What a treat to welcome fellow Tule author, Jeannie Moon to the blog today! USA Today bestselling author Jeannie Moon has always been a romantic. When she’s not spinning tales of her own, Jeannie works as a school librarian, thankful she has a job that allows her to immerse herself in books and call it work. Married to her high school sweetheart, Jeannie has three kids, three lovable dogs, and a mischievous cat and lives in her hometown on Long Island, NY. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy. Welcome, Jeannie!
I’m so happy to be here, Nan. Thank you for having me.
I’m a small-town girl with a big family. That’s the reality, but I didn’t grow up thinking that way. It took a fictional small town and some self-discovery to drive it home.
My epiphany came when I made myself at home in Compass Cove. The town went through evolutions and relocations until I finally realized, just like Natalie in My Christmas Wish, that what I was looking for was right under my nose.
Compass Cove grew and developed in the locale I knew best, my home on Long Island’s North Shore. Of course, I had to go with what I knew, and as I started exploring the area where I’d spent my whole life, I found a new appreciation and affection for the place, and most importantly, the people and traditions which made it special.
My town is about an hour from New York City. If I drive ten minutes north, I’ll be looking at a quiet harbor beach. If I drive twenty-five minutes south, my toes would be in the Atlantic Ocean. And finally, if I drive an hour east, I’m in wine country, or if I take the southern route, you’ll find me strolling the posh streets of the Hamptons.
As I said, I have a big family. My father was the youngest of thirteen children, my mother was the oldest of four sisters. In all, I have around fifty first cousins. Then there are the first cousins once removed, second cousins, spouses…you get the idea. It’s a lot of people. Growing up, it was overwhelming because I wasn’t always sure where I fit. It took time, and maturity to understand how my roots could become an intricate part of my writing if I just let it happen.
Like Compass Cove, my hometown can’t be separated from the people in my family. The Moons have been on Long Island since 1929, and the house they moved into when they arrived here is still in the family. There are great stories in that house, along with a rich history. Writing my book and using the place I grew up as a model, forced me to have a hard look at what I’d been taking for granted. That included some beautiful Christmas traditions.
Are you ready to talk about cookies?
I’ve always liked to bake, and I tend to do it when I’m stressed out. I like the predictability of the recipes, and how the ingredients blend. I don’t know what it is exactly, but there’s something very Zen about cookie dough.
My Aunt Catherine, my father’s sister, was an amazing baker. Christmas was one of her favorite times of year, and there were always dozens of treats in her house, many of them traditional Italian cookies. Struffoli, anise drops, thumb prints, and pizzelle were my favorites
Over the past few years, I’ve been learning the art behind some of the Italian cookies my aunt used to bake. First, I bought a pizzelle iron. It took several batches to get the temperature and batter consistency correct, but my daughters and I finally did it. Then I conquered anise cookies. Finally, my cousin Linda and I made Struffoli, or honey balls, a traditional southern Italian Christmas treat. Each time something new is brought into my baking repertoire, I not only feel wonderfully happy, but I feel like I’ve kept a piece of my heritage.
It was important to me to keep these Christmas traditions alive for myself and for my children. We have our own traditions, like Christmas Day brunch and cinnamon rolls on holiday mornings, but I’ve been feeling the need to reconnect with different parts of my past. Now that I have grandchildren of my own, it feels more important than ever.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s because the people who introduced me to these traditions are no longer around and I want to keep them with me. Whatever it is, Christmas has become a little warmer, and less about things, since I started blending old traditions with new ones.
Compass Cove did that, and I couldn’t be happier to share it with readers. I hope you enjoy My Christmas Wish. It’s a book filled with love, family, and tradition, just like every holiday should be.
My Christmas Wish
It’s Christmastime in Compass Cove and love is in the air…
With her well-connected Long Island family, an exciting job as a London art dealer, and a brilliant, attentive boyfriend, Natalie Miller’s life was golden. Until it wasn’t. No one knows about the anxiety that drives her, the loyalty forcing her to make impossible choices, or the secrets consuming her. Now back in Compass Cove, Natalie is fielding questions from her family about what brought her home and longs for the life—and the love—she left behind.
University professor and aristocrat James Phillips prides himself on understanding people, so it mystifies him when the love of his life leaves London—and him—without explanation. When an opportunity to work at a small college in Natalie’s backyard arises, James jumps at the chance to move across the pond, willing to do whatever it takes to win back the heart of the woman he loves.
Can the magic of Compass Cove at the most wonderful time of the year help James and Natalie find their way back to each other?