A Letter from Danielle for December ‘16
December 14th, 2016
Here we are in my favorite, favorite FAVORITE month: December. I truly know how difficult the holidays can be–with family stresses, financial strains, and just too much to do–but, I am just a corny person, and I love the Christmas holidays, and even some of the Chanukah traditions that I know. Holidays are often a magnifier of the good and bad things in our lives. I love the warmth and fun, the lights and songs, and decorating the tree. I love our family traditions–baking brownies for friends, going to Church together, eating dinner together on Christmas Eve, and again on Christmas Day. Christmas used to be a frenzy of wrapping gifts and assembling toys at 3am with 9 kids. But we have all come away with cherished memories, and still cling to our traditions. We used to give a big ice skating party for our friends and their children every year. We don’t do it anymore since everyone has grown up, and my kids and many of their friends have moved away.
Christmas brings out the child in us, the secret hope that Santa will turn up. We have always had a “Santa” who comes to our house on Christmas Eve, who makes his way around the table, and asks us all what we want (and believe it or not, I actually tell him every year!!!) There have been some funny moments in our Santa visits, like the year one of my daughters, about 5 then, walked away after sitting on Santa’s lap for a photo, and said “Yerghk! Santa smells like beer!” And another daughter who asked him for a sapphire necklace when she was 6. A very sophisticated group!!
In Paris, where I spend a lot of time, the city is all lit up, and it’s just beautiful during the holiday season. When my kids were small, we used to take them downtown to look at the store windows. And I have warm memories of my own childhood holidays.
And however challenging and stressful the holidays can be, I hope there are some things that you like about them that make them special for you–maybe traditions that you enjoy, or meeting up with old friends, or making new discoveries during the holidays.
In our heart of hearts, there is always a child tucked in there somewhere, who still believes that wishes can come true, miracles happen, and Santa will bring us exactly what we want and need. I hope that for all of you, and whatever your beliefs, or none at all, that these holdiays will be very, very special.
May all your wishes come true. Have wonderful holidays!!!
A Letter from Danielle for November ‘16
November 17th, 2016
First of all, my new novel THE AWARD is now officially on sale!!
I hope you read it soon and let me know your thoughts. And I truIy hope you enjoy it. It makes for the perfect gift book too if you are like me and do your holiday shopping early!
Today is also the first day of November. November is one of those challenging and important months, which can go any number of ways. The most important day that stands out is of course Thanksgiving. And like all holidays, it can be blessed and wonderful, or really hard. With European parents, and in Europe most of the time, I didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving as a girl. The holiday only became meaningful to me as an adult.
On the surface, Thanksgiving appears to be a holiday focused around food. I’m not much of an eater (I can be happy with a hard boiled egg and an Oreo cookie on most days – with a little peanut butter thrown in!), and big meals always seem overwhelming. But having said that, when faced with Thanksgiving, I eat way too much stuffing, cranberry sauce, and popover rolls. And I can never decide which pie to have, so I wind up eating them all: pumpkin, mince and apple – topped with whipped cream! By the end of dinner, I’m so stuffed, I can hardly talk. They say that turkey has some sort of stupefying effect on people, but in my case it is definitely the stuffing, the popovers and the pies (a carbohydrate/calorie feast.)
What I really LOVE about Thanksgiving is the excuse for families to get together, and that in truth, it is a holiday about gratitude. It’s a reminder to be thankful, and to share our gratitude, our meal, and our home with friends and those we care for. Gratitude is the essence of life, and we should be thankful for what we have, however much or little it is.
Like all holidays, Thanksgiving has the potential to be stressful or disappointing – not being able to get home to those we love, or being disassociated from them in some way, or shaken by some difficult event in our lives. The year we had lost my son Nick (only two months before the holiday) was very, very hard. And sharing a meal with our extended family isn’t always easy. But Thanksgiving isn’t just about our families, it is also about our friends. We don’t have to share the holiday with our families, we can spend it with our friends—or we can be a blessing to total strangers, serving a meal in a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen of some kind. There are many, many ways to spend the day. And the more you give to others and share with them, the more you will be blessed.
I’m grateful for my family, my friends, my work, my home, and the many blessings in my life. But I am also very, very grateful to you, my readers… for reading my books, being supportive of me, caring about my work, and making the long hours I spend writing worthwhile. I am so very grateful for you this year, and every year, and not just on Thanksgiving. Thank YOU for every moment of joy you give me.
I hope that however you spend it, big or small, simple or fancy, dressed up, or in jeans, with your family or at a homeless shelter, I hope that Thanksgiving will be a blessed day for you this year.
With much love,
A Letter from Danielle for October ‘16
November 17th, 2016
I hope the fall is off to a good start for you. I love October!! The weather is crisp and invigorating!! Fall activities are well underway, the kids are settled back in school, there is no pressure about the holidays yet (except for people like me who start Christmas shopping in August.) I do a lot of serious writing in October, but then again, I guess I do that all the time! October just feels great, and everyone is full of energy before the really cold weather hits, or you are knee deep in snow, shovelling out your driveway.
One of our favorite family holidays is in October… Halloween, of course! When my kids were little, we spent months deciding on costumes, and making them. There were some pretty exotic ones: The Little Mermaid, assorted witches, Superman, Spiderman, Prince, Michael Jackson, Wonderwoman. And then as they got older, more complicated ones. One of my daughter’s boyfriends showed up in a costume that looked like her dog. I painted my face white one year and wore a white wig and was a “Ghost Writer.” We turned our guest room into a haunted house, with spider webs and scary sounds, and the kids loved scarying everyone!!
My children only stopped dressing for Halloween a few years ago. Some of them still occasionally do, as characters in their favorite TV shows and such. One of my daughters looked terrific two years ago as a matador/bullfighter, and went to a party with a friend who dressed as a bull. Even now, I set a table full of candy out on Halloween, and have a big cake, and my kids show up and help themselves. They don’t make a big deal of Halloween in France, so I take candy and decorations to the little kids I know there, since I’m often in that country. It’s definitely a fun day!
On the book front, I have a new hardcover coming out in just about a month, on November 1st. It’s one of my favorites, and called THE AWARD. It’s the story of a woman who was a hero in her teens in the Resistance during World War II, saving countless children, and was falsely accused of being a collaborator at the end of the war, a reputation which follows her throughout her life. Her adventures and bravery during the war were remarkable, and her life interesting thereafter (as a fashion model right after the war, married to two very different men during her lifetime, with a life in Paris and New York, and running a Holocaust museum in France in later years). Her granddaughter is a journalist who spends years trying to clear her grandmother’s name, and at last, her heroism is acknowledged. Her name is cleared and she is decorated with the Legion of Honor. It’s a very touching book, filled with excitement from World War II to the present. I hope you love the book as much as I do. There is something about heroic people during that time that is very special.
I hope you have a wonderful month, are full of energy, and that life is more treat than trick for you on Halloween and always!!
A Letter from Danielle for September ‘16
November 17th, 2016
Well, with Labor Day around the corner, summer is officially almost over. Mine flew by, and I’ll bet yours did too. I had two short vacations with my five youngest kids, and thoroughly enjoyed them. I’m sorry to see the summer over, but I REALLY love September and always have.
When my kids were little, September was my busiest month of the year. Getting nine kids ready for school is not easy—lunch boxes, notebooks, pens, pencils, new school books, new school uniforms and shoes, new teachers, and a million errands to run! There was so much excitement to September then, and I still feel it now. The autumn beginning, books to write, outlines to do, projects to start, plans for the rest of the year and into next year. More than January, which is always a slow month when people tend to hibernate, September has the feeling of fresh starts and new beginnings—there is excitement in the air, especially as it starts to get chilly, which is so invigorating!!!
My new hardcover RUSHING WATERS just came out yesterday. It’s about an enormous hurricane in New York and all the devastation it causes. We lived a storm like it a few years ago, when one of my daughters lost her apartment to Hurricane Sandy, with the terrible flooding. RUSHING WATERS is a fictional story, but the force of nature is always astounding. It’s an exciting book and I hope you love it!!! It centers around a group of people the storm affects, brought together by the hurricane. As they fight to survive it, their lives inextricably intertwine during the events. It’s a book about survival and courage, and how people are affected by catastrophic events, and what it brings out in them—both good and bad.
I hope you have a wonderful September, and that you have lots of plans and new projects too, and face them with new energy after some time off this summer!!! Have a great month!!
P.S. My paperback BLUE will be out on September 20th, it’s a deeply moving story about a homeless boy, the woman he meets who wants to help him, and how they change each others’ lives forever. I hope you love that book too!!!
A Letter from Danielle for August ‘16
August 5th, 2016
I hope you’ve gotten some time off this summer, and if you haven’t done so yet, I hope that you still have some vacation time coming your way in August. We all need a break when we can manage it!
August always seems a little bittersweet to me—the weather is still warm, it’s still officially summer, we may not even have gone on our vacation yet, but the evenings start to get cooler, summer’s end is near, and we can see the fall coming at us faster than we’d like. Suddenly it will be back to school, and back to work!
My birthday is in August. I’m one of those people who hate celebrating my birthdays, but it’s a good excuse to get together with my children for a long weekend… and I always look forward to that.
I’ll be busy writing in August too. Other than that, I have no big plans for the month ahead. Before revving things up in September, I’ll do my best to enjoy the last days of summer.
At the very end of this month, I have a new book coming out in hardcover and eBook, called RUSHING WATERS. It’s about a hurricane that hits New York—the damage it creates, the lives it affects, and the chaos it causes. I enjoyed writing it a lot, and I hope you love it!!!
Have a wonderful month, and enjoy these last glorious, hopefully lazy days before we get catapulted into fall, faster than we can imagine.
A Letter from Danielle for April ‘16
April 4th, 2016
The month of April conjures up springtime and flowers, which is a nice image of the month – but not always true! I’ve been caught in snowstorms in New York and other cities (Chicago) as late as mid-April, so winter may not be entirely over. But let’s hope the weather will get warmer soon wherever you are!!
If you have kids in school, one nice thing to look forward to is spring vacation. While my children were growing up we went to Hawaii every year for Easter and their school spring break. It was a fantastic vacation for all of us! All my nine children loved it — they swam all day and enjoyed the beach. We went to luaus and they took hula lessons, and it was just a wonderful change of scene. We have terrific memories of those times in Hawaii, and two of my children still go there every year. I haven’t been in many years (about ten.) Once my older children were in college, they no longer had Easter vacation, so it didn’t work for us as a family trip. I think if I went back now it would just make me sad, remembering a time that is gone now, with kids all grown up. But I do cherish the memories, as we had a ball there!!!
April in Paris is beautiul, as the song says, but still chilly. However, as the calendar moves along, it reminds me that summer is coming, with a lot to look forward to – warmer weather, sunny days, holidays and summer vacation!!
My newest hardcover novel came out 2 weeks ago: PROPERTY OF A NOBLEWOMAN. If you haven’t had a chance to read, it’s a fascinating story with surprises and mysteries – and a big jewelry auction!
And as always, I’ll be writing this month, working on new books to give you in the near future.
Have a great month of April wherever you are!!!
Take good care!!
A Letter from Danielle for March ‘16
March 1st, 2016
I hope that last month was a good one for you, and that Valentine’s Day turned out the way you wanted. That’s always a dicey day, with lots of hopes, and not always so easy to have it go the way you plan. So I hope it was a good one!!!
And here we are in March!!! As usual, the year is off to a racing start. It seems like the New Year began just yesterday, and BAM!!! March is already here. March is such a hopeful month, with spring promising to arrive soon, sometimes with a few teasing warm days to entice us, and then another blast of cold or snow before winter is really over. But the few warm days give us hope!!!
Easter is really early this year, coming at the end of this month. Easter used to be a big event for us (9 kids!!), with dyeing eggs until my hands were blue, green and purple for weeks, planning Easter egg hunts, and enjoying chocolate eggs. Some of my kids still come home for Easter, but many of them don’t get time off to travel. So we have a nice Easter brunch with those who are around.
March is exciting for me, because my new book PROPERTY OF A NOBLEWOMAN will be coming out on the 15th. It was a really intriguing and fun book to write! It begins with a seemingly abandoned safe deposit box in a bank, which has a stack of mysterious letters, some old photographs and newspaper clippings, and some truly spectacular jewelry in it — all belonging to a woman who appeared to die penniless. The book traces who she was and what happened in her life, all reconstructed and deduced from what is found in the box at the bank. Some truly poignant moments arise, as her history emerges and family mysteries begin to surface. Two young people, one from the bank and the other an auctioneer, attempt to solve these mysteries as they trace her life.
It also touches on the world of important jewelry auctions, which is fascinating. I hope you’ll find the book intriguing and exciting, and touching. It’s a reminder of how little we know of people sometimes, particularly older people, and how we sometimes have no idea who they were when they were young. A glamourous history emerges in the book, and our hearts are touched by the woman who left all her worldly possessions in a safe deposit box, and then failed to claim her belongings, or designate anyone to inherit them. It traces a family history through some shocking revelations, and the final discoveries of who she was changes several lives at the end. It was fascinating to write!!!
I hope March unfolds well for you, and happy first day of spring!!!
PS – My novel COUNTRY recently released in paperback. If you missed it in hardcover, I hope you’ll enjoy it now. It’s an exciting view of the Nashville music scene, a sexy, handsome country music star, and a whole new life that begins after the heroine is widowed. She discovers a brave new world, and decides to put the past behind her and ’seize theday’! It’s a fun book!!
A Letter from Danielle for February ‘16
February 1st, 2016
I hope that things are going along well for you. We’ve got some holidays coming up in February – President’s Day, which gives us a long weekend (always welcome!!!), Groundhog Day, which always seems a little silly to me after the classic Bill Murray movie of the same name, Chinese New Year, which is colorful, exciting, and usually with some great parades, Mardi Gras, which is fabulous and festive in New Orleans and Brazil, and Ash Wednesday, which is more serious and is the beginning of Lent before Easter 6 weeks later. Coming up this month is also my son’s birthday (which I can’t wait to celebrate!!), and the biggie: Valentine’s Day.
Since this is a Leap Year, we get a double dose of romance, which means that if your true love doesn’t come through with a proposal on Valentine’s Day, you can take control of the situation and propose to him on February 29th!!! There’s a very cute movie about that called “Leap Year” with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. So sweet.
My Valentine’s experiences have been a mixed bag all my life. My first one in third grade (in a French school) was a total bust. I was the only girl in my class who didn’t get a Valentine. I was very sad about it, but managed to survive. And John, the eventual father of eight of my nine children, proposed to me on Valentine’s Day, which was definitely my best Valentine’s Day ever!!! He swept me off my feet, after a whirlwind romance, and we were married 4 months later on June 14. We shared seventeen very happy years married, and have stayed close forever after.
I gave a Valentine’s Day party the night he proposed (he asked me to marry him over lunch), and we both had other dates planned for the evening, and paid no attention to them after his proposal!!! They were very happy times, and we shared some very happy Valentine’s Days. He was always very creative about doing something special.
But let’s face it, real life is real life, and I have had some real dud Valentine’s Days too. Some really awful ones – no candy, no flowers, no romance. But a holiday based on chocolate can’t be all bad… in fact, it can be terrific!! My children and I love to exchange silly little gifts on Valentine’s Day. And I love anything with hearts. I collect art, paintings and sculptures with hearts on them. I have some of Jim Dine’s paintings, and some of the Robert Indiana ‘Love’ sculptures.
The French say that “love has no age”, which is a theory that I like, and actually believe in. I’m always hearing about some couple who re-found each other after many years, or met and fell in love -old enough to be my parents, or older – who decide to make the most of their ‘golden years’, and even marry. Why not?? Why shouldn’t older people be happy and even fall in love? The young don’t have a monopoly on love, it’s available to all of us at every age.
Hopefully someone will take you to dinner, or send you flowers, or bring you chocolates, or get down on one knee and propose (and yes, I’m old fashioned and believe in marriage, and the statement it makes about love and commitment, especially in the uncertain world we live in.) And if nothing is lining up for romance in your life this Valentine’s Day, you just don’t know what will happen next year. So keep an open mind – use leap year if it seems appropriate – and enjoy the chocolates. Life is full of surprises, and you just dont know what might happen this year, next year, or in a few years. I hope it will be a special day for you.
Have a great month of February, whatever you decide to celebrate!!!
A Letter from Danielle for July ‘15
June 30th, 2015
Although I find September exciting-because I always feel like everything is starting fresh after the summer and at the beginning of the school year (even this many years later) -I’ve always thought that July is the sweet spot in the year. It’s just a gorgeous time of year. June leads up to our hopes for summer, and lulls us with great weather in most places. But July is REALLY summer!! Although May and June can be a great time to travel, July is just the perfect month for a vacation, with great weather at the beach, in the country, or the mountains. It’s the best weather you’re going to get all year (except in San Francisco, where it is freezing and foggy in summer). July is when we want to be at the beach, go sailing, swimming, fishing, or lie in a hammock with a good book (please, please one of mine!!)
I actually allow myself to be lazy in July, which is rare for me. It is also the one time a year now when I go on vacation with my younger children, and I cherish those times. My three older ones have plans of their own, are married and busy, but the younger five still spend their summer vacation with me, and I just LOVE IT!!
We always take a vacation that involves the beach and the sea, because I am definitely an ocean person, more than a ‘country’ person.
July makes me think of crickets and birds singing, looking up at a blue cloudless sky, lying on a beach, or reading under a tree, and doing fun things with my children. By August, the summer is already winding to a close, and doesn’t have quite the same feeling of abandon that July does. Kids go back to school in August, I start writing again, and we all make plans for the fall.
And whether in the States or in France, Independence Day is a wonderful celebration. July 4th in America, and July 14th, Bastille Day, in France. I love the fireworks in both places, as well as the picnics, the food, and the friends.
I hope you have a glorious July. Hopefully you can get some vacation time, get away from chores and responsibilities, and have some fun!!
A Letter from Danielle for May ‘15
May 1st, 2015
I’ve always loved the month of May. After the chilly winds of April, in some places May is the beginning of warm weather, but even if not, spring is in the air, flowers are blooming and summer is just around the corner, or at least we hope so. The month begins with May Day, where in France, everyone exchanges little sprigs of lily of the valley (my favorite flower), which is said to bring good luck. So on every street corner, vendors are selling the delicate fragrant flower, and you give it to your friends. I have a son who was born on May 1st, so I particularly like that day. And May 1st is Labor Day in France, so the atmosphere is festive. I always give a dinner party for close friends on May 1st to celebrate the day.
The other major holiday in May is Mother’s Day, which has always been one of my favorite holidays, though it can have a sensitive side to it too. For those whose mothers are no longer around or for those who wish they had been mothers and aren’t, for whatever reason, it can bring up tender memories. For those struggling to have children, it can be a bittersweet reminder of what they don’t have in their lives. My own challenges with Mother’s Day came early. My mother left our home when I was six, and I grew up alone with my father. Having a mother was not part of my daily life, although I saw her at times once I grew up. It taught me an important lesson. We don’t always have the mothers we wish we had, even if they are present in our lives on a daily basis. Mother/daughter relationships can be famously challenging, although they don’t have to be. And some people never have their own biological children. But life has a way of making up for what we don’t have, if we are open to it.
Throughout my life, important mother figures surfaced—older women who took me under their wing with immense kindness (one of whom had no children of her own, the others did.) They were very important people and role models for me, women of great wisdom who taught me a lot about life. And they always came into my life at the right time. Two of them are simply close friends I met once I was an adult. One of them was the aunt of a dear friend, and I would drive hundreds of miles to see her on weekends in my early 20’s when I moved to California. And another has known me since I was a child, and is an extraordinary wise woman I remain close to today—a talented designer well into her 80’s with a huge heart, who continues to work hard and have an active life. She sees every play and movie, and reads every new book, has an active social life, and takes grad school classes at night on interesting subjects. She has been a model for me in many aspects of my life, and she has a great sense of humor. I want to be like her when I grow up!!!
So our mothering may not always come from the sources we expect. The same is true of children. Whether we have children or not, if we are open to it, young people and children can enter our lives at any point, and bring us enormous joy and sunshine. Families are no longer as traditional as they once were, and we can celebrate the women we love and admire, whether they are our ‘real’ mothers or not. I have been blessed with many children, and even though they are spread out in many cities now, and we can’t always celebrate Mother’s Day together, I am so grateful to have them in my life (along with a few extras I have taken under my wing as well, god-children, or young people who have become part of my life). So keep an open mind about Mother’s Day, it can be a wonderful day to celebrate, whether you are or have a Mother or not.
And then to close the month on a festive note, we get a long weekend on Memorial Day, which is the ’soft’ opening of summer. It may not be blazing hot yet, but it gets us ready for summer—and holidays are always a good thing!!!
Have a great month!!
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