Happy New Year!
It’s a magical one: 2020! My grandma used to tell me that if I looked at a clock and its number was repeated – 1:11 p.m., 5:55 a.m., 12:12 – it meant I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that very moment. That always made me happy, and made me feel so safe.
I feel the same way about this year. I’ve long believed in signs – God winks, my mom used to call them, before that phrase became en vogue – we just have to be present and aware to notice them. Too many of us aren’t, unfortunately. We are too often lost in our heads, trying our darndest just to keep up with all that’s going on. But that’s like trying to walk on quicksand. Sometimes, we need to stop, assess, lift our heads – and our hearts.
2020 is a big year for me: I will be writing MANY MORE novels (more about that BIG news coming soon!) that will be published over the next few years. It’s also the 15th anniversary since I sold my first book. I didn’t think it was possible to write a book, much less land a literary agent and have her sell it to a major publisher. I felt, back then, as if time had not only stopped for me but that it had already passed. I felt where I was at the moment would always be where I would be. I woke up in the middle of the night so many years ago unable to sleep, dreading the next day of work, unhappy in the way much of my life had unfolded. I looked at the clock: It was 3:33 a.m.
I woke up and started writing what would be my first book. The Heirloom Garden, which publishes April 28, marks my tenth book and fifth novel. I am deeply proud of this novel which not only continues exploring family heirlooms (in this case, heirloom flowers) but also the importance of our histories, our legacies and our elders. I think it is my deepest novel yet, and it explores how we all have the power to change our lives, despite the circumstances that face us and the ghosts that haunt us.
The Heirloom Garden depicts the relationship between two women a generation apart but equally scarred by the pain of war – Iraq and World War II – who find hope, purpose and friendship through a garden of flowers. The novel also explores the history of Victory Gardens and their importance in America and World War II. Thousands of gardens were started in cities, large and small, all across America – women leading the charge – and they helped feed their own families and communities as well as our troops and allies. Fittingly – God wink! – 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The Heirloom Garden is also inspired by personal loss and redemption, and how gardens have the power to heal. Many of the heirloom flowers that now bloom on my seven acres of cottage gardens in Michigan started as starts I took from my grandmas’ and family’s gardens. If you love to garden, or just love flowers – peonies, hydrangeas, lilacs, bleeding heart, hollyhocks, hydrangeas – then this is the novel for you!
I hope you, like me, feel as if you are exactly where you are supposed to be. If not, it is within your power to change. May 2020 be a magical year filled with flowers and God winks!