Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I've been thinking about the dedication for my novel, Keowee Valley, for quite some time. Long before it was bought by my publisher, long before I even found a literary agent. The thought of what I'd say, if and when I had the chance to say it, has probably been percolating for years.

I've always enjoyed novel and book dedications. For me, they're a magical blink at an author's real life--a glimpse under a faery raft at an artist's real world. Some are straight-forward, others mysterious; some are sad, some hilarious. And we never really know, do we, exactly what the author is trying to say, and to whom she's trying to say it.

Writing the perfect dedication, I'm finding, is a Herculean task. I honestly don't think anything I come up with will come out the way I want. Especially since this will be my first novel, and it's been a long time coming, and I've got so many folks to thank. I also live in fear that I'll leave someone out.

So, because the editing process on the novel is coming to an end (at least until the galleys, etc), I've had to actually get cranking on my own dedication. I went through my personal library (this, of course, being the stacks and shelves of books positioned haphazardly throughout my house) and picked my favorite books, flipping through to see how other authors have done it. How have they managed to determine just how to thank the people who've supported, encouraged, loved, and downright put up with them during their writing years?

What I've ultimately decided is that I like the way writers like Pat Conroy and Diana Gabaldon do it: they offer a short dedication, and then an acknowledgements page--sort of a supplement to the dedication, wherein they list the folks they can't possibly leave out. So if my editor and publisher are willing, I think--though I, and my book, are no Conroy or Gabaldon--that I'll do it this way, too. Besides, I've always been mouthy.

I'd love to hear about some of your favorite book dedications!

Just for fun, here are some of mine:

"For Jenny, who saved my life,
thus making it possible for me to write this book"
~ Lucy March, A Little Night Magic

"To the Memory of My Mother,
Who Taught Me to Read--
Jacqueline Sykes Gabaldon"
~ Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

"This book is dedicated to my lost daughter,
Susannah Ansley Conroy. Know this: I love you
with my heart and always will. Your return
to my life would be one of the happiest moments
I could imagine."
~ Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

"Lucinda Margaret Grealy
June 3, 1963-December 18, 2002
Pettest of my pets"
~ Ann Patchett, Truth & Beauty: A Friendship

"I    To my cousin, Lieutenant William Porter, the sec-
       ond Sergeant York: he has the courage and the
       bravery, and furthermore he practiced for years,
       firing at targets.
II    To my cousin, Professor B. O. Williams of the Uni-
       versity of Georgia: he has the knowledge and
       the vision and the power to inspire.
III   To my father: he is the salt of the Southern earth."
~ Ben Robertson, Red Hills and Cotton

"This book is for every roadside Picasso who paints heaven on a
weathered board, for every sculptor of found objects who twists a tin
can or a rusty timber saw into an objet d' art, and for all the other
dreamers who have the courage to create something wonderful out
of nothing."
~ Deborah Smith, from the dedication in On Bear Mountain

"Equitare, Arcum tendere, Veritatem dicere"
(To ride, to shoot, to tell the truth.)
~ Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa