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Nearly every morning I walk two and a half miles along the Columbia River outside my doorstep. I take the same route and often see many of the same people enjoying our bit of nature. We smile and nod and wish each other a good morning. Normally, I am lost in my own thoughts trying to figure out a plot line or character development for my new book, but frequently can't help overhearing small pieces of conversations between walkers passing by. Last week, my inadvertent eavesdropping stopped me in my tracks. Literally. Two young ladies were deep in conversation, apparently about work, when one said to the other, "I was told to stop being kind..." This was met with agreement from her friend as probably being a good idea. And off they walked, never realizing the impact this statement had on me. For days I have been pondering it and engaging friends in conversation about it. When did it become acceptable to not be kind?

In fairness, I have no idea the context of the conversation, though I have racked my brain to discover what business would possibly benefit from their employees not being kind. To be clear, this is not a political or religious pondering, but rather one concerned with our loss of basic humanity. Have we misplaced courtesy, patience, tolerance, respect and understanding? Questions plaguing my brain: Why do you stop being kind? What is the motivation to not be kind? If you have any thoughts or insights, I'd welcome an email me.

On a positive note, if you are not familiar with Charlie Mackesy and his extraordinary book, The Boy, The Mole, the Fox and the Horse, I urge you to seek it out. When I first discovered it, I had no idea it had been a best seller for quite sometime which gives me hope in the "kindness" department. With simple wisdom, Mr. Mackesy writes of friendship, love, encouragement, hope, understanding and the importance of kindness.

By now you must be wondering what on earth this has to do with a writer's blog. There really is a tie-in, I promise. Before I wrote, I read. I was drawn mostly to fiction, reading lots of different genres of within that category: crime, fantasy, historical, romance, science fiction, etc. A number of years ago I was introduced to a genre casually named gentle fiction or gentle reads. This includes authors such as Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency), Jan Karon (The Mitford Series), James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small), D.E. Stevenson (Listening Valley), Mary Ann Shaffer (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) as well as Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), Kenneth Grahame (Wind in the Willows), Fredrik Bakman (A man Called Ove), Garrison Keillor (Lake Wobegon) and a whole list of others. Gentle genre books tend to be stories of ordinary people, managing everyday lives with often extraordinary events. They can be dramatic and emotional, often with humor and loving perspective. If well done, you'll find characters you really care about, looking for resolutions to the curves that life has thrown them. Writer and editor Dave King has written a well thought out blog on the subject of Gentle Genre. Gentle reads have become my favorite books- interesting stories, well-defined characters, relatable situations and an overall... kindness about them. When it came time to write Window Friends (still a mystery how that happened) writing in the gentle reads style came naturally. My hope is that readers relate to each character and situation, and enjoy time in Scotland.

If I were to meet the two young ladies again on my morning walk, I might stop and thank them for reminding me that kindness is really important in every aspect of our lives, even in our books!

Even the dollar store is into being kind!


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