So, even though I'm running around like a madwoman prepping for the launch of The Violets of March (it's out next week! Can you believe it?! And have you pre-ordered? Thank you so much!), I've still been keeping up with life as normal, which means the usual drill: taking care of little boys and a baby and forging ahead with all my magazine work, including my beloved (three years now on the job!) health and fitness blog, Vitamin G. And, I recently had the chance to interview Gwyneth Paltrow, a truly memorable moment. Gwyneth has a new cookbook out, My Father's Daughter, which I think is pretty great. It's packed with delicious and healthy (for the most part---the brownies don't count) recipes and memories of her late father. So sweet. A funny story to share: I'd set up a phone interview with Gwyneth on Friday for a time when I'd have childcare, but due to a scheduling mix up, she called two hours earlier---at 7:45 a.m. when I was in my bathrobe nursing my baby. The 2-year-old and 4-year-old were watching Sesame Street, and I was simultaneously spooning cereal in their mouths. Yeah, not exactly great timing! Gwyneth's PR rep said it was her only window to do the interview, so I had two choices: a.) cancel, or b.) figure out a way to plow through, with a baby in my lap. Yup, you guessed it---I did the interview! When Gwyneth came on the line, she was kind and lovely and assured me that she's been in my situation many times when she had to do an important call while bouncing a baby or while her kids ran around in the background. She was so reassuring and fun, I felt like I was just talking to a fellow mom who is so used to the chaos of motherhood. So, as the baby nursed (you can imagine how awkward this was), which was my way of pacifying him while I talked, I took notes. I should also add: I'm a third-time mama, so I'm skilled at the art of multi-tasking while nursing, but that still didn't make it easy. Colby---2 months old---didn't really want to play along, so he fussed a bit as I took notes (wiggling around in protest) and asked questions as quickly as I could. I will always remember the time I interviewed Gwyneth with a baby in my arms, and I hope it will be a reminder to others (and to myself) of what we can accomplish as mothers. :)

I am so grateful to the gracious early readers of The Violets of March---bloggers, booksellers, writers and editors, industry folks, etc.. So many have been writing with the kindest things to say, and as a new author, there is nothing more exciting and special than to hear that the book you wrote was enjoyed. After all, that's why any writer writes---in hopes that it engages a reader and tugs at their emotions. It is so lovely and wonderful. I wanted to share these three beautiful and thoughtful reviews of Violets: *Tiffany, from A Cozy Reader's Corner, said "Ms. Jio has proven to be a masterful story teller with this novel. It is full of depth and emotion with twist and turns that carry the reader away.

I am so thrilled to share the beautiful cover of the German version of The Violets of March! They've changed the title, which translates loosely into the beautiful and romantic words "Somewhere, Forever." How gorgeous is that? It makes me want to hop on a dreamy bicycle (with a basket) and wear a red scarf! The book will be published by Heyne/Verlag in the fall (it's a division of Random House in Germany), in hardcover. And, super exciting, also, the book cover made the cover of their fall catalog, which goes out to booksellers across Germany. I'm so honored! Here's the cover of the catalog: And, here's the inside of the catalog, with the pages that feature my book:

Excited to share the latest good-news update for The Violets of March. I heard from my editor at Penguin today who shared that the audio rights for the book have sold! This means that you will now be able to listen to my novel in your car (or on your iPod, I think)--woohoo! I'm so excited about hearing a narrator read the story. I'm sure it will feel like a completely new tale to me (even if I did write it myself!) hearing it in the voice of someone else. Can't wait! Do you listen to audio books? P.S. Check out this lovely review of Violets over at the blog!

The publishing experience can sometimes feel like a lonely one. You spend months, even years, holed up in your office, alone with your characters. Then, you sell the book, and a few more people read it---and critique it---and then there's the long, long wait until publication. Then you get a box of advance reader copies in the mail, and you shyly send them out into the world

Yes, it still looks the same, but note the addition of the beautiful blurb from Jodi Picoult on the cover! (Swoon!) I love how it looks up there. What do you think? I was so fortunate to also receive gorgeous endorsements from Allison Winn Scotch, Claire Cook, Beth Hoffman, Sarah Pekkanen and Kelly O'Connor McNees as well, and these will appear on the back cover and inside flap. I'm so grateful to all of these terrific authors for taking the time to read and support my debut novel. That's all for now. I'm an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mama, but loving every minute with baby Colby---who slept for 4 hours straight last night. A miracle.

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:]

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]