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Overnight, the leaves fell

Overnight, this tree in our front yard lost half its leaves. It feels like overnight, autumn colors have come to western Massachusetts. That’s okay; I love fall, but it’s such a busy time. Even an overwhelming time. Every activist and nonprofit group I support has some sort of event or activity. Plus, I’m starting to set up events for my second novel, ON HURRICANE ISLAND, which launches in early March. And then there are all the books – there are so many amazing books on my To-Be-Read pile.

Okay, I admit it that I’ve been contemplating a totally forced metaphor about the books piling up like leaves in the yard, waiting for raking/reading. But since my involvement in our yard is limited to watching it from my writing desk, that comparison wouldn’t be quite honest. Plus having all these books is such a happy problem. So, instead of forcing a metaphor, I think I’ll just share the books on my TBR list, and stare out the window at the turning colors.

The Jaguar’s Children, by John Vaillant – I’m halfway through this one
Make a Wish But Not for Money, by Suzanne Strempek Shea
The Commons, by Susan Dworkin
A Story Larger than My Own, by Janet Burroway
There’s Something I Want You to Do, by Charles Baxter
Kindling, by Aurora Levins Morales
The Hawley Book of the Dead, by Chrysler Szarlan
Teach Us that Peace, by Baron Wormser
The Bloody Tide, by Jane Yolen
A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
Angels Make Their Hope Here, by Breena Clarke
This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein

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Last day of vacation

Today is the last day of my summer vacation.

The first ten days were hectic and very full of activity, with daughters and partners and grandkids and friends joining Robby and me in our beloved rental house in N. Truro. After Labor Day, they all left to return to jobs and school. The house is now much cleaner and less cluttered with sand and toys and food and beach towels and the row of sandals lined up at the front door. It’s quiet.

Our first day alone was melancholy; I missed them all so much. But today, day three of the quiet time, Robby and I have settled into a familiar vacation pattern: coffee on the deck, morning walk, reading and writing with a short lunch break, a mid-afternoon visit to the beach to stare at the waves and talk, and then dinner at one of our favorite seafood restaurants.

One of the highlights of my vacation is that Robby and my daughters each read the current draft of whatever novel manuscript I’m working on, and make comments. Since the work is often very much in progress, their feedback – always smart and insightful – helps me reshape the story. This summer I’m revising a novel I started in 2001, and have rewritten more times than I can count. So much of the narrative has changed, but the kernel of the story (two sisters who respond to a political crisis very differently and must balance their loyalty to each other with their choices and the consequences) is still alive, still pulling at me to get it as “right” as I can. Two weeks in Truro means that my characters vacation with us. They share sandy apples on the blanket, walk with my daughters and me at the water’s edge, even join in a rousing game of Settlers of Catan when the kids are asleep.

Tomorrow, Robby and I go home. We return to a very busy fall and winter, with a second edition of HOUSE ARREST coming out in a few weeks, and my second novel, ON HURRICANE ISLAND, launching in early March. But today, we’ll savor our last cups of coffee on the deck, enjoy every sweaty hill on our walk, relish the almost-stale sandwiches and squirt out the dregs of sunscreen. And we’ll smile at the two pairs of sandals lined up alone at the front door.
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