Over the last school holidays my family embarked on an epic holiday! The five of us traveled back to Nepal for the first time in eleven years. This meant it was the first time for our youngest and a wonderful opportunity to share that part of our lives with him.
Returning to Nepal was extremely special. I suppose part of me never really believed we'd be back and so to meet with our friends again, eat in their homes and share a laugh once more was priceless.
There was also a beautiful symmetry in our visit as one of my publishers sent me the edited manuscript for my novel, Out of the Cages (to be released in July under my other author name, Penny Jaye) to work on while we were there. This was the novel I had originally drafted during our final months in Nepal in 2006. It was a reminder to me that God's timing is perfect, even when I don't understand it.
I was also blessed with the opportunity to do two author visits while we were in Pokhara. One at the study centre my two big kids had attended when they were first starting school, and the other at a local home-school group. It was beautiful to be able to share my stories with kids in a different context and to watch them interact with my characters and books.
And of course we also did some lovely touristy things too, like spotting rhinos in Chitwan National Park and watching the sun rise and set (and the full moon rise too) over the glorious Himalayas!
It's been rather exciting at my desk lately.
For those of you who are subscribed to my newsletter, you'll know what I'm talking about. At the end of last year I received two contracts for new books with children's books publisher, Wombat Books. These included the long awaited fourth installment in the Tania Abbey series (if you haven't yet met Tania now's a good time to do so) and a brand new picture book.
Since then I've also received another contract, but this time for a novel for older readers. A novel set in India about two young girls trafficked into slavery. This book has been accepted by the YA/adult imprint of Wombat Books', Rhiza Press, and is scheduled for release mid next year.
The really exciting thing about two of these projects is that they're written for a wider audience than the Christian book market that I've been writing for so far. The picture book and the novel for older readers will be sold into the general market. They'll find their way into public libraries, local schools and general bookshops. So, although they're still obviously mine, they're different and their readers will be different too.
Because of this, I've decided to give these new books, and others that will come after them, another author name. One that can still reflect who I am, but allows new readers, parents and schools the option to pick and choose which books of mine they'd like to interact with.
That new name is Penny Jaye. I'll be officially launching the new name and website soon in preparation for the new books, and I'll will predominantly share about them from that platform. So, if you're as excited as me for these new books, please do keep an eye out for the new name as it pops up in social media and so forth. But don't worry - I'll make sure you don't miss anything! www.pennyjaye.com/
And I'll keep writing as Penny Reeve too.
These are my daughter's shoes.
The shoes she wore last Thursday
when she graduated from high school.
Among the stilettos and fancy dress
she happily trod with rose gold Converse.
And I proudly followed along.
Because these shoes were telling a story
about who my grown up girl
has turned out to be.
How she chooses to shine
apart from the rest
quietly, confidently, being herself.
It takes courage and a sense of humour
to walk like this amid a crowd.
But it can be done,
with elegance and grace.
That's what I learned last Thursday
from my daughter's shoes.
This morning as I was making my breakfast - a late breakfast in a quiet house on account of the sleep in I'd been gifted - I was feeling thankful.
Thankful for for my sleep in,
for quiet moments and unhurried breakfasts,
for the packet of bagels I 'discovered' in the bread basket,
and so on.
When I happened a second glance at the carton of eggs on my kitchen bench: 'Just 4 You'
Several thoughts ran through my mind in that moment, mainly about why and how the Egg Company decided on such an unusual name etc.
But once I'd stopped trying to work out the marketing justifications behind the peculiar branding I looked again.
This time I didn't see a message about eggs, or branding, or even breakfast.
This time I saw a reminder to keep my heart open in thankfulness. Not just on quiet mornings where I catch my breath, but on the harried ones too. The ones I'd prefer to avoid, the tough ones, the weary ones, the sad ones.
Because even on those days, I am given SO much. So many gifts whisper gently to my soul how dearly I am loved by God.
This cannot take the rain away
nor stop my seeing new leaves grow.
I will not cease to lift my gaze,
I refuse to miss the world.
My insufficient words cannot
paint a clearer tune.
But my heart will not be bound by this
when it's been made to fly.
So, though my wings are battered
and my shoulders weak,
And though the thought of launching off
brings dread along with hope,
I'll fix my eyes on greater things
latch my soul to what can't move,
Though it may only be a step
into the wonders grace allows.
In high school I used to call them 'thinks' - little bits of writing about whatever topic or issue I was mulling over at the time. These days I probably call them journal entries, or blog posts. Whatever the name, here's some of what I get when the penny drops, or doesn't, and I sit down to write...