Freshly brewed in Hawaii and sent to you with love.
Dear Friends & Readers,
As spring readies for summer, I just wanted to share my latest bookish updates with you, especially on my secret project which will no longer be secret after you read this.
The above photo was a fun moment for me, when The Codebreaker's Secret was an Audible Daily deal. Now, if we can just keep it there for a while!
1. Bookish News
2. 3 Book Recs
3. Today Only Book Deal
4. 6 Books I want to Read
5. A Day In The Life: Hawaii Edition
6. Intel on my Secret Project
For those of you in Australia/New Zealand, the print version of The Codebreake's Secret releases June 7.
Signed copies of my books are always available to order at Kona Stories or Kona Bay Books.
My next book has a new title, The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West. My working title was Her Most Perilous Flight, but as you know, titles change. The book releases Feb/March 2024 and I can't wait!
My 8th (yes, you read that correctly) book just got approval. Another dual timeline, this one is mostly set in Waikiki and centers around a real mystery. More soonish!
Also, please follow me on Instagram @saraackermanbooks and Facebook @ackermanbooks for giveaways. I have another one planned in May with an author friend of mine who writes incredible historical fiction.
3 RECENT READS
Hula by Jasmin Iolani Hakes
I received an early copy of Hula for review and I promise you, this is an incredible novel! Jasmin is from Hilo but lives on the Mainland. She is a gifted writer with a powerful story to tell. Here is what I wrote about it:
“Raw, real and richly layered, Hula is a love letter to Hawai’i, most especially Keaukaha. The words in this novel hit like a hurricane–powerful and intense and imbued with every nuance of island life, from hanabata days to the final paddle out. Brilliantly written and expertly structured, the story of the Naupaka women, and the bitter struggles of the native Hawaiian people, will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Jasmin ‘Iolani Hakes has penned a new classic in Hawaiian literature. I could not put this book down. Maika'i.
Also, a side note, I love her cover so much that I dug a little to find out who the artist is in hopes that we may be able to use them for a future book of mine. Turns out Jack Soren was my student at Kahuku High & Intermediate and a nephew of an old friend. Small world. Hula releases on May 2.
Lei Aloha: Celebrating The Vibrant Flowers and Lei of Hawai'i byMeleana Estes
I haven't read this book yet, but I can't wait to, because I love lei! Also, Mele is an uber talented friend of mine who I used to paddle canoe with. She is the daughter of a family friend and the granddaughter of Amelia Bailey, master lei maker who used to work at Punahou School. Mele's lei are true works of art. Here is the publisher's description:
Brimming with vibrant photos of the most famous flower garlands of Hawai’i—the lei—in dreamy island settings, Lei Aloha tells the story of the flowers, craftsmanship, and community of lei culture, offering a window into this beautiful world where life is a little slower, flowers are abundant, and personal connections run deep. Local style icon Meleana Estes continues the legacy of her native Hawaiian grandmother, who was well known for her intricate and stunning lei. Sprinkled throughout the book also are anecdotes about the fascinating history of flowers, lei, and island traditions.
The Dry and The Lost Man by Jane Harper
I first picked up Jane Harper's book The Lost Man from the shelf outside the Puako General store where people leave used books. I was fascinated with the Outback setting and planned to buy her other book The Dry. When I went back to drop off a few books at the Puako store the following week, I found The Dry sitting there waiting for me! I love books with a good sense of place and Jane is a master of this. I devoured these two books.
"After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets."
I wrote this article for Hasty Book List, a site for book lovers, and thought I would share here so you all know what I do every day. My boyfriend often teases that being an author "is not as glamorous as it sounds."
I must confess that I start work while I’m still in bed–even before I open my eyes! When I first wake up, I often just lie there and think about my story for a while and see what arises. It always feels to me that in those early morning hours, I’m closer to my unconscious mind than at any other time during the day. After that, I pull out my Macbook Air, prop myself up on a whole bunch of pillows and begin where I left off the previous day. The words don’t always come easily, sometimes it’s a real slog, but the rule is I can’t get out of bed until I’ve written at least 300 words. Most days, my dog is snoring away nearby (she’s lazy in the mornings) and my cat comes up and snuggles with me. I used to be a teacher, so I am extremely grateful for the freedom that comes from working at home, and from bed.
Once those initial words are down, I get up and make myself a green juice or hot cocoa or a decaf oat latte (I’ve never been able to drink caffeine, it makes me crazy), and check emails. Waimea, where I live with my boyfriend and our animals (his kids are off to the Mainland for school), is a quaint ranching town on Hawai’i Island at almost 3,000 foot elevation, so it’s cool up here and tends to be misty and rainy and perfect for writing. After breakfast, I go for a walk in the hills behind our house, or on a nearby trail that runs along a stream. There’s just something so magical about the sound of running water! The beach is a quick 15 minute drive down the hill, so a few days a week, I’ll go for a swim or paddle on the Kohala coast. It’s pretty much summer all year round down there, which is lovely. Fresh air and time away from the computer are so important for me, so I rarely skip. Next up, I blend up one of my delicious smoothies for a healthy boost of energy (recipe below).
How my day looks from there depends on what else I have going on. As an author these days, you really have to be up on your social media and publicity. I gravitate to Instagram and the bookish community there, but also have Facebook, Twitter and now Tiktok, though I’m just just dabbling at this point. I guard my writing time fiercely, so I make sure not to spend too much time on these other things. I have a hard time being intensely creative for extended periods, so I’ll usually write again mid morning then take lunch and do another burst mid afternoon. That’s just how my brain works. My goal for each day is 700 words, but as I near the ending of the book, I usually up that to 1,200-1,500 a day. I use a writing software program called Scrivener to help me track my word count, and I would be lost without it. While writing, I love to be near a window, so I can look out and get lost in thought if I need to, and the best room in the house for that is our dining room. Our house is nestled at the base of the Kohala Mountains and we look up at green rolling hills dotted with horses and cattle. It looks more like Scotland than Hawai’i, but I love it.
To end the day, I try to get in some yoga (either at home or a class at Waimea Yoga) because it helps me stretch out the kinks that can arise from so much time sitting in front of the computer. Or if I skipped a morning walk, I’ll take a late afternoon stroll with my sweet dog Lucy. I never write at night. That time is spent with friends and family, enjoying a sunset beer or glass of wine, and relaxing. But honestly, when I’m writing a novel, my brain seems to always be working on the story on some level. I tend to be lost in daydreams and absent minded, which sometimes drives those around me crazy. I guess the mind can only juggle so much information at once.
So, there you have it–a day in the life of one author. This is how my life is during the six months of first draft writing. Aside from that, there are many more months of plotting and research prior to starting, and more months of revising and editing afterwards. I love the editing process, which feels very different from the writing stage. When I finish the draft, I print it out and mark the whole thing up with a red pen. At this stage, I cut out overused phrases and awkward lines and try to smooth the story out. My agent gets it next, and she gives big picture feedback, which I then take and work into the novel before we shoot it off to my editor. It is a wonderful thing to have a savvy editor offering suggestions to make your book really shine. But when I first get that edit letter–which can be loooong!–I usually feel like crawling in a hole. I often cry, and then I sit on it for a few days, making notes and thinking “how on earth am I going to pull this off?” Then I dive in. I usually start with the quick and easy first and work my way up to major changes. A major edit usually takes a couple months. The difference between writing and editing is interesting, because I can literally spend all day editing with only a couple breaks here and there.
And then…I repeat the whole process over again with each new book. The work never stops, but for me it’s not work because I love it so much!
Two big handfuls of frozen blueberries
1 handful of frozen strawberries
½ -1 frozen banana broken into pieces (I prefer apple bananas)
A big handful of fresh spinach or kale from our garden (you can’t taste it at all)
1 spoonful coconut oil
1 big spoonful almond or peanut butter
1 big spoonful cacao nibs or powder (or both!)
1 Scoop Orgain Organic Protein vanilla (from Costco)
Coconut water or oat, soy, macadamia or almond milk as much as needed to make creamy (if using coconut water, use more banana)
Blend and enjoy!
These are 6 new/forthcoming books I am excited to read. This list is not genre specific or all inclusive, just a collection of books that have caught my eye. It feels strange not to have my own book coming out this summer, but that just means more time to read or listen (when I'm not revising)!
THE LAST LIFEBOAT by Hazel Gaynor
When a Nazi U-boat torpedoes the S. S. Carlisle carrying a ship of children to Canada, a single lifeboat is left adrift in the storm-tossed Atlantic. Alice and Lily, strangers to each other—one on land, the other at sea—will quickly become one another’s very best hope as their lives are fatefully entwined.
THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF TANNER AND LOUISE by Colleen Oakley
An unforgettable pairing of a college dropout and an eighty-four-year-old woman on the run from the law in this story full of tremendous heart, humor, and wit from the USA Today bestselling author of The Invisible Husband of Frick Island. HAPPY PLACE by Emily Henry
A couple who broke up months ago pretend to still be together for their annual weeklong vacation with their best friends in this glittering and wise new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Henry.
HOMECOMING by Kate Morton
A breathtaking mystery of love, lies and a cold case come back to life, told with Morton's trademark intricacy and beauty.
THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA by Patti Callahan Henry
When a woman stumbles across a mysterious children’s book, long-held secrets about her missing sister and their childhood spent in the English countryside during World War II are revealed in this “transporting, heartfelt, and atmospheric” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author) novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
THE LAST ANIMAL by Ramona Ausubel
A playful, witty, and resonant novel in which a single mother and her two teen daughters engage in a wild scientific experiment and discover themselves in the process, from the award-winning writer of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty
MY SALTWATER LOVE STORY
As you may or may not know, surfing has always been a big part of my life. My dad pushed me into my first wave when I was four at Papailoa and that was the start of my love affair with the ocean. He and his friends, legendary watermen like Peter Cole and Fred Van Dyke, were some of the earliest to ride the big waves of the north shore (or the country as we called it then), and I grew up surrounded by surf and surfers. I never got into big wave riding, I stuck with the smaller stuff, but I've always been fascinated by it. Living on the north shore of Oahu, how could I not be?
So what do you get when you have a writer fascinated by something? A BOOK!
I put together this unofficial blurb to give you an idea of what the book is about. It is still untitled, but I'm calling it my Saltwater Love Story. It releases late summer or fall 2024.
They say opposites attract. But are they meant to last?
Iwa Young’s life is high in the Maui rainforest. As a field biologist, most of her time is spent in company with trees and birds and waterfalls, and she is happiest that way. But things are about to change thanks to a mainland developer with a plan for a so-called Eco Resort in the middle of a forest of endangered species. As Iwa begins to fight for what is right, a chance encounter disrupts the flow of her neatly constructed life. His name is Dane Parsons, and he’s a big wave surfer from California with eyes blue as the ocean. But Iwa has a few impermeable rules–she’s learned from experience–and at the top of her list is Never Date A Surfer.
Dane Parsons is at the top of his game. He’s part of an underground group of legendary big wave surfers and his connection to the ocean runs deep. On Maui for a contest, he is rattled by the words of an old man on the edge of a cliff. Then he meets Iwa and his mind is blown. But Iwa wants nothing to do with Dane until she finds out he just may be able to help protect her beloved forest and waterfall. Always on the hunt for the ultimate ride, Dane suddenly glimpses something even greater, but just out of reach.
In this thunderous love story told in alternating viewpoints, we travel deep into the Maui rainforest, walking through clouds in search of lost birds, and hopping across the globe from Maui to Mavericks to Portugal, chasing waves the size of nine story buildings–where the unthinkable is always just one breath away, because as Mark Foo once said, if you want to ride the ultimate wave, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price.
Wishing all of you a fabulous day or a fabulous night, and a fabulous life.