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It’s always an unsettled time when a book I’ve written goes out into the world. Here is this project I’ve created, fussed and fumed over, revised, worried about and wept over–and then, in the months since turning it in to my publisher, virtually forgotten about.

Now, suddenly, this thing I’ve created is back in my face, like an adult child who left home and then boomeranged. I see it when I pass the books section of the grocery or drugstore. I see it featured in USA Today, my Costco circular and, oddly, in a Wal-Mart ad on the same page as meat. I hear it mentioned in a radio ad.

The Winter Lodge by Susan Wiggs

And the reviews! I would love to take the high road and say, “I never read reviews.” In my opinion, any writer who tells you that is lying. How can you not read a review when someone took the time to read your book and actually write something about it? That seems almost rude. (I’ll post later about my theory on bad reviews.) One thing I can tell you is, I don’t go looking for reviews. Because here is Susan’s Secret Sauce of Sanity– When it comes to reviews, your friends will take care of you. If they are truly your friends, they will stay mum if they’ve seen a snarky review, and if they see a good one, they’ll tell you. They’ll send you the link or the clipping or sometimes even the whole magazine.

So far (and remember, this novel is still an infant in the marketplace), reviews have been good. A starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. I’m a happy camper. I’m not going to go trolling for more.

Ultimately, the book will take on a life of its own. While I was writing it, revising it, endlessly discussing it with my writers’ group, my husband, my girlfriends, my borrowed Doberman, the book wholly belonged to me. Now it’s been released into the wild and it doesn’t belong to me at all anymore. Which is as it should be.

And now, a word from my publisher. They’ve done a way cool thing. They created this dollar-off coupon you can print off and take to the store, so now instead of being $7.99, it’ll only set you back $6.99. You can’t beat that! The one catch is, the coupon is valid for one week only, from January 30 to February 4.

Here’s a link to the coupon. Feel free to pass it on.

I believe most writers have quirky writing habits, and I’m no exception. I love to write my first draft by hand, and I use a very specific sort of paper and ink, in a Sheaffer fountain pen I was given as an award. It’s engraved “Teacher of the Year, 1983.”

I love this pen because it has a very fine tip, which works well with my rather cramped handwriting. I use Skrip cartridge ink in “peacock blue” because it dries instantly on the page. If you’re left-handed, you know why this is important. I’ve ruined many a sleeve, dragging it through wet ink.

When I was very young, I found some old papers of my mother’s from college, and she used this same color ink. So it must be in my blood.

last cartridge of peacock blue

But there’s tragic news for us lovers of Peacock Blue. Because, okay, they still make the ink and it still looks the more or less the same. But they changed the name to turquoise. What’s up with that? Peacock blue is evocative. It’s romantic. It means something. Turquoise is just a color.

I’m curious about the marketing decision that resulted in changing the name. I wish they’d checked with me first. Writing is hard enough without messing with our heads about the tools of our trade. From the web site:

“In July of this year, Sheaffer announced that Skrip was being re-formulated and would be available in new colors….Sheaffer also took this opportunity to inform us that Skrip was now being manufactured in Slovenia! A mild panic set in amongst pen collecting Skrip fanatics… And just where is Slovenia? …. Favorite colors such as peacock blue went the way of the Skrip-Well. Gone are the transparent cartridges where you could easily see how much ink was left. In their place are just very slightly translucent cartridges that appear opaque at first glance. The new cartridges are the same color as the ink inside them….Prior to the recent changeover to Slovenian Skrip, the available colors were: Jet Black, Blue, Blue Black, Green, Red, Brown, Lavender, Gray, Kings Gold, Burgundy and Peacock Blue. Sheaffer discontinued Lavender, Gray and Burgundy entirely. They replaced, or perhaps better said, renamed Kings Gold to Gold and Peacock Blue to Turquoise. Both of these colors have changed; the new turquoise is still definitely turquoise, but darker than the old Peacock Blue.”

Okay, so that’s probably too much information, but I am in a funk here. I just used up my very last cartridge of real peacock blue. Who knows how my next book will turn out? Will it be darker? More obscure? We’ll see–I have to start work on it tomorrow.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, here’s a great quote. When THE MARCH by E.L. Doctorow won the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction, Doctorow said in his acceptance speech: “A book written in silence and read in silence goes from heart to heart and soul to soul as nothing else can.”


I’m starting to get very, very excited about The Winter Lodge, which will be in stores any day now. Even the weather is cooperating here in my corner of the world. Click the link to see a magnificent weather system!



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January 2007