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sure to visit the
to Labor Day, and new information
July 1, 2009
I want you all to know, first, how excited I am that the release of my new novel, Labor Day, is just a month away now. Im happy and proud to tell you that the book was selected by the Book Expo 2009 Librarians Shout and Share program as one of the seven must-read books of the summer, and that early reviews have been terrific.
Of course, the readers I care most to hear from are always the ones who receive this letter, who have come to feel, over the years, like friends. Your voices and letters and emails were much in my mind, when I wrote this book. I think its my best novel so far.
I could say more, but I dont want to spoil the story for you. So Ill just tell you, Labor Day is a love story between a single mother and a man who comes into her life, and that of her thirteen year old son, over the course of a hot Labor Day weekend. The novel is told from the point of view of the son, looking back twenty years later on the five days that changed all their lives.
I dont think I ever had a better time writing a book, or that a story came out more effortlessly than this one. The book was written very swiftly -- I think because I wanted to find out, myself, what happened to these people, and there came a point in the telling of it where it seemed as if I was not so much writing the story as reading it, myself. I hope you find as much enjoyment reading it as I did writing it.
As I mentioned in my letter a few weeks back, Ive recorded a short audio clip of me, reading the first chapter of Labor Day, and another of myself, talking about writing the book, and where the story came from.
Ill add here that longtime readers of mine -- like so many of you receiving this -- are likely to understand, better than most, where some parts of this story originated. Starting with my familiarity with single parenthood, and small towns in New Hampshire, my affection for thirteen year olds and sympathy for the state of adolescence, and many years of mothering sons. Most of all, the novel speaks to my incorrigibly romantic nature.
If you ever read an essay of mine called Your Friend, Always, you may find yourself recognizing one particular and somewhat surprising influence for this story. If youve ever attended one of my pie classes, youll hear a few familiar pieces of advice thrown in to the story. And if youve always wanted to attend a pie class of mine, but havent been able to, youre also in luck. Because embedded in this novel is some enormously valuable information concerning crust. When the character, Frank, teaches the narrator, Henry, how to make a pie, every single thing he says concerning how to do it is what I would be telling you if you came to my kitchen for a pie lesson.
But above all, this is a story about the redemptive power of love. I was feeling optimistic when I wrote it, and despite so much clear evidence to the contrary, I still am, on that score. And of course Id love it if youd order the book (pre-orders at Amazon are great, and can really help my ranking there). If youre not able to buy the book in hardback (and believe me, I can understand), I hope youll request it at your library. And keep an eye on my schedule of bookstore readings and events, starting with the first reading here in Northern California, at my local independent bookseller, Book Passage, on July 29. (Ill be making a swing through New England in September too. With more events to come.) Id love to see you at one of them, and if you come, be sure to say hello.
I finished a new novel in Wyoming, and will hope that means you can expect another book from me next year. As with Labor Day, I wrote this one swiftly, because I was so loving the story I had to find out how things turned out.
I want to let you know that my wonderful assistant, Melissa Vincel, who works with me on my Lake Atitlan Writing Workshops, has now prepared all the information youll need to get started making plans for joining me and my good friend, the writer Ann Hood, along with other guest faculty, February 13-21. Weve worked really hard to keep costs down this year, without sacrificing the great food and nonstop attention to your writing, and of course, the quality of instruction, the weather, the volcanoes, the lake, and the tranquility you can expect to find there will be as great as ever.
One of the questions Im asked most about the workshop has to do with how advanced a writer you need to be, to attend my Lake Atitlan workshop. While its true, Ann and I have worked with numbers of published and professional writers over the years, we always welcome those who may never have written before, or not for many years. The way the workshop develops, it always seems that we all learn from the issues in each others work. And some of my favorite writing to emerge from these sessions often comes, surprisingly, from those who assure me they arent really writers. See what you think when were finished working with you.
Finally, I wanted to share with you a short piece I felt moved to share with you, that I wrote last week when I heard the news about Michael Jacksons death. It concerns my son Charlies love of Jacksons music, when he was very young, and my own somewhat crazy decision to bring him to see the Thriller tour a few months past his second birthday.
on the subject of other writing, Ive got an essay in the current
(July) issue of Prevention
magazine, about the role of swimming in my life over the years. Im
far from an expert swimmer, but I try to swim almost every day of my life,
and Ive often found that its in the water I work out a lot
of the problems in my life, and do some of my best thinking. Also some
of my best non-thinking. If you join me at Lake Atitlan this February,
of course Ill hope we get to take in a swim or two together.
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