Sunday, August 21, 2011

AN OPEN LETTER TO CLARA GILLOW CLARK

Dear Clara,

I loved meeting you here online through your generous blog. I've marveled at the way you fcous the spotlight on other writers when you could be calling attention to your own books. In a short time, you have introduced me to a smorgasbord of talented history writers and their stories.

I love the giveaways you sponsor. Oh, yes, the giveaways! That brings me to the day I met you in person in lovely, historical, Honesdale, PA.


How cool to discover that I had, indeed, just won one of your contests! I am now the oh-so-very-pleased-owner of EDDIE'S WAR. Everything I see and read about this story makes me want to read it. I haven't yet, because a certain amount of restraint is in order just to get through each busy day. But it's right on top of my TBR pile.
I did just read your HILL HAWK HATTIE though.
And here's what I have to say about that.

The first thing I noticed about Hattie was her voice. It's powerful. Succinct. Determined. Poignant. I believe the author's # 1 task is to make the reader care about the character on the very first page. Clara, you did that in - let me see - how about the first sentence? Impressive.

And by the end of that first page I understood why Hattie would say about her Pa, "Guess he must hate my guts. Guess I'm not too fond of his. The way I see it, we're stuck."

I'm guessing a whole lot of readers will relate to that!

But if a whole lot of readers are like me, they're going to soon find themselves in unfamiliar territory also - on a raft going down the Delaware River. What a ride! I'm a wimp about white water so I was more than happy to let Hattie Basket (I do love her name!) steer me through. I'm pretty sure I leaned to the right when Pa called out "pull Pennsylvania" and to the left if he hollered "New Jersey". And when Jasper yelled, "Don't fall!" I hung on. More than once, I hit the deck and clung to it for life itself.

I encountered some familiar places but they were only names I knew from maps or road signs - strictly landlubber access. I kept wondering how you knew the river so well. I felt as if you took notes from a raft, looking up at the Erie Railroad Bridge while floating beneath it and that you knew all the rifts and narrows and aqueducts along the way.

You carry your readers through other treacherous waters - the emotional ups and downs of a girl who feels orphaned by her mother's death and her father's rejection. Who faces the jeers of those who consider themselves better than her. Who wants desperately to be the girl she is but who must pretend to be a boy to suit her father's whims. At least that is how it seems. In the end of course, Hattie Basket understands much more than she does on that first lonely page.

In the end, the reader realizes there is more to Hattie's story. And I for one, am eager to read HATTIE ON HER WAY.

Thank-you, Clara for this gripping story about loss and identity and logging and survival during the mid 1800s. I learned a lot and enjoyed the ride!

 Your new friend,

Joyce Moyer Hostetter

21 comments:

  1. Lovely. I need to read this book!

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  2. WOW! You really blew me away with your letter, Joyce! I'm so delighted that you read Hill Hawk Hattie. Your thoughts about the book made my day, and, of course, whenever you are in town, give me a jingle. So nice to have you call me friend--friend!

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  3. What a great commentary on these books. Now I'm anxious to read them also. Thanks for this.

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  4. Joyce, What a innovative way to invite your readers into your time with Clara as well a peak into her book. As a former southern Jersey girl, I can't wait to read this book and relate to the landmarks along the way.

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  5. Eddie's War has been on my TBR list since the spring. I will get to it, I promise!

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  6. I have also had the privilege of getting to know Clara through the cyberworld. I've also read her Hill Hawk Hattie books and recommend her. :) Thanks for telling your readers about this special lady.

    Margo
    http://margodill.com/blog/

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  7. Becky, Augusta, Carol, I'm sure you will enjoy Hattie!

    Barbara, I'll let you know how I respond to Eddie's War.

    Margo - so great to meet you!

    Clara - I had fun writing this letter to you. Bumping into you and all these writing friends is such a significant part of the writing experience.

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  8. Hello Joyce! What a lovely tribute to Clara. She is by far one of my favorite Writer Blog Gals! I see there are more books to add to my already towering pile of books TBR!...Yours and Clara's.

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  9. Hi Becky from MO - thanks for dropping by! Great to hear from you and to visit your blog!

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  10. I completely concur with everything you say about Clara's generosity and her writing talent! Hattie and her wild ride are favorites of mine too!

    Laurie Calkhoven

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  11. Hi Laurie,

    Thanks for dropping by and saying giving kudos to Clara!

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  12. Joyce, you are spot on about Clara! She is a very generous and giving author/editor and I am thrilled to be able to call her friend. Her books are a fantastic look at life through the eyes of the very courageous and exciting Hattie. I have enjoyed them all. Now I will be happy to add your wonderful books to my TBR pile. I look forward to it.

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  13. Hi Jennifer, always good to meet a friend of Clara's! Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Thanks so much for this, Joyce! As you note, Clara is SOOOO generous to others that it's wonderful for us Clara fans to see the spotlight shined on her here, and with such an insightful appreciation of Hattie.

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  15. Peggy Reiff MillerAugust 22, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    Thanks for introducing me to Clara, her blog, and her work, Joyce! I look forward to reading Hill Hawk Hattie.

    I, too, have Eddie's War on my TBR list. I attended a Highlights Foundation Workshop with the author, Carol Saller, when she was working on it. I'm so happy for her that the leader of the workshop, Stephen Roxburgh, decided to publish it! I know it will be a great read!

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  16. cmills - thanks so much and BTW -you're blog is looking like a big adventure that I want to read. Your reflections on new assignment, The Road Not Taken, etc. are sucking me in!

    Peggy, I usually look to see who pubished the books I read but somehow I missed that Eddie's War is a Namelos title. So awesome!

    I will have to go back and reread Clara's blog post with Carol.

    And btw I will be giving away (actually Clara is giving away) a copy of Hill Hawk Hattie on my blog. That will follow before so very long! I want to accompanying it with a few questions for her! Clara, are you listening?

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  17. So exciting to hear from long-time friends and to make some new ones here on your blog, Joyce!

    Thanks everyone for the comments!

    Joyce, I'm so thrilled that you can post comments again! Thanks again for everything!

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  18. Wow, Joyce! Clara keeps us all hopping these days. New and wonderful books every where I look. Thanks for you wonderful comments. Will be checking some out very very soon.

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  19. Betty, Just spent a little time on your blog. I am jealous because you are funny! I want a funny bone too! Wah!!!

    It was a pleasure writing about Clara and Hattie!

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  20. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing these beautiful books and the lovely Clara.

    BTW...I've tagged you for a blog award. I hope you don't mind. Pop over to my blog for the details.

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  21. Hey Ghost Girl, Thanks for the tag - I will check it out! I need to get your blog in my feedblitz because I am missing it.

    I know you'll enjoy Clara if you haven't met her yet.

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