Lark and the Loon By Rhiannon Gelston
◊ Genre: Memoir with a Twist
◊ Publisher: WiDo Publishing (July 17, 2020)
◊ Print & eBooks
◊ Paperback: 284 pages
◊ ISBN-10: 1947966251
◊ ISBN-13: 978-1947966253
Lark and the Loon follows the adventures of a tentative boy named Lark, as he is catapulted out of all that he knows, into a courageous journey beyond his wildest imagination.
Upon receiving a special gift from his Gramps, Lark embarks on a reflective journey of self-discovery as the innovative story weaves the true-life memoir of his mother (the author) in with a fantastical journey. With some special new-found friends, Lark travels back and forth from a symbolic tree to his mother’s true memories of life and death moments, and simple moments, found everywhere from wild Africa to their very own living room. Lark and his friends must ascend this tree and gain the important life lessons offered along the way if they ever hope to find their way out. Within this journey, Lark finds these lessons, and ultimately himself, in the space between imagination and truth in this wild tale.
The story explores friendships, philosophies, and everyday challenges and joys, both from a child's perspective and from a parent's perspective. This memoir with a twist results in a coming of age story that ultimately leads to a new understanding of self, others, and the world that surrounds us.
“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”
T he rest of Lark’s birthday was wonderful. He almost forgot about his chat with Gramps that morning as he was swept away in the festivities of the day. He did carry this newfound knowledge with him, quietly tucked away deep inside.
Somehow things seemed crisper now, more vivid. He couldn’t quite explain it beyond that.
He would have a birthday party with his friends tomorrow, but today was for his family: aunts, uncles, and cousins came over to celebrate with Lark. His mom and dad were there, along with his four little sisters, and, of course, Gramps. They grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, played games, and sang “Happy Birthday” in their loud and out-of-tune voices that the whole family had been gifted with, none of them caring how off-key they sounded, perhaps because they were all off-key; but it was mostly because nobody had time to worry about things like that, especially on such a happy occasion.
Ten. Ten was a big deal. There were lots of comments about double digits and people slapping him “high tens.” He felt grown up in some ways and like such a little kid in other ways; it was a funny feeling. Mostly, he didn’t really feel any different than he had the day before. Birthdays are funny like that.
There was a little fear inside of him of taking one step farther away from childhood and one step closer to adulthood; a little fear of letting go of something familiar as he moved toward something else, something unknown. Even if you know in your heart it is going to be great, change is a challenge.
The challenge lay within the unknown, but according to Gramps, therein lay the adventure. Even the past, or at least the perception of the past, could morph and change with different experiences and different insights. So really, it was just the now that was known.
Lark was starting to grasp this concept on the heels of Gramps’ talk.
Choose adventure. With this slow-seeping realization, this birthday suddenly felt bigger to Lark than a single day in time.
After cake and ice cream, it was time for gifts. There were brightly colored boxes and bags, and he tore through them one after another with excitement and smiles and reminders of saying thank you before he moved on to the next, even though he was just about to say thank you and didn’t need the reminder, Mommy. Lark was her little boy, and even though he was the ripe old age of ten, she was going to remind him anyway. In reality, he didn’t mind.
With wrapping paper flying in a blur, he opened his gifts. Lark got a remote-controlled truck and a whole bunch of books, including one that said it was book about everything. He got art supplies and a new nerf gun with glow-in-the-dark darts and a flag football set. He got camping supplies and a headlamp. He got new clothes.
He got a new lacrosse stick and a kit to build his very own robot and some other cool things a ten-year-old boy would covet. When he had opened all his gifts, surrounded by piles of shredded wrappings and ribbons, he looked around and felt happy. He felt loved.
No, he knew he was loved, and it felt great. Maybe he was becoming more aware, perhaps even becoming a bit wise, after all.
What process do you go through in creating visual background scenes to involve your audience in the feeling they are in the story?
Great question, as I never really thought about the fact that while creating the visual background scenes, I really did have a bit of a process, although I think it was probably happening rather organically, more on the subconscious level! I am a very visual person. I am inspired by things visually, love the visual arts, I am a visual learner, and my imagination is quite visual as well.
Since my book consists of a couple of genres, there were actually two different approaches at play in describing the scenes. The memoir was easy for that, as I have such a visceral memory of those times that I was writing about, it really was just putting myself back into that moment, feeling it, seeing it, remembering it, and describing what I saw, including the details of the setting that surrounded me. In the fictional piece, I suppose the process was actually very similar, now that I think about it. One based on memory, the other based on imagination, but I was still in that moment in my head, soaking up everything around me to properly describe the setting and hope the reader would be able to have a similar sensory experience. I think I tapped into every one of the senses, and through that, I was able to simply write what I was feeling and the scene around me, whether it was the imagined scene for the fictional piece or the scenes from my memory for the memoir piece. I had such a distinct picture in my head, so I just had to put that into words. The only tricky part is that it was so vivid for me, I needed to step outside of that a bit and make sure the details were there for the reader. It was almost as if trying to describe some profound experience to someone that wasn’t there, but you wish they were, so you are going to include all of the details you can so that they can still
experience it, if you can just do the words justice in capturing the essence of it all. Of course, the beauty of reading something is it is up for interpretation. So, if the reader sees it differently in their head, well that is just part of the fun part of imagination and where it will take you!
ABOUT the AUTHOR:
RHIANNON GELSTON loves to lose herself in all things creative. She enjoys writing, painting, live music, traveling, sports, being outdoors, exploring, playing, spirituality, and energy work. She has a BA in English and an MS in Occupational Therapy with a pediatric focus. Rhiannon just had her first novel published. It is a memoir with a twist called, LARK AND THE LOON, available wherever books are sold.
Rhiannon grew up on Spa Creek in downtown Annapolis. Home for Rhiannon will always be the sound of the halyards hitting the masts on a breezy day, a pile of crabs saturated in Old Bay, raft-ups with friends as kids cannonball off of the stern, and time with family and friends, in, on, and around the Chesapeake Bay.
She lives in Annapolis with her husband, their five lovely and lively children, and their black lab, McNasby.
GIVEAWAY FOR ONE $25. GIFT CARD 7 0NE EBOOK!
Melanin Brown Discovers America by Candice Davis
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 96 pages
Genre: Early Chapter/Middle Grade ~ Content Rating: G.
Publisher: Mascot ~ Release date: April 2021
Tour dates: Apr 6 to Apr 19, 2021
Melanin Brown is a girl far beyond her years who observes a brand new student being bullied at her school because of his ethics. This causes her to feel distressed, uncomfortable, and the treatment does not sit right with her. As she is given guidance from her parents, friends, and teachers, she also leans on her desire to treat people in the same manner in which she would want to be treated. Melanin finds how to confront disparate difficult situations while simultaneously navigating her own sense of truth and justice.
Melanin is the friend we all wish was in our group when we were in school. Kind, sincere, and smart, Melanin is a leader for our times whose compassion knows no bounds. Open these pages and accompany Melanin on her path to self-confidence!
Buy the Book: B&N ~ Amazon.com ~ Mascot ~ Add to Goodreads
Meet the Author:
Candice Davis is a middle school Special Education Teacher in Washington, D.C., with a background in film. She started her career in education as a Curriculum and Personnel Specialist, writing grants and proposals. Due to her desire to have more of a direct impact with disadvantaged students, she transitioned into teaching. This is Davis’s debut book. She holds a M.Ed. in Educational Psychology with a focus in Social Foundations from the University of Virginia and a BA in Film and Video Studies from George Mason University.
"Readers of all ages who look for ethereal, haunting stories of recovery and courage will find Caroline & Mordecai the Gand may hold the trappings of a fantasy adventure; but inside there is so much more. Make the right decision, to read this!" - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
"Caroline’s story is profoundly sad, and yet hopeful, magical, and yet rooted in reality. There is magic, mystery, and daring adventure." - BooksCoffee
Caroline & Mordecai the Gand by Jeff Gunhus
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 186 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Literary ~ Tour dates: Mar 31 to May 11, 2021
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
Release date: March 31, 2021
Content Rating: PG: The language is G. There is one scene with the main character punches a bully resulting in a bloody nose. The emotional treatment of grief and the death of a loved one can be somewhat intense.
This novella was written by USA Today bestselling author Jeff Gunhus after he received a devastating diagnosis of state 3 cancer. The story is a message to his five children on how to deal with grief and a plea for them to grasp onto joy and love even in the darkest of times.
Caroline loses her spark. It takes a great adventure for her to find it again.
Caroline loses her father in a car accident for which she feels responsible. Consumed by grief, she has a difficult time readjusting to a world that has changed so dramatically for her. On the anniversary of her father’s death, a strange window opens in the middle of the small lake behind her house. She climbs up an old oak to peer inside, but falls out of the tree and discovers that the window also serves as a door into a different world.
Enter Mordecai the Gand, a mysterious traveler who befriends Caroline and promises to help her find a way back home since the window she fell through has disappeared. The two set out on a series of adventures that include visiting a tree village populated by a tribe known for eating travelers, running into a witch under a spell of her own making, hiding in a cave with a dragon encased in a wall of ice (prone to melting by campfire), all the while being pursued by a mysterious entity call the Creach which promises to devour Caroline and trap her in an eternity of despair.
As they navigate these adventures and this new world, Caroline slowly discovers that she is meant to help each of the characters she meets. As she battles internally whether to stay or return home to the sadness and grief waiting for her there, she must regain perspective and open her heart to the act of caring and to the joy of love itself. In the end, she must demonstrate great courage, loyalty, and caring as the plot unfolds, becoming the active hero of her own story.
Buy the Book: Audible ~ Amazon - Now available in audiobook!
REVIEW by LAWonder10:
This is a fantastical journey ALL should hear/read! I listened to the audio-book.
Caroline’s father died in a car accident. It’s all her fault, or so she thinks. Like so many who experience grief often feels.
One day Caroline discoverers a daunting world, with unusual beings and environment. She also meets an annoying yet lovable man, Modecai.
In this bizarrely, whimsical tale, Caroline has to make choices at several “bends”. She often feels helpless, as though she has no other choice. She is eventually forced to look deep within herself to find answers.
The author adds a note at the end which is truly inspiring. Did this really happen? You, the audience, must determine for your self if such a fantastical journey could really happen.
The characters were well defined and creative. The adventures felt exciting and entertaining.
The Narrator, Sarah L. Colton, did an outstanding performance in her narration.
This book is highly recommended for most ages, not just children.
I extend a Five Stars rating for this book.
*This audio-book was gifted me with no pressure to post a positive review. This is my honest review.
When Death Rears Its Head
Five years ago, I received a devastating phone call from my doctor. Cancer. And while no cancer is good news, the form it takes and the stage to which it has progressed does exist on a sliding scale of relative crapiness. The news I received from my doctor was on the wrong end of this scale. It took me a while to digest the information, because how do you truly internalize the idea that the odds of living longer than two years suddenly became a sucker's bet?
It turns out that there is no good way to do it. Not consistently anyway. Some days are introspective. Some days are emotional nightmares. Others are just numb.
However, after the initial shock, a surgery, and the process of starting immunotherapy treatment, life did settle into more of a routine. Within that routine was my fiction writing. My goal with writing Caroline & Mordecai the Gand was to leave behind (if the actuarial tables had their way with me) a sort of guidebook for my own kids on how to deal with grief.
For anyone facing what seems like an insurmountable challenge, I can offer up a few small things that helped me through.
First, facing one's mortality can lead you to either withdraw or embrace life. Turns out that embracing life is a lot more fun.
Second, the old truism that friends and family are all that count really comes into greater clarity when you face the prospect of losing them all. It sounds trite to say not to take people for granted, but it's an eye opener like this that sometimes make you realize that's exactly what you've done.
Third, realize that it doesn't take a disease to get the clock ticking. The big goodbye can happen at any time on any day, so make the most of the time you have. Longer hugs, more saying I love you, less phones, more being present in the moment.
... And, of course, reading. Because that is also wonderful for the soul.
Meet the Author:
Jeff Gunhus is the USA TODAY bestselling author of thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade fantasy series, The Jack Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year-old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 30 on Amazon, have been recognized as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists and reached the USA TODAY bestseller list.
Jeff wrote Caroline & Mordecai the Gand after receiving a devastating diagnosis of stage 3 cancer. The novella was meant as a private story for his five children on how to face grief by holding onto joy and love. He leads an active life in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of Old Fox Books in Annapolis working on his next novel or on JeffGunhus.com.
Author's Links: website ~ twitter ~ facebook ~ instagram ~ goodreads ~ bookbub
Here is the tour schedule.
Win signed copy of CAROLINE AND MORDECAI THE GAND & $50 Amazon Gift Card (1 winner) (USA only) (ends May 18)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.