Sunday Brunch with… Chanel Cleeton


Photo Credits:

Happy Sunday!

I discovered this author after reading her last novel, Next Year In Havana, which completely bewitched me. This historical novel was so intriguing and touching, and luckily not a standalone. So, while waiting for her new book, let’s enjoy her company today.

I’m very happy to introduce…

Chanel Cleeton




Originally from Florida, she grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England.





Describe yourself with three adjectives.

Chanel: Responsible, dedicated, loyal

Choose three adjectives for your last novel, Next Year in Havana.

Chanel: Romantic, historical, emotional

Do you remember the moment you realized you want to pursue this project and work on your first historical novel?

Chanel: The idea came to me in the summer of 2016 when my father told me a family story about a night before they left Cuba in 1967 when my family buried a box of valuables in their backyard under the cover of darkness in an attempt to preserve the items they couldn’t take with them out of the country.

Who was the first person you told about it?

Chanel: My agent, Kevan Lyon. We were on the phone talking about my next project and I shared this idea that had been tugging at me based on a family story I’d recently learned. Her enthusiasm for the concept inspired me to start writing Next Year in Havana.

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Chanel: I honestly didn’t really have a favorite. I loved Elisa for her loyalty and devotion to her family and country. I loved Marisol for her close relationship with her grandmother and her exploration of her Cuban identity.

What was your strongest feeling writing Next Year in Havana?

Chanel: It was a very nostalgic and emotional book for me to write. It brought back a lot of memories of my grandmother, which was lovely but also sad at times.

What was the most difficult part of writing this book?

Chanel: It was easy to get caught up in the research and I had to remind myself that it was time to start writing. 🙂

What did you edit out of this book?

Chanel: I didn’t edit much out of the book, but I did a lot of shifting in the timelines, trying to figure out when it was best to shift from Marisol’s timeline to Elisa’s and back again.

In Next Year in Havana Marisol is very proud to be an American Cuban, but as soon as she arrives in Cuba, she finds out the contradictions of this country and how Cuban struggle for their freedom under a totalitarian regime. So, she realizes that being a Cuban in Cuba is completely different and more difficult than being a Cuban in America, where your own freedom is guaranteed. And you, how do you feel being an American Cuban, and how do you imagine your first impression of Havana?

Chanel: My Cuban-American identity has always been tied to my family. I really see my cultural identity within the lens of family history and tradition, I think largely in part because my family came to the United States in exile. Marisol’s sense about Cuba really mirrored my own writing it as I was struck by how much my life would have been different if my family had stayed in Cuba.

Could you tell us something about your next project, When we left Cuba?

Chanel: When We Left Cuba is set amidst the U.S.-Cuba conflicts of the tumultuous 1960s, in which Beatriz Perez, a Cuban socialite-turned-exile in Palm Beach, becomes involved in a CIA plot to assassinate Fidel Castro and reclaim her country, and in the process finds herself torn between two men: an American politician with presidential aspirations and a Cuban freedom fighter.

Why did you choose to write a second book?

Chanel: From the minute I introduced Beatriz Perez in Next Year in Havana she fascinated me, and I knew I had to tell her story.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Chanel: To have a long career. I would to be doing this in thirty or forty years and to still feel passionate and excited about writing.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Chanel: I do. It helps me get a sense of how a book is being received and what my readership would like to see from me in the future, if there are things they love that I should keep doing, or if there are things I could improve on. I think the biggest thing about reviews is I try to keep them separate from my writing space so when I’m working on a book, I don’t let those things intrude on my creative process.

What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

Chanel: One of the things that has been really special to me with Next Year in Havana has been hearing from Cubans who identify with the book and who say it reminded them of their family or their experiences. For me that was one of the greatest compliments I could receive.

What does literary success look like to you?

Chanel: To me it’s writing books that I’m proud of, that my readership enjoys, and working with people who enjoy working with me and who I respect and admire.

What are the things you love most in your daily life?

Chanel: My family and friends are the most important things to me. I also love spending time with my dogs and I’m a big reader.

Could you share a happy photo and tell us more about that moment? 


Chanel: This is one of my last memories with my grandmother before her illness progressed. It’s my high school graduation and I’m with my grandparents and my father. The book wouldn’t have been possible without their contribution.

Below you can see other lovely pictures of Chanel’s grandparents.

Thank you, Chanel, for joining us today, and for sharing a signed copy of Next Year in Havana with our readers! (US only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday Brunch with… Carolyn Brown


Happy Sunday!

Today, a lovely guest has accepteded to brunch with us an tell us more about her new novel, The Sometimes Sisters, published on February 27, 2018 by Montlake Romance.

I’m pleased to introduce…

Carolyn Brown



She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She was born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma. These days she and her husband make their home in Davis, Oklahoma. A plaque hangs on her office wall that says I know the voices are not real but they have such great ideas.




Continue reading “Sunday Brunch with… Carolyn Brown”

Carolyn Brown

About the author

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She was born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma. These days she and her husband make their home in Davis, Oklahoma, a small town of less than three thousand people where everyone knows everyone, knows what they are doing and with whom, and read the weekly newspaper to see who got caught.

A plaque hangs on her office wall that says I know the voices are not real but they have such great ideas. That is her motto and muse as she goes through the days with quirky characters in her head, telling their stories, one by one, and loving her job. Continue reading “Carolyn Brown”

Slightly South Of Simple: A Novel (Review)

The Peachtree Bluff Series – Book 1

by Kristy Woodson Harvey


From the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand) comes the first in an all-new series chronicling the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

* * *

Slightly South of Simple is an emotional and brilliant novel which kept me completely spellbound.

From the beginning, I was really drawn into the story, and the characters and their strong bond are described amazingly by the author.

The storyline alternates Ansley and Caroline’s points of view and follows both the present time and memories of the past in which the reader will find out secrets and strong emotions that will help to better define the strengths and flaws of the characters. Continue reading “Slightly South Of Simple: A Novel (Review)”

Kristy Woodson Harvey

About the author

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the national bestselling author of Dear Carolina (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2015), Lies and Other Acts of Love (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2016) and the Peachtree Bluff Series, beginning with Slightly South of Simple (Gallery/Simon & Schuster, 2017). Dear Carolina was long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, has been optioned for film and has appeared on numerous “must-read” lists. Lies and Other Acts of Love was aRomantic Times top pick, a Southern Booksellers Okra Pick and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Slightly South of Simple was a Southern Bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Bestseller, one of PopSugar’s picks for “Ultimate Summer Reading” and one of Glitter Guide’s “Must-Reads for April.” The Secret to Southern Charm, the second book in the Peachtree Bluff series, releases April 3, 2018. Continue reading “Kristy Woodson Harvey”

Sunday Brunch with… Kerry Lonsdale


Happy Sunday!

We have an amazing guest today. Her books are sold worldwide in more than 25 countries and have been translated into 22 languages (Italian, German, French, Brazilian, Serbian, etc.) and her fourth novel, Everything We Give, will be released on July 3, 2018.

I’m really excited to introduce…

Kerry Lonsdale

© Deene Souza Photography



She believes life is more exciting with twists and turns, which may be why she enjoys dropping her characters into unexpected scenarios and foreign settings. Kerry is the Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal, and #1 Amazon Kindle bestselling author of The Everything Series, and the iBooks audiobook bestseller and 2017 Top 100 Kindle Book All the Breaking Waves.





Continue reading “Sunday Brunch with… Kerry Lonsdale”