Salutations March 2022

I’m looking out at a blue sky, geese winging overhead, and a blanket of white nestled on the ground, this March fourth. And thinking of places where bombs whiz overhead, where courage duels terror minute by minute, and where a momentary bout of forgetfulness must surely feel luxurious – until reality rushes to intrude again. I try to remember that day to day distractions are a luxury here too. That the reality of others clear across the world is a reality the whole world shares. And I wish I could do more to help, to offer hope, beauty, joy that could somehow cure the world of such needless suffering. Alas, though I always hope that’s what this blog might do, I feel sure it is never enough. Nonetheless…

Christmas tree update: It was so lovely for so long. But somewhere around two months, our tree got sad and went to the great compost pile in the woods! Fresh gorgeousness arrived to fill its void – sweet-smelling blooms from my Valentine. Two weeks later, they too got sad. Why oh why must beauty be so fleeting? Alas. And praise hallelujah for pictures!

My novel Home Place is on its way to a brand new library in Uganda! My friend Terry donated her extra copy to support filling the library’s shelves and a personal dream. It was a good chance for me to hoe out a boxful too. I love thinking of Ugandan kids reading My Uncle Dave and of their teachers reading to boost their education in health and wellness. I hope those grown-ups enjoy a bit of escapism with my novel too, and I enjoy conjuring their home place images in my mind.

And your novel in process, you ask? Progress albeit halting and inconclusive. But coming. I can almost see a strong conclusion. If I squint.

Meanwhile, I’m trying again to learn to use Amazon Ads. So far return lags behind investment. In theory, such ads boost Amazon’s drive to promote and make my books more visible. So they tell me. I’m not holding my breath. I am seeing more readership and more reviews which also help Amazon sit up and notice. By the way, do please review books you read – especially those by less-than-household-name-authors like me. Even if reviews don’t boost sales, they absolutely boost author spirits and motivation to keep pounding our keyboards! So, do I keep investing and hoping return might catch up someday? Yes, I’ll hold my wallet open a while and keep my fingers crossed. Can please you cross yours too?

In the mood for a fun new bauble? Stay tuned to see where Butterfly Junctions will be this art-show season This ‘cha-cha’ bracelet – handmade polymer clay beads – is just one of our many uniquely fun wearable art treasures. See more on our Facebook page. Wouldn’t it look stunning on your wrist? Or worn by someone you think is just as uniquely fun?

And what have I been reading since last we chatted? Here’s a run-down:

Mostly I read on my iPad, but on a cold winter Saturday, I love luxuriating in a hot bath – not a good spot for e-readers. That’s when I turn to a stack of library-sale finds. Have I mentioned how much I love my library? Marian Keyes has captivated me before with her wayward Walsh sisters stories. She did it again. Anna is the second youngest and an absolute mess as this novel begins. We don’t know why until perhaps a third of the book in, and by then we’re hooked – by Anna’s plight and by all the wacky characters she encounters in her quest to make her life whole again. As with her other novels, Keyes tempers heartache with humor and intelligence that makes us root for Anna as well as for all the members of her crazy family.

I re-read this novel by my friend Laurie Gifford Adams in preparation for her visit to my book club. And what I can tell you is that inviting an author to join your book club will absolutely make for an evening to remember! How thrilled my friends were to hear Laurie share the behind-the-scenes story about how this book came to be – the real-life letters that inspired the story, how Laurie lost the computer file of the manuscript and had to re-type it from a yellow legal pad and how that made the book better, how she didn’t intend to end it as she did. But what a good choice she made because even the second time when I saw it coming, the story’s conclusion moved me to tears. So here’s my message to you. Read this book. (And review it!) And invite an author to visit your book club! (Laurie and I are both available!) It’s a great way to enhance your reading experience!

Here’s a fun romp of a book! Who pays someone to masquerade as their best friend? And what would it be like to be the masquerader? Or to run a whole business providing masqueraders to brides without their own friends? That’s what Rachel does – with a strict rule against dating anyone you might meet at said wedding. Except of course, in her paid maid-of-honor role at a posh-posh destination wedding, Rachel meets the irresistable Cam who can know nothing about the business arrangement Rachel struck with the bride. As we might expect, sparks and misunderstandings fly. Throw in the expected wedding drama of an alcoholic mother and a teenage step-mom. And fun ensues.

Here was another winter soak book. I cut romantic teeth on Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, but I don’t think I ever read one of her mysteries. If I had and had the chance to advise her, I’d have said, ‘Stick to romance, Georgette. And do you really think the 1920ishes are as fun as Regency England?’ Still, there’s a breezy feel to the relationships among her characters – the apparent wastrel, the clever and loyal sister of the society woman up to her neck in gambling debt who’d rather her upright husband think she’s cheating on him that confess her debts. But those characters play second fiddle to our police Superintendent Hannasyde. I might have advised otherwise on that front too.

I laughed my way through Today Will Be Different some years back, so I wonder why it took so long for me to read this one. Here, Bernadette’s oh-so precocious daughter attempts to unravel all the tangled and hairwired events that led to Bernadette’s unexplained disappearance. Why’d she go? Where is she? The plot would be implausible were the family not filthy, filthy rich! So yes we can conclude, the rich are different! This non-practicing architect and her Microsoft project leader husband live with their one offspring in a rotting hulk where floors must be mowed not mopped. Still a family cruise to Antarctica ($15K@ x 3!) twice? Well sure, why wouldn’t they do that? And despite their ultra-eccentricity, I found myself rooting for them even as I laughed through their woes.

Here’s yet another author whose previous book made me want to read his latest. I think though, the cover ought to read, ‘And now for something completely different…’ Instead of the all-too realism of occupied France in WWII, you’ll get a much more imaginative tale about how one particular ancient Greek story interconnects with five characters over the course of five-plus centuries. I’ll confess it took time and energy to understand the shifts in time, place, and points of view until each felt real enough to care about. But it was more than worth the effort to see how Doerr’s characters navigated the long ago, the present, and the future. I don’t think one is done with this book when you turn the last page. I expect it to live inside me, to demand pondering for some time to come.

If there’s a theme to last month’s reading, it seems to be ‘I liked this author before. Let’s see what they’ve done now.’ And my conclusion? ‘What else have they written? I want more!’ I’d call that a grand batch of reading!

That ‘more’ will likely take a while considering the height of my to-be-read pile. So much to anticipate – along with warmer temps and retreating snow under I can already see the promise of brave spring blooms. The optimist in me also hopes for a peaceful resolution in Ukraine.

Coming soon: Get Home Place FREE on March 10!

Or don’t wait! Buy Home Place for just $3.99 today – and always free for Kindle Unlimited subcribers. And please remember how deeply appreciative I and every other author to see your honest review of every book you read!

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