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An American Friend Who Writes

“Letter writing is the only device combining solitude with good company.”

– Lord Byron

Lord Byron may have been “mad, bad and dangerous to know”, but I think he’s nailed it with that quote.

I mentioned my American friend Barbara in the previous blog. Barbara and I, courtesy of the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, became penpals when we were ten. Decades later, we’re still writing to each other – not on flimsy aerograms, but via emails. I count her as a dear friend.

We’ve met three times now. A few years ago she stayed with me, and I’ve visited her twice in her beautiful coastal home in Oregon. With my husband, I’ve been included in her lovely group of friends to drive south to visit the college town of Ashland for the annual Shakespeare Festival (highly recommended).

We’ve a great deal in common in the literary sphere. Barbara has published a book, The Crow’s Nest, an interesting contemporary tale. I’ve released a historical romance, The Heart Has Its Reasons. Now we’re both working on more stories.

Recently I’ve been sorting through lots of personal possessions, and found a page from a Katy Keene comic I’d long thought lost. I loved collecting and reading these comics, because they combined my two loves, fashion design and reading. Ironic that, amongst all the fashion sketches I sent for publication, it was a recipe that made the cut.

Following its appearance, I received numerous penpal requests, and valiantly tried to answer them all. Three letter writers – in Alabama, Oklahoma and California – stayed awhile. But only Barbara and I have lasted the distance.

I was thrilled to received a recent email from Barbara saying, “I spent the morning enjoying your website and blogs. Although I’ve known you for much of my life, I feel I know you even better after reading these pieces.” She had other kind words to say, and it means a lot, coming as it does from such a highly qualified teacher and writer.

Pre Covid, Barbara attended quite a few writing retreats in some marvellous places. Definitely envy-making! And her writing group has adopted one of our critque group’s traditions: cake and sparkling wine to celebrate members’ birthdays.

She sends me books for birthdays and Christmas, often signed by their authors. I am indebted to her for introducing me to the wonderful historical novels of (the late) Judith Merkle Riley and, more recently Sue Monk Kidd’s The Book of Longings.

Though Barbara and I are many miles apart, I think of her often – my childhood friend I didn’t meet until well into adulthood, but someone with whom I share so much. It may be many years before we meet again. In the meantime, every time I walk on one of our beautiful Gold Coast beaches, I’ll keep on waving to her across the Pacific.

The Heart Has Its Reasons is available for ORDER by clicking this link



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