saying goodbye to a piece of your heart

June 26, 2019 | 2 Comments

I wrote The Goodbye Quilt because it was cheaper than therapy. Honestly, I did not expect my daughter’s departure from home to hit me as hard as it did.The first draft of this novel came out fast, in a matter of weeks, fueled by emotion and a sense of urgency to get the feelings out. 


“There is something about losing your mother that is permanent and inexpressable – a wound that will never quite heal.” 
― Susan Wiggs, The Goodbye Quilt

Several years ago, I talked to my agent and great friend Meg Ruley about the book, but the story, like me, was a work in progress. I needed the perspective of time and my cold writer’s eye to transform the story from a self indulgent rumination into a novel readers could truly embrace and relate to.

I also needed to find a way to conclude the story that felt true and satisfying. This is something I struggled with for a long time and when I finally hit on the right ending, it was glad day chez Wiggs. At last, I got it right. I proudly submitted the piece to my publisher, only to hear the dreaded words, “This ending doesn’t work. You have to change it.” After much gnashing of teeth and ritual smearing of ashes, I realized that this was true. Back to the drawing board. The perfect solution came from the perfect source, my own daughter, the ever fabulous Elizabeth Wiggs, now grown and a wonderful mom and an author in her own right.

She didn’t give me the answer, but she reminded me of the true meaning of the goodbye quilt in the story. It is a record of one woman’s days as a mom, and as such, it was an unfinished story.

Whether readers of the novel will agree or not remains to be seen, but for me, it’s the grace note at the end if a long and beautiful piece.

And now this heartfelt novel is being published in the most fun way imaginable, as a two-in-one collection with one of my favorite writers and best friends in the world, the incomparable Sheila Roberts. Sheila is more than a writer-friend. She’s one of the most important early readers of my work. Since time began, we’ve been reading and critiquing each other’s work, so it’s fun that we get to go public at last!

Image result for the summer it begins
Two reader favorites … one fresh new book!

When we saw the cover, it reminded me of one of our zaniest adventures. A photo shoot in Sheila’s vintage convertible. We didn’t get far on the road, but it was definitely worth the trip.


“There can be no fooling ourselves into thinking this is something other than what it is—the willful ejection of Molly from our nest. It’s too late for second thoughts, anyway. She has to be moved into her dorm in time for freshman orientation. It’s been marked on the kitchen calendar for weeks—the expiration date on her childhood.” 
― Susan Wiggs, The Goodbye Quilt

Readers: WHERE WILL YOUR NEXT ROAD TRIP TAKE YOU?

#newfiction #summerreading #SheilaRoberts #SusanWiggs #roadtrip #college

foreign affairs

June 18, 2019 | Leave a comment

Ahoj, Czech Republic! I’m loving the cover art from Albatros Media. Can you guess when book this is?

Hint: The title, with all those groovy consonant letters, means “Ways of the Heart” or “Paths of the Heart.

It blows my mind that my books can be read by people the world over. So grateful to translators and publishers around the globe.

@AlbatrosMedia #BooksInTranslation

Inspiration for The Oysterville Sewing Circle

June 18, 2019 | Leave a comment

This is Jerry. He’s the most creative person I know, and he’s a master of his craft. If you want a glimpse at what he does check out his page.

At the moment he’s making a designer’s sample for one of his clients. People from all over the world–literally, the world–find Jerry and hire him to design apparel for them.

And this is the view from here. I’m in the loft space of his atelier, a building on our property that he designed himself and built with his buddy Kurt. It’s filled with light and driftwood beams and Jerry’s welding projects and windows reclaimed from an old house. He calls the theme “early shipwreck.” I like coming to the loft to write.

He’s been known to make everything. I mean, everything.

My wedding dress. Sheep costumes for the dogs. A Madeleine outfit for Clara. A slipcase for my laptop. A bib that looks like a tuxedo for my dad, who suffered from Parkinson’s but still liked to be classy. The first thing he ever sewed for me was a cover for my arm, because I’d broken my wrist skateboarding and was in a cast that had to stay dry.

He has a website where you can buy the hero t-shirt featured in THE OYSTERVILLE SEWING CIRCLE.

He thinks in 3-D images. He’s super interesting to me. I don’t know much about apparel design, but I know a lot about apparel designers.

He’s the reason I was able to write about Caroline, the main character in THE OYSTERVILLE SEWING CIRCLE, with such passion and authenticity. Jerry never faced the kinds of challenges Caroline does in my latest novel.

In the wake of a horrible tragedy, Caroline takes custody of her friend’s orphaned children and retreats to a tiny town on the Washington coast to remake her life. Yet there, in the safest place she knows, she encounters women facing the ultimate betrayal—domestic violence.

By now you’ve probably figured out that Caroline is not Jerry. And THE OYSTERVILLE SEWING CIRCLE is not about sewing.

What it’s about is survival, and renewal, and courage—and the power that comes from women helping women.

NOTE: If you need help, or if someone you know is in need, please reach out. In the United States, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: www.thehotline.org, 1−800−799−SAFE(7233), or TTY 1−800−787−3224. See also the Partnership Against Domestic Violence: www.padv.org.

Oysterville :: Reviews Are In

June 15, 2019 | Leave a comment

I’m not an idiot. I don’t read my reviews. No, that’s not entirely true. I read the reviews my publicist sends me, because she understands the power of a smart reader’s thoughtfully rendered opinion.

photo credit :: Stephanie Dyane Inc

She also knows that when a bad review comes in, silence is golden. If a critic wants to say the glue boogers between the pages were more entertaining than the book itself, that’s her prerogative, but the author could go all day without hearing that.

First up–and this publication has been known to strike fear into the hearts of writers. The venerable Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1930 and avidly followed by librarians, booksellers, and industry insiders.

I love this piece because the reviewer captured what’s important and heartfelt about this book. And that, after all, is every writer’s hope.

“After facing tragedy and betrayal in New York, an aspiring fashion designer escapes to her idyllic Pacific coast hometown to raise her best friend’s two young children and finds inspiration, redemption, and love in the unexpected journey….Wiggs’s latest is part revenge fantasy and part romantic fairy tale…Timelines alternating among the present and past, both recent and long ago, add tension and depth to a complex narrative that touches on the abuse of power toward women and the extra-high stakes when the women involved are undocumented. Finally, Wiggs writes about the children’s race and immigration status with a soft touch that feels natural and easygoing… A lovely read—entertaining, poignant, and meaningful.”

:: huge sigh of relief ::

There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing you did what you set out to do. The book that has occupied most of your waking hours for a year or more is about to be released into the wild. I’m grateful to anyone who spends time reading my books. Doubly so when she the review is well-written and thoughtful.

Blown away by this review. Thank you, @KirkusReviews @WilliamMorrow @HarperCollins #newfiction #bookreviews

Preorder a signed copy from Eagle Harbor Books for 20% off! Other preorder options can be found here. Thank you, readers!

multitasking

June 13, 2019 | 3 Comments

Mom and I have been writing together since before I could read OR write.

How do I know this? Well, when I was tiny, she would patiently write down the stories I told her–long, rambling monologues about the adventures of a middle child. She was such a busy mom (3 kids in 5 years) that she didn’t have much time to send letters to her folks down in Florida, so she’d mail them samples of our “work” each week. My grandmother kept all the little bits and pieces, and presented them to me one day in a Buster Brown shoe box.

mom taking dictation from her 4-year-old

And here we are again. Decades later. Still together. Still writing. Still dreaming. Still breathing.

Mom’s 88 now, and she’s been sick, but she’s getting better. Thanks to all for the encouragement and good wishes for her recovery. Trust me, it matters.

#Love #motherhood #eldercare