This guest post is a deviation from my normal business tips, but one that I know you will enjoy. Recently bestselling author Brunonia Barry’s publicist sent me a book to review called The Map of True Places , and I loved the book. I am sure that many of you can relate to the theme about finding your true place in the world.

I am delighted to be able to offer this article today from the author and also give away ONE FREE COPY of this book for my favorite personal story of your own quest to find your true place. Please email me your response.

The Map of True Places

by Brunonia Barry

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”  ~Herman Melville

That quote was the inspiration for the title of my second novel, The Map of True Places, which recently came out in paperback. As I embark on the book tour, I am talking with readers about the true places in their lives.                                                                  

The maps we follow for our individual lives have always been subject to unexpected twists of fate, but lately our modern world has shifted in ways we never expected: economic collapse, global terrorism, environmental disasters. The recent earthquake in Japan literally rocked the world on its axis.

So how do we navigate our lives when our old maps have become obsolete? The answer, I think, lies in finding our own true places: safe havens that are homes to us. Sometimes these places are real. Sometimes they exist only in memory and imagination. Almost always, they are connected to the people we love.

The truest place in my life is a real one, a Victorian summer-house on a lake in New Hampshire. It was built by my great grandfather more than a century ago and has been handed down through the generations. The cottage hasn’t changed much in those hundred years, which makes it easier to conjure images of the people who have touched my life there, some who are still with me, many who have long since departed.

Standing in the old fashioned kitchen, I don’t have to look far to summon a memory.  Here is the bucket we used to pick blueberries for the pies and muffins my grandmother always made.  Over there is the megaphone my father used to call us back when we swam too far from shore. I can still hear the creaky slamming of the back door and the laughing of children as they rush in and out.

In the washroom across the hall, the medicine cabinet door won’t close properly. I can see my mother’s compact on the glass shelf, and I can see her too, standing in front of the mirror, her lips pursed as she applies Revlon Fire Engine Red lipstick, blots it with tissue, then puts on another coat.

In my true place, my mother still gets dressed to go dancing. She is not confined to her RA wheelchair. My father doesn’t shake from Parkinson’s. I don’t find him scared and frozen in place in the back hall but rather out on the porch playing with the dogs or pitching horseshoes with the uncles. My grandmother, gone many years now, is still the outspoken matriarch who so frustrated her son-in-law, my father, that one day he locked her in the pan closet in the kitchen and wouldn’t let her out until she promised to be nice to him, which she was from that day on.

In my true place, I can bring all of the generations back to life at once. My reverie supposes that time is non-linear, and that all the characters exist in their happiest moments. People who never knew each other gather together for a weekend celebration. A favorite uncle who read stories to me when I was little reads those same stories now to my brother’s grandchildren. My first dog rolls on the front lawn with my sixteen year old golden retriever whose hip dysplasia has miraculously healed. My grandmother sits on the front porch shelling peas with the great granddaughter she never knew.

My true place is always sunny and warm, except at about 4PM each day when a quick thunderstorm follows the curve of the White Mountains and moves swiftly across our little lake. We laugh and run for cover. The storm disappears as quickly as it has come. There may or may not be a rainbow.

My truest place, though real, has the luxury of fantasy. I am, after all, a fiction writer. Whether real of imagined, true places seem more important than ever in these times of great and sometimes devastating change.

What are some of your true places?

Please email me your response. I will post my favorite story on this blog and send  you  a free copy of the book!