Dances with wolves

Former WAG columnist Martha Handler is back with her debut novel, “Winter of the Wolf.”

Martha Handler, better-known to WAG readers for her conversations with Jennifer Pappas that ran under the banner Class & Sass, sees magic at work everywhere around her as an environmentalist and journalist. Raised in northern Illinois, she is a self-proclaimed “nature girl” who spent endless hours in her youth swimming and roaming in the forests and fields near her home. Nature always spoke to her and she listened. Martha knew from a young age:  She was meant to be its advocate.

With a degree in environmental conservation from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she worked as an environmental consultant in various cities. A move to northern Westchester in 1996 serendipitously put Martha right in “the wolf’s path.” She could not ignore the “call of the wild” when she discovered three wolves in an enclosure in the property just behind her home. 

They were the first ambassador wolves for South Salem’s burgeoning Wolf Conservation Center. Handler was enchanted and quickly devoted herself to promoting the cause. Little did she know those wolves would come to mean a great deal to her and play a major role in her creative destiny.

Fast forward more than a decade. Taking care of a young family left her with precious little free time. But in quiet moments, nature’s creative muses were always at work, whispering in Martha’s ear. Eighteen years in the making, Handler’s debut novel, “Winter of the Wolf” (264 pages, $16.95) will be published by Greenleaf Book Group this July.

The young adult novel brings together two significant pieces of her life.  The book was influenced by the death of her best friend’s son and her work as president of the Wolf Conservation Center. Both inspired her to write a story rich with spiritual messages.

In the novel we are introduced to Bean, a teenage girl whose beloved brother Sam has died. With more questions than answers, Bean sets out to discover the truth about his mysterious death. “Winter of the Wolf” touches on the themes of suicide, spiritual interconnectedness, shamanism, native Inuit culture, wolves and nature. Throughout the story, spiritual awakenings and signs (like the arrival of a rare black wolf) lead Bean on a path to truth, wholeness, healing and ultimately acceptance. An easy read, Handler has crafted a powerful story that should appeal to readers young and old.

For more and to preorder “Winter of the Wolf,” visit or

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