Monday, July 29, 2019

Too Soon For School... A Summer Book List

Too Soon For School
A Summer Book List

Humans have complained about change for as long as time has been unwinding.  I do my best to embrace it, particulary because it's one of the best ways I've discovered to learn, grow, or improve.  However, when I run into my local supermarket and find all the familiar aisles have been inexplicably rearranged and I can no longer find the butter, I'm as irritated as the next grump.  It's so often the little things that chip away at my sanguinity.  When your favorite lipstick is discontinued, when the BBC cancels the one show you really liked, or when Ben Affleck is cast as Batman.  Those are the changes that niggle.

Children roll with change far better than adults.  This is perhaps because they are too young to have become well and truly used to much.  For instance, here where I live, school starts this week.  On August 1st.  There are so many things wrong with this I haven't room to list them all.  But for one thing, it's still hot.  Blazingly hot.  What happens to the beloved tradition of "back to school" clothes shopping, which was, let's face it, the seriously great thing about having to go back to school?  How fondly I remember the wool skirts, the sweaters, the plaid.  Dress like that this week and you'll find yourself in the emergency room before lunch, half dead with heat stroke. 

When I was a little girl August 1st was the start of our last, most delicious, month of the summer holidays.  We always went to the beach in August.  When the days were hot and oppressively humid, and it was far too uncomfortable to play outside, all the summer books were pulled out and finally read.  September was the start of school; August was the grand finale of summer.  Here at The House of Edward, it still is.  So even though I'm a little late, here are some great new books to read during summer's last hurrah.
As always, click on the book to see more.
I hope you enjoy them.

The Overstory 
by Richard Powers

Walking in Wonder
by John O'Donohue

Reasons To Be Cheerful
by Nina Stibbe

The Long Call
by Ann Cleeves

Vita and Virginia
by Sarah Gristwood

Woman In Their Beds
by Gina Berriault

What I Stand On
by Wendell Berry

The Testaments
by Margaret Atwood

The Dutch House
by Ann Patchett

The Mueller Report

Where The Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens

Big Sky
by Kate Atkinson

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Big News and Big Dogs

Big News and Big Dogs

No one goes to the Shetland Isles by mistake.  People don't stop by on the way to someplace else; it's never the destination for a day trip.  The ferry takes fourteen hours across seas that are often less than placid and the plane flight, though admittedly shorter, is a wibbly-wobbly affair whose ultimate success is wholly dependent on the whims of the winds.  Choose the ferry if you can.  Being a romantic, I always feel one should approach a Scottish isle by the sea.  True to that conviction, I embarked on my second ferry trip to Shetland in late May, chock-full of Bonine and an almost giddy sense of anticipation.

You see, just two days before I sailed away for a week of knitting and hiking, (a divine combination of activities led by the wonderful Shetland Wool Adventures and one that included copious amounts of chocolate and homemade scones), my literary agent had submitted my novel to twelve of top publishers in the country.  Had I been home during this time I would have no doubt checked my email and phone hundreds of times a day, all the while vacillating between hope and despair while I waited.  However, as I was in Shetland, a place that feels - and, is - so very far from everything,  I didn't really thing about it at all.  My days were spent learning from some of the most creative and talented textile artists imaginable and hiking into the some of the island's most glorious scenery.  We enjoyed interesting and entertaining conversations, delicious meals, salubrious weather... I even got to hold a lamb!   I only had internet at night and was usually too sleepy when I fell into bed after another adventurous, inspiring day to even glance at my phone.  I concluded the trip with several sunny days in London and returned home inspired and refreshed, not even dreaming that my life was about to change.

Within a week my novel sold to Random House.
It will be published in early 2021.
And no, I still can't quite believe it.

Writing a novel is an all-consuming affair, as evidenced by my sporadic appearances on this blog over the past year or so.  I found it impossible to do any other kind of writing whilst I was immersed in the book.  Now that it's done, I'm hopeful I can be here a bit more often, though I'll admit, I'm still figuring out what that will look like.  To be perfectly candid, in this space I've always written what was on my heart at any given moment, and these days my heart is often heavy.  Three years ago a rock was lifted up off parts of my country and lots of ugly things have since crawled out, more of them emerging with each passing tweet.  It's impossible not to notice, and difficult to refrain from commenting.  I'm one of those people who believe that history has shown us silence is often equated with complicity.  But I've always tried to make this blog a honest place of hope and light in the midst of darkness, and even though at present there seems to be more darkness than ever, I'll continue to keep that as my focus whilst I'm here even as I sometimes shine a bit of that light on the more repellent parts of our current culture.  There is still love, there is still humor... there are still dogs.

Which brings me to Andrew, the big puppy who is now a year old and ninety-four pounds.  Andrew is happy all the time.  He is not afraid of thunderstorms or fireworks and he has a outsized love of cake.    He lavishly adores everyone he meets.  His favorite activity is riding in the passenger seat of the car and as he sits up as high as I do we provide lots of hilarity for our fellow drivers whenever we're out and about.  He sleeps on my feet every night when I'm knitting and rests his head on my chest when I'm reading in bed, which makes it sometimes challenging to adequately see the pages.  If he could sing, he'd sound like Ray Charles.

And I'm delighted to say that at fourteen and a half, Apple is going strong.  Her hips are sometimes stiff on cold mornings but she still goes for two walks a day and rolls around on her back after she eats to celebrate the feeling of a full tummy.  Like any vain and aging Southern Belle, her fur is still jet black though I can verify she's had no help from a salon.  She's very zen, very calm and gives off an certain air of wisdom which is, I suppose, what we all hope for in our golden years.

That's the view from here for now.  I'll keep you all up to date on the progress of the novel and I sincerely thank you for reading over all these years.  Your kindess and affirmation to me as a writer have been an inspiration always and no doubt gave me some of the confidence I needed to attempt this. 
 Bless you all.

Next up:  Summer Books, While It's Still Summer!