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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Lenhardt

Welcome to The Subtext, an occasional blog about writing, the publishing business, and Hazel!

Not necessarily in that order.

A black and white photo of the best, most beautiful blonde Golden Retriever that ever lived or ever will live. Her name is Hazel.
Hazel's first trip to Lowe's. She was a very good girl.

Yes, it's that time of year again. January 1st. The day I make resolutions and promises to myself and, sooner than I care to admit, abandon each and every one of them. Which is why the title of this post says "occasional blog." If you've been subscribed to my newsletter for a while, you've seen this before.

What's different this time? For starters, I've been absent for too long. For a variety of reasons that I may or may not get into on future posts, I've been distracted by life for the last few years. Covid, divorce, coming out, empty nesting, deciding to be a digital nomad, traveling, falling in love, deciding that I'm not a nomad and I need my own home base and not couch surf, buying a new home, family, losing friends and making new ones...It's been a lot. What has suffered is my connection with my readers, my motivation, and my creativity.

I want all three of those things back, desperately. Each and every one is down to me.

Hello. Good to see you again. Let me catch you up on my career.

Career-wise, three things of note have happened in the last three years. My first Women's fiction novel, THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME, was released in August 2020. It's gotten great reader reviews but sales have just been okay. All writers want their books to be bestsellers, but few are. The ones that make it are either by a current bestselling author, a critically acclaimed literary darling, or the book that the publisher decides is their key title for that season. Sadly, none of these three apply to me or The Secret of You and Me. (You may be wondering what a Key Title is. I'll definitely go into this in a future post so stay tuned.)

The second thing of note is that HERESY was released as an audiobook and won the 2022 Audie Award for Best Multi-Voiced Performance. (The Audies are the Oscars for audiobooks.) It's my first major book award and I'm incredibly happy about it. If you like audiobooks you should definitely check it out. HERESY is on sale for $0.99 right now on Amazon Kindle!

(So is SAWBONES, the first novel in my feminist Western trilogy!)

The third thing is I wrote a romance novel under the pen name, Laura Henry, called HOLD ME CLOSER, TONI DANZIG. Yes, there was karaoke in it. It was an Audible Original novella and was released in December 2021. There will be an e-book version coming, hopefully this year. If you'd like to listen to the audiobook, here you go!

What's on tap for 2023?

My second Women's fiction novel, RUN BABY RUN, will be released on June 13, 2023. It's the story of an estranged mother and daughter who embark on a road trip to try to repair their relationship with disastrous, and sometimes funny, results. This book has almost been the death of me. It didn't help that I was writing it during the worst time of my life and that repercussions from Covid in the publishing industry delayed things on that side of the ball, too. I've spent a lot of time with these characters, in many different iterations, and I'm ready for them to finally be out in the world. I should have cover art and a book description soon, but it's up on Amazon so if you want to get a jump and pre-order, I'd love you forever.

What I'm reading

I have a cousin in Lexington who has a Bourbon Hall of Fame, a cabinet full of rare and not so rare bottles of bourbon. Bourbon and water is my drink of choice. I guess it's natural that I had a Laura Henry story idea set in bourbon country, which led me to this book for research. I'm finding it a difficult read, not because it's poorly written, but because it's steeped in nostalgia for a lost birthright. If you like bourbon and history and hate the way marketers and accountants have sucked all of the tradition and craft out of the world, this is the book for you.

What I'm listening to

Female serial killers are having a moment in fiction and this one looked interesting. I'm a little over halfway through (listening to audiobooks is slow going when you only listen while running errands) and while the book is well-written and I like the main character, I was getting a little frustrated and bored with all the flashbacks. I've finally arrived at the point where flashback meets the current timeline and I'm excited again. I'm pretty sure I know who the killer is. I'll let you know if I'm correct (without spoiling it, that is).

What I'm watching

The White Lotus, Glass Onion, Forrest Gump, The Thin Man, NFL, Criminal UK, Mission Impossible (all of them), Daniel Craig's James Bond movies, The Shop Around the Corner, You've Got Mail, and so many that I'm forgetting. I've watched a lot of TV over the holidays and should probably shave my tv watching time down and replace it with reading.

What I'm writing

That's the question, isn't it? For the first time in years I'm not under contract. Which means the world is my creative oyster. I have a few ideas. This week I need to settle on one. What will it be? Your guess is as good as mine!

Golden retriever laying on a couch under a so ugly it's charming blanket made 50+ years ago.
Hazel napping under a quilt my grandmother made.


Hazel is 4 1/2 and a little quirky, bless her heart. Sometimes hallways scare her so she backs her way through them into the other room. Or she might need me to walk next to her through the hallway. She's sweet and snuggly and very food obsessed. I love her to bits. Here's another photo just because.

Let me know what you're reading/watching/listening to in the comments!

If you purchase books from the links above I will receive affiliate earnings from Amazon.

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