Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard

 

When I was in high school, I wanted nothing more than to travel around the world and write for a living. I didn’t necessarily want to write novels or stories, per se, but a little literary non fiction would be cool. (I really enjoyed Joan Didion’s work back in the day. Still do.)

Of course, this was still when I didn’t *quite* understand the value of money. I mean, I knew travel involved money, but my plan was basically to magically appear on distant shores with nothing but my backpack, which was filled with moleskine notebooks and pens. You know, the priorities. And, of course, a towel*.

Anyway, I always envisioned myself with well worn travel clothes, even wearing a. lot. of linen in my teenaged years, because, you know, linen wears really well and is made to look wrinkly. (No ironing, score!)

Well, fast forward *blank* years, and clearly I’m not a travel writer. I don’t have a book of short stories based loosely on my travels entitled Wanderlust. I don’t have a blog that chronicles my every move, sustaining a living from the kindness of strangers whom I meet in exotic locations. (The name of that imagined blog being, you guessed it,” Wanderlust.”) As you see on my bio, I’m currently very landlocked as a retail store manager in the middle of America. Far from glamorous or exciting. But my wanderlust simmers still, relegated to the back burner of my life, briefly satisfied with a road trip or vacation here and there. Adequate for now, but nowhere close to what I truly want to experience.

Enter Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. (I said HERE that you needed to mark your calendars for this book’s release, but as a public service, here I am to remind you all!)

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria’s a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan’s a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they’ve got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can’t run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

This book…this book captured the very essence of that need. That unnameable thing that I’ve wanted to find, if it could ever be found. The spirit of charting your path and following the road less traveled. Basically, when I read it, it was like I was reading about my life.

And this passage from Bria’s point of view was so. dead. accurate. of what I envisioned for myself when I was her age, it’s uncanny:

I could picture it already.

I would glide from ruin to ruin along La Ruta Maya, in a caravan of beautiful, happy people, and I’d be the mysterious one, gracious and profound. Butterflies would float down from the jungle canopy and alight on my bronzed skin. I would wear silver necklaces and ankle-length skirts that shifted in the breeze.

Sigh. Kirsten Hubbard captures the young adult voice really really well.

I remembered an important lesson that I kind of forgot along the way. I was too focused on what I wasn’t doing or what I could be doing better and how those things proved that I wasn’t good enough to be a fill-in-the-blank. I had to remember that I AM ENOUGH. No rules, no comparisons. Just me.That against all odds, I need to finish my work, and remember my love for writing. It wasn’t about being good enough or what other people will think of my work. I just needed to remember that I loved the feeling, the satisfaction that I get from writing. That feeling of creating stories just for me…is just as fulfilling and unnameable and a truth-self-evident as the wanderlust inside me. That thought was and is enough.

And I clung to that thought, and it inspired me to revisit WIP2 again. I’m grateful, because now I’m so close to finishing my draft, woohoo!

I read this book as an e-galley, and I SO wished I had the physical version of this book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still grateful that I got to read it when I did (especially since I’m thisclose to The End of WIP2), but since Bria is an art student, we get to see a lot of fun illustrations (drawn by the author herself!) sprinkled throughout the book that I really wanted to see on paper. Speaking of which…

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.

Congratulations, Laura! You shall be experiencing the Wanderlove pretty soon!

Anyway, I hope you get the chance to read this book, and I hope you become inspired to follow your passion, no matter how hard the journey, and no matter where your journey will take you.

*”Traveling with a towel” is a reference to Douglas Adams’s cult favorite, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. 😀

EDIT: Wanderlove will be available for purchase, Tuesday, March 13! Feel free to pre-order through your usual bookish channels! ^_^

Flash Fiction Challenge

I decided to participate in this flash fiction challenge because I wanted to give life to a WIP that I’d abandoned over a year ago. I simply called my WIP “Red” because it was influenced in part by this photo, posted here with permission by the artist, Robin Barcus Slonina.

I hope to explore this WIP again, one day.

* * *

First Campaigner Challenge

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: “the door swung shut.” (also included in the word count) For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

* * *

The door swung open.

Calla turned as a trio of withered crones swept into her room. They were her newly appointed attendants, bound to serve her, the House Prime’s new Cabochon. Her new title.

His new pet, he called her. She seethed at those remembered words.

I was once a cherished wife. I am no one’s pet.

The crones bowed low before approaching her, displaying more grace than she expected. They bore the marks of their class status, their genetic weakness, formed after the sundering of the world. After the ash fall separated the weak from the strong. The Withered from the Hale.

They worked quickly to remove her wedding gown despite the twisted claws they had for hands, the breathers fused to their mouths whirring with each labored breath.

Too soon, Calla stood in nothing but a whisper of cloth.

“Leave us.”

Calla startled at his voice. The crones retreated. She turned toward him, feeling the weight of his leer from across the room. She steeled herself against it, her face a peaceful mask.

He sneered, a promise of what this night would hold. She shivered, but stood her ground. He stalked toward her as the door swung shut.

* * *

[If you liked this flash fiction, you can “like” it here. I’m number 333. ^_^]

Leveraging My Strengths

Cover of "StrengthsFinder 2.0"

Cover of StrengthsFinder 2.0

A few months ago, I had the privilege of reading StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath for my paythebills job. The book is based on the premise that when people are aware of their strengths, and the strengths of those around them, they can begin to live a balanced and fulfilled life.

The book itself is set up with a short introduction of how the researchers developed the StrengthsFinder assessment tool, followed by a detailed description of the 34 talent themes in which those strengths are expressed. The part of the book that matters? The access code sealed in the back of the book that allows you to take the assessment online.

Honestly, I’m the ridiculous nerd that enjoys things like this, and I was honestly excited to see what my top five themes were. Considering that my top theme is Input, I obviously enjoyed the fact that I had words to attribute to all the nerdy things I do. For example, the Input theme states that I am inquisitive and like to collect things (information, items, whatever). I rolled my eyes at that at first, because I had in mind people like stamp collectors or bug collectors or even scrapbookers. But then, I looked over at my copious Moleskine notebook collection, where each notebook has its own purpose. And, I also remembered a file that I created on EverNote entitled, “Interesting California Names” and realized that yes, I definitely do collect things, and what I collect is information. My favorite line was:

Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives…So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day it will prove valuable.

If that doesn’t scream NERD, I don’t know what does. 🙂

How This All Pertains To Me Now

Anyway, I was thinking more about my strengths this week. I was floundering a bit, trying to find direction or headway in my WIP, and may have been procrastinating by rereading passages of Bird by Bird and On Writing. Then, I noticed StrengthsFinder on my desk, and decided to give that a reread as well. When I got to my Achiever theme, I started to wake up a little.

You have an internal fire burning inside you…Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges…It is the theme that keeps you moving.

I asked myself on Wednesday why I write. Why do I bother working on a story that feels too big for me. I answered with the blogpost, “Why I Write.” I appreciated my friends reminding me of the reasons why I want to tell The Story. Because, yes, I believe those reasons, and they are true for me.

But, honestly…I think why I pursue writing is a lot simpler for me. I write because I can, and because I chose that as a goal. I write because it became The Skill that I want to master. I always return to The Story simply because I need to finish it. This is who I am. I am that sick fool that looks for challenges and seeks the uncomfortable. I recognize that these challenges, and the overcoming of them, gives me a sense of purpose and satisfaction with my life. This fire that gives me the discontent to keep pursuing my goals is the reason itself for me to write.

It’s how I do. 😉

I created a new affirmation yesterday, and I will keep it with me for a while:

I AM WRITING THIS STORY BECAUSE I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN.

*For the curious, my top themes are Input, Learner, Intellection, Achiever, Ideation.