It has been a strange summer.
I’ve said that often. It was strange when I was a kid and all my friends could drive and I couldn’t (August birthday) and when my boyfriend broke up the last week of school and I spent summer’s lazy, crazy days with a broken heart.
It was weird when I was 19 and could still wear a two-piece swimsuit nicely and still loved going to the lake—we’re inlanders; no beach—but I was a mom, too, and I would never be just myself again.
And, oh, the summer my first kid got his driver’s license and had his first serious girlfriend—that was a wild one! There was the year I sewed for my daughter’s wedding. I think I cried and—yes, I’m sorry, cursed—from March to August, which as how long it took me to complete her dress, the four bridesmaids’, and the two flower girls’ dresses. The end-of-summer when I helped my youngest pack for college and suddenly realized the nest was empty and I wasn’t ready. Not ready at all.
So, this summer, a new book came out. A Soft Place to Fall is my first inspirational. It’s a book of my heart—okay, they all are—and I love that Early, its heroine, is 46 or so. She’s 15 pounds overweight. She’s a pleaser. She doesn’t have a college education. She subscribes to an anthem of the 1960s—“I am woman, hear me roar”—but she roars to her own tune, thank you very much.
But you know what? I’m almost 63. I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Just trying to schedule surgery requires a cardiac workup because things are…strange in the health department. I am, even though I feel good, more tired than I like to admit. Maybe it’s time to quick writing. Books, anyway. Maybe… It has been, you know, a strange summer.
But the other day I sold a book. A women’s fiction one about four 51-year-old women that came straight from my menopausal heart. Some of them have iffy knees, they’re hormonally challenged, and cancer has woven its insidious thread through their ranks. They don’t remember their natural hair colors or what they started to say just minutes ago or what they went into the next room to get. In (working title) The Girls of Tonsil Lake, the women deal with death, heartbreak, anger, betrayal—you name it. They react every which way.
One thing they don’t do, though, these “Girls” who kept at me until the five of us made their story into a book, is quit. So I won’t, either. I don’t care how strange the seasons get.
Like Early in A Soft Place to Fall, Liz Flaherty has spent the past few years reinventing herself. The career postal worker who wrote on weekends and sewed whenever someone lost a button now writes whenever she feels like it and sews the rest of the time. She’s not necessarily more productive these days, but she certainly does have a lot of fun.
She lives with her husband, Duane, in the farmhouse they bought in 1977 and intended to stay in until the kids grew up, at which time they planned to move to a small house that cleaned itself and cooked their meals while he played golf and she…didn’t. This has not happened. Even though they occasionally discuss downsizing, neither of them is willing to go through a 36-year accumulation of stuff.
A Soft Place to Fall is Liz’s seventh book and her first inspirational.