Name That Book…And Be a Winner!!!

While Mary & Me: Two Lives in Letters has been the working title for our book since its inception, we are seriously considering changing the subtitle, and we are asking for your help. We are running a contest for two weeks and offering a prize of a beautiful gift basket full of items that would interest our potential readers.

prize basketTo enter the contest, you must first “LIKE” our Mary & Me Facebook Page. Then make a comment underneath the Drawing Contest post on our page, suggesting a possible sub-title for our book. We are planning on keeping the main title “Mary & Me,” unless the publisher has other ideas, but we are searching for a winning sub-title. Keep in mind that it should give prospective readers an idea of what this book is about. Here is a short synopsis to help you out: “Mary and Me:  explores a long-standing friendship between two women; one who had never learned to cultivate female friendships, and another who had managed to gather and maintain a large group of friends throughout her adult life. The fact that handwritten letters tethered these two together is just part of the intriguing story. What one Mary could learn from the other is yet another aspect.”

Obviously, the topic of female friendship is at the forefront of our book, but so is the avid letter-writing. Keep this in mind as you come up with prospective sub-titles. If people suggest identical titles that is fine, too. Once we have collected a good sampling of suggestions, on January 15 we will decide which working sub-title we want to use to replace our current one, and the person who came up with it will be the winner of our gift basket. If more than one person has suggested that sub-title, we will do a random drawing with the names and choose one winner. Keep in mind that our publisher has the final say in our book’s production, but we will use the winning title on our blog and in the manuscript we turn in.

The prize will be mailed to the winner. The basket includes everything you see here, and more!

(first picture)
*Box of Stash Double Bergamot Earl Grey Tea
*Box of Stash Pumpkin Spice Decaf Tea
*Verena Street Julien’s Breakfast Blend coffee beans  (12 oz. package)
*18 postage stamps
*8 greeting cards created by Iowa City area poets & artists
*3.5 oz. bar of  Green & Black Organic Milk Chocolate Almond
*2 oz. bar of Dagoba Organic Dark Chocolate Raspberry
*3 oz. bar of Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee
*1 hand-sewn brown/blue apron
*1 handmade small tissue packet cloth holder for purse
*1 tea towel
prize basket 2(2nd picture)
*beautiful flower journal
*feather print notepad
winthrop storytime and basket prize 063And to top off this wonderful gift basket, we will be including a $15 Walmart gift card (not pictured)
So put on your thinking caps and come up with a suggestion for our book’s sub-title.

Friends for the Journey~

From Mary K~

Mary H and I are on yet another leg of our journey together as friends~ that of co-writers. This venture is new to both of us. Instead of just our usual letters passing between us, there are also large manila envelopes going both ways. We both prefer to write and edit on paper. Yes, we are fully aware that this adds a step in the writing process because then we have to type our work onto the computer, but we are adamant that this is what works for us. Ah, the foibles of writers. We also keep copies of our work on the computer, (and on a flash drive or two, and I occasionally e-mail an updated copy to myself) but our rough drafts of each chapter for critique are sent via the mail.

We have promised book reviews on our blog and it seems only right to review a book that was so influential in the decision to co-write our own, Friends for the Journey, by Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw.

friends for the journeyI’d already had a niggling idea that I might want to write a book with Mary when this title crossed my path. As soon as I finished it, I made sure she got a copy, wondering if she would also see the potential for our own book on a similar topic. Anyone who has read my Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace knows what a big influence L’Engle’s writing has had on me. By the time I thought to write her about it, her health was failing, and one of her granddaughters kindly wrote me back. That same granddaughter read the manuscript of Refined By Fire and wrote this blurb endorsement:

“Mary Kenyon’s Refined by Fire reminds me of my grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle, who taught so many of us that writing can be a form of prayer that leads us to grace. I was moved to read how her influence inspired Mary to write and heal as well. Mary’s writing style is extremely accessible, and her voice raw, authentic and brave. By the end I was crying with her. I would definitely recommend her book to anyone who is going through any type of loss.”—Léna Roy, granddaughter of Madeleine L’Engle, author of Edges, and seasoned writing instructor and Program Manager for Writopia Lab.

Friends for the Journey opens up with an introduction to the friendship that Madeleine shared with Luci Shaw, a friendship that at the time of the writing (1996) spanned twenty-five years:

“Today I am happy because Luci is coming. Our friendship started when we first met at Wheaton College. I was there as part of a conference on art and faith, and Luci had come to participate. Our friendship began quickly because I loved the book of poetry she gave me, ‘Listen to the Green,’ and she loved my book, ‘A Circle of Quiet.’ There we were, spread out on the page for each other. Immediately we knew that we share much: In our struggle to live what once upon a time was called ‘a godly life’; in our attitude about our writing-which we both saw as vocation rather than career; in our love for our families and our feelings about marriage.”-
Madeleine L’Engle, Friends for the Journey, page 15

Readers of this book will see that Mary and I have much in common with Madeleine and Luci. I like to think of myself as the Madeleine to Mary’s Luci, as Luci is a prolific poet. So is Mary. While Madeleine and Luci share actual recorded conversations, poetry, and essays in their book, at this point Mary and I have not included any of her poems, nor have we recorded any of our pertinent discussions, though I now wish we had recorded the “topics we never discuss” conversation, as I remember mutual laughter at one point, while Mary doesn’t. Perhaps by book’s conclusion, we will include poetry, but only time will tell. While Friends for the Journey might seem quaint to many of today’s readers, the genuine friendship and love between these two friends is timeless. So is the wisdom:

“But, for the most part, there are friends who are forever part of you and your journey. Those you can cry with, sharing griefs and faults. Those you can laugh with, free and joyful as small children in uninhibited mirth. Those who have proven time and again that they can be counted on. Those you can pray with on the deepest level, exposing yourselves totally to God’s love. I have been richly blessed by such friends, and for each of them I daily give deep thanks.

Yes, friendship is risky. But, the risk is worth it. It is worth it to strip off your protective coating. To be vulnerable. To be known. To risk being loved.”- Madeleine L’Engle, Friends for the Journey, page 162

Christmas Letters~ yea, or nay~

From Mary K~

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention another type of letter on this blog of all things female friendship and letter-writing~ the annual Christmas letter. You either love them or you hate them, and both Marys love them; reading other people’s and writing our own.

joe and christmas letters 004I’ve been getting a Christmas letter from Mary every year for as long as I can remember, and have been writing one since at least 1998. I say “at least” since that is the earliest year I have a copy of one of my own letters. But then, I never kept copies of the letters I sent out with my cards, until my Aunt Marge, a Christmas letter writer herself, mentioned how nice it was that I did an annual letter, and how precious those copies would be to my family later on.  Gulp…Copies?  She was right. Those letters would be a treasure to my children after I am long gone, if only I had bothered to keep a copy!  Thank goodness I had a mother that not only had hung onto my Christmas letters, she’d saved many of my other letters, future treasures for the children who would be happy to see how excited their mother was about their imminent arrival.

letters from mom1 001What is the difference between my Christmas letter and the other letters I write? The biggest difference would be that the annual holiday letter goes out to a large group of people so is written in a more generic, less personal manner. Typically, it is typewritten, while my others are handwritten. I look at it as a sum up of the previous year and an update on our family for those who might not hear from us the rest of the year, but they go out to everyone on my list.  Some years I got a little more creative with my letters. In 2008, I wrote out a “Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of Mary Kenyon’s Journal,” listing each month as a chapter and pulling highlights from my journal for each month.

christmas letters 005In 2009, I took it one step further and wrote it like I would an article for submission, complete with word count.

christmas letters 002I used to vie with my daughter Elizabeth (and unbeknownst to her, my Aunt Marge) to see who could get their letter out first, usually beginning mine the day after Thanksgiving. I didn’t miss a year until 2012, when my husband David died. I just couldn’t face it that year. Instead, I did the only sensible thing I could: I used a coupon code to have cards designed and mailed for me for less than the cost of the stamps. Then I designed a Christmas card around a photo of David’s tombstone. Written on the card was this sentiment: “Live like you are dying! Love with all your heart~ And laugh, because this is the only card you’ll ever get with a tombstone on it.”

christmas card tombstoneWell, at the time it seemed the sensible thing to do.

So, which camp are you in? The Christmas letter~ yea or nay?