Me, John Denver, and the Trek Home
Now that winter’s over for residents of the Mountain State (It is over, right?) I’m coming home. I think John Denver said it best.
“Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong, West Virginia, Mountain mama, take me home, country roads.”
I left West Virginia in the middle of a snowstorm when it was less than twenty degrees. Since then I’ve enjoyed the sunshine, fresh saltwater air, and the hospitality of our southern neighbors here in Florida. And I’ve finished two more books, bringing the total to seven, and learned some valuable life lessons along the way. Among them, do not keep the electronic key fob for your hybrid vehicle in your jeans pocket when walking along the ocean’s edge. Because chances are you will venture too close or the waves will be too high, and the surf will hit you broadside, rendering that expensive key fob useless. (No, I didn’t have a repeat of my 2012 Los Angeles experience. Thankfully!)
I’ve also learned that I need more sunshine than the average bear, and I have a natural affinity for the ocean. Probably because I was born in San Jose, Calif., not too far from the open seas. That means saltwater must be part of my DNA, right?
Another crucial life lesson: family is anyone who befriends you, helps you out in a time of need, or offers valuable advice that costs the giver something, and you nothing. Think about it. When was the last time anyone gave you advice they knew would cost them something, if you chose to take it? If you’ve experienced that, and I hope you have, that person is a true friend. Which, in my book, makes them family.
As I make my way along the 900 or so miles back to Almost Heaven later this week, I’ll be stopping at libraries along I-95 and I-77, and talking to people about how today’s economy makes being an author more challenging than ever, reading, and books. Then, once I’m back home, I’ll meet with two book clubs in Pennsylvania and enjoy catching up with my literary-minded friends.
There’s also a book event scheduled for Saturday, May 7, at the Morgantown Barnes and Noble. That’s the day Shatter the Silence will be released. Several people have received advance review copies; the word on the street (so to speak) so far is “Wow!” “What an incredible story!” and “That police investigator is the most romantic guy in the world.”
If you’re a blogger who reviews books and would like a copy, please email me. If you don’t yet have your copy, you can preorder it now. Meanwhile, I’m working on the third book in the series that began with Sister of Silence in 2011. Hoping that this trilogy doesn’t turn into quintuplets.
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Boy, have I been busy! My seventh book, Shatter the Silence, the long-awaited sequel to my first memoir will be released May 7. That’s on the heels of Tales of the Vintage Berry Wine Gang, a collection of my newspaper columns from 1988-91, which came out in April. Prior to those two books, Guilt by Matrimony was released last November. It’s about the murder of Aspen socialite Nancy Pfister.
My memoir, Sister of Silence, is about surviving domestic violence and how journalism helped free me; Cheatin’ Ain’t Easy, now in ebook format, is about the life of Preston County native, Eloise Morgan Milne; The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese (a New York Times bestseller, with coauthor Geoff Fuller) and Pretty Little Killers (also with Fuller), released July 8, 2014, and featured in the August 18 issue of People Magazine.
For an in-depth look at the damaging effects of the silence that surrounds abuse, please watch my live TEDx talk, given April 13, 2013, at Connecticut College.
Have a great day and remember, it’s whatever you want to make it!
Editor’s Note: Daleen Berry is a New York Times best-selling author and a recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change. She has won several other awards, for investigative journalism and her weekly newspaper columns, and her memoir, Sister of Silence, placed first in the West Virginia Writers’ Competition. Ms. Berry speaks about overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment at conferences around the country. To read an excerpt of her memoir, please go to the Sister of Silence site. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Ms. Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.”