Guest Post: Hannah Beckerman, author of The Dead Wife’s Handbook

Today I’m very pleased to have Hannah Beckerman on the blog. Welcome Hannah! Hannah is the author of The Dead Wife’s Handbook, which was released in Australia and New Zealand yesterday. Congratulations! This is Hannah’s first novel and she has graciously answered some questions put to her by yours truly (proving that I am no journalist, even though I did do work experience at a newspaper in high school). I love meeting a fellow planner!

Thank you so much for joining me today Hannah on Sam Still Reading. A lot of people say that they’d really like to write, but never get to that part where they put words on the page. What was your journey to writing The Dead Wife’s Handbook?


When you tell people your debut novel’s being published, I think lots of people assume that it’s the first book you’ve ever tried to write. I suspect that’s probably not true for anyone. The Dead Wife’s Handbook is probably the third or fourth book I’ve started (although only the second I’ve ever finished!) I’ve been writing in my spare time for the best part of fifteen years. And everything I’ve ever tried to write I believed was a strong idea. But I guess different ideas stick at different times and I got lucky with The Dead Wife’s Handbook in that an agent and then a publisher thought it might be an idea that could stick right now. So I think most publishing journeys are probably long and fraught and populated with self-doubt.


How do you organize your writing? Do you meticulously plan or let the characters take over? Do you write regularly, even if you feel the words aren’t flowing?

I’m a very meticulous planner! After I’ve had an idea and sketched out a rough plot, I start researching – and that can take anything from a few weeks to a few months. Then I write a detailed chapter breakdown, filled with the notes I’ve made and the ideas I’ve had, which leaves me with a pretty detailed plan (usually about 25k words long). And then I start to write. Different things then emerge during the writing process – links you hadn’t been aware of before, new aspects of someone’s character – so things always change a bit. Also, I redraft a lot: the finished version of The Dead Wife’s Handbook was the twenty-second draft, I think. And I probably could have gone on and on if I hadn’t had a deadline!

Do you have any tips for budding authors?

I think my advice to any aspiring novelists is really simple: read a lot and write a lot. It’s so true that you only become a writer by actually writing (and that you often have to write quite a lot of rubbish before writing something half-decent). And reading is really where you learn your craft: I’d be amazed if there were any good writers in the world who weren’t also avid readers.

The Dead Wife’s Handbook has a very emotional plot – was it difficult writing this? Did you draw on any resources?


I was definitely very emotional when I was writing it. Some of the scenes between Max and Ellie (the widower and his daughter) I found quite painful to write and would frequently end up in tears – even on the fifteenth or sixteenth draft.


In terms of drawing on resources, I studied a lot of psychoanalytic theory as part of my English degree and that’s an area I’ve always been interested in: for me, it’s less big events in the world that interest me as the nuances of human relationships. So I read a lot of books around grief and loss, both memoirs (such as Joan Didion’s brilliant ‘The Year Of Magical Thinking’) and psychology books (most notably, Irvin D Yalom’s wonderful ‘Staring at the Sun’).


Social media plays a big role these days in promotion of everything – whether it be news, music or books. Do you believe the author has a role on social media and if so, what do you think that role should consist of?


I think an author should be on social media if it’s something they’re comfortable with and they enjoy. I love it so I’m on it a lot! I do think it has a huge role to play in the publishing world today – not least book bloggers who have a great influence on books achieving word-of-mouth success, which is all good since they’re readers first and foremost. In terms of what the role should consist of – I suppose I don’t really think of it in those terms. I just think you should be yourself and people will either warm to that or they won’t. I definitely don’t think social media should be used purely for self-promotion (I tend to unfollow anyone on Twitter who bombards me with endless sales pitches!)


I completely understand why some writers don’t want to be involved in it: it does take up a lot of time during which you could otherwise be writing. But I really like and value the conversations I have on social media: I’ve met some lovely people, I’ve had phenomenal support and getting bloggers’ feedback first-hand has been really instructive and instrumental for me in thinking about book 2. So I wouldn’t have it any other way!


Thank you Hannah for stopping by. You can find Hannah on Twitter (@hannahbeckerman) – she really is lovely, I can attest to that – or at her gorgeous website ( Here’s more about The Dead Wife’s Handbook for you to read about – doesn’t it sound like a great read?


‘Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.’

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life – until the night Rachel’s heart stopped beating.

Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can’t forget her, Rachel can’t quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.

You can buy The Dead Wife’s Handbook by clicking on any of these links:


Amazon AU | Kobo | Google Play | Sony | Bookworld | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Bookworld | Booktopia | Readings | Dymocks | Book Depository










Guest Post: Juliet Madison, author of February or Forever

Today I’m excited to welcome Juliet Madison to Sam Still Reading. Juliet writes not only ‘ro-magic’ novels (romance with magical elements) but has also started a wonderful new series set in the small coastal town of Tarrin’s Bay. I adored The January Wish and am really looking forward to the second book, February or Forever which is now available worldwide. Thanks Juliet for sharing about February or Forever! Now if you excuse me, I’m off to do some reading – the excerpt below has whetted my appetite!


Genre: Contemporary coastal romance, women’s fiction.

Available worldwide from all ebook retailers 1st February.

Published by Escape Publishing.

In this heartwarming coastal romance, Escape bestselling author Juliet Madison asks, what if your favourite celebrity fell in love with you?

Yoga teacher and single mother, Chrissie Burns has a plan: move into the rundown beach house left to her by her deceased aunt, renovate it, sell it, and move on. The scene of a terrible accident years ago, the house needs to get out of Chrissie’s hands as soon as possible.

But Tarrin’s Bay, where the house stands, has more to offer than bad memories. The town is lovely, the people friendly, and even Chrissie’s young son finds friends and begins coming out of his shell. Employed at Serendipity Retreat as a yoga instructor, Chrissie is shocked to be given the role of private teacher to Drew Williams, Australia’s top singer/songwriter for the month.

Relationships between instructors and clients are strictly forbidden, but Drew draws happiness out of Chrissie with his down-to-earth nature and sense of humour. Days of stretching and bending may bring Chrissie unexpected peace and strength, but she knows that this interlude must end, and there’s no pose or position to aid her when Drew walks away and leaves her broken-hearted.

Buy Now:
Amazon / Amazon UK / Amazon Aus / iTunes / Kobo / B&N Nook / GooglePlay / All Romance / Ebooks.Com / Booktopia / JB Hi-Fi / Big W / Escape Publishing

Watch the Book Video Trailer:

Visit Juliet online: website, blog, facebook, Goodreads, and twitter.


He stood, hands on hips, panting, and glanced at the rock formation next to him. Yep, I can do that. He grabbed hold of some protruding rocks and pulled himself up, placing his foot on a concave part, then his other foot higher up, gripping and grabbing and pulling. He reached the top and scanned the magnificent stretch of horizon from his vantage point. Man, he missed this. Missed getting out in nature and going with the flow. He turned to the left, his focus resting on the old double-storey beach house that’d stood the test of time. Its white weatherboard exterior, faded and peeling from the salty air, like an elderly person whose wrinkly skin had seen many summers. The house was in a prime secluded location, with its own backyard pocket of beach as the rocky hill gave way and opened up to let the sandy shore spread up towards the house.

He glanced at the ocean, its rippling waves hypnotising him for a moment, then turned back to face the house where someone sat on the verandah. A woman. Her head was buried in her hands, and a long blonde ponytail dangled over her shoulder.

Chrissie? She lives there?

Drew felt suddenly self-conscious, like he was intruding, even though technically he was standing on public property. Is she okay? He hesitated on the rocky ledge, unsure whether to go over and talk to her or leave before she noticed him. Before he could decide, she turned to the left and picked up a phone, bringing it to her ear. She got up and tucked a strand of hair behind her other ear, and walked around the side of the house, obscuring his view.

Intrigue wound its way around Drew’s spine as he climbed back down the rocks.

What’s her story?

He had twenty-six days to find out.

Guest Post: Rachael Johns, author of Outback Dreams

I’m so excited to share with you today my first guest post ever with the talented Rachael Johns. Rachael is the author of Outback Dreams, released today by Harlequin (read my review tomorrow) and Man Drought, Jilted, Stand-in Star and One Perfect Night. Welcome Rachael!

Hi Sam and Sam’s friends – thanks so much for having me on your gorgeous blog.

Although I write romance, I also read a lot of women’s fiction and one of the aspects of women’s fiction I particularly enjoy is the female friendships that are portrayed. I myself have some very close female friends, who I have grown up with and still see regularly. They are my sounding boards when I’m not sure what to do, my ears when I’m upset and my co-pilots when I’m out to have some fun. I wouldn’t be without them and therefore I like my heroines also to have good friends they can rely on.

In MAN DROUGHT, Imogen had Amy and Jenna, who were a huge part of her life and the book.

In my new release OUTBACK DREAMS the heroine, Faith, has always been one of the guys. Her best friend is Monty (the hero) and her next closest friend is Adam (the hero of OUTBACK GHOST, which I’m currently writing). Her fave movies are Star Wars, she prefers beer to wine and isn’t great at shopping, but she doesn’t realise what she’s missing in terms of female friendship until Ruby Jones comes on the scene.

Ruby is Monty’s love interest and at first this makes Faith HUGELY wary of her. She thinks she’s just being protective because Ruby hasn’t shown much interest in Monty, but the truth is she’s jealous and until she looks past this, she doesn’t see Ruby as a potential friend. A forced trip to the next nearest town and a spontaneous shopping trip throws these two together and Faith finds herself having one of the best days she’s had in a long time.


‘I’m sorry, Ruby.’

Setting her handbag on the floor by her chair, Ruby looked up. Her brow furrowed. ‘What about? You were great back there. I made you try on a zillion dresses and you didn’t roll your eyes once. Well, maybe once.’

Ruby’s light-hearted response gave Faith an out and she guessed that to be her intention, but her behaviour really had been unwarranted. She thought of her warm-hearted mum. Cassie would never have been so quick to judge a newcomer to town, and that made her more determined to offer a proper apology.

‘I’m so sorry I was such a bitch to you.’

A light red tinge crept into Ruby’s cheeks and she shook her head. ‘Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you had your reasons.’

‘I can’t for the life of me imagine what they were,’ admitted Faith. ‘You’ve been a godsend these last few weeks, helping me with the ball. And who knows what I’d have worn if you hadn’t taken the reins today.’

Ruby smiled. ‘I’m sure you’d have chosen something fabulous. And as for why you didn’t like me, may I make a suggestion?’

Faith blinked and nervously said, ‘Go ahead.’

‘I think he starts with M and ends with Y.’

The waitress chose that moment to deliver their hot chocolates. Faith all but snatched hers from the woman’s tray, wrapping her fingers around the mug, drawing warmth and searching for courage. She couldn’t bring herself to meet Ruby’s gaze.

‘I’m right, aren’t I?’ Ruby persisted.

Faith shrugged. ‘Maybe. I was worried you would break his heart. I really can’t explain it, but I feel so protective of him. He’s my best friend in the world.’

‘I think he’s a lot more than that,’ Ruby said. When Faith didn’t say anything, she continued. ‘My guess is you’re in love with him.’

Oh geez. ‘Is it that obvious?’

Ruby nodded. ‘To me, yes. But Monty’s male. He probably doesn’t have a clue. You should tell him how you feel.’

Nausea reared in Faith’s belly at the thought. ‘I don’t know if I can,’ she blurted. ‘He’s never given any indication that he feels the same way.’

‘I think sleeping with you is pretty good indication.’

Faith winced. ‘You know about that?’

Ruby nodded but there was no malice in her expression or her words. ‘Why do you think he and I were over before we even begun?’

‘I’m so sorry.’ She bit her lip, shame washing over her.

‘Would you quit saying you’re sorry?’ Ruby laughed and picked up her mug. She took a long sip of her drink.

‘I don’t know what else to say,’ Faith replied. She poured sugar into her already sweet hot chocolate and stirred it vigorously. ‘I’m so embarrassed. I promise I never ever meant it to happen and I certainly didn’t mean to hurt you. I feel so ashamed. It’s all a big fat mess.’

‘Where men are involved it’s always a mess.’ Ruby waved her hand as if telling Faith to forget it. ‘And Monty and I were never really together, so technically, you did nothing wrong.’

‘That’s a very generous way of looking at it.’

‘Anyway,’ Ruby mused, ‘what’s happened has happened. The difference between you and me is that I’m not in love with Monty, and right now, I could use a friend a lot more than I could use a man. I’d really like it if we could be friends, Faith.’

I really enjoyed writing the journey from enemies to good friends for Faith and Ruby. Ruby who was initially just a secondary character became more to me as she did to Faith, so much so that I decided to write her story in OUTBACK BLAZE.

I love writing about secondary characters as much as I like writing about the hero and heroine, which is probably why I failed miserably at writing short romances for Mills & Boon, where the focus is solely on the hero and heroine.

What about you? Do you prefer your romances to also explore other types of relationships as well?

Thanks for having me Sam!






Harlequin Australia, 1st October 2013

Faith and Monty are both looking for love…but they’re looking in the wrong direction.

Faith Forrester is at a crossroads. Single, thirty and living on a farm in a small Western Australian town, she’s sick of being treated like a kitchen slave by her brother and father. Ten years ago, her mother died of breast cancer, and Faith has been treading water ever since. She wants to get her hands dirty on the family farm. She wants to prove to herself that she’s done something worthwhile with her life. And she wants to find a man…??

For as long as he can remember, Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property and moved to Perth, and ever since, Monty’s dreamed of having his own farm. So for the last ten years, he’s been back on the land, working odd jobs and saving every dollar to put toward his dream. Now he finally has the deposit. But there’s still something missing…??

So when Faith embarks on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart, and Monty’s dream property comes on the market, things seem like they are falling into place for them both. Until a drunken night out ends with them sleeping together. Suddenly, the best friends are faced with a new load of challenges…

Monty and Faith are both ready to find a life partner and settle down, but have they both been looking in all the wrong places?

To-buy links:




Google Play


Thank you Rachael for the post! I loved Ruby as a character and I’m glad to see that she returns in OUTBACK BLAZE. I like a little bit more in my romance/women’s fiction type books – sometimes the secondary characters are just as interesting as the main pair!