A woman solo hiked the PCT. This is her engaging rite-of-passage memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I could hardly put the book down, strong was my desire to gobble up every trail and survival detail. I love hiking, along with exploring the backcountry on horses, and primitive camping. While my own two feet have traversed sections of both the PCT and the AT (Appalachian Trail), I can only, thus far, live vicariously through those who have actually “thru-hiked.” Cheryl Strayed didn’t exactly hike through, having started in the Mojave Desert in California and finished at the Bridge of the Gods connecting Oregon to Washington, but she covered 1,100 miles on her weary, blistered, nail-less toes, having started out ill-prepared and untrained. That’s nothing to scoff at, by any stretch. That’s gutsy.
**potential spoilers below**
The writing is sharp and the storytelling vivid. I trekked into the pages assuming I could relate to the author as I, too, lost both my parents. I know what it’s like when your family unit sort of disintegrates due to grief; when the strong root is dug up, or the anchor is hoisted leaving you feeling adrift. Yet, I couldn’t grasp the author’s perspective on a number of levels. From her form of recklessness and promiscuity, to feeling a life force—though the size of a grain of rice—recognizing she was pregnant, and then using “I got an abortion” and “learned how to make dehydrated tuna flakes” in the same sentence. I couldn’t comprehend why her editors kept in the dalliance with “rad” man, as it had nothing to do with the story and certainly didn’t move it along. I didn’t understand why she unreasonably obliterated a solid marriage to a great guy, or how she expressed pain. And the incident with her mom’s horse, Lady: horrid. Choices, choices!
Still, her descriptions of nature when compared to her state of being proved starkly eloquent. When she hadn’t seen another human for weeks. When silence was tremendous. When she expressed that she was nothing to pebbles, leaves, and branches, yet they were everything to her. “Everything but me seems utterly certain of itself. The sky didn’t wonder where it was.”
When she did have encounters with other characters, they were interesting. Clyde’s words moved me while he said he didn’t believe in reincarnation when Cheryl had asked him. He said, “I believe we’re here once and what we do matters.”
And Cheryl’s mom having cancer that consumed her before she reached 50. I understood the tragedy of it. And the painful truths that came also from the mom’s mouth, about how she never got to conduct her own life—to be in the driver’s seat. She always did what someone else wanted her to do. The most uncomfortable sentiment, “I’ve always been someone’s daughter or mother or wife. I’ve never just been me.” Sorrowful authenticity is a killer.
So, you see, Wild was a weighty, ugly-beautiful book. Hard to rate. It’s like life, you take the good with the bad—which I suppose is the theme of this chronicle. Although I’m a different-thinking person from that of the author, with a contrasting belief system and grief display, and I didn’t quite see in my mind a “healing” take place, I admire Strayed who “strayed” and wrote for us a compelling memoir to digest.
My horse-based contemporary romance novel I wrote a few years back, Madeleine's Ranch, is currently being promoted on Riding & Writing.
As a novel often will reflect an author’s personal experience, perception, or interest, I thought I’d also include a few pics here of some these great loves in life…
My publisher is working on combining The Brother’s Keep series into one set. This coming April, all four of my YA romantic fantasy novellas will be available in one volume via Soul Mate Publishing. The cover was just revealed to me, and now I’m revealing it to you. Symbols from each of the novellas are represented in this gorgeous new cover (love!). Sharing today’s news from my happy camp.
Greetings! I'm excited to share the introduction for my latest novel just released. Can't believe I now have nine titles out there! Where does the time go? Oh yeah, that's right...it goes into writing. ;)
This story, MADELEINE'S RANCH, is a contemporary Christian Native American romance, inspired by my five-year stint on a ranch in northern New Mexico (still one of my favorite locations in the world). Hope you enjoy it.
Madeleine Gentry can’t afford to lose the ranch.
Even though childhood dreams betray her, and a history of hurt is wrapped into the place, it’s everything she knows at 47 years of age.
When a handsome Jesus-believing Native American, Dan Longfeather, shows her that the Waymaker has a far better plan, including freedom and healing for her heart, she dares to hope. If only she can learn to trust again and is willing to make the right choice for her future. But when she takes a step in that direction, the last of Madeleine’s world crumbles.
Fighting off a rogue bear that has terrorized the area is tough, but it’s the least of her worries. Madeleine soon discovers she is not safe. There is a danger far worse than a restless bear. Someone is out to get her. People aren't what they seem. And she doesn't know who to believe anymore.
Set in the mountainous Pecos Wilderness of northern New Mexico; discover Madeleine’s wild and desperate love for the Land of Enchantment, and the man who captures her heart there.
When people learn that I’m an equine enthusiast I’m sometimes asked what style of riding I do, Western or English? My response is often “kind of both and kind of neither.” To me the style is not as relevant as is my communication with the horse while I ride. This is how I see faith. Void of churchly styles, i.e., denominational claim—which, in my mind, is really more cultural or religious rather than spiritual—I choose to focus on the relationship and freedom of expression through open and honest communication. I’ll get on a horse bareback at times. In fact, I feel the response of the horse, and vice versa, better when it’s shed of manmade tack.
I have faith. It’s perhaps strong even. But it’s also unbridled.
Now, if someone really wants to know what literal style of riding I favor it is Endurance—but that’s also an implication.
Dark Horse emerges from my dream. Mysterious, bewitching, revealing little while comprising much. I want to behold your countenance in real-time and not just imagine the cadence of your gait.
Weave my fingers through your mane. Look long into your ambiguous eyes that reflect secrets of ageless awareness. Wrap my arms around you as I rest along your back. Sync my breath with your breath and we breathe as one.
Dark Horse, won’t you emerge from my dream. Grace me with the reality of your existence, pure and unmistakable. Allow me to come close. Consent to the intimate rhythm of our being.
Branding remains an enigma for me as a genre-blended writer. I find it sticky to pinpoint author taglines, even after clarifying discussions. The topic has even entered my dreams. In one someone asked, “What kind of writer are you?” Working my jaw as if chewing a cud, I answered, “Mooooo” which transitioned into “nooooo!”
Even if I settle, the market today is such a crapshoot (marketing gurus may cringe) that something which works today might not tomorrow.
Creativity is like wind, unpredictable. A writer is like a wild mustang… You know it’s a horse (author). You can expect certain characteristics such as neighing, rearing, and tossing its mane (message, although variable). What you don’t know is where it’ll go (what he/she will do next) and how (medium)—while stirred by the wind.
Leo Tolstoy said, “If you want to be happy, be.” On that note, if you want to write, write. Perhaps a perfect depiction will come in the process. If not, maybe versatile and free will come to the minds of observers.