Tuesday, March 20, 2007

In Memory of Jane Orcutt

We at Charis Connection wanted to take a day to remember our friend, novelist Jane Orcutt, who went to heaven on March 18, 2007 after a struggle with leukemia.

Jane was an editor by day and a novelist by night. Among her many novels are All the Tea in China, The Fugitive Heart, The Hidden Heart, The Living Stone, Lullaby, Dear Baby Girl, Porch Swings and Picket Fences, Restoration and Romance, as well as several novels in Guideposts’ Grace Chapel Inn series.

Jane corresponded with many of her fellow novelists, any one of whom could tell you that she was warm, witty, devoted to Christ and a firm believer in the power of Christian fiction.

I dipped into my email archives and came up with just a few snippets that show the sort of person Jane is. If you weren't fortunate enough to meet her on earth, be sure to look her up in heaven.

---Angie Hunt

In her own words. Emails from Jane Orcutt:

BTW, I was thinking about Christian fiction the other day. I probably told you that a while back, I made a decision to write fun, lighthearted books with a small message tucked in. With my health problems, I crave something not too depressing, you know? . . . I knew I liked Kris Billerbeck's books because they're fun, ditto Penny Culliford's, but with a message.
* * *
Yes, "Romance Plus"--that's a good way to put it. I actually like a really good romance. I'd love to be able to write like LaVyrle Spencer--did you ever read anything by her? Good relationship stories are actually pretty hard to do. I like a good relationship with a good, tight historical background. *Not* a history lesson, but where the characters are seamlessly woven into the times.
* * *
I did get tickled when you said that Texans thought Dallas was the best city in the world. hee hee People in Fort Worth (including me) don't think so, not by a long shot, but I laughed when I read that.
* * *
On this last trip to the hospital I got to go courtesy of an ambulance ride since I passed out cold. I can't believe that as bad as I felt, physically, I still thought of that Seinfeld episode where George has turned purple and is riding to the hospital in an ambulance with Jerry and Kramer and the paramedics start fighting. I hoped that my two paramedics were on good terms....
* * *
BTW, while I was bedridden-before hospitalization, mostly-I watched a lot of Seinfelds. Very cheering when you're down and ill. I think my favorite one is where they go to the opera. When Jerry sings the theme song to the Bugs Bunny show, I crack up every time:

Overture, curtains, lights,
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart
Overture, curtains, lights
This is it, you'll hit the heights
And oh what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it

And who doesn't love/hate Crazy Joe Davola?
* * *
I loved this story in the paper because it was about two strangers with lives that intersected for a brief, but important time. It certainly makes you think about the people you step into an elevator with (!), or stand in line with at the grocery store, etc.

I loved that God sent someone special to comfort the dying woman and rejuvenated the comforter's life, as well. On paper, it's sappy, but it's God working out his good purpose and plan. Yay!
* *
Sorry I didn't get a chance to say good-bye to you. Was sticking my tongue out at you while you were in a meeting close enough?

:-) Jane


At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely done, Angie.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Patricia Hickman said...

I'm just so unbelievably sad. Janie was one of those people who got rather quiet in a crowd,but alone, she had this quirky dry humor that would just slay me. . . I'm just so sorry she's gone. I can imagine the heavenly throng that bore her up cracking jokes and saying, "We're so glad you made it."
But we're so sorry down here. As you would have it, no stupid cliches, Janie.
But you will be sorely missed.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Robin Lee Hatcher said...

I first came to know Jane in 1997 when we were on an email group together. As so many others have said, Jane was warm and witty. She could crack me up in an instant. But she was also deep and well-read and intelligent. I took a great photo of Jane and Angie at the hotel prior to ICRS in Denver last summer. It's how I'll always remember her, with this great big smile on her face. Heaven is richer now, but we are poorer by her absence.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

I only met Jane in person once. It was at the RWA convention when she was up for TWO Ritas. We sat side by side and talked about her books, which I loved. She will be sorely missed.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Traci DePree said...

I had the privilege of editing several of Jane's books. She had such a gift of words and a rare core of understanding about the human condition that she was able to translate to her characters. She knew how to be a friend in the best sense of the word. Thank you, Angie, for sharing this.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger James Scott Bell said...

I knew Jane largely via email. She loved baseball, so we'd chat every now and then about the season. And other items. Warm, witty, intelligent, active, caring. Those are the words that come to mind.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Rene Gutteridge said...

I've known Jane for a few years now. We've chatted about our love for "24". She listened about the health problems I was going through, and we talked about hers. I will always cherish the time I spent with her. We will miss you, Jane O. I know you are alive and well in heaven.

At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like many others, I came to know Jane best through an email friendship. It was a mark of her personality that enabled her to become "real" and "up-close" even through written messages.

I'll remember her for many things. Her love for her family. Her unfailing sense of humor. Her ability to see and understand all sides of an issue. Her loyalty to and deep appreciation of her friends. And, probably more than anything else, her faith--which never stopped shining through, even in her darkest days.

What an encouragement and inspiration she was to us all. She'll be missed in so many ways by so many people for so many reasons. But I can almost hear her telling us not to mourn her loss, but rather to celebrate her life.

And so we will.


At 1:05 PM, Blogger T. Forkner said...

My prayers are with all the people who miss her so dearly.

At 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met Jane years ago at RWA, then reconnected by email when I joined the Grace Chapel Inn bunch. She encouraged me and made me laugh. I got to have dinner and tea with her in Denver last summer. What a delightful friend! I will miss her friendliness, humor, and down-to-earth warmth and plain-speaking. You picked perfect emails to show her character. Jane is one more reason to look forward to heaven.

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Karen B. said...

Without a doubt, Jane was one of the funniest people I've ever met. She had that kind of rapier wit that caught you and left you totally tickled. She knew how to laugh at herself and the multitude of struggles she faced in her health. That her heart always stayed merry was an incredible miracle to me.

Likewise, Jane was one of the deepest thinkers I've ever met. It was easy to miss her brilliance when you first met her because she was such a quiet sort, borderline shy. But it only took one conversation to know this was a woman of depth and perception, a woman completely sold out to God, even when He didn't make sense to her. And this was a woman who listened and cared.

God was gracious to share Jane with us as long as He did. Our lives and hearts are poorer for her absence, but oh! The reunion we'll have in eternity. Until then, I just know Jane is leavin' 'em rolling in those golden aisles with her wit.

Godspeed, Jane. We miss you.

Karen B.

At 1:45 AM, Blogger Kristin said...

It made me cry to read those emails. They show her personality perfectly and I will miss her immensely. Neither Jane nor I were particularly the "soft" types, but we understood one another and I can't tell you how she will be missed. We love you Jane. BUY ALL THE TEA IN CHINA it is FABULOUS!! Kristin

At 3:24 AM, Blogger Kassiani said...

I only found out about Jane's passing now. I can't believe that the funny, vibrant lady who consulted me about Cantonese culture and language for All The Tea in China has gone home to be with the Lord.

I was worried when she didn't reply my emails, and only today did I find out from Camy Tang that she had passed on.

Can anyone tell me how I can get a copy of All The Tea in China? I will always be eternally glad she chose to consult me about Cantonese culture and language, because for a short time, at least, I got to know this wonderful lady.

- Jules

At 9:40 PM, Blogger coco99 said...

Jane and I were best friends from juniors in high school until sophomores in college. Like so many young adults, we drifted apart. I knew Jane was a gifted writer back then because she would periodically let me read her short story collection. I adored her sense of humor and her very keen observation of human behavior. She was one of the smartest young women I knew, and I will miss her spirit so very much. I am very honored and proud that we were friends.


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