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Book Tour Highlight: Diane's private event

STORY CITY, IOWA--As I was fighting drowsiness on my drive from Lawrence, Kansas, to central Iowa, I kept wondering if I was foolish in making this long trip to my home state as part of my The Rebel Nun book tour.

If the wonderful event put on by the Dog Eared Books staff in Ames, Iowa, wasn’t enough proof that the drive was well worth it, the next event doubled it.

My friend Diane (Mathre) Larson and I met in kindergarten in Story City, a very small town just a few miles north of Ames. When we were in the third grade, my family moved from the farm into a house in town on the same block where Diane lived. Since then, we have been friends. Although my claim that we have been “best friends” since I was five and she was four (uh, 30 or so years ago) is probably an exaggeration, it is definitely true that we have been BFFs for a very long time. As pre-teens, her brother and mine were also best friends and the four of us caught minnows together in the Skunk River and built a clubhouse in their backyard. Year after year, Diane volunteered to shell peas and cut beans on my family’s porch when she knew I was stuck there on Saturday mornings, tending to my mother’s bumper crops. I stood up at her wedding, flew across the country three times to attend her daughters’ weddings, and have been visiting her in Iowa every summer that I could for decades. She’s remained my biggest fan and supporter since I wrote my first novel.

(Photo on the left is from Diane's wedding in 1972. She's the pretty one in white; I'm the middle bridesmaid in purple.)

When I told her I was coming to Iowa for the Dog Eared event and an event at a bookstore in Des Moines, Diane offered to put on a “meet the author” afternoon in her lovely, manicured backyard and garden. We worked out the details by email and spent a few hours making hors d’oeuvres and setting out chairs on the lawn. She guessed about a dozen

people would come, which I thought wildly optimistic. But as she predicted, a dozen came, listened to Diane’s friend Marilyn ask me questions about the book, and noshed on cheeses and drank wine, even as a light drizzle descended on us.

The next day, I traveled to Des Moines to the Beaverdale Bookstore to visit with my friend, the owner Alice Meyer, and her marketing director Jan Kaiser. The event we planned was killed by the state’s COVID flare-up, but we had a good talk about book marketing and, I think, cemented our friendship even further. (On the right, a photo from 2000. She was still then and is still now the pretty one.)

Next: Taking a break from book marketing and from the van (and more recent photos of the two of us)

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