to the counter and hand those books to an actual person, who will glance down at the book and then know that YOU probably have that problem! It’s like buying condoms or pregnancy tests, which effectively tell the cashier, “Yes, I’m having sexual intercourse!” Or buying Milk of Magnesia — “Yes, I have constipation!!” Or romance novels with the heroine’s clothes half off on the cover — “Yes, I like to read risqué literature!”

Worse is considering where to put the book when you get home. You can’t leave Finding Your Perfect Alpha-Male or How to Be a Real Bitch on the coffee table for your 10-year-old nephew to see (or your mother). Placed on a bookshelf in a “public” room like the living room, there’s always the risk of your brother-in-law scoping out your copy of Explosive Diarrhea Explained, waving it in the air, and announcing in a really loud voice, “My grandmother has this, too!” My embarrassing books are discretely placed between similar-sized books so they’ll blend in. And I don’t clump them all together; I space them out, perhaps one per shelf. As soon as I’ve had enough of the books, I donate them to Good Will — the evidence is gone!

Perhaps self-help authors should think about this dilemma before picking out a title. Would it hurt sales to have something a little less explicit on the cover? I don’t know. Are you more likely to buy a book entitled, Kick that Cocaine Habit! or Dependency and You? Yes, I know… probably the first!

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Another connection…

Because I am still behind on everything…except drinking coffee… I am sharing a link to the wonderful blog for Southern Writers’ Magazine. It has some really thoughtful and inspiring posts for all writers — you definitely don’t need to be from the South! Here’s a great one on how we often worry about “Opportunities Passing Me By” and why we probably don’t need to worry at all…



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Full Disclosure!!

I am behind in blogging, in finishing edits of The Rain Catcher, and in putting together the next issue of The Apple Core! My excuse? Blame it on the kids! With a busy husband, nearly 2-year-old, and daughter about to start kindergarten, I have been run off my feet these past few weeks. Luckily, Southern Bend Books is a labor of love and not, currently, a full-fledged corporation or other business entity relying on income for its existence!

What else have I been doing? Reading self-help books! Not to go into too much detail, but I’ve discovered two really good books I think everyone should read. The first, The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner, is directed toward women, but it’s really for men or women. And it’s not just about anger — it’s about improving relationships by noticing the patterns we keep repeating. Her best advice is to OBSERVE what’s going on and see where you and the other person need to make changes. It’s easy to read, non-intimidating, and very helpful!

The next book has a tough title that would scare anyone away: Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect. But, really, it could apply to anyone. Sure, there are some awful parents out there, but even well-meaning moms and dads slip up and are not always good at validating their kids’ feelings. This book is not judgmental; it offers clear examples and advice on how to overcome past neglect. Most importantly, it talks about self-care and how we all must value ourselves in order to pass that down to our children.

NOTE: Southern Bend Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This basically means, that if you choose to click on a link and buy a book from Amazon, Southern Bend Books could potentially earn a few pennies, which Louisa will then put back into the business of creating books!

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Taking Scotland by storm!

In honor of my upcoming novel, The Rain Catcher, which is set in Scotland, I’ve decided to share two Scottish books that I think are great! The first, Women Talking Dirty by Isla Dewar, my aunt sent me years ago. It’s one of the few books I’d label “irreverent,” and every time I read it I feel better about life!

The novel describes the eclectic friendship between polar opposites Cora and Ellen. Cora’s a Highlander, while Ellen grew up in the drab Edinburgh suburbs. Cora’s a single mum, struggling with two boys and a lifetime-worth of guilt over her misspent youth. Ellen’s a reclusive comic-strip artist, caught up in a dead-end relationship with Daniel, whom she recklessly marries. The two share laughs, buckets of tears, bottles of vodka, and the secret to a successful dinner party — the edible bloody Mary!


The second book, I actually never finished. When I was 10 and still living in Scotland, my teacher read The Hill of the Red Fox by Allan Campbell Mclean to the class. We were hooked! But before she finished the book, I moved with my mom to the States. I always wondered how the book ended! I don’t remember much about it, other than it’s kids’ thriller set in the Isle of Skye. The main character 13-year-old Alasdair takes a train ride through Scotland and on the way encounters a shady character who slips him a note before disappearing from the train. I honestly can’t remember what happens, but our whole class loved it and was hooked on our teacher’s every last word! All I remember is being enveloped in this mysterious Scottish landscape — it was really magical!

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The Writing Process with Rebecca Mascull


I am reblogging a really interesting interview by English writer Ruth Hunt. She has a whole series of author interviews on her blog, The Writer on Wheels. This particular post features Rebecca Mascull and her new book The Visitors — worth checking out!

Originally posted on The Writer on Wheels:

Visitors paperback cover hi res

It is with pleasure that today I welcome Rebecca Mascullto my blog to talk about her books and writing process in general.


I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid, including a western and a hospital drama! I wrote some short stories after university and then started taking it seriously around 2001 when I started my Masters. I decided then that if I was going to make it as an author, I’d need to give up full-time teaching and devote myself to writing. I went through two agents and two novels before I found my brilliant agent I have now, Jane Conway-Gordon. She believed in me and kept going despite the book she represented me for not finding a deal. So I got on with the next book for her and that was The Visitors –…

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Story cubes?

This is just a quick little post… I was at Cracker Barrel today, waiting in line, when I saw this package of “Story Cubes.” It reminded me of a little book my daughter has, where you flip the pages to get different nouns, verbs, and situations for story ideas. For example, a “bear” (on one page), “who hates” (on the next page) “peanut butter sandwiches” (on the third page). So, kids would use these prompts to create their own stories about a bear who hates peanut butter sandwiches or, say, a turtle who loves flying planes!

So, that’s why the story cubes caught my attention. When I looked online, I saw that many adults use the cubes, too, either with their kids or as a party game. I think anything that encourages storytelling can’t be bad! After all, telling stories might lead to writing stories, which can only help kids’ literacy skills. And telling (or writing) stories is an outlet for anyone to sort through their thoughts and feelings. And we all need more of that!

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What the Dog Knows

This isn’t a review because I haven’t read the book yet, but I am definitely planning to after hearing Cat Warren talk last night at May Memorial Library in Burlington about What the Dog Knows. And it’s not just because I used to be one of her journalism students at N.C. State University! She’s an excellent professor and a captivating speaker, so I know her new book has to be just as good!

The idea for the book came about from the unique hobby Warren picked up about seven years ago after buying an extremely hyper and unruly German shepherd named Solo. A dog trainer friend recommended that she turn Solo into a working dog — namely, a cadaver dog! Cadaver dogs, as the name suggests, help police search for the remains of the dead. Unlike search and rescue dogs, cadaver dogs are trained to seek out the smell of decaying human flesh. It’s a gruesome job, but these dogs are vital in cases where police need to find a body to prove a crime. Warren pointed out that cadaver dogs were also used in the awful landslide in Oso, Washington, to find the deceased and help bring closure to surviving loved ones. You can read more about this on Warren’s blog.

Two things struck me last night… The first was the emotional bond between Solo and Warren. She teared up when telling us how she recently retired 10-year-old Solo. They were a team, she explained, practically on auto pilot because they worked so well together. Now a full-time pet, Solo no longer conducts searches for the police or trains regularly. Warren has a different relationship with her new dog, Coda, and you can tell she misses the “old days” with Solo, who she described as “a natural.”

The other point that stood out to me last night was the contradiction between the type of work these dogs do and the fact that handlers must turn the search into a “game.” As a reward for doing a search, Solo gets to play with his favorite tug-toy, so he associates work as fun. Warren told of being bitten accidentally by Solo, as they were playing tug-of-war, and having to suppress a cry of agony. She didn’t want to make the situation stressful for Solo, she explained, so she held her tongue. This level of dedication is pretty overwhelming!

Here’s a book trailer that shows Warren and Solo at work, and gives more details about the book itself:

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