Ernest Hemingway immersed in his writing.
I believe Ernest Hemingway is one of the greatest wordsmiths of all time. His ability to describe a scene, a person, a feeling in bold, simple words borders on perfection. I admit, (don’t hate me) I don’t love his books. There I’ve said it out loud. They are full of war and blood and ugly things like boxing and bull fighting that I’m not good at reading.
But his personal story tugs at me.
Hemingway was young, and he burned to be a writer. So, he moved to Paris and wrote. He didn’t let anyone or anything get in his way of that. He knocked down, or ignored, all of the proverbial roadblocks in his way to achieving his dream. Ahhh talk about a dream chaser. He would disappear for hours or days, completely focused, totally immersed in his writing. He didn’t tweet about his characters or check his email for word from his agent. He isolated himself from distractions and dove into the words that filled his head.
Me outside of Hemingway's haunt, Les Deux Magots, on a recent trip to Paris.
When I was recently in Paris, I sought out the famed Le Deux Magots—the café where Hemingway penned A Moveable Feast. The café where Ernest and F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Ezra Pound frequented together in the early 1920’s.
Les Deux Magots was harder to find than I’d imagined. My husband and I walked up one side of Boulevard Saint Germain and down the other. We walked so far, we had to hop the metro and backtrack three stops. I am blessed to have a husband who is:
1. Extremely patient with me
2. Has a built in compass, where I obviously, was born without one
3. Incredibly supportive of my dreams
Forty-five minutes after the begin of our search I exclaimed, “There it is.” It was a café, plain and simple, like hundreds of others that litter the Parisian sidewalks. But my eyes welled up. There was that pinch on the bridge of my nose and the warm feeling seeping from my heart. Perhaps the struggle to find Les Deux Magots made it all that much more powerful when I found it.
This was the place where creative geniuses congregated, where stories were exchanged and ideas shared by some of the most proclaimed literary artists of all time. I felt a rush of inspiration to create, to write because it’s how God made me. Not because I had a deadline or an interview I needed to respond to or a clock ticking, but because it’s what God placed in my heart to do.
After taking a photo for my scrapbook, my husband said, “Let’s sit.” And we did. We sat in the café, sunshine warming our faces and ordered from our waiter donned in a formal dinner jacket watching the passersby and dreaming.
Hemingway’s life was full of pain and turmoil. I do not envy his life. But his passion—his desire to fuel his dream, to write and write and write—I admire.
What is your passion? How can you fuel your dream today?
SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER, for Palmer, Claire, Kat and Hannah at Clarkston University, the fictitious setting for my Status Updates series. To celebrate, the four college roommates in the books are offering you their first book, It's Complicated, for only 99 cents!
From left to right - Palmer, Claire, Kat and Hannah get ready to head home for summer vacation. Photo courtesy Kelci Alane Photography
For less than a song on iTunes, less than a pack of Claire's bobby pins, less than a slice of pizza at Clarkston's Ragazza, less than even a small cup of coffee from Corner Cup, you can get an entire novel! Just click on this link and download: http://www.amazon.com/Complicated-Status-Updates-Series-ebook/dp/B00C2BXK6Q/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
(if you don't own a Kindle, no worries, the App is free on the Amazon site for most phones, tablets and laptops)
OR if you don't have access to a Kindle or Free Kindle App, visit Smashwords and enter promo code WK68Z prior to checkout. Offer expires May 16, 2013.
It's Complicated for only 99 cents through May 16!
"I absolutely love love love this book!!!
Here are 3 reasons why...
#1 FAB FRIENDS- these characters are unique, fun, funny, and wonderful! It's hard to pick my fave! There's super-athletic KAT, fashion-forward PALMER, boy-crazy HANNAH, and the serious quiet type CLAIRE. I love them all!!
#2 ISSUES & DRAMA- author Laura L. Smith doesn't shy away from issues that real teens are dealing with today, and when you put four friends together you know there's gonna be some drama!!
#3 IT'S A SERIES!!! I soooo can't wait to read more about these girls. It's Complicated is a totally awesome start to what promises to be one of my fave series ever!!!" JoJo's Corner
It's Complicated by Laura L. Smith book cover
Slide on your flip flops and shades, grab a Tazo or an iced latte and enjoy a summer read that will take you to the beach, the soccer fields and Paris before it's time to dive back into next school year. All for less than a dollar.
Tingling all over with the announcement of the second book in my Status Updates series, It's Over, releasing April 19!
Book cover for the sequel to It's Complicated, It's Over. Photograph by Kelci Alane Photography. Cover Design by Angela Llammas.
HOW CAN YOU MOVE ON WHEN IT'S OVER?
When four college roommates lose pieces of their lives, the pain isolates and the tension rises. Emotions are hard to hide and even harder to tackle. How can the girls move forward, when there is so much pain in letting go? Together, Claire, Kat, Palmer and Hannah learn to lean on God and each other, and through it all they learn loss is a part of life."In It's Over, Laura L. Smith confirms the truth we've been told that we are never alone in the midst of heartache and struggle. In fact, she takes us to a place where we not only get to see, but feel deeply the truth of the fact that every single one of us has a story. Every single one of has experienced pain. But more importantly, that every single one of us has great hope. Laura L. Smith's writing strikes a deep chord in my heart. It makes sense. It's real--and in my opinion, that transparency makes all the difference." ~Holly Starr, Christian recording artist
"Laura Smith speaks for the broken. With a voice that’s warm and true, Laura gives words to those rendered speechless by issues that high school and college girls should never have to deal with—but so many of them do. In writing that’s raw, relevant, and real, Smith goes where few authors dare to go: straight into the heart of today’s young woman." ~Amy Parker, bestselling author of Courageous Teens
"YA author, Laura L. Smith crafts another story that will appeal to all girls, because no one is untouched by heartache in all its forms. The grace Smith extends the four girls in It's Over will touch readers in deep ways, as they follow these characters through some of the worst parts of life. Best of all, they'll cheer when the girls lean on one another and find ways to be thankful in everything. This is a fantastic read, one that will resonate with teens, college girls and their mothers." ~Laura Kurk, author of Glass Girl
I'm thrilled to announce the upcoming release of my latest book, the first in the Status Updates series, It's Complicated April 1
It's Complicated, cover photo by Kelci Alane Photography cover design by Angela Llammas
There’s a reason Facebook has the relationship status, “It’s Complicated.” Follow four college roommates, Claire, Palmer, Hannah and Kat as they maneuver crushes, confusion, and the crisis when pushy boys go too far. Complicated as it is, these four friends will pull through, guided by the strength of their friendship and the power of God’s love.
"Laura Smith speaks for the broken. With a voice that’s warm and true, Laura gives words to those rendered speechless by issues that high school and college girls should never have to deal with—but so many of them do. In writing that’s raw, relevant, and real, Smith goes where few authors dare to go: straight into the heart of today’s young woman.”
– Amy Parker, best-selling author of Courageous Teens
"YA author Laura L. Smith has crafted a story that lets readers learn along with her four female characters—and the lessons aren’t hollow. Tough issues that follow girls to college—like beauty, physical relationships, underage drinking, and loneliness—are treated with Smith’s usual grace and humor. Fans of Jenny B. Jones and Sarah Dessen will love It’s Complicated!" ~Laura Anderson Kurk, author of Glass Girl
“WOW. Even from the first page it is so real. It's almost as if you were with me that night. All of it (the abduction) happened so quickly for me and you nailed that in the story. I wish every college freshman had to read this book upon entering college.”
– MEH a college date rape victim
"College Roomies, Kat, Hannah, Palmer and Claire are standing on the brink of their futures—an aspiring athlete, ballerina, a girl searching for love, and one trying to hold onto it. Author Laura L. Smith has done a remarkable job of allowing each girl to shine in her own light then bringing them together beneath a shadow of doubt—allowing them to see that together they are a million times stronger than alone." ~ Jennifer Murgia, author of Between These Lines
Raw. Daring. Revealing. Strewn from the tip of the Eiffel Tower, to grass stained cleats in the heat of a college soccer season, to all the secrets behind a closed dorm room door. Laura Smith's latest release has distinguished the life of the normal college student from what you see, but even more, what you don't. In a time when so much is changing in a student's life, Laura's book admonishes the one thing that doesn't...God. From one chapter to the next "It's Complicated" will grip you from the start weaving you in and out of the strenuous life of 4 college girls and their means of developing who they are, while protecting everything they've been. Heart or Brain. Studying or Flirting. Flesh or Faith. "It Complicated" addresses all these questions, and manages to do so even before the end of freshmen year.
And all it has left me saying is, "If only she would write one for guys." ~ Luke Grigg, University student
“As a date rape survivor, I felt Laura L. Smith truly captured the emotional turmoil I experienced during and after my ordeal. She sheds light on such a traumatic, yet frequent attack that happens to women across the country. Her powerful portrayal truly signifies what I believe -- that through friends, family and your faith, it does and will get better.” – Ally, recent college grad and date rape survivor
“Claire, Hannah, Palmer, and Kat had me laughing, crying, and cheering with every page. Here’s to the power of four!” ~Darby Karchut, author of Griffin Rising and Finn Finnegan
“I devoured the whole book in two days, and can’t wait to hear more about these girls. It’s like a Christian Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” – Jessa Bertone, college junior
What trophies from past accomplishments are on your shelves?
I have recently staked out a spot in our house, complete with windows and bookshelves, to be my very own writing nook. I L-O-V-E it! I’ve placed a handful of photos of my favorite places and people on the corner of my desk. I painted the walls a lovely smoky, pale lilac and one square with white board paint, so I can dry erase writing ideas at will. I’ve set my cool pottery coaster in place, so my coffee cup always has a home.
But in order to claim this space, I had to clean.
I had to dig through existing cupboards and go through baskets and file organizers in my previous writing space, a.k.a. the corner of our living room. I found everything from paper clips to business cards of people I don’t remember meeting, from an array of neon sticky notes and magazine images to old plaques and certificates. It was simple to put binder clips in the little organizer on my desk and to recycle hand scribbled notes for articles, blogs and books I’ve already written. But there was this stack of awards from my past that perplexed me. How long had I kept them? Better yet, why?
When I leased shopping malls a new store, like J.Crew, was like a merit badge of worth in my career.
As I lugged the load of metal and wood and paper to the garbage can, I laughed. There was something extremely freeing about no longer being tied by measurements of how many dollars of clothes I sold (my short career as a manager at the Limited) or how many square feet I’d leased (my longer career in shopping mall development). There was a time when those stats, and the status that went with them, were extremely important to me. But those things are irrelevant now, so I pitched them with a hearty heave.
And the next day, I stumbled across this passage:
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. ~Philippians 3:7-9 MSG
And yes, I giggled at the mention of dog dung in the Bible, then marveled, how liberating it felt to let go of past credentials. But my trip to the garbage was easy. I’m no longer trying to sell the most wool coats or trying to convince J. Crew to come into all of the malls I lease. I’m happy I can let go of the past, but it’s a piece of cake, since those things aren’t relevant to me anymore.
What’s harder is the here and now.
I have two new novels releasing next month. Will I be able to consider my rank on Amazon insignificant? Will I be able to let less than glowing reviews (everybody gets some) slide off my back? I hope so. I’m praying I won’t get tied up in those numbers or any other worldly measures, for that matter. But it isn’t always easy. Today, I’m mentally throwing away earthly labels claiming how good I was or wasn’t. And I’m praying I can keep carrying more bags of garbage out to the curb.
How about you? What’s the craziest old trophy you have sitting around?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I recently had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle marathon with a six-year old. Granted I knew who the turtles were, some kind of super heroes who ate pizza and shouted, “Cowabunga!” But, I’d never actually watched an episode.
The thing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is—they mutate.
TGRI, the chemical OOZE that causes the mutations.
Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo began as four ordinary turtles in the sewer system of New York City, but after coming in contact with OOZE they mutated into these cool ninja-like heroes and were named after Italian painters. But the problem with OOZE is it doesn’t always have positive effects.
There is an episode (trust me, I watched eight in a row) where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mutate into creepish, monster-like versions of themselves. Instead of bringing peace they bring destruction. Instead of working together (“turtle power”) they attack one another.
I find myself mutating sometimes too. I don’t have to come in contact with TGRI (the chemical nickname for the OOZE) to turn into a monstrous version of myself. All it takes is something small and quirky. It might be the train gates clanging shut just as I approach, followed by the longest cargo train ever crossing the tracks to mutate me from my smiley self to an impatient grouch. Or if I spill my dark roast with mocha down the front of my white shirt, I mutate from feeling stylin’ to feeling like an ugly beast and growling a bit for good measure. If I hear a friend has been talking behind my back, I mutate into someone with a hole in my gut, who snaps and says unkind things in return.
Leonardo when he mutates into the worst version of himself.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles needed fragments of Vortex Crystal to stabilize their mutations. I need The Word.
Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth 1 Peter 3: 11
I read that, and I’m a bit less monstrous. I feel more comfortable in my own shell and don’t’ feel the need to bad-talk those who have bad-talked me.
OR Our God gives you everything you need, makes you everything you’re to be
2 Thessalonians 1:2
And then I’m less grouchy, less negative and less worried if I’m late for a meeting or have dark brown spots down my blouse.
God’s Word reminds me I am not alone, I am loved, I am capable, God will give me strength and stand by my side. I can breathe deeply, shake it off, cross the tracks, take a sip and walk proud, knowing I am stabilized.
Only the Vortex Crystal can save the turtles? What stabilizes you?
Melissa is the main character from my novel addressing eating disorders, Skinny. Click here to order.
I decided to start this blog as a way for me to work out some of the things going on in my head. Like my eating disorder. Somehow it seems less harmful if I say “eating disorder” like my doctor does, instead of ANOREXIA or BULIMIA which sound so vulgar and catastrophic. But the words “eating disorder” also make what’s going on with me sound so sterile and almost insignificant. Which it’s not! Because even though I’m “on the path of recovery”, I’m guessing I’ll never be normal about food again. I can’t look at a cheeseburger or a Cadbury egg without calculating fat grams and calories. I’m not allowed to diet, because it could spin into something ugly. So, even though I look normal, or at least normalish, I’m still eating, but trying to make that not be way too much food or way not enough food. It’s complicated!
Food, dance team, homework, and did I mention my boyfriend? These are some of the things I struggle with.
Then there’s my boyfriend, Beau, who’s not actually my boyfriend because even though he says he likes me and I’m nutso over him, his parents say we can’t date. Well, we couldn’t date during basketball season. You guessed it, he’s a basketball player. As of last weekend, the season is officially over. So, we’re allowed to date again, only we’ve been on this break the last few months, so we don’t know what to do, how to do this dating thing. Sometimes I don’t know how to act around him – like how much of myself to reveal or how cool to try and act. But I’m completely mesmerized by him, and well, it’s a mess.
Melissa holding her Bible for encouragement.
I also need to talk about God, because even though I know He’s always been there for me, I was ignoring Him, and that turned out to be a major mistake. I almost lost my friends, my slot on dance team (which is where I truly feel alive), Beau, everything, because I thought I could do it all by myself. I figured out the hard way, the ultra hard way that I can’t do everything by myself. I’m not even supposed to. God wants me to depend on Him. And, as long as I do my part, which means trying my hardest to be the best Melissa Rollins I can be, and talk to Him about it, He’ll take care of the rest. It sounds easy, and I’m really trying, but some days are harder than others.
So, I have to trust. Trust that I’ll figure out all this stuff about food and boys and God and somehow maintain good grades and keep my dance coach happy. Like I said before, it’s impossible to do it alone. But, I do believe, with God all things are possible.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Two women running in the wintery woods
I have a friend who makes me run in freezing cold conditions. Yesterday it was nineteen degrees outside and with the wind chill it felt like seven, as in single digits. And yes, we ran – IN THE WOODS - OUTSIDE!
I love to run outside, but come on. I get cold so easily. I’m currently writing this indoors with the heat on, wearing a jacket and sipping my Starbucks (which I just reheated). I have permashiver in my bones.
I’ve tried getting out of these runs before.
I’ve texted: looks too chilly for me
and my friend texts back: bundle up
I'll need to type frantically to finish my manuscript next week!
There are so many things that don’t seem doable, like running in seven degrees, who would do that? But there are bigger things too, like finishing the manuscript I’m working on by the end of next week or completely forgiving someone in my life, who I’m currently holding a grudge against, tightly. There are challenging moments in scheduling, everyday kind of life, like getting my four kids to all of their practices and games while my husband is in Sri Lanka or maneuvering the roads this morning after the ice storm that hit last night. (Did I mention I’m not that strong of a driver?) But with Christ all things are possible, and my friend pushing me to run outside on a freezing cold morning, is the perfect reminder.
One of my all time favorite Bible verses Phillipians 4:13
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Not some things, or the easy things or the convenient things, but ALL THINGS. So what things are you struggling with today? What seems difficult or inconvenient or tricky or down right impossible? There is a way around, through, over or under it. For me and my run, it meant wearing long underwear, gloves, “heat wear” and my Columbia. And you know what, our run through the woods was invigorating. I saw the beautiful patterns of water frozen in motion on an icy stream. I breathed in fresh, clean, crisp air after days and nights of stale air recirculated from dusty heaters. The cold breeze on my cheeks revived my senses. I shared laughter and stories with a friend and allowed my mind and body to fall into the healing rhythm of a run.
Not only is the impossible possible, it usually provides an invigorating path for discovery. What’s overwhelming you today? I’d love to pray for you to find your way through it.
Celebrate EVERYLOVE heart on Starbucks coupon
I got this coupon from Starbucks last week and I keep carrying it around with me. Not because I want a Mocha, well actually I do, but because I love the idea of celebrating EVERYLOVE.
I know on Valentine’s Day we lean towards the romantic kind of love. But love is such a loaded word there are actually five distinct words for “love” in Greek.
I love this adorable hamster, but which kind of love would that qualify as?
I love God, my husband, my children, writing, in that order. But I love so many things. My list could ramble on like L.L. Cool J. introducing the Grammys. I love baking chocolate chip cookies and speaking French. I love listening to acoustic guitar and running in the rain. I love sipping dark roast coffee, wearing stacks of clanking silver bracelets and wiggling my toes on a sandy beach. And of course, I love you. I love you because the words of a writer are meaningless without someone to read them. So as is my tradition dear readers, I give you my annual Valentine’s gift – a recipe for something sweet and lovely that will hopefully make you smile.
Make these easy cheesecake cookie squares for someone you love (that can include you)
CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE SQUARES
1 (20 oz.) package Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough (for a gluten free version, prepare one package Betty Croker GF chocolate chip cookie mix according to directions, but do not put on pan or bake - yet)
3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese
½ cup heavy cream
1-cup Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips (save the rest of the bag for snacking)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Line 10x15” pan with foil and spray with cooking spray (like Pam)
3. Press cookie dough into pan and spread to cover
4. Bake 8 minutes
5. While baking cookie dough, mix cream cheese, sugar, eggs and cream in a bowl for about 5 minutes on medium speed with electric mixer.
6. When cookie crust is baked, spread with cream cheese mixture and bake 25 minutes longer.
7. Cool to room temperature.
8. Melt chocolate chips in microwave and drizzle with fork across top of dessert.
9. Refrigerate for at least four hours to set.
10. Share, eat, serve, and smile.
What’s something you love?
Fight. Dream. Hope. Love. Les Miserables
I love award show season. I ogled over George Clooney during the Golden Globes, because; well, because I do every year. I’m counting down until Sunday night so I can glue myself to the Grammy’s. And don’t even get me started on the Oscars, but I do hope Les Mis sweeps.
One of the stunning gowns nominated for Best Costume Design at this year's Academy Awards.
Every year it seems like there are more and more award shows rewarding everything from Best Costume Design at the Academy Awards to Outstanding Performance Under Pressure for an athlete at the Espys.
In our house we give The Goat.
Although not quite as glamorous as a golden statue of a phonograph or a little bald man, The Goat is coveted and treasured in our home. We don’t select special outfits or write speeches in hopes of earning The Goat. Instead, we just try to be good people. And some days that’s easier than others.
A goat stuffed animal serves as the nightly award at our house.
Each night the recipient of The Goat from the previous night, sneaks into someone else’s room and places The Goat on the winner du jour’s pillow. Whoever is in possession of The Goat can award The Goat to whomever they want for any reason at all. There are no criteria. But, in the past The Goat has been awarded for listening to someone when they’ve been upset. It’s been snuck onto the pillowcase of someone who did somebody else’s chores. Some days The Goat appears in the bed of the person who had the hardest day, who cried and screamed (either literally or figuratively) but needs to be reminded how special they are.
We all love to be recognized for our accomplishments. Whether that’s running the fastest mile at our school or at the Olympics, writing a moving song or a powerful essay, or sometimes just making someone smile.
You don't have to give someone a golden phonograph to make them feel like a rock star.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. Matthew 5:12
And we all have the ability to reward others for jobs well done. It doesn’t have to be a crystal statue. It can be a cookie (especially if it’s chocolate chip) or a text or a hug. Just something to let someone else know they’re special.
Who can you make feel like a superstar today?