HOLDING ON Blurb: When you have everything you’ve ever dreamed of, the hard part is Holding On.
British NYU professor Daniel Gardner thinks life can’t get better than the day his three-year-old stepdaughter, Ella, calls him Daddy for the first time. Then his wife Marienne tells him she’s pregnant. Daniel is thrilled, but worried about Marienne’s health. Not wanting to cause her stress he turns to writing to calm his nerves. He pens a screenplay, thinking it’s nothing more than a mental health exercise, but when a colleague reads it and hands it to a producer, it turns into a production contract. Daniel accepts the offer and transfers to a teaching position at Dartmouth, hoping that small town living and a shorter commute will simplify his life.
As he attempts to juggle his new responsibilities he gets an unexpected letter from Roger, the father he never knew. For the first time since they met, Daniel and Marienne are at odds; she wants him to give Roger a chance but Daniel wants nothing to do with the man he thinks abandoned his mother. As Daniel and Marienne struggle they must contend with interference from Daniel’s sexy ex-wife, who appears to want him back, and a handsome, all-too-helpful single dad who desires Marienne as more than a play-date pal. They must both confront deep-seated issues with trust and acceptance if they’re going to find a way to make their marriage work and hold on to the love they share.
Guest Post: How difficult was this book to write? I loved Meant To Be, did you plan to write a sequel?
I’m going to answer those questions in reverse order. I had the idea for Meant To Be in my head for over eight years before I sat down to write the actual book. Once I started writing it, the story poured out of me in a few months because I already saw it so clearly in my head. Meant To Be is a love story. It’s one long prelude to a kiss. When I finished, it was definitely an ending. They had finally admitted the feelings they’d been developing for the duration of the story. At the time I had no plans to write a sequel, but I did already know what happened to Daniel and Marienne once they got together.
I started submitting Meant To Be to agents and editors in September of 2010. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get Daniel and Marienne out of my mind. I kept thinking about them as a couple. There was so much left for them to go through now that they were together. So, for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you try to write at least 50k of a novel in the span of one month) I decided to tell the rest of their story. I wrote 56k of Holding On (2/3 of the book) in the first 19 days. I don’t know that anything has ever been easier for me to write. I knew the characters so well after writing them in Meant To Be that I didn’t question any of the story for Holding On. It simply had to be written.
They say you should never write a sequel to a book you haven’t placed/sold yet, so when I wrote Holding On I wasn’t writing it with publishing in mind, I was writing it for me. And for Daniel and Marienne. I think that brings a lot of honesty to the story, because I didn’t think about plotting or rules, I just thought about them. To be honest, as a writer, I don’t tend to think about rules. I like to see a story play out in my head and then write down what I saw. I decide later what genre it fits into. It’s very important to me to tell stories that stay true to my characters.
Part of what I love about Holding On is that it’s about the struggles Daniel and Marienne have as a couple. Even though they worked so hard to get together and they love each other as much as they do, relationships are never easy. Like the tag line of the book says: When you have everything you ever dreamed of, the hard part is holding on.
The characters in these stories are so real to me that I’m still not done writing them. There is a short story in the Foreign Affairs Anthology (by Turquoise Morning Press) that is a prequel to Meant To Be. That story, ALL I NEED, shows how Daniel and Justine wound up together in college. Another short story will appear in the Wedding Anthology coming from TMP in June. That story, WHITE WEDDING, takes place between Meant To Be and Holding On and shows Daniel and Marienne’s trip to the altar. In addition to that I have a full length novel coming out January 26, 2014. JUST IN TIME will be Justine’s story (Daniel’s ex-wife) and Daniel and Marienne will play a significant role in her journey. A lot of readers love to hate Justine, but she’s a character that has a lot of story left to her and she needed her own book. I’ll never rule out a third book or further short stories that focus on Daniel and Marienne either. In the meantime, if you want more glimpses at them, keep an eye on my blog. Soon I’ll start posting short free reads in the form of letters, IM conversations and short scenes that don’t appear in any of the books.
Review by Harlie from Harlie’s Books:
I jumped, yes jumped at the chance to find out the Happily After? for Daniel and Marieanne. I’m a sucker for finding out what happens after the book closes. Ms. Stivali didn’t disappoint in her continuation of their story. Married for 6 months and settling in to marital bliss is something that most authors don’t write about. Okay, I can think of a couple but that’s about it.
Well, after I closed the Kindle I sat and looked at my husband. We’ve been married over 8 years and our marriage hasn’t been perfect. We’ve moved to the country when we were married only 1 1/2 years with a baby from the big city. Talk about nerve wrecking and stressful. Plus, he had a new job (same company) and I wasn’t working outside the home for the first time in almost 20 years. Talk about an adjustment. We’ve had money troubles; making babies issues; my health; our son’s health and his stress level with work. Ms. Stivali doesn’t stray from real issues that most married couples have every day. My one nick pick is the introduction of the single dad to Marieanne. I didn’t like that he was trying to come between Daniel and Marieanne. I felt it unnecessary for their story. Not everyone who is in a play group has the sexy, single dad.
That said, I loved that we were introduced to Roger, Daniel’s father. It brought tension between them and Daniel’s fears came to light. He turned somewhat secretive and at times I really wanted to shake Marieanne and tell her what the heck was going on. Ugh! Also, Justine’s back! Woo Hoo! I know that some people hate her but she is essential to Daniel and Marieanne’s marriage. I don’t think of her as a villain or a temptress, just an ex-wife that realizes that she really messed up in her relationship with Daniel and needs that validation to herself.
The whole pregnancy thread was smartly done. My own husband was a nervous wreck when I was pregnant. It was refreshing to read about Daniel’s fears, excitement and stumbling’s with the whole thing. It brought out my memories of that blessed time and the sheer terror of my husband. BTW, he made it all the way through without fainting; he cried. 🙂
If you want to read a terrific book about what happens to the blessed couple after the end of their first book…pick up Holding On. Ms. Stivali doesn’t shy away from the everyday stresses that married couples deal with and that in itself is refreshing to read. Not everything is sunshine and roses. Daniel and Marieanne had real issues to deal with like trust, doubt, jealousy, moving and pregnancy. Of course, I eagerly await Justine’s book now. She really does deserve her own forever HEA. 🙂
Barnes & Noble
At this time HOLDING ON is not at B&N. This is a generic buy link to B&N, so just use this one. You are welcome to change it if the book becomes available at B&N prior to your post, but you do not have to.