Monday, September 18, 2017

Beautiful and Necessary Books Project




Many of you know that I am an avid reader. Seriously. In terms of needs, after breathing and food it's books. As both a reader and writer I'm often asked, "So, what are you reading?" And because I'm reading multiple books (so many books, so little time) I always have an answer. If your at my house you might also get a tour of my bookshelf and whatever book I'm currently obsessed with (and lots of my old favourites) may be enthusiastically shoved into your hands.

As I follow many writers on social media, I'm often aware of what books are coming out and the unique 'story' behind the story as the author shares their own publication journey. I wanted to share with you all some of the books that have most touched my soul. The ones that reached right inside and would not let go of me. Welcome to my Beautiful and Necessary Books project.

First up: THE PECULIAR MIRACLES OF ANTOINETTE MARTIN by Stephanie Knipper.


About the Book:
Genre: Adult Literary Fiction, magical realism.

This is a beautiful and necessary book about family, our differences and our unique strengths. Two sisters who must come together later in life and learn to be family again. The older sister, Rose, is dying and desperately needs a guardian for her ten-year-old autistic daughter, Antoinette Martin. This child has a strange and beautiful ability. She can heal things and people. But the healing doesn't last. Not even when she tries to heal her mother. But when the sisters come together to form a new family they also discover that if they can protect Antoinette from outsiders who want to abuser her unique skills, there might be a way for Antoinette to heal her mother, Rose.


Why I loved it:

I'm a huge sucker for sister stories. Especially those where the sisters find each other again and come together to fight for new relationships and each other. I'm also deeply affected by books that included diverse characters who might be viewed as 'broken' by society. Add in some magic (I love me some magic) and I am obsessed.

After reading I was filled with the magnitude of understanding that each of us are a miracle in our own right. Each of us bring to this world what no one else can, what no one before us has. This book gave me hope that no matter my disabilities, I bring many abilities to this world. And so do we all. No matter our challenges or our past, we are never as broken as we think. And sometimes what others might see as brokenness is the exact place in our life where our light can shine through the cracks and inspire others.

If you love anything by Sarah Addison Allen or other magical realism books, this one is for you!
Go buy HERE. Go read!
I thoroughly recommend.

What about you? What are you reading?


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Want.



Want.
A big, audacious word hiding inside four small letters.
W.A.N.T.
Oh, the ache and pain. I can hear my younger self. She wants something and she hasn't told a soul. She is seven and she takes her little sister out to this straggly garden beside their house. Inside the house a storm is brewing. They see it, they know it. The beast of their parents marriage that is tearing them all apart. So that little girl escapes. Not to a garden. No. This is more than a garden.

This is where she tells her stories. She crouches down among the shadows and the overgrown ferns. The sisters are so near they can feel the other breathing. And the little girl speaks. Not words. No. These are more than words.

These are other worlds. Places where creatures smaller than your fingers run amok at the base of the tree and in among the flowers. She feeds these guests on paper bark stew mixed with mud and fern fronds. Her little sister mixes the brew and they set a table made of chip bark on top of rock and smaller stones for seats. The guests come as the little girl talks. Her sister can see them. And oh, the adventures the sisters have all the while living in the land of stories. She knows what she wants this child. Not merely dreams. No. These are more than dreams.

This is who she is. Who she knows she was born to be. Children know this. Clearly, like the ring of a bell through time. They know with clarity who they are. Maybe not what they will do upon this earth, but they know their essential being, the who that they were created to be.
She is sixteen now. She hasn't forgotten. She still tells stories. Quiet words to the wind as the car drives along and she wishes she was anywhere but where she is. She talks in story and the breeze t spreads her words out into the void. Her mother has one question. What does she want to do? But it's not a question about wanting. No. This is more about college.

She tells no one what she wants because it's been made clear enough. Her mother doesn't read. It's a waste of time. Books. Wasteful. Not serious pursuits. What she needs is escape and a way to stand on her own two feet against this world. It's what her mother wishes she had. Where is the degree in story? She isn't even looking for it. It never occurs to either of them that story is exactly the way to escape and the only way this child will ever stand on her own feet. But this is not about standing. No. This is about surviving. Pressing on. Moving forward.

So, she forgets. On purpose. She forgets who she is. She is thirty-one before she wants again. Thirty. One! And that wanting comes on the back of everything finally falling apart. Everything she has fought so hard to hold together inside her collapses. In the darkness of that falling there is this small light. Flickering. It is the WANT. This is who she is. In desperation she reaches out for the want. For the stories.

Let me whisper them to you, my friends. Your want are the most essential raw part of you.
These are not merely dreams. No. These are more than dreams.
They are who you are. Who you were created to be.
Please. Oh please, begin to want again. The world is waiting for you to be you. We need your wants so desperately. We need the essential you.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Begin Again.





He is everything. He is every good thing in my world. He is also deepest sadness. Not because of him, but because he came with story. Words. He couldn't even speak when we opened our family to take this little guy in. But in him there was written every word of my past. Every word of the broken family I come from.

He is my sister's son. I am his aunt. And yet, I am not. They asked me if I would take him. If I would be his mother. My sister unable to mother him. Until that moment I did not know how many words could fill a person, how could you ache with words and yet all I could say was, "Yes." It was enough to say. I didn't know. But it was enough.

This little boy is now six years old. Words I see in him now are health, joy, hope.
But when he came to us with all the words that he couldn't even speak I found there were so many words that I could not say either. His story met my story and for a while we were still together inside this sadness. Both of us grieving. For everything he had lost and everything I had lost.
Words are like that sometimes. They still you. They take you to your knees. They sit within you like an internal bleed and you think that you are this weak thing, hemorrhaging with the very story of your past even though you can speak no words.

So, I stopped writing. For a while there was only me, this little boy, my husband, my other sons. Family. A new family that required everything I had to leave behind shadows. To believe that I could create in my adult life what childhood took. To sit with those words I couldn't yet speak and tell myself to breathe.

And then it happened.
Not suddenly. But surely.
That little boy learnt to speak.
And so did I.

I found my writing again too. And I wrote. In his nap times, while his brothers were at school. I wrote. A new book. Still with aching words. Still on my knees. But this time I was myself.
I wasn't trying to find clever ways to say things, if indeed clever things even matter. I simply let my honest, vulnerable words out. The words that little boy brought with him. His grief. My grief. His loss. My loss. The words were true, even though the story I was writing was made up. Something good emerged from a past that wasn't.

And I am back here. On this blog. With a new book now on submission and a third under way.
And I want to tell you this.
Begin again.
If you need to hear that like I need to hear that. Begin. Again.
Gather whatever words you have inside you, it isn't too late. And, when you can, bring those words out in whatever way feels right for you. Because sometimes the stories that most need to be told are the hardest to tell. And sometimes the person who needs to hear your words is you. But it might surprise you that others need to hear them too. You matter. And so do your honest, achy words.