Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Thank you notes

May 29, 2013    Tags: , , ,   

So, I had some minor surgery on my tear duct yesterday, which means that today I’m a little black-eyed and bloody-nosed and bleary — but hopefully I will not have to make any more public appearances while crying out of one side of my face.   Hooray!  (Even better: They had to verify the site of the operation with permanent marker, and my doctor’s initials are JK, so it looks like someone punched me in the eye and then wrote “Just Kidding!” over my eyebrow.  It’s pretty great.)

And what better time to catch up on blogging than while lounging groggily on the couch?  None.  Groggy blogging.  Here we go.

From the time we were able to print, my brothers and I were trained to write thank-you notes for any gifts we received.  Because Christmas and my birthday were four days apart, I spent a lot of each post-holiday season squirming on my knees beside the living room coffee table, whining and sulking and wrestling with mannerly writer’s block.   But Mom persisted, as mothers are wont to do.  And eventually I would finish writing the thank-you notes and send them out into the world, often to relatives who lived only a few miles away.  The crazy thing is, a lot of those relatives kept my thank-you notes.  As a graduation gift, my (Fairy) Godmother Kris gave me a scrapbook full of letters and drawings and thank-you notes that I had sent to her over the years.  When we emptied out the big family house after my grandparents died, we found scads of thank-you notes from grandchildren, all written in shaky print or flourishy cursive.  (My own favorite might have been the one from me that read, “Thank you for the pretty rosary case! I’m always losing my rosary, and now I’ll always be able to find it,” like the future little nun/saint that I wasn’t.)

I still try to write actual, on paper, through-the-mail thank-you notes today, because I like getting them from others, and I think a thank-you that’s put in words, that you can hold in your hands, is something special.  But sometimes sending actual notes is difficult, like when we only make contact with someone through email, or when the list of thanks grows impossibly long, or when schedules get so hectic that we barely remember where we were and what we did there by the time we get home to our stationery.

So here are some belated (and not on paper) thank-you notes:

Thank you to everyone who made April is for Authors in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, such a great event — especially Sue and Helen, the coordinators, and Helen’s husband, who came flying out of his house very early in the morning in order to get me to my second school visit on time.  Thanks to everyone at Starlight Cove Elementary and Morikami Park Elementary, especially media specialists Christie Connors and Becky Brant (and to Christie’s parents, who drove me around and got me lunch and told me all about high school hockey), and to all the kids who gave me amazing thank-you notes of their own after my visit.  Thanks to volunteer coordinator  Thais Villanueva, who fed me amazing Cuban black bean soup beside her beautiful swimming pool, and thanks to Andy Larson, founder of Thinkersize, for creating a Cranium CoRE game for The Shadows.

IMG_20130427_091821Here’s one group getting ready to play Cranium CoRE.  They picked the team name “AUSOM: The Absolutely Unrelenting Seriousness of Mathematics,” which made me happy.

Thank you to all the staff and students who made this year’s Hiawatha Valley Young Writers’ Conference at Winona State University possible.  The setting, the concept, and the all people involved were exciting and inspiring.

Thanks to everyone at St. Croix Central School, especially 4th grade teacher Ann Leque, for making last week’s school visit happen.  I’ve never spoken in a giant tent before, and the students were wonderful.  I’ll be thinking of all of you as repairs to your school and library move forward.  (More on the SCC arson and the school’s current home at “Panther Camp” here and here.)

And thanks to the third grade teachers at Burnside Elementary here in Red Wing (especially Emily Seefeldt, who made it all happen!), for using my books as a read-aloud, and for getting the students so excited about these stories.  What a treat to speak right here, in my hometown, to a group of such engaged and enthusiastic kids.

On Sunday, I head to the Washington DC area for a week of school visits!   Hopefully my black eye will have faded by then…

Ooh, one last important note: Earlier this spring, I got a lovely letter from a 6th grader in Santa Ana, CA, named Flor M.  I sent a reply, but it was returned to me, because the return address provided was incorrect or incomplete.  Flor, if you happen to read this, I hope you’ll double check the address and send me a message at


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