Now that it’s officially spring, reading outdoors has even more appeal. Opening a new book amid the first flowers of spring or under blossoming trees speaks of new beginnings, a sense of well-being, and hope.
There’s the promise of longer days and milder weather, and hopefully, more free time to indulge in the discovery of new books.
And if it’s still too cold where you live to read outdoors, bring a bit of springtime inside with a few blossomy sprigs or some fresh-cut flowers to remind you of what’s up ahead.
My new novel, And So We Dream, is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes (and will be available on Barnes & Noble and Google Play in a few days,) with a release date of March 1st.
In this coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, a lonely boy finds acceptance when he spends the summer in a loving family with three beautiful daughters.
Twelve-year-old Joey Roland is sent away to family friends while his parents try to work things out. He’s eager to leave sadness and secrets behind in Chicago and head downstate to the small town of Greenberry, where the Vitale family awaits him. He thinks of their town as boyland—a world of bike riding, fishing, and going barefoot. Though initially shy of the teenaged daughters—Anne, Vita, and Beth—they welcome him into their lives of adventure, beauty, and dreams.
Joey especially bonds with the middle sister, Vita, and her all-or-nothing pursuit of an acting career. Joey’s “there must be more” merges with Vita’s “I must make it happen” resulting in a magical summer where the town of Greenberry becomes the crucible for two desperate dreamers.
Though the story is not autobiographical (alas), many of the details are rooted in my life. The fictional small town of Greenberry is based on my hometown of Carlinville, in south-central Illinois, and I was one of three teenaged sisters during the 1970s (along with two younger brothers). At the encouragement–and example–of our mother, we approached life as a wonderful adventure, with each day to be savored, and dreams to be taken seriously and actively pursued.
As with all my books, AND SO WE DREAM is very much about stepping into a world of beauty, wonder, longing, and, ultimately, transformation.
In the Christmastime series, the home arts were always made of materials that Lillian, her sister Annette, and Kate and her daughters had close at hand. Sometimes this meant stepping outside to collect greenery, pine cones, and red berries.
A stroll around the orchard, farm, nearby woods — or for Lillian, Central Park — provided a way for them to bring nature indoors and decorate their homes for the holidays with winter bouquets, garlands, and wreaths.
A way to add a splash of color or a bit of charm throughout the house,
or to bring woodland beauty to the mantelpiece.
Orange slices were dried and combined with spices to decorate the Christmas tree and windows.
And of course, the holiday table was made more festive and colorful with holly, cranberries, and pine added to traditional desserts.
The home arts were a simple, old-fashioned way to make the home cozy and welcoming. Then and now, bringing the outside indoors is always a good idea.
Throughout the Christmastime series, the home arts enrichen the lives and homes of Lillian in Manhattan, her sister Annette on her orchard in upstate New York, and Kate and her daughters Ursula and Jessica on their farm in the Midwest.
Knitting, sewing, crocheting, and embroidering were activities for early winter evenings while they listened to the radio, or sat near a fireplace with a hot drink at hand.
The home arts were practical and serviceable, yet at the same time, they were creative endeavors that added beauty and charm —
whether quilts that were lovingly made from salvaged scraps of fabric,
cozy afghans that kept away the winter chill,
or crocheted-edged pillowcases and handmade sachets that made sleep sweeter.
The Christmas holidays were made more festive with red and green embroidery,
and decorations using oranges, pine, and cranberries added color and scent,
and were used to trim the Christmas tree.
The home arts added a sense of comfort and love throughout the year but were especially welcome at Christmastime.