Hope you enjoyed that as much as me! So, we just celebrated Valentine’s Day here in the U.S. I’ve always thought of it as a Hallmark Holiday, but it got me thinking about all the forms of love and how they envelop our lives. Shape us. Push us into action. Whether love for a partner, parent, child, or friend. Family and friendship love is a key element to my Unicorn Island books, and all my books, so it’s something I look for in other stories.
Here are a few of my favorite movies that reveal the power of love, some I re-watched this month:
- Shawshank Redemption (love of friendship)
- Under the Tuscan Sun (love for self)
- Seabiscuit (second chance love)
- The Age of Innocence (unfulfilled love)
- Second Hand Lions (love of family)
- Shakespeare in Love (love beyond boundaries)
- Brokeback Mountain (tragic love)
- 50 First Dates, Moonstruck, Harry Met Sally, The Wedding Date (happy ending love—so many of those!)
There’s something learned about love in each of these—and how many kinds of love can fill our lives, along with mistakes to avoid when it comes to matters of the heart.
Talking about love! If you’re looking for a heartfelt summer read check out The Edge of Summer by my friend and talented author, Erica George. You’ll be swept away by this big-hearted novel about one girl navigating first loss and first love during her summer on Cape Cod. Out June 14th. Pre-order here!
Here are some other winter pastimes I’ve been diving into … perhaps some will speak to you. First is walking in the woods, of course! Here are winter adventure photos from the 20 acres we’re lucky to roam on our property as well as local nature preserves. I came upon an empty lake and was inspired to leave messages in the snow.
Here are other ways I’m passing my time you might be interested in.
I’ve been on a non-fiction kick lately eager to soak up knowledge and inspiration.
- Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong by John O’Donohue
This is a book to indulge in slowly with its rich words and thoughts—and one to re-read, which I am. O’Donohue speaks to the divine restlessness in our human heart. This is an exquisitely crafted and inspirational book that explores the most basic of human desires – the desire to belong, a desire that constantly draws us toward new possibilities of self-discovery, friendship, and creativity.
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
This book is so good for the person seeking focus to produce that I just read it a third time. This includes, handwriting thirty-five pages of notes from it to create my own guide as a Cliff’s Notes version. Newport shows how cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits and also offers a training regimen for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill. He truly inspires you to grasp how deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from artisanship.
- John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir
This book is like being vividly shot to a walk in the woods, a stance upon a mountain, or a peaceful spot by the creek. John Muir is known as America’s pioneer conservationist and father of the national park system, and I delightfully discovered recently that he was also a talented literary man. As he explored the wild western part of the United States for decades, he narrated his wanderings in notebooks. This is an unrestrained poetic account that will enrich your senses with the wonder of the natural world.
I listen to a lot of instrumental. It’s peaceful and non-jarring. I create soundtracks for writing. It’s lovely at times having no voices in your head, just melody. Spotify is my go-to for creating music collections.
- Spencer Lewis:
Met him in person one summer in Manchester, Vermont, at the Hildene Fall Arts Festival. I love his folk music original pieces.
- Acoustic covers:
A way to enjoy old favorites in a new way with other performers.
Love a good Celtic session while in the kitchen cooking. Never fails to lift my spirits.
Speaking of music … I went to see Howard Jones in concert this week. He JAMMED! Great acoustic set. His band was the first concert I ever went to waaaaaay back in 1984 when I was 15 years old! Check him out below.
And speaking of throwbacks from 1984, here’s one. Me at 15 with my good friend, Elaine, who I am still friends with after 40 years!
T.V. SHOWS AND MOVIES RECOMMENDATIONS
Am binge-watching this 6-season suspenseful crime mystery with a western feel set in a small town. I fell in love with Walt Longmire, the resolute and unflappable sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Recently widowed, he is a tormented man who buries his pain behind a stoic face with an unassuming grin and dry wit.
Re-watched season 1-3 to prepare for season 4 out soon! It’s the 1950s and one housewife’s life changes when her husband leaves her – and she decides to become a stand-up comic. This witty, hilarious, and gorgeous show is unlike anything else out there. Midge, wife turned comic, is smart and funny with all the right looks and clothes. She’s perfectly pitted up against her rough and tumble, foul-mouthed manager, Susie.
Re-watched season 1-3 to jump right into season 4. When one married couple relocates their family to the Lake of the Ozarks for money laundering, they have no idea of the life and death challenges they’ll face from small-town corrupt locals to the Mexican cartel. The show is shocking, disturbing, and so darkly intense I can only take this in small doses, but the writing and acting is superb. You never know what twists will happen next!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before:
And now for something young and sweet! I don’t often watch teen movies, but this is too cute to pass up. In this romantic comedy-drama, Lara Jean writes letters to five of her past crushes meant for her eyes only until one day they get sent out. Her life is soon sent on a crazy path of fake-dating, first-love, and heartache. You’ll champion her as she stumbles but also can’t stop watching Peter, her adorable fake boyfriend. Or is he? 😊
Emma a PBS mini-series:
Another adorable show but set in the Regency period, originally penned a comic novel by Jane Austen. You’ll fall in love with our heroine. Emma Woodhouse seems to be content with a wonderful father, adoring friends, and a beautiful home. But Emma is consumed by matchmaking. She can’t help meddling to find ideal suitors for her friends, putting her own longings on the back burner.
Sanditon on PBS Masterpiece:
This is a well-done take on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel (she died while writing it). I re-watched Season 1 for the fourth time recently to gear up for season 2! Yes, that’s how much I love it and our two appealing main leads: kind-hearted and smart, Charlotte, and the dashing yet tormented, Sidney. This is another show set in the Regency period with a lovely seaside setting. Full of complex intrigue, societal trappings, quirky characters, and misunderstandings, this show entertains while pulling at your heartstrings.
MY CREATIVE PROJECTS
I’m creating my own Etsy Shop! If you don’t know Etsy, it’s a wonderful shopping platform for unique and handmade products and gifts. This project has been consuming a lot of my time. I’m having so much fun doing research, design, product development, and creation of my shop called Go Wild Design. It will feature nature-inspired gifts, gear, and apparel. This is a big project I am very passionate about and hope to launch before summer.
I’m also excited to be plotting a new middle grade book I can’t wait to jump into writing. This new idea has a fun and colorful cast of characters and is a contemporary story of friendship, secrets, and transformation. That’s all I can say for now. 😊
AND this is the week I have a middle grade book going out on submission to editors through my agent, Liza Fleissig. It’s always a nervous time to know your story is “out there” and hope a publisher picks it up. So, wish me luck!
Lastly, let’s talk juggling! Of course, I had to give you an update on my juggling expertise. I have limited time to practice but I am happy to say that I have graduated from one-ball juggling to two! Juggled low here to try and get it in the video. Star the cat approves.
I’m also revising A Healing Element, the third and final book in my Element Trilogy for adults. The first book released in 2012 and I finished the third book five years ago. Yes. FIVE. But I put that aside to write for young readers. However, the 10 year anniversary inspired me to publish it now. This was my first adventure into writing novels that started with thrillers for adults and soon turned into writing thrillers for kids.
Here’s a photo of me at A Human Element launch party 10 years ago with dear friends! This even has the original cover, changed long ago with a new publisher. Check out the newer book covers below it.
Just a reminder that if you pre-order Secret Beneath the Sand, I’d love to send you a bookmark and autographed book plate label for you—or another special reader. Just email me your address and who you’d like the book personalized for at donna(at)donnagalanti.com
Plus, my publisher sent me a gorgeous box of bookmarks and bookplate labels. Check them out!