Once in a Blue Moon

A blue moon is a celestial rarity and occurs when there are two full moons in one calendar month--such as the one today. It refers not to the color of the moon, but to the wonder.  The title of my fifth novel (first published in 1993) is a play on that, and refers to the rare, once-in-a-lifetime love between Sheila and Eddie, the matriarch and patriarch of the Keating family. The title also refers to a long-disappeared section of sailor's bars and nefarious doings in Newport, Rhode Island.  The name "Sheila" was inspired by Sheila Dingley Mularski, one of my favorite little girls, who has grown up to be a Title One reading teacher, working with 10-12 year olds. Her school has a small library, but no librarian, so Sheila started volunteering her lunch hour to help kids check out books. Could we take a moment of appreciation for Sheila as well as your own favorite teachers and librarians, people who encourage and celebrate reading?

I have very happy memories about the publication of Blue Moon...  The Happy Carrot had just opened in Old Lyme, Connecticut.  It was a wonderful independent bookstore owned by Paulette Zander, and this was the first reading she'd hosted.  She decorated the store windows in such a mystical way, full of blue moon-inspired art, and it was the first of many great book events we would have together.

My launch party was held at the Old Lyme Inn--then owned by my dear friend Diana Atwood Johnson, who ran it like an artists' retreat and literary salon (she's an artist herself, I was honored to introduce her at last summer's exhibition of her bird photographs at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts.)  For the Blue Moon party she served blue cocktails and seafood delicacies.  In the novel, Shore Dinners were served at the Keating family restaurant, and Diana outdid herself recreating the lobster-and-clam-bakes cooked by the Keatings.  She decorated the inn so beautifully, and we invited old and new friends.  I remember being totally surprised and delighted to look up and see the Reducers, a band I love, walk into this classic New England inn in all their black leather punk glory.

Blue Moon was later made into a CBS Movie-of-the-Week.  It starred Sharon Lawrence, Jeffrey Nordling, Kim Hunter, Richard Kiley, and Hallie Kate Eisenberg, and was filmed in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, one of the most beautiful seaside towns I've ever seen.  My love for Nova Scotia had already begun, but it certainly deepened during my visit to the set.

Happy memories...I am glad for the chance to share them with you.  The sky does inspire me.  I hope you look up tonight and all nights and enjoy what you see...

facebook giveaway

sometimes we have giveaways on facebook.  here's an example...in fact, it's running now.  you might win a tote bag and lemons from my lemon tree!  meanwhile, please do pre-order THE LEMON ORCHARD.  

 

Luanne Rice shared a link.
Posted by Luanne Rice · April 1
GIVEAWAY!! To celebrate THE LEMON ORCHARD being available for pre-order, 5 people will win tote bags and lemons from Luanne's own personal lemon tree. Share this post and comment that you have pre-ordered to be entered to win. Good luck! http://amzn.to/QCXKyG

The Lemon Orchard: A Novel
www.amazon.com
A heartrending, timely love story of two people from seemingly different worlds?at once dramatic and romantic Luanne Rice is the beloved author of twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. In The Lemon Orchard, one of her most moving and accomplished...

MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD in the Berkshires

IMG_3983 Please come see MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD in the Berkshires to benefit the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers and WAM Theatre. I will be doing a talkback after the Friday 3/28 performance and would love to see you there. Jayne Atkinson will direct, and Jane Kaczmarek and Michael Gill (currently appearing as the president on "House of Cards") will star. Very excited and happy to see Jane again--she performed my monologue at the Geffen Playhouse in LA. My friend Susan Rose Lafer is producer; Joan Stein also produced, and I still miss her every day. MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD continues to be a wild, wonderful ride. You can get tickets here.

EVERY MOTHER COUNTS Book Club Pick

Here is a note from Elizabeth Benedict: PageLines- what-my-mother-gave-me.jpg"I'm thrilled that Christy Turlington's fabulous organization EVERY MOTHER COUNTS chose WHAT MY MOTHER GAVE ME as its book club pick this week. Turlington writes about her favorite gift from her mother: 'While I am just grateful to still have my mother in my life, the gifts she gave me that mattered most were the ones she gave herself: Mothering my sisters and me, traveling the world and continuing her education. The fact that she was born in El Salvador provided me with an early connection to a larger world than the one I would have known otherwise...'  Shout out to Judith Hillman Paterson, Luanne Rice, Elinor Lipman, Caroline Leavitt, Karen Karbo, and all the other wonderful contributors to the anthology."

Liz edited and wrote for WHAT MY MOTHER GAVE ME.  My essay is Midnight Typing, about how my mother gave me the gift of...perhaps you'll read it.

I am touched by Christy Turlington's words about her favorite gifts from her mother, and about the important work she is doing. According to a story in The New York Times, the goal of her organization is to help "people understand that pregnancy and childbirth, even though it’s a joyous experience for so many women, really is a risky endeavor for millions of other women,” according to Erin Thornton, executive director, who happens to be expecting right now herself. “To this day, hundreds of thousands of women will die in pregnancy and childbirth, but 90 percent of those could be prevented just with basic, simple access to health care.”

 

Review of The Lemon Orchard

Thank you to Kris Phillips for this lovely review.  I'm lucky to have such a supportive reader. Kris Phillips - June 2013 I’ve been a huge fan of Luanne Rice’s novels for many years now and was thrilled when I won the first copy of her novel, The Lemon Orchard, in a contest on her Facebook page. I quickly devoured the wonderful book and was honored when Luanne asked me to review it for her blog. While Cloud Nine will always hold a special place in my heart as my favorite of her novels, The Lemon Orchard is now a close second. I love that Luanne believes in angels, in second chances, in the power of the human spirit, in true love and in the importance of family above all else – and she will make you a believer, too! Julia and Roberto’s story touched my heart so much; I didn’t want to put it down. As a mother to a little girl, my heart broke for them both for the loss of their daughters. The bond – the love – between these two lead characters is palpable. And the story of how Roberto and his young daughter, Rosa, try to cross the border into the United States from Mexico was so heart wrenching, I actually dreamt about it and woke up exhausted, my legs aching, my throat parched. No book has ever affected me like that! I’ve always had a strong opinion about illegal immigrants, but Luanne’s story changed my heart. I could not imagine what Roberto, Rosa and the others went through to try to make it into this country and a better life. Julia and Roberto not only find love with one another, but help to heal each other’s broken hearts over their mutual losses. While this book did leave me wanting more (don’t expect a “happily ever after” ending), it was a satisfying ending that touched my heart and gave me hope. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves stories about the resiliency of the human spirit. It will not disappoint! Here’s hoping that Luanne is already working on a sequel.

By Kris Phillips

Excerpt From The Lemon Orchard

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Roberto

September 2012 Before dawn, the air smelled of lemons. Roberto slept in the small cabin in the grove in the Santa Monica Mountains, salt wind off the Pacific Ocean sweetening the scent of bitter fruit and filling his dreams with memories of home. He was back in Mexico before he’d come to the United States in search of goodness  for his family, in another huerto  de limones,  the lemon orchard buzzing with bees and  the voices of workers talking,  Rosa  playing  with  her doll Maria. Maria had sheer angel wings and Roberto’s grandmother had whispered to Rosa that she had magic powers and could fly.

Rosa wore her favorite dress, white with pink flowers, sewn by his grandmother. Roberto stood high on the ladder, taller in the dream than any real one would reach. From here he could see over the treetops, his gaze sweeping the valley toward Popocatépetl and iztaccíhuatl, the two snow-covered volcanic peaks to the west. His grandmother had told him the legend, that the mountains were lovers, the boy shielding the girl, and tall on his ladder Roberto felt stronger than anyone, and he heard his daughter talking to her doll. In dream magic, his basket spilling over with lemons, he slid down the tree and lifted Rosa into his arms.  She was five, with laughing brown eyes and cascades of dark curls, and she slung her skinny arm around his neck and pressed her face into his shoulder. In the dream he was wise and knew there was no better life, no greater  goodness, than  what  they already  had.  He held her and promised nothing bad would ever happen to her, and if he could have slept forever those words would be true. Sleep prolonged the vision, his eyes shut tight against the dawn light, and the scent of limones  enhanced the hallucination that  Rosa was with him still and always. When he woke up, he didn’t waste time trying to hold on to the feelings. They tore away from him violently and were gone. His day started fast. He lived twenty-five miles east, in Boyle Heights, but sometimes stayed in the orchard during fire season and when there was extra work to be done. He led a crew of three, with extra men hired from the Malibu Community Labor Exchange or the parking lot at the Woodland Hills Home Depot when necessary. They came to the property at 8 a.m.

The Riley family lived in a big Spanish colonial–style house, with arched windows and a red tile roof, just up the ridgeline from Roberto’s cabin. They had occupied this land in western Malibu’s Santa Monica Mountains since the mid-1900s. While other families had torn up old, less profitable orchards and planted vineyards, the Rileys remained true to their family tradition of raising citrus. Roberto respected their loyalty to their ancestors and the land. The grove took  up forty acres, one hundred twenty-year-old trees per acre, planted in straight lines on the south-facing hillside, in the same furrows where older trees had once stood. Twenty years ago the Santa Ana winds had sparked fires that burned the whole orchard, sparing  Casa Riley but engulfing neighboring properties on both  sides. Close to the house and large tiled swimming pool were rock outcroppings and three-hundred-year-old live oaks— their trunks eight feet in diameter—still scorched black from that fire. Fire was mystical, and although it had swept through Malibu in subsequent years, the Rileys’ property had been spared.

Right now the breeze blew cool off the Pacific, but Roberto knew it could shift at any time. Summer had ended, and now the desert winds would start:  the Santa Anas, roaring through the mountain passes, heating up as they sank from higher elevations down to the coast, and any flash, even from a power  tool,  could ignite the canyon.  It had been dry for two months straight. He walked to the barn, where the control panel was located, and turned on the sprinklers. The water sprayed up, catching rainbows as the sun crested the eastern mountains. it hissed,  soft and  constant, and  Roberto couldn’t help thinking of the sound as money draining away. Water was delivered to the orchard via canal, and was expensive.  The Rileys had told him many times that the important thing was the health of the trees and lemons, and to protect the land from fire.

He had something even more important to do before his coworkers arrived: make the coastal path more secure. He grabbed a sledgehammer and cut through the grove to the cliff edge. The summer-dry hillsides sloped past the sparkling pool, down in a widening V to the Pacific Ocean. Occasionally hikers crossed Riley land to connect with the Backbone Trail and other hikes in the mountain range. Years back someone had installed stanchions and a chain: a rudimentary fence to remind people the drop was steep, five hundred feet down to the canyon floor.

He tested the posts and found some loosened. Mudslides and temblers made the land unstable. He wished she would stay off this trail entirely, walk the dog through the orchard, where he could better keep an eye on them, or at least use the paths on the inland side of the property. But she seemed to love the ocean.  He’d seen her pass this way both mornings since she’d arrived, stopping to stare out to sea while the dog rustled through the chaparral and coastal sage. He tapped the first post to set his aim, then swung the sledge- hammer overhead, metal connecting with metal with a loud gong. He felt the shock of the impact in the bones of his wrists and shoulders. Moving down the row of stanchions, he drove each one a few inches deeper into the ground until they were solidly embedded. The wind was blowing toward the house. He hoped the sound wouldn’t bother her, but he figured it wouldn’t. She rose early, like him.

 

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice. Copyright © 2013 by Luanne Rice