Hi, readers! We
have a real treat in store for you today, a spotlight on a book by Alexis Marie Chute, a talented author!
Alexis, an author I
met on my journey, has a blog tour running right now.
Let's check out the details, shall we?
About the Book:
Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss:
After her son, Zachary, dies in her arms at birth,
visual artist and author Alexis Marie Chute disappears into her 'Year of
Distraction'. She cannot paint or write, or tap into the heart of who she used
to be, mourning not only for Zachary, but also for the future they might have
had together. It is only when Chute learns she is pregnant again that she sets
out to find healing and rediscover her identity — just in time, she hopes, to
welcome her next child.
In the forty weeks of her pregnancy, Chute grapples with her strained marriage,
shaken faith, and medical diagnosis, with profound results.
Glowing with riveting and gorgeous prose, Expecting Sunshine chronicles
the anticipation and anxiety of expecting a baby while still grieving for the
child that came before — enveloping readers with insightful observations on grief
and healing, life and death, and the incredible power of a mother’s love.
who has experienced — or knows someone who has experienced — miscarriage, ectopic
pregnancy, stillbirth, or other forms of pregnancy and baby loss should read Expecting
Sunshine, including those considering or already pregnant again.
Fabulous cover! Congratulations on your second edition!
So, what are readers saying about this book?
Marie Chute, tasked with living as she mourns the death of her child, writes
vividly and honestly about loss and grief. Expecting
Sunshine records a journey that proves to be revelatory for reader and
writer alike. This is a brave, memorable book."
—Jane Brox, author of Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light
raw and vulnerable — Alexis Marie Chute opens her heart to share her journey of
love, loss, transformation, and rebirth. Her message that love binds us
together even beyond death, resonates deeply with me as a bereaved mother; it
is also a consistent message I heard in my research with bereaved families who
experience perinatal death. This is an important, engaging book for bereaved
parents, especially those who are considering a subsequent pregnancy.”
— Christine Jonas-Simpson, RN, PhD Professor of Nursing, York
University, Toronto, ON Canada
“In Expecting Sunshine, Alexis Marie allows you to accompany her on the
tumultuous journey of pregnancy after loss. While navigating the complex
emotions during this time, she is vulnerable and allows the reader to witness
her most private moments. This is a beautiful story filled with love— both for
the baby who has passed on, as well as the one she is expecting.”
— Kiley Krekorian
Hanish, occupational therapist, founder of the Return to Zero Center for
Healing, and bereaved mother to Norbert
Here is an excerpt from Expecting Sunshine.
Week 20: Horse with Blue Eyes
Pulling out of the garage one morning and turning
ontothe snowy road toward Mom’s house, it was as if
I were piloted directly into a cloud. With less than a kilometer behind me, it
was without a doubt no ordinary winter morning. The new world was buttered with
hoarfrost so thick its icicles dripped off branches like tiny rapiers, and
everything, from the stark white horizon to the cloaked roadway, glowed in the
diffused February light.
“Moon!” Hannah yelled from her car
seat in the back, pointing at the misty orb low in the sky.
“That’s the sun, Han.”
“Moon!” Hannah called again, and I
let myself see through her two-year-old eyes. It was in that moment that I
relented to my own childlike curiosity. I dropped off Hannah with her
grandmother and, instead of heading back to the house to work, traced the back
roads of south Edmonton that divided farmers’ fields and dense patches of
trees, my camera bag sitting on the passenger seat beside me. “Frost chaser,” I
called myself. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt such unguarded
anticipation — not since early in my pregnancy with Zachary, at least. The
thought made me shudder.
Hopping out of the car, I struggled
to zip up my coat, but it would not stretch past my belly button. Finding a
scarf in the backseat, I wrapped it around my neck and waded through a sloping
drift to an area of brush that
peeked above the snowy surface. I attached my macro lens and photographed
frozen seedlings that balanced upon the skeletons of wildflowers and were
caught in the slight breeze, rocking their loads back and forth.
As I was about to return to the car,
something caught my eye in the field opposite. Squinting, I could barely make
out a dozen ghostly figures, like faint ink splatters, dotting the white page
of the foggy pasture. Intrigued, I approached the toppling
wire-and-wooden-stake fence just past a gully of knee-deep snow. Shivering at
the fence, it was all I could do to stand still and wait, my breath wafting
around me in delicate plumes.
The ink splatters took on form and
moved gracefully toward me. As if dreaming, I imagined hearing their every
step, crunching the snow as their hooves trod heavily in their watchful gait.
Tall horses emerged into the clarity of the frigid air, the distance between us
condensed as they approached, unafraid.
I expected the horses to be tentative,
leery of my hooded silhouette and untrusting of the camera around my neck, but
they did not slow. As if foregoing the dream, they walked right up to me,
pressed their noses to my arms, and blew their breath into my palms. They
nuzzled in affectionately, and I stroked the coarse hair on their warm hides.
A patchy white and brown horse
approached after its two smaller black companions nibbled at my sleeve before
moving on to wrestle in the snow. The patchy horse was taller than the rest,
and it looked at me with confidence and understanding in its sky-blue eyes;
understanding and sympathy. Zachary had also had blue eyes, or so Aaron had
told me. I had been too afraid to look for myself.
My hands stroked up and down the
bridge of the horse’s nose and broad cheek. We stayed like this for many quiet
moments, enjoying each other’s warmth. The blue-eyed horse eventually turned
toward its frolicking friends and, after looking at me again for one long
breath, joined the others as they retraced their steps back through the mist.
As I stood there, I hadn’t noticed
the breeze that skated upon the frozen earth behind me, not until it tipped the
balance of snow resting on the tree branches overhead. I was caught in a flurry
of fat snowflakes that whirled lazily around me. I breathed in the sharp, clean
air and felt strangely alive. Raising my camera, I held down the shutter in
rapid fire, capturing the whirl of white that gave visible form to the hand of
All of a sudden, a familiar voice
broke the silence of my winter trek, though I was alone. Listening to her
words, tears froze on my cheeks. “You have lost your child, but you are not lost,” my own voice
whispered—but the words did not make sense. Zach was dead, and I too felt death’s
cold spreading outward from my core. Like the fog of the morning that seemed to
pass right through me, I once more sensed the powerlessness to alter Zachary’s
fate. Covering my mouth with my frostbitten fingers, my mind filled with images
of my baby boys, both the one to come and the one then gone.
“Your child’s identity is not your
identity. You are alive.”
My words hung in the air.
For so long I had felt like an
apparition, just the shell of a mother in mourning. My mind wandered to Hannah,
to Aaron. I had been strong for so long but, as I shivered in the last touches
of the windblown flurry, I allowed the frozen places of me, the wounds and
walls of self-protection, to fissure and crack like ice in springtime.
As my eyes remained fixed on the
distant place where the horses had slipped from view, my hands, trembling,
dropped from my mouth to the arch of my rounding abdomen. The baby within me
kicked lightly, a sensation as faint as the snow melting on my skin. I had
wondered for the last twenty weeks, How am I going todo this? How can I bring a new life into the
world while feeling so very distant from it? Yet, in that moment I knew.
I had not completely forgotten who I
was. It was true that a part of me had passed into white like the horses, but I
now saw that I would survive, that I must survive — not only for Hannah or
Aaron, or for my next child, but for
myself as well. The thaw was coming; I could sense its stirring, its deep
earthy groaning. A new season would soon replace my winter of the soul.
After that day, whenever I passed
through those back roads, I watched for the horses. Sometimes I caught a glimpse
of the mares grazing in the sloping fields. Their shaggy coats danced in the
wind as they galloped, unbridled and unbroken. Yet, in all the years since that
one quiet day, I never again have seen the horse with blue eyes.
Let's chat with the author for a bit...
Alexis, nice to have you here on Writing in the Modern Age! Glad you could stop by!
Can you tell us a little bit about your life or background?
I grew up and live in the same city,
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. For two years I lived abroad in New Zealand, which
was a fabulous adventure, and I don’t doubt there will be other distant lands
in my future.
As a child, I always wanted to be an
artist and author — exactly what I am doing right now. I also wanted to be an
actress and big business woman. I’ve always had many dreams and still think it
would be a great challenge to be a lawyer or a firefighter. I don’t subscribe
to the idea that we have to pick one career and stick with it. Life is more fun
with adventure, change and challenge.
My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of
Fine Arts in Art and Design. I have my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
I have three living children, ranging
from nine-years-old to three. We have no pets, unfortunately, as I grew up with
dogs and love furry companions, but my husband is allergic so I chose him over
the four-legged friends.
from my writing, I am a visual artist, curator, filmmaker, and public speaker.
So those things, plus family time, keep me super busy. I do, however, always
make time for the important people in my life. A lot of readers love origin stories. What inspired you to start writing?
I have been writing since as far back as
I can remember—and even before I could hold a pen. As a child, I was very
creative and cerebral. I was always coming up with stories and adventures.
Fortunately, I didn’t lose that trait as I grew up.
Let me ask a different question...
Where do your writing ideas usually come from?
I get new ideas all the time. From
everywhere. From everyone. A new light bulb is constantly illuminated above my
head. My struggle is not in finding ideas, but choosing which ideas are worth
my attention and which ideas should be the focus for right now.
I find writing inspiration
everywhere, at all times. My brain is a sponge for my environment and stimuli.
Sometimes this is overwhelming, but most often I use this hyper-awareness to my
Awesome! Well, the decision you made certainly appears to agree with you! I say do whatever makes you happy.
Let's try something else.
What do you feel sets Expecting Sunshine apart from other books in the genre?
My memoir arose out
of the anxiety and introspection of my own life. I wanted to survive my
pregnancy after loss and not go crazy in the process. Coming out of it on the
other side, sane and with a living baby gave me hope that perhaps I had done
something right. I wanted to share that hope with others who struggle with loss
and growing their family in the midst of grief.
The resiliency of the human spirit is
what percolates up in most of my work. It’s the dogged determination that I
see in so many people, no matter the hardships they face. They inspire me, and
because of them, I want my work to inspire others.
Hey, we could all use a little more of that!
Thanks for visiting us, Alexis! Your book looks so compelling!
Some awards for Expecting Sunshine...
Reviews' Best Books of 2017, Best Indie Books of 2017 Winner
Indies Book Awards, Grief and Grieving category 1st Place
Dragonfly Book Awards,Women's Interest category Winner
And grab a copy of thisbook! Looks so inspiring...
Thank you, Alexis, for letting us know all about your memoir on loss, parenting and healing! :)
About the Author:
Marie Chute is an award-winning artist, writer, and filmmaker. She received her
Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and photography from the University of
Alberta, and her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley
University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Chute is a highly regarded public
speaker and has traveled around the world presenting on art, writing and the
healing capacities of creativity. She is widely published in anthologies and
magazines, and her artwork has been exhibited internationally. She lives in
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with her husband and their three living children.