We often meet people we are instantly drawn to, captivated by. This is how it was when Karen Hunt and I first met. I didn’t put it together with books I’d read as an impressionable teenager, or with love of travel, or even the surroundings of the island we were sharing for two weeks of a writers’ residency. But she did! And I’m thrilled to share it with you! Thank you, Karen, for the kind words, but mostly, for the friendship!

Break Free


I have always loved nothing better than to find a cozy spot by the fire during stormy weather and read a good book. Preferably a book about mystery and romance, set on a wild moor, a creepy castle, a wind-swept island…you get the idea. My imagination was shaped by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek, My Cousin Rachel…I read all of her books. And I confess that to this day, I still have my dog-eared copy of Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit in a place of honor, easily accessible. I even gave my son the nickname of “Harry,” thanks to the dashing rogue who steals the heart of Anne, the heroine.  And, of course, I pined away for bad-boy Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and cried my eyes out reading Jane Eyre.

So imagine my delight when I met Renee Johnson two years ago at Noepe Center, a writer’s retreat on Martha’s Vineyard. Noepe is set in…

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