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How Things Have Changed

Volume XIII, Issue Three | September 2018

I wrote my first book more than 50 years ago, using my grandfather’s portable typewriter. When I made a mistake, I xxx’d over or used an eraser to make corrections. There wasn’t even White Out back then. I also used carbon paper to make a second copy because copy machines weren’t around. And I mailed the manuscript, my fingers crossed that the book would not go astray.

My how things have changed! Today I write on a computer, print out as many copies as I want, and email the book to my publisher.

That’s made me think about the changes I’ve seen in the last half-century that I’ve been writing. Here are a few things I couldn’t imagine when I began: Computers, cell phones, flair pens, Amazon, Facebook, flip-flops, visible bra straps, McDonald’s, drones, AIDS, take out, interstate highways, instant oatmeal, SUVs, Starbuck’s, impatiens, microwave popcorn (and microwaves), Evite, student debt, and recycling.

Some things I thought would be around forever have disappeared during those years: Milkmen, white gloves, DDT, phone booths, passenger trains, nylons, sexist ads, Geratol, pinups, bobby pins, pinafores, rick-rack, Persian violets, pincurls, mother-in-law jokes, vacant lots, polio, typewriters, carbon copies, sleeping in the back yard, Jujubies, Movietone News, and congealed salads.

Young Readers

Last spring, I met with a group of fourth graders at a school in Fraser, Colo. Their teacher had each one write a thank-you letter. As you can see, these kids write with wit and humor.

Nice Words for The Patchwork Bride

​​When Sandra Dallas’ agent suggested she write about a runaway bride, the New York Times bestselling author hesitated.

After all, she’s quick to say, she doesn’t write romance novels, and a male model like Fabio would never grace the cover of one of her books. Instead, Dallas prefers to write love stories set in the past, with a focus on Western history.

But she took the suggestion to heart and created “The Patchwork Bride,” a novel in which the main character, Ellen, counsels her young granddaughter, June, when she bolts shortly before her wedding.Dallas’ 15th novel is set in New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas. In the initial story, Ellen is putting the finishing touches on her granddaughter’s wedding quilt when June shows up at her grandparents’ ranch near Durango. June says she feels like her prospective groom, who is preparing to ship off to fight in the Korean War, is pushing too hard to make her an Army wife, so she’s decided to cancel the wedding.

Ellen, who worries about her husband’s dementia and her own declining health, soothes her granddaughter by telling her a story that begins in the late 1890s as Nell, a young cook at a ranch in New Mexico, falls for Buddy, a handsome cowboy. Because true love’s path never runs smoothly, Nell eventually leaves in anger when Buddy wants to move up their wedding so he can go fight in the Spanish American War. They’re both headstrong, and neither is willing to bend to meet the other’s expectations. Denver Post

Appearances

DENVER, CO

Sunday, Sept. 30, 2–3:30 pm

DENVER PUBLIC LIBRARY

10 West 14th Ave.

HOUSTON, TX

Wednesday–Saturday, Nov. 7–10

CRAFTSMAN’S TOUCH BOOK BOOTH

HOUSTON INTERNATIONAL QUILT SHOW

George Brown Convention Center

Sandra’s Picks

Grant

By Ron Chernow. Penguin Press.

I put off reading this book for a long time. After all it’s 959 pages. Then one evening I thought better get it over with and picked it up. I couldn’t stop reading. Like many Americans, I thought of Ulysses S. Grant as a general who won the Civil War because he had more men to sacrifice and as a corrupt President who was mired in scandal.

He was neither. In this absorbing work, Pulitzer Prize winner author Ron Chernow (whose book on Alexander Hamilton became the basis for the successful musical) portrays the Civil War general as brilliant soldier and an exemplary human being whose major fault was he was too trusting. Again and again, “friends” took advantage of him. Grant himself never profited from their nefarious schemes and in fact, was nearly penniless when he died.

Chernow devotes half the book to Grant’s Civil War days. While history often called Grant a butcher who won battles by sacrificing soldiers, Chernow relates that the general was a first-rate strategist who cared deeply about the soldiers. The author is critical of Robert E. Lee, especially Lee’s surly treatment of Grant after the war. As President, Grant supported Reconstruction and worked for black equality. He helped restore the South, and it is notable that when he died, he was mourned not only by northerners and blacks but by former Confederates, too.

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