May 2010

Dear Friend

I’m being challenged. I’m going through a rough patch, but I’m happy, healthy and optimistic things will work out and I will succeed. Before I share with you my news, I want to express my deep, sincere appreciation to you for your loyal support throughout the years.

Let me cut to the chase. With the careful advice of my trusted literary agent, Carl has advised me to leave HarperCollins. They own William Morrow. Between the two houses, they together have published most of my 27 books. I admit I have a huge lump in my throat and this move is serious and painful, but necessary. Things just aren’t working out. And I am anxious to have my books published. You have let me know you want more Alexandra Stoddard books, thank you for that. Right now I feel like a fish out of water because I have no publisher. But my heart tells me Carl will find a way for my books to flow again. I’ve been in difficult situations in the past and have refused to give up, and I have been most fortunate. I remember my former editor taking a train to visit Peter and me at the cottage to flatly turn down my book, Choosing Happiness: Keys to A Joyful Life. After she left, I went down to the point, sat on a comfortable rock, and had a good cry. After breathing in the sea air, watching the boats come and go in the harbor, I remember skipping back to my writing room. As you know, Choosing Happiness was published and is successful.

HarperCollins has turned down four of my books, and the one I am currently writing: Aging Gracefully. Over the years, we marched together into maturity, and I decided I want to be here for us as we move quietly, gently, into the exciting, thoughtful years ahead. Aging Gracefully is my passion now, and because I believe we will prevail, I’m writing this book assuming we will find an enthusiastic publisher. The book is now being looked at by a first-rate publishing house, who has published my work in the past.

I write books for myself, and my children, and most importantly, my readers. continues to sell briskly because I really wrote to my two grown daughters. I want to write this book, Aging Gracefully to you, my reader. We will grow older together, and I hope I’ll be useful in this inevitable process where we’ll need all the necessary tools we can have in order to make these years productive, intelligent and life-transforming. I remember writing Making Choices: The Joy of A Courageous Life when I was 50 and I said some gutsy, blunt things. Fifty, dear reader, is deep into middle age! That was almost 19 years ago, I had the biggest chuckle with a good friend recently when I said I was looking forward to growing old together and she laughed out loud, “Sandie, my friend, we are now growing old together.”

This book is for all of us who are paying attention to our future. The late Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, believed middle age begins around age thirty-seven. Many women are having babies when they’re in fact, middle-aged. Don’t feel too young for solid advice about these more mature and responsible years. I personally am looking forward to the potentially exciting years ahead and refuse to rest on my laurels. The past is dead and can be buried without a funeral because it has no life force. I want to write, I want to be published, I want to be read. I want to make a difference.

Please let me know your thoughts about your own aging experience. What are your fears? What do you want to know about Aging Gracefully? When I was asked by Carl, what was the most awkward thing about my own aging, I hesitated. The only thing I can complain about is wrinkles and sagging skin. Pretty superficial stuff. But when he asked me what I most feared about the future, I immediately told him I feared losing my mind. I think secretly this is something that concerns us all, especially when so many of us will live beyond 100. Do let me know your thoughts. I will share them with Carl, and eventually, a publisher and editor. My book is not set in stone. Now is a good time for you to stretch me, challenge me and let me know how I can be personally useful to you on your journey.

A few days after our family left following a joyful Easter together, Peter and I flew to the south of France for a peaceful, sunny writing vacation. We went to the St. Paul de Vence, an ancient walking village. We hadn’t been in Provence since we went to visit our artist friend, Roger Mühl two years ago. Now that he has died, it was bittersweet returning to this beautiful part of the world without him. We decided not to go to his village because it would be too sad. Instead, we chose to go to an artist’s colony and stay at the La Colombre D’Or where Picasso, Miro, Matisse, Léger, Braque, and Calder hung out and were inspired by natural beauty and divine light.

We had a writing table with a ladder back chair on each side in front of a window overlooking a large colorful Calder mobile that gracefully moved to the rhythms of the gentle breezes of the Atlantic. We wanted to live in Provence, and the best way for us to accomplish this was to settle in to a soft, quiet pattern. The farmer’s market was outside the hotel wall, and we indulged in lilac, roses, and oranges we’d savor at the desk. Other than taking a taxi to Vence, a chapel, a short drive away, to visit the Matisse chapel, we stayed at the La Colombre d’Or and the village the entire stay. Peter and I have never felt such peace. We have never spent so many consecutive days in such a serene, beautiful setting. The terrace with lemon and orange and fig trees with flowering plants everywhere were enjoyed in dazzling sunlight. The fig leaves look exactly like the stained-glass windows at the Matisse chapel; perhaps the inspiration for his colorful cutouts in his later years. We’d been to La Colombre d’Or many times over our years together, bringing Alexandra and Brooke, and coming with Roger Mühl and his wife, but never stayed there. I had in the early sixties, and this was one of those dreams to go with Peter for an extended stay. We returned home on the first flight from Nice, France to New York City after the ash cloud cleared. We saw our children and grandchildren before returning to our cottage to the great good news – Peter’s book publication date is Sunday May 9th!

Figure It Out: A Guide to Wisdom is now available in hardcover ($24.95) and paperback ($19.95). In the foreword I wrote: “I personally am grateful to Peter for this gem, a book of wisdom. Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, we’re taking in these distilled bits of wisdom and inspiration to help illuminate our path. Basically, Peter goes back to the word and shows us how we build our intelligence, word by good word, thought by good thought. When we have acquired this life-affirming, life-transcending knowledge of timeless truth, the accumulated wisdom in our soul is not easily destroyed, nor is our happiness. Peter believes that collecting items of wisdom is a lifetime of satisfaction. His love of truth, beauty, and life itself is the unity that binds us together.”

I urge you to give Peter’s new book a huge sendoff and order copies for family and friends. He spent over 55 years working on this book, and I promise you the wisdom Peter has accumulated is profound. We will put a ribbon in the personally autographed books, and, if you wish, send copies directly to people at your request.

We hope you will help us get the buzz out, and spread the word. We have purchased large quantities from the publisher in anticipation of your wanting Peter’s book and wishing to give it as gifts. Please send us your comments so we can pass them on to the publisher. This is a most exciting event in our lives and we hope you are as pleased as we are.

Happy May! Peter’s book publication comes out nine days before our 36th wedding anniversary. We have a great deal to celebrate. We thank you in advance for your making Peter’s book a huge success.

Love & Live Happy

Have you taken photos at one of Alexandra's events that you'd like to share? If so, you can email them to AStoddardInc@aol.com. Please be sure to include the names of those in the photo and where and when it was taken! We will try to include them on the website in the future.

Figure It Out: A Guide to Wisdom

The publication date for Figure It Out is May 9th, Mother's Day! Peter shares a lifetime of wisdom. It is available in hardcover ($24.95) and paperback ($19.95).

Peter Megargee Brown

This is a favorite photo that Alexandra took of Peter at Claude Monet's beloved house and garden in Giverny. This is the photograph selected for Peter's new book Figure It Out.

La Colombe d'Or

We enjoyed our breakfast and lunches on this enchanting garden terrace.

One of our favorite tables under an ancient fig tree.

Chapelle de Rosaire in Vence with the Matiesse stained-glass windows.

Our delightful room was located on the left in front of the Calder mobile.

Happy Birthday Peter!

If you would like to get an autographed copy of Alexandra's book, please send your order (including inscription information) to:
Jane Hannon
Bank Square Books
53 West Main Street
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-3795