We’ve got two copies of THE OLEANDER SISTERS up for grabs today. See the entry form below for details.
I could not have written The Oleander Sisters without mining a lifetime of memories. Like Sis, I’m the go-to girl in my family. When my two sisters and I went through the last year of our mama’s life, every conversation I had with my older sister started with her asking, “What are we going to do?”
Just as Emily always looks to Sis for a solution, so does Jo Ann always look to me.
A few months ago when she received word that her husband, my dear brother-in-law, has cancer, she asked the same question. “You don’t have to walk this walk alone,” I told her. “I’m here.” Furthermore, I told her we would do exactly as Mama would. Marie Westmoreland Hussey was the most courageous woman I know; she would fight a cross-cut saw for those she loved.
You will see my feisty mama all over Sweet Mama and Beulah in The Oleander Sisters.
The most poignant parts of this novel – the hospital scenes – were also the hardest for me to write, not because I didn’t know how the sisters would react, but because I know all too well.
On New Year’s Eve in 2010, I received a late night call from Mike Talbert, husband of my lifelong friend. “Jane fell,” he said. “We’ve air-lifted her to Tupelo. Please come.” It was no mere fall. Jane’s dog had dragged her on the leash, slammed her head into the concrete and caused a massive brain hemorrhage.
Jane was lucid when I arrived. In fact, she was laughing and joking about celebrating the New Year in ER. One of her daughters suggested we get party hats and bazookas.
By morning, Jane was in ICU in a coma.
I camped out in the waiting room, living for my turn to hold her hand and say, “Jane, you’re strong. You’ll beat this. I’m right here and I won’t let you go.”
And I didn’t. I was there when her heart stopped, there when she came out of brain surgery, there every day telling her the same thing. Not in a whispery, scared way, but in the strong way of a woman who will fight a cross-cut saw for those she loves.
Miraculously, Jane not only survived, but she regained full use of motor skills and cognitive abilities. I’ll never forget what she told me. It was months after the accident, when she could finally talk.
“I heard you when I was in the coma. It was your strong voice that pulled me out.”
I am so blessed to have a friend like Jane and to know she would do exactly the same thing for me. I am so grateful to have sisters as well as sisters of the heart who inspire me to write novels like The Oleander Sisters.
I’ve love to hear about your sisters of the heart. Two people who leave comments will receive signed copies of The Oleander Sisters.
Thanks so much for letting me stop by to chat!
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In 1969, the first footsteps on the moon brighten America with possibilities. But along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a category five storm is brewing, and the Blake sisters of Biloxi are restless for change. Beth “Sis” Blake has always been the caretaker, the dutiful one, with the weight of her family’s happiness—and their secrets—on her shoulders. She dreams of taking off to pursue her own destiny, but not before doing whatever it takes to rescue her sister.
Emily Blake, an unwed mother trying to live down her past, wants the security of marriage for the sake of her five-year-old son, Andy. But secure is the last thing she feels with her new husband. Now she must put aside pride, and trust family to help her find the courage to escape.
With Hurricane Camille stirring up havoc, two sisters—each desperate to break free—begin a remarkable journey where they’ll discover that in the wake of destruction lies new life, unshakable strength and the chance to begin again. Dreams are reborn and the unforgettable force of friendship is revealed in The Oleander Sisters, an extraordinary story of courage, love and sacrifice.