Hello very great, very important people, how are you? Happy April! Here’s some MUSICA to get you in the rockin’ mood! You’ll need tea too! It’s been so long . . .  if you’re not checking in regularly to susanbranch.com, you might think I’ve forgotten about you. But you should know, that would never happen, and as usual, I come bearing excuses, news, gratitude, and make-up gifts.

It’s a beautiful spring morning here on Martha’s Vineyard and I’m writing to you between bites of last night’s birthday cake. I made a Pumpkin Cheesecake with the MOST delicious chewy crust made from ginger snaps and pecans ~ relegating this Cheesecake to fall has to be a sin. It’s too good for only once a year. Here’s the recipe in case you would like to make it. So easy, use gluten free ginger cookies for the crust if you’d like. I can tell you from extremely recent experience that it’s just as good for breakfast as it was last night! My birthday was wonderful ~ I heard from everyone in my family including my mom and dad. So proud of them for having me when they were so young, because now I get to have them! I was touched by the messages from so many of you on Facebook and Twitter and in the comment section of the Blog. I guess that’s what you get when you advertise your birthday! I should have thought of it sooner!

I planted two new peonies the other day (the barely-pink one was labeled “Shirley Temple” so I really had no choice). It was wonderful out there, mindlessly digging in the cold dirt, breathing sea-air while listening to seed pods pop off the wisteria that hangs over the porch.

I picked up a few seeds and put them in envelopes because I thought maybe you might like an Island wisteria of your own . . . Yes, good little surprises in this Willard ~ I’ll tell you more toward the end.
Spring has sprung on Martha’s Vineyard! Sunrise across the water at daybreak filters through the trees in our garden and splotches the stove and walls in my kitchen with pink light. I feel especially lucky because, for the first time in a long time, my head is not trying to write a book, it’s freeee, and has even been out in my picket-fence garden!

Also, I have to show you what’s going on out back ~ our garden is blooming in pink and yellow with weeping cherry trees, starry magnolias, a pear tree that looks like a wedding bouquet, and frothy forsythia (say that three times). Blue skies go perfectly with pink cherry flowers and they make the most wonderful bouquet of springtime to bring into the house.

So what else, well, oddly (but it’s okay, because they’ll do it again next year), we aren’t even going to get to see those peonies bloom! That’s because in just a few days Joe and I climb into the Fine Romance van for a cross-country trip of mythic proportions. We’re coming to see you! (Oh, didn’t I mention we’d be dropping by?) Not really, don’t want to scare you . . . we’re driving 8,000 miles and visiting 23 hometown bookstores, to meet and greet and sign books for as many of you as humanly possible, to say thank you for all your wonderful support, because writing books is about a hundred times more fun with you along for the ride! I’ll be Blogging and Tweeting and reporting to Facebook as we drive along, so if we don’t get close enough for you to attend, at least you can follow along via the Internet and watch what we get up to. (Here’s a LINK to a map and our schedule). We’re doing this, because (in case you don’t know) in just these last couple of weeks or so, I came to the end of a very long journey of book writing. What an amazing year 2016 is turning out to be.


Welcome Back to 1982!

If you can’t make it to the bookstores and would like a signed copy of any of the books, we can send you one!

IT’S OUT, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, the last in the trilogy, is done, fini, and off to the big world with her sister-books for some que sera sera. I am feeling empty nest syndrome. But I’m glad because this is the story I’ve always wanted to write, of how I ran away from home in California with a broken heart, and ended up starting over in a little cottage in the woods on Martha’s Vineyard. And I’ve finally finished it, for better or for worse. The official pub date is Mothers Day, but we got it early, and everyone at the Studio has been working hard, developing “book muscles” getting your signed copies out to you! It really isn’t even in stores yet, but it will be by next week!

You will need a new bookmark to go with your new book, am I right? Go HERE; It’s 9” long, you can print it out on card stock, cut around it and even have it laminated if you want. Give one to your best friend or your to whole book club if you like!

It’s so new, and I never know quite what I’m doing when I’m writing a book, am I doing this right, am I explaining things enough, or too much? It could be a giant crap job (as the British say so charmingly) and I won’t know for sure until I read the reviews from my Girlfriends, holding my breath with each new one, with all fingers crossed for a good outcome. So those first six reviews up there are making my DAY! And as each one comes in, and sweet words are spoken, little whimpering cries of gratitude are emitted. That’s how it is Girls. A wing and a prayer! The diaries I kept all those years came in very handy in telling this story. Memories are in the corners of my mind, the deep dark recessed ones, but the diaries brought it all back!

Other amazing, almost shocking, news which some of you already know, there has been an option taken on all three books, for a movie or a TV series! (Ten exclamation points.) I’m trying not to get my hopes up, because these things so often fall through. But right now is the best time, because right now, it’s still a GO!  It’s still happening! So, before it falls through let’s have fun! Let’s play "If there was a movie made of your life, who would you want to play you?" That’s always a good game. A person should be ready for sudden movies of her life. So let’s see. Diana chose Blake Lively to play her. Perfect. For me, I really love Zoey Deschanel. HERE’S where I fell in love with her. What do you think? She’s got the perfect bangs. If it really was 1982, I would definitely choose Diane Keaton, right? I mean, how could you not? But to be in this story, the actress would have to be maybe 30-35 right now. Really, when you think about it, because of the slow way these things go, the person to play me probably hasn’t been born yet! I keep thinking about the fashion show in The Fairy Tale Girl  and all those cute 70’s clothes and how much I would LOVE to see that and hear that Bee Gees music. Or, the Beatles? Or, having Zoey see the little house for the first time? Not to get too excited. (Listen to me, I’m telling you.) It won’t happen. But it could. I’ll keep you posted. Hollywood. Yikes. We just have to see how it plays out. Ah sweet mystery of life.

So, we get home from our cross-country booktour in early July. On July 28, you’re all invited because I’ll be speaking at the Brewster Women’s Library on Cape Cod (founded in 1873) on Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday! As you can imagine, I’m thrilled to be doing this. I’m going to be reading from A Fine Romance and answering questions about the first time I went to Hill Top, Beatrix’s wonderful house in the Lake District in England. I know I will cry, but come see me anyway . . . if you can. The tickets are free, there will be lots of room, it’s first come, first serve, and you can sign up HERE -- tickets will be available beginning at 8 am on May 2.

THEN (mas MUSICA), this fall, Joe and I cross the wild Atlantic onboard the Queen Mary 2 once again, for a 2-month trip through the English and Scottish countryside. I’m especially excited because on September 18, we are going to have a BYO picnic basket party for all our Girlfriends, for anyone who can make it, but especially for our European Girlfriends, in a WONDERFUL park in the most gorgeous spot, called Stourhead, in Wiltshire, England. (Ten exclamation points.) This picture is from a page of my photo album of our first picnic there . . . that’s my English BFF Rachel in the top photo, she’ll be there this time too . . . bringing her famous Sugar Moon Brownies for everyone! Stourhead is owned by the National Trust, so you have to buy a ticket to get into the park, but other than that, it’s free, of course, and just us, hanging out on the lawn, next to the grass bridge, feeding the ducks, drinking Pear Ci-da, or some such concoction. You can bring your books if you want me to sign them. And if you can’t be there?

Don’t worry, because I will blog the whole thing, the whole two-month trip in fact, just like last time . . . taking you all along (virtually) as arm chair travelers, sneaking you into our suitcases, smuggling you on board the ship, across the water, to the beautiful British Countryside. I’m not sure if this trip will end up as a book or not, but I’m definitely keeping a diary, so we’ll see. And on the way home? I have been asked to do a signing and speak to an audience about how I came to write A Fine Romance, on board the Queen Mary 2. (Yes, 10 more exclamation points.) Trying not to think about it, because of course, I am scared witless. For a person as scared as I am all the time, I sure do get around. I guess I enjoy torture. Crossing the ocean in the same path as the Titanic, driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the narrowest roads imaginable, allowing crowds of people look at my extremely late-sixties self. What is wrong with me???? Oh yeah. Life. I like it. Plus, I don’t do it alone, my guardian angel goes with me.

And all of this is perfect timing because this year is the 30th anniversary of the publication of my very first book! Thirty years! So here’s one more thing. You may have read in Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams where I described writing Heart of the Home, the inspiration for it, how I figured out how to write it, and how it was sold (despite the total impossibility of that ever happening, just like the movie ☺) . . . so what I thought would be appropriate would be to reprint Heart of the Home (the one I referred to in Isle of Dreams as "my little Girl Scout project"), with a perky new cover and new art and lots of new recipes and pages and quotes.

Heart of the Home was my first baby, so you can imagine how excited I am. She was in bookstores for over 20 years and went into 29 printings! Such a good child, and she brought me to you. (One of my favorite things about this book is how many weddings she attended over the years!) But she has been out of print since 2008. So, starting today, Heart of the Home, revised and expanded, all ribbons and curls, will be available for presale in our web store. She will be filled with delicious recipes, proudly "Made in America," and have a red ribbon bookmark. She won’t be available in stores (or anywhere normal) until September but we plan to have a special printing sent to the Studio early, and will ship to only our Blog Girls, FOSB Facebook Friends, and Twitterina’s this July! From me to you with LOVE, love, love.

Speaking of love, love, love ~ this is the hardest thing about going away . . . the kitties. I wish we could take them with us. But we have good friends staying in our house and they know the kitties well, so they will be loved, and probably won’t miss me at all. My BFF (and neighbors), Lowely and Martha, promised to stop in to play with them sometimes (and send me a picture of the peonies in bloom). It’s me that’s the problem. I’ll leave worn t-shirts in all their favorite sleeping places so they will have our scent, and pin their photos to the visor of the car and that will be about the best I can do! Luckily, I’m not so sure they understand the concept of time the way I do. I hope not. I think when we get home next November I’m going to turn into homebody extraordinaire, cuddle in with Joe and the kitties, cook myself silly, and enjoy the winter, despite our sad, Downtonless existence. Maybe there will be something new from Julian by that time!

And maybe when we get home I will sew something with my brand new fabrics NOW available from www.spoonflower.com! Surprise! We now have Birthday fabric, we have Christmas, we have the Martha’s Vineyard Watercolor Collection, and they can be available for as long as we want! And more to come! Read about it at www.susanbranch.com.

And now, as a small token of my great affection I thought I would give away three signed sets of my fairytale books, to three of our lucky Willard Girlfriends . . . and, as special parting gifts, included with each set of books will be a packet of wisteria seeds from my garden, one of the well-used paintbrushes I used to paint the watercolors in Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, a worn-down pencil stub I sketched with (I tried to choose the ones with the least number of teeth marks), and a bookmark I made from one of the blotters I used to test my paint colors and my ink pen. Three winners will be chosen from everyone who leaves a comment at www.susanbranch.com. Just scroll to the bottom of the blog post (not this Willard) and you’ll see tiny writing . . . one of the words is “comments” (why they don’t make that word bigger I will never know!) Click there, write something, any little thing will do, and you will be automatically entered. In a few days, Vanna, my virtual contest name chooser, will draw names and the winner will be notified.

One last thing, speaking of fabric, there is one more Grand Prize over on the blog waiting for you . . . sign up to win it and the sets of books at www.susanbranch.com.

And for all you newbies who are reading your first Willard wondering why it is called that. . . go HERE scroll down a bit, and you’ll find the story of how Willard came to be.

Ond now, off we go. We’d love to see YOU at one of our whistle stops ~ bring your mom, your sisters, and your best friend! Because our book signings are a party! Men like them too! You will love meeting everyone. Here’s a LINK to book signing events, a map of where we’re going, times, places, all the details, and don’t forget to print out the badge you see there, so we’ll all know each other!

Happy Spring Girlfriends. Take care of yourselves, and I’ll see you soon!

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."