Congratulations to Pat LaPointe of Prospect Heights IL, the winner of "Calico Stars," the needlepoint project I finished last month. Pat, I'll ship your prize next week, along with a signed hardcover copy of Loving Eleanor. The full proceeds of this raffle (almost $500!) goes to Story Circle Network, a nonprofit organization of women writers. I founded SCN in 1997 and am very proud of its many programs and activities: the Sarton Award for women's memoir and fiction, StoryCircleBookReviews (the largest women's online book review program, focusing on indie- and author-published books), SCN's online writing classes, and many others. To those of you who entered SCN's raffle, huge thanks for your support!
Homestead report. It's been a summer of surprises: the rainiest August ever, with greater-than-usual cloud cover, which means milder temperatures. 90s mostly, not as many 100s as we've seen in previous summers. The rain is mostly due to the remnants of the Pacific El Nino from the southwest, a couple of cold fronts from the north, and high humidity from the Gulf. I didn't do much with the veggie garden this summer, but Bill's pecan trees are flourishing. Looks like there'll be enough for the squirrels and crows to get theirs and maybe even leave a few for us.
Book report. The General's Women (the story of Eisenhower, his driver Kay Summersby, and his wife Mamie) is finished. I'll be making a publishing decision on it in the next couple of weeks. Loving Eleanor continues to do very well. If your library doesn't yet have it, tell your librarian that it's available from Ingrams (she'll know what that means).
I'm at work on the 2018 China Bayles mystery, Queen Anne's Lace, and learning lots of interesting things about that herb. Its traditional use as a contraceptive is turning out to be an important plot feature in the historical mystery (set in Pecan Springs in 1888) that serves as the backstory for the novel. I'm presenting the historical backstory in alternating chapters with the contemporary story, as I did in Widow's Tears. It's giving me a chance to write about herbal contraceptives and abortifacients. I haven't done that before because I haven't wanted to get embroiled in the modern arguments on this subject. Can you tell that I'm excited about this? Writing a long-running series (this is China's 26th outing!) is a challenge. I'm energized by finding a new way to tell you the story.
Reading note. One thing I like about historical fiction is that I'm not constantly focusing on me, or people like me; you're obliged to concentrate on lives that are completely other than your own. Emma Donoghue