Book Blitz: Tea and Primroses by Tess Thompson

Listen, there aren't many things better than tea. Or books. But tea and books together? That's a win-win. So when I was asked to participate in the book blitz for Tess Thompson's most recent novel - Tea and Primroses - it was pretty much a no-brainer. Let's take a look, shall we?

Tea and Primroses: A Summary
Nothing is as it seemed in calm, quaint Legley Bay. Famous novelist Constance lived a seemingly straightforward - if private - and somewhat predictable life. Firends, beloved daughter Sutton, and all the success an author could wish for. A perfect life...but was it?

When a hit and run accident suddenly takes her mother's life, Sutton finds hidden secrets with her heartbreak. Emotional walls she assumed Constance had built to protect her privacy may have been to protect something - or someone - else entirely. Family and friends return home for support, including Sutton's own lost love, Declan. He's the first thing she craves to help her cope with her loss and the questions she's left with, but he's also the last person she wants to see. Will he be able to put down roots at last?

Can the loss of true love be the making of a life or is it destined to be the undoing of everything? When money, power, and love combine across time, anything is possible.

Tess Thompson
Tea and Primroses: What I Think
This is a gothic novel at its finest. Tess Thompson joins the ranks of some of my favorite writers with this book. I am a sucker for family dramas and secrets that span across generations. There's just something so incredibly gripping about how our choices, and the choices of those who came before us, can echo for years to come. And that's what Tea and Primroses captures. Think Kate Morton's latest The Secret Keeper

I appreciate Thompson's attention to detail here. It's easy, I think, for us writers to stray from the details in order to capture an overarching story, but the details are where the important stuff lies. It's also where mistakes get made and plots suffer. But there is none of that here. My favorite part about the whole novel is how Sutton's search for truth reveals her mother as the complex, somewhat contradictory person she was...the kind of person we all are, no matter how simple things look from the outside. When Thompson asks the question "Can the loss of true love be the making of a life or is it destined to be the undoing of everything?" I think we can answer "Yes" to both...and that's a good thing.

To learn more about Tess Thompson and her work, please visit her official website or stop by her Facebook and Twitter pages to say hello!

Thanks for letting be a part of your book blitz, Tess! Good luck with the tour!

four months

Here we are again. Another month gone by. Another day I spend wondering how my child is growing so fast and where did the time go? and all those things that mothers think about.

At four months old, Lucy Jane is smiling allllll day, still sleeping through the night, and having fun discovering her toes each morning. She really is the happiest baby I've ever seen. My grandmother told me last week that both my father and I were like that, so I guess it runs in the family. 

Lucy also likes to giggle, but she keeps them wrapped up in huge, cheek-fattening smiles until they just barely break through the surface. We haven't had another laugh like the first one, but that's okay. It makes them all the more special when they do come around.

We've started marking Lucy's height on the trim around her nursery door and she currently stands (when we hold her) about 24 inches tall and weighs close to 13 pounds. I'm still nursing in the morning and evening and I just picked up a very generous donation of breast milk from a sweet friend of mine whose supply is more abundant than my own. I'm proud of myself for sticking with breastfeeding even though Lucy is also drinking formula. It would be so easy to give in and just let her have formula exclusively, but I know the "breast is best" and it's important for me to let her have it as long as I possibly can. Pumping sucks (can I get an "amen"?) but it certainly helps keep my supply consistent. The extra bit of breast milk I got from my friend (who is very healthy and donates her milk to banks on a regular basis) will help keep us on course until Lucy reaches six months of age. That was my minimum goal for nursing, but I think I'll just keep going until the time is right to wean her. It shouldn't be too hard since she's been a dream baby about switching from bottle to breast thus far, but I've enjoyed the experience and I'm not quite ready to give it up just yet. There is nothing as sweet as being able to nourish your child yourself. It's not easy, but the benefits far outweigh the frustrations that come along with it. It's also helpful to have a husband who encourages and supports me. I don't what I would do without him. 

But my favorite part about being a mom, without a doubt, is how Lucy responds when she hears my voice. When I come into the room, she looks for me. When I leave the room, she watches me go and starts to fuss if I don't come back soon. I know it won't always be like that. I remember what it was like to hear my mother's voice and think it sounded like nails on a chalkboard (sorry, Mom!). But that won't last forever either. Once she's a bit more grown up and creating a life for herself outside our home, she'll need her mother again. And I'll always be here, just like I am now.

Happy four month birthday, Lucy girl! You are the sweetest part of our lives.

written / 1

Try Grammarly's check for plagiarism free of charge because we can't be friends if you're a word-stealer.

I write a lot. But I don't spend a lot of time talking about my writing here because it can be sort of redundant, like, "Hey! Read these words about the other words I write!"

But I do write. Every day.

And I think that having the dedication to your writing, regardless of commercial success, is the best thing you can do to actually achieve success and, most importantly, love your work.

It's tough to write every single day, but what works for me is to write something. It doesn't have to be anything other than a a blog post (not to demean blog posts...I love this little space on the interwebs!). It can be a prayer. Or a page on your novel. Or a letter. Who cares? The point is: Are you putting your thoughts onto paper? Are you turning them into something tangible? If you are, you're well on your way to making sense of them and, perhaps, seeing them published. After all, you can't publish something that doesn't exist.

For the last two years, I've been working on my young adult novel. I spent five months writing the first draft and two months editing it. I took it to the Atlanta Writer's Conference in 2012 and two amazing things happened: I got a book request from the agent of my choice and I won the Best Manuscript Submission Award. I worked hard to achieve those things. After the agent's first (very encouraging) rejection, I spent eight more months doing a major overhaul to the book. Following a second reading of the manuscript, the agent decided it still wasn't a fit. I can't say I wasn't incredibly disappointed; I would have loved to have her represent my story (and me), but these things happen. The publishing world is very subjective. One person's "no" is another person's "hell yes!" The trick is finding that person.

So keep writing, friends. Keep plugging away.

 It will happen. 

And now for a million photos of my baby + a story

Last night, Pierce and I got home from work and did our usual eat dinner/change baby Lucy/feed baby Lucy/play with baby Lucy routine. She usually eats again around 8:30 and then goes to bed for the night, but she just wouldn't burp for me. And even though I didn't want her to go to bed with a gassy stomach, it was not happening no matter how hard I tried. I figured she didn't have one in her to give and, hey, that's normal, right? I don't always have to burp after I eat.

(You're not a baby, Wendi.)

Anyway, to help get her settled for bed I read Lucy a story from our children's Bible. She seemed lethargic and, honestly, kind of bored. I tried to get her to smile at me (it doesn't take much...she is one happy girl!) but nothing doing. She wasn't crying or fussy or pulling up her legs, so I felt confident that she was probably just a little worn out from the day. 

After I finished reading, I picked Lucy up from the rocker and was on my way to saying a small prayer for her when, suddenly, she vomited her dinner all over me. Three times in a row. So it was probably more like lunch and dinner...and it was projectile...almost like someone had taken three of the biggest bottles we had and poured them all over her chest, blanket, and me. The first time it took me by surprise and, truthfully, kind of scared me. Pierce jumped up to check on us and then she puked again. So he ran to get towels while I tried not to cry and then she did it one more time. It was everywhere. As a mom, the first thing that runs through your mind is, "Oh my God, what is wrong? Is she okay? How can I fix this?" Pierce asked if we should take her to the doctor, but almost immediately after she tossed up all the contents of her stomach she simply looked up at me and grinned. Silly girl. 

I guess sometimes we just need to throw up to make the world right again.

There's something about a sick baby that offers everyone a bit of perspective on how little that pile of laundry or that email or that phone call matter. After we recovered from the shock of Lucy's impressive vomiting skills, we filled up her baby tub and gave her a quick bath. I hopped into the big tub, still dressed in my stinky clothes, and cleaned her up. Pierce washed her hair while I poured the water and she seemed to enjoy all the attention. Now that she's almost four months old, Lucy's curiosity about the world keeps her from getting upset about things she once bath time. When we finished, I picked her up and held her freshly cleaned little body against my shirt. I was a total mess at this point - throw up all over my jeans, hair falling down - but it didn't matter. She was warm and smelled so sweet and I kissed her on the cheek, glad to know she was feeling better and thanking God for this family of ours. Pierce turned to me and said, "I love that you don't even care about your clothes. You just care about her. How could you ever doubt yourself?" It hadn't even occurred to me to care about my clothes; I just wanted Lucy to know we were here and she was safe. But hearing those words from my husband filled my heart with pride. 

Maybe I can do this mama thing. And maybe I can do it well.

Also, Miss Lucy has found her feet AND she rolled over for the first time this morning! Go baby girl, go!

sunny and seventy

These last few days have me practically begging for spring to come. Shorts! Sandals! Shaved legs! And since the weather has been so nice, it reminded me of our trip to Europe last year (has it seriously been almost a year already?). And then I realized something terrible: I never shared any of our photos from Croatia! Bad Wendi. I get an "F" in blogging.

Unexpectedly, Split, Croatia turned out to be one of our favorite stops on the cruise, not least because we actually docked in Split and not some random port half an hour away. Other reasons include the following: 

1) Most of the town is built onto or centered around Diocletian's ancient palace and there are stores, restaurants, and beautiful little apartments with green shutters built into and on it from all sides. Flowers grow out of the cracks in the ground and walls. And anywhere you step you imagine all the other people who have stood in that same spot over the last almost-two thousand years.

2) It's kind of unknown. It's got all the charm and beauty of other tourist hot spots in the Mediterranean, but it's small enough that it seems to get passed over for more famous locales like Rome and Athens...which was just fine by us. Although I can't really complain about those other places either because I've been to them both and each is equally amazing for different reasons. But something about Split made us feel like we had stumbled upon a great secret.

3) It's cheap. Souvenirs in Europe aren't all that expensive to begin with, especially if we're talking about the kitschy kind of stuff you'd find for sale by every old pile of ruins, but Split - which has its own currency called the kuna and does not use the euro - was uniformly much more affordable than other places we visited. 

4) The locals are genuinely not bothered by Americans. Or tourists in general. At least not that we could see. Perhaps they're better at hiding their disdain, but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that they aren't as pretentious as some other Europeans can be (don't get me wrong, I love Europeans...but it's true). That being said, I think Americans fare better in the Mediterranean than they do in western Europe anyway. Something about all that pasta and wine. It makes us much easier to get along with ;).

Also, my camera died while we were in port, so I only got a few pictures of Split. Still, I wanted to share them. Finally. Enjoy and happy Monday!