Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finding Out by Sheryn MacMunn (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Sheryn MacMunn, author of Finding Out!

Author Guest Post

Writing a novel is often a lonely process. For me, finding time to write meant taking precious hours from my husband and children on the weekends and in the evenings. It also meant writing late into the night or early morning which always made for an exhausting day at work. It just seemed that my best ideas came to fruition then. The other side to writing which can be hard is the self-doubt which comes in the form of the question “Will anyone want to read the book?”

I remember how nervous I was giving an early draft of Finding Out to my best friend, Liz (my first draft was so bad that it is still in the back of my closet). And Liz is someone that I know is going to be kind! After that, it became easier to give copies to friends and family but it was always with a moment of fear. It’s sort of like leaving your first born with a babysitter for the first time. You know they will be safe but you worry constantly. It took a village of eleven people to read, correct the grammar, and provide comments for which I am grateful.

When I was finally ready to publish Finding Out, I chose a date and worked hard to edit and re-edit the book to meet my personal deadline. Otherwise, I feared that the novel would sit on my computer as one of those things that I had always meant to finish. So when I sent the novel into the world, I was so used to working alone with my thoughts, you can imagine my surprise when I started to get feedback online from people that I didn’t even know!

It was exhilarating to read that people liked the characters. Most people were attracted to Ruth more than Sheila, which I expected. Ruth is a combination of my grandmothers and a dear friend named Ruth who were part of “the greatest generation” while Sheila needs to kick start her life and isn’t sure how. I have to laugh when people tell me that they yell at Sheila. There were plenty of times when she aggravated me yet I had no one to tell!

Of course, the one thing I feared was getting a bad review. In my mind, a bad review would mean that I had failed. Yet in the beginning I did receive two bad reviews. I hadn’t realized how to format the Kindle version but I sure learned quickly after seeing the reviews! I spent an entire day making sure that the Kindle version would be perfect. I’ll be honest; it hurt to see someone tear apart my work but those two readers shared a problem with me and I was able to fix it, so for that I am grateful. The best part has been the connections that I have made with humans. One day my phone rang. It was my 86 year old neighbor, Bunny. She had read my book and wanted to tell me how the parts about Germany during WWII made her cry because they were so realistic.

I had done a lot of research on the history of WWII, and people who had hidden during WWII, to make sure the facts in the book were correct. When Bunny told me that she cried because Ruth's storyline reminded her of stories that her family shared, I was so touched. It probably sounds weird, but whenever someone tells me that they cried while reading Finding Out, it really makes me happy.

The BEST part of that call was that Bunny and I made a date to have tea together. It was a wonderful connection because, just like Ruth and Sheila, Bunny is an elderly lady who wants company and I often wish that my Grandmothers and Ruth were alive so I could chat with them. We talked for two hours about her life and she was able to ask me questions about the book.

Bunny referred to Joe as a "sin-in-law" because that's what she and her friends call a man who lives with a woman before marriage. She also said that one character was written perfectly as she had known many people that seemed to be sympathetic toward the Jews, but really supported the Nazis. Bunny shook her head and said "Cold people. You can't imagine how cold." There is also a pivotal scene in the book which excited Bunny so much, she threw her hands in the air and dropped the book! She felt that scene was a perfect revenge. I can't say too much or it will spoil part of the ending.

Bunny and I have met a few times since then just to continue our friendship. I have also had the privilege of speaking at my local library, a women’s group, and even Skyped with a book club in Portugal! Yes, the writing process is lonely and it took years of work to get it right. However, the connections that I have made because of Finding Out have been priceless and so rewarding that the initial loneliness was worth it.

About The Author

Sheryn MacMunn self-published her debut novel, Finding Out, in April 2012. It became an Amazon best-seller in two months, hitting the Contemporary Women and Contemporary Fiction list. Finding Out then hit best-seller status in the Single Women, Friendship, Romance, and Love & Romance categories as well. In addition to being a self-published author, Sheryn works full-time in Mobile ad sales. Sheryn attended University of Massachusetts, Lowell and received her MBA from Simmons College School of Management. She now lives in Connecticut with her family.

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: March 4-25

Everyone who leaves a comment on Finding Out By Sheryn MacMunn ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Finding Out before March 25 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Book Review

Finding Out by Sheryn MacMunn
Publisher: Joy Inked / CreateSpace Independent Self-Publishing
Publication Date: April 7, 2012
Format: Paperback - 307 pages / Kindle - 412 KB 
ISBN: 1470108097
Genre: Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Finding Out

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Getting dumped on the sidewalk by her live-in boyfriend of seven years and realizing that he nearly emptied their savings account is the first of Sheila Davenport's problems. At thirty-six, Sheila had thought her life was on track. But life no longer makes sense. Now she's saddled with a mortgage that's about to skyrocket, a psychotic boss, and a new employee who is unqualified and hell-bent on messing with the company's rules.

Her friends advise her to date immediately, preferably someone rich and successful, or risk being old and alone. But Sheila needs to figure out what went wrong and how she got to this place. Since Prince Charming has ruined Sheila's life, who can save her now?

Help comes unexpectedly from her elderly neighbor, Ruth Grey, who has had her own share of ups and downs. As their friendship grows, Ruth reveals her deeply moving story of survival in WWII Germany. Ruth's mesmerizing past is a powerful tale of love and revenge that provides the perspective Sheila desperately needs to put the pieces of her own life back together.

Will Sheila succeed at work or walk away? Can she save her home? And why do her friends think they have it any better?

Finding Out is a story of love found and lost, true friendship, and how the human spirit endures.

Book Excerpt:

“He’s with someone else.” Sheila couldn’t control the tears any longer. “His twenty-six year-old assistant!” 

Sheila let it all out. She had stayed strong at work all week, been a good friend to Morgan, and exhausted herself in the process. Coming home alone every night with no one to talk to was hard. She was used to sharing her day with Joe and getting his advice. She didn’t know how to be single and she didn’t like it.

Ruth listened as Sheila poured her heart out. The poor girl was so upset. Ruth had never been a fan of Joe’s. He was polite enough but it was apparent to her anyway, that he would never commit. He didn’t have to. Sheila gave him everything he wanted and never asked for anything in return.

“Well, of course you’re upset, Sheila. He wasn’t forthright with his intentions and was really quite low to end things the way he did. But you have to keep living. Move on,” Ruth said.

“How? I haven’t been single since I was twenty-nine. I don’t even know how to date anymore.”

“Dating will come. Right now, you need to do something to make yourself happy. Create the best life possible,” Ruth said.

“How? Half of my life is gone.” Sheila wiped her eyes. “Have you ever felt like everything was just upside down?” Sheila looked past Ruth to the photos on the credenza. “You were married. You grew up with a close family. Can you imagine coming home and no one is there? It’s like someone vanished.”

Ruth smiled knowingly. “My life had ups and downs, I assure you.”

Ruth turned to look at the credenza full of items from her life. How she missed her family. Bill, her husband of forty years, most of all. That emptiness was almost all she had now. But she shook her head to push the memories away. This was about Sheila. Ruth knew she was suffering, yet in so many ways, she was better off. But who could tell Sheila that right now?

After a few moments of silence, Sheila looked at Ruth then followed her gaze.

“You have so many nice things.” Sheila’s eyes fell on a blue vase on the coffee table. “That is gorgeous.” 

“Thank you. My grandmother gave it to my mother as a wedding gift. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I’ve been putting things in boxes, but I can’t bear to shut that away. I think beautiful things should be seen and touched. Though sometimes thinking of the past too much is like looking into the sun. It can hurt.” Ruth saw the confusion in Sheila’s face. “There were many dark times in my life. Some things I don’t care to remember, especially during the war.”

“Did your brothers fight in Germany?” Sheila asked.

“No.” Ruth smiled. “We were in Germany.”

“You mean after the war?” Sheila said.

“No, during. We went to visit my grandparents and had to stay.” Ruth rested her eyes on a photo of her with her parents and younger siblings. “That photo was taken right before we left for Germany. There were rumors of Hitler, but we didn’t know how bad it was.”

“How could you not know? Everyone knew, didn’t they?” Sheila asked.

“My dear, your education has been neglected.” Ruth smiled lovingly at the girl. “It was 1938. The government didn’t want to publish stories. Remember, we weren’t far along from the First World War.”

“No one in your family wrote?” Sheila asked.

“The mail was searched. Nothing could get through. Father did hear something, but the government didn’t confirm it, so we went.” Ruth shrugged.

“This is like a movie. How long were you there?”

“Seven years.” Ruth answered.

“Seven years? Why didn’t you leave?”

“My father was a scientist who had information that the Nazis wanted. We were held there.” Ruth said. 

“Held? No one came to get you?” Sheila’s jaw dropped.

Ruth chuckled. “Who could come? The Nazis weren’t exactly letting people travel through Europe easily. Plus, we were hiding.”

“Hiding? You mean like Anne Frank?”

“Sort of.”

“Did you see soldiers and bombings?”

“Yes, I saw soldiers and bombings and things no one should see.” Ruth spoke sadly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No need to apologize.” Ruth shook her head. “People are titillated by the horrors of war but it's devastating. It's not something to be taken lightly. I haven't thought about the war in a long time.”

“I can’t believe you were in hiding though. You never mentioned it.”

“What good would it do? Living in the past can sometimes make things seem worse than they were. And it’s not healthy. Everyone today wants to talk about their past as if it’s the most fascinating thing. It’s not. The war happened. We got on,” Ruth said.

Sheila looked back at the picture of Ruth’s parents surrounded by seven children. “The baby was beautiful. Is that you?”

“No. That’s Annabelle. I’m the oldest, with the long hair. I was twelve.”

“You were adorable!” Sheila searched for a resemblance.

As Ruth looked at Sheila, she realized that Joe’s leaving had been the worst thing to happen in her young life. She truly didn’t know any other hardship. Sheila may not know how to move on, Ruth considered. Although Ruth didn’t like to talk about the past, she wondered if her friend might learn something from it.

“I tell you what. If you bring the tea to the coffee table, we’ll sit on my old red couch and I’ll tell you a little of what happened while we eat those cupcakes.”

My Book Review:

Thirty-six year old New York sales executive Sheila Davenport gets dumped by Joe, her boyfriend of seven years, for another woman in a very public and humiliating way, on the sidewalk in front of their Manhattan co-op. To add insult to injury, Joe has taken more than half of their assets, leaving her severely in debt and with a hefty mortgage payment. Just when she thinks her life was on track, Sheila's world has crashed down around her, and to make matters even worse, her boss from hell has put her in charge of training an obnoxious, privileged, and unqualified snot named Crystal. Unsure of what to do with her life, an unexpected friend in the form of her elderly eighty-six year old neighbor Ruth Grey reaches out to her, and as their close friendship develops, Ruth provides Sheila wisdom, guidance, and a new perspective on how to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life.

Finding Out is a poignant story of two women who form an unlikely and heartwarming intergenerational friendship based on wisdom, inspiration, strength and courage to learn how to survive and overcome life's challenges, and gain a new perspective on what matters most in life.

In her debut novel, author Sheryn MacMunn weaves a captivating tale written in the third person narrative, with alternating timelines between the present day New York City and flashbacks to 1938 WWII Germany. The seamless intertwining of Sheila and Ruth's lives is a compelling and emotional tale of love, loss, hope, survival and redemption.

The author effortlessly moves the story from the present day struggles that Sheila and Ruth have in their lives, to Ruth's stories sharing her past history and her family's life and death struggle living in Germany during WWII, and back to the present. You can't help but get drawn into these two women's lives, but for me it is Ruth that simply captured my heart with her inspirational telling of her life story. Ruth's survival during WWII and her ability to follow her dreams inspires Sheila and empowers her to rebuild her life. As Ruth says, "miracles are waiting but you have to find them and make them your own." That my friends is simply the most inspirational and empowering message that can lift a person up from despair, give them hope and new perspective on life, and what matters the most.

Finding Out is an inspirational and heartwarming story of two women from different generations in life, who through self-discovery learn what true happiness in life is really all about. This story is a must read, it is an amazing story that is thought provoking, and will resonate with you long after the last words have been read!



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Samantha, I appreciate it! Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event. I loved reading this book! :)