Adventures in French


They say to pay attention to what interests you most, because it is part of you. In the past, if asked what my passion was in life, I would likely have responded, “Writing.” I would have said without hesitation that I lived for story, nothing more and nothing less, but as we grow, we learn.

My recent interest in French seems to have come from a mix of things–the convenience of Duolingo, the lovely sound of the language, and my own stubbornness. I didn’t go into it thinking it was a passion, though: usually it doesn’t take long for me to quit a new hobby. This time, things were different.

For almost a month now I’ve been obsessively learning words and phrases in French, using not only Duolingo but Memrise and even Tumblr. (Of the three, Tumblr makes learning more enjoyable; it helps to see regular people blog in their native language.)

Though I cannot speak it aloud with ease yet, I’m getting the hang of reading it, and if I keep going at this rate–well, I can feel very optimistic. I already know Spanish because my mother is Peruvian, and she taught me. It will be nice to speak a third language now. This makes the world so much bigger for me, and also makes me wonder if my passion really was story all along.

chris-coudron-133542.jpgCould it be that my passion is really language–that I am in love with the art of words, and not the stories they tell? Do I have the heart of a writer or a linguist? Am I a storyteller, or do I collect vocabulary used in lovely poems?

I have no plan on what I’m going to do with my French. I hope to learn well enough to write short pieces in the language; I most certainly hope to read French classics in their native languages. I enjoy meeting people who speak it–I’ve made many good friends since my journey began.

In the end, do we really need a reason to learn new things–to explore and see the world differently, even if it’s through the way things are said? I have no reason not to learn a new language, and as I slowly piece words together in the form of sentences, I feel myself changing as a soul.

I am growing, and the French might not be the only reason, but it certainly shows how I as a person have become stronger. I’ve lost 13lbs since August and I wrote a new book; I’m learning a new language and enjoying the process. For the first time in a while, I am comfortable with myself.

C’est la vie. I will keep you updated–and maybe one day I’ll have a blog in French!

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Authors Ridge: A Resting Place for Storytellers


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image source: Yankee Magazine

Surfing the Internet years ago, I learned of a place in Concord, Massachusetts called Authors Ridge. It’s a corner of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery; if the mention of Sleepy Hollow doesn’t bring to your mind the Headless Horseman, don’t worry. The symbolism behind Authors Ridge deepens.

This is a place where several greats of literature are buried practically side-by-side. You can visit Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Ellery Channing, Louisa May Alcott and her family.

I haven’t been there, but the thought of it makes me dream. I don’t think cemeteries have to be frightening, and this place would inspire me. Not everyone believes in ghosts, but any creative knows of muses.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote something staggeringly appropriate: Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.” Those monuments aren’t tombstones; they’re stories powerful enough to outlive their authors.

Writers and bookworms make pilgrimages to this surreal place, leaving pens, poems and notes at the graves of their favorite authors. Perhaps they hope some talent will rub off, or want to thank them for writing characters that never died.

Whatever the motive, Authors Ridge is full of wonderful mystery. It’s one place I hope to visit someday; perhaps I’ll leave a pen of my own.


Read more about Authors Ridge:

Yankee Magazine – Sleepy Hollow Cemetery: Where Concords Legends Lie

Atlas Obscura – Authors Ridge

New England Travel Planner

How Travel Improves Your Writing


So you want to write a book? That’s great! Get out your pen and paper, but I feel the need to ask you have you had an adventure? Have you left your comfort zone?

Many underestimate the importance of travel when it comes to writing. The solitary author bent over her desk is nothing but a stereotype. To have a story, you must live where the wild plot bunnies are–even if that means venturing across the street.

Everything you see and do could turn into a story. It’s fun to sit at home and read, but don’t forget to experience things first-hand. I used to think differently, but now I say you can’t live life to its fullest hiding behind a book! It’s a tragic mistake to make if you want to write a novel.

Learning the craft involves feeling wind in your hair and the ocean underfoot–even the sunburn you’ll get later!

A novel always has some form of the author between the lines. It happened by accident, but Dissonance became a mirror. In it I see myself, subtle but present. The story wouldn’t have existed if I never left the house, because most of it was inspired by the ocean.

Some might argue that life is boring and there’s nowhere to have an adventure–but that’s not true. Take a new route the next time you go for a walk, or visit a different coffee shop. There’s always somewhere new to go, a different way to see the world.

If you want to write a book, you need to witness people at their best and worst. You can’t barricade yourself where the Muse will have trouble finding you. It’s hard contacting your Muse in the first place, so don’t complicate things more!

When’s the last time you had a new experience that brought forth a story? Do you have a memory from a vacation you’d like to share?

In California


While on a trip, you find yourself encountering new plot bunnies. Even when you’re back at home, they aren’t finished; they make themselves known at bedtime, steal your attention from everyday duties, distract you.

They’re cute, cuddly, and insistent–you can’t send them off. You don’t want to, either. The more time you spend in a different place (in my case, California) the more bunnies you pick up.

Since arriving, I’ve been to the beach, Disneyland, and San Diego; we’re going to see the Queen Mary today. It’s surprising how far everything is. We’ve spent a lot of the time in the car driving places–back and forth. I marvel at how roads here wind and dip below each other.

My Instagram is full of pictures (look for the #SerenadeCalifornia hashtag) because each day goes by too quickly for me to keep a journal. I’ll have to reflect on my trip when I get home; at the moment, I’m too busy living it.

I got sunburned. I met Ariel. We found the USS Midway by accident driving along the coast–it crept up on us.

There remains some time for adventure…and more bunnies.

Let them come–all of them.

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An Author on an Expedition


11121089_1495942310661086_609968882442012637_nI’m going on another adventure! (THANKS, MOM!)

If you’ve read Dissonance, you know there exists a fallen faery tale off the California cost and it’s called Serenade. What? You haven’t read it? Okay, well I just told you–I know these things.

What? Yes, I wrote it. That doesn’t mean it’s not true–in some dimension.

And today I am a happy author because we are about to embark on a trip to California in which I can dream of finding the place I wrote about so much.

Need a description? Well, here ya go, straight from the pages of the book:

The town of Serenade was a fallen faery tale. Julian spent the rest of their journey describing festivals of song that took place every month, but the magical place was not where it belonged.

Every time the veil tears,” he explained, “what’s on it falls through. We’re not sure why things land where they do, but our unspoken pact is to care for what we find. I discovered a large fragment during my travels, automatically claiming it. They wouldn’t give it to me otherwise.”

Chapter Twenty-one of Dissonance will tell you all about it. I swear it exists! The place is vivid in my mind, a place of colorful buildings and winding sidewalks, a wild ocean and people playing music on every corner.

Maybe I’ll find it. I’m on an expedition to collect as many plot bunnies on this adventure as will come to me. Come to me, bunnies, come. I am also having a difficult time deciding what to read on the plane…

By the time you read this, I’ll probably be flying–or in the airport trying to find internet signal. Perhaps I’ll be reading or staring out the window: My favorite part of any vacation is often the airport, the excitement while waiting to board a flight.

Perhaps I’ll have arrived.

I can’t wait to take pictures, hopefully including a new author pic; I’ll see the beach again after three years! I’ve missed it so much. 60% of my creativity to write Dissonance came from staring at the ocean outside my aunt’s window in Peru.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll come back with short stories. I’ll see interesting people and look up at skyscrapers. Perhaps I’ll run into someone famous.

It’s only for about four days, but a lot can happen in four days. A lot. And trust me, I’ll be back with lots of pictures.

I’m taking the travel journal I started writing during our trip to Las Vegas. Ironically enough I wrote a vivid description of Serenade, California in this journal, not knowing that one day I would be in California looking for it.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll find it.

These are the things an author lives for. This is what makes the writing process worthwhile. You can make things that exist in your own world and suddenly expect to find them, just waiting for you at the edge of a cliff in California.

And when I get back, I’ll be ready to write the second draft of Elegy. Oh, yes–experience will prepare me for the sequel.

I’ll be using the Instagram hashtag #SerenadeCalifornia if you want to keep up with me live!