"Life shrinks or expands according to one's courage." Anais Nin
This quote could be the back cover material for my debut women’s fiction, In This Together, because Dottie Kyle’s horizons expand as she faces her challenges and fears head-on.
I want to be like Dottie, and as you get to know her, you will, too. She’s an ordinary, honest, solid World War II era woman, but her recent losses—of her son in the war and her husband soon after—launch her into other kinds of change she never would have imagined.
Isn’t that just the kind of alteration we try to avoid? Dottie does, too, but change keeps batting her in the face, first through a rather nasty employee at Helene’s boarding house, where Dottie cooks and cleans.
But even more heart-opening (I could say wrenching, but let’s think positively), are her widower neighbor Al Jensen’s advances. It’s only been a year or so since he lost his wife, Dottie’s best friend, to cancer, and Dottie hasn’t even entered Nan’s kitchen in all that time.
Now, Al invites her to go fishing one summer night, and then for a fish fry the next evening. To Dottie’s surprise, both invitations lead to pleasant time spent with someone always close at hand, but relatively unknown. She finds comfort in sharing with Al and values his insights. Best of all, his rather nervous, conscientious personality doesn’t throw her off.
One other thing remains the same through it all: Dottie's cooking. She’s a meat and potatoes kind of gal, like Helene’s male boarders. Let me share a recipe from Dottie’s reserve, kept in her noggin, with a host of others.
Special Mashed Potatoes
A big pot of peeled, cooked white or red potatoes, drained except for about 2 c of liquid
A few chicken bouillon cubes
Lots of fresh, rich butter from the creamery down the street
Soak the bouillon cubes in the hot water. Mash potatoes and add butter. Salt and pepper to taste, and then stir in the liquid mixture gradually. Feeds six easily, or stretches for unexpected guests.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about Dottie’s recipe and/or times when courage has expanded your life.
Dora here. Gail has graciously volunteered to give away one pdf copy of In This Together to one commenter today.
Dottie Kyle is the kind of woman you'd want for your friend, steady and reliable. When World War II steals her son and she loses her husband soon after the Allied victory, she takes a job at Helene's boarding house. Cleaning for the boarders and making nutritious meals gives her a reason to wake up in the morning. But when her daughter in California experiences complications in her third pregnancy and needs help with the little grandchildren Dottie longs to meet, old fears of closed-in spaces hinder the required cross-country train trip.
Meanwhile, unexpected challenges arise at the boarding house, and Dottie's next-door widower neighbor Al pays her a new sort of attention. Could their growing friendship hold the clue to conquering anxieties that hold Dottie captive?
About Gail: Sometimes we learn what we've done only after we do it. I wrote my memoir Catching Up With Daylight over a ten-year period, but learned the term "spirituality writing" only after the book was published. Figuring things out after the fact is a life theme for me, but even though it isn't the easy road, I learn a lot in the process. My very patient husband (37 years) and I live in St. Ansgar, Iowa, where a small creative writing class meets in my home, and we enjoy our grandchildren. I facilitate workshops on creativity/memoir writing/aging with grace. My first fiction release with Vintage Rose, titled In This Together, will release November 18, 2015.
Connect with Gail at http://www.gailkittleson.com/ and www.facebook.com/gail.kittleson
Labels: book feature, courage, Dora Hiers, Fiction Faith & Foodies, foodie, Gail Kittleson, In This Together, recipe, Special Mashed Potatoes