Archive | The River Witch

Audiobook Feature: The River Witch

We’re delighted to announce that the audiobook for Kimberly Brock’s debut novel, THE RIVER WITCH, is now available. It’s no secret that we’re terribly fond of this novel (it was our June book club selection) and of Kimberly herself (she joined the She Reads family earlier this summer and overseas our blog network). Narrated by Allison Edwards and bringing to life the lyrical, Southern landscape that Kimberly so richly envisions, this is the perfect audiobook to add to your library.

We’re giving away a copy of THE RIVER WITCH audiobook today. If you’ve not had a chance to read this wonderful debut, now is your chance to hear it in all its glory. Just leave a comment on this post to be entered.

Can the river heal her?

Roslyn Byrne is twenty-four years old, broken in body, heart and soul. Her career as a professional ballet dancer ended with a car wreck and a miscarriage, leaving her lost and grieving. She needs a new path, but she doesn’t have the least idea how or where to start. With some shoving from her very Southern mama, she immures herself for the summer on  Manny’s Island, Georgia, one of the Sea Isles, to recover.

There Roslyn finds a ten-year-old girl, Damascus, who brings alligators, pumpkins and hoodoo into her sorry life.

Roslyn rents a house from Damascus’s family, the Trezevants, a strange bunch. One of the cousins, Nonnie, who works in the family’s market, sees things Roslyn is pretty sure she shouldn’t, and knows things regular people don’t. Between the Trezevant secrets and Damascus’s blatant snooping and meddling, Roslyn finds herself caught in a mysterious stew of the past and present, the music of the river, the dead and the dying who haunt the riverbank, and a passion for living her new life.

You can find the charming and lovely Kimberly Brock on Facebook and on Twitter.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Literary First Love – Kimberly Brock

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Kimberly Brock | @kimberlydbrock

Update: the winner of Kimberly’s novel is Susan Coster. She has been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered!

My first literary love was not a book. See, I’m already off topic. But bear with me here. I was crazy about books from the time I first goggled my eyes at one. I still have my grandfather’s old Bible, marked up and smelling of tractor grease and hayfields. Sometimes I take it out to read it and end up smelling it, instead, because it reminds me of hours of that man telling me those stories. The problem was, when She Reads asked me to recall my first literary love I froze. I couldn’t think of one single book. It was like trying to take a multiple choice test where I could talk myself into all the answers. I loved too many, I thought!

So, I got myself into a quiet place to think a minute. (hid in my closet) And I realized the reason I couldn’t settle on one book as my literary first love is because I don’t love books. I love STORIES. My earliest memories of story are the ones my granny made up before bedtime and I would close my eyes and imagine the worlds she built. I have memories of my mother playing pretend with me for hours, either as a wicked stepmother or a handsome prince, or even with the hole in her fuzzy blue house shoes where her toe peeped through and magically transformed into a turtle. Through story, I learned, we are transformed.

Every year I lived and breathed for the nights when the network channels showed Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music, and then I spent weeks acting out my favorite scenes, becoming the characters, experiencing life beyond my own limitations.

I discovered the library. Not just any library, but the old Dalton library that was a huge, red brick antebellum house with white columns and a mahogany banister. It smelled musty and papery and I wanted to curl up in its dark corners and poke my heads behind doors where I shouldn’t be, to learn its secrets. Inside that library, the stories were whispering: Beverly Cleary taught me about siblings, Judy Blume gave me courage to face my diagnosis of scoliosis, and I still sometimes dream of an elusive book about children who traveled through time in an old Scottish keep. They compelled me to question and to value mystery.

The school library was a sanctuary, too, and I devoured the books so my middle school librarian had to start bringing things in for me to read. She gave me Victoria Holt and I was transported by passion. In Sunday school or over the course of a thousand summers of VBS, I loved the Bible stories and more than that, the parables. I loved that there was a secret inside, something you had to search out, a truth that was my reward. And I heard those truths in the music, too. Everything in life, to me, seemed to be telling a story, and at the heart of every one, good or bad, I found the same thing: Love.

Papa’s Bible

Today, I took out that old Bible and took a whiff of my grandfather’s ghost before I wrote this post. And he whispered to me, the answer. My literary first love was not a book, as it turns out.

It was the Storyteller.

Kimberly’s debut novel, THE RIVER WITCH, is our book club selection this month. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, fear not! We’re giving away a copy today. Leave a comment on this post to enter.

Can the river heal her?

Roslyn Byrne is twenty-four years old, broken in body, heart and soul. Her career as a professional ballet dancer ended with a car wreck and a miscarriage, leaving her lost and grieving. She needs a new path, but she doesn’t have the least idea how or where to start. With some shoving from her very Southern mama, she immures herself for the summer on Manny’s Island, Georgia, one of the Sea Isles, to recover. There Roslyn finds a ten-year-old girl, Damascus, who brings alligators, pumpkins and hoodoo into her sorry life.

Roslyn rents a house from Damascus’s family, the Trezevants, a strange bunch. One of the cousins, Nonnie, who works in the family’s market, sees things Roslyn is pretty sure she shouldn’t, and knows things regular people don’t. Between the Trezevant secrets and Damascus’s blatant snooping and meddling, Roslyn finds herself caught in a mysterious stew of the past and present, the music of the river, the dead and the dying who haunt the riverbank, and finding the courage to live her new life.

You can read the first two chapters  here.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Writing Gypsy – The Writing Space(s) of Kimberly Brock

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Kimberly Brock | @kimberlydbrock

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Over the years, the space where I’ve written has changed through moves and travels and motherhood and so when I considered the topic for this blog, I was puzzled. I’ve watched as other authors posted beautiful photographs of serene spots, antique desks in front of windows that overlook rolling hills or sparkling lakes. Neat bookshelves typically stood nearby, steaming cups of coffee or delicate cups of tea perch on pretty, linen napkins, a sharpened pencil or two stands in a piece of glossy pottery, fluttering curtains let in a sweet breeze of inspiration.

I would look at these images and sigh. I would say to my husband, “Look at this. Look, she has a desk. She has a space of her own. Isn’t there some famous quote about that? See, she’s a real writer. I covet my neighbor’s writing space. That must be against some commandment. Something must be wrong with me. ”

“You’re a writing gypsy, ” he’d say and shrug.

“Doomed to wander the earth. ” I’d picture myself with a knapsack thrown over my shoulder, living out of a boxcar with only my laptop, a Tall Starbucks, and three ratty children with no shoes existing solely on fast food because I couldn’t provide a proper home and complete my novel at the same time. “I’ll never finish this book. ”

And I admit the truth is I’m standing at my kitchen counter while writing this. My coffee pot is directly in front of me for easy access. My four-year-old is watching cartoons (loud ones) and my husband is on a business call outside on the patio. (He’s had a shower. I have not.) The new puppy can see him through the kitchen door and is barking madly. My older two children are about the business of making microwave oatmeal, slamming cabinets and arguing about how much water to use. Ah, the writer’s life. You see, the truth is, I don’t have a writing space. In fact, now that I think about, I have never had a room of my own. I shared with my sister growing up. I shared with roommates in college. Now I share with my husband.

But before this starts to sound like I’m grumbling, let me clarify. While I have no writing space, I have a writer’s life to envy. Here’s what I mean.

While I was working on The River Witch, I often woke at three a.m. to find I was writing in my dreams and I watched my husband sleeping and knew my characters would embody love. I wrote one-handed while nursing babies and knew my story would reflect upon life and cycles, fear and innocence and miracles. I wrote on napkins in the preschool carpool line. I wrote by the pool in the summer. I wrote by the fire in winter and lying underneath the glow of the Christmas tree and looking out a window high above Time Square. I knew the book would be full of nostalgia and the unknown. I wrote while watching a north Georgia snowstorm and in the floor of the bathroom while my child was sick. I wrote on the back of a bulletin in church. I wrote in the bathtub and in the bed and in the closet and in the kitchen. I wrote in the parking lot at Target. I wrote in a miniscule hotel room in Paris. I wrote on a plane. I wrote looking over the San Francisco skyline. I wrote while I was in labor. I wrote on a south Florida island while drinking Sangria with a dear friend who gave me music and shells and water and let me drive her boat really fast. I wrote on the ride home from my grandmother’s funeral. I wrote with my fifteen-year-old terrier in my lap the day before he became a sweet memory. I knew the book would be wistful and harsh and full of hope. I wrote in conference centers full of eager, anxious writers. I wrote after long days at Disney World. I wrote while the battery in my car secretly died. I wrote while the sun came up in Hawaii. I wrote while the jarflies sang in the north Georgia twilight.

And one day, without a single space to call my own, I finished it.

And it’s true the book is full of all the things I’d hoped. And feared. It’s all in there. I don’t think I could have ever written it from a little desk, tucked into a neat corner, with complete peace and quiet, or gazing out a wide window at the sea, which would have only distracted me. Because, apparently I’m just not that kind of literary genius. I need chaos and color and flashing views through train windows, not a soft cushion or good light. I need someone pulling on my arm for more juice and dinner burning on the stove and piles of laundry moldering in the washing machine. I need to be jotting things down on old napkins at red lights, with the out-of-gas light blinking at me, living on the edge with a car full of melting groceries.

And now that I really take the time to consider it, I suppose I am a writing gypsy. It works for me.

Recently, a dear friend traveled to Key West where she visited Hemingway’s house and was invited to sit at his writing desk. Reverently, she placed her sweet fingertips on the keys of his typewriter. I can’t imagine the awe she must have felt in that moment. I shared the pictures she sent back on Facebook and was delighted for her. I thought of my own visit to the Margaret Mitchell House and how I’d gazed at her things in those small rooms. It made me think about this blog again and grumble about having to come up with an answer.

“When I die, ” I said to my husband, “will you set up a desk for people to come visit and will you lie for me? Do you love me enough to pretend I was normal? You’ll have to put a pretty tea cup out with sharpened pencils and make it look like I was wise and intellectual. And tell everybody I washed my hair every day before I sat down to write with the light falling beautifully across my furrowed brow? ”

He kissed me and promised. I married the right guy.

And now, I’m off to tie my handkerchief round my head and don my enormous, gold hoop earrings and thousands of bangle bracelets. Oh, and fix up a pitcher of Kool-Aid.

But if it makes you feel better, here’s a shot of my fake writing space.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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The River Witch Giveaway

Hi, friends. This is just a quick reminder that this week is your last chance to enter our giveaway for The River Witch gift basket. One lucky winner will receive everything pictured above. Make sure you leave your comment on this post, where we announced The River Witch as our June book club selection.

Have you read The River Witch? Are you reading it now? You can still join our online discussion. Every comment left on the forum enters you for a chance to win a Kindle.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Searching for the Sacred in a Song

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Kimberly Brock | @KimberlyDBrock

Kimberly Brock

Music has always been an art that reaches my emotions before anything else, and on a deeper level than most forms of expression. I love instruments, I love choirs, I love blues, I love soul, I love old time Appalachian bands and gospel. I love orchestral pieces and accordions and harmonicas and French horns and tympani drums. I love jigs and reels and fugues and hymns and carols and Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash and Broadway tunes and soundtracks and Carol King.

And I love lyrics. I love a songwriter who can string together inspired poetry that I can sing to the tops of my lungs. There is no purer manifestation of the yearnings of the human heart. At least, not mine.

When I write, I always find inspiration in music and my playlist becomes a kind of personal soundtrack that follows me around through my days. Ironically, I can’t actually write while I listen. But almost any other time, my ipod is working hard to help my brain form the story it wants to tell. In particular, with The River Witch I relied on music to transport me to the setting. I did listen to some Sacred Harp music occasionally, but found it difficult to appreciate for its own sake. I think the experience of actually participating in a singing is what most interested me.

What I did do was start to search for songs that were sacred to me, as the alligators’ songs were sacred to those on Manny’s Island. I went looking for music that moved me or challenged me, like Granny Byrne’s choir. Lyrics that spoke truth or drew a strong reaction, like the Trezevants. Driving rhythm that helped me imagine the Seminoles or the Saltwater Geechee people, like Nonnie. Lullabies that the mothers in this book and the world over, may have murmured to their children. Hymns that brought lonely individuals to a bountiful table of acceptance, the true power of the Sacred Harp. And soon, I had a list of songs that began to tell a story much like the one in the novel.

Of course, there were many more than the ones listed here. Songs of all kinds, because just as I believe our stories are all about our search for the divine in a temporal world, our music is an expression of the longings of the soul.

I wonder what songs are sacred to you?  I hope you’ll enjoy the music on my playlist and maybe share some of your own.

The River Witch Playlist

Oh Cumberland Matracea Berg and Emmylou Harris (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)

Salty South Indigo Girls (Acoustic Version)

Somewhere to Lay My Head Florida Folk Life Collection

Flood Waters Anna Kline and the Grits and Soul Band

She’s Not Innocent Antigone Rising

All Roads to the River Kathy Mattea

Wayfaring Stranger Emmylou Harris

I Find Jesus The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Fleet of Hope Indigo Girls (Acoustic Version)

Amazing Grace Florida Alabama Progressive Seven Shape Note Singers

Forever Young Bob Dylan (Biograph version)

I’ll Fly Away Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch

Here I Am Mary Chapin Carpenter

Wellington’s Reel Florida Folk Life Collection

Just Breathe Pearl Jam

Jubilee Mary Chapin Carpenter

Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show

Down in the Valley - The Head & the Heart

Question for you: what’s on your favorite playlist? When do you listen to it?

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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Deep and Wide

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Kimberly Brock | @kimberlydbrock

Kimberly Brock

Getting the idea for The River Witch was, like everything else in writing, a teeth-gnashing, crazy-making process. I was completely in love with the idea and lolling around my bedroom floor listening to Richard Marx, sobbing because I couldn’t get it to commit. (If you don’t know who Richard Marx is, you really need to read this book and then call me. We’ll talk.)

*No, Richard Marx is not actually in this book. No, his music did not influence or inspire me, although I was very much inspired by an almost forgotten music called Sacred Harp. Alas, Richard was a metaphor. I’m southern. We do that a lot.

In all literary seriousness, I read this article about a couple of women who decided to open a pumpkin farm. The pictures were gorgeous. I imagined the heart-stirring music of the mountain band and the warmth of the community round the harvest table. Everywhere, there was this beautiful, round, sumptuous fruit; these gourds and pumpkins, round and full and smooth. It was such a compelling illustration of fertility. Just the things a lost woman like Roslyn Byrne yearns for as the main character in The River Witch.

*Yes, I did get pregnant with my third child right about then. Probably just from looking at these pictures.

Then one day, about a year later, I saw another report. This time they were showing people floating down a river inside giant pumpkins that had been rigged up as boats. I got excited. I saw the element of water, the continuity of cycles and the ecology of a Sea Island with its rivers and marshes and the hold-outs from a disappearing culture. And I wondered, what would I see if I was a little girl without a mother — or a mother without a child? And then ten-year-old, audacious, motherless Damascus Trezevant started talking to me. From there, we were all carried away on an ancient current, so to speak.

What evolved was a story about surrender, a mystical southern tale set against the backdrop of the Sea Islands. But above all, The River Witch is about the difficult and profound choices we all make in the name of love. Because, after all, what else is there worth writing about?

Kimberly’s novel is this month’s featured book club selection. There’s still plenty of time to enter our giveaways–a southern gift basket loaded with goodies and a Kindle–see this post for details.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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June Book Club Selection

Update: the winners of our June giveaway have been randomly chosen using www.random.org. They are as follows: Mary C has won the gift basket and novel. Evelyn and Mary Beth (not to be confused with our own Marybeth Whalen) have won copies of The River Witch. And Shelly Cantrell has won the Kindle. All the winners have been notified by email. Thanks to all who entered and please come and visit us again soon!!

Summer has arrived and with it comes our newest book club selection. Apart from having the prettiest cover (let’s be honest, we all judge books by their covers) it also happens to have the most charming characters and compelling story we’ve read in a long time. Those spending time near the water this month will find Kimberly Brock’s THE RIVER WITCH to be a very fitting read. We’ll be hanging out with Kimberly and discussing her novel all month long so grab a cup of tea, find a comfy chair, and join us! It will be time well spent.

As always we’ve got a number of amazing giveaways for you. The main giveaway winner will receive a southern gift basket packed full of items similar to those found throughout the novel: a crochet shawl, a pumpkin bread mix, jam, a southern cookbook, ocean scented bath salts, music from Anna Kline and the Grits and Soul Band, a lovely piece of pottery, and a copy of The River Witch. It is a basket of “sacred things,” just as the characters in the novel search for and gather and offer to one another. Two additional winners will each receive a copy of the novel. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.

We will also be giving away a Kindle to one participant of our online book club discussion this month. It’s free to join and every comment left on the forum equals an entry. Kimberly will be on hand all month to answer questions and participate in the discussion. All of these prizes were provided courtesy of Kimberly’s publisher, Bell Bridge Books.

And now a bit about this amazing debut novel:

Can the river heal her?

Roslyn Byrne is twenty-four years old, broken in body, heart and soul. Her career as a professional ballet dancer ended with a car wreck and a miscarriage, leaving her lost and grieving. She needs a new path, but she doesn’t have the least idea how or where to start. With some shoving from her very Southern mama, she immures herself for the summer on Manny’s Island, Georgia, one of the Sea Isles, to recover. There Roslyn finds a ten-year-old girl, Damascus, who brings alligators, pumpkins and hoodoo into her sorry life.

Roslyn rents a house from Damascus’s family, the Trezevants, a strange bunch. One of the cousins, Nonnie, who works in the family’s market, sees things Roslyn is pretty sure she shouldn’t, and knows things regular people don’t. Between the Trezevant secrets and Damascus’s blatant snooping and meddling, Roslyn finds herself caught in a mysterious stew of the past and present, the music of the river, the dead and the dying who haunt the riverbank, and finding the courage to live her new life.

You can read the first two chapters here.

Kimberly Brock

Kimberly Brock is a former actor, special needs educator, and native to the north Georgia foothills. Her debut novel, The River Witch, is a southern mystical work set against the backdrop of Appalachia and the Sea Islands. Her work has appeared in the anthologies “Summer in Mossy Creek ” and the forthcoming, “Sweeter Than Tea “. She spends her non-writing time enjoying her husband and three children, and encouraging storytelling in all its many forms. Kimberly lives north of Atlanta, where she’s made her home for the last eight years.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links. ” This means if you click on the link and purchase the book, She Reads will receive a very small commission. These commissions help us pay for the site and the services we offer. Regardless, we only recommend books that we have read and loved.  

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

read more