The Crooked Lines of Life

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After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Holly Michael of Wisconsin traveled to South India with her husband and joined hands with the army of volunteers to help in the recovery efforts. Holly’s husband is Bishop Leo Michael, a native of India, whom Holly met when asked to do an interview on the success of a small parish.

Two people from two different cultures, raised on two opposite ends of the world, found they are not so different when linked in the common goal of helping others. We need more like them in the world.

This is the story of Holly Michael, journalist, author, and to me: cherished critique partner. If ever there were a book that embodied love and compassion, a story written in such luminous, deeply personal prose, Crooked Lines is it.

Here is Holly sharing the inspiration behind her story — a short narrative complemented by photos.

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From AMDG Publishing

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Crooked Lines, my debut novel, threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures.

Having grown up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, I was enraptured by stories my husband and his friends would share about life in a strict religious order in India. In the late 1970s, they all left their villages as naïve teenagers to enter into the seminary.

They struggled through desperate situations in the slums of India, ministered to the untouchables from the caste system, served in leper colonies, and even met Mother Teresa.

My life was so different…but maybe not. Sitting around with these friends, I realized we could all relate on matters of the heart and while coming from different cultures, we all shared similar emotional experiences.

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So I began writing Rebecca and Sagai’s parallel, but emotionally-themed stories. In Crooked Lines, Rebecca’s symbol for peace in her dysfunctional life is India and she’s sure she’ll find answers when she gets there—a goal that she can’t seem to reach. Across the oceans, Sagai is called to the priesthood. He is refined and defined by the challenges he faces along the pathway toward his goal.

The two characters learn of each other through Sagai’s mentor, Father Michael, who meets Rebecca on a visit to America. He invites the two to pray for each other.

For the past ten years, during many visits to India with my husband, I’ve traveled to the places in Crooked Lines—walked the halls of the seminaries, visited with the heart-wrenching Mother Teresa Home for the Dying, and spent time in remote villages in India. Days after the 2004 tsunami, I stood among hundreds of coconut trees on the shore of the Indian Ocean and wept upon learning the saplings were grave-markers of children who drowned.

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I’ve also experienced pure joy standing at Tiger Hills in Darjeeling watching the sun come up over the majestic Kangchenjunga, the highest peak of the Himalayas.

Along the cooked lines of life, we all experience sadness and joy, but where ever we travel, like Father Michael in Crooked Lines says, “Peace can’t be found in a place, but in the heart.”

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Most every person who read and reviewed Crooked Lines asked for a sequel. The story does continue. The sequel will be released at the end of January. And in between that time, my husband and I are returning to India. Since December 26, 2014 marks the ten-year anniversary of the tsunami we will revisit the remote villages in Nagapattinam, South India and publish a small book; a before and after look at the lives of the orphans we helped and share the status of the villages.

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I read this story in its early stages and couldn’t recommend it more.

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Images courtesy: Holly Michael.

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30 responses to “The Crooked Lines of Life

  1. What a lovely woman and beautiful writer! Her words moved me. How lucky you are to have her as a friend!

  2. I will be looking for this one. Thank you, Silvia. – Fawn

  3. Silvia – thank you! This sounds like a treasure in so many ways: literary, cultural, and humanity in all its despair and grace.

  4. Sounds fascinating.

  5. Awwww…thanks Sylvia and everyone for your kind comments. You did a great job with the interview, Sylvia. Thank you so much!

    • It was great having you on, Holly. Thanks for sharing your story and all the behind the scene inspiration. I really enjoy reading a writer’s process, all the emotional output that goes into a book, and all that led to the makings of a story. Hope to have you on again with an update when you return from India. Safe travels.

  6. Thanks, momfan :-) Crooked Lines is out, on Amazon and other sites!

  7. Reblogged this on Holly Michael's Writing Straight and commented:
    A great look at the past, what’s new, and what’s to come in my life. Amazingly, they all tie in together. Going to be a great rest of 2014 and an amazing 2015! So excited! Thanks for the interview, Sylvia!

  8. internetreviewofbooks

    Thank you, Silvia and Holly, for this interesting post. I’ve read Crooked Lines and found it well plotted, well written, and enjoyable.

  9. It was such a sweet book, but I had no idea that it paralleled Holly’s own experiences so much. That makes it even more special!

  10. I admire people like Holly and her husband so much, people who leave the comfort of their homes to help those in need. Her novel sounds amazing. I’ll have to pick up a copy!

  11. You did a wonderful job of reviewing Holly’s book… very excellent in fact!

  12. It’s amazing where our crooked lives take us. This was a lovely post Silvia and Holly thank you both so much. I’ll look out for the book

  13. I look forward to reading this book. The 2004 tsunami swept away many old ways of thinking about India, Thailand, and other countries so devastated. The title is perfect.

  14. Thanks for promoting what must be an excellent book. I look forward to reading it. Susan

  15. Thank Susan. Hope you enjoy Crooked Lines. The sequel will be out in January and will cover more of the immediate days following the tsunami. In two weeks, I head back to India to do a follow-up on the villages and people we helped ten years ago.

  16. Awesome. After having lived in NYC, I crossed so many cultural boundaries that I love it when people can diversify and truly come to understand that people are people and face many of the same struggles, no matter their background.

  17. Hi Silvia and Holly – what a brilliant story … really cutting across cultures – dealing with life in both areas – the sadness and horror of natural destruction and that we bring on ourselves, while there’s always hope and thankfully we remember those times – but appreciate when the horrors struck. The Tsunami was so sad for many …. but I’m sure made others strong for life ..

    Excellent – cheers Hilary

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