Such Happiness by Laina Villeneuve (Plus a FREE ebook!)

Such Happines CoverCongratulations to Chris A! She won an ebook from Laina Villeneuve.

Author Laina Villeneuve is with us today to celebrate the release of her third book, Such Happiness As This, available now from Bella Books.

She’s also giving away an ebook copy. Want to enter the drawing? Leave a comment down there and I’ll draw a winner on Friday, 27 NOV 2015. That’s Black Friday for all you bargain shoppers living in the US.

Good Luck!

Such Happiness
by Laina Villeneuve

My third book, Such Happiness As This was released by Bella books in October. In the Acknowledgements, I thanked both of my parents, my dad for the music and my mom for the title. This writing thing I do so often feels like magic. In this book, I gave Grace’s character the cello only to get her practicing at the home of her love interest, Robyn. I’m no expert on music, but my dad is, so I called him and talked about music in a way I’ve never talked with him before.

I told him my character was angry, and I needed a piece of music for her to be practicing. He’s the one that said she should play “The Swan” from The Carnival of the Animals, and we had long conversations about what the cellist is trying to accomplish with the piece. I watched Yo-Yo Ma perform it over and over listening for what my dad described. I studied how a piece of music could repair someone’s mood, or as my wife and I describe it, smooth down the prickles.

I am a person of prickles. Sometimes when I apologize to my wife after a particularly difficult day, she’ll say it’s okay, that my prickles didn’t poke her. I have learned to become more aware of what spikes my prickles, and it’s often tied to what Father Boyle calls the overactive disapproval gland. In his book Tattoos on the Heart, he describes the disappointment we often feel in ourselves as something we project onto God. As a Unitarian Universalist, I am not typically thinking of what God thinks about me, but I do worry about what others think, and with my highly overactive disapproval gland, I figure that those around me, my parents and colleagues (both writing and teaching) must be as critical of me as I am of myself.

Grace would never waste her time worrying about what others think. Robyn would like to say she doesn’t but has spent a long time feeling pressured to be someone she is not. In one scene, she listens to Grace play and then describe “The Swan” and says it is just like Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Ugly Duckling” when the duckling spends a winter swimming in circles trying to keep the pond from freezing around him. He feels the pressure of society to be something he is not, but he is so confident about who he is that he won’t bend to the cat’s idea that he should just purr or the hen’s idea that he should just lay eggs.

It was that scene that had me searching through Andersen’s story for a title. I found several maybes but none that spoke to me. I called my mom and ran each maybe by her, and she agreed that it was a good idea and said she’d have a look at the text. I woke up to her proposal of Such Happiness as This in my inbox, the turn of phrase from a different translation.

One would think that for someone so worried about what the world thinks, a writing career might not be the healthiest mental decision. And yet the characters I write are so much more grounded than I am, and I can’t help but think that it’s healthy for me to spend time in their mind-space instead of my own. The product, too, is satisfying. When the magic of writing pulls a thread tight through what I’ve created, I feel seen, and I feel proud as the swan that graces the cover of this book. I remember Alice Walker’s idea that we write to heal ourselves, and this book brings me a few steps closer.

But not so much that I don’t have more writing to do.


author photoWhen I look at all that I have, I cannot help but see how very much I have that makes me happy: a wife of ten years, three spunky children and a wonderful home in Southern California where early morning walks with our little white dog give me the opportunity to see the sunrise on the San Gabriel Mountains. I’m also grateful to be a professor of English at the local community college where I’m lucky to teach Children’s Lit which helped with Such Happiness as This as well as the novel I’m about to finish. I’m hoping my mom has found the right title.

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/lainavilleneuve

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005629426151

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54 thoughts on “Such Happiness by Laina Villeneuve (Plus a FREE ebook!)

  1. Dear Laina,
    I have enjoyed your earlier works and look forward to this new title! Thanks for sharing some of the back-story … and a chance to receive the ebook!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed the first two. I hope you enjoy catching up with Kristine and Gloria in Humboldt County and meeting their new friends!

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  2. Loved last two books and have eagerly been awaiting this one to arrive in ebook form. To win a copy would be a real bonus. I’ll still buy it if not.! Looking forward to future reads as well.

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    1. Closing in on finishing the fourth book now! I do hope that you enjoy Such Happiness — I really liked spending time with Robyn and Grace.

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    1. Do know this one stands alone, and if you want the backstory on Kristine and Gloria, start at the beginning with Take Only Pictures.

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    1. So glad you liked the first two and hope you enjoy the new characters as well as those visiting from Take Only Pictures and The Right Thing Easy!

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  3. I must say I haven’t read any of your books yet, however, after reading your blog, I will check them out. Please add me to the drawing! I love music, and took up the Saxophone about 7 years ago. I had to learn to read music at the same time. It helps fill a need for me, and I now play with our community band. Take care!

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  4. Congratulations on the release of your third book. I think the title is beautiful and I am glad both your Mum and Dad were able to help with the book. I love your prickle anology and will be using that with my wife in the future if that is all right with you. I look forward to reading your newest.

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  5. Congratulations on your new release. I love books with music at their core and a cello? Sold. Looking forward to reading your work.

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    1. Don’t miss The Right Thing Easy. It’s not essential that you read them in order, but there are a few things in Such Happiness that the second one answers.

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  6. I love how you described your writing process. Getting advice from your dad is awesome. A new bonding experience. Good for both of you. And later when you describe the prickles, great imagery. I can so relate to that one. Best of luck with this new book.

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    1. Super! Are you one to leave a review? I find the reader reviews super helpful and would love to have your feedback on what worked/didn’t for any of of my stories on Amazon or Goodreads!

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  7. Thought I’d let you know I loved all three of your books and look forward to the fourth one you mentioned. Since I have the first three you can leave me out of the drawing. Thanks for writing.
    cw

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  8. I thoroughly enjoyed Take Only Pictures. Missed The Right Thing Easy… Will get that asap. Wouldn’t mind winning Such Happiness 🙂 Thank you for your blog!

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  9. Laina, I know I’m late to the party, but I wanted to say that the way you described your writing process really made me consider my own. I love the idea of picking the cello, then researching it, watching it performed, and really trying to get down to the core of the performance of it by a renowned musician. I haven’t read any of your previous work, but this one is going on my To Be Read list!

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    1. So glad to be on your list! Thanks for the note. I find that what my characters do helps me get them. In the next book, I have an auto technician and have gotten such insight to characters from my auto tech colleague! Happy writing!

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