Friday, February 11, 2011


Mary Ricksen, author
Mary Ricksen was born in Vermont, but it's cold sooo long, she wants to settle for scenic North Carolina. Mary enjoys the change of seasons. Spring, summer, winter, and fall all have such a unique flavor in North Carolina. However, she moved to Florida in 1980, and in West Palm Beach seasons are just too subtle. Mary moved a lot when she was young, from Canada to New York, and from Texas, to Florida. She met all kinds of people, and truly believes that the more rural the setting is, the more friendly people are. She says she’s been married so long it's like her husband's her left hip, but she'll keep him--he can fix anything!

Her dog Junior is a
 character in her current book
She has a beautiful secret garden, with everything from Plumeria to Penta. Wow, as I sit here freezing in North Central Texas, I wonder what could be better than sitting in a Florida garden with a good book and seeing the palms and ferns wave in the breezes. Winter must be the ideal time to be in Florida. (Wait! I lived in Florida for three years and remember the myriad of snakes in those gardens. On second thought, home is where the heart is, and mine's in Texas.) 

Mary's first book in her Time Can Heal Your Heart series  takes place on Lake Champlain in Vermont--her always home. She says the only thing like the Green Mountains are the Great Smokey's, and a little town called Bryson City, North Carolina that she calls, “My next home, hopefully!”
Available from
The Wild Rose Press
Mary is secretary of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA. Her brand, "Know that love is truly timeless," strikes a chord with me. Her dog Junior appears in her first novel, TRIPPING THROUGH TIME, and there will be more pets in the next book. You Gotta Read Reviews gave her a great review: "Absolutely wonderful! An excellent first novel. Rated:You Gotta Read!" Woohoo, way to go, Mary!

In addition to writing, Mary is famous among romance writers as one of the co-hostesses of the well known Friday blog, Author Roast and Toast, along with Sharon Donovan and Hywela Lyn (and Sharon's butler, Oliver) at That blog has given many authors a virtual party and an opportunity to publicize the release of their books. Mary's personal blog is and her website is And now, Mary, take it away with your post for today:

        What Is Unconditional Love?

We all want it, we all need it. But, do we all find it? Have you ever felt that anyone loved you unconditionally?

Who doesn't
want love?
Who doesn’t want that handsome, sweet talking, sexy guy, to love you with his whole heart? Poets write about it, crooners sing about it, authors pen it, but it’s elusive. We write, and our stories end in happily ever after, because our characters love one another unconditionally.

Does your partner love you unconditionally? It’s about so much more then sex! It’s what makes your lover your best friend. When you know that person will be there for you no matter what. You know that person will tolerate your bad moods. Believe me those power surges of menopause can make you a tad moody.

Woman with a "headache"
reading a book in bed
The pain of that monthly curse can put you into a frenzy. You don’t always want to jump into bed. You might have, say--a headache. Or you might be pe-oed that he left the seat up. You forget to wash off the makeup and wake up looking like a ghoul. But you know that your partner will be there even when you look or act your worst. Or maybe when you start a fight because you feel like yelling. Of course, I never do anything like that. (Mary smiles. She never starts the fights, but she finishes them).

We crave love
The point is, that we crave it. Love fills us up and touches that special part of us. The place inside that makes us romantic. Those of us who write romance try to tell readers how our hero or heroine finds love. The more the conflict the better our tales are when our characters realize they finally sense it.

Unconditional love makes us happy, no matter where it comes from, or who feels it for us. The best example I can think of is my grandmother. At the time I was no more then six years old.

Statue of Liberty
view from ships
My grandmother was an immigrant that came over, “on the boat.” She remembered when she saw the Statue of Liberty. After a long tortuous trip, all the future Americans looked at it in awe. She told me that at that moment she was thinking how special our country really is. Especially after what her family had suffered. She used to say things to me in Polish that I don’t remember. She’d be mortified to know that the only Polish words I know now besides "I love you (Kocham cie)," are curse words. I worked with a girl from Poland, and it sure made my day to be able to say what I thought of my boss to his face, and he had no clue!

Grandma Mongiello
Well anyways… I visited my grandmother often; I was her namesake. To this day I use my middle initial so that up there somewhere, she knows I am still Mary Catherine Mongiello, just like her. Crippled with rheumatoid arthritis, my Gram could not walk without help. Whenever I stayed there I slept with her. She’d hug me all night long.

One day after a meal of stuffed cabbage, called gwumkies, we went to bed early. All night long I had terrible gas. Cabbage will do that to a body. I mean every ten seconds I’d pass gas. It was awful, and I remember thinking she was sleeping so she’d never know. Well, the next morning she laughed as she told me she was awake most of the night.

I gulped and apologized for my gas bombs.
And she looked at me, totally serious, with the glow of love in her eyes and said, “But I love your farts!”

Now that, my friends, is unconditional love!

Thank you, Mary, a grandmother's love is unconditional. Thanks for sharing with us--the story, not the bombs. LOL

My Grandmother
My own grandmother also demonstrated unconditional love for her each of her children and grandchildren. Her maiden name was Frances Josephine Gamble, and she outlived two husbands: my grandfather John Witt Phifer and Henry Alonzo Reynolds. She was an especially sweet, shy but strong lady who practiced both her mottos, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything," and "Better to keep silent and have people think you're stupid than to open your mouth and convince them you are." If she thought I was being bratty, she'd say, "Pretty is as pretty does." Oh, not that it ever happened, mind you. But if I had been a brat, that's what she'd have said. Yeah, sure, that's what I meant.

Who, me?
The only thing I disliked about her was sleeping with her when she stayed with us while my uncle was in the hospital for six weeks. I was a teen, about junior high or early high school age. She was a snuggler, and would scooch me off the bed. About halfway through the night, I'd have to go around to the other side of the bed. She'd start snuggling again, but just before I rolled off the bed, it would be time to get up and get ready for school. As I said, she was a special lady, and I loved her tremendously even if, as an insular teenager, I didn't want to share my bed with her. Grandmothers put up with a lot, don't they?

What's your idea of unconditional love?


Mary Ricksen said...

Caroline you've done a smashing job of making me sound good! Grandmothers are God's gift to children. I loved her more then anyone in the whole world. And I still do to this day!

Unknown said...

LOL I loved the blog. My unconditional loves are many. My grandma who passed away who loved me through unlovable times. My mother who would move the earth to help me, my children who I know love me even when they try to act like they don't and last but not least, my adorable dogs who make me feel like I am their everything. I loved the gassy story. hahaha how funny!


Emma Lai said...

Interesting topic. I don't think I've ever given unconditional love much thought. My family and my pets love me unconditionally. I also have some really good friends who ignore my bad moods and grouchiness, thankfully. (Unfortunately I was born a brat and still have my moments.)

Mary Ricksen said...

Thanks for commenting Val, I love that story!!! And Emma, what, you not sweet? Must be thinking of your alter or something!
Knowing people love you no matter what, is a gift!

Hywela Lyn said...

Wonderful blog ladies! Sadly, I hardly remember either my maternal or my paternal grandmothers as they both died when I was pretty young. I really envy people with grandparents!

I think family members always give unconditional love, but for me the most unconditional love of all apart from our parents, is that of a dog. They don't care if you don't comb your hair or put on your makeup. They don't worry about how successful you or or how much money you have. If you're in a bad mood and shout at them, they'll come and lick your hand. (Not even the most loving of family members will usually do that, LOL!)

Well done Mary, dear friend. Thank you for sharing these precious memories (and to Caroline for hers.)

Mary Ricksen said...

You are so right Lyn. Mary sits next to her pooch Nibbie and hugs and kisses her. Nibbie loves it!! Unconditional love for sure!
Sorry you didn't meet your grandparents Lyn, all four of mine were a special part of my youth!!

Jill James said...

Such sweet memories of your grandma's. I remember mine saying how sorry she was that she couldn't get down on the floor and play with me when I was four. Years later I did a little math. Dad was 25 when I was born. So, 29 when I was four. Add Grandma's 13 when she had him made her 42. Sheesh, they got old quick in those days!!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

What a lovely post, ladies. I enjoyed reading about your childhood memories of your grandmothers. I had wonderful grandmothers. My father was pretty darn special, too. I sure do miss him.

I've been married for 25 years and my husband's put up with those monthly mood swings with a smile. Now that's love. lol

Mona Risk said...

What beautiful tributes to your grandmothers, Carolyn and Mary. Although I was not very close to my grandmothers, my granddaughters are very close to me. They are the joy of my heart. I give them unconditional love and I love to keep them for weeks --without the parents,pluueee..aase--

Beth Trissel said...

What a wonderful post about my dear friend Mary and your beautiful grandmothers. Mine were also dearly special ladies. I really enjoyed this.

Beth Trissel said...

PS. I guess I come closest to unconditional love with my own grandbabies.

Mary Ricksen said...

That's the way to do it. No parents!
You are the kind of grandmother I was talking about Mona!
Thanks Karen Dad's can be the best!
Jill, my gram was a cripple by the time she was 45, rheumatoid arthritis! So they didn't age well did they?

Mary Ricksen said...

So you know what i mean Beth!

Beth Trissel said...

Yes, I do, Mary. I love your doggies, btw.:)

Maeve Greyson said...

This post warmed my heart and I laughed out loud about the "farts". I remember the unconditional love of my grandmother. "Mammaw" loved me no matter what I said or did and she never stopped believing in me. I wouldn't have survived through a great deal of my childhood if it hadn't of been for her love. Thanks for the wonderful post.

Mary Ricksen said...

And that is how is was for me Maeve! I still miss her and talk to her! I guess I'm a bit touched!

Mary Marvella said...

Lovely blog! Loved ans was loved by my grandmas and my parents. My ex? Not so much. My folks taught me about loved and I tried to teach my kid.

Historical Writer/Editor said...

nice pictures. Good luck with your writing.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Mary Great blog, and Caroline your grandmother sounds lovely too. I think all grandmothers are wonderful, special people. Well I ought to know,I am one.



Unknown said...

Hi, Mary and Caroline--sorry I'm late, but reading it this morning started my day off right. I loved every word of this post, and Caroline, you do such a wonderful, folksy, way of telling us about a guest.
Unconditional love is hard to come by. I got it from my Granny, too, and my Papa--those on my Daddy's side. Those on my Mother's side was something different altogether.
I remember now, I wrote a little piece about my two grandmothers, but it's still sitting in my files.
When is grandmother's Day? Or do we have one? I'll drag it out and show it off.
I enjoyed this so much--thanks, Mary

rbooth43 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rbooth43 said...

I was married to that handsome, sweet talking, sexy guy, that loved me with his whole heart for 36 years before his death. He treated me like a queen, what more could a woman want. His love was unconditional. I also have family, friends, cousins, and writer's that show their love.
I am blessed!
Great blog!

Nightingale said...

I'm sorry I'm a day late, but what a beautiful and moving post this is Mary. You did a great job with a very challenging subject.

I remember my parents when I think of unconditional love and from my side it would be for my sons and grandchildren.

Mary Ricksen said...

Sorry I wasn't back sooner, I had a great book signing today with Heather Graham and seventeen other authors, Nancy Cohen, Linda Conrad, Carol Stephenson, Mona Risk, Patrice Wilton, Traci Hall, just to name a few. But I got to sit next to Heather!
Celia, Margaret, Mary, Historical Writer/Editor, Linda and un named commenter, and everyone else who stopped by. Authors are just amazing people. Thank you so much!!!