Yes, that would be the most enormous belly on the planet---moi, days, if not moments (wishful thinking?) away from having baby boy #3. Notice, I'm smiling in this picture only because my husband has told me to smile. Not much of a trooper at the very end of pregnancy, I'll admit. But here I am, in all of my swollen, puffiness (it should also be noted that I am not wearing makeup)! I can't wait to meet my little guy. Baby photos coming soon---I hope!

I'm so happy to announce that my second novel, tentatively titled The Bungalow, has just been sold to my terrific editor, Denise Roy, at Penguin (Plume). We had such a blast working together on The Violets of March (debuting on April 26th!), and I'm so thrilled to start the process anew again with a new book! Thank you to my dear agent, Elisabeth Weed, for her guidance and editorial eye! We're gearing up for a spring/summer 2012 release (that's just a year after The Violets of March makes its way into the world! Have you pre-ordered your copy? I'd be so honored if you did!), and I'll be sharing lots of exciting updates as we gear up to publication. For now, I wanted to tell you a little about this new story, which I'm so very proud of (am I allowed to say that?!). After mulling some other second novel ideas, I was struck (literally, like a lightning bolt) with the idea for this book, which takes place partially in the South Pacific during World War II. The title, The Bungalow, came to me immediately, and I then imagined a story to go with it. Funny tidbit: I wrote the book in the period of a few months during the second trimester of my (current) pregnancy. I, oddly, get very creative in the second trimester! Anyone else experience this phenomenon? So, more about the story: I'm no stranger to the South Pacific. After Jason and I honeymooned there in 2001--on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea--I fell in love with French Polynesia, its people, culture, scenery, food and feel. We stayed in a rickety old beach bungalow for part of our stay, and I never imagined that my time there as a new bride would inspire a novel that has absolutely captured my heart. Those of you who know about Violets know of that the novel is partially set in 1943, and it's true, I have a fascination with the 1940s. I've not only gone back to the 1940s for this story, but I've plucked a character from Violets into this new book. It's not a sequel, but the stories link together in a way that will make readers of Violets smile (I hope) with familiarity. For now, I'll leave you with a short synopsis for this new novel--just to pique your interest a bit: In the summer of 1942, Anne Calloway, then 21 years old, left her home in Seattle, and her sweet, but predictable fiancé to join her best friend Kitty on the adventure of their lives serving in the Army Nurse Corps on the island of Bora Bora in the South Pacific. During her year in service, Anne’s heart becomes captured by Westry, a mysterious soldier unlike any man she’s ever met. As their friendship grows, together they discover an abandoned beach bungalow not far from the base. The thatched-roof hideaway becomes their secret, a place where romance, and a deep love, blooms. But their private little world is forever rocked by a gruesome act of violence that they, alone, witness, and the burden it leaves them to carry. Before they can come to terms with the crime, Westry is deployed elsewhere, leaving Anne behind to wonder and wait. Years later, in 2005, Anne, now frail and in the final years of her life, receives a letter, postmarked from the Tahitian Islands, that forces her to relive the passion and the heartbreak of her past. Despite her ailing health, she and her granddaughter embark on a journey back to the island, and to the bungalow, where the story began. Armed with new clues--both about the murder and Westry--Anne is determined to find answers to the questions, and the love, that have haunted her for more than 60 years. [Photo: Destination360.com]

Is there anything more comforting that toast? Whether you like yours smothered in butter (or the decadent Irish butter in the photo above) or with almond butter and apricot jam and a hot cup of tea, as I do, isn't it just the ultimate in quick comfort? In my novel, The Violets of March, I included a passage about toast. But what might pass as simple little description actually was rooted in a meaningful memory from my life. I'll get to that in sec, but first, I wanted to share that Dawn, the lovely blogger over at She Is Too Fond of Books, began reading an advance copy of Violets over the weekend, and wrote to see if she could share an exceprt from the book with her blog readers. (Of course, I said yes, and here's the post---thank you Dawn!) The passage? Yep, the bit on toast! Let me share it with you: "Bee. I could picture her immediately at her Bainbridge Island kitchen table. For every day I have known her, she has eaten the same breakfast: sourdough toast with butter and whipped honey. She slices the golden brown toasted bread into four small squares and places them on a paper towel she has folded in half. A generous smear of softened butter goes on each piece, as thick as frosting on a cupcake, and each is then topped by a good-size dollop of whipped honey. As a child, I watched her do this hundreds of times, and now, when I’m sick, sourdough toast with butter and honey is like medicine." While my book is a work of fiction, of course, I certainly borrowed from the details of my life, and that sourdough toast? It's exactly the way my late grandmother Cecelia ate her breakfast for decades. I co-dedicated the book to her, and I only wish she could be here now to read Violets, and maybe have a slice of toast with me. What's your favorite comfort breakfast? [Photo: Jules: Stonesoup]

Fun news to share! Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling novelist (and you may have seen her recent novel-turned-film, "My Sisters Keeper" starring Cameron Diaz) read The Violets of March and shared this beautiful endorsement for my debut novel: "Mix a love story, history, and a mystery and what takes root? THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, a novel that reminds us how the past comes back to haunt us, and packs a few great surprises for the reader along the way. " —Jodi Picoult, author of Sing You Home & House Rules I think I'll have a smile on my face for the rest of the year about this. An enormous thanks to Jodi for taking the time out of her busy schedule to read!

As the publication of The Violets of March nears, I'm so grateful for the kind souls who have shared encouragement and support for my debut novel around the web, whether on their blogs or via Facebook or Twitter. It means so much to me! I wanted to share a few places where people have kindly mentioned Violets recently: Chick Lit Reviews: Thanks to Danielle for the terrific shout-out on this fantastic UK women's fiction blog! She writes: "I recently learned about the release of Sarah Jio’s debut novel The Violets of March and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since watching the book trailer.