Unexpected gifts

Last month at the launch party for The Silence of Trees, I saw several friends and family I don’t see nearly enough. Among them was a high school friend I hadn’t seen in two decade.

Michelle Conte Sylvia and I reconnected on Facebook while I was still living in Germany. I was immediately impressed by Michelle’s art and vision, and we’ve stayed in touch, tossing around a few ideas of collaboration for the future.

Michelle and her husband came to the Book Cellar, and Michelle gave me my first book signing gift! (How strange and lovely to be on the receiving end!) I now have a lovely print and seasonal room spray that I’ve already used on several occasions when friends have dropped by.

The title of the print is Protector of Confidence, and this is from Michelle’s description of the piece:

“The tree represents me, the heart hanging by a limb is symbolic of Confidence, My Heart and My soul. The owl is wise and a great protector waiting on a branch to swoop in and protect. This is extremely symbolic since I am really declaring that I will face my fears this year and expose my soul by creating and sharing more of that with you.”

Follow the link to read about Michelle’s experience of the launch party and her reading of The Silence of Trees on her blog, The Blackberry Briar.

This week I also received my first of Michelle’s hand-poured soy candles in the mail: Papa’s Cedar Chest. It’s burning beside me while I type this: a clean, earthy, comforting smell. I can’t wait to try other scents, especially those Fall and Winter holiday-inspired: Spiced Pumpkin, Coffee House Latte, Pumpkin Cheescake, Cider Mill, Pumpkin Latte.

In the above photo of gifts, you can also see a beautiful book aptly titled a book of books by Abelardo Morell. A gift from my dear friend Alison in Paris, the extraordinary book features photographs of unusual books combined with provocative quotes. It is an amazing collection of books as treasured objects.

The night of the launch party, I received a note from my youngest cousin, who’s just a few years older than my oldest daughter. Last but not least, it speaks for itself:

I want to say thank you. Thank you for the gifts, for the support, for the encouragement. Thank you for taking the time to read The Silence of Trees, for spreading the word, and for writing reviews. Thank you for being the readers I dreamt about as a child and hoped for when I was writing. Thank you.


Published by Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. She’s a writer, content developer, instructor, and mother of three teenagers. Valya is the author of MOTHER CHRISTMAS, THE SILENCE OF TREES, and the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Segal, she is the co-author of FORKING GOOD: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place and GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family (Quirk Books), and co-founder of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and magazines that include, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Gone Lawn, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium. You can find her on Twitter @valya and on Mastodon.social @valya

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