Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When You Love a Book (+ My Cover)

When you love a book…

You set it free.

I’m not exactly sure what to credit for the decision, after years invested in my craft, to put my work out there. (My novella, THE DISAPPEARING KEY releases early this October.)

Do I give props to Sarah Bareilles prompting me to be brave or is an enormous show of gratitude necessary for the excellent material I recently discovered in DARING GREATLY? Curious…the timing of when I spotted this book on the library shelf and thought to myself, Now this looks like a good read.

Mostly, it comes down to that niggling in my gut that my words are ready to be read—my stories are ready to be felt. I’ve received affirmation of this on many levels but it was essential I waited until I was ready.

And I am now.

I love this novella.

And this October it’s time to set it free and into your hands. As we wait for my novels to have their day in the sun, it’s my hope that you’ll thoroughly enjoy this taste of my writing. This is both a vulnerable and exhilarating process.

Can’t wait to discover what you think!

Ever do something that was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time?

*Attention book clubbers—THE DISAPPEARING KEY was written with book clubs in mind. Not sure when you make your selections for the year, but I’d love for you to throw my novella on your list. It’s shorter than a full-length novel, but the meat is there. I’ll also be posting book club discussion questions on my blog soon after the release.

**I’d love to guest post on your blog or answer interview questions for you. Shoot me a message & I’ll be in touch!

***Check out that NEW subscriber button on the upper right of my sidebar. Want to be in the know about all the latest with this project? Sign up for my newsletter today!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When You Love a Book (Part 2)

It stays with you.

The characters stay with you.

When you love a book it has the potential to imbue into your DNA.

There are moments when I’m tucking my kids in bed when I swear I hear Holden say something about the gold ring at the carousel. Or other moments when he coughs and says, “Phonies” under his breath.

And then there are times of breaking vulnerability when Little Bee reminds me that my scars mean 
I’ve survived.

Every so often when I’m admiring my neighbor’s green thumb, Victoria Jones will whisper the names of the flowers to me and if I’m real quiet, their meanings.

These are the treasured takeaways of books. Their gift to me…these lingering characters. These powerful messages translated in my life.

It’s what I strive for as a writer—to create characters who leap from the pages of my work into the lives of my readers.

It’s what makes reading a book a multilayered experience. Because as I’m reading I wonder if I’ll meet the characters again at another intersection, foot of a bed, or flower bed.

I know when I get to the last page of a book and read the words The End not to take those words to heart. Incredible reads don’t end.

Good books live on inside us.

Have you ever loved a book so much the characters are still with you?

*photo from Rachel lone Johnson
**Teaser: You won't want to miss my post next week!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When You Love a Book…(Part 1)

When you love a book you want to tell the world about it.

That’s how I feel right now as I’m reading DARING GREATLY by BrenéBrown.  I’m beginning to think she climbed inside my head and wrote down all my thoughts.

I’ve found myself nodding in agreement while reading every page. Brown is blowing my mind with her wisdom and honest perceptions.

Take this:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”

Or this:
“Trust is a product of vulnerability that grows over time and requires work, attention, and full engagement.”

I’m in the midst of several vulnerable undertakings.

Every morning for the past several weeks I’ve woken up to a crew of construction workers chillin’ on my front lawn, ready to tackle the day’s work. My house is not my own. My inner sanctum is a construction site. How symbolic.

I’m excited to share the other undertaking I referred to earlier with you in a few weeks.

Until then…
Thank you. Thank you for making this a place where I’ve felt like I can be vulnerable, brave, and alive. Thank you for reading faithfully and sharing your thoughts. You make this blog what it is!

Finally, I wasn’t surprised when I came across one of my favorite quotes in DARING GREATLY:

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.” Madeleine L’Engle (italics mine)

Have you read a book recently you’ve wanted to share with the world?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Are You Raising a Cookie Cutter Kid?

Not long ago while conversing with a friend, she admitted to feeling insecure about posting pictures
on her Facebook profile of her eldest holding his musical instrument.

If you know me at all you can probably predict I responded with a speedy, “Why?”

This friend shared how many of her friends only post sports team photos and action game shots of their boys. After listening to her I said, “But we’re not trying to raise cookie cutter kids, are we?”

So what if her oldest boy is into music? In fact, I think that’s more than a little awesome.

This topic reminds me of everything I love about New England homes. When we lived in Ohio it was easy to mistake your house for plenty of others on the block because most of the houses looked identical. Not so in New England. You drive down one street and you’re likely to find capes, colonials, bungalows, bump-outs, houses with cedar shakes, brick, vinyl…the list goes on.  I liked our home in Ohio but something about the home we live in has an added uniqueness, an “I’m yours” quality to it.

Our conversation also made me think of my room as a teenager. I’ll forever be grateful for the freedom my parents gave me to decorate my room to my own style.

Picture: Collages covering every wall with a few posters of adorable animals and one or two posters of River Phoenix and Johnny Depp for good measure. On my ceiling I’d hung any rose anyone in our family of four girls had ever been given. Looking back I can see how it was one creative piecemealed mishmash. But it was “me.” It wasn’t the manicured Laura Ashley décor that inhabited some of my friend's rooms. But I loved it.

I know my mom friend is agreement with me when it comes to the importance of allowing our children to discover who they are. And because I feel passionately about this I’m throwing out the following list as a reminder to all of us parents…

Five Ways to Raise Un-Cookie Cutter Children (raising our children free of the confines of the cookie cutter mentality)

Identity Roots
More and more I’m beginning to experience the invaluable benefits of teaching my girls who they are at their core—and how deeply they’re loved from the second they enter this world. Loved from me and their father, but more importantly from their heavenly father.

Strengths Stem
Encouraging your child to experiment with different activities helps them to discern what truly excites them. Uplift their strengths. Recognize them as such. Then appreciate and celebrate them.

Openness Blossom
Be open with your children about your own struggles with comparison and jealousy (age appropriate). One of my daughters in particular struggles with jealous feelings often and I can’t tell you how receptive she is to my coaching her through this when I risk sharing time in my life I’ve felt vulnerable to jealousy.

Remind yourself it’s not about you. I have an eleven-year-old. I’m being reminded of this regularly. ;-)

When to Water
We’re wise to adjust our expectations when it comes to what our kids will be interested in. Waterskiing might have been “your thing.” Your kids might run kicking and screaming anytime they go near water. Hey, there’s always the snow.

Do you ever struggle with feeling like you need to raise a cookie cutter child?

photos by stock.XCHNG

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

“Give us, us free”

The movie came out the year I graduated college and a scene in it permanently altered my understanding of freedom.

Amistad, a powerful historical drama depicting the mutiny of the schooner by captured Mende slaves,  revolutionized some of my thoughts about what it means to crave freedom.

In one of the most memorable scenes, Joseph Cinque (played by one of my favorite actors, Djimon Hounsou) stands, sweat streaming down his face, rattled by indescribable memories of captivity and the fear of returning to enslavement, emboldens in the courtroom with, “Give us, us free.”


It’s a word thrown around a lot this time of year. You listen a little more intently when, hand over heart, you hear certain lyrics kicking off ballgames around the 4th. You might reassess with a more investment your interpretation of the Declaration of Independence in regards to unalienable rights, including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And if you so fancy, you just might go around singing, “If you love somebody, set them free. Free, free, set them free.” Although no matter how hard you try I’m just not believing you’re singing it as well as The Police (sorry).

In other words, freedom has a lot of connotations associated with it.

Sometimes I wonder if we’ve lost the impressive responsibility that comes with liberty.

Sometimes I wonder if our gratitude has become rote, much like asking someone how they are but not really waiting to hear the answer.

Are we waiting and acting in response to our freedom?

Have we ceased to let freedom impress so deeply inside us we’re compelled to do something in response—to live out our appreciation?

Which brings me to my question for you today—what are you doing with it? What are you doing with your freedom?

Taking Time

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