VIRGINIA Tolles, Wordsmith

Writing and Editing for You

Published Books

This page gives a very brief overview of my four published books. It does not touch on my unpublished favorite book, Living on a Wing and a Prayer. You may ask, "If it is your favorite book, why didn't you publish it?" Goodness knows, I tried! But that was in the day before self-publishing came on the scene. If a major publisher wouldn't pick it up, you were out of luck. Today, we are more fortunate. If we put a good book together, we have a way to get it out there, before the readers, both in print format and online. Here is my effort, to date:

Novel, Historical Fiction

Trade Paperback

268 print pages

ISBN 1-4241-2740-8

Fiercely competitive colleagues—Kristen, Elena, Frank, Bier, and Don—have worked together for 15 years, yet they hardly know each other and probably trust each other less. Together for a conference in Los Angeles, they aren’t prepared for the disastrous event of 9/11 that is about to shake their self-reliance to the core. For the first time, they must depend on each other as they set out on a long and tiring drive home to their families nearly 3,000 miles away, in Virginia. Along the way, they wrestle with old demons and new ones as, little by little, they grow in ways they never imagined they ever could or would and develop a newfound respect for each other.


The loner, curmudgeon, and reformed alcoholic—Frank—learns that he will be his parents’ caregiver as soon as he can get back East to meet their train. The feminist—Kristen—is routed from the security of her tenured professorship and thrust into an unexpected and unwanted leadership role within her community. The Vietnamese refugee—Diana, who joins the trip in Albuquerque—finds herself in danger of losing her husband and having to start her life all over—yet again. The young assistant professor—Elena—must decide how to balance her personal and professional lives. The old guard—Bier and Don—have their challenges, as well; both are desperately needed at home—now!


With each passing mile, the travelers also discover America. They take in the scenery, which at every point and in its own way, is both breathtaking and awe-inspiring. They learn about the origins and histories of the towns they pass. Most of all, they learn about the people who settled and now inhabit the land, their reasons for going there and their reasons for staying. By the time they reach home, their experiences have given them a newfound appreciation of the land that is home to them all.


...loved the last part of chapter nine when Frank takes Kristen to dinner, 'hers' 'his' made me smile. I am so eager to know how they get on, mustn't be tempted to peek further up. I am really lovin' travelling along with them, I feel like I am there, the arid desert, the interesting towns. I can picture the scene with them dancing. ~ Jean G. (UK)

Novelette, Historical Fiction


43 print pages


Little did the Bradleys and the Andersens expect

a pleasant day's outing to reunite a father and son

too long separated, not by their differences, but by their similarities.



Trade Paperback


126 print pages

ISBN  978-1-60862-186-6

The little girl dipped her fingers

into the tempera paint

and smeared them

onto the sheet of newsprint,

forming broad arcs.

A smile crept across her face.


She dipped her fingers

  into another color

and spread it

 into still more arcs.

 Her smile grew broader.


Again and again

she dipped her fingers

into the colors

of tempera paint

 and smeared arcs…


…until she had painted

 a rainbow.


Available in Kindle format

70 print pages

ASIN: B006M4X1G8



A small cottage stood at the end of a lane.

It was painted a very pale green, and its trim was white.

So were the louvered shutters, which covered the window.

On the porch – with its baluster of white –

stood a rocking chair, also white.


Beneath the shuttered window was a bed of irises,

and they were blooming.

Some were purple, some were lavender, and some were magenta.

Their tall, slender leaves arose between them as if to frame them

against the louvered shutters.


I walked onto the porch and sat in the chair,

which was cushioned with a pillow covered in an iris print.

leaned my head against its back and closed my eyes.

All my thoughts and worries drifted away.

Soon, warmed by the sun’s rays, I fell asleep.


I might have slept the day away,

except that a gentle hand shook my shoulder

and a melodious voice spoke to me:

“Why, you look right at home, here, at Ayame.

Let’s go inside, and I’ll show you the rest.”


“Ayame is the Japanese name for the blood iris,

the purple ones you see under the window,”

she explained as she unlocked the door.

“The previous owner loved all irises

and filled the cottage and garden with them.”


Sure enough, the white beaverboard paneling

Bore a tapestry illustrating a field of irises,

while the plates and teacups bore

botanical prints of a half-dozen varieties.

Accent stripes on curtains were the color of irises.


I bought the pale green cottage with the irises

and moved in my white wicker furniture

with its iris print cushions

and my Lena Liu iris print.

Here, I flourish amidst the iris blossoms.



For jjpr

who inspires me