Life up to now
"Sarah Meets Silas" made its debut in December 2021. A prequel to "Sarah's Daughter," it is a flashback for the trilogy that told the story of Rose Hibbard -- "Sarah's Daughter," "Rose" and "A Silver Moon for Rose." Set in the second half of the 19th century, the new book tells how Sarah and Silas met when he came upon her sitting on a rock at the local fair -- and sobbing. He loaned her his handkerchief ... and the tale began.
It's wonderful to be enthusiastically praised by poet and children's book author Judith Viorst again ... Judy has steadfastly assured me, amid the usual author doubts, that these characters are real.
Distribution is always tough, especially for a self-published book, but the book is available at The Bookstore, Lenox; Shaker Mill Books, West Stockbridge -- and, both in print and as ebook, on Amazon. If you need any or all of the three original books, they're available from me, individually at $15 apiece or all three for $35, plus a couple of dollars for shipping.
Life up to now, it says at the top of all this. Well, it's good. And I've moved on, into a new book, moving up a century into the 20th.
Can't find Rose Hibbard?
E mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll get the four part story of Rose to you. For the trilogy, it's a bargain: $50 plus shipping ...
The Eagle column continues every week, and a fifth novel is under way. During the pandemic, once I was in gear, it was a challenge to go from "Sarah Meets Silas" to the as-yet unfinished book. And both relieved the tedium of isolation!
Who knew that I could write a book? The teen career guide of long ago doesn't count -- that was non-fiction.
My favorites for reading were always fiction, my career as a journalist was solidly based on fact --fact after fact after fact.
Then I left my job as Sunday editor of The Berkshire Eagle, did a short stint as editor of a feature magazine that was part of a newspaper in New York State and had lots of thinking time during the 30 minutes or more it took me to get there and back again.
As these things do, a kernel of knowledge about my grandmother's teen years kept nudging me. The brain is a coordinator, so thoughts of my former Girl Scouts frequently ran their own ribbon through the picture. Grandma had a hard time, something I didn't know when we were picking lady slippers (protected now!), identifying bloodroot, going blueberrying or just reading away the Connecticut River Valley humidity on her huge front porch.
It was my father's "sort of" biography that told me she was required to run a New England farmhouse, bring up a brother and sister and cope with her increasingly alcoholic father when she was in her early teens. Her mother had died of pneumonia and there she was, a more than bright student who wanted to be in school and a child suddenly carrying an adult life on her shoulders. I knew Grandma had taught school, so I figured she managed to juggle all the balls in her life. I also knew her as a kind and cheerful grandparent, willing to see shoot-'em-up movies with me and able to walk the two miles to town and back so we could have our movie/dinner time
together. She had surmounted all kinds of problems, some of which my Girl Scouts had. And then the thoughts converged: Years go by, times supposedly change, times really don't. And humans don't change a whole lot either. I started my road to abandoning fact and welcoming fiction. With a dearth of information, I fictionalized my grandmother. And it turned out to be a compelling adventure.
The result, published in 2007, was "Sarah's Daughter." Grandma was, indeed, Sarah's daughter, named Rosa Adelaide. I named my heroine Rose and it didn't take long for Miss Rose to come alive in my head and drive my fingers over the computer keyboard in our cellar office.
Two main events in the book are based on fact: Grandma did go to school at the age of three, somewhat by chance; and she did make a momentous decision about her little sister when she realized that something had to be done in the home situation and that she was the one who had to do it.
"Sarah's Daughter" was easily followed by "Rose," in which many of the original characters begin to tell more of their own stories. In both books, the late 1800s in rural New England are accurately portrayed as a result of plenty of research -- that's when the
journalism side showed up with considerable strength -- and recollections of how my grandparents lived when I was very young. She always had the wood stove in the kitchen, she and my grandfather were frugal people, members of the Grange, hard-working.
Their lives as adults were not that far removed from the world they grew up in from 1887 into the 20th century. "Rose" was published in 2010; "A Silver Moon for Rose" in 2016.