Sitting here in the dreary Pacific Northwest, my heart is yearning. For what?
For peace and love and joy and hope, pillars of the Advent season I grew up with in the Catholic and Episcopalian faiths. Despite this, I feel deep in my heart that many changes are ahead, not only for me and those I know and love, but also for our country and our world. And not all of them are good.
Did you know that hate toward Jews, Muslims, and ethnic minorities is up by 350% in the United States? Not 35%. Not 3.5%. A full 350% percent. Why? Because they don’t look like us or worship like us? Recent tragedies, like the shooting of three young college students of Palestinian descent in New England on Thanksgiving Day, enrage me.
Our world is hurting.
In last year’s Christmas message, Pope Francis, in talking about the war in Ukraine, admonished the world to “see the faces of all those children who, everywhere in the world, long for peace,” especially those children who are “in the dark and cold, far from their homes due to the devastation . . . of war.”
This year, we add to this list displaced Palestinian and Israeli children, who will not be celebrating religious holidays in their homes or with loved ones, many of whom have perished.
As I watch the twinkling lights on my Christmas tree, I pray for children all over the globe that they can know peace and love and joy and hope. And I hope it begins in my heart and in yours, that we can breed understanding, bridge chasms, and find compassion for our sisters and brothers and then spread it into our neighborhoods and towns and cities and to the country and world beyond.
The Irish Girl Revel
Although the publication date for The Irish Girl is a year away (12/10/24), the cover will be hitting media and sales sites in early 2024. You might wonder, why? In this business, authors submit finished manuscripts almost a year in advance of publication to give editorial and design teams time to edit, format, and create advance reader copies for the trade. These copies, often called ARCs or galleys, go out for trade and media reviews and represent samples for advance sales to bookstores and libraries. By the time the final books come off the press about a month before the release date, there have been many changes. What typically doesn’t change is the cover.
So . . . without further ado, here is the cover for The Irish Girl!
Update from My Critique Partners
Since the onset of COVID, I’ve met monthly with three writing critique partners, Gretchen Cherington, Shelley Blanton-Stroud, and Debra Thomas. Since 2020, we have published a total of eight books and are all working on new manuscripts now.
Gretchen’s two memoirs, Poetic License and The Butcher, The Embezzler, and the The Fall Guy: A Family Memoir of Scandal and Greed in the Meat Industry, have come out to great acclaim. Shelley’s unputdownable three-book crime noir series, Copy Boy, Tom Boy, and Poster Girl, feature one of my all-time favorite characters, feisty and flawed Jane Benjamin. Debra’s debut novel, Luz, won the prestigious Sarton Award; her newest, Josie and Vic, is reminiscent of Joyce Carol Oates and Ann Patchett, a great contemporary read about complicated family dynamics.
For more information on any of us, see our websites at:
New Anthology from Woman Authors
I’m thrilled to announce that a short piece of mine will be published in an anthology out in Spring 2024. Called Feisty Deeds: Historical Fictions of Daring Women, the book features 23 female authors writing across a wide historic range, from the 16th century to the present. My piece, “Double Whammy,” is set in 1972 Maine, featuring a wounded protagonist searching for absolution. More on this exciting new anthology in upcoming newsletters.
In the spirit of the season, I’m giving away FIVE e-books of Hardland, my 2022 release and winner of six literary awards.
Synopsis of Hardland:
Arizona Territory, 1899. Ruby Fortune faces an untenable choice: murder her abusive husband or continue to live with bruises that never heal. One bullet is all it takes. Once known as “Girl Wonder” on the Wild West circuit, Ruby is now a single mother of four boys in her hometown of Jericho, an end-of-the-world mining town north of Tucson. Here, Ruby opens a roadside inn to make ends meet. Drifters, grifters, con men, and prostitutes plow through the hotel’s doors, and their escapades pepper the local newspaper like buckshot. An affair with an African American miner puts Ruby’s life and livelihood at risk, but she can’t let him go. Not until a trio of disparate characters—her dead husband’s sister, a vindictive shopkeeper, and the local mine owner she once swindled—threaten to ruin her does Ruby face the consequences of her choices; but as usual, she does what she needs to in order to provide for herself and her sons.
Set against the breathtaking beauty of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert and bursting with Wild West imagery, history, suspense, and adventure, Hardland serves up a tough, fast-talking, shoot-from-the-hip heroine who goes to every length to survive and carve out a life for herself and her sons in one of the harshest places in the American West.
To enter, tell me one of your hopes for 2024.
I’ll look forward to your responses and will publish some of your answers anonymously in the January newsletter.
Top Five Book Read This Year
This list will look different from other curated lists you’ll be seeing this month. That’s because I’ve spent the last year reading only Irish novels (written by Irish authors or set in Ireland). Some are brand new; some are older titles. If you’re in the mood for some great writing—and the Irish have a lock on that—here’s a short list for your consideration.
- Foster, by Claire Keegan
- Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín
- The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O’Farrell
- This is Happiness, by Niall Williams
- Down by the River, by Edna O’Brien
Five Books on My Christmas List
Tom Lake, by Ann Patchett
The River We Remember, by William Kent Krueger
Trust, by Hernan Diaz
Horse, by Geraldine Brooks
Yellowface, by R. F. Kuang
Whatever your faith walk, and however you observe (or don’t) the upcoming holidays, I wish you and those you love a peaceful December.
And, as always, Happy Reading!