Dad and me surfing on a 48 ºF day, with driving rain and 20-25 MPH winds.
My bro, me, and Dad in Costa Rica on a surf trip.
On this Father’s Day, I think (unsurprisingly) about my dad, who’s really always been my hero. As a little girl I looked up to him completely… and honestly, none of that’s changed now that I’m a girl all grown up, and moved (at times very, very far) away from home.
My dad has given me many things. A sense of safety and security in the loving family he helped build. A drive to learn, a strong work ethic. A penchant for adventure that’s stood me in good stead in my life married to a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. A love of the outdoor world that is so deeply rooted in me. My passion for all things water-related, that, as a surfer, swimmer, and ocean-enthusiast, I find to be at the very core of who I am as a person.
These mark but a few of the gifts my father has bequeathed me. But perhaps the one that is easiest to take for granted is the support he’s provided me as a writer. Many parents, I think, would’ve been tempted to herd me (out of love, of course) toward a more stable career. Instead, my dad listened to my ideas, read and edited my early (terrible) drafts, paid for writers’ conferences and even traveled with me to attend them. He’s believed in my dream even when I didn’t. And for this writer, there aren’t words enough to say thank you.
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An ode (that’s technically a limerick) to my husband, in honor of his patient creativity in helping me re-plot my novel this weekend:
There once was a man whose writer wife had
Written a book whose problems drove her mad
She asked him plot questions
Nagged for edits, suggestions
With a sigh, he gave advice ironclad*
Continue reading “An Ode….”
There’s some contention about who said it (Da Vinci? Picasso? E. M. Forster? Paul Valery?), but whoever voiced it, the thought’s a salient one:
“A work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned.”
For novelists, this means–after much hard work–finally making the choice to unclench your fingers and drop that red pen. At some point, you have to kick that baby bird out of the nest and let it fly or fall as it will.
Alas pour moi, that point of abandonment is not now. Every time I try to nudge one particular novel out of my drafting/editing nest, I find it chirping obnoxiously, squawking that it’s not quite ready.
And so I find myself flourishing that vermillion ink yet again, this time to do a massive, content-oriented edit aimed at culling thousands of words.
Now I may grumble and groan and gnash my teeth–just ask my long-suffering husband–but I’m also invigorated by it. Because who doesn’t want to make her book the best it can be?
That doesn’t mean the project isn’t daunting. Yet as I read through my novel, I’m finding two images to be helpful guides as I decide what to keep and what to cull. For my fellow writer/editors, I thought I’d share: Continue reading “Editing & Angst: Tactics for Triumphing over Tough Choices”
Between the last week of September and mid-March, I was a bridesmaid in three weddings. Three. It’s been an incredibly blessed, busy, beautiful, occasionally-manic, joy-filled season.
And now I’m ready for a nap.
At the most recent festivities, I was honored to be a bridesmaid to my hilarious, loving, incandescently-beautiful friend, Sarah. As so often happens, Sarah’s wedding party was cobbled together of friends from different periods of her life. We required a few rounds of introductions to get to know one another.
It wasn’t until several hours into our pre-wedding slumber party that I learned Sarah had raved to the other ladies about my novels (for which she’s been a gracious beta reader) and introduced me as a “world-renown novelist.” I blushed, rolled my eyes, and made a joke about how you had to actually publish a novel before you could become world-renowned.
But on the inside, my heart blossomed, warming, practically glowing. I kept thinking: Thank God for friends who see us as the writers we want to be, instead of the writer we are right now. Continue reading “Weddings, Writing & Words of Encouragement”
I think I’m Superwoman.
Which is fine, and even empowering. Right up until I start punishing myself for not getting done all the tasks on a list that was un-get-done-able from the start.
Here’s what I mean: as I look at 2018 (which will include a move back to the States for our next assignment), my brain’s already racking up a considerable to-do list for the next year:
Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions: Strategic, Not Super”
The “R” word’s an ugly one. Nobody likes talking about it. But rejection is a major part of a writer’s life. There’s not a conventionally-published author alive who hasn’t experienced that sting. Nobody–not even the J.K. Rowlings out there–make it through this biz without a few scrapes.
This week, I received a rejection letter (couldn’t we bibliophiles have come up with a less brutal term for this? What’s wrong with “No Thank You Correspondence?”) from one of the literary agencies to which I’d submitted my novel.
It was actually a relatively flattering letter as far as they go. But in the end, they still said “no.” They couldn’t offer me representation. You always know this is a possibility, of course. But you hope really, really, really hard that this time, the answer’ll be “yes.”
Reading the rejection, Professional Lauren appreciated the speed of the agency’s response. Treasured the compliment to my writing talents. Tucked away the constructive criticism for analysis and implementation. Continue reading “Rejection & Resilience”
This gorgeous, peculiar thing is the pod that holds all that cacao goodness.
Chocolate tea & a chocolate cupcake. Hard for me to be a happier girl.
Those purple beans (aka nibs) are the fresh, natal version of what becomes chocolate.
Cacao tree flower–from which the pods apparently grow.
Our work table. Let the cacao-powder producing fun begin!
Cacao nibs, empty husks, and chocolate powder (post-nib-grinding accomplished via mortar & pestle).
Spices to adorn our cacao powder (from the spoon and moving clock-wise): cinnamon, ginger, anise, cayenne, cloves, nutmeg.
Our chocolate bar tasting score card–just like a wine tasting!
Half a cacao pod, looking kind of like a mangled space-ship. The flesh around the nibs is actually pretty tasty–a flavor akin to lychee.
Because what would a Dutch/Surinamese-run business be without a pair of wooden shoes?
Our baby cacao trees! (Note the nibs on the stem of the nearer plant.)
Our tree to bar chocolate treats.
Chocolate-crafting in action.
I may have mentioned this before, but my writer-self tends to make me a bit of a homebody. Left to my own devices, I burrow anti-socially into whatever authorial project I’m currently engaged with, avoiding distraction (i.e. people) at all costs. Upon taking a quiz to determine which of the six types of writers I am, I scored as 100% weird recluse (with only a 33% dash of Ray of Sunshine to cut the Yikes!). That kind of says it all, I think.
But these last few years, I’ve made an effort to try to prioritize people, experiences, and adventure, as well as my writing. So I’m always grateful when friends who are cooler than I am come up with un-pass-up-able activity ideas.
A few weeks ago, this meant a visit to Tan Bun Skrati, a chocolate-making operation run by Rutger (Dutch) and Ellen (Dutch-Surinamese), a husband-and-wife duo. Built upon traditional cacao-processing techniques bequeathed to Ellen via her Surinamese mother and grandmother, Tan Bun Skrati offers workshops as well as various cacao-oid products (teas, chocolate bars, wine, vinegar, etc.). This operation is run out of their home, a quaint dwelling set behind high flowering shrubs and heavily-leaved trees–so well hidden, we passed it twice before realizing where it was. Continue reading “Cocoa & Craftsmanship”