Today, I came home from an amazing day out in the snowy mountains with friends and family and checked my mail to find my Department of Journalism at Western Washington University alumni newsletter. On the front cover was the news that my mentor, Pete Steffens, had passed away. I immediately teared up, thinking of the moment this beloved journalism professor of mine stopped me in the middle of campus one foggy morning in Bellingham, Washington, after I'd taken a quarter away from writing and decided to pursue science and biology (I know, this still makes no sense to me). Pete, ran into me in front of the science building and he said something like, "Sarah, where have you been? We've missed you!" We walked together for a while, and I didn't have a good explanation for why I forsake my lifelong dream of being a writer. Truthfully, I felt lost. Maybe I was scared that I didn't have what it took. I don't know. But Pete saw through me that day. He asked me to come back. He told me I had great potential. He believed in me. He made me feel special. And because of this, I changed the trajectory of my career. That's the power of someone who cares. Someone who stops and takes an interest in someone else. Pete Steffens did this for me. It is not an understatement to say that because of Pete, I went on to write thousands of articles for magazines, more than 5,000 blog posts for various publications, and nearly six books. In the back of my mind, there has always been Pete's voice telling me that I can do it, telling me that I am talented, important

My dear readers and friends: My new novel, THE LAST CAMELLIA, will be out in about four months! It is now available for pre-order online, and I'd be so, so honored if you took a moment to reserve your copy. This way, you'll be among the very first to receive your book on release day. Here are a few ways you can pre-order right now: Amazon Barnes & Noble Powell's Here's a bit more about the book: On the eve of the Second World War, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes. More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate? I cannot wait to share this novel with you. It's a bit more mysterious than my other novels, and if you're a fan of the Downton Abbey series (the new season airs this Sunday!!!!), I think you'll love the setting (just saying!).