The Message of La La Land

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

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It should be said that I was never a skeptic. Perhaps because I had watched Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone together in Crazy Stupid Love and already knew the onscreen chemistry they would share. Perhaps because there was something shimmering and magical even in the trailer that was out months and months ago, something that made me say to myself, “I want to write a novel that makes people feel the way that trailer just made me feel.” Just the trailer. So when the movie released I was certain to see it, soon, and several times.

I didn’t have to be convinced, and yet I was still surprised by La La Land. From the vast opening number with people dancing and singing for miles, to that last look, I was captivated. But more than that I was moved by what–to me– was the message of the movie. I expected the singing, the dancing, the chemistry, the colors. I just didn’t expect the message woven into the story. Because typically musicals are for fun, not thinking. And yet, this movie has left me thinking for weeks.

What was the message? Well, I don’t want to say too much for those of you who may not’ve seen it. So I will just say this: If you have a dream (“Here’s to the ones who dream”), you should go out and do something daring. You should take a risk. You should be different, swim against the tide. You may not succeed in the way you initially envision success. But in the risk you will find success you didn’t see coming.

As a writer, I’ve played it safe and I’ve taken risks. And the risks have paid off far more than the playing it safe. Sure, the risks were scarier, bolder, more vulnerable. Sure, some have blown up in my face. But some have changed everything and that, as Robert Frost said, has made all the difference.

If you’ve seen the movie, this will make sense. (Or, I hope it does.) And if you haven’t seen the movie, I hope that the message of La La Land will intrigue you. Because my bet is, you have a dream. (Or, I hope you do.) And dreams, like anything, have to be fed to survive. This movie feeds dreams.

So I hope you’ll go see it. I hope you’ll get past whatever misgivings you may have about musicals, you won’t listen to the people who say they don’t like the ending (it was, after all, the ending the story demanded), and you’ll go get lost in the movie. And along the way, you’ll be inspired by the message. Inspired to go dream your own dreams and take your own risks. And occasionally, because this life demands it, break out into song.

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Flight Of Dreams: Now Available In Paperback

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon | @ArielLawhon

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Sometimes I forget that my books are born twice. Once, in hardcover, and then, typically, a year later, in paperback. So I’m sitting here today, at my desk, looking at the new cover for FLIGHT OF DREAMS and I’m struggling to explain how I feel. Humbled, is the best word I can find, but that doesn’t seem completely accurate. I am also amazed. And grateful. And a bit weepy for some reason.

I never really know what to say on days like this. You’ve heard all my stories; how I came up with the idea, how I met a man on book tour who had actually been inside the Hindenburg, and why I chose to write about this particular tragedy. So I will simply say, thank you.

Thank you for reading the book and writing to me afterward. Thank you for sharing your stories and your memories about this event. Thank you for telling your friends about it. Thank you for showing up in bookstores all across the country. Thank you for listening to the audiobook (didn’t John Lee do an amazing job?) and asking over and over and over if it will be turned into a film (it won’t). Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Of all the authors in all the world, I am the most fortunate.

And if you’ve not yet met Emilie, Gertrud, Max, Werner, and The American, it would be my honor to introduce you. FLIGHT OF DREAMS is out in paperback today and ready to meet a whole new group of readers.

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“At every page a guilty secret bobs up; at every page Lawhon keeps us guessing. Who will bring down the Hindenburg? And how?”
— New York Times Book Review

On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.

Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.

Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.

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My Top Books of 2016

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Annnnd, we’re back! Though I have to say I don’t feel like we ever went away. For me, the word “break” was a misnomer over this particular Christmas holiday. Between trips and get-togethers and ill-timed deadlines and illness, the last month has been a whirlwind. In that way, I think my whole family was happy to get back into more of a routine with school starting again and a new year to dive into.

However you celebrated– whether you feel rested or not– we are glad you’re back with us, and we hope you’ll keep coming back this year, as we’ve got some fun things planned!

I wanted to share a rundown of my favorite books from this year. Listed in no certain order, except the last one, which was my favorite of this year!

All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher– quirky, unexpected, sweet

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes– inspiring, informative, funny

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley– gripping, tense, well written– couldn’t put it down

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney– characters who stayed with me long after the story was over, gorgeous writing

It’s Ok To Laugh by Nora Mcinnerney Purmort– cried my way through it, even with all the crying, still glad I read it

Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand– it’s not summer without her stories and this one didn’t disappoint

Faithful by Alice Hoffman– reactivated my love of this author and had me going back to read her older stuff

The Girls by Emma Cline– dark, gorgeous, disturbing

Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon– loved, loved, loved it on audio, read by the author, as it should be

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty– anything by our #ReadSavannah keynote author gets my vote

And #1…

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins– Maybe it’s just because I’m a child of the 80’s and a huge fan, but this one moved me, surprised me, and had me thinking about it anytime I wasn’t listening to it. And yes, I said listening. I think that the audio version of this book is the only way to experience it. Because Phil himself reads it, so you hear it exactly how he meant it to be rendered on the page. I was more than a little sad that it was over. And I’m jealous of any of you who haven’t had the pleasure.

Later in the week Ariel will share her favorite books of 2016 too (Except there won’t be as many because she’s a slow-poke and braindead and on deadline…says Ariel herself, who edits this blog and all the posts and loves to have the final word…Hi guys, glad to be back!).

2016 was a wonderful reading year– and 2017 is shaping up to be another one! Keep checking back with for more great books you’re not going to want to miss. And we apologize if your TBR stack starts looking like this! #sorrynotsorry

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What We’re Into: (Belated) November 2016 Edition

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen, Ariel Lawhon, & Rachel Corbet Reece | @MarybethWhalen @ArielLawhon & @RachelCReece

Well, friends, it’s time for us to take our annual Christmas break. It’s tradition for us to shutter the blog during the month of December so we can intentionally celebrate the Advent season. Granted, this year it feels as though we pulled the curtains a bit early, but, what with Marybeth’s injury and two soul-crushing deadlines we didn’t have much of a choice. Thanks for your patience on that count! We’ll be back on January 9th with a whole new website and a bunch of fun announcements–not the least of which is information on our next live event (New Orleans anyone?). Until then, please hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And of course we’re all active on our personal accounts as well.

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Marybeth

Christmas novels. This time of year makes me want a good cozy love story with Christmasy elements. This year Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle and What Light by Jay Asher are currently on my nightstand. I’ve also got numbers of Hallmark movies in my DVR.

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Nature Valley Biscuits with Almond Butter are my current “running out the door but need to grab something to eat so I don’t faint” food item. A nutritionist I am not but the fact that these are made by Nature Valley and have the words “almond butter” on the package means I feel good about eating them. Don’t tell me if they’re terrible for me.

Inkwell Press LiveWELL Planner. If you follow me on Instagram you already know about my planner obsession. Though I’m still loving all things traveler’s notebooks, my most recent planner love is for the Inkwell Press LiveWELL Planner for 2017, mainly because of the way Tonya, the founder, has devoted space for both the year and each individual month to goal setting. Nothing like wrapping up one year and turning towards another to make me start setting goals like a madwoman. (If you’d like to order one, use this link to save $10 off your purchase!)

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Ariel

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The paperback version of FLIGHT OF DREAMS. Yes, I know, technically I’ve been into this book all year. But it’s coming out in paperback on January 10th so it’s front and center in my mind again. And here she is with a new cover! I love, love, love that they used an illustration of the actual smoking room on board the Hindenburg.

Vacation. Not something we really get to do. Life with four kids is crazy expensive. But my husband and I had been saving to go on a trip for our anniversary in January. Then we stumbled across a fluke deal where the six of us could go to Cozumel for what it would have cost for my husband and I to go alone. So we packed everyone up the week before Thanksgiving and flew them off to a tropical island and I have no words for how utterly perfect it was. So many firsts for the kids. First time on a plane. First time to snorkel. First time to play hooky from school. First time to try crazy new foods like calamari and paella. It make be the only time we get to take a trip like this, but if so, I will be always grateful because I could not have asked for anything more.

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Burt’s Bees Lipstick. I’ve used their tinted chapstick for years but a random trip down the cosmetics aisle last month came with the realization that they are now making lipstick as well. SOLD! I’ve already bought Suede Splash and Scarlet Soaked and have used them every day.

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Rachel Corbett Reece (the new face around here)

(A quick note from Ariel. Our good friend, Rachel Corbett Reece, joined the She Reads team earlier this year. She’s been helping coordinate the blog network but will be taking on a greater role with the website and with our monthly selections. She’s funny and brilliant and one of our all-time favorite people. Rachel is a writter, a university lecturer, and connosuer of all things Southern. Please give her a warm welcome!)

Bubbles. No, not champagne, Bai Bubbles sparkling antioxidant drinks. Fruity-fresh tasting, 5 calories per can, and I’ve yet to find a favor I don’t like. I’ve taken to ordering them by the case from Amazon. Some people use them as mixers with rum or vodka, but I just drink them over ice in a goblet. They are pretty colored too. 

Christmas Movies. Every year I spend a few weeks watching sappy, feel-good Christmas movies with glee. They follow a similar plot: a single, female, big-city executive has a case or a cause that leads her out to a small, quaint town where she must work to save the lighthouse/family shop/horse ranch/Christmas tree farm and she falls in love in the process. Last week I watched this troupe with a twist – her love interest was a ghost. If you’re wondering how that worked out, see The Spirit of Christmas on Netflix.

Future Me. I have this quirk about “Current Rachel” asking “Future Rachel” what she will think about the decision I’m about to make. (I use those names with myself.) Sometimes I feel a little crazy admitting this. Then I discovered FutureMe.org where people write their future-self an email and set it to be delivered to them on a specific date. Current Rachel now gets to talk to Future Rachel in the future about things she thinks she should do. Current Rachel is so happy to finally have a way to tell Future Rachel what to do, instead of the other way around. (Ok, maybe I am slightly crazy.)

Warmly – Current Rachel

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Two New Crime-Solving YA Titles

Today’s post by Melissa Carpenter | @MelissaCarp

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? It just seems like the perfect thing to curl up with on a cold weekend day. I’ve been excited by a few crime/mystery based novels in recent weeks, and while one is great for younger audiences, the other is most definitely reserved for upper high school and college students.

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shelby-holmesThe Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

I am always, always, always up for a good Sherlock Holmes retelling, and Eulberg’s Shelby Holmes story is a perfect middle grade entry into the Sherlock world. In it, Shelby Holmes is a 9 year old sixth grader with all the brains, sass, and social awkwardness you’d expect from a character based on Sherlock, and John Watson has just moved into the building. John, whose military parents have just gone through a divorce, is in need of new friends and sort of falls into Shelby’s crime solving world when a classmate of theirs discovers that her prize-winning dog has been stolen. Shelby and John are both well-written characters who work together in their own quirky ways, and they have depth to them that goes far beyond the crime to be solved. With John’s family situation and Shelby’s trouble making friends, there’s plenty here for readers to identify with and cheer the characters through. The mystery itself is both clever enough to be worthy of a 9 year-old Holmes and solvable enough for a middle grade audience. The Great Shelby Holmes would be perfect for readers as young as 4th grade and I can see its appeal going up through middle school. Also, for those adults (like me!) who love Sherlockian literature, it’s a really fun look into the classic characters as modern day kids. Elizabeth confirmed for me that there will be at least two more Shelby Holmes books, and I’m already looking forward to them!

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wreckedWrecked by Maria Padian

This book features an entirely different kind of crime – a rape that takes place on a college campus. The way it’s told, though, is through the eyes of Haley and Richard, the roommates of the two involved in the sexual assault, which gives the story a mysterious quality as the roommates try to figure out what really happened that night. When Haley and Richard happen meet each other and start dating, they don’t even realize that they’re both connected to the rape incident because, in their role as roommates of the two involved, they’re not allowed to talk about it with anyone else. The story isn’t just focused on the rape, though, as Haley and Richard get to know each other and start dating, there’s a fun contemporary romance element too. The knowledge of what sexual assault is has a way of becoming more real when it actually happens to someone close to you, so it’s interesting to go through that process Haley and Richard and see how it impacts their dating relationship. The whole story may sound convoluted and confusing, but Padian crafts the story very well. Wrecked is intriguing and thought-provoking; I feel like this should be a must read for students getting ready to go off to college. It would also make a great starting point for discussion about this topic with anyone wanting to explore it more.

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Three Ways To Protect Your Workspace

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon | @ArielLawhon

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For six months I’ve had a sticky note attached to my laptop that reads: Protect Your Workspace. At some point, when I’m comfortable with the idea, I’ll tell you the story of what prompted me to do this. But what I can say at the moment is that the ‘workspace’ I’m referring to is not my office. It’s my mind. The novel I’m currently working on is the first I’ve ever written in an actual office. The others were constructed in coffee shops and car pool lines, on legal pads and MacBooks, and on any flat surface in my home that wasn’t littered with Legos or used Band-Aids. But the workspace itself is always the same regardless of my physical location: that curious, bright, private space inside my skull. It has taken me a long time to realize that this workspace should be protected with the same vigilance that I protect my home and my family. And I’ve discovered a few key ways to make sure it doesn’t get invaded or destroyed along the way.

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I decide what gets in. I try not to work while my children are at home or awake. But that’s the ideal, not the reality, and I frequently have to sequester myself away to get something done at night or on the weekends. And when that happens, I literally hang a sign in my office that says ‘No Soliciting.’ My children routinely ignore it but I point and remind them anyway because they are young and need to understand that I have a job and they must respect the time and space required to perform that job. The same principle is true with the internet (or text messages or clickbait or the doorbell for that matter). I get to decide who I let into my workspace and when. (Bickering people on the internet? Nope. Sorry. You can’t come in.) I’ve taught my children from the time they were tiny that if we don’t know someone we don’t open the door for them. It isn’t rude to protect yourself. So these days I regularly turn off the wi-fi and silence my phone so that I can actively engage in deep work.

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I practice radical self-care. Anne Lamott coined the phrase but the older I get, the more I realize how important this is. To do my particular job, my mind has to function at a high level. I have to think high concept and embrace tiny details at the same time. Writing a novel is like juggling chainsaws: it requires your full attention. So, for me, that means I have to get enough sleep. (I’m an eight hours a night minimum kind of girl) I’ve started doing yoga because all that sitting is really bad for my joints. I’ve started making myself eat a high-protein breakfast every single day because I can’t afford that late-afternoon brain collapse. I’m eating less sugar. I’m running again. I’m spending very little time on social media but a lot of time with the real people in my real life. I’m taking care of me so that my workspace isn’t cluttered or exhausted or anxious.

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I’m only reading for fun right now. It’s amazing how reading can become a job. Just ask any writer or librarian or bookseller or book blogger. We all get into this business because we’re nerds and we love books. Reading is our first love. And then something happens, somewhere along the line, and we look up one day and realize that we’re utterly dreading the to-read pile. It’s become homework. So I decided I won’t do it anymore. I will read for the simple pleasure of reading. Not to check anything off my list or to complete a reading challenge or to fulfill an obligation. I am reclaiming this quiet, simple joy as something that is mine and not another way to participate in social media or cultural conversation. I’m taking it back and this, more than anything else, is helping protect my workspace.

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My husband is a contractor. And one of my good friends is a photographer. So I realize not all professions work the way that mine does. Writing is unique in that regard: we spend more time inside our own minds that most people. However, I am convinced that the mind is the primary workspace for everyone. So I’m curious about what you do for a living and how you protect your own workspace for maximum productivity. Share below! I’m always looking for new ways to grow in this area.

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The Epigraph That Wasn’t

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

ttwwwtI had the epigraph (the little quote that you see in the beginning of a book that kind of sums up or gives a clue as to the themes or issues in the book) all picked out for my novel THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE long before I finished the book. It was so perfect, I couldn’t wait to have it set the tone for my novel.

Alas, my new publisher had some serious rules about acquiring permissions for use of a short line and I will admit I didn’t leave enough time to track down said permissions. When I got the detailed questionnaire I would have to fill out for the permission to use a mere eight words, I said to myself, “Welp this’ll just have to be the first novel I write that doesn’t have an epigraph.”

But I wanted to share it with someone because it is so perfect and it should be shared. So I chose you guys, our dear and wonderful readers, to share my perfect epigraph that never saw the light of day. Ready? Here it is…

“Happiness ain’t never how you think it should be.”

  Duncan Sheik, She Runs Away

Thank you for letting me do that. 🙂

This epigraph really is the perfect tone setter for my novel. Because that’s really what it is about– a group of disparate neighbors who are all nursing their own private hurts, their own deeply held secrets, their own irrepressible hope that maybe– just maybe– they can find happiness– or some form of it, somehow. Because I believe that while happiness might not be what we think, it is still possible to find. In this month of November as we count our blessings, maybe this novel’s characters will inspire you to find happiness in your own backyard.

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What We’re Into: October 2016 Edition

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon and Marybeth Whalen | @ArielLawhon and @MarybethWhalen

Ariel Lawhon

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The Momentum Extension for Chrome. I’ve been using this for about eight months thanks to the suggestion from my friend J.T. Ellison. Here’s how it works: when you open a new tab a gorgeous photo appears. At the bottom is an inspirational quote. (Mine is currently a panoramic view of Zion National Park in Utah and this quote from Joseph Campbell,“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”) In the middle of the screen is the time, a message that says “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening, Ariel,” and a prompt that asks, “What is Your Main Focus For Today.” Once you answer that question, Momentum will remind you of your focus for that day in the seconds before it loads a new page. It’s a gentle, inspiring kick in the pants. Because I need one every single day. It’s free and easy and I love it.

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The Wunderlist app from Google. Again, JT gets the credit for introducing me to this handy, helpful tool. It’s basically an app that you can sync to all your devices that helps you keep your brain together. Until I found Wunderlist my office was littered with lists and post-it-notes and notecards and scraps of paper with all the things I need to do. But with this app I can keep everything in one place and cross things off in real time. This is a lifesaver for the organizationally challenged. Also free and easy and yes, I love it.

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#READ Savannah. Yes, it happened last month. But we never gave you a recap because things got a little crazy before we even left Savannah. Here’s the nutshell version: the event was sold out and was utterly perfect. Savannah was gorgeous. We met Liane Moriarty (pronounced LEE-ahn, who knew?) and she was also perfect. We had pear cider. We met Amy Einhorn, editor of bestsellers like The Help and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, not to mention all of Liane’s bestselling novels. We met many of you, and you were better than perfect–you were smart and funny and charming. We hung out with some truly amazing authors. And then, on our last morning, Marybeth broke her hand. It was a fluke accident but it’s had devastating consequences and she’s not been able to use her right hand since. Thus the reason we’ve been running at half speed and have been, mostly, out of pocket. She’s on the mend, but slowly, and it hasn’t been fun.

My social media hiatus. The last few weeks away from social media have been…relaxing. I’ve gotten a lot done on my book. We’ve finished baseball season as a family. I feel quiet and content and grateful. Highly recommended.

Running. It’s fabulous, effective old school torture. Nothing beats hitting the pavement for an hour and clearing your head.

Marybeth Whalen

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McCafe pumpkin spice keurigs— I’ve tried several different brands but this one tastes best. I’m one of those people who go crazy for all things pumpkin spice in the fall.

Sheaffer told me to: this woman is inspiring me to up my wardrobe game. I love her style and suggestions.

My travelers notebook in pocket size with field notes inserts. I have an insert for writing, She Reads, random stuff, journaling, monthly, and weekly to help me keep track of everything going on in my life– keeping it all separate but in the same place. I love decking it out with fall dashboards and paperclips. If you’re curious about travelers notebooks I encourage you to search Instagram and YouTube. My apologies if you fall down the planner video rabbit hole like I have.

I read several forthcoming books that you should put on your radar: The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian, Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser, Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia, And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman.

My book was picked by Redbook magazine as one of 20 brand new thrillers to get you psyched for Halloween. And made Deep South magazine’s fall/winter reading list.

On Tv… You’re never too old to hear “I got a rock” from Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin special. My husband and I are loving This Is Us. We also binge watched the BBC series Marcella on Netflix over the weekend when Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina. Warning: It’s really gripping but not for the faint of heart.

I saw The Light Between Oceans and found the movie just beautiful and the novel rendered accurately but it was a bit slow. We saw Girl on the Train and thought it was also a good book-to-movie adaptation.

We enjoyed some perfect little fall getaways— one to Windy Hill Orchard in York SC and a weekend in gorgeous Southport NC.

What have you been into this month?

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Why It’s Easier To Critique Than Create

Today’s post by Ariel Lawhon | @ArielLawhon

"Jazz Quartet" by Emily Allison

“Jazz Quartet” by Emily Allison

This piece of art hangs behind the couch in my living room. It looks like a painting but is, in fact, something called “tin collage.” What that means is that my mother (the artist) took dozens of those old Christmas cookie tins that people toss out indiscriminately, deconstructed them into slivers of wicked-sharp tin, and turned them into something breathtaking. This is a literal example of one man’s trash being another man’s treasure. It is called “Jazz Quartet” and is one of my most treasured possessions. It will hang in my home as long as I have a home.

Creating this piece of art cost my mother a great deal. Yes, she had to buy the supplies, but the real cost came elsewhere. Time. She spent endless hours bent over her work table piecing it together. Injury. Working with cut tin is not a low-risk proposition. You should see the scars on her hands. Creative energy. It is exhausting to take nothing (i.e. bits of discarded metal) and turn it into something (art). Commitment. She saw it through to the end. Exposure. Once complete, she handed it over for public consumption and critique.

My favorite chair in the house sits directly across from this piece of art so I spend a good deal of time looking at it. And this morning, long before the sun came up, I realized something important: part of why I love this Jazz Quartet so much is because I know the cost involved in creating it. I know the artist, so I am intimately acquainted with her intricate, laborious process. But I am also a person who creates things for a living so I understand, at a basic level, that long before this was a finished piece of art, it was a pile of chaos consuming her studio.

I understand how overwhelming that can be. Every book begins as a pile of chaos inside an author’s mind.

And every author who embraces that chaos and sees it through to the end is an artist.

I forget this sometimes because it so much easier to critique than create. Yes, there is absolutely a place for critique within the arts. And yes, I critique all the time myself. (Never in pubic–I have too much skin in the game and too much respect for authors in general.) But I don’t know that my critique is fair because I will often give up on a book far too early. I am a chronic book-quitter.

But here’s another thing I realized this morning while sipping coffee and enjoying the silence: when I find myself becoming a chronic-quitter who critiques the work of others too easily and too often, it’s always because I haven’t created anything of my own recently. I have forgotten how hard it is to take nothing and turn it into something.

The simple truth is that critique costs us nothing. Creativity, however, is pricey.

My ability to deeply appreciate the work of others is directly related to my own levels of creative output.

So, my challenge to myself, and to you, on this lovely fall day, is to begin paying attention. If you find yourself in a reading slump, I encourage you to make something. It doesn’t have to be a book. Maybe bake a pie. Or knit a shawl. Or start a bullet journal. Allow yourself to feel the frustration of the creative process. My guess is that you’ll be more likely to enjoy the next novel you pick up.

Let me know if you take the challenge! It works for me every time.

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Interested in this subject? Try reading CREATIVITY INC by by Ed Catmul

creativity-incFrom Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, the Academy Award–winning studio behind Inside Out and Toy Story, comes an incisive book about creativity in business and leadership—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath. Fast Company raves that Creativity, Inc. “just might be the most thoughtful management book ever.”

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.

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Four Novels That Will Satisfy Your Inner Nosy Neighbor

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

How well do we know our neighbors? This seems to be a question a lot of us are asking ourselves, based on the new novels we’ve been seeing. I think this theme is largely due to our voyeuristic society– all of us cyber peeking into each other’s lives thanks to Instagram, Facebook, and Periscope. But what are these women showing us… and what are they hiding? This concept comes up consistently in the books below– so if this is a theme that fascinates you… we advise getting them all and satisfying your inner nosy neighbor all the way into fall.

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girls-in-the-gardenTHE GIRLS IN THE GARDEN

“Faithful to the thriller genre, Jewell makes liberal use of red herrings and plot twists… The answer to the whodunit is a sly—and satisfying—surprise.” —New York Times Book Review

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

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ttwwwtTHE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE

In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

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tmgTRULY MADLY GUILTY

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

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perfect-neighborsTHE PERFECT NEIGHBORS

How well do you ever really know the family next door?
Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US. It’s also one of the most secret-filled.Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

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