Tuesday, August 21, 2018
As a compiler of cookbooks and a writer of fiction, I like food in my books. When I created the character, Gideon Miller, for my ex-Amish novel, I knew he had to have foods he liked. Since he's from the Amish country of Pennsylvania, apple butter made sense, and so I showed how he spread apple butter on his toast each morning before heading to work at the auto mechanic shop in Twin Branches, North Carolina (don't look for that on the map; I made that town up). I also let him drink green tea, straying a little from the Amish tradition. He did stray after all; he chose to escape their lifestyle and move to the mountains of North Carolina.
I think showing what a character enjoys eating brings out the fun in a book, as well as makes the men and women in the pages seem human. Food connects us in a fabulous way. Perhaps that's why cookbooks with photos of decadent cakes and latticed pies are so popular.
Speaking of human, Still Life in Shadows is now on audio, narrated by a man. You can sit back and relax, eat, bake, drive, or garden while listening to the story of Gideon and how he helps dissatisfied youth leave Amish culture and make their home in the English parts of America. You can hear Kiki, the teen who wants to belong, but due to her autism is often misunderstood. You'll meet Ormond, the auto shop owner, and Mari, who works in a tea room where Gideon goes for tea and pie.
If you'd like to listen to Still Life in Shadows and write a review or post something about the novel on your blog, let me know. I can send you a code to get a free (yes, FREE) audio book.
Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your free audio book! Happy listening!
If you'd like a print or e-book copy, head over here.
Friday, August 10, 2018
When I showed my friend Jane the plaques we made for her daughter's memorial garden, she loved them. Carl does the work, so I took no credit, except I did screw in the eye hooks and attached the chain to one of them. You would think I was constructing a new house; it took me much longer than it would have taken an average person to do that task of placing the eye hooks, drilling the hole, screwing them in. But enough about my lack of skill and slowness. What impressed me and will stick with me about giving the two garden plaques to Jane was what she said after she said she loved them.
"It's so nice to see her name."
A name. Katelyn. When Katelyn was born, Jane came up with the spelling of the name, so not only was it her daughter's name, Jane had a part in crafting it.
In the bereaved parents' writing workshops I facilitate, I often have parents say their child's name aloud. All together we say our child's name, like one big burst of sunlight. Sometimes we go around the room and take turns saying the name of our child. It's a sacred time.
Whenever we get an order at our shop, Carved By Heart, and the buyer has the name Daniel, I love seeing it on the order form. My heart does a little flip. This customer is special to me because of his name. It doens't matter than I don't know the customer personally, I just love seeing his name. After the item is created and I've wrapped it up, I get to write Daniel on the package. My son's name. My son who is no longer here.
So when Jane ran her fingers over her daughter's engraved name and smiled, it was a powerful moment.
We do need to see and speak our child's name. Often. We don't get to call them to dinner anymore, watch them play, or wrap a gift for them. But we can give ourselves a gift by saying his/her name. Aloud. We can have it engraved into pine and see it, too. Our new butterfly garden plaques are now at our shop on Etsy.