Finley McGowan is determined that the niece she’s raising will always feel loved and wanted. Unlike how she felt after her mom left to pursue a dream of stardom and her grandfather abandoned her and her sister Sloane when they needed him most. Finley reacted to her chaotic childhood by walking the straight and narrow—nose down, work hard, follow the rules.
Sloane went the other way.
Now Sloane is back, as beautiful and damaged as ever, and wants a relationship with her daughter. She says she’s changed, but Finley’s heart has been bruised once too often for her to trust easily. But is her reluctance to forgive really about Sloane, or worry over losing what she loves the most? With the help of a man who knows all too well how messy families can be, Finley will learn there’s joy in surrendering and peace in letting go.
My little sister Jennifer has always depended on me for support, strength, encouragement, mentoring and advice. I have always uplifted her, cheered her, comforted her and just made her feel better. She often would say she could never do what I do. She often said she is weak. Well recently I broke my femur and found out I have cancer which brought on panic and anxiety attacks. Now my little sister (who always thought she was weak emotionally and could never be to anyone what I was to her) is the one taking care of me. In my darkest and scary moments she guides me. She calms me when I panic or have anxiety. She encourages me. She gives me support and strength. Most of all she is the rock and the one person that I need most of all. She is the calm to my storm. I love her immensely and am honored to say she is my sister and person and best friend.
Being friends for 34 years means you’ve watched each other grow and become the person they are today. You don’t have to ask why they are that person... you have watched their transformation. You have been there for each other’s greatest moments and have been there to pick them up off the floor at their lowest. Not many people at the age of 39 can say they have had a friend for 34 years. I’m lucky enough to be one of those people! We have been there for each other through cancer at 20 (Ashley), heartbreaks, children, and being diagnosed with a life altering autoimmune disease diagnosis (Dana). We might not talk every day but u know I can pick up the phone and she will always be there. (Oh and today is her birthday!).
I have a sister two years older, she often set me up to do things, just to see if we’d get in trouble. She would encourage me to do something (climb down the fire escape ladder my dad had nailed to the side of the house during nap time, for example) then when we got caught she would claim she “tried to stop” me. I would get in trouble and she wouldn’t. No wonder I turned into a tattle tale.
My sister and I are only thirteen months apart, so we were always very close. When she went to school a year before me, I was devastated! I had lost my best friend and my companion in mischief. But, worse, she got to go to school and learn how to read. That was a skill that I had pretended to do for years, as I flipped pages, looked at pictures and “read” the story. I was so sad that first day that she left on the big yellow bus that I cried most of the day. When she came home, she told me all about her exciting day, but she also noticed how sad I was. When she asked me why, I told her it was because she got to learn how to read and I didn’t. At that point, she pulled up my little desk and gave me my first lesson in reading, which was actually what she had learned that day herself. Every day during her first year, she taught me her lessons and I practiced while she was at school. The result was that the following year when I could attend school myself, I already knew how to read and I have been doing it voraciously ever since!
My younger sister and I were very close. We did most everything together. We loved to go to country music concerts. She was so close with both of my girls also. Unfortunately, we lost her to breast cancer in 2004. But her love of life still lives on with all of us. My girls each named one of their children after my sister. Just another way she lives on. She was so funny and I see things in my girls and grandkids (who never met her) that are so my sister. I think she is watching over us all and sometimes gives us a good chuckle. Love and miss you, Judy.
I have two wonderful sisters and one brother. We did not know we had another sister until March 17th, 2015. I had overheard things growing up as a child about my sister Lola. Lola is a wonderful person and we have grown very close since our first meeting in June of 2015. My sister Linda has not met Lola and she does not plan on meeting her anytime soon. Which is such a shame. All Lola wants is to meet her family. She met her only brother as a surprise visit in August of 2015. Lola was born with the name Judith Anne. My brother and his wife had a daughter who died at birth and they named her Amanda Jane. Funny how the first and last letters were changed around when they named their daughter. We didn't know about Lola back in the 80's when Amanada Jane was born. I keep hoping that one day my sister Linda will meet Lola. We had a DNA test done and she is our half sister. My father knew all about Lola. I think my mother had been attacked, and I could not understand as a young girl and as a teenager was my mother would go into such a deep funk every May. Both of my sisters were born in May, Linda May 3rd, Lola May 15th. Lola was born May 1943 and my parents were married in September 1943. I remember one time in May when I was a teenager walking by my parents' bedroom, I hear my father say today is Judith Anne's birthday. I heard my mother say yes I know. Then I heard my father say, do you think about her, my mother replied everyday.
My friend Niki is truly my sister of the heart. We met years and years ago when she directed a staged reading of a play I had written. Right away, we were making dates to have lunch or see a show, or just to hang out for an hour or two. We would talk and laugh and share our secrets. When times got tough for me, Niki was there to offer love and support—and work, which I really needed right then.
The years went by. I moved halfway across the country. Niki faithfully kept in touch, mostly in letters. She loves to travel, so she even came to visit more than once. Eventually, I moved back to the West Coast—to Portland, Oregon. A few years later, Niki and her husband moved to Portland, too. So here we are now, Niki and me, a thousand miles from where we started—but hanging out just like we used to, sharing secrets over lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant or celebrating the New Year together in her charming apartment in the Pearl District. There is nothing so sweet as a friendship that grows stronger and more sustaining as the years go by. Niki is family to me in all the ways that matter.
Chris's new book, HOMETOWN REUNION, is the beautiful love story of a wanderer who finally discovers that everything he ever wanted was waiting for him at home.
Few people can point to the one person who changed the entire trajectory of their lives, but my friend Janice Kay Johnson did that for me. We met more years ago than I care to admit when she had just sold a book to Harlequin. She’s the first writer I ever met, and I quickly became fascinated by what she was doing. When I started coming up with plot ideas that I thought she might like, she suggested that since I was an English major and loved books of all kinds, maybe I should use those ideas to write my own darn books. Then, bless her heart, she mentored me as I did exactly that. We became lifelong friends, supporting each other in both our professional and personal lives in so many ways. I love that we still help each other plot whatever book we’re working on. I’ll always be grateful for the amazing gift of her friendship.
Alexis's latest book is DEATH BY ARTS AND CRAFTS, a cozy mystery with a delicious helping of romance!
I don’t have any sisters, but I do have sisters of the heart. Through writing I’ve met some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and four of us talk all the time about stories, and trade work and brainstorm, cheer each other on and commiserate. Jackie Ashenden, Megan Crane and Caitlin Crews, Nicole Helm and I have been friends for years. We bonded over our shared love of stories, and have become part of each other’s lives. We’ve watched each other's kids grow up, slept on air mattresses in each other’s houses, weathered the loss of pets and parents, and I could not be more grateful for them.
One of the most unexpected and wonderful things to come out of our friendship happened in 2019, when I sent a humorous text conversation sparked the idea for a book. What if four women each stayed in the same farmhouse for a season, and during their season they found love? We didn’t really think anything would come of it, but we pitched the idea and ended up having an auction for the book, which became A COWBOY FOR ALL SEASONS, and spawned a series, Jasper Creek, that has three books - soon to be four. When we first met I don’t think we ever imagined that we’d be lucky enough to actually write stories together, but here we are. These books are a physical expression of our friendship, and the sisterhood we’ve found in each other.
I was four years older than Sister (that’s what we both called each other instead of our given names). We weren’t chosen to be Homecoming Queen…you get the picture. I wanted that Most Likely to Succeed title so badly. Sister wanted to ride on the front of a fancy car in the Homecoming parade and wave at the crowds.
Now, fast forward many years. Sister was VP of a bank, and I was a published author. She had just gotten a brand-new, bright red Chevy Camaro, and we were on our way home to show the new car to our mother. As we crossed the Pennington Creek Bridge into Tishomingo, I said, “We’ve got the car and Main Street. You’re dressed up pretty today. No guts, no glory. I’ll drive. You sit on the hood and do the queen wave.”
She didn’t hesitate. She stopped at the end of the bridge and handed me the keys. She slid up on the hood, smoothed the front of her black suit pants down so that the toes and heels of her cherry red spiked heels showed. I eased my foot down on the gas pedal. The speed limit is 35 miles an hour down Main Street, and only two traffic lights. I drove five miles an hour so she could be queen candidate longer, and we hit both red lights, so she got to ride even longer.
She waved at everyone, and we fulfilled a dream of hers that day. We never understood why Mama was in such a hurry to get the newspaper the next week, or she didn’t understand why we were disappointed that our picture wasn’t right there on the front page.
Learn more about Carolyn's latest book here: The Devine Doughnut Shop
My sister and I are 12 years apart in age. I am the older one. I used to take care of her when her mom was at work and I was still in high school. When I turned 17, I joined the US Navy and left home. Because she was so young we didn’t really stay in touch and I would only see her when I would go home on leave. I got married and started having kids of my own. As my kids grew, she only shared small chunks of time with us. Everyone is always so busy all the time, with jobs, and lives of their own. Unfortunately my sister has had it rough. She fell in with a bad crowd and long story short, we are estranged because of how she chooses to live her life and with whom. Sometimes I wish life could be simple again.
The year my mom passed away was 2003. We all were bummed for Christmas. We did what we could to get through the year. That new years we we're introduced to trashcan punch. None of us had had it. So we drank two five gallon containers of between the party goers. We were karaoke to oldies. The song "Ain't No Moumtain High Enough" came on. Well, the 5 of us all got up and belted out the song perfectly with hands swinging high and wide. Our collective husbands all decided for us that we were all drunk. Videotaped us and gladly show us at times. The following Christmas we sat down and talked about how disappointed mom would be if we wallowed thru Christmas 2004. We decided to go downtown (San Antonio) and eat on the Riverwalk at Budros, take a boat ride along the San Antonio River, walk along the river and enjoy a horse and carriage ride. We celebrated mom, sang songs along with others and met a very friendly Santa."
An only child, I spent endless time with my best friends doing nothing and everything, and separation was hard. I was a Counselor-in-Training at Camp Hollymont the summer I turned fifteen—young enough to be thrilled for camp but old enough to miss my friends and my boyfriend and parties and everything. No cell phones allowed, so I kept in touch with brief calls using a prepaid phone card for fifteen minutes each day. My sweet friends wrote letters (pictured) though I rarely had time to respond.
When I got home, my friends gave me a spiral notebook decorated with pictures, stickers, and glitter glue. Every time they went to a party or lunch or the pool, everyone wrote me a note so I wouldn’t feel left out. (I still have that notebook, and I might share some of those hilarious letters on my social media around the launch of The Summer of Songbirds, my novel set at a girls’ summer camp, in July.)
Every time I think of them, I feel gratitude for friends who missed me and thought of me. It was just a spiral notebook. But it felt a lot like love.
We’re all wives and moms now. During pregnancies, weddings, and a pandemic, we’ve met yearly. Letters have been replaced by a group text that keeps us connected. Photos are sent in real time instead of printed and pasted. Time marches on, life carries us to new places. But somewhere deep down, we’re still those same girls, and we still have each other, this sisterhood we chose. And that just might be the greatest gift of all.
I don’t have a sister – always wished I did, but nope. Had one brother enough older that when I was in kindergarten, he was in junior high. But sisters of the heart? Yes, thank you – I’ve had several, from my kindergarten bff (we try to keep to an every Tuesday call schedule) to a cousin who was the older sister I’d always wanted, to a close friend who lost her fierce battle and left us all too soon.
Then there’s my friend Helen. She and I have been friends since 1980. We’ve seen each other through family deaths and family births, job changes, and changes of address. She and I are often on the same wavelength – you know, like when you pick up the phone to call her and she’s on the line calling you. Can’t tell you how many times that happened.
We have the same taste in books and in clothing. So much so that way too frequently we have shown up at an event wearing the same outfit, right down to our shoes. Like the time we were going to the NJRW conference and her husband dropped her off at our house (my turn to drive). We took one look at each other and rolled our eyes: identical black long-sleeved tee, jeans, and black flats. The best, though, was the year she showed up for our annual Christmas brunch wearing…well, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? (I’m the short one with the dark hair.) And yes, right down to the plaid flats. Yes, of course we could check with each other beforehand, but where’s the fun in that?
My sister has always been there for me. When our parents refused to teach me to drive on the grounds I crashed whatever I drove, from my bike(s) to my cousin’s brand new snowmobile, my sister volunteered. She took me to the cemetery for my first lesson. It was a warm, sunny afternoon, and we had the windows down and Super Tramp playing on the radio. I was driving at a responsible fifteen miles an hour, and driving really, really well . . . until another car appeared on the road. I panicked and jumped out of the car, watching it roll driverless in the direction of the other car. Good thing my sister isn’t only the most supportive person I know, she also has great reflexes, and I’m so lucky to have her on this journey with me.
Learn more about Debbie's latest book here: At Home on Marigold Lane
My little-bit-older sister (age 70) and I are very close even though we live 500 miles apart. On the very day I read your request to submit sister stories, I received a text from her saying she needed to apologize. She had been digging through decades-old paperwork looking for an old family will and found a childhood note from her to me claiming "You are the dumbest person." I had returned it to her later asking why she was so cruel. For some reason she kept the slip of paper deep in a box and texted that finding it made her very sad. "I am so sorry," she wrote, adding "You are brilliant! I have the greatest respect for you and love you dearly. Hope your day is going better than mine!" I have no recollection of the note or what we could have been upset with each other about the day it was written. Her text touched my heart and made me love her even more than I already do!
My best friend was having surgery out of town—the best surgeon for her type of surgery was at UCLA. I went with her to be her nurse. Despite the fact that I'd had some nursing college, I was a little out of practice. I took care of her lovingly, though I did wash her hair with body lotion and rubbed shampoo into her skin. She bubbled up very nicely during her next shower. Her hair was greasy and limp for a while. She forgave me.
I never appreciated her enough. Until I was going through a heartbreaking divorce. I called her one night and said, "I can't do this. It just hurts so much." And she said, "Get in your pajamas, get in bed and Facetime me." I did as I was told and found she was in her pajamas, in bed, face covered in cold cream. We talked for over an hour, laughed and cried, kicked around plans for my new life. Through her I found my strength. But the important part is this. We did that almost every night for 2 years. She let me go on about how angry I was at the injustice of it all and she never complained, never tried to fix me. She rarely succumbed to advice. She just loved me, met me in bed and let me vent.
It's been a few years. We still talk several times a week. We’ve moved past my divorce to more uplifting things, but I'll never forget how it felt to have someone in the middle of a facial drop everything, see me at my lowest point, and be there for me. Not once, not once in a while. Every day. For as long as it took. I could not love a true sister more.
A lady needing work done on her car that she couldn't pay for, traded cleaning services with my parents and brought me her daughter and to this day my dearest friend, Kit. We spent a few years nearly inseparable through grade school before they moved a few states away. We tried to stay in contact but as most people know years and miles get away from ya. But we have been reconnected for quite a few years now and have made some wonderful memories together. She still loves me even when I broke her finger back in grade school ;)!
In the late '80s or so, I'd been stuck in bed with an illness (and I'm not great with idle time) so my oh-so-wonderful sis brought me over a paper bag full of romance novels. I'd never been much of a reader, but I browsed through one and got completely hooked. I burned through that entire bag of books and became a voracious reader. Within a few years of that, I wanted to write. I credit that sister (one of 3 siblings) with my success as a writer now. Even better, she attends my annual reader & writer conference every year to help out. She's usually right next to me during the book signings, opening each book and sticking bookmarks inside. Next to my husband, she's my very best friend.
When I was ten and the sister closest to me was thirteen, we were offered the opportunity to deliver newspapers by a friend of my mother's. Excited by what we could earn, we signed on to deliver two hundred newspapers each. On the first day of our route, we both received a canvas bag filled with as many papers as would fit, and because we were too young to drive, and the place where we were supposed to deliver was pretty far away, my mother dropped us off.
It was summertime in Chandler, Arizona (just outside of Phoenix). It was HOT, and Debra and I could barely stand beneath the weight of those gigantic bags. We didn’t have any water with us, either (that would never happen in this day and age!), so it didn’t take long before we were really struggling. We became so thirsty we even contemplated drinking from a puddle we found because we were too afraid to knock on a stranger’s door! We just kept pushing forward--until I couldn’t carry my bag another step. At that point, Debra said, “Let me take your bag.” She slung it over her tall, willowy body opposite the one she already carried and literally staggered beneath the weight as we moved from house to house, where I would run each paper up to the door so she wouldn’t have to walk any more than necessary.
For all of you who are now thirsty and waiting for me to say we got a drink--my mother returned before too long, and she had some cold Gatorade in the car. It was the first time I’d ever tried Gatorade, and I don’t think anything has ever tasted so good. The only thing sweeter was the sacrifice of my older sister. :-)
Susan Mallery and I have been friends for so long I have blackmail material on her. I never use it because…blackmail can go both ways. Susan writes deeply touching stories about relationships between women—friends, mothers and daughters, and of course sisters, and she’s able to do that because she’s always there for her female friends with good ideas, fun activities, champagne and when needed, a verbal slap on the back of the head. Loving your sisters is a gift you give yourself; I’m privileged to have Susan as a sister/friend. To readers who want to laugh and cry and recognize themselves in the characters, enjoy Susan’s newest, THE SISTER EFFECT.
When I turned 13 years old, my older sister designed a fun scavenger hunt for me and my friends. The only problem was that she was 16 years old--old enough to drive. So she planted the clues in easy driving distance, but at 13, my friends and I had to walk from place to place. It took FOREVER! From our house to the fire station, half a mile. From there into town, half a mile. The other side of town, half a mile. Back home... who knows by then! But I still remember it fondly as something special she did for me. She was kind of shy, so even just taking those clues into the different places and asking them to give them to me when we arrived was a lot. Such a sweet gesture! One of my favorite birthday memories.
If you have a story you'd like to share, click below to submit your story. Susan is hoping that, like the book, some of the stories will make you laugh, and some will move you to tears. Send us your own anecdotes or little stories of some special moment between you and your sister.