November, 1998
Dear Readers,

I've got good news and bad news to share with you.

First, the good. I've seen the preliminary cover for KEEPSAKE, my April book for St. Martin's, and it's terrific. Wendell Minor, the artist who did the artwork for A CHARMED PLACE last year, did the artwork for the new book, too. (Mr. Minor is pretty major as far as I'm concerned. What a talent he has!) Look for a copper-roofed gazebo set in the middle of a flower-bordered town square, and on the back, an archetypal New England town. If you squint, you can just about see the inhabitants of Keepsake. They're all there: the gossipy barber, the feisty teacher, the scowling coach, the pizza-loving priest, the town's wealthy patriarch. Squint a little more. You'll be able to make out the patriarch's career-driven daughter and, staring at her from not far away, the handsome, ambitious son of their gardener. Just squint. You'll see.

And now the bad news. Don't be jealous, readers, but:

TA-DAH! I'M DONE (okay, almost done) WITH MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING! As I write this, it's November 20. Tonight I wrap. Tomorrow I mail. This year it all came together. I was disciplined. Determined. Organized. Also, I didn't want to write. Christmas shopping seemed the ideal way to goof off productively. Now I get to just kick back and ... oh, wait a minute, I forgot to pick up something for the new baby. And the stuff for my niece didn't really amount to much, not when you consider what a great kid she is. Oops; what about the paper carrier? She's such a doll. And my dad is going to go ballistic with another shirt. He has a drawer full of unworn ones already. How unimaginative can you get? And I call myself a writer? I mean ... a shirt? No, that has to go back. And I may as well take back the Swiss Army Knife while I'm at it. It's way too fat for any self-respecting sailor to stick in his pocket. Who needs a scissors on deck, anyway?

Excuse me. I have to go now. If I hurry, I'll just be able to stick my umbrella between the doors of the mall and keep it from closing.

Have a truly happy Thanksgiving! I'll update soon about our annual authors' brunch. (Nothing burned down this year. It was a grand success.)


Antoinette Stockenberg

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