In Great Thoughts’ Valentines’ Series, today Mary Alice Monroe (one of my very favorite authors) joins us with a Valentine to her readers. Mary Alice’s next book, Beach House For Rent comes out on June 20th. I want to rent this house.
About The Book:
Two women. One summer. One very special house.
Two women from different generations are bound together by a beloved beach house. Cara Rutledge, 50, rents her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Wyatt, 26, for the summer. Heather’s anxiety keeps her indoors with her caged canaries until the shorebirds–and a man who rescues them–lure her out to the beach. As the summer progresses and Heather’s heart opens to the rhythms of the island, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy. When their worlds shift like the sand under their feet these two very different women come together to discover their common bonds and unique strengths. So at summer’s end they, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island every summer, too, can take flight.
AN OPEN LOVE LETTER TO MY DEAR READERS By Mary Alice Monroe
It began in 1995 when we didn’t yet know each other. It was my first time publishing a novel. Putting myself out there. Sharing something that was born in my heart and mind, so new it took nearly a decade to create. To say I was scared was an understatement. I can recall all the feeling holding the finished book in my hands the first time-nervous fluttering, a sense of awe and wonder.
Seeing it on the bookstore shelves made me feel so exposed. Maybe I wasn’t good enough to be standing there with my work surrounded by so many other great, successful writers. Would you like what I had to say, maybe even love it? Or would you reject it with a shrug and pat response like “sorry, you’re just not my type”?
Our relationship started slow, but steady. In those early years of me finding my voice and honing my craft you followed me on my story world journey from a farm in Vermont, to the Hollywood hills. Then across the pond to London to rediscover the magic of Wendy and Pan, followed by a visit deep into the Vermont woods to examine fairy lore.
Eventually this relationship blossomed into a deeper, more meaningful experience after moving to the lowcountry of South Carolina. Settling down with my family on a charming barrier island just outside of Charleston I felt I’d come home. It was fate that led me to the seashore to learn about loggerhead sea turtles, a magnificent ancient mariner that captivated me and significantly influenced my purpose as an author. I made a decision to use my writing as a force for good. Instead of creating stories from archetypal themes, I developed my story based on the species. I was taking a risk. How would you respond? Would you care about sea turtles, as I did? I crafted a story that drew from my experiences as a member of the island turtle team and through plot, setting, characterization and themes brought you to my story world.
It was a leap of faith, one I had to fight hard for to convince my agent and publishing team that yes, readers would resonate with this story of a mother and daughter’s deep bonds. I knew I’d written something different. Something special. I had something to say, what I called the soul of the story. This was my first love song to my readers.
And it struck a chord. Word spread. Because of your support, The Beach House became my first New York Times bestseller. You catapulted my career to the next level.
Now with twenty published books, and another coming out this summer, I want you to know this. With every book release, you–my dear readers–lift me up. I’m grateful for your incredible emails, letters, and book reviews. For showing up at book signings. (It’s become an annual reunion of old faithful friends for some of us). I receive the most thoughtful, unique gifts from you, all of which adorn my home–artwork, photographs, a patchwork handmade shawl, sea glass jewelry, sea turtle figurines, journals, scrapbook pages…I could go on for a couple of paragraphs, seriously. I deeply appreciate every gift– big or small. But what I love most is the thoughtfulness behind the gift-giving. For you to take the time to write to me or stand in line at a book signing is the best gift I could ever hope to receive. Every handshake and hug, every heartfelt story you share with me is exhilarating.
My appreciation is too deep for a mere “thank you.” Too big to express adequately. Let me just say that you give me the inspiration to keep writing. To keep sharing with you my experiences and insights. Every book I send out is a public display of my love for storytelling, for our natural world–and for you.
As many of us take the time to honor our loves this Valentine’s Day with cards, gifts, or flowers, I offer to you this open love letter professing my sincere appreciation and affection for you.
Thank you–my dear readers.
All my love,