Time to Shine

 

I sat diligently in front of the computer all day yesterday, watching the rankings for Follow That Arrow climb from #897 to #1. As the book climbed higher and higher, it became harder and harder to believe.

Stop right there.

Why is my reaction that it’s hard to believe? Is it hard to believe that I wrote and published a book? Not really. Is it hard to believe that my friends and readers came out to support me in a big way? Not even, my readers are the best readers. Is it hard to believe that some of you out there actually liked the book? Well, ok you got me there.

Stop again.

Let’s not play this script all over again. Where I say something like, “I’m just so lucky, I’m not sure how this happened to little ole me.” Because I do know how it happened, it went something like this: I sat my butt down and wrote everyday for a year, I polished and edited and deleted and rewrote until my eyes bled, I took a giant leap of faith by leaving my coffee shop behind to focus my time and attention on this book. That is not luck. Luck is finding a $20 bill lying on the street.

And most importantly, I haven’t done any of this alone. You can’t move all over the country, open a business, close a business, write a book, publish a book, and take care of a baby all on your own. All of that takes some serious man/woman power. And that power comes from all of you. It’s no miracle that Follow That Arrow is the #1 Adventure Travel New Release on Amazon. It’s because you all made that happen. Don’t buy into that idea that there are those among us who have it all. No one has it all, no one can do it all. Lots of us try to keep up appearances (guilty as charged), and for what? It’s complicated right?

But I felt guilty. About not working. About my credit card bill. About not keeping the house cleaner. About being unproductive sometimes. And as I write these thoughts, it occurs to me. This is crazy. I am a writer because I want to be. It makes me happy. So I say to myself, self, this is ok. It is ok to need to sit in the park and stare. It is also ok to share our strengths with the world, it is ok to be brave or smart or agile or well-read. And it is ok to say so.

Well so, let’s agree to make it less complicated. Let’s not hide ourselves, let’s shine. Let’s be proud of our gifts and be willing to share them. Let’s be strong. Let’s be badass. And let’s share it with each other and celebrate what makes you, you and me, me. You’ve been given gifts, and I have to. So sing your song and dance your dance and be proud of the life you breathe into this world.

Let’s start now.

Hey, I’m Gwen. I have fearlessly invested my savings into publishing a book because I want to share my story and writing with the world. Two years ago I pressed the reset button on my entire life because I woke up and realized I had been ducking out of living my truth, my joy, my heart song. I am an interesting person with lots of stories to tell.

Your turn. Who are you? What are you all about? None of this, “I’m just a mom,” stuff. I want to hear your braggiest, shiniest, most confident words. Leave them in the comments below or send me a private email or message. Blast it!

 

Launch Day!

 

Baby Ella says, "get this book!" She's really bossy, you should listen to her.
Baby Ella says, “get this book!” She’s really bossy, you should listen to her.

If you have been waiting to purchase my adventure travel memoir, Follow That Arrow, now is the time! The official launch day is this Thursday, June 23rd.

By purchasing your copy on Amazon on that specific day, this will give the book a good chance to make an Amazon Bestseller list.

So mark your calendars! Or, if you just can’t wait, buy it now, see the “Buy the Book” tab above.

Already got the book?
You can still help!
 

1. Write a review on Amazon or GoodReads

2. Share the book on FacebookTwitter or Instagram (@gourmetgwen)

3. Take of pic of your and the book (or your dog and the book, cup of coffee and the book, whatever!) and send it to me (gwen@gourmetgwen.com) or share on FBTwitter or Insta. 

 

Pre-Order Follow That Arrow

Friends, followers and foodies,

The time has finally come to pre-order my book Follow That Arrow. Release date will be sometime this month, please stand-by for details. The link below is to the crowd-funding campaign I created in case some of you are able to chip in a little extra to help out with publishing costs. If you are not able to do so, I will be offering the books for sale via my website very soon ($14.95 plus shipping).

Click to support the launch of my very first book!

Thanks in advance for your support,

Gwen

PS: I am still donating 10% of sales to the Hays’ family, simply mention “Hays’ Family” in the shipping/check-out notes.

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You Know Him

 

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The thing about sunrises, if you can catch a good one, is they just get better and better until they turn into the beginning of a day. This day, the only one like it that ever was and ever will be, is born before your eyes. And so if you want to get up early, you have the chance to witness a miracle every day of your life. Life happens somewhere between that particular pain of accepting that your life is not what you’d expected it to be and the unbounded joy that it is actually more than you could have ever dreamed.

The truly brave among us are those that can look at this day and all the things we have been given in it and say, this is enough for me. To those that say, this is my life and I accept it exactly how it is, those are the heroes we never consider, that live beside us silently enjoying their serenity.

I met Evan Hays several years ago at Konawaena Middle School, both of us teachers. I was in my very first year and terrified. Evan is the kind of person who made it a point to come to my classroom to see how I was doing, checking on me a couple times a week. He told me it was ok to cry in your first year of teaching, that even he had done it.

Through mutual friends we became closer, and I spent many sunset evenings on the beach with he and his wife Roz and a group of good friends. He now runs an inn in South Dakota with his wife and two children. He works hard, he plays hard, but all you ever see is easy. Evan is the guy that’s easy to be with, to talk to, about anything.

He doesn’t raise the Jesus flag, ask you about your religious ideals, or even suggest that you go to church. He simply lives his life in peaceful serenity, unquestionably surrounded by grace. His ordinary yet stunningly extraordinary faith bleeds out and onto everyone he comes in contact with. He does not need to tell you what he believes, because he lives it.

Very few of you know that in the last couple years, since leaving Hawaii, I have experienced some powerful religious moments that can safely be called spiritual growth. People like Evan Hays have stood quietly in the background, cheering me on, nudging me forward. He likely has no idea the impact his faith has had on my life.

God has placed these type of people in my life because I needed to see real people who were not weirdos, living a faith-based life. I had given up on being a Christian long ago because it seemed so abstract, untrue and manipulative. It is people like Evan who have shown me that my faith is what I make of it, that God is just love and that love is accessible to each of us at all times.

Last week Evan found himself in the ICU after a rock climbing accident in Colorado. His brain was injured to an extent we do not yet know. He is up and talking, but it will be a long road to recovery.

You might not know Evan personally, but you know him in other ways. He is the person who helps out without being asked, who enjoys each day to the last drop, who accepts people for who they are. He lives with a fire in his belly and joy in his heart. He is the guy with that intangible calm we all wish we had, some call it serenity, some call it faith, some call it humility. Whatever it is, the world needs more of it.

When I showed up at the Hays’ doorstep a couple years ago while crossing the country, they welcomed me without question. I was running away from home, wild and without direction. Evan talked with me about this, in his own way. I never felt judged or pried open, he just wanted me to know that I would be ok. That a higher power was taking care of everything I needed.

And so it is now that I reciprocate the gesture. A higher power is taking care of Evan and his family and everything they need. They will be ok. You know Evan, you know him. He is the man of quiet faith that never questions, just knows and believes and settles into placing his life into God’s hands in a brave and rare way.

Last November I wrote the very first words of my very first book (to be launched in less than a month!) in their cabin in South Dakota. Deep in the magical Black Hills, surrounded by snow and wood heat, I found inspiration. And I finally found God. You see I had been looking for him, all across the country and even over the plains in Spain. I found grace, also known as magical healing, through the family and friends of the Hays’.

Thank you Evan, for showing and guiding me by simply living your life.

It’s not uncommon to see a crowd funding campaign these days for hospital bills. I see them all the time in my Facebook feed or my email inbox. More often than not, I don’t know the person who needs help. More often than not, it is difficult to have a heart connection with someone you don’t know.

Please considering donating to cover the medical costs for Evan’s accident. Because while you might know Evan personally, trust me, you know him. And trust me twice, we need more people like him.

I will also be giving 10% of book sales of Follow That Arrow to Evan’s family for those that mention his name when pre-ordering the book. Which you can do now by emailing me at gwen@gourmetgwen.com. Simply mention Evan’s name in the subject or body of the email, payment will accept via Paypal for now, I will reply with details to your emails.

 

 

 

The Final Push

 

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I’m practicing butt in chair. Which is the technical term for what many writers advocate, the forced sitting in front of an empty page until said page is filled, a timer goes off or whatever terms you and your inner artist have agreed to. I currently have four minutes left. I also am currently self-publishing a memoir and it is one the most frightening experiences of my life.

So many doubts surface on the regular: you’re not old enough to write a memoir, you should try to get it traditionally published, you are wasting your money, no one wants to read your crazy town words. The only way out of this constant negative bombardment is to just keep going. I have no idea if I’m doing the right thing anymore, I’m so lost in the fabric of doing it.

Not to mention that there is a very large and squiggly human child eagerly anticipating her arrival into this world. She currently resides in my belly. And her realness is so real and scary and exciting at this point that it feels like I am genuinely losing my mind.

All of these layers of giving birth to a book baby and the impending task of motherhood are about to be peeled, leaving an already extremely vulnerable artist and woman absolutely naked in front of everyone who knows her. As my body succumbs to the stretching and growing necessary to harbor new life, I have had to accept my current physical limitations and turn to look at this experience as a very precious gift. At first I felt limited, but now I feel grateful for the perspective this vulnerability has brought. Strangers help and look out for me all the time now and I have been privy to some of the sweetest and most heart shattering motherhood stories imaginable.

Placing my book out there in the world feels self-centered and awkward. It also feels risky and brutally, painfully honest. For what it’s worth, I want to tell you this particular story. I have no idea if you’ll be inspired or interested, engaged or satisfied. But I do believe that honestly telling our stories means something. I believe that my voice joins lots of other voices and that together we express something important about life. In other words, I hope you’ll read my book.

That all being said, I want to thank all of you for being patient during this period of radio silence. I am deep in editing mode, and even deeper in the final phase of this pilgrimage toward becoming a mother. Both events are expected around the first of May. You will be the first to know.

Until then, look for your chance to pre-order Follow That Arrow in the coming weeks.