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March 2018
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May 2018

Introducing My Novel: A Storied Life {synopsis and cover reveal!}


My grandma died in June 2007 and it seems strangely appropriate for my first novel to release within days of the eleventh anniversary of her death. 

A Storied Life is not about my grandma but it is about Olivia and her grandmother. The idea for this story came from a few different places but without a doubt it is informed by own experience of loss, as well as my former career as a hospice social worker.

About a year after Grandma died, I started to think about the ways fiction grapples with grief and loss. I noticed how hospice was or, more often, wasn't portrayed in novels. I thought about how many people are unprepared when it comes to end of life issues.

I wanted to write a novel that explored this. How do we respond when we're faced with losing a loved one? What impact does this have on our lives? How can people come alongside us and what does it look like to receive their support?

Of course, when we're in the middle of turmoil, life keeps happening so naturally I wanted to give Olivia a love story, too. My friend Heatherly said she couldn't decide if A Storied Life was a tear-jerker that will make you laugh or a love story that will make you cry and honestly, I hope it's both because that's the truest reflection of life. It's both/and. 

Olivia has a lot to figure out about her life and I hope you enjoy reading her story.

This book had a winding road to publication. The first draft I finished in December 2011 is better for the years it lay fallow. It is so wild to finally be here. Imagine me flipping out every time I've seen my book listed on all the retailers and you have a good idea of what life has looked like for the past week. If there's anything you want to know about my self-publishing journey, let me know!

Now let's get to what you're really here for.

I'm so excited to share the synopsis and cover with you today! Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations blew me away with the cover design. I'm absolutely in love with it! I'm ready for this story to go out into the world on June 12.

Add A Storied Life to Goodreads! Pre-order links are below.

You can also sign up for my brand-new author newsletter! This will be the most dependable source for book news. As I start working on my next book, I hope to share behind-the-scenes news and special excerpts. And I imagine I'll also share the books I'm currently reading. It should be fun!

Thank you so much for cheering me on! It really means the world.



A Storied Life by Leigh Kramer

Release Date: June 12, 2018



“Live your own story. Make every moment count.”

Olivia Frasier grew up under the guidance of her grandmother's mantra: “Live a storied life.” The oft-repeated words gave her the courage to pursue art instead of working at the family bank until a mistake made in college altered the course of her life. Now, no one knows Olivia still paints. Not her friends. Not her staff at the art gallery. Certainly not her family.

She can ignore the twinge of unease, the regret that surfaces when Gram's mantra comes to mind, the question of whether this is all life has to offer.

When Gram announces she has terminal cancer—and names Olivia as her Power of Attorney for Healthcare—Olivia is thrust in to the world of hospice and dying wishes. Olivia may be the family’s black sheep but she is determined to see Gram through this, no matter the cost.

Faced with losing the one person on her side, Olivia clings to the knowledge that Gram's death will finally allow her to walk away from the family. And yet Gram is determined to impart one last lesson: let go of the past so she can live the life she’s meant to lead.

When Reagan walks into her art gallery, the timing couldn’t be worse. He’s everything Olivia ever dreamed of wanting but she has learned to settle for less when it comes to her relationships and career. At what point does owning your story outweigh the potential hurt?

Weaving together grief and beauty, humor and romance, A Storied Life will make you rethink life, love, and loss.

Please note: this book explores the death of a loved one by cancer and contains mentions of past sexual harassment and suicidal ideation that could potentially trigger certain audiences.


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Pre-order the book here:


Barnes & Noble



*there will be a paperback copy but it's not currently available for pre-order.*

Add To Goodreads


Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

Bookstore Spotlight: Schuler Books and Books & Mortar in Grand Rapids

A couple of weeks ago I went to Grand Rapids, MI to see friends who were there for a conference. I couldn't let them be in the Midwest without seeing them, especially when I'm a virtual assistant and can work anywhere.

I've been in Grand Rapids twice before for this same conference but haven't really experienced the town. This time around I got to visit not one but two bookstores.


I spent the most time at Schuler Books because they have a cafe. It was the perfect place to work before meeting up with friends. It's also an impressive bookstore, selling both new and used books. They have a wide selection and I could have browsed for hours.




I also love this feature for book clubs! I've never seen this at a bookstore before but it's such a great idea.


They had one of the biggest Blind Date With A Book displays I've ever seen! I was so tempted to buy a few but held strong.


I did snap up a used hardcover copy of The Word Exchange, which is one of my favorite booknerd books. Their used book section is fantastic. I'm not sure how they price the books but you should definitely take time to browse.

And then also be sure to spend time at the cafe. The cookies and scones are amazing but the lunch/dinner menu also sounded fantastic. The Cinnamon Cardamom tea is a great herbal option and I enjoyed British Breakfast tea in the morning. The tea is loose leaf and you get your own French press, which the cafe workers offered to refill with hot water when they noticed I was low. Now that's service! 

All the employees were super friendly and engaging. If I lived in Grand Rapids, I would be at Schuler's all the time!


I was invited to Zondervan's author party at Books & Mortar one night (even though I'm not one of their authors!) and I am convinced bookstores are the best party venue ever.





Books & Mortar is a smaller store but you can tell the selection is highly curated. They're definitely meeting the progressive niche and I'm glad Grand Rapids has that. It was such a cute store and I really enjoyed browsing in between catching up with friends. 

If you're in or near Grand Rapids, definitely visit these stores! You won't regret it. 

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride {review}

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality- Sarah McBride

Tomorrow Will Be Different- Love  Loss  and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride {review}


My Review: 5 Stars

Tomorrow Will Be Different may be the most important book I'll have read this year. This is the one I'll be pushing—er, gently encouraging—people to read. 

Sarah McBride's memoir is both accessible and powerful. She shares her own story but she is ever pointing out her privilege and centering the experiences of the transgender community. She lets us in to her life, while also providing a bird's eye view of the larger issues. The result is truly masterful. I particularly appreciated the way she pointed out the inequity and discrimination transgender people often face in the health care system and  funeral services.

I was greatly moved as Sarah shared about her journey in accepting and then embracing her identity as a transgender woman. This is such a personal experience. That she was able to share it as openly as she did is an incredible gift.

Because of Sarah's activism, we get to see everything that went on behind the scenes leading up to the Delaware Senate  and House passing the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act of 2013. So much goes into passing any bill and it was fascinating to see how hard Sarah and her coworkers at Human Rights Campaign worked, as well as hear all the personal accounts. It was also disheartening to see the pushback and outright attacks they faced. But then justice prevailed and I was celebrating right alongside Sarah! There's more work to be done but I am confident every state will follow suit and protect the rights of all transgender people.

"Names are important. Not just in the transgender community but everywhere. It's the first thing a parent gives to a baby. It's how our society bestows personhood, recognizes individuality, and affirms humanity in each one of us. That's why one of the first steps in marginalizing someone is to remove their name. It communicates that you are unimportant and unseen." p. 53 

Sarah made so many important points about identity and gender, the ways we show people we see and love them and the ways we marginalize and ignore them. We have an opportunity to come alongside the transgender community to show them how loved and valued they are and part of that is listening to stories like Sarah's and Janet Mock and Allyson Robinson and Austen Hartke and so on. 

One of the best parts of this book was the story of how Sarah fell in love with Andy, a transgender man. They were so perfect for each other found each other and I loved that they met at a White House reception in celebration of LGBT Pride month. They eventually ended up working at HRC together in addition to dating. Unfortunately, Andy was diagnosed with cancer and died only a few days after they were married. I'm so happy they had the time together they had but it's unbearably sad that it was too short a time. 

This was so well written and engaging. I'll continue to follow and support Sarah McBride's good work. Only time will tell where her political career will go. If you've been wanting to better understand and support the transgender community, this book is a wonderful place to start.



A timely and captivating memoir about gender identity set against the backdrop of the transgender equality movement, by a leading activist and the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.

Sarah McBride is on a mission to fight for transgender rights around the world. But before she was a prominent activist, and before she became the first transgender person to speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, she was a teenager struggling with her identity.

With emotional depth and unparalleled honesty, Sarah shares her personal struggle with gender identity, coming out to her supportive but distraught parents, and finding her way as a woman. She inspires readers with her barrier-breaking political journey that took her, in just four years, from a frightened, closeted college student to one of the nation's most prominent transgender activists walking the halls of the White House, passing laws, and addressing the country in the midst of a heated presidential election. She also details the heartbreaking romance with her first love and future husband Andy, a trans man and activist, who passed away from cancer in 2014 just days after they were married.

Sarah's story of identity, love, and tragic loss serves as a powerful entry point for readers who want to gain a deeper understanding of gender identity and what it means to be openly transgender. From issues like bathroom access to healthcare, identification and schools, Sarah weaves the important political milestones, cultural and political debates, and historical context into a personal journey that will open hearts and change minds.

Tomorrow Will Be Different highlights Sarah’s work as an activist and the key issues at the forefront of the fight for trans equality, providing a call-to-arms and empowering look at the road ahead. The fight for equality and freedom has only just begun.

“We must never be a country that says there’s only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live.” –Sarah McBride


Buy The Book Here:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links are included in this post.

What I'm Into (March 2018 Edition)


This is my second winter in Minnesota but it still feels so strange this time of year. I miss living in Nashville and San Francisco where spring was already well underway come March. But I have to trust it'll stop snowing at some point and we'll see not only the ground but flowers, too. In the meantime, my friend's kitten Zoe has the right idea.



Read and Reading 

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Love, Hate & Other Filters (Ahmed) is first and foremost a good story but it's also incredibly powerful. Samira Ahmed deftly explores identity, racism, Islamaphobia, and culture through the eyes of Maya, a 17 year old American Indian. Maya’s wry observations and snark often made me smile. I was fascinated by the way she is most comfortable viewing the world by the lens of her video camera. She is a part of her surroundings, yet separate from them, whenever she chooses to film and this is sometimes driven by her art and sometimes to protect herself when she feels nervous. Maya is caught between her parents' expectations for her and her own desires. She's also aware of how she's different from her classmates by virtue of being brown-skinned and Muslim. The way Ahmed structured the novel was incredibly effective. While each chapter focuses on Maya, the chapters are separated by a page which centers on a crime, either still to come or the aftermath. The way she uses this to build up the tension is impeccable. Maya was such a great character and I loved her growth through the course of the novel. The ending was satisfying and I love imagining where Maya will go from here. I can't wait to see what Ahmed writes next!


The way Dhonielle Clayton writes about society’s relationship with beauty in The Belles was downright chilling. It was disconcerting to see how much the people of Orleans hated the way they looked and the lengths they would go to in order to achieve their ever-changing idea of beauty. Even more disconcerting to see how the Belles were treated, whether they're working on little rest or trying to avoid harassment or assault. There are big implications for our own society if we're willing to examine them. The power differentials that emerge were not what I thought they'd be originally and I really appreciated the way Clayton used them to illustrate her larger points. I loved how Clayton brought this world alive and how its ugly side emerged over time. I wasn’t overly surprised by the plot developments. This didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story but it did make me anxious that Camille wasn't picking up on the same cues. Camille could be reckless and rash, especially at the beginning when she doesn't know what palace life is really like, and this drove me crazy. But then I'd remind myself she's a teenager and she grew up sheltered and her only focus is on being a Belle so she's not going in as cynical and paranoid as she should be. The ending sets up book 2 for all kinds of interesting possibilities and I can’t wait.


Susannah Nix’s novels they make me so happy! I loved every part of Intermediate Thermodynamics. (The heroines all work in STEM fields in this series!) It made me laugh and cry! Typically I struggle when a character makes a lie of omission but somehow Nix made it work here and I think what helped is that the lie was not between the hero and heroine. I kept rooting for Esther to do the right thing and the consequences played out the way they should. Esther learns some big lessons and it happens in some bittersweet but ultimately lovely ways. Esther was so prickly and the way she softened over the course of the novel was so moving. And Jonathan was not without flaws but he was still the dreamiest and I loved how he took care of Esther. Esther resisted his appeal- in fact, was blind to it- at first and it was more than satisfying to watch her finally fall in love at last.


Take The Lead, a contemporary romance about a celebrity dance competition, was exactly what I needed. Fun, heartwarming, all about dancing and opposites attracting, I read with a smile on my face almost the whole way through. Stone could not be more of my dream man if he tried and Gina is basically my role model for working hard for what you want while keeping your integrity at the forefront.  I absolutely loved these two together! I'm so impressed this is Alexis Daria's debut and cannot wait to read the next book in this series!


The tattoo philosophies, the vocabulary choices, the ease of Christopher and Ginger’s relationship in spite of everything they don’t say, all their cute interactions...I loved everything about Small Change! (Check to see if it's still on sale for Kindle! Only $0.99 as I write this.) Roan Parrish manages to explore some big issues, like sexism in the tattoo industry and bi-erasure, but never loses sight of the story. I adored Ginger's friends and how they've formed into their own family, especially in light of how awful her actual family is. I loved how Ginger and Christopher both own their businesses and how Christopher took care of Ginger by way of making her sandwiches. This is told from Ginger's perspective but her chapters are interspersed by Christopher's emails to his brother and these emails are so poignant and heartbreaking and real. Every part of this story's construction was spot on and I am so happy I read it. 

Sometimes we read books at the precisely right time. I bought Divine Intuition (Robinson) more than two years ago after hearing the author's episode on The Lively Show but I didn't start reading it until last fall, just a chapter here and there. I’ve always been an intuitive person but this past year has been a hard season and I was hopeful this book would help me find some answers on what’s next. And it did, although not in the way I expected. This book and the practical exercises within reminded me I can still trust my intuition, even when things don’t turn out as planned. If you’re at all interested in how our intuition works, this is so worth reading. I’ll be returning to this book regularly in the years to come.



My reading goal for 2018 is to read a good chunk of my unread books so every month I'm designating several books to read. These were my picks for March. 


You can see all the books I've read at Goodreads

Currently reading: This Is Where You Belong (Warnick), You Are A Badass (Sincero), Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality (McBride), Hot Mess (Belden), Toil & Trouble (ed. Spotswood and Sharpe), Love And Other Words (Lauren), The Preacher's Promise (Huguley), The Librarian And The Spy (Mann)



Season 3 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is on Netflix! I really don't watch TV anymore, not even my favorite shows, so I lost track of the last season. So happy I can (slowly) catch up!



Listening to Dermot Kennedy, as heard on Pop Culture Happy Hour's SXSW 2018 Wrap episode. There was so much good music on the episode and I need to check out more of the artists mentioned. 

Listen to the What I'm Into playlist.




I caught up on Babysitter's Club Club! I'll now be able to finish out the show as they complete the series. Jack and Tanner have been in rare form the last several episodes, no more so than episode 101: Dawn and Too Many Sitters. Definitely NSFW but you will cry laugh.

Pantsuit Politics put out two episodes everyone should listen to: Gun Sense and Female Leadership with Shannon Watts (who founded Moms Demand Action) and Feminism and the Pro-Life Movement with Claire Swinarksi. The latter is an important example of how to agree to disagree. I really appreciated the conversation Beth and Sarah had with Claire and how they were able to find some common ground.  

Penny Reid fans, you'll want to listen to Heaving Bosoms's discussion of Beard Science part 1 and part 2. I love listening to this podcast! 

Erika Jayne came on Bitch Sesh and it was everything. She was so unexpectedly wise! It's a must for Real Housewives fans. Then listen to their episode with Roxane Gay. Roxane had some very astute observations and I hope she'll come back on the show again.

So much goodness on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books this month: #288 Tweeting About Romance History: An Interview with Elisabeth Lane of Cooking Up Romance, #290 The Art and Magic of Designing Book Covers: An Interview with Regina Flath (fascinating behind the scenes!), and #291 Encouraging Readers and Fostering Confidence: An Interview with Margaret H. Willison. 





  • Abby and Zoe were a delight to petsit for. I love staying at that house and took full advantage of all the natural light for bookstagram photos. 


  • Lois and I caught up at People's Organic. Those few hours flew by and I loved how many tangents the conversation went on.


  • My friend Meg unexpectedly sent me a copy of a book I've been wanting to read. It was such a wonderful surprise to get in the mail!


  • Similarly, Kelly and I got together and three hours later, we were no closer to exhausting all the things we wanted to talk about. But also, I would have sworn we'd only been talking for half an hour.


  • Hermione came back to my place for a week and it was so nice to have a cat around again. It was rather disconcerting once she went back to her home.


  • Skyping with my brother's family and getting to see my darling niece and nephew. 


  • I found out about COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch from Dame Sophie of Two Bossy Dames newsletter fame and I am here to tell you these things WORK. The patches are small circles and you put it on once you notice the pimple, leave it on for a while, and the pimple is gone when you take it off. Magic.


  • Dinner with Annie and Marijke and getting to see sweet Foxy


  • Karin hosted a St. Patrick's Day party, which was really an excuse for a few of us to catch up and have Leap Year on in the background. It was such a fun night!


  • Marijke and I had a dinner and Enneagram night. Her cat Eddie proved to be quite helpful during the session.


  • I won a giveaway from author AJ Pine in celebration of her fantastic book Second Chance Cowboy and received a copy of Jenny Holiday's One And Only in the mail. I wasn't expecting anything more so imagine my surprise when I received a bookplate in the mail the next day! Not only did Jenny Holiday send me the bookplate, she included a note with an anecdote about the personal connection she has to the area where I live. It just made me so happy!



  • Baseball is back and the White Sox are off to a strong start! Let's go go go White Sox!



Favorite Instagram:


This is how it goes sometimes: I started A Man Called Ove over the weekend and while I can tell I’m going to enjoy the arc of his story, I just was not in the mood to read about a grumpy white man. So I picked up my other March Unread Shelf TBR book: The Nightingale. And it’s Kristin Hannah so it’s great and I’m going to love it but it’s also pretty heavy. So I put that to the side too and pulled up @alexisdaria’s Take The Lead on my Nook. It’s a contemporary romance about a celebrity dance competition and it was exactly what I needed. Fun, heartwarming, all about dancing and opposites attracting. Now I’m back to The Nightingale and all is right with the world. 


(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)


On The Blog:

Remember when I wrote a novel? I have an update. 

Book reviews: Olivia Twist, The Radical Element, Advanced Physical Chemistry, Marriage Of Inconvenience, The Sun Does Shine 



What I'm Into

What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:

1. This link-up will stay open for one week. The next What I'm Into link up will be Tuesday May 1. 

2. Link the unique URL of your post, not your blog's home page. Readers peruse link ups months after the fact and you want to make it easy for them to find your What I'm Into post.

3. Please include the What I'm Into button or mention you're linking up with What I'm Into at Leigh Kramer.

4. Visit at least 2 other posts in the linkup!



What have you been into this month? 

Disclosure: Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click throughany purchase you make supports this site.