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What most people don't know is that this novel was first released in segments to a select test group--a daunting concept on a few levels. First of all, Mom (my co-author) and I were trepidatious about opening ourselves up to criticism while we were writing. It's hard enough to weather criticism after a work is complete. We weren't sure how we were going to feel about having other people inside of our heads while we were creating. The results were surprising--believe it or not, having feedback during the writing process was extremely helpful and not stifling at all. It made us rise up in our attempt to stay a step ahead of the reader. People would say, "I sure hope you're not planning on having this or happen because that's too predictable." On a few occasions, we actually adjusted our plot so as not to be boring or predictable.

Another worry we had was:  Would we be able to write fast enough so as to release a segment each week? Each segment was approximately 8-12 pages in length. We'd originally planned on staying at least 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule so that we wouldn't be down to the wire, but life got in the way and we encountered a few hindrances that knocked us back a few notches:  sickness, a move across country, kids ... (you get the idea). Anyway, we ended up doing just what we wanted to avoid--burning the midnight oil to meet the Thursday morning deadline. There were a few scary days where I would wake up in the wee hours on Wednesday morning and write until way past midnight--until the letters on the screen began to blur.

The one challenge to writing weekly segments or episodes was how to keep our readers engaged so that they would keep reading each week. Also, with a week in between each reading, people would sometimes have to look back at the previous segment for a refresher.

When we got ready to put the novel together, we had a series of segments rather than chapters. I was worried that the body of work might not flow and figured we would have plenty of re-writing to do. Once we put the segments together, I was happily surprised. We did little to almost no re-writing. It flowed as if we'd planned it that way from the very get-go.

One funny story:  My husband and I flew to Texas to visit some dear friends. I finished up a segment on the plane, sitting in the center seat, wedged between two large men--one of them downing alcoholic beverages as fast as he could purchase them. Shortly after we arrived at our friend's home, I posted the segment for the week and breathed a sigh of relief. Another week went by. I got so caught up in visiting friends that I didn't complete the next segment. I was up talking to my friend Yensy late on a Wednesday evening. Yensy was in the reader test group, and we started talking about the novel. She told me that she couldn't wait until the following day to read the next segment. I got this crazy look in my eyes and said, "Well, this next one might be a day or so late." Her comment was, "What? I can't wait that long. I need to know what's going to happen next!" I told her that the only way I could finish the segment was if I stayed up the rest of the night. She laughed and said, "Okay, go ahead." I gave her a nervous laugh, and no, I didn't stay up and finish the segment. Yensy let me off the hook, just that once.

When Mom and I first started planning THE PAPER ROSE CLUB, we started with the idea of creating our ideal town, Honeycomb, Alabama. We wanted to write about a place where people shared their joys and heartaches. Most of the action takes place in a bakery on the town square. In many ways, Honeycomb reminds me of the town where I grew up. I guess I always carry bits of my upbringing with me, no matter where I live. It comes out effortlessly in my writing because it's such a part of me.

We created a newspaper to go along with the novel. After all, what southern town doesn't have a newspaper? It's called The Busy Bee Reporter. We had a lot of fun with that paper! Here's a sampling of one edition:

Here's a description of THE PAPER ROSE CLUB:

Four best friends. A lifetime of memories. Nothing could ever come between them … or so it would seem.

Welcome to the quaint town of Honeycomb, Alabama where life is anything but serene. Roxie Fisher must fight to save her bakery from the greedy clutches of her lifelong nemesis, Imogene West, while trying to finagle a way to keep Gus Malone, the love of her life, from falling for her spoiled but beautiful designer friend, Rose, who's determined to make Gus number four in her long line of husbands. Roxie get lots of help and unwanted advice from Bobbi, her busybody friend and Pollie, her hypochondriac sister.

Things really heat up when some long-hidden letters are discovered, bringing to light a shocking scandal that threatens to rip apart lifelong friendships and reek havoc on the town.

Lots of cat fighting and cake slinging going on in this heartfelt story about the friendships that define our lives and the secrets we all keep from each other.

Here's what people are saying:

"A wonderful novel about four remarkable women whose long-buried secrets rock the foundations of a small southern town. Told with wit and southern charm, I couldn't put this one down. Cathy Holton, Author of popular southern novels, including Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes and The Sisters Montclair

"If you love novels about women and their undying friendships, novels about the South, and novels about food, you'll love The Paper Rose Club. I can't wait to read the next one." Gina Hamilton

"I love novels about food, especially southern food! Reading about Roxie's orange rolls and all of her fabulous creations made my mouth water. I loved the romance and mystery. This is a great novel about the South. Sadie Peterson

"This novel is southern romance at its best! I love books about family life in the South and women's friendships. I laughed and I cried. I couldn't put this one down." Jo Hammerton

"The claws came out in the cake-fight scene. Loved it! Domestic life has never been this intriguing. I loved the small town romance aspect and how it's delivered southern style!" Winnie Singer

Experience family life in a small town where everybody knows everybody and your deepest, darkest secrets are liable to be featured in next week's addition of The Busy Bee Reporter. (Is it true that Dr. Amos Grey buried his poor, dead wife in the front yard?)

Stop by The Cornerstone Bakery to get a taste of Roxie's famous orange rolls or a double chocolate cake, boasting a pound of chocolate in each one. If you need to rekindle the romance in your life, Bobbi's chocolate chip cookies are sure to do the trick. Word around town is that they're magic—give one to a prospective suitor and he'll be swooning over you for sure! But don't even think about getting the recipe because Bobbi keeps it under lock and key. She won't even divulge it to Roxie, her best friend.

Take a stroll around the Honeycomb Square and find a good, shady spot to sit a spell and relax. If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Rose, the bombshell interior designer that's often seen sauntering around with a different man on her arm. Rumor has it that she's on the lookout for husband number four.

Lots of southern style sass and sizzle in this southern novel about small-town family life, romance, betrayal, and the friendships that carry us through it all. Once you enter the town limits, you'll never want to leave!