by Kerry Blair
In all the wild, weird, woeful, and wonderful world of writing, there is no better feeling than holding in your hand the first copy of your newly-published book. Well, almost no better feeling. At this time yesterday I would have said nothing could top that thrill, but then last night something did. I opened an envelope and there was a newly-minted copy of Haunts Haven by Joan Sowards. I couldn’t put it down. Literally.
Joan is among my dearest of friends, a sister of the heart. I’ve held four of her children when they were even newer-born than her first novel. Holding the paperback and feeling tears run down my cheeks was probably a teensy bit better. After all, babies only take nine months to deliver; books almost always take much, much longer.
Holding Haunts Haven, rifling through the pristine pages, admiring the beautiful chapter headings, and inhaling the delightful smell of ink and paper, I thought again that electronics will never replace books. A book is a thing of beauty and a joy you can treasure, share, and eventually pass on. And when you love and admire the author like I do Joan, a book is even more. You know that between those covers is years of dreaming, writing, revising, editing, revising, dreaming, writing, editing, revising . . . and dreaming. Callie—the main character—is as real to me as either of Joan’s daughters. By the end of the book the ghost is even more real. (He could haunt my house any day! Or night. His choice.)
I should probably admit why receiving Joan’s book was even better than getting one of my own. It goes back to the newborn-baby thing. It is beyond incredible to share in all the joy and excitement, knowing you’ll have none of the worry and responsibilities. While I bask in the reflected glow of her success, Joan must now embark on the path of promotion, critical review, and book signings. (Oh, my! Those three things can be much worse than lions and tigers and bears. Well, not book signings, maybe. I love book signings! You sometimes make forever friends like Chilly and Dave and Deb and Pat, and sometimes friends you already have—like Jon—bring you chocolate. If there’s a way to beat that as a way of life, I have yet to stumble upon it.)
I could go on about Joan forever—and maybe I will on my own blog. Right now I want to hurry up and be one of the first to introduce Haunts Haven to the world. The backliner reads: When Callie Wilford inherits a century-old inn (hacienda) in southern Arizona, locals tell her of a ghost who guards the inn. But Callie doesn’t believe in ghosts, and she plans to turn the inn into a bed and breakfast. Then things start to happen—strange, spooky things—and she begins to wonder if there is some truth to the ghost stories. If that weren’t bad enough, Callie discovers a mysterious grave in the cellar. As she confronts the inn’s tragic secrets, she also faces her lonely past and learns to embrace her heritage. But it takes a handsome cowboy and a charming rancher to prove that Callie’s long-guarded heart can love again.
Don't you just love it already? If Haunts Haven isn’t exactly what the market needs –an LDS ghost story!—I don’t know what is. It is the perfect book to read before Halloween. Or Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. Or New Year. Or . . . you get the idea. I can’t say it better than the person who wrote the blurb for the back cover (me): Haunts Haven grabs your attention from the first chapter and holds it into the wee hours . . . a love story you will never forget in a tale of suspense you will want to read again and again!
You can read the first chapter for yourself on Joan’s blog. If you live in Utah, it’s available in most LDS bookstores and will hopefully spread to the rest of the world very, very soon. In the meantime, you can order it here.
I slept with Haunts Haven on the nightstand next to my bed last night, but that’s only because I’ve read it three or eight times. I’ll practically guarantee that if you take it to bed, it won’t hit the nightstand until you’ve read the last word!
Congratulations, Joan! There are no words to express how grateful I am for your friendship and how thrilled I am to at last have Haunts Haven in my grubby little hands.