About Tending Fences

They say that we teach best what we most need to learn, and that is so true in regards to the process of writing Tending Fences. I started writing this book during a time when my health was suffering, my emotional heart was struggling, my life energy was very low and I had some significant relationships in which I did not feel comfortably myself. As I sought out help from the medical community and some fabulous counselors, I learned that all those things were related and that the most promising healing would come from building better fences in my relationships with people, ideas, and my health.

So one late night a little more than 15 years ago, as my adorable little boy and my darling husband were fast asleep, I took out my journal and my favorite pen and opened my heart and mind to inspiration. That is where I met Avery Soul, the main character in the Tending Fences stories. Over a year or more, Avery and his neighbors and friends showed up in the form of vignette movies in my mind, and I chronicled it all in my journal. It is important to note here that I did not so much make up these stories as allowed them to come through me, which was an indescribable and amazing experience.

Over the years since I penned the last of the stories, I put the book safely away, as life got too busy to do much more than go back and re-read it every now and again. I shared the stories with a few close friends and read them to my son as bedtime stories over the years. Every time I read them I found that they clarified things for me again and again, with a different insight each time. A few years ago when my son went off the college, I pulled the stories out and revisited the vignette movies as they came to me again, this time with a little bit more detail and with a new character, Theo Sage, who always made time for Avery when he needed his help or encouragement. Theo Sage breathed a holy new life into the stories, never imposing, always respectful and loving, and seemed to intuitively know when he was needed. He might mean different things to different people, but for me he is the love of our Holy God, which we all share in some way.

Once the stories were finally finished, I felt that something was still missing. I wanted illustrations to add to the charm of the book. I checked out several illustrators over a year’s time, with no luck for the vision I had. Meanwhile back when I was finishing the stories for the book, my sister, Sue began to tap into the patiently waiting artist within her and, no surprise to me, she started winning awards for her paintings. Though she was busy painting, I asked if she would consider illustrating my book and she agreed. Her work matched my vision and brought the characters and stories to life in simple and charming ways.

I love this book, for the journey it offered to me and the simple and profound wisdom it imparts. What I like most about Tending Fences is that it speaks to the intuition, the part in each of us that is able to imagine and create beyond the concrete and limited ways of how-to and pure logic. The stories are parables, meant to meet the readers where they are. They give the readers the chance to unlock their own innate wisdom about how to tend their fences, nurture themselves and their relationships, and build deep respect for themselves and others.

At the crux of most of the problems in the world is a need for better boundaries, more thoughtful fences, personally and globally. Though I am still working on this myself, it is clear to me that the major stressors we have in our lives have most to do with needing proper fences to protect ourselves, to connect more healthily and respectfully with others, and to lay aside imposed expectations whether to us or from us. Tending Fences speaks to all of that in a way that is so approachable. Avery Soul is you, he is me, and the stories are universal. Sometimes we are Avery, and sometimes we might find ourselves as one of the neighbors. Either way, we can make a difference by tending our fences with respect and care.


Thank you for taking a peek in Tending Fences.
Much love to you,

Terry Barnett-Martin

Author/Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Pinnacle Best Book of the Summer Award

2015 Los Angeles Book Festival Awards
First Place Recipient

2015 New York Book Awards
Honorable Mentioned

2015 San Francisco Book Festival Awards
Honorable Mentioned

2014 Southwest Book Festival Awards
Honorable Mentioned

2014 Florida Book Festival Awards
Honorable Mentioned

2014 Prestigious USA Best Book Awards