Thank you to everyone who entered my contests in the last week, and an especially big thanks to Jodi Picoult for sharing my novel with her readers. (If you haven't checked out Jodi's brand new Facebook page---please do!) I recieved a flood of entries (about 1,200), wow! Because of the outpouring of interest, I decided to give away an extra two copies of my novel. So, the winners are: Grand prize winner: Pat Daugherty, who won a signed copy of The Violets of March, an early signed copy of my second novel, The Bungalow, chocolates and a Starbucks gift card. Two additional winners: April Wisch and Leslie Gordon (both won a signed copy of Violets) Also, for those of you who entered my Target contest, I wanted to share that the winner is Erica Ferland, who won a signed copy of The Violets of March, an early signed copy of my second novel, The Bungalow, and a Starbucks gift card! If you didn't win, I'd be so thrilled if you looked for The Violets of March at your favorite bookstore (or you can order it online here or here), and I'd be so excited if you pre-ordered The Bungalow, too! (It comes out on December 27th!)

Now that it's finally summer in Seattle (sort of), and we've had our first 80-degree day, my husband and I have been spending as much time in the backyard as possible. We recently purchased this umbrella for the deck and I decked it out with some lanterns. I think they're so romantic! I love it when the sun goes down, and we turn on the lanterns! J and I enjoy a glass of wine on the deck after the kids are in bed and it's just us (us and Paisley the dog!). I love summer! (P.S. If you're wondering what those oddball things are on our side table (besides the wine), they are our four-year-old's bug catching paraphaneila. He currently has a pet spider that he trapped.)

I love summer reading, which is why I'm giving away a signed copy of my novel, The Violets of March to one lucky winner---along with a box of goodies (some of my favorite gourmet chocolate from Theo in Seattle and a Starbucks gift card!). To enter, all you have to do is two things: a.) Leave a comment below telling me what you're reading this summer, or excited to read this summer, and b.) Head on over to Jodi Picoult's brand new official Facebook page and click "like" (she's new to Facebook so let's welcome her! She also happens to be one of my very favorite authors whose lovely quote is on the cover of my novel!) You get an extra entry for tweeting about this contest, posting on your Facebook page with the link and "liking" my Facebook page (just let me know in your comment that you did this!). All entries will be tallied and a winner chosen at random next week. (Can't wait to be picked as a winner? You can also order the book here, or find it at your favorite independent bookstore!) And, be sure to watch the book trailer! Thank you for playing---and for reading! Happy summer to all!

Have I told you that I'm married to a carnivore? And that I am not a carnivore? This presents a problem at dinnertime. While I'm not a vegetarian, I just stray away from eating a lot of red meat (frankly, I don't care for it much), and opt for fish, chicken and vegetarian options. The other night, when I was making carne asada tacos for the men (hubby and two little boys---the baby doesn't eat real food yet!), I got this random idea to saute up two diced sweet potatoes. I added a tablespoon of maple syrup (to bring out the natural sweetness), a tiny drizzle of olive oil, a teaspoon of kosher salt (to make it a bit more savory) and here's the kicker: a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes. When the sweet potatoes were soft, I scooped them into a tortilla and topped with shredded cheese (a Mexican blend). The result? Amazing! You have to try this yummy idea. You will love it!

Hello all! As you know, The Violets of March is at Target, and I'm so very excited. Because I'm hopeful that the book will make a big splash there, I'm setting up a fun promotion just in time for summer reading. All you have to do is buy a copy of the book sometime between now (July 7) and Friday July 15 at your local Target store, email me the receipt, and you will be eligible to win a Starbucks gift card, an early copy of my second novel, The Bungalow (which will make you one of the first people in the world to read it!), and I'll also throw in a signed copy of Violets to send to a friend of your choice. Already own a copy of Violets? Buying a copy for a pal counts too! And I would be so very grateful. (Oh, and I'll give you an extra entry for also sharing this contest on Twitter and/or sending me a photo of Violets at your Target store.) Thank you so much for your support!

Hello lovelies! I was so excited when I heard from Tracie, a reader in Connecticut, who tweets here, about how her book club had read The Violets of March, and how they had planned an all-violet book club party for their discussion (think: table decked out with violets and purple food!). She even sent me a photo of the fun, with a bunch of gals sipping a blueberry cocktail! Love! This got me thinking about putting some ideas together for other book clubs who might be interested in hosting a Violets night similar to these trend-setters. And, here are my Violet-y suggestions: The food: Go blue and purple! Think eggplant Parmesan and maybe these yummy mini blueberry cheesecakes! For the cocktail: a lavender martini, of course! Here's an interesting recipe. (Photo credit) For music: Think 1940's of course---the era when Esther and Elliot fell in love! Have Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller and other big band tunes playing when guests arrive. For the decor: Violets of course, and maybe some sassy textiles/prints in violet shades for the table. Or you could go all out and do this (!), or, um, not!: And, I will be most happy to call in and chat/answer questions! I love book clubs.