Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Viola Shipman's new novel is in full bloom...plus a book giveaway

We always enjoy having Wade Rouse at CLC. He used to be our Go-to-Gay and now he is the author of five novels as Viola Shipman, which is his late grandmother's name. His latest novel is The Heirloom Garden. Melissa A really enjoyed it and recently posted her review. Today, Wade is here to share a guest post with us. We've been asking authors to write letters to themselves either ten years ago or ten years into the future. Wade took some liberties with this topic and wrote a beautiful and heartfelt letter. Check it out and then enter to win a copy of The Heirloom Garden, thanks to Graydon House.

Wade Rouse is the internationally bestselling author of nine books, which have been translated into nearly 20 languages. Wade chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction.

Wade’s novels include The Charm Bracelet, a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year; The Hope ChestThe Recipe Box and The Summer Cottage.

Library Journal writes that Wade has “hit upon the perfect formula to tell heartwarming, intergenerational family stories by weaving together the lives, loves and history of family through cherished heirlooms.” 

Wade's books have been selected multiple times as Must-Reads by NBC’s Today Show, featured in the New York Times and on Chelsea Lately and chosen three times as Indie Next Picks by the nation’s independent booksellers. His writing has appeared in a diverse range of publications and media, including Coastal Living, Time, All Things Considered, People, Good Housekeeping, Salon, Forbes, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly.

Also a noted humorist of four memoirs, Wade was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards in Humor (he lost to Tina Fey) and was named by Writer’s Digest as “The #2 Writer, Dead or Alive, We’d Like to Have Drinks With” (Wade was sandwiched between Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson).

Wade earned his B.A. from Drury University and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. He divides his time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and is also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors. (Bio adapted from Viola's website.)

Visit Viola online:
Website * Wade's website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Viola Shipman (Wade's grandmother)

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family—a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

A Letter to My Mom 10 Years Ago

Dear Mom:

I miss you so much. I can’t believe it’s been a year since you’ve been gone. Every day is still like walking on quicksand. Nothing makes sense. The only time the pain lessens, and my heart doesn’t feel as if it’s been shattered into a million pieces, is when I am able to sleep. But even then I dream of you and I eventually wake, reality smacking me in the face once more: I will never see my best friend again. You weren’t just my mom, you were my cheerleader, supporter, confidante, the person who loved me unconditionally no matter what.

Dad is not doing well. He is lost without you. And, as you predicted, his memory is worsening. He refuses to see the doctor. He refuses to see his old friends. He fights me when I try to help. He fell down the stairs of the house, and I begged him to sell it and move somewhere less dangerous. He has finally consented but wants no part in the final decision. It’s so, so hard.

I’ve spent the past few days in the garage and the attic, trying to clean things out in preparation for dad’s move. I’m going through decades of memories we collected as a family. I found all the old games we used to play, like Candyland, Lite-Brite, Battleship, Crazy Eights and Monopoly. I donated a lot of the furniture to Goodwill. But you’ll never guess what else I found? All of grandma’s old heirlooms. I found a jewelry box with her charm bracelet. Remember? It’s so heavy and absolutely chock full of charms. I found your and grandma’s recipe boxes, too. All the family favorites – written in your and grandma’s handwriting – are in there, from the cherry chip cake to the apple turnovers. I also found grandma’s hope chest. I opened it, and it smelled like it always did: Cedar! Inside, I found her old quilts, beloved Bible, desert rose dishes and scrapbooks.

I spent hours looking through all of that, and I finally realized that even though we never had much money, we were the richest people in the world. I’ve decided to keep all of it. In fact, I think I want to write about these heirlooms, too, because they tell the story of our family, our history, as well as that of so many families. I don’t know yet how I’m going to do it, but these things have reminded me how precious life is, that the greatest things in the world are the simplest and that we all need to slow down to remember what’s most important in life: Each other.

What was it you used to say as a hospice nurse? Life is as short as one blink of God’s eye? I see that now. It is. You also told me not to have any regrets, like too many of those you cared for and comforted at the end of their lives.

And I won’t. I will continue to write books that offer readers hope, that unite us – no matter how different we may be – and make us laugh, cry, remember and reconnect.

I think of how you went on without grandma. How you said life would never be the same, but it could still be stunningly beautiful and filled with miracles. Every time I watch the sun rise or set, I see a mom hug her child, or I run into the arms of my husband, I understand that.

As I was sitting here in the heat, I just jotted down The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman on the lid of a box. What do you think? Me writing fiction under grandma’s name? I kind of like it, and my mind is spinning with ideas. I know, I know, it all sounds like a terrible literary remake of Victor Victoria, doesn’t it? But, to me, it would be the smallest thank-you I could give to her, to you, to my elders for all that you gave to me.

How did you survive such tragedy? You lost a son, your parents, and still you forged on with such grace, strength, hope and beauty? How did I go on, too? Because we had each other? Because of our faith? Or did we have such a foundation of love and strength that even when we wobbled we never collapsed? I guess you prepared me to walk on quick sand.

That’s what it’s like to be an author. We walk on quick sand every day. But you knew that. You were so proud to see my book featured on the Today show a few weeks before you passed. “You did it. I always knew you would, my talented, beautiful boy,” you said.

I will not waste the blink I’ve been given. And I know that the stories I write of you and our family will never die. You will live on in the hearts, souls and minds of readers forever.

And that will be my gift to you and our family.

I miss you, mom. Every day. But I know you’re still with me. I can feel you talking to me, walking beside me, propping me up when I need it most. Grandma, too. And you will always be with me.

I’ll talk to you later, mom.

Now, I have to start writing all the stories that are filling my head and my heart.


Thanks to Wade for the lovely letter and to Graydon House for sharing his book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends May 4th at midnight EST.


LoriF said...

Great interview and background information on your Grandmother. Looking forward to reading this novel.

traveler said...

Wonderful and captivating. I love looking at geraniums. So colorful and beautiful.

Cori said...

Beautiful letter, thank you for sharing. We have started growing heirloom tomatoes from seeds (purchased from Seed Savers). Milkweed for the butterflies too. Hoping to do our part to create garden memories for our young kids.

rubynreba said...

I have several hostas. I enjoy them because they are perennials and require little care!

Suburban prep said...

I do not have a green thumb. It is not for lack of trying though. I have one plant that is a rosemary plant and mainly my husband has been able to keep it thriving. Thankfully because then I make his favorite rosemary popovers.
Favorite flower--Tulips.
I have read the previous books by Viola Shipman and Loved them.

Carla S. said...

Beautiful tribute! I plant flowers in a raised bed every season. I love to see lots of color in my yard.

Bonnie K. said...

I don't know that I have a green thumb, but I do love gardens. We moved to our current old home that comes with an English style garden that I work to maintain.

dstoutholcomb said...

tomatoes, impatiens, geraniums, and petunias

diannekc said...

I don't have a green thumb. I have peonies and raspberries that come back every year.

Mary Preston said...

No green thumb, but thankfully the freeshias just come up each year by themselves.

bn100 said...


arletta said...

I do have a green thumb and plant a large vegetable garden every year. I think green beans are one of my favourite things to plant because there really is nothing better tasting than fresh cooked green beans with butter and salt. YUMMERS.

Rose Elaine said...

I like roses best of all, but I also love peonies, poppies and cornflower.

StoreyBookLover said...

This year will be my first attempt at a real garden! I am so excited, and I hope my thumb is green! Very much looking forward to reading this book! <3

Rita Wray said...

I love working in the garden. My favorite flowers are pansies.

Jeanne said...

I don’t have a green thumb but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying. I do love Shasta daisies. Maybe I’ll have to try planting those...again!

Nancy P said...

Never had a green thumb. Lovely cover.

Denise Birt said...

I am completely drawn to this storyline...
I do have a green thumb and enjoy, immensely, the fauna and flora the good Lord has provided us in nature. It's my "happy place." Thank you for the back story and in sharing your journey with us- what a gift your Mom and Grandmother have given you, and in return,have given to us through your writing...

Lelandlee said...

I love looking at tulips

Xia Lee said...

Love planting roses

Tatum Rangel said...

No green thumb for me.

Donamae Kutska said...

Tomato plants are my favorite to plant. Really interesting blog. I want to read your book! Thank you for the chance Donakutska7@gmail.com

Charleston said...

Gardening brings me such peace and a time for reflection on life past and present. My grandmother was such an influence in my life. I always think of her when I see violets. My earliest memory of her garden are the red climbing roses on a trellis, the peonies, and the hollyhocks!

A. B. said...

No, I do not have a knack for gardening... but I wish I did! I love the sight (and scents) of peonies and lilacs.