My Books

Finally a novel that tells the unvarnished truth about the trials and triumphs of being a teacher. From national bestselling author Karin Gillespie. Based on a true story.  $2.99  Indie Bound, Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes

Winner of Georgia Author of the Year!

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“Educators will eat this up with a spoon.”  Augusta Chronicle 

Girl Meets Class is a delectable page-turner with twists and turns at every corner.”  San Francisco Book Review

What’s Girl Meets Class about?

Toni Lee Wells is in a world of trouble. After a tennis injury that sidelines her athletic career, she finds herself always getting into scrapes with the law.  Her wealthy Southern family finally cuts her off and she needs a job, pronto.

She joins Teachers Corps and is assigned to the worst high school in town.  That means:

  • Tough kids right out of youth detention centers
  • a rundown portable
  • an indifferent and corrupt administration
  • Zero training

That’s just the beginning. Luckily, Carl, a handsome colleague, is willing to help her negotiate the rough teaching waters.

But when Toni Lee gets involved with dark dealings in state testing, nobody, not even her new boyfriend will be able to help her.

Praise for national bestselling author Karin Gillespie

“It takes talent to sustain this level of comic writing for over 300 pages. Gillespie keeps the ball in the air, spinning madly, until the end.”

—-Boston Globe

“This fast-paced read is certain to please women’s fiction fans of all ages.”

—-Romantic Times Top Pick

As tart and delectable as lemon meringue pie… a pure delight!”
–Jennifer Weiner

A sample is posted below. You can buy Girl Meets Class at every ebook retailer for $2.99.  A paperback is 15.99

Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes

Excerpt

The unspooling of my Tiffany and Wild Turkey lifestyle began with a trip to the Luckett County Jail. It was mid-July in Rose Hill, Georgia, and I was trapped in the backseat of a police car.  The air inside was close and thick like sawmill gravy. Up front the radio crackled and hissed with static as the dispatcher announced the city’s Thursday night dark doings: a mugging, a domestic disturbance, and a pit-bull fight.

“Don’t you people have an armed robbery or a murder to go to?”

No response from behind the mesh barrier.  Might as well have been a mute mosquito.

The law enforcement center loomed over the hill, a tombstone-colored tower leaking a sickly, yellow light. First time I laid eyes on the place I scared myself silly, imagining strip searches, filthy cells and sadistic wardens. This time the sight barely made me flinch.

Here we go again, I thought.

We arrived, and the cops hustled me out of the car and into a processing room. It contained a haphazard collection of utilitarian desks and smelled like dirty feet. A stout policewoman lumbered toward me. She had a gray front tooth and a sprig of hair creeping out of her nostril.  I wasn’t her typical customer, and she was sizing me up.

I tried to see myself through her eyes: A twenty-one year-old blonde, blinking and stumbling in the harsh fluorescent lights, wearing a strapless pink party dress, gold gladiator sandals, and diamond drop earrings.

Maybe she was imagining what kind of car I drove—a cherry-red Porsche Boxter convertible—or who my people were.   Likely she’d heard of my family’s company and probably had a few cans of Cornelia’s Southern-Style lima beans or black-eyed peas collecting dust in her pantry.  Most everyone in America did.

I was photographed and fingerprinted. The cop confiscated my python clutch and peered at the contents, a lipstick in a plum shade called Promiscuous and a Platinum Visa in the name of Toni Lee Wells.  If only I could give her that card and make my latest blunder go away.

She glanced up from my clutch and gave me a look that could freeze vodka. It seemed to say, “I don’t care who you are, princess. Now you belong to me.”

The cop gestured for me to follow her. We were headed in the opposite direction of the holding cells. For a brief panicky moment I wondered if she was taking me to some secret dark room where repeat offenders were taught a lesson with a rubber hose. Instead I was led to a dank narrow hallway with a stone bench.  “Sit,” she said. “Someone’s on the way to pick you up.”

I was relieved, naturally, but also curious. Who was coming? It’s not like I’d called anyone. After a few minutes my father approached, wearing a pair of wrinkled camouflage pants and a John Deere cap.

Daddy hugged me with his meaty arms, wrapping me in his scent, oak chips mixed with perspiration. The embrace went on for more than a minute. It was as if I’d been released from a ten-year stay in a Turkish prison instead of a brief jaunt to jail.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said.

Outside bloated clouds scudded overhead; the sky seemed close enough to touch. A jacked-up, emerald-green Cadillac roared past us, its frame shimmying with the bass from a rap song.  I climbed into the refuge of my daddy’s Land Rover. His yellow Lab, Beau, pounced on my lap and bathed my cheeks with warm, liver-snap scented saliva.

“How’d you know I was here?”

My daddy’s freckled scalp shone through his thinning red hair. “Sibbie Stevens saw you being put into the back of a police car outside Bistro 91. Public intoxication, Toni Lee?  What did you do?”

“Nothing. Just fell asleep. That’s not a crime.”

Not unless you were operating heavy equipment, which I wasn’t. Just my iPhone a few minutes before I passed out.

“Fell asleep where?”

“In the bar. It was just a little catnap. Don’t know why they felt they had to call the law.”

That wasn’t the whole story, but no need to share all the damning details. Before I hit the ground, I’d been singing along to a Katy Perry song on my phone, maybe a little too loudly and probably off-key. The usual bartender, Rita, was out sick and a snippy substitute was working in her place. The sub asked me to cut out the singing, and I tried to loosen her up by asking her to dance with me. Somehow I ended up knocking over a couple of highball glasses on the bar. Then I got dizzy and the next thing I remember was a cop pulling me up from the floor.

It’d have never happened if Rita had been on duty. Whenever I got a little wobbly in my shoes, she always took good care of me. In exchange I made sure she went home with a nice fat tip tucked into her pocketbook.

No more shots of Cuervo Gold, I thought. I’d only started drinking heavily a few months ago and was still learning the ins and outs of alcohol. Tequila was in a class by itself. No wonder they called it to-kill-ya.

On the way home, my father’s silence was so loud he might as well have been yelling at me. I was grateful when his Land Rover sailed through the security checkpoint at the entrance of Country Club Hills.  The car came to a stop in front of my condo, and he gripped the steering wheel so hard his knuckles were white.

I broke the silence between us. “I don’t know what got into me tonight, but it was a one-time thing. It’ll never happen again.”

By then I felt completely sober. A trip to jail was a guaranteed buzzkill.

Daddy gave me a hard look. “One-time thing, huh?”

I nodded vigorously.

“That’s odd because according to one of the officers you’re practically a regular at the jail.  Few more trips and they’ll be naming a cell after you.”

“Two trips hardly makes me a—-”

“It’s not just that,” he continued. “You’ve been out of control for months. I’m still getting calls about that terrible thing you did to Baby Bowen at Lois Atkins’ funeral.”

I’d never live that stunt down. Ten years from now people would probably still be talking what I’d done to Baby Bowen at that funeral.

“Maybe you ought to give that Dr. Lyons another try.”

I wrinkled my nose. Dr. Lyons had white carpet in his office and made me take off my shoes before I was given permission to enter. During our visit, he kept squirting Purell into his hands.  He seemed crazier than I could ever aspire to be.

Daddy was scratching Beau’s ears, waiting for me to speak.

“Forget Dr. Lyons.”

He let out a heavy exhale of air.

“I understand why you’re acting out like this. Anyone in your situation probably would, and I’m the first to sympathize. But here’s the thing—”

“I’m tired. Can we talk about this another time?”

“Toni Lee.”

“It’s really late. You should get back to bed.” I patted his arm. That’s when I noticed a faded yellow bruise on his bicep.

“What did you do to yourself this time?” My father was the most accident-prone man I’d ever met. He was forever running into doors or tripping on loose stones. If there was a banana peel within a ten-mile radius he’d find it and slip on it.

“Don’t try change the subject.”

I kissed his cheek. “Goodnight, Daddy.”

“This is serious.”

I mussed his wispy hair and flounced out of the car.

“Toni Lee!”

I ignored him and sprinted to my condo, a replica of a three-story Italianate villa divided into six residences.

Inside it was bright and noisy. As usual I’d left on every light, and the television blared with a commercial advertising a Chevy Truck Blow-Out sale.  I hurried to the kitchen and popped open a bottle of Zin Your Face, a California Zinfandel. I chose wines with funny names; it made alcohol seem tame and friendly, like Hi-C with a kick. One glass, I thought. I surveyed the contents of my cupboards and chose a brandy snifter the size of a baby’s head.

I filled the glass to the brim and moved to the living room, plunked down in front of the large screen TV, and shoved Texas Chainsaw Massacre into the Blu-ray player.  I was addicted to horror movies, the gorier the better. They helped put problems into their proper perspective. Yes, my life might have recently taken an unlucky turn but at least I wasn’t being chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac. In fact, if I was a shrink and one of my patients was having a meltdown, my advice would be to watch Evil Dead 2 and call me in the morning.

Like the sample?  Buy for only $2.99

Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes

Want to know more? Read an interview with main character of Girl Meets Class, Toni Lee Wells.

 

When a Character Goes Rogue

high-school-preppy-girl-outfit-6Greetings or as we say in the deep South, “Hey, y’all.” I’m Toni Lee Wells, the main character in Girl Meets Class by Karin Gillespie. In honor of her publication day, I’ll be interviewing the author.

Toni Lee: Karin describes me as a wild and spoiled Southern belle who spends her nights roaming the streets of Rose Hill, Georgia. Not a flattering description, but I won’t hold it against her. And in order to give readers a visual, Karin Gillespie is a haggard  woman in advanced middle-age, who wears a size twelve—babyjane

Karin:  I’m a size six.

Toni Lee:  And she’s also prone to wild exaggerations and even bold-face lies. Especially about me. In fact, Karin, you had the gall to suggest I have a drinking problem.

Karin: The story opens with you being taken to the drunk tank—your second trip—and when you get bailed out, you go home and guzzle Marilyn Merlot.

Toni Lee: It was one glass!images1

Karin: The glass was a brandy snifter the size of your head.

Toni Lee:  Moving on. What inspired you to write this contrived and outrageous story?

Karin: I taught an inner-city school for ten years, and wanted to capture what it’s like for a privileged and inexperienced young woman to blunder into such challenging situation.

Toni Lee: Maybe you blundered.   I, on the other hand, flourished under extremely stressful circumstances.

Karin: You drove your Porsche to school on the first day.

Toni Lee: An innocent mistake.

Karin: You let your students play video games for most of their class periods.

Toni Lee: That’s because whenever I tried to teach them they would chant, “Let’s get krunk!”

Karin:  Is it possible you gave up too easily?

Toni Lee:  Why don’t we discuss Carl, my work colleague and love interest who’s extremely talented in the boudoir? Yet, in the novel, there are only two skimpily written sex scenes. Why make such a foolhardy choice? Aren’t you aware of the runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey?

 Karin:  Carl’s function in the novel is not to titillate, but to contribute to your story arc. He’s an inspiring teacher and you’ve led him to believe that you’re in his league. But the truth is, he’s Sidney Portier in To Sir With Love and you’re Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher.onesheet

Toni Lee: I’ll give you that. But did it ever occur to you that my bad teaching was due, in part, to sexual frustration?

Karin: Maybe. But to be fair, you were also over your head. You didn’t get support from the school administration, and, of course, you also harbor a disturbing secret from your childhood, which drags you down.

Toni Lee:  I refuse to talk about that.

Karin: You do realize your secret’s revealed at the end.

Toni Lee: Gasp. Is there nothing sacred?

Karin: I thought you read the novel.

Toni Lee: Mostly I skimmed for the sex scenes. Besides I prefer horror movies to novels. They put life’s problems in their proper perspective.  I might have my troubles but at least a chainsaw-wielding maniac isn’t chasing me. In fact, if I was a shrink and one of my patients was having a meltdown, do you know what advice I’d give?
Karin:  Watch Evil Dead 2 and call me in the morning.

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Toni Lee: You know me too well. And dear readers, I encourage you to check out Girl Meets Class,  keeping in mind that Karin is prone to hyperbole, particularly when it comes to my shortcomings. (And if you have any sense of propriety you will kindly skip over the scene where my very personal secret is revealed.) Last question, Karin? How much does this not-so-torrid tome cost?

 

Karin: It’s $2.99 at any of your favorite e-book retailers. It’s also available in paperback for a bit more.

Toni Lee: Surely you’ve misplaced that decimal. My life story can’t be that cheap.

Karin: It is. And don’t call me Shirley.

Toni Lee:  Well, one hopes the level of humor in Girl Meets Class is more sophisticated than the content of this interview. As for the paltry price, I have at least ten times that amount under the cushions of my Queen Anne sofa. I trust that you do too, and you might want to throw some filthy lucre Karin’s way. (Psst. She gets her hair cut at Great Clips and you can totally tell.)     20150227_142855_resized

Thank you, Karin, and good luck with your novel. I suspect you’ll need it.

Help Karin get better hair cuts.  Buy for only $2.99

Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes

 

 

 

– See more at: http://karingillespie.net/2015/09/08/when-a-character-goes-rogue/#sthash.CkfcTp8d.dpuf

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Bottom Dollar Series 

Fun, Southern  small town and cozy fiction with a dash of romance.

(Re-issued by Henery Press)

Welcome to the Bottom Dollar Emporium in Cayboo Creek, South Carolina, where everything from coconut mallow cookies to Clabber Girl Baking Powder costs a dollar but the coffee and gossip are free. For the Bottom Dollar gals, work time is sisterhood time

This series serves up a heaping portion of small town Southern life and introduces readers to a cast of eccentric characters.  Pull up a wicker chair, set out a tall glass of Cheer Wine, and immerse yourself in the adventures of a group of women who the Atlanta Journal Constitution calls, “… the kind of steel magnolias who would make Scarlett O’Hara envious.”

 “A winner of a first novel, filled with southern-style zingers and funny folks.”

Kirkus (starred review)

Order here! Only $2.99

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February 10,  2015–A Dollar Short order here

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It’s not everyday a movie star steals your huband….  What happens when Hollywood descends on Caybook Creek, S.C.?

A Dollar Short is meant to entertain, and it does. It takes talent to sustain this level of comic writing for over 300 pages. Gillespie keeps the ball in the air, spinning madly, until the end.” – The Boston Globe

“Never a dull moment…this fast-paced screamer of a romance begs a giggle, if not a guffaw..” – Booklist

“Laugh-out-loud antics as…Gillespie continues her entertaining Bottom Dollar Girls series…. Certain to please women’s fiction fans of all ages.” – Romantic Times (Top Pick)

 

“As tart and delectable as lemon meringue pie…a pure delight.” – Jennifer Weiner, Author of Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and Little Earthquakes

“A fine romp of a book, well written and thoroughly entertaining.” – The Winston-Salem Journal

“A hilarious saga of loss, sisterhood and the will to survive.” – Tucson Citizen

“Bet you a dollar you’ll laugh…. This is a book to treat yourself with—and then share with sisters and friends.” – The State (Columbia, SC)

Coming May 12, 2015–Dollar Daze

 

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