Like everyone, I am many things, all at once: A writer and a literature scholar. A surfer/swimmer. A displaced Texan. An amateur watercolorist. The wife of a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. That girl you REALLY wished you hadn't asked to tell you about her recent favorite read.
And, apparently, a blogger....
But that wasn’t the end of the surprises associated with Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood.
I didn’t know much about Albert’s novel prior to picking it up. But it came highly recommended by my friend/book guru Courtney. And I knew the story centered around a mysterious book (à la The Shadow of the Wind, one of my all-time favorite novels for its book-within-a-book theme). Those twin enticements were good enough to compel me to grab The Hazel Wood.
And I’m 99% glad I took that step of faith. (I’ll circle back to that missing 1% shortly.)
The Hazel Wood follows Alice, granddaughter to Althea Proserpine, the reclusive author of a deeply dark collection of fairytales called Tales from the Hinterland. Alice and her mother Ella have spent years running from the bad luck ceaselessly snapping at their heels. But when Ella is snatched by figures claiming to be from the Hinterland, Alice’s luck goes from bad to bleak. Her search for her mother unleashes things that do far worse than go bump in the night.
So if there’s a spot on your wall looking for its perfect match painting, I may have just the one sitting in my shop. Think of me as the Yente of wall art.
Watercolor is my medium of choice, because as a surfer/swimmer/life-long-aquaphile, it just seemed right. As for my subject-matter, it skews toward snapshots of the wild world. I aim for detailed, dynamic portraits of creatures great and small–a way to bring a little of the fierce, exotic loveliness of nature indoors.
Living far from friends and family can mean that things get done at odd times. The most recent example? My best friend Amber and I just had our Christmas gift exchange. In February. Two months late.
But the wait proved well-worth it when I stripped off green and red wrapping to find a chic little box whose contents had me laughing aloud.
To kick off your morning, an encouraging coffee cup:
“You got this.”
And to cap off your evening, a reassuring wine glass:
“You gave it your best shot.”
While I’m sure writers aren’t the only professionals who experience these twin emotions across their workdays, I can’t help thinking this gift makes a particularly excellent support kit for authors. How many mornings have I woken up energized and motivated, full of confident, creative energy? Today’s the day, I’ll say. Today, I finally figure out how to…
One of my favorite things in the whole, wide world is surfing. My skills are nowhere near that of my dad (who’s literally been surfing for decades) or my brother Hunter. But very few things make my heart as thoroughly, joyfully content as getting out in the waves. It’s therapeutic for my soul, in a way not even writing can touch.
And the fact that surfing’s a family affair is the very sweet cherry atop my wave-catching sundae.
During this trip home to Texas, the weather on the Gulf Coast was consistently misty, adding a cool, eerie cast to my dad and my cold-water surf sessions.
The low visibility certainly didn’t keep us from saddling up and riding out to catch some waves with the last slivers of “daylight.”
Now that’s what I call a good family portrait: me, my dad, our boards, and even my dad’s indestructible-beach-and-hunting-lease-tacklin’-carry-it-all van. The only thing missing was Hunter, who’s busy kickin’ butt at college.
Unfortunately, the husband and I had to spend Valentine’s Day apart this year. Nevertheless, he still managed to spoil me from afar with chocolates and TWO bouquets. And knowing his Texas girl is a fanatic for her home state, he even managed to track down a Lone-Star Living bouquet:
True to disorganized form, I wasn’t as good at getting a timely gift into his hands. But for my husband, I offer this Sara Groves song (one of my favorites):
Baby can you help me get undone The party is over and their hearts were won There’s a zipper in the back But I can’t reach it on my own And I am dying to get out of this so
Baby will you help me get undone
I don’t even remember how I got this on I started out pretending Now I don’t recognize myself And I could use a little help
You have no pretenses All your walls are fences I can see right through You have no two faces You know where our place is and that’s why I need you Oh baby
Baby will you help me get undone I don’t even remember how I got this on I started out pretending Now I don’t recognize myself And I could use a little help
Cause I started out pretending Now I don’t recognize myself And I could use a little help Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby Will you help me get undone