Trail on which a smart person would have remained
Maybe this happens to you, too? You’re breathing out relief because you got through something—and you look back and feel immense gratitude for the help that carried you to the other side. My husband and I have limped through a tough year with a lot of help from our friends, and I’m feeling very grateful. Lots of people have so much more, much worse, with which to contend—I know this. What made it difficult for us was the tumbleweed effect of my husband’s radiation for cancer (successful), very quickly followed by his hip replacement, very quickly followed by knee replacement. And just when we were finished with all that…… my crazy yellow Lab, Scout, took off to roll in a dead deer he’d sniffed out. I went charging into the woods after him, shouting and swearing as I ran, ”Don’t roll in that, don’t eat it, LEAVE IT!” I would have been so, so much smarter to just wait on the trail and let him come back to me after he’d had at it, because a fallen wire fence was six inches high in the undergrowth, an invisible trip wire. I went down hard and knew it was bad when I couldn’t get up, even using a tree trunk for support. Yep, broken right ankle.

attractive and comfy footwear

The offending Lab (once he finished with the deer) came back to check on me, said, “Oops, guess I messed up,” ran ahead and barked frantically at friends who were a quarter of a mile ahead and couldn’t hear me yelling for help. Then Scout ran back and stayed on the trail parallel to where I was—still off trail where I’d chased him—and barked continuously, leading Barb to me.

See? Grace. I had help. Even from the dog. 

But much more: I have dear friends who helped me and my husband. Family offered continual support. My brother-in-law, a doctor, looked at countless x-rays and pictures emailed to him this year and gave reassurance when I got scared. Once I sent him a video at midnight to ask if I needed to take my husband to the emergency room. (I didn’t.)


I have a wonderful agent who has been nothing but encouraging and supportive. THE TESTAMENT Of HAROLD’S WIFE has done well, even though I haven’t been on social media as much as authors are supposed to, nor done as many events. Thank you all for that, and for the truly great reviews you have posted. I’m thrilled by how many people have loved the way Louisa makes her way through tragedy (with some help from CarolSue, her chickens, Marvelle, and a splash of Wild Turkey). There’s a stand-alone follow-up novel coming: CarolSue and Gus are the primary narrators this time, although Gary and Louisa speak up, too. Gary’s gotten himself in big trouble, which may not come as a huge surprise, if you’ve read TESTAMENT. CarolSue is living with Louisa. Imagine those two sharing a house with Louisa keeping one giant secret from her sister.

The book is written, and the art department is at work on the cover. Publication is scheduled for August 25, 2020. We’ve finally settled on a title. I preferred The Book of Small Graces, small grace being a term that appears several times in the novel and fits the themes. But my good editor and the sales department said it was important to stick to the original title, The Book of CarolSue, because The Book of Small Graces might be taken to be religious book, which it’s not. Would you make that assumption? Which title do you like better? If you offer an opinion, thank you! I think my editor will read your comments. I know I will!   

28 Responses to Gratitude

  1. will you and you husband stop trying to emulate my radiation and surgeries. love, Sperry(Radiation, right knee replacement, left knee replacement)

    • Well, I’d heard through some distant mutual acquaintance that you were having so much fun that I just had to try it all out! Thanks, Sperry

  2. I would assume that “The Book of Small Graces” was one of those religious books you see in the Christian book rack at truck stops. (Right next to the “make America great again” hat display.)

    • Huh. There is an immigrant in the novel. However, I can’t say it would exactly fit in on that shelf. Thanks, John!

  3. Your run of bad luck mirrors ours. Spouse fell and fractured a fibula in Dec. Tests revealed that the cause of the dizzy spell that caused the fall was tertiary syphilis, a discovery that made the fall seem ironically lucky. No cancer yet fortunately, but after 4 months of using a walker and wearing a boot that made walking hell, no sooner did he shed those encrumbrances than he fell again. This time, shortly after getting the resulting gash over his eye stitched up, his temperature rose dramatically (to 104) and he began violently shivering. Tests revealed sepsis, and the causative pathogen to be E coli. So the second fall also seemed ironically lucky. And now, just when the sepsis has begun to look under control, he seems to have developed diuretic resistance (which often happens to people with his worst affliction, advanced congestive heart failure).

    My own case has been more like your husband’s. I need two new knees and two new hips. No cartilage left at all. Somewhat to the surprise of my bone doctor and my rheumatologist, I am mobile and can get around without a walking assistance device but I must say that pain control is a challenge. I have been trying to adapt to it. I continue doing therapy exercises daily which do seem to help at least a little. Occasionally I’ll pop a celebrex. Only one cortisone shot so far (back in early April) but I think I’ll be asking for more. We shall see. Well, surely a celebratory poem is in order:


    Although what comes tomorrow
    Cannot be told today
    A change of weather’s likely
    And always on the way;

    And where no clouds are noted
    Nor shadows seen about,
    The ran will fall regardless
    When all our lucks runs out.

    No idea about the title question. Carolsue makes sense if you are planning a book series and think the characters are interesting enough to readers to keep them returning to find out what next. If that’s your idea, I would agree with the publisher.

    • I am so terribly sorry you have been through so much, Tom, which is an example of what I meant when I said that many people cope with much worse. I so hope things get better for you. And thank you for your thought about the title, too.

  4. I’d better hold off on the subject of your next book title until after I’ve finished reading your latest “Testament.” But as to feeling and expressing gratitude for grace in life, I’m certainly all for it. In fact, I try to put it into practice every morning when I wake up and remember that a bus tried and failed to kill me. (Your chic footwear photo happens to arrive on a day when I was trying on something every bit as stylish for the benefit of the prosthetist who is trying to ensure that it will fit properly moving forward, no pun intended.) Just the other day, my brother Paul reminded me of a favorite saying of our late mother, to wit: “I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” Which is by way of saying how moved I am by the graceful gratitude expressed here by yourself, your family members and your friends as they deal day to day with life’s ever threatening, ever implacable trip wires.

    • Thank you, Preston–I can’t imagine being (literally) hit by a bus and handling it with the grace and courage you have shown. I hope your new footware will carry your forward well. It may take you a while to finish reading each novel,since you wait for your train journey across the country, but you’re always among the first to have it in hand, I know, so I’m very grateful and will be eager to hear what you think of Testament in October when you take your trip.

  5. P.S. I forgot to mention how happy I am for you that Testament has done well.

    I may have mentioned to you that I don’t read novels anymore, but I did read this one, initially for strictly personal reasons, but then it held my interest and carried me along.

    The book has good pace and its narrator is quite a wit. I have at least three things in common with her: joint complaints, no use for superstition, and firsthand experience of deep grief. In my case the grief was discomposing, and caused psychological regression. It stayed with me a very long time, if the intensity slowly diminished.

    Well, that’s enough. I am glad the book has repaid your hard work by winning an audience. I hope the next one will be even more successful.

  6. The Book Of Carol Sue. (And I am so looking forward to it.) That, for me, would tie it to Testament.
    As for your last several months, well then! I do hope it’s easing up and you are breathing easier, and able to refocus. Sending love

  7. No, no to CarolSue. It is not inviting, it doesn’t spark my interest. The Book of Small Graces, or maybe just Small Graces gets my vote.
    Congrats to you for another book. Karen

    • Thank you, Karen! I hope the novel will spark your interest even if the title doesn’t! It’s a “stand-alone follow up,” which means that it’s not a sequel, so you don’t need to have read Testament, but it has the same characters and setting and begins two years after Testament ends. Most people don’t know that authors don’t have final say over the title–because so many factors come into play with it.

  8. Book of Small Graces might be great before a picnic…or even a glass of wine for gratitude…butCarol Sue sounds good. Cant wait for your next book…and one grace is that wire that tripped you has graced recycling…to trip no more. Now on to better health and good hikes..always sending love, Barb

    • The removal of the deadly trip wire from the woods is just one more thing for which I am grateful! I’m hoping everyone loves CarolSue, too…Thanks, Barb!

  9. You might consider “The Testament of CarolSue” or “A Sister’s Testament”. They suggest a connection to “The Testament of Harold’s Wife” even though it’s a stand alone book. Can’t wait to read it! Love, Susan

    • Interesting! I don’t know that the marketing department considered any iteration like that. I’ll have to ask. Thanks, Susan.

  10. I’m with CarolSue (think BRITTE-MARIE WAS HERE….using a character from a previous novel as title character). Small graces sounds religiousy to me. The single name with double caps would draw my attention

    • Well, your thinking is exactly what the editor told me. It seems a number of people agree! Thanks so much, Bev.

  11. It sounds like you two have been through the wringer lately. I’m glad to hear that you all are on the mend, and it seems that you’ve put your downtime to good use writing. Congrats on the newest novel! And be nice to Scout — I think a nice T-bone steak is in order.

    • Thanks so much, Emily! I imagine that your collies might pull a similar stunt to Scout’s given the chance? (If not, don’t tell me!)

  12. HI Lynne,

    I have enjoyed all your books and look forward to reading about CarolSue, no matter the title is. Like the lady walking the dog in the woods. Looks like my wife Barbara and Lucy, our West Highland Terrier.

    Best of warm wishes.


    • Well, I’m thinking it may be Gus that you enjoy the most in the next book, Jim. We’ll see…and thank you for being such a loyal reader. It means so much.

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