In case you have wondered where I’ve been for the last nine months, I have been writing my eleventh book. A LONG WAY HOME is a step away from my mostly nineteenth-century Texas historical tales.

The seed for A LONG WAY HOME took root immediately after 9/11. For some reason that would require a psychiatrist to explain, I thought of a woman whose husband had abused her for years deciding to disappear when the towers fell. The idea ginned in my head for days, which prompted me to write a short story about Meredith Haggerty––the woman who became very real to me.

The story proved too raw for publishing and I tucked it away. But the character I created did not go away. She squirreled around in my head during the time I wrote five Texas books, lectured on Texas history, had a houseful of grandchildren, and other good life things.

During that fallow period, I heard a program in which people sent in anonymous statements revealing secrets that no one knew about them. A person wrote that “everyone thought I died on 9/11.” That secret shook me. My idea wasn’t nuts.

I am not done with A LONG WAY HOME. The first draft is finished and I will be going over it until it feels ready.

Meantime, the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association (PNWA) has notified me that out of over 700 submissions from all over the world, A LONG WAY HOME is one of nine finalists in its 2019 Literary Contest.

A hint for you Texas fans: Meredith ends up in the Rio Grande Valley. You know me, I can’t leave Texas out of the story.