Like everyone else I’m a lot of different things, but I think foremost I’m a spiritual person. Growing up in a Christian home, I remember feeling comfortable with intangible realities, and feeling drawn to the spiritual story. I’m also deeply touched by nature: mountains, trees, flowers, oceans, sky, sunsets, sunrises, animals.
I love to travel. I love to experience new places, and meet people from varied backgrounds.
I love to cook, but I’m not very creative or brave. Untried recipes scare me.
I’m very fond of my family. I love them in any and every condition.
I love my friends.
I love to laugh.
I love the concept of giving up old ways of thinking if they don’t work and moving on.
I love that learning continues to the grave and then on into the eternities. Perhaps I’ll learn how to love math in the hereafter.
What genre(s) do you write in?
I write historical fiction, slice of life novels, and children’s books.
Do you seek to educate or entertain?
Both!I’ve spent years as a teacher, years as an actress, years as a stage director, and years as a playwright. I’ve also spent my life in crazy antics that make people laugh. (Well…my sister thinks I’m hilarious)
I craft my books to be good stories, but I also want them to evoke deeper thought and feeling. Where do you write your best stuff, and when?
I have to have quiet when I write.Mornings are my most creative times, but if I have good dark chocolate on hand, I can write well into the night.
I try and discipline myself to write every day, at least an hour or two. If I’m in the middle of a book I’m normally in the chair five to six hours a day.
Why do you write?
I like to tell stories. I grew up in the enchantment of Lake Tahoe, and I think the surroundings just flowed into my little heart and made me acutely aware of sights, sounds, smells, and magic. I loved writing stories at a young age. At eight I remember making nests for myself which I’d stock with a supply of pencils, crayons, and paper. I’d spend hours drawing and writing. It soon became evident that I was not a Monet, but more a Mark Twain.
I also write because I believe there are words and stories that can inform and inspire. I love the English language; the power of the written word. I scored high on my SAT’s in English, but low in…can you guess?Yep. Math.
What do you love to read?
Historical fiction, biographies, autobiographies, LDS fiction, a Sue Grafton mystery now and then, Scriptures, Ellis Peters, the classics, CS Lewis, a fantasy now and then, slice of life novels, children’s books, poetry, plays, joke books…
Vanilla or chocolate?
As mentioned above…chocolate. I love dark chocolate. Have you ever had Belgian chocolate? The first time I had Belgian chocolate I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. There will be chocolate in heaven, I’m sure of it. Let’s see, how many more times can I write chocolate? Chocolate…chocolate…chocolate.
What is your preferred manner of writing?
I write pencil on paper and then transfer the work to my PC.I do my editing on the computer, but the original flow of the story comes out through the lead of the pencil.
What is your current book?
My latest book on the shelves is entitled, The Route. It is a novel based on my experiences delivering meals-on-wheels to a cast of zany, inspiring, and delightful older folks. It lets us take a sneak peak at the wonders to be cherished, and the lessons to be learned along life’s highway.
Will people’s lives be changed or enriched by reading it?
My life was changed by the amazing people on my route, and I believe much of that magic jumped into the pages of the book.
One piece of advice/wisdom for the world?
Embrace change. Realize there is a God and you’re not it. One day at a time. Dogs or cats?
Sorry cat lovers, but my answer is dogs. I have a cherished photo of me at age three with my arm around the shoulder of our black cocker spaniel dog, Eightball. I was obviously destined to love dogs.
Grandparents are blessed with the opportunity of contributing to their grandchildren’s lives in myriad ways, yet sometimes they struggle to be a vital part of their family’s world, especially if they live far away. Email can provide a vital link, however, even in this high tech day and age, there’s still nothing like good old-fashioned handwritten sentiment to touch hearts and bridge geographical and generational distance, working miracles that last a lifetime.
Growing up I lived within a few blocks of my maternal grandmother. After school I would rush to her home. Waiting with open arms she was always ready to give me a hug and ask about my day. She kept her cookie jar stocked with my favorites: spicy gingerbread with creamy white icing, pink cream wafers, and peanut-shaped cookies filled with peanut butter.
After helping myself to a couple of cookies and a glassful of milk, I would sit next to Grandma at her kitchen table as we discussed our lives. From experiences I had with other children—some not pleasant—to problems with my parents, and activities I looked forward to, I told Grandma about my heartaches and joys and she responded with compassion and love. In return, I listened and learned about what life was like when she was a child. Days spent with no TV, no phone, and no electricity were fascinating to me, as were her tales of raising her own pet calf, Star, and the love she felt when her mother made her favorite jam in a special crock.
My paternal grandmother lived over two-hundred miles away yet her determination to share herself with me was no less intense. At least once every month I received a handwritten card or letter from her. Through her correspondence I not only learned about the frigid Idaho winters she and my grandfather endured in a little valley at the edge of the Snake River, but also about her hopes and dreams. Stories of adventures she shared with my grandfather, their travels, and her efforts to create quilts depicting the history of the town in which they lived, came alive for me and I saw her as a fascinating, heroic figure who I was proud to call my grandmother.
As I grew older the letters never ceased. Even through my sometimes turbulent teenage years, when I became wracked with doubt and lack of self-esteem, I knew—no matter what—that I was still valued and cherished. Assuring me of her confidence in my integrity and her belief in my abilities—and always signed, “Love, Gram”—her never preaching words of love, wisdom, and encouragement were my most cherished possessions.
When I married and had children the letters came with less frequency. Grandma’s once flawless handwriting became jagged as her gnarled hands shook with age over the effort of writing. Knowing how difficult the process had become for her I loved her more dearly with each letter I received. They became a priceless line of communication, from her heart to my mine, and also to the hearts of my children. Stories of she and Grandfather’s triumphs over age and the Idaho elements, as they continued on in faith endeavoring to retain their independence, their farm, and their herd of horses, were a true testament to my family of the strength of the human spirit and of great blessings that should never be taken for granted.
In 1922, philosopher and etiquette authority Emily Post included a section on the art of letter writing in her popular book on manners:
“. . . THE ART of general letter-writing in the present day is shrinking until the letter threatens to become a telegram, a telephone message, a post-card. It is the letter from the friend in this city to the friend in that, or from the traveling relative to the relative at home, that is gradually dwindling . . . The difference though, between letter-writers of the past and of the present, is that in other days they all tried to write, and to express themselves the very best they knew how – today people don’t care a bit whether they write well or ill.”
Some eighty years later, Post would surely be appalled to find email and text messaging to be the norm and that handwritten letters are a forgotten art, the crisp feel and texture of paper and envelopes replaced by a cold computer screen. Sadly, though technological advances provide us with the means to correspond more easily and more frequently, too often they encourage a level of communication that rarely enhances interpersonal relationships.
With the hope of discovering a good “handwritten” face, software companies have conducted typographical experimentation with numerous script typefaces. While one day they may be successful in developing a font that is close to imitating the intimate feeling one receives from getting a letter in the mail—versus an email in their inbox—there is no application that involves the same care, love, effort, and time that go into a handwritten letter. The computer screen will never match the warmth and human quality of the touch of pencil or pen to paper.
Though my grandmother has passed on I continue to find strength and direction in the words contained in the cards and letters she wrote years ago. Now, as a grandmother myself to two granddaughters, I look forward to keeping my cookie jar well stocked and to sharing special grandmother/granddaughter conversations.
I also look forward to passing on the art of letter writing. In the future, my granddaughters and I will surely use email to communicate. However, I am already giving priority to creating time to sit at my desk, pen in hand, to contemplate and record the things I want to share with my granddaughters when they get older. I want to teach them what I have learned and relate all that I feel I have yet to learn, hopes and dreams as well as things both sacred and miraculous in my life. In doing so I pray they will be proud to come to know who I really am and what I stand for. I believe that one day they will recognize my efforts as an act of love and know how much I value them through the letters I will sign, “Love, Gram.”
Lori Nawyn. Mom. Fireman's wife. Author. Illustrator. Writing my way out of the shadows and into the light. I am the illustrator of the award-winning children's book What Are You Thinking? My first novel, My Gift to You, is due out October 2010.