Tag Archives: travel

WeekEND Reading: Lynne Branard talks about her addiction to Mike & Ike candy, how she’d love to write all day, doing what’s right while still being pleasing, & so much more in this graceful story of being open and TRAVELING LIGHT

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By Leslie Lindsay

From the bestselling author and masterful storyteller of THE ART OF ARRANGING FLOWERS, comes a new novel about the search for what really matters in life, discovering oneself, all while doing the ‘right’ thing.

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Inspired by real life events, Lynne Branard was working at a hospice agency when an unclaimed box of cremains—with her agency’s business card attached—was discovered in a storage facility. Branard was intrigued. How could remains of someone get lost—and how could no one seem to ‘care?’ It became a catalyst for change—and the perfect inception for a work of fiction.

Branard’s writing flows effortlessly, a jaunty rhythm much like the road trip that becomes the narrative. TRAVELING LIGHT (Berkley, January 10 2017) is quirky fun, but the smooth and polished writing makes it so easy to settle in with the characters, Al (short for Alissa) and her seventeen year old traveling companion, Blossom as they attempt to return the unclaimed ‘found’ ashes of Mr. Roger Hart to his proper home.

Our protagonist is a reporter, so we get a good deal of background and research on the places we “travel” with Al(issa) and Blossom, which I loved. Even though I am quite familiar with many of the locations along the way, I found myself immersed in the details and fully enjoying the new tidbits of information. images-20

As for Roger Hart, there’s some good that comes of that, too but it’s not nearly as neat and tidy as one might expect; there’s some potholes along the way. TRAVELING LIGHT is a light mystery, but mostly it’s good ol’ fun ala THELMA & LOUISE with a slight, *very* slight spiritual bent. It’s mostly about traveling the open roads with an open mind, delightful and unique. 

Join me in welcoming New York Times bestselling author and masterful storyteller Lynne Branard to the blog!

Leslie Lindsay: Lynne, it’s a pleasure to have you join us today. It’s January and so we’re all doing a good deal of re-assessing—looking at where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Is that some of what got you interested in this story?

Lynne Branard: Thank you, Leslie! I always enjoy a little self-reflection so that certainly influenced this story idea. I also was interested in thinking about the “scripts” we get handed or try and find as a way to live our lives. Sometimes just considering why we do what we do helps us know what we most want

L.L.: You have a background in Divinity. Though TRAVELING LIGHT is not at all spiritual reading, there’s definitely a thread of that intertwined throughout the narrative; and how can there not be, your characters are driving cross-country with someone’s ashes. Would you call this a spiritual book, or not?

Lynne Branard: I mostly think everything has a spiritual bent, that there is a thread
somewhere leading to what gives us meaning and purpose or what doesn’t but yet manages to capture our attention.
I do think this kind of “journey” lends itself to being called a spiritual one; so then, I vote yes, it’s a spiritual book!

L.L.: Still yet, there’s something appealing to “traveling light,”—the idea that we take too much with us in life. What aspects of your life might you attempt to shed if you images-19were ‘traveling light?’

Lynne Branard: Whew, that would take more than a paragraph. I carry so many fears of disappointing others, of trying to “do right,” be pleasing. It so often trips me up in trying to be authentic. I’m also a bit of a control freak; it’d be nice to let loose of some of that heaviness. Overanalyzing everything, an addiction to Mike and Ike candy, the fear of loss, worrying if something is in my teeth. Well, that’s enough, don’t want to give away all of my crazy.

L.L.: So back to the story, Alissa and Blossom tickled me so much. They are definitely a pair of unlikely companions. For one, Alissa is nearly twice as old as Blossom. Blossom’s a wise gal, but she’s still only seventeen. In many ways, Blossom teaches Alissa a thing or two about life. What would you say is the biggest lesson(s) they each bring to one another?

Lynne Branard: Blossom is definitely the teacher in this story. The young one knows about an open heart, not really going by any script. She’s easy, nonjudgmental. She’s out there! Alissa, I suppose, teaches Blossom to trust women, to be open to a new, unexpected friendship, and maybe since Alissa comes to love her so much; sees how smart she really is, maybe this helps Blossom find clarity and confidence for her life too.

L.L.: And their travels! Oh, how I smiled and nodded when you mentioned towns like Shamrock, Texas and Amarillo, too! I’ve been to both places—as well as Tucumcari, New Mexico. I know all about The Big Texan and the Cadillac Ranch (not in the book, but still in Amarillo). There was more, too—things I didn’t know. Do you have any connection to these places?

Lynne Branard: My husband and I make that trip down Interstate 40, East to West and back again A LOT! I love that passageway across the country. I have great connection to almost everything on that road!!catus-in-front

L.L.: There were times when TRAVELING LIGHT almost read like a memoir. What’s your take on realistic fiction vs. creative non-fiction vs. using a kernel of truth (as you did in this book) in storytelling?

Lynne Branard: That’s a very smart question and I don’t really have a take on that. I love stories and on some level they are all true; so I don’t think too much about the genre, I just pick up a book and get ready to be taken somewhere new.

L.L.: What’s next for you?

Lynne Branard: Finished a book about a woman who lives in a tree for a few weeks. So far, no publisher wants it. I thought that idea was the easiest thing to believe but apparently, it’s too far-fetched for a lot of city folks. I could go live in a tree in a like a minute.

L.L.: What keeps you inspired? What do you do when your mind needs a break for writing? For me, it’s decorating…in fact, I’m thinking of a new wall color right now.

Lynne Branard: Well, it’s clearly not decorating! =) Come see my house! I like running half marathons. Well, let me rephrase that: I like running one half marathon and the rest of the year getting ready for it. The stories people tell me inspire me. I’m a co-pastor; I hear amazing stories of survival and grace. I am so privileged in this way. So far, I’ve never really wanted a break from writing. I think if I had my way I’d write all the time. I mean, never bathe, eat bad food, never see anyone, just write. Maybe that’s why I have to work another job, keeps me from becoming some weird old woman with bad hygiene!

L.L.: So I’m dying to know (bad pun), whatever happened with the unclaimed ashes with your agency’s business card attached? Any happy endings there?

Lynne Branard: We never heard. The person who called said her sister had actually found them a year before she made her call. She said the sister liked keeping them in her car, gave her a sense of comfort. I guess they’re still strapped in the back seat of that woman’s SUV.

L.L.: Lynne, I so appreciate your story, your words, and for being with us today. All the best to you!

Lynne Branard: This was fun!! Thank you for your kind words, thoughtful questions, and for caring about what I think. I hope our paths cross one day! Thank you, Leslie. You make the world a better place!

For more information, to connect with Lynne Branard, or to purchase a copy of TRAVELING LIGHT, please see: 

Jackie Lynne Hinton.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Hinton was born and raised in North Carolina. She attended Wake Forest University and is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro. She also attended NC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking and graduated with her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served as a hospice chaplain and as a senior pastor in North Carolina and in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as well as the interim pastor in northeastern Washington.

Lynne is the author of twenty books, including the NY Times Bestseller, Friendship Cake and Pie Town, the 2011 NM Book of the Year: Fiction/Adventure, Drama Category and 2011 National Federation of Press Women’s Fiction Book of the Year. She has penned a mystery series under the name, Jackie Lynn and has one nonfiction collection of essays. She also has two books under the name Lynne Branard: THE ART OF ARRANGING FLOWERS and her latest, TRAVELING LIGHT. She is a regular guest columnist in the Faith and Values Section for The Charlotte Observer and was the 2008 Lucy B. Patterson Author of the Year by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in NC. In 2010 and 2015, she was the recipient of a Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Grant and was named 2012 Favorite Local Writer in Albuquerque, New Mexico by Albuquerque, The Magazine.

She has been endorsed by authors Sue Monk Kidd, Rita Mae Brown, Silas House, Malachy McCourt, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and her favorite, Dr. Maya Angelou, who wrote about the novel, FRIENDSHIP CAKE, “I would welcome a friendship with Lynne Hinton. I would welcome an invitation to sit down at her table, but mostly I would welcome her next book.”wp_20170109_12_46_48_pro_li-2

Her work has been compared to great writers like Eudora Welty, Rebecca Wells, and Jan Karon. And the journal Publishers Weekly has written, “Hinton has a knack in her novels for tapping into a woman’s longings for lifelong, authentic, messy friendships.”

Lynne is married to Bob Branard; they live in Guilford County, NC where she serves as the Co-Pastor of Mount Hope UCC. Learn more here and also at Lynne Hinton’s Books on Facebook.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay through these on-line stops: 

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[Cover and author image courtesy of Berkley/Penguin Random House and used with permission. Image of man in field from , The Big Texan from their website, both retrieved on 1.21.17. Book with VW model from L.Linday’s personal archives]

The Emerald Isle: They may not be Irish…but the bagpipes are cool

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By Leslie Lindsay

I wonder if I can pound out a blog in the next twenty minutes before I run off to pick up my daughter from preschool?  Hummm…sounds like an emperical question.  In fact, that was what my now husband-then-boyfriend used to say when I would have some psychology-related question (more like musing).  I thought I was being particularly astute with an observation or insight and then he would sort of smash it when he cocked that grin and suggested it could actually be studied.  (Where’s the fun in that?!)

But I digress.  Sort of.  You see, when I first “met” my husband, he was away in Ireland/Scotland.  With a friend.  Who was a girl.  (I know now that it was completely platonic, but at the time, I had no idea).  I had just started working at the same place as my would-be-honey.  I didn’t know I’d fall in love with the guy.  But I heard about his travels and it piqued my curiosity.   I love to travel, as well.  Alas, I have never been to the Emerald Isle.

Jim has and he liked it.  And he came back with stories of haggis (sheep stomach filled with parts that people “over there” eat and like), bagpipes, castles, rock walls, and beer.  And of course, the bagpipes.

I owe due credit to my Scottish Laddie who has taken up the art of squeezing on a plaid bag filled with air from his own sacs (we call lungs) and squeaking out a sound that is supposed to be music to your ears.  Well…it is.  And some like it more than others.

It’s not I don’t like it.  I do think it’s kind of cool that he has such an unique hobby.  He loves it.  Or, did.  You see, bagpiping is time-consuming.  There’s the practice, the group, the parades one must march in, and other special events like weddings and funerals.  (Yes, I walked down the aisle to the tune of bagpipes; alas my groom was not the muscian).  And so when we had our own little lassies, he hung the pipes up to focus on his growing familiy.

But I know there are times–and March is one of them–that gets his toes a tappin.’  The thoughts of pulling out the bagpipes is at the forefront of his mind.

Where did the bagpipes come from?  What’s the deal?  Well, I wish I had time to succinctly summarize a little research, but I don’t.  I have 8 minutes left to blog and that’s it.  12 minutes have already passed.  Here are some links for your browsing pleasure:

http://www.hotpipes.com/history.html

http://www.bagpipehistory.info/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagpipes

http://www.visitscotland.com/guide/scotland-factfile/scottish-icons/the-bagpipes

The Emerald Isle: All Things Green and Small

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By Leslie Lindsay

It’s the month we celebrate all things green and little.  As in leprecahns and four-leaf clovers and emeralds.  Or, peas.  Or endamane.  And perhapsps even Thin Mints.  Though they aren’t really green.  They just “taste” that way–but they do come in that iconic green box.

What’s that you say?!  Oh?  You’re not Irish.  Well…who cares because this month, we’re all Irish!  In fact, I recall as a kid my parents didn’t really support the whole “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” thing either.  It was always “we’re a little of everything.  There’s no way to tell that we’re really Irish, anyway.”  True, I grew up with an un-Irish last name and always believed I was of German/Austrian ancestry.  But, as time went on I learned that we are, indeed Irish.  It comes from my mother’s side (and maybe dad’s side if we ever got the the bottom of that surname change way back when.  I think we may have derived from the McLean clan, but who really knows?!)

The thing is, I’ve got two redheaded children to “prove” my celtic ancestry.  (Actually, red hair may  also come from the German side of my family, too).  But, in all fairness (and we are fair), I think it’s a safe bet to say that there’s a wee-bit Lassie to me as well.

Each Friday this month, we’re going to discuss all things Ireland:  How about some Irish step dancing?  Guiness beer?  Red hair?  Four-leaf clovers?  Leprecahns?  Rainbows?  Potato Soup?I don’t know…let’s see what else we can come up with!

Stay tuned and Top O’ the weekend!