Books and more books

Reading books.jpg

I love the reading that goes on around here, all the time. Kai is reading a new series- Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins- and is totally engrossed. Leafy is reading The Hobbit-- his choice of reading material, coming directly after Amelia Bedelia. I had him read me a page to make sure he was up to it, and was pleasantly surprised. All I can say about this boy is Look Out World. You won't know what hit you with the sweetness, the brains, the inventive beauty. 

Erin from Coffeebeings has written a lovely review of Trees Tall As Mountains, so please, head over and check it out, and then stick around for some of her amazing recipes and homeschooling inspiration.

And I have been having perhaps the biggest promotion I've ever had, giving away ebook copies of The Eve Tree and Trees Tall as Mountains at the same time. If there was any reason you were hesitating about getting a copy, you don't need to anymore.  

As I write this post Chinua is playing his guitar beside me. I love Saturday mornings.

The Eve Tree: today free on Kindle

Creative Self is taking over for Marketing Self in the book department today.

She's taking a break from doodling to tell you that for some reason, the kindle version of The Eve Tree is free on Amazon. We're not sure why, since we didn't schedule it, but there it is.

"Going free" is the ebook version of a billboard, or one of those guys dressed as a pickle, waving a sign on the side of the road.

Lots of downloads are good, as they are the equivalent of making the billboard a little bigger, or giving the pickle guy oversized sparkly sunglasses and a sombrero.

So go get your free digital version of The Eve Tree, and spread the word! I'm not sure how much longer this will last, since it seems to be completely out of my control!

(This only applies to Amazon, not to any other digital format, for now.)

A Writer's Dream

I'm sitting in my new office on my front porch, watching the sky turn pink, swatting away mosquitoes. It's hot and humid already and the sun isn't even up, and I have a to do list as long as the little lane we live on. Most of the things on my to do list include scrubbing mold, in the heat, so what I'd really like to do is share one more moment from Varanasi with you.

This one I'll share as a story.

Back in our friend's courtyard, an old friend stopped by. I'll call him G Baba. I hope it's not too presumptuous to call him an old friend, since I've never really spent as much time with him as I'd like to. But he's in the family, so to speak, he's great friends with Brendan and Leaf and Ute, and we go way back, to the time that I stayed in Varanasi for a few months, almost eleven years ago.

He came by, and I made chai, and we sat and chatted for a while, while the kids skippered around us  and the chipmunks stole out with great daring, to find crumbs that we missed at lunch.

G Baba is a Canadian who made his way to India as a young man, and never left. He's been in Varanasi for forty years, living life as a sadhu. It means he doesn't own many things at all, he's poor, he walks everywhere. It's a difficult life. He's following a path, he says, trying to find God. When he was young he thought it might take a few years. Now he believes it will take his whole life.

We chatted about lots of things-- where our family will live in the future, political things, how stupid he thinks this upcoming race in Delhi is. I asked him some questions about his life, about the places he goes (not many) and the curves in life that brought him here.

And then we got around to talking about my book. G Baba read Leaf's copy of The Eve Tree and he began asking me about my writing process, how long it took me. He asked me at what point I came up with the scene at the end of the book, the pivotal scene. I told him it was the idea that sparked (ha ha) the whole book, although it didn't come out in its entirety, take the shape it has until I wrote it. G Baba called it my "Million Dollar Scene." He said it came upon him like an epiphany. He really liked the book. He really understood it. He GOT it.

I want to say that it was one of the most rewarding moments of my life, sitting and talking about The Eve Tree with G Baba in that courtyard. This independent publishing journey has been like a stiff hike up a tall mountain, with breathtaking views along the way and lots of sweat and gallons of water gulped from various streams. Talking with G Baba was like rounding a corner in the Himalayas, and getting a glimpse of snow capped mountains.

Everything I've wanted with my writing was right there. To tell a story of one world with someone in such a different world, to have them understand it and love it. To have it effect them, bring an epiphany. I didn't know my writing would bridge my worlds of travelers and of books, but it has, it's starting to.

And I see God in all of it, working in it right along, even as I take time from all my community things to pore over my notes and I hole myself away in a little room somewhere. I see more and more, this is what I was made to do. Back in Goa now I've been remembering all the little rooms I wrote in. The little studio back with the pigs, the hut on the beach which was hot and started to smell like sewage. Fighting for time, scrambling for words, waking in the early hours before anyone else is awake. And then I turn the corner and there G Baba is in the courtyard and the view is breathtaking. It makes the whole thing worth it.

This and that.

I haven't left the house today, nor have I changed out of my pyjamas. I'm sick. Sickety sick sick. The flu that we've all been playing with for weeks (can we pass the same flu around and back and forth?) got me.

This is made much more comfortable by the fact that we found ourselves a little place for the time that we're here in Pai, Thailand. (About a month and a half.) I was shocked to find it so quickly, on our second day here. A little short-term rental, with a big living space and two bedrooms, and a tiny kitchen. You can't really call it a kitchen- it has a single camp stove burner and a sink, but it'll work.

I have lots to tell and show, but for today, I wanted to let you know about Linda's review of The Eve Tree. Linda is someone I wish I was able to spend more time with. We got to know each other last summer when Chinua and I were in Santa Cruz for three months. She's a creative, incredible person.

Has it been a year? Time goes so quickly. Anyways, Linda's review is here.

The Eve Tree is a fabulous book, but I don't want to give anything away. Finding out along the way is so amazing. I will tell you this, though, Rachel has a way of writing that makes me feel like I know the characters. I can smell the fire and feel the anxiety and keep reading past bed time to find out what is going to happen next. There are so many emotions in this story ranging from deep, committed love, fear, grief, and anger. It's quite artful the way it all comes together.

Thanks, Linda.

Also, speaking of The Eve Tree, here's something that connects in a roundabout way. The setting of my book had a very real inspiration, as the book loosely based on a real fire in Humboldt County. The friends of mine who told me the story about the fire on their land blog at The Ranch on Salmon Creek. They were early readers and had many ideas that took shape over the years I was working on it.

Beyond book stuff, they are some of my best friends, some of the most wonderful people I know. And maybe some of you remember Renee, another of my best friends... my dear Renee who danced on the beach and lights up life for everyone around her?

She recently started a new blog and bought a new camera, and she recently visited the ranch, two fortunate things for us, because she took a set of photos during her visit that made my heart go "ping!" when I saw them. Besides the fact that I wish I could have joined in the visit, and the fact that the photos express so much of what I feel about the ranch and Tj and Mark, I can't wait to see more of Renee's photos. She's a talented girl, in so many ways. It's awesome to see one more talent unfolding.

This and that


* I'm doing better. It's like a spiraling escalator, really. When I get on the anxiety escalator, nothing makes sense and my mind won't work properly. I have to concentrate on getting off the escalator by sorting out all those chemical misfirings. Logic doesn't work. I have to get off the escalator before logic has any effect at all.

Things that help: sleep, reading, eating well, retreat, retreat, retreat! Quiet and gentleness. Resetting. Your kindness in my comment box.

* I have a few lovely reviews to show you.

Erin's is here.

Denise Tanton's is here.

And Elizabeth wrote one at 5 minutes for Books.

Thank you so much for all your help with my baby bird.

* Any Google+ users? I'm here.

 A note on Social Media and anxiety. The "Social" collision of Social Anxiety and Social Media make it a difficult place for me sometimes. When it gets rough, I'm trying to focus on love. Love will ground us every time. We are all just children, after all.

* We're leaving Nepal. We knew coming here that in order to be back in Goa next season on our tourist visa, that we would have to be in two other countries in these six months. (Necessarily. It's a visa thing.)

We're on our way to Thailand. Packing and excited. Thailand is one of the least expensive places to travel to from here, and it's a place we know.

Without giving all the details, I'll just say that we took a leap and came to Asia, thinking we had a way to stay in one or two homes a year. Things shifted on us, and we haven't worked out all the lumps. We're getting there, I hope... We hope to have a place to live, mostly year round, soon.

* I'm trucking along in my new novel. A bit stuck, but I have the experience of the first to let me know that what happens at this stage doesn't really matter all that much, as it will barely resemble the finished work.