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Tim Johnston wasn't always going to be an author. He had drawing in his blood --- doodling, sketching and wiling away the hours over his sketchpad as a boy. But when his mother gave him DRAWING THE HUMAN FIGURE, a book of figure studies, she inadvertently set him down another path. He discovered the artistic potential in the collision of image and text, which eventually would lead him to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. This January, his circuitous path comes to fruition with the publication of his first novel, DESCENT. Enjoy his musings on that process below.
Award-winning journalist Joanne Huist Smith began writing short stories and journaling when she was only nine years old. Like all good bookworms, she was inspired to write (and shorten her first name) by Jo March, the heroine of Louisa May Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN. Jo’s memoir, THE 13TH GIFT, is about how she and her family pulled together after the unexpected death of her husband with a little help from friends. Here, Jo shares how one good friend (and two amazing poems) moved her to pursue her passion for writing.
Ann Hood is the author of six works of fiction, including the bestseller THE KNITTING CIRCLE and, most recently, AN ITALIAN WIFE, a heartfelt journey through an Italian woman’s family of daughters, granddaughters and even great-granddaughters as they decide what it means to be Italian-American. Here, Ann talks about her perennially unrequited wish to receive books for Christmas --- a wish that persisted into adulthood, despite her own Italian-American mother’s insistence that she settle for more practical gifts.
Like many of us, Robin Antalek knows a good used book sale when she sees one. She has been sifting through secondhand books since childhood and, in her first Holiday Author Blog, shares the story behind one of her favorite finds. You can find Robin's own book, THE SUMMER WE FELL APART, on sale this holiday season --- and be sure to look for her forthcoming second novel, THE GROWN UPS, on January 27th!
Steve Berry is the internationally bestselling author of numerous thrillers, including THE LINCOLN MYTH (now out in paperback) and THE KING'S DECEPTION. His passion for history shines through in each of his books, including the forthcoming THE PATRIOT THREAT, a suspenseful look at the legality of the 16th Amendment. Here, Steve, a lifelong reader, recounts his most memorable Christmas gift and how it started his most cherished collection.  
Danny Aiello is the kind of beloved actor who slips into roles as if they were a worn pair of shoes --- comfortably, with grace and no discernible effort. This chameleon-like quality resonates in his real life, a theme he explores in his recent memoir, I ONLY KNOW WHO I AM WHEN I AM SOMEBODY ELSE. In it, he reveals what is obvious to those who know him: his heart, his passion and his guts. Here, Lorenzo Carcaterra, bestselling author and Danny's cousin, shares a close account of Danny's amazing life. From living hand-to-mouth on the rough streets of New York City to his illustrious on- and off-screen career, Danny certainly has overcome some amazing odds. Lorenzo reveals the surprisingly sensitive man behind the legend, a true fighter whose path lies along a Samuel Beckett quote.
Debut author Mallory Kasdan is no stranger to the wide world of entertainment. A popular voice actor, Mallory also blogs about parenting issues and once accompanied RuPaul on a five-city book tour. Her forthcoming children's book, ELLA, tells the story of a wild and groovy six-year-old living in The Local Hotel with her pets, scooter and bursting creativity. In this Holiday Author Blog, Mallory discusses one of her favorite children's books, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and how gifted books can create bonds that span decades and generations.
Daniel Palmer, son of the late author Michael Palmer, has a long history with entertainment. Since his early years as a musician, he has also enjoyed great success in the book industry as a techno-thriller writer. His latest book, DESPERATE, follows a couple's heartbreaking struggles with becoming parents. When a young homeless pregnant woman comes into their lives, it seems that they will finally get the family they've always wanted --- but her arrival also brings sinister pranks that may destroy them. Here, Palmer discusses his history with books, explaining a heartwarming childhood tradition of shared books that he hopes to begin again with his family.  
Like her second novel, LIZZY & JANE, Katherine Reay's Holiday Author Blog is all about family. How do parents --- and great-aunts --- shape kids' lives? Through books, of course! The holidays are the perfect time to inspire reluctant readers with a specially chosen gift. Whoever it comes from, the right book can give shape to an idle afternoon or Christmas morning, and will surely last longer than the latest meme.
The inspiration for a book can come from anywhere, but what spurs someone to become an author in the first place? For novelist Laura Lane McNeal, it was a special shelf in the middle school library that held books written by graduates of the school. Laura swore that she would add one of her own books to those ranks, and with the publication of her debut novel, DOLLBABY, this year, she succeeded. Here is the story of a Christmas gift that helped shape her journey.