The Story behind The Butterfly Garden

Mary and her siblings

I am the third child in a family of four—two older brothers and a younger sister, all born in less than six years. Our family wasn’t wealthy, as a matter of fact, we were much less than wealthy, though we never knew it. We thought sharing a bed was normal, and a bathroom, and a closet, and clothes…as for entertainment, well, there was only one mother in the neighborhood who had a car and it wasn’t for carting kids around to play dates.

We spent our early childhood playing and working together, and of course, as siblings do, complained the oldest got favored and the youngest got spoiled, and the two of us in the middle got all the work. Even today, we think there’s a grain of truth in that, though our mother insists we were all treated the same. Any middle child will tell you that is doubtful!

And so, The Butterfly Garden is especially important to me because it delves into sibling relationships and family hierarchy as children and as adults. It also deals with metamorphosis on various levels and an eventual letting go…of old beliefs, habits, rituals. Just as the butterfly sheds its cocoon to emerge in dazzling splendor, so too, if given proper nurturing and guidance, do we.

I am so very grateful for my brothers and sister. Through the years we have leaned on one another, never more than a phone call away, listened with great empathy, advised with caution, accepted our differences, and above all, loved one another. That is indeed a cherished gift.

For a very limited time, The Butterfly Garden is free. For lovers of my bestselling Truth in Lies series aka the A Family Affair books, it’s also the prequel to A Family Affair: The Return. Here’s a description of the book that is both a romance and a “sister’s” book:

It’s all about that second chance…

The Butterfly Garden is Book Six of That Second Chance Series. (These are stand-alone stories tied together by a common theme— belief in the beauty of that second chance.)

Sometimes love happens when you least expect it…

Jenny Romano has never been a white-picket-fence, happily-ever-after girl. Despite a mother who rejected her free-spirited, unique ways as irresponsible and just plain wrong, Jenny has found happiness as a photographer, flitting around the country and snapping photos of other people’s lives. Her older sister, Grace, has a husband, children, and a carpool schedule. She’s the one their mother calls “perfect.”

But when tragedy strikes her sister’s carefully constructed life, Jenny must step in and offer support. Soon, she finds herself in the sort of small-town suburban life she swore to avoid…

Psychologist Elliot Drake spends so much time healing other people’s pain and witnessing the backlash of caring too deeply that he prefers to keep his own relationships short and bittersweet. He’s loved and lost once and with a young daughter to raise, he’s not willing to risk his heart again. But he’s never met anyone quite like Jenny. Outrageous and unpredictable, she’s a force of nature—not at all like her well-controlled older sister. Suddenly, Elliot isn’t so sure that short-term is what he wants…

Taken by surprise and unsure of the next step, Elliot and Jenny are about to discover that real life happens whether you want it to or not. Will they let real love happen, too?

That Second Chance Series

Book One: Pulling Home – (Also prequel to A Family Affair: The Promise
Book Two: The Way They Were – (Also prequel to A Family Affair: The Secret)
Book Three: Simple Riches – (Also prequel to A Family Affair: Winter
Book Four: Paradise Found – (Also prequel to A Family Affair: The Wish)
Book Five: Not Your Everyday Housewife – (Also prequel to A Family Affair: The Gift)
Book Six: The Butterfly Garden – (Also prequel to A Family Affair: The Return)

It's all about the food

me_and_mom
Mary and Mom

In our house, it really is all about the food.

When I was growing up, we traveled to my grandmother’s most Sundays for homemade pasta and meatballs.

I’m not talking about the kind of pasta that comes from a machine-fed operation; I’m talking about the hand-cut stuff that got rolled into gigantic round sheets and cut with a knife—a dull knife. Grandma used to work that old knife through the dough, her gnarled fingers cutting with such patience. Such precision. No measuring, no fancy gadgets.

Grandma lived with my Aunt Marie and together they made cavatelli and something else we called “hats” and I still don’t know the real name for “hats”. When we visited, all four of us kids couldn’t wait to try making cavatelli. The trick was in the way you rolled the cut dough with your index and middle finger. By the twentieth one, I was ready to be done. Not Grandma. On and on she went, just like she’d done for a good part of her eighty-plus years.

But there was nothing like the smell of a good meatball frying in the kitchen. Have you ever tried brown meatballs? Aunt Marie fried them, no baking in those days, and she’d leave four out of the sauce, one for each of us kids.

Continue Reading…

Trenches, Teenagers, and Older Parents

I wrote NOT YOUR EVERYDAY HOUSEWIFE from the trenches. If you’ve been there, you’ll know what I’m talking about….does the word teenager make you shudder? My husband and I blended our families, his two, my three. At one point, we had four teenagers in the house. Four of them were girls. Can you say estrogen? There were a few years with three in college at the same time. My husband could give lessons on filling out FAFSA forms. With the blended family, came the exes. Some play nice, some are like my ex-husband. Ahem. Enough said.

Mix in the visit from my mother where she tripped over her suitcase and fell into the door—the night before she was heading to California to stay with my brothers. I drove her to the ER at 3:00 a.m. where the doctor loaded her up with pain meds and said she’d broken her humerus. She spent the next month sleeping on the recliner in our living room with me on the couch. Two months later, after several trips to the physical therapist, my oldest brother flew in to escort her to California. Suitcases are now prohibited in her room.

The night my mother fell into the door was also the night my middle daughter suffered a high fever and night sweats which resulted in a doctor visit the next morning, a pneumonia diagnosis and admission to the hospital. I spent the next four days between my mother in her recliner and my sixteen year old in a hospital bed. Despite my lack of sleep and horrible stress, I did not once suffer the migraines which plague me when I sleep too little and stress too much. God was indeed watching over me.

Somewhere along the way, I wondered if I could disappear for a little while. Maybe come back in a day? Two? Even after dinner? I’d even fix dinner first. That’s when I got the idea for NOT YOUR EVERYDAY HOUSEWIFE. Life happens. I didn’t run away, instead I ran into the book and wrote it for every woman who will read it and think of her own stories.

By the way, the kids are grown, four out of college, self-supporting, and truly a pleasure. The last one is slowly making her way through college. She’s still a work in progress…maybe to get me all geared up in case I need to write a sequel! As for my mom, she’s visiting soon which means a few weeks of great cooking, baking, and reminiscing! And all I have to do is keep her upright…