Jamie Langston Turner


Closing Out the Year

November 17, 2013

Autumn—my favorite season of the year. It always reminds me of my childhood in Mississippi, when my sister and I would scoot along the ground picking up pecans that fell from the four trees in our back yard. We would fill paper bags with them, then earn a whopping 35 cents a pound at the Pecan Exchange. My mother always made the best chili in the fall, too, and I had a November birthday, so there would be a cake of my choosing, usually chocolate with white frosting. We started wearing our corduroy skirts and “dark cotton” dresses in November, and we quit dawdling on our way to school and walked briskly on those nippy mornings. Hayrides and wiener roasts for all the church kids, scavenger hunts down by the river, spooky Halloween parties where you had to put your hand inside a paper bag and touch oozy, creepy things, and then Thanksgiving, soon followed by Christmas—for sure, the months of October, November, and December were the best way to close out the year.

And they still are. The leaves here in South Carolina have been especially vibrant this fall, and have peaked a little later than usual. Even today, in mid-November, there are reds and golds everywhere I look.

I wrote the first paragraph of this newsletter several weeks ago, but I mean to finish it today. We have only seven more class days until Thanksgiving break, and after that the rest of the semester is always a blur. My students will be writing in-class essays and turning in their final poems during the next week, so I'll have plenty of grading to do.

In July I wrote about our brand-new grandson, Kjell (pronounced Key-ell), and our anticipation of getting to meet him for the first time. That visit came to pass, and he brought his parents and 4-year-old sister along with him from Indiana for a wonderful week at our house. We had a delightful, memorable time getting acquainted, and it was such fun just to sit and hold him. He's a cuddly little guy and loves to be where the action is. His latest pastime is sitting in a doorway in his Johnny-Jump-Up, laughing as he bobs up and down. His big sister continues to charm us all with her sweet smile, inexhaustible energy, and comical commentary on life. And their parents--well, they're pretty special, too. Our son, Jess, is in his second year of doctoral work in music composition at Indiana University, and our dear daughter-in-law, Kalyn, is still working her fulltime office position for a corporation in Bloomington.

They're headed south again in only a few days and will spend Thanksgiving week with us, so we're eager beyond words to see them all. We also plan to spend several days with them over Christmas break, first in Indiana and later in Virginia--blessing upon blessing!

As far as book news, my seven previous titles seem to be doing well in electronic format, AND my new manuscript is now officially scheduled for September 2014. It seems like a long way off, but I'm very grateful for my new editor and the amazing progress she's made in getting things to happen after so many delays. I've now worked through all the chapters again (it had been well over a year since I had last read it), and we'll be ready to start final editing after the first of the year. The tentative title is "To See the Moon Again" (alluding to a line from Dante--"to see the sky again"), but I've learned by now that titles are never firm until the book actually rolls off the press. Oh, the stories I could tell about negotiations over titles.

So that's the news from South Carolina. Many thanks to those of you who have written me. I try to respond to every email, so if you wrote a note on my contact page and didn't hear back, please let me know. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas!


Selected Works

"As Turner weaves her tale with a wealth of vivid detail, she avoids both sentimentality and patness."
--Deb Richardson-Moore
The Greenville (SC) News, Dec. 31, 1995
"In a lifetime of reading, a handful of books stand out—this is one of them."
–Michelle Rapkin, Editor, Doubleday/Crossings Book Club
"This thoughtful, warmly humorous novel takes a fresh look at the age-old search for peace and joy in a troubled, temporal world."
--CBA Marketplace
September 1999
That February afternoon was equal parts joy and heartache, but it began a journey Elizabeth Landis would never forget.
"Besides the fact that he was a married man, it was clear as soon as he spoke that his mission was anything but romantic. 'Do you have a toilet plunger?' he asked."
“Genuine humor and well-crafted characters make this a memorable and inspiring novel.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"I love putting little pieces together to make something beautiful. In a sense I saw the structure of this book as a mosaic." --From an interview with the author
"You can't rush through Jamie's books any more than you can rush through life itself."
--Sheila Petre
Mercersburg (PA) Journal, July 9, 2014

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