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Rita steps out

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Rita Plush holds a copy of her first novel, "Lily Steps Out."
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Author Rita Plush sits inside the room where she does most of her writing in her Queens home.
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Author Rita Plush spent five years working on her book, "Lily Steps Out."
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Copies of "Lily Steps Out" are stacked.
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Rita Plush sits in front of her Hollis Hills home.
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Rita Plush shows off a pair of Borzoi dogs from the 1920s. Similar to Greyhounds, the dogs denote sleekness and speed.
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Antique Borzoi dogs from the 1920s are among items used to decorate Rita Plush's home.
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Rita Plush says she does most of her writing in a room on the second floor of her home.

Rita Plush: Her name seems to evoke an image of a golden era movie star. But Ms. Plush, a published short story writer and essayist, never sought fame. When her first novel, “Lily Steps Out,” recently debuted, it seemed fame had found her.

Like most women of her generation, the author seemed happy and content with her traditional role as a devoted wife to hubby Herb and nurturing mother to their three now-grown children, while playing family mediator. It seemed a safe and comfortable cocoon — à la “Leave it to Beaver” — in many ways.

“I’ve been living in Hollis Hills for 47 years and raised my children here. I know so many people through my synagogue and the schools my children went to,” said the grandmother of four in a recent interview from her East Hampton getaway home.

In “Lily Steps Out” (Penumbra Publishing, May 2012), Mrs. Lily Gold decides it’s time to do her own thing, after 33 years of marriage. Always the dutiful wife and mother, her life has become humdrum after the kids flew the coop, leaving her an empty nester.

When Lily’s husband, Leon suffers a heart attack, she suddenly realizes how fragile life truly is.

Then, after he recovers, Lily “finds herself” through antiquing and dreams of opening her very own antique center, which doesn’t sit well with loving but needy Leon.

“One hell of a nurse… If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here,” Leon tells her.

He’s right. She was the one last spring, while Leon was driving and suddenly gasped, grabbing at his chest. She, who leaned over his slumped body and fumbled with the swerving wheel, accelerating, slamming the brake, blaring the horn, “Let me through! Let me through!” And begging Leon, “Please don’t die,” all the way to the emergency room.

But outside of that, what has she done? Outside of all the work of wife and mother, what has she accomplished? She has a brain; why isn’t she using it?

“Like my novel, there’s a kernel of truth in all my short stories — something that actually happened at one time, or someone or something I observed and then developed into a character or an event,” said Plush.

“That’s what we writers do, we take a thing that exists or existed, and let our imaginations do the rest.”

In stark contrast to Lily Gold, Rita Plush has had more than one career — not only as a successful writer who loves her craft, but also as an interior decorator and teacher/lecturer of the decorative arts.

“As for my interior design work, I recently completed a family room in a home in Kew Gardens I’ve been working on for a few years.”

And, as coordinator of the Interior Design/Decorating Certificate Program at Queensborough Community College, Plush will be teaching the Basic Principals of Interior Design, and the Accessories segment of the Accessories & Color class this fall.

The author said she feels lucky to have had so much creative support from her Bayside Writers Group, since she started writing 20 years ago: “Writers fall in love with their words; they’re our darlings. We love them, and sometimes, like our children, we can’t see their faults. We need others to do that for us — to be objective.” They meet at the Terrace Diner in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., have dinner and start reading their work.

“Anyone serious about writing is welcome to join us,” she said.

Plush’s second novel is already in the works. Loosely titled “Feminine Products,” it follows some of the characters in “Lily.” She’s also working on a collection of short stories, many of which have been published in literary magazines.

In their spare time, “Herb and I like to go to the Kew Gardens Theatre on Lefferts Boulevard. They have all the art films we enjoy,” said Plush. “We often go to dinner across the street at a little pizza place with a restaurant in the back, Dani’s. We also like Pier 25A on Northern Boulevard for seafood, and Luigi’s on Union Turnpike in New Hyde Park for Italian.

“Life has taught me to be persistent; to keep going even when things aren’t working out. Do all you can and keep at the thing you believe in.”

“Lily Steps Out,” is available through Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook, and from Barnes & Noble online in ebook. It is also being sold at The Jewish Museum Gift Shop on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

www.ritaplush.com

Upcoming events

Author Talk & Book Signing

Aug. 23, 1:30 p.m.

Windsor Park Library

Bell Blvd. & Union Turnpike

Bayside

Oct. 1, 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Queensborough Community College

222-05 56th Ave.

Bayside

October 13, 1 p.m.

East Hampton Library

159 Main St.

East Hampton

March 14, 2013, 2 P.M.

Great Neck Library

Bayview Avenue

Great Neck

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Reader Feedback

joanne misher from hollis hills says:
rita ( dear friend),
although i am unable to be there with you , i wish you a hearty congratulations and my best wishes for your talk today.
i am proud to know you and wish you continued success.
i know that this is just the beginning of a great literary career.
love you,
joanne
Aug. 23, 2012, 8:49 am
Rhonda from Atlanta says:
You are awesome! We love the book in Atlanta. Make sure you set up a book signing here too.
ove,
Rhonda
Aug. 23, 2012, 12:17 pm
Joyce Bycher from Manhattan says:
As the world gets to know what a wonderful and talented new author is on the horizon..
I will say to my dear friend of over 20 something years Horray and Hallauha you had it coming to you,
Goodie Goodie to you My dear friend Rita..
With all my Love , Joyce xx
Aug. 24, 2012, 11:55 pm

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