All Posts Tagged With: "family"
Carrie’s Conversation with Lynne Griffin, Author of SEA ESCAPE
Carrie: Without giving too much away, give us an idea about what SEA ESCAPE is about.
Lynne: SEA ESCAPE is a story inspired by my parents love letters; it’s about the ties that bind mothers and daughters. Laura Martinez is wedged in the middle place, grappling with her busy life as a nurse, wife, and devoted mom to Henry and Claire, when her estranged mother, Helen, suffers a devastating stroke. In a desperate attempt to lure her mother into choosing life, Laura goes to Sea Escape, the pristine beach home that Helen took refuge in when her carefully crafted life unraveled years ago, after the death of her beloved husband. Believing the beauty and sway of her father’s words have the power to heal, Laura reads the letters bedside to her mother–a woman who once spoke the language of fabric; of Peony Sky in Jade and Paradise Garden Sage–but who can’t or won’t speak to her now. As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, each letter revealing patchwork details of her parents’ marriage, she finds a common thread. A secret, mother and daughter unknowingly share.
Carrie: What inspired you to write SEA ESCAPE?
Lynne: After my own mother passed away in 2000, I found love letters written to her by my father. As I read, I went so far as to imagine excerpts of my father’s beautiful writing shining within a novel I might someday write. In those musings, SEA ESCAPE was born. The letters were then and are now a treasure. The love captured within, pure and sincere. Yet to my storyteller’s heart, reading them then, I couldn’t help but think–not enough conflict, no secrets, no dramatic reveal. Certainly I didn’t want those things to come by way of my parents, but right then I started imagining a different story belong to a different daughter. That story is SEA ESCAPE.
Carrie: Is there an underlying theme of SEA ESCAPE?
Lynne: I’ve been a family life expert for more than twenty years, and there’s so much about my work counseling parents, observing children, and teaching educators about families that I use in writing fiction. My desire to capture family life in authentic ways feeds the themes of all my novels. There’s no shortage of seeds from my work that I use to inform my writing. Anton Chekhov called them little particulars. Right there in my everyday life are organic details that give genuineness to the stories I create. I’ve had my own grief work to do over the years; I lost my father when I was fifteen and my mother when I was forty. As a professional who’s taught classes and counseled parents and children about healthy grieving, I’ve always been struck by the choices people make related to the loss of a loved one—the healthy and unhealthy ways grief work gets done. So I write about the choices people make when faced with unbelievable pain. What really holds a marriage together when it’s tested. I examine the impact of loss on all kinds of relationships—mother, brother, sister, daughter, friend. If they start off strong—or don’t—what happens? Why do some people thrive after a loss, finding true purpose, while others don’t come out of it stronger?
Carrie: Which character do you identify with the most in SEA ESCAPE? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in SEA ESCAPE? If so, while you were writing or only afterwards upon review?
Lynne: I truly care about all my characters—in all their shades of humanity—yet the one I love the most is Helen. Like my own mother did, Helen struggles with what’s called prolonged grief disorder, a specific kind of depression brought on by loss. For some, grief refuses to follow the typical trajectory toward healing. In my years as a grief counselor, I’ve met countless people who simply can not move through the grieving process. I empathize with Helen, stuck in the past, gripped by the pain of loss. I have enormous compassion for her because of what my mother experienced after the death of my father. For this reason, SEA ESCAPE is a deeply personal and emotional novel for me. Helen is a character I will be forever connected to.
Carrie: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about writing fiction?
Lynne: Close the door on the marketplace while you write. Writing to trends–trying to guess what readers want–isn’t for me. I feel an obligation to write for the story, to let the characters tell me about their lives. I believe if my story and characters are authentic, the novel will find its audience.
Carrie: Can you offer a glimpse into your “real life” and share with us a bit of your personal life—Outside of writing, what’s important to you?
Lynne: I live in a seaside town much like Anaskaket depicted in SEA ESCAPE. I’m married to the most supportive husband a woman could have, and we have two college age children; a daughter studying vocal performance and music education, and a son studying jazz piano and music sound recording. My family provides me my greatest joy in life—and there’s a lot of music in my life too. My husband and children support, encourage, and ground me in unbelievable ways. I am very blessed. If I’m not spending time with them, or writing, I’m reading. The to-be-read piles of books in my home are an embarrassment of riches.
Carrie: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?
Lynne: Everything I read influences my work. If a novel isn’t working for me, I try to analyze from a craft perspective, why that’s the case. And if I love it, the same applies. I want to know how and why it sings. There are so many novels on my keeper shelf, books I dip in to, to be inspired. Wally Lamb’s, The Hour I First Believed; Margot Livesey’s, Eva Moves the Furniture; Nicole Krauss’s, The History of Love. I love everything by Ann Patchett, Sue Miller, and Jonathan Safran Foer. Novels I’ve recently read and adored include Day for Night by Frederick Reiken, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave.
Just a Bit More About Lynne Griffin:
Lynne Griffin writes about family life. She is the author of, Sea Escape-A novel (Simon & Schuster, July 2010) Life Without Summer-A novel (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), and the nonfiction parenting title, Negotiation Generation (Penguin, 2007). Lynne teaches family studies at the graduate level and writing at Grub Street Writers in Boston. She appears regularly on Boston’s Fox Morning News talking about family life issues. Lynne writes for the blog, Family Life Stories.
**Click HERE to visit Lynne’s website
SEA ESCAPE Excerpt ~ Chapter 1
Letters are windows casting light, illuminating the ties between two people. I could’ve sneaked a peek inside my parents’ romance by reading his letters to her, but I respected my mother’s love of curtains. At forty-five, the details of their marriage remained a mystery to me; I had no desire to confirm what I already knew. Even dead, she loved him more than me. My mother spent her days drenched in memories of safe arms and sweet music, reading his precious words, faded ink on yellowed stationery. I looked for ghosts around corners, certain I was running out of time to find a way to be enough for her. An inability to live in the present was one thing we had in common.
“Are you okay in there, Mother?” Well aware she startled at loud noises, I knocked lightly on the door nearest the driveway. No answer. By the fourth rap, I couldn’t stop myself, I was pounding.
The first pinprick of worry jabbed me as I wondered if this was the day I’d find my mother dead in her double bed, cold, even though she was covered by her wedding quilt of interlocking green and pink floral circles. Juggling two grocery bags and reminding the kids to stop at the end of the boardwalk leading to Anaskaket Beach, I jiggled the lock, but she’d bolted and double-bolted the place as if Sea Escape sat on a main street in the city instead of on waterfront acreage south of Boston.
To Enter to Win a FREE Copy of SEA ESCAPE:
Leave a Comment Below ~ We’d love to hear about one of your favorite memories about your parents/family
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Deadline: August 1st, 2010 ~ Midnight, EST
Are you a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd like me?
When I started Words To Mouth, one of my earliest blog posts talked about the excitement of one of my favorite authors/books coming to the big screen—Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. Well, now that same author and her daughter, Anna Kidd Taylor, are coming to Words To Mouth. Sue and Anna, wrote a mother-daugher memoir called TRAVELING WITH POMEGRANATES and have agreed to take a few moments out of their busy book tour to chat with me on SEPTEMBER 10th. I’m beyond thrilled ~ what an honor!
ENTER to Win a FREE Copy:
Leave a Comment Below
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Deadline April 30th, 2009 midnight EST
U.S. & Canada Residents Only; No P.O. Boxes Please
- Comment below and/or
- Call 206-309-7318 and leave a voice mail message about your thoughts on The Shack, our interview, or maybe your own faith story
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- Deadline – February 15th, 2009 (midnight EST)
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“I truly believe we are as sick as the secrets we keep,” shares Paul.
“It’s all about relationship, not religion”
Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant “The Shack” wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!
Some of Paul’s “future tripping” blog post ~ a term now part of my common vernacular among friends:
A couple of years ago, I decided to stop ‘future tripping’. ‘Future Tripping’ is ‘taking thought for tomorrow’, it is creating imaginations of what is going to happen and then actually take a mental and emotional trip to live there for a bit. It is ‘what am I going to do if _________ (fill in the blank), what am I going to say if __________, what would our family go through if _____________. I confess to you that I have experienced many un-realities and their attendant emotions this way.
I have repeatedly suffered huge financial losses, ended up living under one of the city bridges, been abandoned by my family, suffered the loss of each of my children, had my closest friends turn out to be villains, embarrassed myself in public, was put on the spot and said something stupid, been to my own funeral (more than once), unsuccessfully tried to stop something horrible from happening, failed repeatedly to live up to somebody’s expectations, been horribly maimed in every kind of imaginable accident known to man, lost all my teeth, lost every job I ever had, came down with every disease possible, regularly looked like an idiot, got my lights punched out for no reason, explained my driving to a police officer, lost my friends, went to school and found out I wasn’t wearing anything, got mugged, imagined the situation that I currently was in was permanent…that nothing could ever or would ever change…
…you get the idea. I have written volumes of imaginations in my own head, things that have no substance, no reality, and are empty, vain imaginations. But I treat them as if they are real. I feel all kinds of terrifying and horrible emotions, and scramble to control my life so that these imaginations won’t actually come to pass. THESE IMAGINATIONS ARE NOT REAL!!!! But I had spent most of my life in or around them. GOD DOES NOT DWELL IN ANYTHING THAT IS NOT REAL!!! In these imaginations, Papa is conspicuously absent. Why? Because Papa has no interest in living inside something that isn’t even real to begin with. So in my ‘vain’ empty imaginations, I am the only ‘god’ there is. I have to fix things, make sure things turn out right, try to get a handle on people and events…and frankly, I do a very poor job of it…this playing god thing. So, my life tended to be gripped by fear and I worked hard to get some ‘control’ to prevent these imaginations that I feared. I had a habit of treating something that had no reality or substance as if it were truly real.
A couple years ago I stopped this insanity. And here is what I discovered. JOY has a name (for more…visit Paul’s wonderful blog website).
I’ve had this interview in my back pocket for awhile. I took to heart an expert podcaster’s advice to have at least 10 shows in the hopper, so as to be prepared and it sort of backfired. I think I do best living life a bit more on the edge. So…my apologies on the delay to Amy. I think you’ll agree, it’s worth the wait ~ She’s a pleasure. Listen in as we talk about her life, her book, and her blogs.
Afterwards, don’t forget to comment below and/or call 206-309-7318 and leave a voice mail message to be entered to win a FREE copy of HOW FAR IS THE OCEAN FROM HERE. You’ll need to subscribe to my e-newsletter to make it quick and easy for me to announce the winner! Please leave me a review on iTunes and don’t forget to subscribe to Words To Mouth to get it delivered to your computer for free, so you can listen wherever and whenever you’d like. “Thanks” as always to Natalie Brown for You Gotta Believe from the Podsafe Music Network. About HOW FAR IS THE OCEAN FROM HERE: Susannah Prue is a young, unmarried surrogate mother who, in the days before her delivery date, panics. Jumping into her car, she flees her Chicago home and a few days later pulls up to a bleak motel in the Southwest—the Thunder Lodge. There, she encounters misfits, much like herself, who also carry secrets: the motel’s terse proprietors, their mentally disabled son, and a woman transporting her niece to the father she’s never met. But when the parents of Susannah’s baby discover her whereabouts, she can no longer ignore the profound power she holds over their lives. Beautifully written, How Far Is the Ocean from Here explores the ways in which people care for one another and the ways in which they fail, the kinds of families we create when we have no one else to turn to, and the strangeness and unpredictability of love.
Book Excerpt: Chapter One, “Otherhood”
Along the highway in that stretch of desert, some-where between West Texas and East New Mexico, there was nothing and nothing and nothing and then the Thunder Lodge. But what a nothing! There the horizon had a weight she hadn’t known a horizon could have; a plain unvaried by cactus or tree, unstirred by lizard or coyote, undimpled by even a shadow, only here and there the slightest swell of hills. A house, a diner, a roadside attraction—an abandoned gas station with leaking, ancient snouts; a gigantic plaster dinosaur; a man in a gorilla suit advertising discounted tires—any distraction would have inspired as raucous a land ho as has ever been heard. But there was nothing, and still she moved onward, and still the desert lay insensible to any human who entered it.
That is to say, the highway was so forgotten in those stretches that it was difficult to believe it had ever been built. Out walking on its dusty shoulder, her hands pressed to her belly as if it might detach in the heat, sweat trickling between her shoulder blades, Susannah tried to imagine the men who had done such a thing, these ghostly men who’d installed the devolving asphalt: bending their backs in the sunlight, their lungs struggling in the grit of reddish dirt, the hides of their legs and hands torn from arguing with the sinewy tangles that accounted for vegetation. On the whole she spent entirely too much time daydreaming—it was a weakness, she knew— picturing what it was like to be somebody else, trying on different versions of herself like suits of skin. Now she was entirely out of context, a paper doll slapped onto an unfamiliar backdrop, just any pregnant girl standing on the side of the highway twisting her spine, giving the overheated car a minute to tick time-bombishly, a chance to stop steaming from the hood. (For more, go to the full excerpt on Amy’s website
Amy’s Book Recommendations:
- The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton ~ “It is so wonderful. If you just want to spend a weekend at home weeping, I highly recommend it,” says Amy.
- Amy says about her favorite author: “Virginia Woolf inspires me…at the same time making me feel like there is no point in writing anything”
Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking; Powerful, Practical Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Flexibility, Resilience and Happiness – Tamar Chansky, PH.D.
I will be taking a copy of this book along with me on the Manic Mommies Escape Cruise for a door prize. I have another copy that you can win simply by commenting below and/or calling 206-309-7318. Tell me about your child and how you think this book may assist in changing his/her focus or maybe even your own.
TAMAR E. CHANSKY, PH.D., founder and director of the Children’s Center for OCD and Anxiety, is the author of Freeing Your Child from Obsessive -Compulsive Disorder and Freeing Your Child from Anxiety. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughters.
Check out Tamar’s websites:
Carrie: Tamar, what inspired you to write Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking?
Tamar: The first sparks for this book came to me about four years ago, when in the midst of doing my work as a child psychologist for anxious children, I had a couple of weeks when it seemed like every other child in my office was stuck in a spin of negative thinking. These are children who are saddled with a strong negative first reaction to any situation, tend to be hard on themselves and others, are perfectionistic and pessimistic in their view of themselves, the world and the future. I saw the parents of these children trying desperately to cheer their children up and reassure them, to no avail. What these children needed was not to hear that everything was fine (they knew that somewhere deep down), but rather they needed to understand that negative thinking is not the truth, far from it, it is more of a knee jerk reaction in the brain to disappointment or failure. Rather than the brain sending helpful messages like, this didn’t go well, let’s see how to fix it, the negative brain goes to extremes—This is unfixable! You are a failure! Give up, if this didn’t work, nothing will! So these children needed to hear from their parents that these thoughts and experiences are normal, temporary, and completely surmountable.
M.I.L.D.E.W. (Mother-in-Laws Do Everything Wrong), now in its second printing, is a hysterical marriage companion book every woman should have in her back pocket–either to make herself laugh when those inevitable mother-in-law issues arise or to have at-the-ready for a girlfriend who may need a dose of M.I.L.D.E.W. perspective.
Co-Authors, Liz Buper and Renee Plastique (okay, their names have been changed to protect their identity 😉 bring humor to an otherwise extremely frustrating dynamic. The acronym, M.I.L.D.E.W., is infiltrating today’s vernacular and every woman can relate–we all have a personal or “friend” story to contribute when the mother-in-law topic is broached. I have to admit, I truly had the sweetest mother-in-law on the planet. She passed away over 10 years ago and I miss her, but even so…there were times!
This is a quick read that will have you laughing out loud–complete with a quiz and unbelievable real-life M.I.L.D.E.W. examples. I have two AUTOGRAPHED copies of M.I.L.D.E.W. to give away, so ENTER TO WIN or click on the book below and buy now! Comment below or call 206-309-7318 with your MILDEW story!
Carrie: What inspired you to write this book?
Liz & Renee: MILDEW was created when we found ourselves on the phone frequently discussing challenging situations involving our mothers-in-law. Realizing that our husbands would not fully appreciate these discussions, we decided we needed a code word—thus, MILDEW was born. Soon the word “MILDEW” replaced “mother-in-law” in our conversations. The more we told our friends about MILDEW, the more we heard funny and outrageous stories. We found that sharing stories lent much needed support and humor not only to our own situations, but to others’ as well. It was at this point that we were inspired to write a book. Though our personal lives inspired MILDEW, it was the incredible response we got from so many women—of all ages and backgrounds, from all over the world—that really drove us to write M.I.L.D.E.W. We felt a duty to share our stories, strategies, support, and humor with our fellow MILDEW-sufferers!
Carrie: How long did it take to write your book?
Liz & Renee: We actually started writing 10 years before our book was published—well before the Internet and e-mail. In the early years we used to send the manuscript to each other via modem! Most of the time, though, that didn’t work so we’d send floppy disks through the mail. Then the “baby years” began—the years when we were each having children. So MILDEW was an on-again-off-again project for a while, which ended up being a good thing. The Internet really made this book possible because we were able to reach fellow MILDEW-sufferers from all over the world! We received stories from women (and some men) all over the U.S. as well as Canada, Mexico, India, United Kingdom and Australia!
Carrie: Any interesting, strange, quirky story about writing the book?
Liz & Renee: Getting permission to use the quotes scattered throughout the book was an adventure all its own. We spoke to the children of several famous personalities, such as Henny Youngman and Margaret Mead. And at the other end of the spectrum, we spoke with several Alaskan fishermen regarding the mother-in-law fish as well as a 1960’s game show aficionado.
Carrie: Have you observed a concentration of MILDEW in certain parts of the country, or does it exist across the board?
Liz & Renee: MILDEW goes back centuries, having been documented as far back as ancient Rome, so it’s truly a universal experience. When we were collecting stories for our book, we posted notices on Internet discussion forums worldwide and received a huge response. MILDEW knows no bounds, transcending age, culture, economic status and geography. Thanks to our book, though, our fellow MILDEW-sufferers now know they are not alone.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from this book?