Monday, October 31, 2011

Blessings Belated

Blessings that I am Thankful for today:

1. Musicians working together to sing to the Lord.

2. Fun co-op classes.

3. NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!!! And I feel ready for it!

4. The Writers' Chair in my CW club class.

5. Mapping with my Writers' Workshop class.

6. Getting into some Biblical meat with my C.S. Lewis class - they are 10-12 year olds with strong faith, and great Biblical knowledge.

7. Fun paper clips.

8. The Velma costume coming together . . . maybe I'll post a pic, maybe I won't . . .

9. Carving pumpkins.

10. Toasting Pumpkins Seeds.

11. Chocolate.

12. Pizza.

13. The awesome life and witness of my father-in-law and his birthday party last night!

14. Fun with family and friends that feel like family.

15. The Casting Call Blog Hop and the Halloween Hop - fun, and helpful for getting ready for NaNoWriMo . . . the Casting Call Blog Hop helped me get visual with my storyline, and the Halloween Hop gave me something completely fun to do . . .that still helped with plotting even if there are no characters like Sully, Velma or Scooby Doo in my storyline.

16. A gorgeous fall day with sunshine, flame-colored leaves and a brisk coolness that wakes everyone up.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Hop

Today I'm posting for the Halloween Hop. My Casting Call Blog Hop post can be found here

Sully is my favorite monster of all time from Monsters, Inc. - big, furry and full of sweetness – who couldn’t love a “monster” like that?

Skillet’s Monster

Skillet rocks this Monster song! (one of my husband's earliest in-concert videos - he's the first one howling as the video ends)

And finally, this year I'll be dressing up as Velma, my favorite character from Scooby Doo. Last year I couldn't find the right skirt - this year I have something close enough after a 10 minute second hand store shopping trip.

And my favorite show with "monsters" that get unmasked:

As you can tell I'm not really a true "scary" movie fan . . . sorry, but this is how I thought I could best participate since I had a cool invite from Jeremy Bates

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Casting Call Character Blog Hop!

Casting Call Character Blog Hop!!!

I found out about this Blog Hop at Eagle’s Aerial Perspective and it fits perfectly with preparations with NaNoWriMo, so I decided to squeeze in one more Blog Hop before NaNo. So today is Casting Call, then I'll Halloween Blog Hop this weekend, and after that I’ll be slowing my posts to twice a week – blessings and writing posts only.

The Casting Call Character Blog Hop is hosted by Carrie Butler
Melodie Wright
and Lisa L. Regan

The Rules: Choose one of the following options and post:

1. Photo montage - Grab photos online, and post them with small descriptions of your characters. Let's be safe/smart about this. Don't take copyrighted photos without permission, provide attribution on photos with a Creative Commons license, etc. Basically, give credit, where credit is due. I'm sure most of you do that with your posts, anyway. :)

2. Book trailer - You've seen them online, right? This is the perfect excuse to try one of your own!

3. Paintings/Drawings/Doodles on Napkins - C'mon, we won't make fun of your art skills. It's all for fun. :)

When I saw this awesome blogfest, I was immersed in drawing a map for my story, and decided to check out some photos for scene setting and geography.

This is Aerland, home of the Aerland Griffins and their human counterparts, the Griffin Watch.


This is the Northern part of the Septilian coast, the last edge where the dark sorceress, Sihrqayya has not yet reached.


Leander, once cursed with his 12 brothers to live in swan form by day, still has one wing, and longs for the simplicity of his life as a swan. He hates court life, and wishes that he still looked like this:


It's really hard for me to choose an actor for him, I think I've looked at about 10 actors, and tried to figure out who would fit Leander both in age, and in looks. Jake T. Austin is the closest I've found for Leander, and yet, he needs longer hair . . . like maybe a much younger Orlando Bloom? But the reality is all the pics I can find of Orlando that are free are of him with a mustache and that so doesn't fit.
So here's Jake T. Austin:


Perren, is Leader's unwanted mentor, and he is the Rrissorrian Royal Falconer. He doesn't care much for court life and prefers the company of his hawks, which he hopes will help him gain Leander's trust. This picture helps me visualize the size of his favorite hawk to the size of Perren himself:


Maybe Viggo Mortensen would fit Perren's character


My character Clara from The Crystal Sword will be entering into On One Wing, so this is a pic for the crystal that she is searching for, in the hopes to "heal" her sword:

Clara is supposed to be making allies, but instead she has struck out on her own mission.

And although I have a tough time choosing pics of actresses that I think fit my characters, I think that AnnaSophia Robb comes close (but she needs more sword fighting muscle):


Klyan, the griffin, makes me wish that I had artistic skills, but I really like this drawing by Joshua Stephen Mersereau, even if I picture Klyan's coloring a little differently. BTW, Klyan is mourning his last Griffin Watch partner, and is seeking out Clara for the Triune Council of Allies.


Thank you Carrie, Melodie and Lisa for hosting this awesome blog hop, and getting me to find some pics that help me with characterization for this year's NaNoWriMo!!!

And next . . .I'll be taking all the photos I found at Wikipedia Commons to make a collage that will stand by my writing space for NaNo!

NaNoWriMo Pre-Writing

NaNoWriMo Pre-Writing, Plotting, Brainstorming, Daydreaming
(Casting Call Blog Hop Tomorrow)

As a writing teacher at my local homeschool co-operative, and as a writer, I have found myself scrambling to prepare for NaNoWriMo both for my students and for myself. What is the best, most useful and awesome advice I can give them, and use myself?

The reality is, I don’t know. I have ideas. I know what has worked for me before, and what hasn’t, but each writer is an individual with different methods of pre-writing that work best for them. How do I give the best, most useful and awesome advice to a group of people, even a small one?

I know what it’s like to be in a writing class and get all excited about the teacher’s method that “works for most writers” only to find out that maybe I’m not in the category “most writers.” Are any of us, really?

Here’s what has worked for me: daydreaming, drawing maps, writing character profiles, jotting down notes about world building, and the five scene method.

For the five scene method, I jot down notes about the top five most important scenes or scene images for each character that matters . . . not just main characters, but their top buddies, and the antagonist. I have to know each character’s beginning scene, climax scene, end scene, and two scenes that show character development or tension between characters. That doesn’t mean I write out those scenes, but I take notes on what I think they might be, including some description of the setting where they take place. Last year, I used most of my scene ideas during NaNoWriMo, but some were just left in a folder, and ignored as useful but unnecessary background. (This method was one great writing class gem that I learned from Pamela Goodfellow in a University of Washington Commercial Fiction class.)

This year, with the impetus of teaching a group of hungry (for writing), enthusiastic, intelligent, and highly motivated and committed teens, I feel in some ways like that’s not enough. I feel like I need to find more for them . . .more methods, more specific pre-writing plot ultimate “truth” for writing and finishing a novel.

Yet, despite having read more than a dozen books on writing, and some specifically about novel writing and plotting, I don’t feel like I have “the answer”. I just have ideas.

Do you think there is one answer for pre-writing plot that will drive you to the finish of your novel by the end of NaNoWriMo?

Casting Call Blog Hop Tomorrow

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Left Foot and Other Blessings

My Left Foot

Whenever I feel like complaining about my foot, all I have to do is say that phrase, “my left foot” and I take pause. Many years ago I watched a drama entitled

My Left Foot

Description of My Left Foot: “In this true story told through flashbacks, Christy Brown is born with crippling cerebral palsy into a poor, working-class Irish family. Able only to control movement in his left foot and to speak in guttural sounds, he is mistakenly believed to be retarded for the first ten years of his life. Later, through the help of his strong-willed mother, a dedicated teacher, and his own courage and determination, Christy not only learns to grapple with life's simple physical tasks and complex psychological pains, but he also develops into a brilliant painter, poet and author.” Written by David Mullich

So when I start to complain about my left foot, I remember that movie and I stop complaining, or at least I pause long enough to realize how silly it is that I complain about one small part of my body that doesn’t work well.

True, I’ve had 13 surgeries on other parts of me. I’ve got scoliosis, hypothyroidism, and too much weight. However, my doctor often takes notice of how remarkably healthy I am. My blood work always turns out well. I have great blood counts, and perfect blood pressure. So what is the point of worry over my left foot?

Well, I can’t exercise just the way I want to – dance, running, and even walking are out for the next four weeks. However, I am smart enough to be creative – lots of ab exercises and leg lifts might be just the thing to trim me down. Who knows? Maybe four weeks from now I’ll be in better shape than I am now.

My left foot has been sprained, strained, pulled, twisted, fractured, impacted by a softball, and now is suffering from my “heel-striking” walking stride and planter fasciitis. But it isn’t the only part of my body that I can use.

So, for a Sunday Blessing count today, I have:
1. My left foot - which reminds me to be thankful for what I have that works.
2. My friends who encourage me and pray for me when I most need it.
3. My family, who hold me up, love me, and laugh with me.
4. My Savior – He can move the mountains!
5. An awesome Christian musician I know, who knows how to lead worship with a humble and reverent heart. He’s only 17, and is more mature than some of his older contemporaries.
6. Our friends’ daughter return home. She still needs prayers for recovery and strength, but she is home!
7. Sugar cubes stacked like Egyptian pyramids . . . until they are eaten lovingly, cube by cube.
8. Corn Maze fun!
9. Sweet youth leaders who opened their home to us last Friday night and warmed our hearts with their loving fellowship.
10. Ice, ibuprofen, and being able to put my feet up.

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, Rejoice!”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Maps and World Building

Lately, when I'm not busy with regular life, or revising The Crystal Sword, I've been world-building, and map-making for my next novel, On One Wing.

My amazing, enthusiastic, and highly knowledgeable teen Creative Writers' Club class at the homeschool co-op we attend, has pushed me to re-think my map-making and world building. I really didn't do a very good job of either before I started The Crystal Sword, and I now regret it.

There is a benefit of map-making if you are writing a fantasy novel that is set in a pre-industrial world with old world transportaion abilities. To get anywhere, my characters have to take a boat, a horse, a sea serpent, or a griffin, and the sea serpents aren't friendly. The roads are rough, and the forests can be dense. Weather patterns matter when my characters are slogging along outside trying to get from point A to point B in the story.

I thought I had a pretty good map of my character's country in The Crystal Sword, but it didn't really have enough information on it - like topography, or waterways, or blown up maps of Skycliff (the main city featured in the story). I had a pretty good handle on the underground section of the city where the characters' escape from the onslaught of war, but when they try to return over sea and land, I don't have those maps figured out well enough. It's taken me some time to fix.

So yesterday I mapped out my the area my main characters in One One Wing will be traversing three times, and I'm still not satisfied. I need more of an understanding of the topography, and the weather patterns and how it will affect their journey.

The interesting thing is that even though I don't draw all that well, I enjoy map making in the writing process, or pouring over real world maps to understand key locations for a story.

Have you ever considered making maps in the world building process for your writing?

Even for non-fiction, or fiction set in the "real" world, I think that maps can come in handy. In a book I recently read where the characters stopped in Portland . . . the author didn't know the downtown area that well, and mistakenly thought the biggest and best place for books was the library. He obviously didn't know about Powells. Oops. (BTW more info about Powells can be found at my post Biggest Bookstore in the World, or at the Powells' website )

So, Maps Anyone?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week of Blessings

A long time ago, in a blog nearby (this one), I spent a year counting 10 blessings a day, trying to be original or at least specific each day, and I saw a difference in my life, and the way I treated others. My faith grew, my relationships bloomed, and it was sweet.

Lately, I've been thinking I may need to reinstate that challenge in my life, either here on my blog or in one of my journals. Why? Because I've been getting crabbier, and seeing the glass half empty far too often.

I had a good week this last week, but I don't think I realized it until I sat down to count up my blessings and give thanks.

A week of Many Blessings
The Blessing of a Strong Faith Family

The Blessing of Enthusiastic Students - both my own two, and the ones I get to teach at homeschool co-op

The Blessing of walking

The Blessing of fall leaves

The Blessing of wellness

The Blessing of good books

The Blessing of getting my husband to be a book lover - it took 5 years of dating plus 15 years of marreage, and a number of years reading my favorite books aloud to him before he caught the reading bug.

The blessing of making Fried Green Tomatoes just right – on the second try! And they are gluten free, dairy free, and egg free . . . my very own new recipe. (Means: I didn’t measure my amounts exactly so it’s not exactly a recipe that I can share yet. Let’s just say it involved my very own flour mix, with my very own egg replacement that consists of flaxseed, chia seed and water, some Italian seasoning, some mesquite seasoning, pepper, and some salt).

Sharing Fried Green Tomatoes with my parents – and they liked them too! (my husband won’t eat tomatoes, and my kids can’t eat tomatoes, so I’m glad I had someone to share with)

The Blessing of Prayers

The Blessing of Friendship

The Blessing of Family

The Blessing of Deciding that my Rough Draft doesn’t totally suck, and actually much of the latter half is salvageable

The Blessing of 5,000 words of revision on a Saturday morning after a week of “freak-out” revision tactics and feelings

The Blessing of a clean house (cleaned for friends)

The Blessing of Homeschool Buddies

The Blessing of Dance – the footloose, jump around the house kind, and the tap dance-ballet-jazz kind. Both are good.

The Blessing of An Awesome Husband – the Best Man for me – the Sweetest, Most Hard-working guy I know, and the only one I know considering purchasing bike shorts . . .he’s getting serious about his biking these days.

The Blessing of a Clean Dog (or two) . . . seriously not to be under-rated . . . our Beagle Mutt likes to find all sorts of fun stuff to roll in, but now he smells like tea tree oil, mint, and shampoo. Our older dog always smells good . . .she’s such a lady.

The Blessing of French Vanilla Tea, and Red Rose Tea, and Mint Tea, and . . . many types of tea

The Blessing of Laughter, especially a whole family of laughter

The Blessing of Daddies, and their love for their children –so many times this week I’ve been thankful for this – for my Dad, for my Husband, for a few friends of ours, especially a particular Dad friend of ours who held his daughter for the first time in many weeks in the ICU this week. Moms are awesome, but sometimes Dad’s voice is the one we need to hear, and Dad’s arms are the ones we need to have hold us.

The Blessing of meeting new blogging buddies through Pay It Forward Blogfest
and deciding join yet another blogfest - the Halloween Hop - even though I am not a big "monster" fan, I think I might have something I could post that day that I hope will be a little different and fun.

Scripture Blessings:

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. and let us consider how may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:23-24

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward

Alex Cavanuagh’s awesome book trailer for his second book. Alex is one of the hosts for this blogfest, so we all know him, but hey, check out this book trailer! It's awesome.

And now, I was supposed to only highlight three blogs, but there are so many awesome ones out there that I had a tough time choosing, plus I admit I didn't realize I could only do three . . . and my days been kind of packed with good and bad, and all the inbetween stuff too.

E.R. King’s Get Busy Writing site – E.R. King inspires writing with humor, encouragement, and a "just do it" attitude.

2 Encourage
Pam encourages faith with beautiful, thought-provoking posts.

Notes from the Writing Chair Angie gives insight to writing and life, and her posts frequently give me a kick in the pants with inspiration.

Writing With Shelly - humor, inspiration, and again, the swift kick when needed.

See a theme here?

Pay it Forward link: Pay It Forward Originator You know he's awesome because he's one of the hosts of this blog fest. Check it out!

There are so many awesome writers, and awesome blogs that I wanted to highlight more, but the day is at a close, and I have fried green tomatoes burning on the stove . . . that's what my day has been like.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pre-writing in the Post Writing Phase?

As mid-October approaches, and I realize that I haven't finished the revision of my novel The Crystal Sword, and every day I am tempted to spend more time pre-writing for my next novel, currently titled On One Wing. I realized that I am pre-writing in the post writing phase.

What I mean is, even though I had pre-written story starts for the Crystal Sword, I never sat down and did any pre-written world-building, supportive character files, or any major plotting. Last November, I had some pre-written stuff, that I mostly ignored, and I started new and went for broke. My first draft is awesome only in that I finished it. It has some crazy plot twists, some repetitive plot twists - my character battles sea serpents twice in three chapters and in much the same way, and a romance that basically dies in the first paragraph.

So, here I am in the my revision a year later, still figuring out my world building, and still creating character profiles, and trying to give my characters a swift kick in the right direction. Plus, I cut the romance - there's 10,000 words of utter drivel completely gone.

And I have to finish this second draft in the next 18 days because I promised myself it would be done already, and . . . On One Wing is kind of a sequel. This is both good and bad.

Good - I can world build for both, and still consider it revision, as well as pre-writing.

Bad - I really should have had a map for my "world" already - it would have made the plot for The Crystal Sword a little more sensible. I have some messy ones that don't make any sense . . . and I have to fix that. It shouldn't take a two week sea voyage one direction, and only three the other way.

Good - I know some of my characters really well.

Bad - I realized that my main character for The Crystal Sword has backstory that never gets used, and also has some gaping wholes in her character file. Considering that I am working with her every day, I really should know her better. Sometimes I feel like I've just met a stranger at a coffee shop when I'm writing on my laptop. That's really, really bad.

Double bad - I like some of my "new" characters better. Leander (despite his name) is reluctant, messed up, and has an attitude - but I like him. Clara is just too goodie goodie, even with her doubts and temper tantrums. Leander runs from fights, Clara (even with all her doubts) is triumphant, victorious and all "she-ra" when a fight comes her way. And I can't seem to change her, even when I do break her sword, and bonk her over the head. And now I'm writing about them like they're real . . . a sign of a crazed writer.

But somehow, writing all this makes me just want to open up those files on my laptop one more time, and add just a bit more, finish that novel so I can start the next one.

Anyone have similar issues getting ready for NaNo? Characters that just don't do what you want them to do? Maps that don't make sense? Romance that belongs in a shredder?

Also, if you can - please pray for my friends' daughter. She had a really scary surgery that went well, but her recovery is going rough. She's been in ICU for three days now, and needs help to breathe. Her name is Jessica.

"Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you."
Psalm 25:20

Monday, October 10, 2011

Praise and Blessings!!! and good news!

Our friends' daughter, whom I've posted about before, is out of surgery now and headed to the ICU! The x-rays were wrong, and her spine had straightened to a good 60 degrees (instead of a bad 85) and the surgeons were able to do the "best and easiest" surgery for her, and insert two metal rods on the outside of both sides of her spine, instead of doing the scarier inside (through the front) type.

So, this is good, good news, and a huge Blessing, and something I Praise the Lord for . . . answered prayers! Good health! Life! Hope and Peace for our friends and their little girl. Her strength is amazing. She is enduring more at the age of 7 than most of us have to deal with in our lifetimes, and I am so thankful to know her.

However, if you're the praying kind, please pray for her continued recovery, health, hope, joy and peace - both for her and her family.

Plus, on an every day kind of blessing note, I am thankful for all my students today at our homeschool co-op who sweetly attentive and hard working despite my distracted thoughts.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Biggest Bookstore in the World

Powell's City of Books in Portland doesn't look like much from the outside - even I have to admit that.

However, it is a whole city block of a bookstore, with more than one floor devoted to books. And . . . there are two other nearby satellite stores for their technical books, and their home and gardening books, because there isn't enough room in their main store for those too.

They give out free maps at the entrance. Maps, kind of like at Ikea, but bigger, better, and leading to rooms filled with books . . . the greatest treasure of all. Who needs a new couch? Books are better. (ok, now you know why my husband doesn't take me there all that often)

Just to give you an idea of the size, this is a picture of just one room - the rose room:

There are over one million books . . . just at the main store. And I get to go there today, and browse . . . and buy responsible homeschooling books, and then . . . maybe a few fun ones.

We already have books pouring off the bookshelves at home, so I really shouldn't buy too much . . .and someday we might want to buy a couch that hasn't been clawed to pieces by our cat.

Of course, I'm doing this hard work today to become a better writer . . .to inspire myself to write more . . . to . . . oh, I'll be honest, to just indulge in my love of books.

Some women love shoes, I love books. Some women love clothes, I love books. Some women love beautiful artwork and furniture, I love books. Really. I would rather shop for books than anything thing else in the world.

And we get to visit our neice too, and see Portland, and maybe I could call a cousin of mine who lives there too . . . so maybe, it won't all be about books today . . . maybe.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group #2

The Insecure Writers' Support Group, started and hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, strikes again!

Today, I wasn't sure what to write for this group.

You see, I do have insecurities as a writer, but today I have some fruits of success to report. It feels ironic/paradoxical . . . or just odd to report that my poem "here or there" has been published today online at Every Day Poets.

In his post, Alex admitted that he hasn't always dreamed of being an author, and yet he has found success.

I have dreamed about being a writer for years, but I have to admit I haven't always put in the hours needed to hone my writing. I daydream about my writing more than I actually get writing done. I have a tough time focusing on one project for long periods of time.

In fact, right now I'm trying to finish my revision of The Crystal Sword, but the last few days I've worked more on character files and writing warm ups for the next NaNo, coming next month. I was tripping along at 1,000 or more words of revision a day, and now 4 days have gone by, and ooops - I've been writing 600 words a day of "other stuff" that has little to do with The Crystal Sword.

So, to echo Alex's post, sometimes when I have success I feel like maybe I don't deserve it. And, sometimes when I am almost done with a project, I have a tough time seeing it to the end when something new and exciting is beckoning just around the corner.

If you can, please take a moment and check out "here or there" at Every Day Poets today - it's only as good as the editing help I received from the editors at Every Day Poets. Thank you editors!

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11