The Marshal of the Borgo now on sale


It’s a long story, but when we were first married Denise and I lived overseas in Italy, where she worked covering soccer for sports organizations like ESPN. We first lived in Rome, then moved to a small town an hour north. The countryside was exactly what the travel magazines depict: olive groves…

YES. So thrilled to announce my fabulous husband’s latest publication, “The Marshall of the Borgo.” 

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Enter to win THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY by Denise Kiernan

Book giveaway over at Riffle! Three copies available. Only eight days left!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY was hailed by top media outlets as “fascinating” and “a phenomenal story” when it was first published earlier this year. It hit The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times Best Seller lists, made Amazon’s Top 100 Best Books of…

Autographed and Personalized Books for the Holidays


It’s gift-giving-buying season once again. I am, as always, working with my fantabulous independent bookstore Malaprop’s to offer personalized, autographed copies of The Girls of Atomic City and other titles. Signed books always make great gifts and autographing eReaders simply hasn’t taken off yet. I work with Malaprop’s year round, but during the holidays I get lots of questions about wrapping  and shipping and so forth.

Here’s the skinny:

The easiest way to get an autographed book is to call Malaprop’s directly at 1-800-441-9829 or 828-254-6734. The store is chock full of helpful, cheerful folks. Once one of these charmers answers the phone, just tell them…

  1. Which book you want to order and the author’s name. 
  2. How you want the book personalized. To you? To the mother-in-law you’re always trying to suck up to? Do you want it to say “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” “For a history buff,” or nothing at all?
  3. Give them your payment information and shipping address.

That’s it! Malaprop’s will get me in to sign and will ship your book out to you or to the person of your choice, autographed and ready to go.

But what about gift wrapping?

Yes indeed, they gift wrap. I told you they were wonderful. So, you can have that autographed book gift-wrapped AND have a gift card slapped on it. That package of holiday reading cheer will be shipped wherever you want and will arrive ready to be shoved under a tree, stuck in a (larger than usual) stocking, placed next to the menorah, or swapped at an office party.

Can I order online?

Technically, yes, but calling is much more efficient and, in the long run, will take up much less of your time.

Which books of yours can I order?

Any of them, really. Here are some of the most popular titles. Others can be found on my website.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence

Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Constitution

Stuff Every American Should Know

The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed

Happy shopping, and thanks for supporting a local independent bookstore!

Audiobooks, Amazon lists and Autographs

It’s shaping up to be a very exciting week over here. I may have to put on something more dressy-uppy than my “good” yoga pants.

Yesterday I found out that The Girls of Atomic City made Amazon’s 2013 Top 100 Best Books of the Year list. I was thrilled and had no idea that little tidbit of news was coming right on the heels of the GoodReads Choice Awards nomination. Double-whammy.

This morning I learned that the audiobook for Girls is coming out next Tuesday, Nov. 12. Finally! People have been asking for months. Better yet, I am very fortunate that the amazingly talented Cassandra Campbell is the narrator. Her work is fantastic. Books can be pre-ordered at Audible and at Amazon.

And it’s now official: I will be signing books at the Books-a-Million in Oak Ridge, TN—home of The Girls of Atomic City—the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday. I start at noon. It will be nuts. 

Then, on Small Business Saturday, I will be participating in “Indies First” at my local bookstore Malaprop’s. Me and my hubby, Joe D’Agnese, will be working as booksellers at the coolest indie bookstore on the planet.

Phew. Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy November. Hope to see some of you here and there…

Happy Day for Books and Readers: GoodReads Choice Awards

   Download a Q&A about The Girls of Atomic City!

Thank you.

That’s right, you, the one over there who owes me nothing, whom I’ve never met, the one who isn’t related to me or feels they have to play the part of the dutiful friend. YOU.

You just happened to hear about my book somewhere. I can’t possibly know how or what struck you about it at that particular moment as you were going about your life. For some reason you looked it over and then proceeded to spend not only your hard-earned money on something I wrote but you gave that book your time as well. What’s more, you took the time to rate it, to recommend it, to pass it along virtually and verbally and even physically. And you’re not even my mom.

When I learned that The Girls of Atomic City was nominated as one of the best history and biography titles in this year’s GoodReads Choice Awards, I was happy for all of those sadly unevolved approval-seeking reasons, sure, but what is particularly satisfying about the GoodReads Choice Awards is that they are chosen by a community of readers, a group of folks connected in the magical land of the inter-webs by their love of a good book. 

In the words of nearly every nominee ever in the history of awards both great and small, “It’s great just to be nominated.” Well, guess what? It is. 

You can learn more about all the awards here. There are so many wonderful books. Give them some of your ever lovin' clicks. 

***Sign up for my mailing list here. Important news coming soon!

"We'll Back Our Boys: The Southern Home Front During World War II"

Here’s the official release and invite to a symposium at the National Archives in Atlanta at which I’ll be speaking. I can’t say enough about the Archives and how important they are to our culture, our educational institutions and our society. If you’re going to be in the area or know someone who will, please stop by and do pass on the information.
Invitation to “We’ll Back Our Boys:” The Southern Home Front During World War II, a symposium at the National Archives at Atlanta, Saturday, September 21 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Featured speakers:
Denise Kiernan, author of the New York Times Best Seller “The Girls of Atomic City” featured on the PBS News Hour and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
 Fritz Hamer, University South Caroliniana Library curator and author of “Charleston Reborn: A Southern City, Its Navy Yard and World War II, 1940-1946”
Courtney Tollison, Furman University professor, historian for the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, SC, and author of “We Just Did Everything We Could”
Edward A. Hatfield, Emory University Ph.D. candidate with dissertation in progress: “The Too-Busy City: The Politics of Growth and Development in Atlanta, 1946-96”
Nathan Jordan, NARA Atlanta archivist of military-related records
To promote research in its World War II Home Front records and to highlight scholarly works based on these holdings, the National Archives at Atlanta is hosting “We’ll Back Our Boys:” The Southern Home Front During World War II, a symposium on Saturday, September 21.   The nearly 7,500 cubic feet of records relating to the Southern Home Front during World War II envelop a wide variety of subtopics ranging from labor relations, transportation, ordnance production, naval intelligence, civil rights, women in the work force, and many others.  Make plans now to participate in this event at the Southeast’s largest archival facility.  
Pre-registration is required and limited to 200.  There is no cost to attend.
To register for the symposium, access
For more information on the Southern Home Front holdings of the National Archives at Atlanta, visit our online exhibit at
We encourage you to circulate this information among your staff. Professors and students of twentieth century and Southern history may take particular interest.
The National Archives at Atlanta is located at 5780 Jonesboro Road in Morrow, Georgia and holds federal records for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. For a comprehensive description of the record groups held at our repository, go to
For questions about the symposium, contact:
Joel Walker
Education Specialist
National Archives at Atlanta

Dates set for " The Girls of Atomic City" National Tour

Girls of Atomic City — National Tour in May & June

I’m hitting the road in May and June to promote my book, The Girls of Atomic City. Here’s the list of cities, bookstores, and events. The first half is a driving tour through the Southeast; the second half will see me bopping around the U.S. to various bookstores and festivals. If our paths cross, stop by and say “hi”!


Charlotte, NC

Thursday, May 2

Park Road Books 7 pm

4139 Park Rd.

Charlotte, NC

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Greenville, SC

Friday, May 10

Fiction Addiction 12 pm

Venue: City Range Restaurant

615 Haywood Rd.

Greenville, SC

*Lunch Event & Signing

Nashville, TN

Tuesday, May 14

Parnassus Books 6:30 pm

3900 Hillsboro Pike

Nashville, TN

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Raleigh, NC

Thursday, May 16

Quail Ridge Books 7:30 pm

3522 Wade Ave.

Raleigh, NC

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Southern Pines, NC

Friday, May 17

Country Bookshop 4:30 pm

140 NW Broad St.

Southern Pines, NC

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Chapel Hill, NC

Saturday, May 18

Flyleaf Books Noon

752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Chapel Hill, NC

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Knoxville, TN

Tuesday, May 21

Union Ave Books 6 pm

Venue: The East Tennessee History Center Auditorium

601 Gay St.

Knoxville TN

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, June 4

A Cappella Books 7 pm

Venue: Carter Presidential Library

441 Freedom Parkway

Atlanta, GA

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

August 30 - September 1, 2013

Decatur Festival of Books

Details TBD

Sylva, NC

Saturday, June 29

City Lights Bookstore 6:30 pm

3 East Jackson St.

Sylva, NC

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

* * *


Milwaukee, WI

Saturday, June 8

Boswell Books 2 pm

2559 N Downer Ave.

Milwaukee, WI

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Chicago, IL

Sunday, June 9

Chicago Tribune Printers Row Festival

Solo Presentation

Details TBD

Lexington, KY

Wednesday, June 12

Joseph-Beth Booksellers 7 pm

161 Lexington Green Circle

Lexington KY

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Denver, CO

Friday, June 14

Tattered Cover 7:30 pm

2526 East Colfax Ave.

Denver, CO

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Los Angeles, CA

Saturday, June 15

Vroman’s Bookstore 4 pm

695 E. Colorado Blvd.

Pasadena, CA

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

San Francisco, CA

Monday, June 17

Book Passage 6 pm

1 Ferry Building

San Francisco, CA

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Seattle, WA

Wednesday, June 19

Elliot Bay Book Company 7pm

1521 Tenth Ave.

Seattle, WA

*Talk, Q&A, Signing

Albuquerque, NM

Friday, June 21


Albuquerque, NM

Venue: National Atomic Museum

Omnivoracious: How I Wrote It: Denise Kiernan on "The Girls of Atomic City"

Sharing a blog post here that I did for Omnivoracious over at Amazon about writing “The Girls of Atomic City.”

Happy Pub Day

It’s here—that day all authors wait for which, when it finally dawns, is one of the most anticlimactic career events ever, no matter how many times you go through it. Pub day.

Books are a long haul. You get a kernel of an idea, do a little digging and try to decide whether this is a topic you want to live with for years. Then of course there’s the business end of the entire endeavor which, if you’re like me, can’t be ignored if you want to make a living: Can I sell this to a publisher and can that publisher sell it to readers? 

So the kernel sprouts and you decide that you do want to live with the idea until you don’t and then until you can’t live without the idea again. Then there are the proposals and the meetings and all the while you’re trying to keep researching and come up with a clear vision for this project that you’ve already told major publishing corporations you really do have a vision for. Then you get the deal. Relief. Deadlines. A schedule. Sort of. An end date? In a sense, sure. 

You write. You rewrite. You keep researching. You turn in the first draft, which is maybe the most anticlimactic of all the anticlimatices. (New word! It’s one of those vertices in life that you think you’ve reached but feel underwhelmed when you actually do.) You’re still so far from done and you know it. You wait for your editor. You already want to make changes the minute you hit “send” and your manuscript went out into the ether on its way to the publisher. That’s fine. Changes are coming.

Your changes. The editor’s changes. Changes from those trusted colleagues you allowed to see your ugly, ugly first draft. Revisions and more drafts follow. The end is so much closer and you know now that the time to really whip things into shape is shrinking fast.

A first look at your cover blows a little wind up your skirt and you get excited again. A cover! It’s real! Do you like it? they ask. You do! You really do! You’re not just saying that to avoid sounding like a moody, picky writer with no design experience. Everyone weighs in. Then polite “suggestions” from the real power-wielders at any publishing house: sales. They don’t like the cover. Am I OK with that? Absolutely. After all, there are bigger fish in this fry-daddy.

First pass pages! Am I done? No. The copy editor has seen it, maybe a proofer. Only make necessary changes… Necessary. Never do writers have more trouble defining such a two-cent word than when they are instructed to make only “necessary” changes.

Pencil marks. Post-its. Use this pencil, not that one. You finish…sort of. You mail it in. You’re done!

No, you’re not.

Promotional materials. Second pass pages and galleys. The book is in print…sort of. Ugh..I could invent a drinking game based on the number of times I used the word (insert favorite adjective here)…I can’t believe I….Can I still change…? Your editor is about to hop on a plane and pry the pages from your cold dead hands. Promotional materials again. Web sites. Meetings. Lists of people you hope will give this book a second look. Finally, there are no more changes to be made. The book is off to the printer.

But you’re still not done. Wrangling for press, emailing, tweeting. Yay! I got a piece in yadda-yadda magazine! Boo! Whozeewhatsit doesn’t want to have me on their show! Yay! Boo! Wine.

Then, finally, on a rainy Tuesday, the book is officially out in the world. Sort of. Actually there has already been press. People have already been tweeting pics of the book after purchasing it BEFORE the pub date from stores that ignore those sort of contractual restrictions. Emails from friends and people I haven’t heard from in a while are, by far, the best part of this day, and I will answer every single one.

However, I’m still not done. I have talks to give, traveling to do, presentations to prepare (clothes to buy…) I open my laptop and try to get back to work. The inter-web sink hole drags me down into the neuro-pacification that is KenKen and I wander over to…

Hang on. What’s that a picture of…? Who is that? She looks fascinating. She did what? When? Huh. You know what would be a great story…

And another kernel sprouts in the dark. Happy pub day.


You can hear my wife Denise Kiernan talking about her new book The Girls of Atomic City via this link from this interview which aired this morning on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

Denise was interviewed along with two of the women she profiles in the book.

The article accompanying the audio link also includes a free chapter of the book.

* * *

Geez, I hope this post comes through okay. Been having problems. More stuff has been going on, too. Will post about it soon.

Thanks, baby! Homemade pizza for you later!

Goodreads | Book giveaway for The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Thanks Touchstone Books and Joseph D’Agnese for setting up this giveaway of my upcoming book over at Goodreads.

The Next Big Thing—my turn in the hot seat

Recently, my husband, author Joseph D’Agnese,  “tagged” me in his “The Next Big Thing” blog post. “Next Big Thing” works like this: one writer answers some questions about her next book and then passes that blog post along to other writers she knows, “tagging” them. (See end of this post for my author picks.) Those writers then answer the same questions a week from now and so it continues, kind of like a chain letter, but without the threats of doom and dread.

So now, tag—I’m it. 

1) What is the title of your next book?

The Girls of Atomic City. Here’s a look at the cover:


2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Years ago, while researching another project, I came across a fantastic black-and-white photograph by Ed Westcott. In the photo, two rows of young women sat on stools in front of large panels covered in knobs and dials. The caption next to the photo explained that these young women, many right out of high school in rural Tennessee, were working to help enrich uranium for the first atomic bomb…only they didn’t know that at the time. I was instantly hooked and began researching the town—Oak Ridge, TN—and tracking down people who had worked there during the war. 

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Narrative non-fiction, narrative history.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I would love to see Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone portray young women in an adaptation of this story. I was really mesmerized by Lawrence’s layered performance in Winter’s Bone.  

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Young women travel to a secret city in East Tennessee to work, unbeknownst to them, on the world’s first atomic bomb.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I took the traditional route, start to finish. The book was represented by my agent, Yfat Reiss Gendell, of Foundry Literary + Media, and will be published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster on March 5, 2013.

I am looking into self-pubbing some upcoming works that I think would have trouble finding a more traditional home. I love the increasing number of options that working writers have today. 

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Oy, that question is almost impossible to answer. I often have several projects at different stages of completion at any one time. I might be reviewing copy edited pages of a completed book while I’m doing initial research for a new book and writing a first draft of my whatever project is in what I call “first position”. That, for me, is one of the hardest things about the writing life: managing several projects at once. This particular book has been in my life for nearly seven years, and I have done countless drafts. I also spent a lot of time outlining and revising that outline before I started writing. So, time to complete the first draft? Maybe 6 months? But that doesn’t reflect all the organizing and planning and interviews and outlining that preceded that, the most intense period of writing.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Also a tough question. I’ve heard publishing people who read the proposal and early drafts compare Girls of Atomic City to Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, which I took as a huge compliment. I can see why they would say that, though. Both are a look at significant moments in history through the eyes of the everyday folk who lived through them.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My curiosity is often the jumping off point for anything I write about and this story is no different. However, had I not found the surviving workers from Oak Ridge to be as inspiring as I did, I may not have kept with this project and seen it through. I loved doing those interviews, and found the women—and men—who lived through this experience to be remarkably fascinating.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The book is divided both visually (thanks to typesetting) and thematically according to the two “worlds” of the Manhattan Project: those who knew a good bit about what was going on, and those who knew next to nothing. In this way, the reader “knows” more than the main characters, the women, as the book progresses.

And there you have it. Now, it is my pleasure to introduce and “tag” Kim Ruehl. Please check out her blog and see what she’s been working on. I hope you’ll be moved to support her work along the way!