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 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.

Sea Education Association

Sea Education Association by Luanne Rice

November 1975, Woods Hole.

One stormy November night, studying in a carrel at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Library, I picked up my pen, wanting to capture the moment.  Feelings of being at SEA, living in Woods Hole, learning about the oceans from great teachers, preparing to join WESTWARD in the Caribbean…  I wrote: “The wind is howling across Eel Pond, clanking in the halyards of boats on their moorings.  Soon I’ll be going to sea.  What will happen?”

I still have that notebook.  Looking back now, did I realize then that I was in the midst of the single most influential experience of my life?  I knew that I wanted to be a writer, and at nineteen had the resounding sense that I was completely unqualified by life to write about anything worth reading.  SEA changed all that.

We met WESTWARD in St. Thomas, and I was assigned to C-Watch, with Mike Phelps as the watch officer.  I spent the first night on lookout—standing at the bow, watching for obstacles, more vigilant than I had ever been.  The wind was so salty and warm, the sea flashed with bioluminescence, and by the time I was relieved by the next student, I was already transformed by the fact of having helped guide my ship and shipmates through the night.

Our cruise track would take us through the Lesser Antilles, across the Old Bahama Channel, and into the Turks and Caicos as we tracked humpback whales.  We hung hydrophones over the side and recorded their songs.  We watched the whales breach and dive, swim alongside the boat with their newborns.   The science we did challenged previously held ideas about migratory routes and about where and when the whales mated and birthed their young.  I internalized the experience of what I observed and felt, and I have been writing about it ever since.

So many of my characters have benefited from my experience with SEA.  The oceanographer in ANGELS ALL OVER TOWN, my first novel, got started aboard a schooner like WESTWARD.  The marine biologist in SAFE HARBOR researched humpbacks in the Caribbean.  I write a lot about artists who paint nature, and I attribute their attention to the beauty and minutiae of various species to my time spent in the shipboard lab.  The meteorologist played by Gena Rowlands in the film version of CRAZY IN LOVE studied in Woods Hole and used to hear the halyards clanking in the wind blowing across Eel Pond.

Most of my novels take place on oceans and shorelines; I can’t even imagine my work without everything I learned from my time in SEA.  Not just the facts taught in class and on board ship, but the sense I gained of the world and my place in it.  The enormity of the sea, the capacity we have to sail it, our responsibility to each other, to future generations, to the sea itself…

I stopped believing that young writers, including myself, lack things to say—instead, it’s more a matter of learning to trust oneself and one’s voice.  Even so, I consider SEA to be my Hemingway experience: Young Woman and the Sea.  I sailed by the stars, followed whales, climbed a mountain on Mona Island, spent Christmas far from land on Silver Bank, watched sharks in a feeding frenzy in Mayaguez Harbor, pondered existence.

Amy Gittell, my Woods Hole roommate and WESTWARD shipmate, has remained a wonderful friend.  I’ve always felt grateful to Dewitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of Reader’s Digest, for giving me the scholarship that made my time at SEA possible—ironically, my work is now published in many languages in their Select Editions, and my gratitude extends to SEA every time I see one of those volumes and realize how much of my material comes from my time there.

One of my favorite words, and states of being, is inspired.  To inspire means, literally, to breathe life into, to impel, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration.

I think back to the wind that long ago November night, when I wrote: “Soon I will be going to sea.  What will happen?”

Now I know: I was about to be inspired.

For more information about SEA, please visit