Category: A Fall of Marigolds

Want 10 new books for your e-reader?

FallMarigolds_final coverHey there, reading friends!

I’ve teamed up with nine writing pals to offer a ten-book giveaway won’t have you scrambling to find self space. We’re giving away e-versions of these amazing books you see listed in the graphic above to one lucky winner. Well, make that nine e-versions and one print copy of Amy Sue Nathan’s brand-spanking new THE GOOD NEIGHBOR. It’s super easy to put your name in the hat. Just click ON THIS LINK, which will take you to Steena Holmes’ website, where we have our Rafflecopter form.

You only have to answer one simple question to prove you’re not a cyborg. And it has to do with reading, so easy-peasy.  Since it’s fall, I’m giving away a digital copy of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS. There are lots of good reads in the mix, so don’t miss out on your chance to snag them all:

The Short & Sincere Life of Ellory James (ebook) – by Wendy Paine Miller

Before I Go (ebook) – by Colleen Oakley

A Peach of a Pair (ebook) – by Kim Boykin

Those Secrets We Keep (ebook) – by Emily Liebert

The Good Neighbor (print) – by Amy Sue Nathan

Finding Emma (ebook) –by  Steena Holmes

A Fall of Marigolds (ebook) – by Susan Meissner

Rose House (ebook) – by Tina Ann Forkner

The Virtues of Oxygen (ebook) – by Susan Schoenberger

A Flying Affair (ebook) – by Carla Stewart

Here’s the link again to the Rafflecopter form!

Never Forget

One of the more sobering research efforts to write A FALL OF MARIGOLDS was re-entering the world of September 11, 2001. Like anyone reading this post, I remember that day with heart-breaking clarity. Of all the videos I watched to re-familiarize myself with the terrible details, this one produced by the Discovery Channel was the most impacting. It’s an hour-and-a-half long, but expertly produced. It’s also emotionally devastating, but if we’re going to remember what happened that day, then this documentary is, I think, one of the better ways to keep those who died close in our hearts . . .

Echoes of the Past


A view of the main hospital from the immigration building.

Two years ago when I was in the final stages of writing A Fall of Marigolds, I planned a trip to Ellis Island to see for myself the hospital buildings where I set the story and which have been unused for more than fifty years. They weren’t open to the public then and I was going to be given a private and guided close-up look for research purposes. I had my plane ticket, a hotel room booked, even a reservation on the ferry all set up, but Hurricane Sandy swept in a little less than a month before I was to arrive. Ellis was one of the places that the storm hit hard. The damage to the landing docks was extensive and Ellis would end up being closed for repairs for more than a year. I still went to Manhattan. I met with my editor, took photos of the Upper West side to find the best spot for my fictional Heirloom Yard fabric store, went to the 9-11 Memorial, touched the building that had been the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, looked out over the river toward the island and the hospital buildings, and hoped there would be another time, some day, when I could walk the halls that Clara walked.

This past week, I finally got my wish. On Friday I finally got to see and touch and feel the hospital buildings that served as the detail-rich setting for this book. This part of Ellis is open now to hard hat tours by reservation only. I highly recommend the tour if you are a history devotee, if you enjoyed A Fall of Marigolds, and especially if you wish to join in the effort to preserve the buildings. They are crumbling into ruin as old buildings do if they are left on their own to time and the elements. Proceeds from the tours go to the Save Ellis Island effort. It’s also easy to donate toward the preservation campaign on their website. I send a small portion of the royalties from A Fall of Marigolds to assist in this endeavor.

The primary photo you see above, is the reflected view of the Statue of Liberty, visible from a mirror above a sink in a room in an isolation ward. The terrible irony here is that the patient whose room this was, was likely a third-class TB patient who would never be allowed to immigrate while infected with tuberculosis. He or she would be stabilized until healthy enough to make the journey back to where they came from…


One of several curved hallways in the contagious ward. Curves, so it was believed, kept bad air from settling in the corners.


The caged area was where those with supposed mental illness could get some fresh air during their stay. The mentally ill – diagnosed back then as imbecile, idiot or moron – would sadly be sent back to where they came from as it was believed they would become a burden to society. Only those who could work and make their own way in life were allowed to emigrate.


During the hospital’s golden years in the early 1900s prior to 1930, the lawns and landscaping were professionally cared for. After the buildings were abandoned in the late 1950s, trees overtook the empty spaces and their limbs broke more windows than vandals and heavy storms.

A hallway in the contagious wards. Clara walked down it many times…


Many of the window openings have been covered to keep out the elements. But not this one.


Being a public hospital, it was also a teaching hospital. This was the autopsy theater.


Unfortunately not everyone admitted to the Ellis Island Hospital could be cured. Hence, the morgue. The top two shelves would be packed with ice.


A haunting artistic display is currently on exhibit at Ellis. A French photographer has placed many of these images in different places. You can see more of this exhibit on the website linked above.


This is Ward K, where I put fictional Andrew, who wore the scarf around his neck on the day Clara met him…


Me in my hard hat!

Me in my hard hat!

Signs of life at Ellis Island Hospital

When I first decided on Ellis Island Hospital back in 2011 as a setting for what would become A FALL OF MARGOLDS (the original title was THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD), I knew I wanted to visit its crumbling ruins despite its being closed to the public.  I began corresponding with Janis Calella (featured in the above video) and when I was able to make plans in late 2012 to come to Manhattan to meet my new editor at Penguin, Janis arranged a private, hard-hat tour of the hospital buildings for me.

I was grateful for and excited about that upcoming visit. But then Hurricane Sandy hit and the destruction to New York and New Jersey was so acute and Ellis Island so badly affected, the island was closed for a year while repairs were made. I still made the trip to NYC to meet with my editor and see the other locations that showed up in my novel – like the NYU biology building that is the site of the former Triangle Shirtwaist factory, and Washington Square, and the Upper West Side. But I could only look longingly at the East River’s edge to where Ellis sits- probably as longingly as those long-ago immigrants gazed at the place were I stood. They had wanted to be where I was and I wanted to be where they were!

I left New York without stepping foot on Ellis Island and had to rely on email exchanges with wonderful people like Janis Calella, Barry Moreno, Art Lawrence, and Lorie Conway (all experts on the hospital’s history) to help me get the story right.

But still. I’d see photos on Save Ellis Island’s Facebook page and I’d feel a twinge of melancholy that I had been so close to being where Clara, my main character, lived her fictional life. Where she met Andrew, where she met the good doctor, where she found the scarf, where she wrestled with her demons.

So I am both elated and envious that at last the buildings are being opened to the public – by reservation – starting next week. I still hope I can get there someday soon. I especially want to see the accompanying photographic exhibition called Unframed – you simply must click through and view the slide show. The photos, so compelling on their own, make the unrestored ruins come to life. And hopefully, the tours will do what I hope my book will do, and that is bring awareness to the effort to raise the funds to save the buildings from total ruin. You can give toward the end – a portion of my royalties go toward it – right here.

Have you ever been to Ellis? Would love to hear your reactions to being in that wholly remarkable place…


Thanks, Booklist

top-10_womens-fiction_adult_f2Every now and then as a novelist you get some unexpected affirmation from those whose opinion of your work matters a great deal. When I learned A Fall of Marigolds had been named in BookList‘s Top Ten Women’s Fiction for 2014, I was humbled to the core.This centutry-old magazine is published by the American Library Association, and is used to help libraries decide what to put on their shelves and to help library patrons and students decide what to read, view, or listen to.

This list comprises the top 10 women’s fiction reviewed from the last 12 months and covers “chick lit to tearjerkers, heavy issues to lighthearted comedy.” According to BookList, one of the key ‘appeal factors’ for its Women’s Fiction Top Ten list is “that sense of recognition the target audience—yes, women—gets from identifying with the heroines, and these novels deliver something for just about anyone.”

I am beyond grateful and so honored to be among these other writers and I know I will be adding some new books to my TBR ladder to the sky, too. Here’s the list. Have you read any of the books here? Tell us all about it. Or tell us what your list of best books for 2014 is so far.


The Apple Orchard. By Susan Wiggs. “Art specialist Tess has a successful professional life but is lacking in the family department. When she’s named heir to one-half of an estate and discovers the other half goes to the sister she never knew she had, her life gets turned upside-down.”

The Bookstore. By Deborah Meyler. “Between studying art history at Columbia University on a prestigious scholarship and a two-week fling with a magnetic, wealthy man, 23-year-old Esme Garland from England is happily settling into life in Manhattan when she discovers she’s pregnant. This character-driven novel is witty and poetic.”

A Fall of Marigolds. By Susan Meissner. “The heartbreaks of two women, separated by decades, come together in the history of a scarf that holds special meaning to each woman. Christian fiction author Meissner’s first mainstream women’s fiction novel hits all of the right emotional notes without overdoing the two tragedies.

Golden State. By Michelle Richmond. Estranged sisters Julie and Heather are brought together as Heather goes into labor and Julie, a doctor, rushes to her side to assist. But the sisters are separated by forces beyond their control, as their city, San Francisco, is in chaos, shut down by political protests. Perfect for fans of issue-driven women’s fiction.”

Ladies’ Night. By Mary Kay Andrews. “Grace, an interior-design blogger, discovers her husband is cheating on her. She begins therapy with a group of other “marital misfits,” and the women soon start meeting at Grace’s mother’s bar, where they plot revenge but eventually learn to move on.”

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe. By Jenny Colgan. “In this fun and fast-paced read, Issy Randall loses her job and her boss/boyfriend in one embarrassing swoop. She decides to take her severance pay and open a bakery in her London neighborhood.”

Sweet Salt Air. By Barbara Delinsky. “Two girlhood friends who’ve been estranged for the past 10 years reunite to collaborate on a cookbook, both of them harboring secrets. Never fear; Delinsky knows when a happy ending is in order.”

Time Flies. By Claire Cook. “In this delightful beach read, two best friends reunite for their high-school reunion and overcome their fears. The banter is a lot of fun, and the characters’ realization of what is important is certain to make readers yearn for reconnections of their own.”

Who Asked You? By Terry McMillan. “Told from the perspectives of several of the characters, this novel offers an array of personalities and everyday life challenges within a story of close friends, family, and neighbors as they grow and change over many years.”

The Whole Golden World. By Kristina Riggle. “Dinah’s world is about to fall apart—her teenage daughter has been caught half-naked in her teacher’s car. Rain, the teacher’s wife, is watching her life fall apart instead of rejoicing in the news that she’s finally pregnant. Fans of Jodi Picoult will devour this story.”

To top it off? A giveaway!

breescarfbreescarf2 I had a such a great time over the last five weeks reading and posting my writer-friends’ stories about the heirlooms in their lives that are precious to them as we celebrated the launch of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS. If you missed any of those posts, I recommend you go back and treat yourself to a trip down several memory lanes. Just click through all the February posts.  And even though the book giveaways are over, each of these authors has at least one book to their name that you might want to find out more about.

The best way to cap off a great month of giveaways is with a giveaway! At left is a beautiful scarf, constructed of a handmade textile that is the perfect blend of historical and contemporary. It is modeled here by my lovely daughter-in-law-to-be, Bree. Along with the scarf, the lucky winner will get two copies of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, one to keep and one to giveaway. All you have to do to get in on the running is comment below! The winner will be chosen by random drawing. Get your comment in by noon Pacific on Friday, March 14 (Pi Day!). Good luck and how about you answer with what is your favorite pie (since it will be Pi Day on Friday). I’ ll start. Sour-cream raisin.

A great month is in store!

FallMarigolds_final coverOn Tuesday, my first book with Penguin NAL, A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, will be released out into the world — always a wonderful, terrifying day. I love the characters in this book and I almost feel badly for what I put them through. Almost.  I am anxious about its debut, of course, and since I aim to please, I really want you all to like it.  It’s a dual time-periods story, like my last five have been, with the majority of the tale centering around a grieving nurse named Clara living at Ellis Island’s hospital in 1911. Her story is paired with that of a 9/11 widow named Taryn one hundred years later. The two never meet, but a scarf patterned in marigolds will bring them together in a way that I hope you find compelling.

To celebrate the release of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, on Monday a blog tour will begin and which will continue throughout the month of February. The book and me will be featured on more than 50 blogs, more than half of which will participate in a drawing for some really cool stuff!

One winner from among all those who post a comment on the blogs will win the grand prize, which includes a beautiful up-cycled infinity scarf (made from Gift basket itemsa real vintage Indian sari), a signed copy of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, a DVD copy of the PBS documentary Forgotten Ellis Island, and a $100 Visa gift card.  In addition, one winner from each individual blogger’s commenters will win a signed copy of the book. The grand prize winner from among all the participating blogs as well as the individual book winners will be chosen by random drawing. Comments must be posted by midnight Eastern on Feb 28. (The contest is limited to those residing in the United States.)

On Monday I will post the complete list of participating blogs so that you can begin the tour. Just hop over to the blogs each day and drop a comment in the comment section (just one comment per blog) and you’re in the running. The content of the blog tour (the question and and answer part) will likely be the same from blog to blog, but the blogs themselves are all different, and hosted by gifted people whom I hope you will get to know and want to revisit in the future.  Plus you will want to check back with them to see if you are the individual winner of a signed copy of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS — there will be a winner of a book on every blog!

I am so looking forward to hearing from you in the weeks and months ahead. I love hearing back from you, even if you DON’T like a book I’ve written. It actually helps to hear why, for I very much want to make your reading time memorable. Hope to see you along for the ride this month!