Tag Archives: This is not the story you think it is


For those of you who would rather listen to a book than read one, here is the link to my Audio Book read by the fabulous Joyce Bean, whose velvet voice and pitch perfect intonation makes me seem a lot cooler than I am. And a lot more mature.


A Season of Unlikely Happiness
Laura Munson
Read by Joyce Bean

Instead of falling apart when her passive-aggressive husband announces he’s leaving their fifteen-year marriage, Laura Munson, a frustrated writer, said to him,” I don’t buy it.” Then she asked how she could give him the distance he needed for his “midlife” crisis without harming their children, ages 8 and 12. Joyce Bean delivers Munson’s debut memoir, first published in a New York Times column on modern love. With dramatic energy she captures Munson’s determination to achieve two goals: remain married and become a published writer. In a plain-spoken yet compelling style Bean contrasts scenes of Munson’s reasonableness and appearance of serenity with a simmering rage that from time to time unexpectedly explodes with f-bombs. Bean’s presentation of Munson’s heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud vignettes makes the listener her confidante. G.D.W. © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine [Published: AUGUST 2010]


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May I introduce to you the…drum roll… “Confounded Sneetch”

Congratulations to E. Victoria Flynn of http://www.pennyjars.blogspot.com!!!
YOU WIN A FREE SIGNED BOOK! My kids (the judges of this contest– skilled out-of-the-barn thinkers) are die hard Dr. Seussians and have always loved this story about racial profiling, even though they see it simply as a tale about the pain and trouble that ensues when we live in a world of Us/Them. Thank you, Victoria!

AND THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED! Your wit and outside-the-barn thinking truly mesmerized me. I have some of the coolest blog readers around, and for that I am deeply thankful. When I started this blog a year ago and had zero readers (okay, maybe my mother), I never dreamed that I would find an audience out there in cyberland, and especially one so loyal and supportive. You all teach me so much. Thank you for showing up here at These Here Hills. The next contest will be announced soon… Hint: turn to page 301 of my book (THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS)

I’m going to be travelling in the next few weeks doing book promo in the New York, Hartford, and Chicago areas, so I may be thin on the blog entries… yrs. Laura

Hello, everybody. I’ve been having fun barn chasing this summer– which is how, at least this gal, deals with FINALLY getting a book published after 20 years and all that comes along with it. Better than therapy. Thinking outside-the-box as a practice is a total blast. I encourage you to try it. What designs do you see in the world over and over? For me it’s often heart-shaped things, especially rocks. But as a little girl growing up in Illinois, it was always faces in barn fronts. Living in Montana, there are lots of opportunities to engage this childhood fantastical thinking.TO THAT END:

I’m holding a contest here on my blog from now until September 12 (which my calendar tells me is Grandparents Day– seems somehow approriate).

To enter the contest, simply send in your best shot at naming the above barn in the comment section here on this post. Is it a celebrity? A concept? A country? A kind of sandwich? Let your common sense go and dream a little. It’s good for you.
The winner WINS A SIGNED FIRST EDITION copy of my book THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS. This contest will be judged by a team of highly skilled professional out-of-the-box thinkers: my two kids. (14 and 10. Girl and a boy, to be gender fair, but hopefully not ageist, as I’ll probably weigh in too. And probably my husband too– 44 years old, each of us.)

Additional opportunity for the extra outside-of-the-boxers: A signed book will also be sent to the person who sends in the best original barn photo and name…

Please feel free to pass this contest and link along to your friends. Imagine what could happen with a whole lot of people thinking outside-the-box and sharing as much. (Even if you live in the city, I bet there are barns in your life somewhere. If not, feel free to name any building that has a face to you and submit that photo. Could be really interesting…)

To get the out-of-the-box juices flowing, you can see what I did on my summer vacation here:

Kalispell, Montana (side-talker)

Valier, Montana (needs braces)
Belt, Montana (has braces)

Red Lodge, Montana (that mean Nellie Olson)

Lewistown, Montana (Cyclops, the 8th dwarf)
Lakeside, MT (Meow)
Evergreen, MT (Mrs. Havisham maybe better on a foggy morning…)
Great Falls, Montana (Namaste or Burl Ives as the snow man in Rudolph. Can’t decide.)
Whitefish, MT (Hannibal Lecter)
Chester, Vermont (Gerorge Washington and his wooden teeth 1700s barn from Amy)

Kenosha, Wisconsin (a literal face sent in by Robb)
Bartow County, Georgia (Rapunzel Rapunzel, let down your hair… from Lisa)
Bartow County, Georgia (Old Mother Hubbard–the face is in the cupola, her skirts below– from Lisa)

Proctor, MT (Dr. John.)

Proctor, MT (Jim Henson)

Lake Mary Ronan, MT (Tweety bird)

Somewhere in Montana (Little Red Hen)

Libby, MT (Baby Face)

Sweden (A Work In Progress from Terri)

Missoula, MT (Ghost of Christmas Past)
Arlee, MT (Fu Man Chu)
Polson, MT (Not the gum drop buttons!)



Filed under Contests! Win a signed hardcover of THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS!, Every Barn Has a Face, Little Hymns to Montana, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

Drinking Diaries


Check out my interview in Drinking Diaries. It’s a great blog!

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Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

Awesome Women Hub

What inspiring women showed up today at the Facebook:  Awesome Women’s Hub, hosted by Robin Rice.  Thanks for showing up.  If you didn’t catch it, you can go to this link and scroll down to July 16th, 2010.  yrs. Laura


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This blogger nailed what my book is about


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Waiting for the Book Baby

I’ve never been much for limbo.  Who is?  Maybe you are.  Maybe you take limbo as a gift– and do things like yoga and deep breathing and mindful dish washing.   One woman’s limbo is another’s purgatory, I guess.  Because for me this waiting time is torture.  I’m no good at it.  I find myself in odd contortions– re-arranging the bookshelves by theme, resisting the urge to color code it, marrying socks (I don’t DO socks, under normal circumstances), stocking up at Costco like the world’s about to end.  In short, we have a LOT of toilet paper right now. 

Five weeks till blast off.  I feel pregnant.  Really pregnant.  Like I need to take a toothbrush to the dish washer.  Or wallpaper a nursery or something.  But there’s no nursery.  How much Face Book and Twitter can one woman do before she gets a bad reputation for it?  Distraction simply isn’t working.  I need to hold that pink baby in my hands and see that it’s real.  And then I want to pass it around to its aunties and baptize it to a community that will love it.  Shepard it.  That’s what I want.  Five more weeks.

People keep asking me if I’m nervous to read in public.  I like public speaking.  I used to be good at it as a kid– won a few awards, starred in a lot of plays growing up.  Somehow became a writer instead.  Which means that I’ve been alone in a dark room, writing for over half my life.  The most public speaking I’ve done in recent history, is sing and play guitar for the fourth grade, and that actually makes me sweat– “Broadcast News” sweat.  But the book tour will be different, right?  Because I simply cannot wait to meet my readers.  And that longing cuts through any nerves, though I remember Johnny Carson saying that the minute he stopped being nervous before he went out on that stage from behind that striped curtain…it was time to quit.  A little nerves are good.  It means we’re alive.  Right? 

But I’m a bit concerned.  Check out this dream I had last night:

I’m sitting in a dark auditorium, in the back row, with my husband, awaiting a concert, minding my own business.  Suddenly, a woman gets on stage and introduces me.  Turns out, I’m the act people have come to see.  All five of them.  All of whom either is in jail in real life, or should be.  I stand up and it’s a long walk to the stage, and I realize, I’m not wearing a bra.  I’m the kind of gal who really needs a bra.  And I realize that this is a stage that I acted on as a young girl– poorly.  My solo was so weak, that they had the whole chorus come in behind me and sing.  I get to the podium– in the exact place where that poor acting moment occured, and realize after much fumbling, that the light doesn’t work.  Then I realize that I don’t have a copy of my book.  And even if I did, I’m screwed anyway, because I don’t have my reading glasses.  (Yes, I’ll be doing my book tour with reading glasses– that’s how long it took me to get a book published.  But that’s another story.)  The woman running the event gives me a stack of papers that loosely resembles one of the first revisions of my book, complete with notes scribbled all over the margins, and I’m leafing through trying to find the chapter I want to read, but alas…half of it is in Spanish and the other half is upside down.  I’m not making this up.  This is the current state of my subconscious.  Then I ask my husband, through a feedbacky microphone, if he’ll race home and grab a copy of my book, which might take a while since this auditorium is in suburban Chicago, and we live in Montana.  But he’s game.  He’s good that way.  And while we wait, I start talking about my book, CLUMSILY, and some dude pulls out a guitar and starts to play…and everyone starts singing, yes, OVER me.  And heck– I join in.  It’s “This Land Is Your Land,” afterall.  Which I’ve just sung to the entire fourth grade last week, so I’m up on all the verses.  At least I’m up on something. 

Then my husband arrives with my book, just in time for everybody to stand up and leave.

  So maybe I am a bit nervous.  Or maybe I’m simply alive.  Maybe I’m the new pink  thing.  I can’t wait to find out.


Filed under My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

The Amy Einhorn Challenge

6 book bloggers unite to challenge you to take the Amy Einhorn Book Challenge.  Amy is my editor, as well as the editor of “The Help” and many other wonderful books.  Have fun!  Mine will be available in April (check out bottom left corner of this great poster!)  Honored to be among these esteemed writers.


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The View Out My Bedroom Window

If I look out my window right now, at this moment in my life, it’s the exact pink and ash lavender sunrise on snow-laden conifers…the exact photo I chose when I started this blog last May. Eight months ago, when I decided to take things under my own control and start this blog. As some of you may remember, it was more of a literary journal than a daily back and forth. More of a sharing of my world in Montana and my writing– that I could create, without having to face more rejection from publishers. I began it with surrender. Little did I know what that surrender would bring, in just two months. Little did I know that in just a matter of weeks, my 20 year old dreams would come true.

So as the sun rises this morning in a very new 2010, and the view from my window brightens and loses color, I encourage the act of surrender. I feel as powerful this morning as I did that morning in May when I created this place to share my writing. The simple act of creation is what makes me want to press my nose against the cold window pane and say, “Thank you.”


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, Little Hymns to Montana, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

Drowning to the Self

Well, tomorrow is my 43rd birthday and I have a lot to celebrate this year. As opposed to last year when I fell out of a river raft in the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in Glacier National Park near where we live…and got to ride a class 3 rapid, old school– pre-canoe.

It was the worst birthday of my life.

I was in the midst of my marital “adventure” and not knowing at all what would happen with the future of my relationship with my husband. I loved him. And, despite his declarations, I believed he loved me. And even though I had been quite sucessful in practicing living in the moment, letting go of outcome, and choosing, breath by breath, not to suffer…even though I’d become pretty good at contacting some level of happiness in a time so fraught with what could have been interpretated as pain…when I took that rapid, it was the ultimate “challenge” to my new method.

If we’re living in the moment for the sole purpose of receiving something like Grace…then we might just prove that old adage that God has a good sense of humor. (see: 200 mph swirlie!) I do believe, however, that we can create many things for ourselves, and in that moment, being sucked under and swirled around, and sucked under some more, and then shoved up to the surface, only to gasp for air, and be sucked back under, swirled around, sucked back down, and finally popped up like something leftover from a shipwreck…I was forced to really CREATE surrrender.

I’ve done a lot of scary things around here in these last 15 years of rural living, but this was the scariest. I really had a flash of understanding that I could be in my last moments on earth. And in that moment…in that MOMENT…there was no panic. There was no state-of-emergancy. There was a lot of rushing water, and the sense of my body being in it, and being totally powerless. And there wasn’t a whole lot more than that. It was the nothingness I’d read about in so many wisdom texts and not understood. “Nothingness” as a destination sounded empty and sad. But whatever I felt in that moment under the water, was not empty or sad. It was whole. No disturbance fragmenting it into a million disruptive thoughts that tug at the heart and mind and derail us. It was only afterward that all those thoughts and translations of the experience brought on the fear and the haunt of what might have happened on my 42nd birthday on a sunny summer day in Montana.

A lot of people have asked me to let them in on how I achieved some level of inner chill, calm, harmony during my husband’s dis-affection. I wish I had a stock answer. I wish I could give it away free in the streets. But I can’t. It can be inspired by spiritual practice– praying, meditating, communing with nature, one’s sense of the Divine, being with animals– but the place where I felt the most centered and calm last summer and namely in that moment in that river…is more of a state of mind. Almost trance-like.

I wish I could achieve it more often. And yet I’m glad for not having to daily almost drown to experience it. Maybe that’s what Paul was getting at in the Bible when he talked about dying to the Self.

I’ve known it one other time, and that was in natural childbirth– the labor and delivery of my daughter, on Pitocin, which was an experience of one long 12 hour contraction. I knew not to fight the pain. I knew to use the pain. I knew that the pain would open my cervix and bring me my baby. So I just went with it: stone silent surrender. Afterwards, I explained that it was like I was going into the depths of an ocean and holding on to weeds while the waves swelled and crashed over me. Perhaps then, it was no small surprise that being caught in a class 3 rapid brought up the same reaction.

I feel it with horses too, when we’re going fast and doing something dangerous in the woods…and maybe that’s why I ride as often as I can. It’s a way to get to that intersection of living and surrender, when you know you are powerless, and you must go with instead of against. That’s what I did last summer.

Maybe that will help some of you who were wondering. I wrote a book about all this while it was happening. The essay in the “New York Times” and in “The Week” is the short version of it. It should be in print this April. I am hard at work revising it to make sure I get it as honest and powerful and helpful as possible. Thanks for all of your comments. I wish I had answers for those of you who’ve asked me questions. Maybe what I’ve written here will give you a greater understanding about where you’re suffering in your life, and inspire you to imagine the possibilites of what can happen when you decide that even though you are in the line of fire, you can choose not to suffer. Whether or not that heals your relationships with others, I do know that it can heal your relationship with yourself. That’s a good place to begin. It’s the only thing we can control, afterall.

Tomorrow I’m hoping that I will not have to almost drown to feel peace and even happiness. I’m hoping for a nice hike in the mountains with my family. And maybe breakfast in bed! but even that is an attachment to an outcome that may not occur, and so I guess right now, in this moment, I can practice not wanting bacon and poached eggs on toast with a side of spinach and green tea with jasmine in my favorite mug on my grandmother’s old robins’ egg blue bed tray (hint hint)… If I find myself making that breakfast and carrying it up to bed, I’ll do my best at keeping a smile on my face and being thankful for not having to drown a bit to live again.
p.s. that’s me in the back right. pre-episode. still thinking she’s a cool Montana chick.
White Water Rafting


Filed under "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear", Little Hymns to Montana, My Posts