New World Whisperer cover and Patreon launch.

Thank you for your kind comments and messages. I have never ever regretted sharing about the deepest and hardest things in this space, because you are all so kind and respond in such gentle ways. You teach me. Thank you. 

I have just a couple of things today. I had hoped to give you a Shaper’s Daughter launch date, but am reluctant to do so before I have my new cover files in my hot little hands. So just know that it is coming very, very soon. We are waiting for covers, and that is it! 

Once I have the date, I will be relaunching all three World Whisperer books with a launch party on Facebook, so stay tuned for that info. 

For now, here is the first redone cover. I’m very happy with it!

IMG_0198.JPG

Isn’t Isika beautiful? Covers 2 and 3 are beautiful too. I can’t wait to show them to you!

Anyhow, I’ve been learning a lot about genre cover specifications. All the stuff you need to know to do authory things.

And speaking of authory things: Today is the launch of my Patreon site. In case you haven’t heard of Patreon, it is a new-fashioned way to accomplish an old-fashioned concept, which is patronizing the arts by supporting artists and writers. I have always hesitated to support this blog by using ads because I am a minimalist, and don’t love encouraging people to buy new things if I don’t have to. But I  believe that my writing is valuable, and support can help with hosting costs. You can support me on Patreon for only a dollar a month, and there are rewards for Patrons, including Q and A’s and patron-only posts.  

So there you are! Exciting times. Books ahead, patron only posts, and children growing very, very quickly. 

Much love to you all. Be gentle with yourself today. 

Muscle memory.

IMG_8518.JPG

* My heart goes out to all those affected by the hurricanes, floods, and fires this season. I’m so sorry. *

I’m home after a long journey. 

“Hello, house,” I say, unsure of whether she will be angry that I was gone so long. The house says hello, stretches her doors open to me. Beautiful wood, mess for me to clean up, smelling of mildew, a jumble of love and work. She missed me, I’m the careful one. The mother. Organizing, reorganizing, getting rid of the detritus. It will take some time to get this place back in order, and it will always be a tropical order; slightly chaotic, moldering on the edges, a little damp.

It’s been raining, to put it mildly. We have arrived at the tail end of an abundant rainy season and everything is green, exploding with life, growing with mold and spores. This town goes through an amazing transformation every year. When I left, it was brown and brittle under a hot wind. But now… how do I describe how this tropical air feels? The clouds drape around the mountains closely, white against deep green. And the air is wet, close to the face, hot in the middle of the day. Vines trail over everything, flowers heap themselves against the fences on the sides of the road. The world is heavy with growth.

I’ve lived here for five years, but the air and the smells somehow still bring me back to India at first glimpse. I’m snapping back into life her, muscle memory crackling as I take the motorbike to the market. But in those first two days when I arrived, I kept being drawn back into the first months in India, into every monsoon. And the flashes of memory brought deep love, reminders of young children, arms and legs and nursing babies. So it is a comforting feeling, this wet air. And the smells of mildew remind me of coming home.

As I am. I’m coming home. Over the next few days I have to scrub and organize my kitchen and sort through all the clothing in the house (somehow it is all on the wrong shelves). I have a house helper, a partner in crime, and I am very thankful for her right now, as it all threatens to overwhelm me. I’ve never been so great at housework. So much of life is managing things, it seems, figuring out the kids’ schedules and homeschool season, helping friends in town, hours in markets finding good things for us to eat. I have learned to love it, to lean into it. I’m waking the muscle memory for this now. I’m excited to get back into community rhythms at Shekina Garden, and I’ve signed myself up to cook the next two weeks of community lunches. Home.

The kids seem very settled and happy. Especially Isaac, who had lost his mind a bit there, at the end. He keeps spotting me in the house and running over to hug me out of pure happiness. I’m working on habits, all the good ones (writing and exercising) and bad ones (despair and panic) are all in the muscle memory as well. But I have changed, in these months away, and I’m reaching to the light places. Clearing the mold away. Saying hello to my neighbors and friends. Hearing the little bits about what's been going on here and there.

***

A couple of practical things: I wrote a post for The Charis Project after spending a day with them. The post is up! If you are looking for a place for your giving dollars, I can’t recommend Charis enough—they are an organization that works to support marginalized families in order to keep them together. 

“This is the vision I caught so clearly as I went with Charis staff from hut to hut, watching and joining in as they greeted, chatted, answered questions and sat for hours together with women in the lower margins of society. This is the kind of support that allows a mother with a special child to keep him.” Read it here.

Also, I’m soooo close to finished with my final edit on Shaper’s Daughter, World Whisperer Book 3. I’ll be sending review copies out to my Amazing Unicorn Readers’ Group for proofreading and reviews soon. The whole series will be getting a makeover too. (Yes, another one! We haven’t quite hit the genre expectations for covers yet something something, so I hired a professional book cover Artist.) 

And… I’m working on a fourth Journey Mama Writings book. So that's exciting! There are always new days to write, new days to make things. 

Short-circuit.

 Isaac and Fiona, being super cute. Not arguing. 

Isaac and Fiona, being super cute. Not arguing. 

 My kids give me many lessons, but Isaac gave me things to think about recently, perhaps reinforcing things I already know.  

He loves Memory, the game where you turn over pairs of cards, trying to get a match. In all my life I may not experience anything as delightful as playing a game with him. He laughs at every pair he finds. "Did you SEE that? How did I know it was THERE?" He gets excited when I get a pair. He gets super excited when he knows, or thinks he knows, where a pair is, hopping around on his knees and getting all trembly-cute over it. 

We have a Memory game that Miriam brought us from Germany, many years ago. The cards are adorable sets of baby animals and Isaac loves them. But the cards have been dwindling over the years, due to Isaac's habit of throwing things around (we're working on it), and the little grid of cards is really small now.  So, this Christmas I bought him a new game of Memory. I picked a Dr. Seuss set, since One Fish Two Fish is the one of the five books he wants me to read to him, ordered it, and Christy brought it over with her when she came. (Side Note: I have discovered that despite what I thought ten years ago, it actually is possible to get tired of reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. One might even be tempted to speed read through the Gox, and the Zans who opens cans, and even the Gack. Who knew?)

I was pretty excited to play it with him. I can't remember what day we first broke it out, but it was sometime in the days after Christmas. Fiona was with us. I could have predicted that there would be a little extra competition, since Fiona are Isaac are passionate kids who love to compete with each other about every single thing. They spent the three weeks they were together joyfully happy-taunting each other to see what would happen. (Tears is what would happen. Lots of "It's not." "It is." "It's not." "It is." They're totally getting married someday. JUST KIDDING. I hate it when people matchmake kid friends. Drives me crazy. But the bickering was pretty funny, when it wasn't making me want to dig into my own eardrums.)

If I was expecting anything, though, it was that Fiona would be offended by the way Isaac gloats over his growing pile of cards when he plays. "I have more than you! I have three and you have two!" He comes by the piles without any backwards-cheating on my part, too! Is it normal to be this bad at Memory at the age of 36? My focusing skills need work. I don't correct his gloating because I find it adorable, he's so utterly bewitched by his own expertise. I figured a younger kid wouldn't find it as cute.

What I couldn't have predicted was the way he would be incapacitated by the game. The new set of Memory cards was twice as big as our old set. (Yes, we lost a lot of them. Did I mention that our househelper sometimes pulls toys out of the trash she sweeps up and sometimes it's all too much? No part of my life is organized or in place, people. Don't ever think it.) 

Spread in a grid, the game looked huge. This fact took Isaac's little brain, twirled it around, and hit some sort of fuse, shutting him down completely. He was paralyzed. I mean, absolutely, completely paralyzed. He couldn't focus when either of us took our turns, he lay on the ground and cried when Fiona scored a pair. When it was his turn, he randomly flipped over two cards in a frenzy, then cried when they weren't a match. It was the game. The game was too big, the cards were different and harder to recognize. It was too much of a leap. Fiona, on the other hand, did fine. She said it was her first time playing Memory. She had nothing to compare it to, no previous triumphs to fall from.

It made me think of life and creativity. Isaac playing a new game of Memory was like my own little experiment, without a control, really, so I can't go publishing any papers, but it makes me think. I'm learning about procrastination, self-sabotage, and good habits all the time. Allthetime. I teach five not-easy kids, all of whom are brilliant, with as many procrastination, self sabotage, short-circuiting habits as you can imagine. I'm trying to teach the older ones about how to accomplish big projects without falling apart (they're getting there). And I have to do it myself, with every book I write or painting I undertake. I still have projects I need to get to, things that are still causing me to curl up like a snail in my shell because I haven't figured out how to tackle them yet. I learned a long time ago: write out all the little steps. Go bit by bit. Take a piece and then take a tiny bite of that piece. Buy the paper. Write for forty-five minutes.

For Isaac, I'll divide the cards in half and we'll play that way, slowly adding cards until he feels like the champion of Memory again.

As someone who often feels like barely a grownup, and who still can't figure out how to clean her kitchen at night, I would still offer you advice, if only because I get things done. (Sometimes.) If you have creative projects that you're working on this year, or even ones you want to do, write out all the little steps. Then make them into smaller steps. Begin checking them off. Set timers. Force one thing, then take that pleased feeling and build on it until you are the champion of creative things.  

Examples of first steps:  

-Buy the yarn

-Watch a video on drawing

-Write out the thoughts you've been dreaming over the dishes

-Make a Pinterest board of art you like

-Take a picture

-Buy a book on writing

Bonus: Here's my writing chart right now. I have to color things in to keep myself writing. I hope that makes you feel better.

 Yes, those are odd increments. I got confused! I'm not a graph maker! 

Yes, those are odd increments. I got confused! I'm not a graph maker! 

Path of Springs Cover Reveal!

Dear ones, in the midst of Advent preparations and getting my house ready for three very special guests, (Christy and the girls are coming!) I am releasing a book. In just five more days, Path Of Springs will be out in the world!

Chinua and I are both artists, (what that means is that we have a house full of children who get moody and emotional when their creations don't turn out the way they were hoping- we are an tempestuous household, not one of those chill households you hear rumors about) and we have collaborated before, but this was particularly satisfying. I drew the characters and he took what I made and created designs around my drawings. 

We remade the first cover as well, because as much as I love the artwork of Isika that my friend Tom made, I showed my cover to a group of booky people and they didn't guess the right genre at all. So we went back to work, as you do.

Here's what we made:  

IMG_0076.JPG

Isika. 

IMG_0077.JPG

And Benayeem.  

I love all my characters, but I particularly love these two. 

If you haven't read World Whisperer yet, why for? You have some catching up to do!  (You can buy it here.)

I'll be back soon with an excerpt for you. Till then, be well in this beautiful advent season.

A Pond and my New Book

IMG_0040.JPG

Today I have a pond for you. 

The last few weeks have been some of my lowest in years. Perhaps I am absorbing the sorrow of this nation, perhaps I am finally losing my marbles. I flail around as always, looking for a way out. Everywhere I look: sorrow and the mistakes of humanity, the mistakes of living in fear of others, fear of the unknown. 

But I sat by this pond and I breathed in good things.  

Water bugs ran across the surface of the pond, casting tiny shadows. I watched for many minutes. Their legs make a delicate dimple on the water that reflects sky, and you think, "Maybe they'll fall in, I hope they don't fall in." But they never do. Lighter than air. 

I am thirty-six years old, how long can I go on wishing I had been made differently? Wishing I was more light-hearted, less difficult, less complicated. Neurotypical.  

And the world beats on, while I'm in the dark. And mistakes are made, and bad people are elevated, and so here it is: stop wishing. 

These are some true things: 

1. We cannot live in fear. Fear will choke us and keep us from each other. And Jesus was all about being together, loving one another, not being afraid of the other.  

2. You are dearly, dearly loved by the Holy One, the Maker of the Universe. So is every refugee, disenfranchised person, disabled person, woman, person of color, gay, lesbian or trans person, and immigrant. All of us, dearly loved.

3. Beautiful things have always happened during difficult times. There will be a lot of beauty in the days ahead. May God open our eyes. 

I'm not good for many things: you probably don't want to meet me, I'm socially awkward and scared in crowds.  

But I will keep writing. And my stories will be against fear and for acceptance. 

I have a fun announcement: World Whisperer 2 has a title. It's called Path of Springs, and it will launch on December 15, just a tiny bit later than I first imagined, back when I forgot I didn't have superpowers.  

I am making a new cover for World Whisperer with my Superstar husband, and also a cover for Path of Springs. They are not in existence yet, but you'll be the first to know when they are.  

In the meantime, here's a little time lapse of me drawing Isika for the first cover.