My friend Pamela wrote me a letter in her blog (Books in Northport) the other day, and I told her I’d write back soon. So–
Sallie and I watched the sunrise this morning from the beach in Grand Marais. There was a bright star high in the eastern sky; I think it must’ve been Jupiter–or Venus?– so not a star really, but it walked and talked like one, so that’s what I’ll call it. Sallie snuffled around in the sand and beach grass, her collar tags jingling. I sipped at my latte. I make one every night before we close and put it in a mason jar, leave it sitting on the counter. It’s a friendly thing to wake up to.
I can’t believe another summer has passed. Rick and I ate a frozen pizza on Thursday night that we bought in the Soo back in May, which seems like about one minute ago in some ways and a hundred years in others. The pizza was hand tossed, spinach and cheese. Trust Rick to find the only fifteen dollar frozen pizza in the supermarket. But as usual when it comes to anything food-related, he was right. It was good. The summer was good, too. I always have such a great crew. We laugh a lot. That’s one of the first things that comes to mind when I want to tell anyone about them. Hanging out with them is one of the best parts of my life.
We have great customers, too. When I admired a sundress a woman from Traverse City was wearing one day in July, she said she bought hers at Target and would pick me up one if I wanted. I did and she did, and it was fun. I sort of went to Target! Very unexpected. Another woman came in wearing a beautiful summer dress one day, very simple and elegant with lovely colors, and I pretty much accosted her, demanding she hand it over. I was in one of my tease-y moods that maybe sometimes goes too far, but fortunately she seemed amused. A couple of weeks later, along came the dress–not hers, but an identical one–in the mail. The same day a typewritten letter came from a man in Georgia who’d been in with his family. Just writing to say how much they’d enjoyed everything. A real letter! On a typewriter! So rare these days, and so wonderful. And yesterday a retired teacher named Olivia called from North Carolina to say she’d loved South of Superior. Just out of the blue, while I was finishing the blueberry muffins, there’s this sweet, southern voice encouraging me to keep writing. It was really touching and humbling. She said she lived out in the country on a tobacco farm with her husband and didn’t have Internet right now, so her son had helped her try and find a phone number, and that she finally reached someone at the Sportsman’s who gave her the diner number, a chain of events I really liked. You know, I enjoy email and Facebook and writing these blogs and reading others as much as anyone, but at the same time, I miss the other way of life where none of it existed, which wasn’t so long ago. I’ve been taking breaks from it, which is a whole different story.
Thursday was the official paperback release of Prairie Evers, by the way. I’m really happy about that. I’m very fond of that little book. People often ask which is my favorite of the two, and I honestly can’t choose a favorite. It’s not fair for one thing and is comparing apples and oranges for another, but Prairie is definitely a kid I love to hang out with. I’ll bet she and Gladys and Arbutus would get along fine. Well, and she and Greyson would probably have a blast together, building tunnels for the squirrels in the old hotel’s trees, or something.
Thursday was also the day I sent what’s probably the last round of revisions on The Education of Ivy Blake in to my editor. It should go in to copy edits next week, and the is due out next June. Ivy, Ivy. I love that kid. She’s been very inspirational to me. I often tell people that the characters end up seeming like real people to me, spirits who exist out in the world. I know I created them, but on some level it doesn’t feel that way. They seem to be themselves, to exist independently of me. And once the books are published, it really seems that way. One day this summer an email arrived in my inbox from an editor at Knopf, wanting to let me know that Prairie’s mentioned in a book she’s bringing out next year. That was so fun. She sent the ARC to me, and I loved it. Can’t wait to sell it alongside PE when it’s out. (It’s by Kelly Jones and called Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. What a great title.) Can’t wait to sell Ivy alongside Prairie, too. Thank you for being an early reader of the book, and for liking it, my dear.
Oh, in a sudden hurry, I have to go. It’s almost time to open. We’re back to breakfast hours, 8 a.m. to 8, which turns out to really be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or so, so time flies by faster than ever. More later– I wish you and David were coming up this fall, it’s not September without you– I’ll be giving a talk at Horizon Books in Traverse City on October 25th, any chance you could come? I’d love it if you could– We’re having a bonfire on our beach at home the next night, rain, shine, or blizzard, and you’re invited! There’s going to be fireworks!! And s’mores!!! So anyway, I have to get right back, so can’t run up to your place– Scritchles to Sarah-dog–