Letters, Poems and Songs: 7 Books with Creative Formats

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This month in BookTrib, we are celebrating women’s fiction titles that include poems, songs, newspaper articles, SM posts, blogs, or other forms of presenting words to drive the story’s narrative. The focus of the narrative is of course the main character’s journey but the author has used other creative forms to tell the story. We’re looking forward to reading the ways you have created the tone and pace of your work.

THE TENDER SILVER STARS by Pamela Stockwell

In 1972, change is sweeping the world, but it isn’t coming fast enough to South Carolina. Not for Triss Littlefield, anyway. She has always wanted to become an attorney, but her influential grandfather who raised her won’t hear of it. She attempts to go it on her own—until she commits an impetuous act that threatens to derail her life. 

Everlove Porter, the daughter of a working-class family, is not looking for change, but it finds her anyway. Everlove has always followed the rules—until one day she doesn’t and blows up the life she has always known. 

Both women also harbor secrets. Everlove’s is her deep desire to be a writer, but she doesn’t have the confidence to try—until her roommate and friend Triss discovers a poem Everlove wrote and is captivated. And as for Triss—she stole money from her boss to help people he’s trying to evict and is worried he will find out. Together, Everlove and Triss look into the boss’s past and discover newspaper articles about a scandalous death he may have been involved in. Can the two women each find a path forward and build new lives from the ones they shattered?

WHAT HAPPENS IN MONTANA by Kim McCollum

A girlfriends’ reunion at a haunted, holistic hot springs retreat in Montana leads to spilled secrets and betrayal, but does it also lead to murder?

Whiskey-swigging Maude Reeves, the nearly eighty-year-old chef, longs for the glory days when the retreat hosted martini-sipping celebrities instead of long-haired hippies who refuse to wear deodorant. She prefers the company of her dog and the ghost who haunts the retreat to regular people, but one of the ladies who arrives for the reunion bears a striking resemblance to her late daughter, and she is helplessly drawn in. Haunting the place is a ghost who, in life, dealt with tragedy by turning to prostitution which led to her murder over 100 years ago at the very place they are all staying.

What Happens in Montana explores friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness with blunt truth and witty insights. Join Maude and her newfound friends as they confront the challenges of life, love, and the occasional poltergeist.

THE LOST DRESSES OF ITALY by M. A. McLaughlin

Verona, 1947, Textile historian Marianne Baxter comes to post-war Italy with one thing on her mind: three pristine Victorian dresses, once owned by the famous poet Christina Rossetti. Hidden away in a trunk for nearly a century, they were recently discovered at the Fondazione Museo Menigatti and Marianne’s expertise is needed before they go on exhibit. Still grieving the loss of her husband, the trip is also a reason for Marianne to start over. But when she arrives, she discovers an unsupportive museum owner, a superstitious local community, and a mysterious letter with a scribbled warning hidden among the dresses.

Verona, 1864, Christina Rossetti returns to her family’s homeland in hopes of leaving her unfulfilled personal life and poetry career in England and beginning a new chapter. After a chance encounter with an old family friend, she finds a gift her father once gave her: a small ornate box with the three Muses carved into the lid. When she stumbles across a secret compartment, Christina finds a letter from her father with an urgent and personal request.

The letter, speaking of a pendant and stolen book that must be returned, connects Marianne and Christina—and leaves them both with more questions than answers. Inspired by the real-life mysteries surrounding poet Christina Rossetti, The Lost Dresses transports readers to Verona with the enchantment and intrigue of Italian art and fashion.

A DEEPER DIVE by Deborah Madar

Retired and widowed librarian Merrill Connor is ready to fade quietly into the sunset.  But her persistent friends refuse to let her give up on life. Because of their belief in her, she reinvents herself as a podcaster who eventually gains a passionate fan base. Her first podcasts reveal forgotten details from the history of her small town, but after Merrill’s rabid curiosity leads her to find a missing Amish teenager, her podcast, A DEEPER DIVE becomes a “must listen to” program. The county sheriff is a fan of the podcast, and he hires her as a research assistant for his department. Another listener is the daughter of a woman who went missing twenty years before, and she reaches out to Merrill for help.

As Merrill researches the cold case, she enlists her fans to come forward with information about Grace Phillips, the missing woman. Merrill’s “deeper dive” into that mystery turns into a nightmare when her research inevitably leads her into the direct path of a killer. 

A DEEPER DIVE showcases Merrill’s courage to change and grow later in life, and her tenacity as she attempts to solve a cold case. It’s book one in a series where Merrill creates intriguing podcast episodes, and the DIVERS, her loyal fans, join her as she attempts to solve another mystery.

HALFWAY TO YOU by Jennifer Gold

An ambitious podcaster and her reclusive interviewee embark on a life-altering journey to uncover long-lost truths in this immersive story about love, travel, and family secrets.

Forty years ago, aspiring writer Ann Fawkes left the United States for a Mediterranean adventure that opened her heart to travel and love. After a chance encounter propels her into the publishing world, she releases her first novel, an instant bestseller—and the last book she ever writes. Now, Ann lives a reclusive life in the San Juan Islands, hiding from the public and its probing questions. But when podcaster Maggie Whitaker convinces Ann to sit for an interview, Ann agrees on one condition: Maggie must keep her story off the record. 

Determined to change Ann’s mind before she loses her job, Maggie agrees. But as she learns about Ann’s life, the love affair that inspired her novel and the decisions she made in its wake, Maggie realizes Ann’s story intersects with her own in shocking, life-changing ways.

A sweeping, heart-wrenching novel that spans decades and continents, Halfway to You explores the distances we create between ourselves and the ones we love most and what it takes to finally bridge them.

MY SECRET TO KEEP by Barbara Conrey

When Maggie Bryan works up the nerve to tell her parents she’s pregnant, they immediately disown her. Later that night, her boyfriend is killed. In desperation, she turns to her brother, Sam. Against his wife’s wishes, Sam brings Maggie to his home in rural Pennsylvania.

While Maggie awaits the birth of her child and navigates the tension in her new home, she decides to finish high school. There, she meets Anne Phillips, a volunteer educator and architect. Over time, Maggie becomes drawn to Anne in ways she doesn’t understand, but she knows enough to keep her feelings hidden.

After a devastating loss, Maggie tries to move on, but secrets and betrayals keep her from living her fullest life. Beginning in the late 1940s and spanning decades, My Secret to Keep portrays a woman at war with society, her family, and herself.

SONG OF THE CHIMNEY SWEEP by Tamatha Cain

A cryptic blog post leads cold case podcasters Melody and Dorian on a twisty journey back in time to uncover the mysterious story of a forgotten missing woman.
 
In 1969 near the Florida/Georgia Line, idealistic young Betty Langdon and fast-rising R&B singer Dominicus Owens begin an irresistible but dangerous interracial romance that ends under mysterious, heartbreaking circumstances. Betty is forced to return to her rural home to care for her manipulative mother, while Dominicus goes on to mega-stardom with his band The Downtown Sound. She follows his skyrocketing career from behind the front desk of a dying highway motel–until one day decades later, she disappears.
 
Now, a popular true-crime podcast produced by college friends Melody Hinterson and Dorian Santos takes on the cold case of a missing local woman. When the investigation uncovers the missing woman’s diaries full of family secrets and the local legend of a fortune hidden in an old chimney somewhere in town, the truth behind the podcast’s mystery becomes personal, and Melody must make life-changing choices before the final episode airs.

 

 



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