where i am right now

by "where i am right now" i don't mean geographically, although at this moment, in a micro-geographic sense, i'm typing on the bed with maisie curled up at my feet.  a cat and a keyboard: who could need anything more?  (except another cat; mae-mae is in the other room.) where i am right now might be summed up by the fact i'm collecting quotes about light.  here are two:

"in order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present." ~sir francis bacon, philosopher, 1561-1626

"though my soul may be set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light, i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."  ~ from "the old astronomer to his pupil" by sarah williams, poet, 1837-1868

aren't they beautiful?  and isn't light beautiful?  i'm living in a place that's sunnier than what i've been used to for most of my life, and nearly every day i look out to see white light bouncing off the pacific, illuminating lemons in the trees, casting shadows on the mountain and canyon.  but still i'm in touch with darkness, most of it inner--maybe all writers are?  maybe all human beings are...

i'm thankful for that darkness.  it's helped me understand the things people go through, the really painful stuff we all wish would just disappear, go away, or even better, never have existed at all.  i'm writing about this now, because during the next few months i'm going to ask you to come on a journey with me.

the picture above shows me with two brilliant young filmmakers: rubie andersson and tamara edwards.  when i'm not writing my new novel, i've been working with these young women to create a series of videos connected to little night.

the novel deals with a dark aspect of family life: domestic violence and how it affects everyone.  i've experienced it myself, and know that healing is possible, that the dark night ends and daylight returns.  little night is very much about how a woman wakes up from a nightmare--with the help of friends, family, and the right kind of love.

along the way, i've interviewed three women who've been affected--either themselves, or in one case, her daughter--by abuse.  tamara and rubie have done such beautiful, sensitive filming; they're in the process of editing, and i can't wait to show you the results.

Gliding into the new year...thanking you all.

Thank you to all my dear friends and readers for making 2010 so wonderful.I love the community that has grown up around this website, as well as on my Facebook fan page.  The comments have been so warm, touching, poetic, filled with humor and kindness.  I am moved by the way you support each other, and so grateful for the support and kindness you continue to show me by reading my novels. Being born a writer was a great gift.  I am so fortunate to be able to express deep emotion through my work; by telling stories, I make sense of my own experiences, and enjoy the thrills of leading many other lives.  Writing is how I connect.  If it weren't for my readers, the books wouldn't be alive.  They would still matter to me, but they would be words on a page.  They only come to real life through your reading them, relating to the characters, taking the journey with me.  For that and so much I am grateful to you.

2011 will bring a new novel, about which I am so excited: The Silver Boat.  It is the deepest, truest novel I've ever written--it touches many themes familiar to you, but writing it I let myself go down new and hidden paths.  I can't wait for you to read it.  My book tour will take me out on the road for the first time in several years.  I'll post the destinations under "events" on this website, as soon as I receive details.  I hope I'll be visiting your town.

In January a rare book of mine will finally be back in print: Secrets of Paris.  Of all my novels this one has been the hardest to locate; I know many fans have spent large amounts on eBay and other such places to buy the old hardcover.  In just a few weeks it will be out in trade paperback.

On Facebook I've done frequent giveaways of novels, audiobooks, and DVDs of television adaptions there.  If you are interested in finding me there, you can join in the fun.  I'm very lucky to have some creative young assistants who always seem to come up with new ideas and ways for me to give back to all of you--to thank you for being such faithful readers.  Please visit!  (Click here.)

One last thing...here at the end of the year, many readers have asked me where I make charitable donations.  You will find links to the right on this web page.  But I'll tell you more specifically.  NRDC is a great environmental group, dedicated to living in peace with the earth.  They protect many endangered species, and work on keeping the oceans clean and healthy. They do amazing work...maybe some of you remember the whale trip I took, to Laguna San Ignacio...the winter grounds for the California Gray Whale.  I traveled with a group from NRDC, whose work saved that lagoon and protected it from being destroyed.  It's a place where mother whales give birth, and where their calves spend the first months of life.  A magical, amazing place.  Even a small donation will help the whales and other creatures sharing our beautiful planet.

The other charity closest to my heart would be any national or local domestic violence organization of your choice.   Raising awareness, giving support to people affected by abuse, is very important to me and--i know, to many of you.

Thank you all for being so wonderful.  I am the luckiest writer on earth to have you as readers.  Happy, exciting, peaceful, amazing 2011 to you all!

Much love, Luanne

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

First published in Good Housekeeping Magazine’s Blessings column. Later reprinted in the book Blessings: Reflections on Gratitude, Love, and What Makes us Happy. God Moves in a Mysterious Way

by Luanne Rice

I’m the oldest of three sisters, something that defines me as much as my name.  “You’ll have many friends,” our mother used to tell me.  “But you’ll only have two sisters.”  I knew she said that to them, too.  She didn’t want us to take each other for granted, but she was an only child and didn’t understand: life without them would be like life without air, water, or blood—things I wouldn’t last long without.

When we were young, my sisters and I shared a room.  Sometimes after they fell asleep, I’d walk around the room touching the bedposts.  Talisman, prayer, or just craziness, I’m not sure.  I shared that room with them for eighteen years, until I went to college.  My first nights away, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t hear them breathing.

That doesn’t mean I was a perfect oldest sister.  I raided their sweater drawers.  My middle sister got a beautiful fair-isle sweater—sky blue with white and pale green around the neckline—for her sixteenth birthday—but I wore it without asking whenever I could.   Also, I flirted with my youngest sister’s boyfriend, danced with him too long at a winter dance one time.

We were all two years apart in age, walked each other to and from school.  The day I got my license, I taught them to drive.  We could make each other laugh with one word or glance.  When I saw my mother trying to balance the checkbook, fretting about making the mortgage payments, I vowed to protect my sisters from them; I remember feeling the weight on my shoulders, knowing that I wanted them to stay happy and innocent.  I wanted our complicated family to be simple and predictable, so my sisters wouldn’t have to worry about anything.

Was that where it all started?  Arrogance on my part, to think that they couldn’t handle life as it was, that I had to run interference for them?  Or was I just a not-good-enough older sister, a bad example, selfish in sweaters and selfish in life?

As adults, I moved to a city, they stayed by the sea.  I have cats and a career, they have beautiful children.  They got married and built lives; I got married and divorced.  Three times.  I felt like the family embarrassment and failure.

When I look back now, I can’t even define the precise moment that we stopped speaking to each other.   I know that it happened after our mother died, when we no longer had the glue of her long, terrible illness to hold us together.

At first we stopped getting together as often.  The time between calls grew longer and longer.  After a while, the calls stopped, and I remember a moment when it dawned on me—maybe the worst moment in my life—that they had decided to cut themselves off from me and my untoward life.  Looking back now, I realize that my life was difficult for them to deal with, and they had to step back.  And because I didn’t know how to stop them, I let them.

The silence was so terrible, even now it hurts to remember.  Being alone is one thing—but after having grown up with such closeness, it was almost unbearable.  I began to have holidays with friends—people I love a lot.  But every Thanksgiving morning I’d feel bereft, wanting my sisters instead.

One day I couldn’t take it any more.  Literally.  I was in a rocky, abusive marriage—my last.  It pushed me over the edge.  An early winter night in 2002, I jumped into Long Island Sound with my computer.  I ended up at McLean Hospital, frozen inside and out, swimming in grief.

I called my sisters.

They came to me.  Not in their cars, not up the highway, but straight back into my life.  They let me know they loved me.  It took a little time, but we saw each other.  We talked.  They know me better than anyone.  Our history is in our hearts, in our skin.  Maybe that’s why our time apart was so excruciating—I felt I had been ripped in half.  Coming back together has been the greatest blessing I can imagine, and it has shown me that with sisters, love means never having to say “I was a jerk.”  It means forgiveness and never having to touch the bedpost to ensure that we’ll always have each other.

Stone Heart

A powerful and complex portrait of family when one woman's homecoming becomes an emotional journey towards a new beginning...After fifteen years away, Nomadic archaeologist Maria Dark hopes that she can rediscover the joy and optimism of her youth in the arms of her family. But things have changed.

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Summer Light

An entrancing story of love at first sight, the true meaning of family, and angels right here on earth. May’s own faith in true love was shattered when she was abandoned by the father of her child. Still, she finds joy in raising her daughter Kylie, a very special five-year-old who sees and hears things that others cannot. . .

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Summer of Roses

Revisiting the remarkable characters introduced in Luanne's bestselling Summer’s Child, she brings full circle one of her most compelling explorations of the human heart…all the many ways it can be broken…and the magic that can make it whole again.

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This is an extract of a story that appeared in WOWoWOW. You can read the full story here. Torn

by Luanne Rice

This year — the year my cosmic sweater began to unravel — I began to write The Deep Blue Sea For Beginners. I wrote it because I felt I had to knit life back together with words. Among other things, I’m D-3, which means I’ve been divorced three times. My third was so spectacular that it made Liz Smith’s column not once but twice, and involved the following dialogue with an FBI Agent:

Me: "But he doesn’t seem like a con man!"

FBI agent: "Do you think con men announce they’re con men? Did you meet him at church? A self-help meeting?"

Me: "He said he could help me believe in myself again."

FBI agent: (chuckle) "He’s got it down. He’s a predator. You were vulnerable. Did he ask what you did for a living?"

Me: "I told him I was a writer. He wanted to see my work … we walked to a Barnes & Noble."

FBI agent: "Guaranteed, he was calculating your assets before you showed him half your shelf."

That conversation took place five years into a brutal, dishonest, abusive marriage. By that time I’d dropped or been dropped by all my friends. One friend said he felt I was "disappearing." I figured it was because I wore long, flowing things and straw hats. "I don’t mean your clothes," he said. "You. Where are you in there? What happened to Luanne?"

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