Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Countdown to Missouri

The benefit to walking at dawn is in what I see—this morning a huge moon hanging just above two tall pines—gorgeous—and what I can do…. If it’s early enough on a week day and there are no hikers up by the falls, I can dance, which I did this morning, first to Pat Benetar’s “We Belong” and then to Bob Bennett’s “Madness Dancing,” both courtesy of my iPod. And on the way home, downhill, I can sing along—as long as Rob’s not home. And, since I rarely encounter humans at that hour on the week days, I have more wildlife interaction… and I tend to think more….

Summers mean returning to my craft full time. Six summers ago—hard to believe now—I wrote a memoir, Tainted Legacy, which chronicled the strange journey I embarked on when I accepted a request from my mother to find out the truth about her grandmother. From the time the manuscript was completed in August of that summer, I began to look for a publisher. No one was interested. For the next five summers following, in the first week after school let out, I would Google “Bertha Gifford,” to see if anyone was writing about her. No one was. Last summer, though, my Google search led me to a historian in Missouri who had actually been giving lectures about her. I sent him a terse email: “If you’re going to be giving lectures about my great-grandmother, you’d better have all your facts straight.” We exchanged a few short emails in which we verified each other’s authenticity, and then he sent me this:

Two things I have to tell you to get them off my chest. One, I’m just thrilled to be corresponding with Bertha Gifford’s great-granddaughter. Secondly, although you’ve been kind enough to not challenge my presentations, I do not use Mrs. Gifford’s name in ‘vain’ nor do I show her any disrespect. I merely present the facts as they have been stated through the years and let the audience decide for themselves whether or not Mrs. Gifford was a “monster” or truly insane. In fact I normally refer to her as Mrs. Gifford and not by the too-familiar “Bertha”. I just wanted to tell you that in case you thought I might be a jerk!

Not only is Marc not a “jerk,” he’s an amazing man who appreciates personal history—and cemeteries—as much as I do. That email set off a flurry of emails over the ensuing weeks. We exchanged every bit of information we’d each gathered separately about Bertha. Finally, I emailed him a copy of the manuscript I’d written five years before. He loved it. And his validation—and the gentle nudging of my cousin Danny—encouraged me to send it out one more time. This time, I found a publisher.

Hard to believe a year has gone by. Last summer, I thought I would be spending most of my time sitting on the porch, finishing the novel I’d begun the summer before. I ended up marketing my book and making a friend for life. Next week, I’ll meet Marc in person for the first time when I return to Missouri to promote Tainted Legacy. This crazy sweet man has chartered a bus for the “Bertha Gifford Mystery Tour”—but that’s a story for another blog. Can’t wait.


  1. wish i could be there!
    working on the screenplay...

  2. Can't wait to hear about your trip back east. Hope you have a wonderful time.

  3. Hope it's as magical a mystery tour as those in the old Beatles' song...
    Laura H