" Kimberly Brock has an amazing voice and a huge heart; The River Witch welcomes the reader to a haunted landscape, authentically Southern, where the tragedies of the past and the most fragile, gorgeous kind of love-soaked hope are equally alive. This is one debut that you absolutely should not
~~ Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Backseat Saints
Georgia Author of the Year 2013 The River Witch is available wherever books are sold
This week I have a wonderful FREE gift to share with you from myself and several of our Tinderbox Workshop participants – Georgia Lee and Rena Blain – and many other fabulous authors!
TODAY though Thursday, you can go to Amazon and download A CUP OF CHRISTMAS, an anthology of heartwarming stories. The stories contributed are meant as gifts to you. Please send a copy to your friends and family, too! (This genius idea originated from Ms. Barbara Barth, editor and contributing author of the anthology. Learn more about her here.)
After Thursday, the ebook will be priced at $1.99 (a Christmas steal!) and ALL proceeds will go to FirstBook.orgFrom their website:
“First Book is determined to see that all children, regardless of their economic conditions, can achieve more in school and in life through access to an ongoing supply of new books.
With the help of our partners, donors and dedicated volunteers we have provided more than 120 million new books to schools and programs serving children in need. Yet millions of children are still waiting for our help.
Together we can make a difference in children’s lives. Together we can provide new books and critical resources that elevate the quality of education for children in low-income families.”
Here’s a little teaser from my story, THE GOLDEN APPLE, a fairy tale about getting your hearts’ desire…
“Twenty-two years ago on a gusty December morning, when the air smelled so sweetly of vanilla that everyone in the town of Vacherie found themselves craving shortbread for breakfast, Laura Duparc’s husband lingered in a hospital bed, disappearing one heartbeat at a time. That’s when she’d begun to bake. Her fear and grief produced a sickening sweetness that slipped under windowsills and beneath doors, rose from the sidewalks and swirled in the treetops. It brought tears to the eyes of women who had buried their great loves, dreams, and children. Men climbed into their barn lofts or set to walking the banks of the Mississippi with no idea where they would go. They said they tasted alum and their tongues curled in their mouths. They feared their own mortality and lay awake at night calling up every memory of wasted youth so they would not lose their minds…”
I contributed this guest post for AlpharettaMoms.Org this month. Hope you enjoy!
WHAT’S IN YOUR ATTIC
Today I cleaned out my attic. It’s a walk-in attic full of Rubbermaid boxes filled with children’s hand-me-down clothing, school work, abandoned instruments, old picture frames, the dresser from my daughter’s nursery furniture, bed rails, wreaths, and luggage – everything that belongs in an attic. You have to understand, this is the great dread of my life. Like it or not, there was no avoiding the job, because it’s that time of year. The holidays are coming and guess where all the holiday decorations are stashed? Yep. Believe me, there was a moment when I thought seriously about secretly driving to Target and loading up with all new garb, exactly matching the old garb. A twinkly Christmas lie.
The trouble started when I created this disaster last January, a month that blew through my life like morning breath. I tossed a whole year into the attic, everything I couldn’t handle, and went on without looking back, without care, without consideration of the consequences. That heap has lurked just behind my bedroom wall, mocking me. I tried not to think of the horrible mess. But it’s November now. It’s Me versus Our Crap.
I cracked the door and I swear if there were a caption underneath what I saw it would have said, “These Are the Piles of Your Life.” I felt defeated before I’d even begun. Here was the evidence of my Pottery Barn Mama failure. More than that, my complete inability to scrapbook. My bad habit of buying one after another vaporizer, hot and cool air, unable to understand how they work. Here was proof that I am the family camel, storing away every piece of junk re-gifted Mulberry candle set, or silver-plated heirloom gravy boat, or Jesus’ Last Supper VBS Hodge Podge placard. I started out trying to cram it all back inside the Rubbermaid boxes, but none of the lids would fit. And like a little wink from God, I discovered that the roof had sprung a leak at some point and molded a mountain of winter blankets.
I tore out of there in search of gloves and a gas mask, imagining cancer-making black mold grabbing me by the throat. I grabbed the biggest, industrially serious trash bags from the garage and suddenly the whole thing turned into a full-on war. I may have let out a Braveheart battle cry. Four hours later, I had a new pile, sacks of trash lined up in my upstairs foyer that would have filled Santa’s sleigh to the top. I actually cheered – CHEERED – when I could finally see the attic floor. Do you know, I even vacuumed that sucker? I stood back and beamed at my accomplishment.
That’s the moment when you realize there is no soul on earth who gives a rip about your clean attic, except you. Nobody else can truly appreciate your hallway trash. But also, you realize in this sort of transcendental kind of way that what seemed insurmountably disastrous a year ago, is now unceremoniously being hauled down the stairs by giggling kids. (Also, I regained a lot of faith in miracles when the talking Buzz Lightyear I’d tossed out kept his mouth shut so I didn’t have to open any of those bags.)
My husband, my hero, came to check on my progress and to bring Motrin. I said, “Check it out. I got rid of my hump.”
I think it lost something in translation.
Secretly I was feeling a little shaky inside. If I wasn’t a camel anymore, did that just make me a…donkey? But here’s the thing, at the bottom of it all, I found the Christmas decorations, and a little something I hadn’t expected: gratitude for a life so full and something that felt a lot like anticipation. I shut the door without looking back, ready to string some lights and hang some garland. This holiday season, I’m imagining attics everywhere, overfilled, unorganized, challenging us all and giving the gift of a Thanksgiving Blessing to me and all the rest of you Martha Stewart drop-outs – space for something new.
Kimberly Brock is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon bestseller, THE RIVER WITCH (Bell Bridge Books, 2012). A former actor and special needs educator, Kimberly is the recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year 2013 Award. A literary work reminiscent of celebrated southern author Carson McCullers, Kimberly’s writing has appeared in anthologies, blogs and magazines, including Writer Unboxed and Psychology Today. Visit her website at kimberlybrockbooks.com for more information and to find her blog. You can also find her Author page on Facebook at Kimberly Brock, or tweet her @kimberlydbrock.
This weekend I will be leading a FREE writers workshop for my community of Milton, Ga. I’m posting the info below. Come one, come all! Hope to see you there and celebrate story together!
Better Together holds free writer’s workshop with Author of the Year
Always eavesdropping for realistic dialogue? Have the itch to write the Great American Novel? Then make sure you’re at the Bethwell Community Center Nov. 16 when Better Together hosts a free writer’s workshop with Georgia Author of the Year 2013 Kimberly Brock, a Milton resident.
This workshop will last from 2 to 4 p.m. Bethwell Community Center is at 2695 Hopewell Road in Milton. Refreshments will be provided.
Whether writing poetry, magazine articles, family stories, comics, novels or starting a blog, learning to read and listen with mindfulness requires courage. It is the mastery of vulnerability and authenticity that will determine your success in life and on the page.
Brock’s reputation as a teacher is characterized by her focus on getting the writer out of his or her own way by creating an environment of awareness. In workshop, writers are encouraged to come out of hiding and to take risks, embracing the habits of a satisfying creative life.
Writers will learn the habits of:
paying attention and developing material from their own lives
identifying writing goals so they can write through their fears
brainstorming ideas and stretching creative problem solving skills
reading as a writer and digging deep with critical thinking skills
In this 2-hour creative writing workshop, participants will be challenged to engage in mindfulness as readers and writers through prompts and exercises put to use in their original work. In-class critiques as well as feedback from the instructor will help students further develop the potential in their own writing.
Brock is the award-winning author of the No. 1 Amazon bestseller The River Witch. A former actor and special needs educator, her writing has appeared in anthologies, blogs and magazines, including Writer Unboxed and Psychology Today.
She lectures and leads workshops on the inherent power in telling our stories and is founder of Tinderbox Writer’s Workshop.
Better Together is a volunteer organization of Milton residents looking for unique and fun ways to connect with neighbors. If you would like more information on Better Together or any of its activities, please visit the group’s Facebook page or contact Community Builder Wayne Boston at 678-242-2512 or email@example.com.
That’s the best way I know to explain the past nine months. I’d been going ninety to nothing, publishing my first novel, loving my family hard, raising three kids, each in a different school, managing aging parents, aging pets, peanut allergies and a husband whose work kept him out of town for a good portion of every week. And I was managing. I was moving. I was shaking. I was paying attention. I was doing everything right. And then…I woke up one day and the people in my life started dropping like flies.
In truth, no one actually died, but every person who was significant went into their own personal crisis and I was the last (wo)man standing. I’d been a celebrated teacher, an award winning author, a beloved wife and mother and daughter – that didn’t stop the breaking. It was more than I could manage. And it was nothing I could mend. As the ones I loved struggled, I felt my foundations tremble. My hands were completely tied, my heart was broken, and I’d never been so alone. So here’s what I did: I went into my closet and shut the door.
The thing is, I love my closet. It is my nest. It is my metaphorical womb. It is my most favorite place. And because I have my closet, all my life I’ve been a person who persists. I’ve been a survivor. I’ve been the person who is grounded. I’ve been able to turn inward and find what I need because I lived a rich, creative, thoughtful, faith-filled life. I believe in miracles. I believe in magic. I like to act like I’m all rational and worldly, but truthfully I am a die-hard optimist in a pessimist’s clothing. But that day in January when I went into my closet and I shut my eyes and went to gather my strength and belief in good, good things, a terrible thing happened.
I was empty. Depleted. Exhausted. Where I’d always been able to come out of that closet refreshed, with a plan, ready to take on what came next, suddenly I couldn’t even bring myself to open the door. And I kept thinking the same things over and over. Mostly, I’d catch myself thinking one thing, an unfinished thought: I wish…I wish…I wish…
And when I turned to my work, the thing I thought would get me out of my mess – writing – I discovered every creative person’s nightmare. I was blocked to the bone.
What happened to me? Life broke. And the pieces created a great big dam.
For the past few months I’ve been floundering and questioning. I’ve been wandering around, blinking like a mole, picking up pieces and tucking them into my pockets. I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping because it’s hard to get out of bed. I’ve been eating lots of carbs and reading lots of books and taking care of my house and not answering the phone at all. I’ve been fighting cynicism. I’ve been afraid. Of so many things. Of having nothing special to offer the world. Of being ordinary. Of days passing and watching them go by without being inspired…or inspiring someone else.
Friends and family have watched me, uneasy. It’s scary for them, too, I think. They’ve never seen me…well…stop. I mean really, seriously STOP. But I did. And something new started to happen. I realized this: creativity – the source that has always been the soul-restoring energy available to me in that nest-closet of mine – is like any other thing on this earth that FLOWS. It needs a clear path.
If I wanted to continue to survive – and especially to come back from trauma – it was going to be up to me to learn how to take care of my creativity. And that started with taking care of myself. I started by taking care of myself in all the extravagant, thoughtful ways I wished to be cared for. (Which also gave me the renewed strength to care for those around me.) I worked in ways that felt good instead of exhausting, clearing a path for my creativity. (I learned to say no to a lot of things, too. I’ve never had a problem saying no. But I did have a problem saying yes to the wrong things.) And then I allowed myself to enjoy all the unexpected ways that recovering my creativity brought well-being and purpose and joy back into my life.
Sound like I’ve gone all Oprah? Well. Not really. Half the time I’m still guessing. I don’t live in Chicago or know everything. I know very little, actually. And I like it that way. I like that I’m learning from so many women who are also on this path. So when I started looking around at the women in my life, the girls I see at the grocery store or the school meetings, ladies who sit beside me at church or on airplanes, or book clubs, I started to notice so many of them are whispering things to me.
I’m lost. I’m burnt out. I don’t even have time. I don’t even remember myself. And…I wish. LOTS of I wish.
I’m calling it a writers workshop, but really it’s a creativity workshop. I believe stories are the surest path to our source – our hearts. Stories teach us how to speak our truth. Stories change everything. Stories teach us about our wishes. Stories are the home of every creative effort, no matter the form.
I’m a believer that if you want something in life, you should create it. And then you should share it. I wished I could create the life I wanted each day. I wished I could create a space for women who are blocked, who are stuck, who are silenced or depleted or just searching for a safe place to discover or recover or express their gifts. I wished for a space for women to share and explore and CREATE and celebrate their stories and voices. I wished to nurture my own soul and the souls of sisters and daughters. I wished for a sanctuary where women can learn to live fully, joyously, passionately – lives lived from our creative core.
“A tinderbox is a collection of all the tools needed to spark a fire and that’s just what every person carries inside them, a little something dangerous, something with the power to bring the house down, to transform. We all have a story to tell and a unique voice with which to express that story with power and authority and authenticity. Our stories create the reality in which we live. In other words, our stories change the world! Because of that, the truth is, writing is a risky business. All writers are afraid of setting that crazy spark loose on the page. Worse, we’re afraid what we express won’t matter or that we’ll express ourselves all wrong. This is the best news! It means we’re exactly the same as every other human being who ever existed. It means we can stop waiting to be unafraid.” ~ Kimberly Brock
In this workshop, Kimberly Brock, author of The River Witch, will share with attendees her success with writing with her fear. Kimberly will share tips for overcoming common struggles for writers and inspiration from her own battle with writer’s block, the internal pressure to succeed and fears about doing the story justice. Workshop attendees
will also learn how writing from their tinderbox – with their fear – can lead to a powerful connection with the
" The River Witch welcomes the reader to a haunted landscape, authentically Southern, where the tragedies of the past and the most fragile, gorgeous kind of love-soaked hope are equally alive. This is one debut that you absolutely should not
~~ Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Backseat Saints
"Kimberly Brock’s The River Witch achieves what splendid writing ought to achieve – story and character that linger in the reader’s consciousness. Tender and intriguing, often dazzling in its prose, this is a mature work of fiction worthy of the celebration of praise."
~~ Terry Kay, Honored Georgia author of To Dance With the White Dog
goodreads add book
"There is magic and wonder in The River Witch, but the real enchantment here is the strength of the characters Roslyn and Damascus. Their voices are the current that carries the reader along in this compelling tale of healing and discovery."
~~ Sharyn McCrumb, New York Times bestselling author of The Ballad of Tom Dooley.
"With lyrical prose, Kimberly Brock explores the hidden places of the heart. The River Witch is a magical and bewitching story that, like a river, winds its way through the soul. In the voices of her wounded characters, Brock takes us through both the breaking and the healing of a life."
~~ Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Driftwood Summer