“With the lengthening days which distinguish the third month of winter from its predecessor, come ardent desires for spring, and longings for the time of birds and flowers. An adventurous swallow too early flying from the south, a vision of snowdrops in the snow, a day of April warmth lit by a slant February sun, are all hailed with pleasure as harbingers of a more gracious season on its northland way.” ~Oscar Fay Adams, January 1886

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian Liturgical feast day, honouring one or more saints named Valentinus, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country. Still, what a fortunate stroke of history that St. Valentine’s Day, when now we give chocolates and flowers and spend time with our loved ones, is celebrated during mid-winter of the shortest month of our year.

Before updating you on Lords and Lepers, I want to begin by thanking you all for your patience. I have been tardy. I vividly recall saying at the launch of Choosing: 1940-1989 in September 2013 that I planned to release my next novel within three years. Once again, when I started to listen to, focus on, know and trust my four main characters, their unfolding stories became so intriguing that my words just kept flowing. My foursome proceeded to lose their innocence and mature into young women, forge lifelong friendships, share the pinnacles of success and the depths of despair, and experience how all too often people are valued for what they have or what they do rather than for who they are.More and more, though, I became aware of a dilemma. Over my years as an author, I feel that I have also come to know you, my dear readers. And I soon started to ask myself whether I thought you would prefer that I write one long book or publish Lords and Lepers as a series over two years. When I had published each novel of Understanding Ursula over three, many of you seemed distressed by having to await the next book. After due deliberation, I decided that rather than have you all wait, I would release Lords and Lepers as one long volume, and to provide you with a spell-binding and epic prairie saga. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~C.S.Lewis

The good news is that publication of Lords and Lepers is on schedule, and the proposed launch date is sometime in April at the St. Albert Public Library. Keep watching for the exact date and time. Until then, enjoy an excerpt from Lords and Lepers:

       “Margaret, you can’t possibly hold yourself responsible for whatever happened in the Smiths’ kitchen. No one in his or her right mind could think that! Good heavens, what’s going on in James’s head?”
       “He and Bert grew up together. Spent every day playing. They were like brothers. James misses him terribly, and you know how we humans are. We always have to find someone to blame, and I’m it!”
       “It is hard not to fault others when life turns tragic, Margaret, but please don’t be so unfair and unkind to yourself. You have always given your best to all the students under your tutelage. The day of their funeral, Francine only came to the church service on the condition we did not insist she go to the interment, so we stealthily left right after Reverend Walmseley’s abbreviated service. Tell me, what took place at the cemetery?”
       Patricia waited and waited. It was as though Margaret Devonshire had succumbed. Not a word escaped her lips, not a muscle moved. Was she still breathing? Finally Patricia rose from her chair, quietly walked over to Margaret, and gently placed her arm around her shoulders. “I think you should come home with me. You need a peaceful environment to rest, and to put some of the past events into perspective.”
       For a woman who invariably chided her students, particularly the females in her class to walk straight and tall with shoulders back, and face the world with confidence, her stooped posture when she eventually stood, was alarming. What had transpired over the last several weeks to have all but broken the spirit of one of the most respected members of their small farming community?

May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love, chocolates, flowers, and lasting memories.


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