Make yourself a cup of delicious Gingerbread tea, or perhaps Earl Grey with lavender and cream, yummmmm, turn up the MUSICA, wrap a shawl around your shoulders this cool rainy fall day (that's what it's doing here right now) and join me in the main salon for WILLARD. I have way too much to tell you for one little Willard, so when you get done here, if you can still stand it, join me on the Blog for more yakking and yes, a brand new GIVEAWAY to celebrate this beautiful season of comfort and joy and another year of US, that's WE, you and me . . .

Soon it will be Thanksgiving, Girlfriends! I can smell the sage and cinnamon and taste My Grandma's delicious Stuffing right now! And then Christmas and all the New Year festivities and THEN, as if those things weren't already enough, the very last season of Downton Abbey begins again here in the USA! Oh, the exquisite agony of seeing it again, but knowing this will be the end. We have so much to look forward to! I miss the Great British Baking Show already ~ I was so happy for those girls, they did an amazing job! Anyone know when it's coming back? (Leave a comment on the Blog if you do!)

We've been having the longest most beautiful fall here on magical Martha's Vineyard . . .this is early morning in our yard when the sun is just touching the tops of the trees.

I'm inspired to tape leaves to my windows, hang a quilt on a chair, and make the kitchen cozy for the season ~ my kitty Jack makes it cozy in every season.

Joe and I are getting ready for a very exciting 2016! There will be another new book and a cross-country book tour to celebrate ~ I'll tell you more about that later. Also, Beatrix Potter was born 150 years ago on July 28, 2016 and we're having a Birthday Party in her honor, with tea and birthday cake at the Brewster Ladies Library on Cape Cod. I'll be reading (with gusto) from A Fine Romance, the part where I went to Hilltop, Beatrix's farm in the Lake District ~ I just hope I don't cry! And you're invited! Watch the Events section of the blog for details including how to reserve your space. Reservations won't start until May 1, so there's lots of time to think about it.

The month after that Joe will turn 64 and we're planning a huge party to celebrate, with tent and band and cake and delicious food and holding hands with dearest old friends (so he knows not to worry because we will still need him, we will still feed him).
And then just when you think it couldn't get any better, Joe and I sail again, out of our comfort zone, over the wild sea to glorious England (because we are just not quite finished with that dream), where we will have a Girlfriend BYOPicnic Basket Party on the lawn at beautiful Stourhead in Wiltshire for our European Girlfriends in September (I hope all of you can come! But don't worry, we'll take pictures!) ~ and THEN we take everyone on the blog (virtually) on our trip through Scotland!!! Is that a year or what? So I have to get READY! You do too! We are going to need to get into shape for this!!! I have new ideas for that, in case you're needing inspiration in this season of comfort (food) and joy (more food) over on the Blog. I just realized, it's like the Willard and the Blog are two girlfriend houses in the same neighborhood and we just pop back and forth for tea!

I've mostly been hunkered down over my watercolors these rainy mornings with my tea and the last of the marigolds in a vase on my art table ~ I thought you might like a sneak preview of what I've been doing:

It's the title page for the new book, Martha's Vineyard, Isle of Dreams. Of course I painted her in one of my old Laura Ashley dresses. Gone but not forgotten! So, the book will be about 300 pages of this . . . with lots of words and photos mixed in. I'm loving every moment of it. If you liked The Fairy Tale Girl, you will love this. Because in The Fairy Tale Girl I was young and ignorant. It just has to get better, right? Oh, yeah. It does, old and ignorant.

In April, after the snow melts, Joe and I will be leaving for a huge Bookstore Adventure ~ out to cross America to see as many of you as possible, give talks, answer questions, and sign the new books, both of them, because by then, you will have the whole story. I'm sorry to say we can't get to every bookstore, we tried to choose ones that we didn't go to last time, doing our best to get as close to YOU as possible. Hopefully we will be within decent driving distance for you to come say hello (feeling bad about Hawaii and Alaska, that would be quite a drive!). I still run a little under the radar in book world and I could use your help to get the word out. If any of these bookstores on the map below are within spitting distance of you, would you please go to their Facebook pages, *like* them, and suggest that I come sign my new book(s) in their store this spring? It makes a big difference (in the yes or no department) when a bookstore hears from someone about the authors they would like to see and I'd like as many of our Girlfriends as possible to know about this. I don't get out that often and if I'm going to drive 9,000 miles, I want to see everyone! Thank you, my darlings.

This map is our wish list and subject to change. We'd love to visit them all, but where we end up will depend on desires of the bookstores.

Since this will be a long jig-jaggy car trip with lots of stops, we are starting early, doing our gluteus maximus exercises while making bookstore arrangements. It takes serious coordination of a sort that we are not actually capable of in real life. We have to figure driving time and hotel rooms too, so we can arrive on time, clean and not sleep in the car! But we'll figure it out. Poor Joe has the map and the bookstore list in his hot little hand will be making his phone calls soon to see if we can make dates with our favorite stores. PLEASE come see us at one of these wonderful independent bookstores! I'll let you know times and dates as soon as they are confirmed! Watch our Coming Soon/Events section on the blog as stores get confirmed and added.

Since we ran out of books halfway through our last tour, we've decided to listen to our Girlfriends and put MARTHA'S VINEYARD, ISLE OF DREAMS up for presale now! For one thing, it will help us figure out how many books to print ~ if the book sells out the way it did on our last tour it won't matter for our Willard Girlfriends because everyone who preordered will have their books first! So, as of today MARTHA'S VINEYARD ISLE OF DREAMS is UP for presale in our web store. We should have books in the Studio by the middle of April at the latest, and possibly MUCH sooner than that (I'm trying!) And yes! They will also be "Made in America" like last time, with a ribbon too, and they will come to you signed! Also, just for fun, I designed a special little gift card in case you want to make ISLE of DREAMS part of your holiday giving . . . Click HERE to see it or print it out (you fold it in quarters), but it's also on the ordering page in the web store.

Just like THE FAIRY TALE GIRL, MARTHA'S VINEYARD ISLE OF DREAMS was taken from the diaries I've been keeping most of my life ~ I wrote about my journey of love, loss, discovery and revelation, and then, as any good fairy tale or especially romantic person (like us) would have it, love again. Sigh, deep breath, close eyes, hug book to chest, ahhhhh. P.S. There's magic and snow fall, and, having moved from west to east, lots of first time experiences, fall, lobster, snow, mittens, storm windows . . . and a cottage that becomes my first house of creativity with before-and-after decorating pictures and cooking too! I'm very excited! MAS MUSICA!

And YES, my brilliantly prescient Girlfriends, believe it or not, someone from "Hollywood" has contacted me to say they would like to option the rights to both books, all three actually ~ they said the story would be perfect for a movie or a TV series (!!!!!!!!!!). I know, how could I say that so calmly? Believe me, there is nothing calm about that thought, my tummy drops into my feet at just the idea of it being real. I try not to think about it. This kind of thing almost always falls through, I haven't signed the contract yet, so no one should be disappointed or very surprised if it does. I just had to tell you, because right now is the fun part, it hasn't fallen through yet! If I didn't tell you and it fell through we would have missed all this fun of trying to figure out who plays who and who we "want" to direct since Nora Ephron is (sadly) no longer available! Even if I'm disappointed in the end, I'm getting all this free excitement which I will take any day of the week. It's a win-win. It would be amazing and would make one heck of a good blog story to talk about!

Already amazing are the 87 five-star reviews we've received on Amazon for The Fairy Tale Girl in the last month! Sigh, deep breath, close eyes, hug book to chest, ahhhhh. And thank you, thank you, thank you.

I've been asked about Arf and Arfy, the secret language described in The Fairy Tale Girl that I learned from my mom and later spoke with my Girlfriends. I've never actually "taught" it to anyone ~ no one taught it to me ~ my brothers and sisters and I learned by hearing our parents speaking it, the same way we learned English. I had to think how I would actually teach it. In the past I just spoke it to my girlfriends until they caught on. Which they always did, and, may I say, our guys never did (Joe really could not care less despite the fact that I speak it at him anyway) ~ even my brothers weren't that into it. They understood it because they grew up with it, but they instinctively knew it was too girly to actually be caught speaking it out loud. If any of my boyfriends made overtures toward learning it, I would "show them how" but I would use the word "condominium" as their sample word and they would lose interest immediately. Whew! Remember that for your future use. The whole point of this language is stealth ~ with best friends, in front of children, grandchildren, and boyfriends, it makes lots of sense and adds a bit more to a lifetime of joie de vivre.

Arf and Arfy, you should know, is way more sophisticated and MUCH more secret than your basic Pig-Latin. It's so secret that Google has never heard of it! Even though it came from legitimacy, from the Little Orphan Annie comic strip in the newspaper in the 1930s and 40s, where my mom learned it as a child. Wow, right? We actually know something Google doesn't! I may be one of the ten fluent people in the world as we know it today and even that is likely an exaggeration. Save Arf and Arfy for future generations! Attica!

So here's how to speak Arf and Arfy: For your sample word, I will use Sue (because I love you). Generally, you take a word like Sue, and it becomes Sarfu. After the first letter of each syllable you put an "ar," and then an "f" in front of the rest of that syllable (arf). If it's Susie ... two syllables, it would be Sarfu-sarfee. It's "ar" after the first letter of each syllable, then an "f" in front of the rest of it. It gets really easy after a while. There are exceptions, of course, and I have no idea what the rules are, but for words starting with ch, sh, th, or st, it's based on sound and common sense: Charlie would be Charfar-larfee. Ch acts like one letter. Artichoke would be arfar-tarfi-charfoke. Shatter is sharfat-tarfer. Sh=one letter, the "ar" goes after it. Same with Think, which is thar-fink and store is star-for. And If the word starts with an F? Like fool? Far-fool. Or food? Far-food. (Words beginning with "F" are the Achilles heel of this language.) Condominium would be carfon-darfa-marfin-narfee-arfum. I just realized, you probably don't care. BUT IF YOU DO, there you go. The secret language! You would be surprised how handy it is! For adults and children alike! Someday maybe I'll write a whole blog in it and freak everyone out!!! I mentioned it again in Isle of Dreams, so I thought this would be a good time to "teach" it. Do with it what you will. 

So the other day, I was filling a basket with apples, and it made me think, maybe I would write on the Blog how nice fruit is for decorating, lasts longer than flowers, is just as pretty, and smells good too.

So I began to take pictures . . .

Boom! As I snap the picture, my little Bombcat appeared . . .

. . . plunked himself down, and made himself at home. He does this all the time. If I point the camera directly at him, he runs. If I try to photograph anything else,

There he is. SUCH a smart devil of a kitty. Isn't he just adorable? Look at that face. He's like that in real life too! I am so glad I don't have to live my life without kitties. They are free joy, free laughter, free love. I'm kind of addicted.

In most weather we still go on our walk every day . . . another addiction!

It's this mile-and-a-half dirt road we've walked in every season almost every day since around 1989. It winds through the woods around a pond ~ it's too beautiful to miss and the best part of our day ~ drinking in that sky and the wind through the trees . . .

The road turns sandier when we come out of the woods and follow it past a few lonely old fishing shacks that were built on shore a hundred years ago and are surrounded with wild roses and bittersweet growing in the dunes. . .

The road stops at this narrow strip of sand where we have the sound of the waves, and the search for heart-shaped rocks as the reward at the end of the trail. Then we turn around and retrace our steps back home. What I love is being able to take you all along. Such wonderful thing! We'll do this when we go to Scotland next fall!

Okay! I'm thrilled to tell you that the Chinese version of A Fine Romance is on the way! This is my first book that's ever been translated into a foreign language! I call it my little American ambassador of good will. It's going to be interesting to see how they managed to take a handwritten book and put it in Chinese! It will be a curiosity! When it gets here I'll put it up on the blog so you can see what they did with it! I'll give one away too. . . it should get here very soon, like in the next week or so. And by the way we still have the English version in our web store ~ and they all come signed ~ but if signed doesn't matter, they're still in bookstores everywhere.

And another surprise that proves I listen when you speak . . . ta daaaaa!

Finally! The "I LOVE AUTUMN" charm is back and this time I think we got enough of them! And we have our brand new "FAIRY TALE GIRL" Charm too, because really, what woman doesn't have a bit of Fairy Tale Girl in her? All of our charms come packaged with specially designed gift cards in their own little clear envelopes.

We still have our darling BE AN ELF Christmas charms, too. This one was my dad's idea . . . he's the original Elf! And here's our limited edition, beveled glass, dated ornament for 2015 . . .

I hope you love them!

Janie (one of our Twitter Girlfriends) made us a new Banner with trees and cardinals!

So here we go my friends, into the season of color, light, sparkle, and whimsy . . .
. . . friends and family
and cozy nights . . .
and wonderful things from the kitchen.

We'll be celebrating right along with you

Starting with this ~ click here and print it on card stock and you'll have a perfect cookbook bookmark ~ from me to you with love.

And don't forget that other special GIVEAWAY I mentioned ~ these three personalized books, including the out-of-print Christmas from the Heart of the Home, books to keep, books to give as gifts, and the new Emma Mug too! Just come to the Blog and leave a comment (click the teeny tiny gray letters at the bottom of the post) and you'll be signed up for the drawing . . . I'll contact the winner.

If you happen to be on Martha's Vineyard over Thanksgiving weekend, on Saturday, November 28th I will be signing books at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven from 2 to 4 p.m. Come by and say hello!

Iarfood barfye farfor narfow darfarlarfing garfirlfrarfriends.

Hope you enjoyed this Willard! I loved concocting it! Have a wonderful day! Love sharing the planet with you! Don't forget, we're the normal ones! XOXO

P.S.If you would prefer to be alerted by email when I update the Blog, we can make that happen, click HERE. And then click on the little blue envelope that says, “Get Susan Branch Blog delivered by email."