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The Horsemaster's Daughter 2008 reissueI can’t watch the footage of the horse race. You know which one I mean. No wonder I prefer to stick with fiction. It’s so much more manageable than reality. The Horsemaster’s Daughter is just hitting the stores now. There are chills and thrills in this novel, but I promise, no horses were harmed in its creation.

I love the new cover art. It’s nicer “in person” than online. There’s a muted quality to the illustration and a nice antique-y matte finish. There’s a pale cast to Eliza’s skin which brings to mind all those vampire covers that are so wildly popular these days–not that this is a vampire book. I’m not normally a fan of green in cover art, particularly green foil lettering, but this is eyecatching and beautiful. It’s a good fit thematically, too, since the book is about redemption and renewal.

The one bit I’m not so fond of is the shoutline at the top of the back cover copy: “An unbroken horse, a broken man, an estate that needed her.” What a strange and awkward phrase. I hope people will read right past that. (For the record, the author almost never writes the cover copy.) With the exception of the shoutline, the book’s description is spot-on. Reading over it reminds me of how much passion and tenderness I had for the characters, back when I was writing this book.

By far, my favorite feature of this new edition is the inclusion of a coupon good for $2 off Just Breathe, my upcoming book. Clip it out! Make note of the very limited time offer–it has to be used between August 26 and September 2.

A moment of silence, please. Madeleine L’Engle has died at the age of 88.

Madeleine L

A WRINKLE IN TIME was one of those books I read as a child and thought, wow. I am Meg. To this day, every protagonist I write in my own books seems to be a smart, awkward, vulnerable, strong-at-her-core female, which is the archetype Meg embodies. I didn’t know that when I was in 5th grade. I just know I related to her on every level.

Later in life I read WALKING ON WATER, one of the single best books on the art of writing ever published. It is “must” reading for every writer.

I have a signed copy of A WRINKLE IN TIME because I was privileged to meet Madeleine when she visited a school where I was teaching about 15 years ago. I loved meeting her. She was Meg, all grown up. Smart, awkward, vulnerable, strong-at-her-core. She will live to eternity in the hearts of readers.

Last month, I lost one of my oldest and dearest writing friends. I found comfort in the words Alice herself wrote in Devoted, her first published novel. This is from the final page:

…Owen felt again a hint of the peace that had descended on him in the church when he committed himself to Christ and his people’s cause.

He still had no assurance of anything, not tomorrow or his springtime, but he had found his heart and his life. However long he lived, he would take that assurance with him.

Even if his road brought him soon into the shadow of death, he would carry that achievement , that peace with him into darkness and beyond. To whatever God waited there.

Devoted by Alice Borchardt (1995)  Here’s a detail of a memory collage I made to give to Alice’s husband:Alice

Wishing peace and love to all.

I didn’t know them, but their story has a kind of happy ending: 

 

Kathleen Florence Kane Rogers, age 94, and Bruce Harris Rogers, age 93, died peacefully in their home on Friday June 15. They were residents of Bainbridge Island since 2003.

Kathleen was born July 12, 1912, in Vancouver, B.C., the only child of Northern Irish parents Emily Kane and Daniel Long Hanna. She grew up in Victoria B.C. and moved to Tacoma, Washington as a teenager. She attended the University of Washington and then Cornish School as an art history major.

Bruce was born October 16, 1913 in Toronto, Kansas to Clarence and Minnie Rogers, both school teachers. The family moved to Seattle in 1927. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1930 and the University of Washington Law School in 1937.

They were married in 1937 in Seattle, moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and then to Portland Oregon. They returned to Seattle where they lived with their family for 40 years on the shores of Haller Lake. After retirement they moved to Edmonds where Kathleen became an active member of the Friends of the Edmonds Library and the Historical Society where she served as a docent for many years.

They leave two sons, Michael of Bainbridge and John of Silverdale, 6 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren. Kathleen and Bruce recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary surrounded by family and friends.

At their request there will be no services; a family memorial gathering will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Bainbridge Library or Helpline House.

This week, I fielded the most unusual permission request of my career. My agent called to say a reader has inquired about permission to use a line from The Winter Lodgeon a headstone. Every once in awhile, my publisher gets a request to use text from a book for the usual reasons–to use in a class or excerpt. This request, of course, is a first.

The text? It’s the epitaph from the grave Jenny visits at a key moment in the story: “Step softly. A dream lies buried here.” Ironically, it’s not original so the permission wasn’t needed. I don’t remember where I saw the phrase. Probably wandering around a cemetery, reading headstones, which is not something I do often, but every once in awhile, I find myself in such a place. It’s one of those things that stays in your mind, brief and powerful, so you don’t even have to write it down in order to remember it.

The writer in me is like that, a magpie picking up bright, shiny things that catch her attention, and collecting them. A lot of the “kitchen wisdom” in Jenny’s recipes from THE WINTER LODGE came about in the same way. Wise women–my grandmothers, mother, aunts, friends–all contributed in their way.

Today I’ll think about this reader, who lost someone precious and found a few words to express her sorrow in such an unlikely place.

grave

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