Monday, January 30, 2012

Answer to What's Wrong with This Picture?

In the previous post,the umbrella and the rain boots are out of place on anyone from the Seattle area. We all wear hooded jackets, or just get wet. It's a strange matter of Northwest pride to be rained on without an umbrella. Plus, we don't often get outright downpours. It's usually a drizzle or a mist.

Sorry I'm posting so late . . .will finish my Story in the Details, Part 2 post tomorrow. . . had a very full day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's Wrong With This Picture? and The Story is In the Details, Part 1

What's Wrong With This Picture?
I'll give you a few hints. This is the American Girl Doll of 2012 from the American Girl Catalog. Each doll comes with a story, and they represent a character. This doll represents a girl from Seattle.
It's really cute, and I'm sure that American Girl has done some research for their two books about this character.

However, there is an interesting detail that is slightly wrong . . . do you know what it is?
If you are from Seattle you don't usually ______________.

If you can fill in the blank or have a guess, put it in the comment section below. 

The Story is in the Details, Part 1
Usually I would say the story is in the character, based on his/her motivations, challenges, and deepest heart's desire.

However, stories are often shaped by details, and knowing the details can help us know the story.
A story is shaped by the rules of the world that the character lives in, and the rules that they impose on themself. Those are details that need to be filled in to make the story come alive.

A writing friend of mine told me about a female character that had tears come to her eyes every time she heard someone jingle their car keys in a certain way. When that female's romantic interest jingled his keys, she broke up with him even though she deeply loved him. Why? Well, the story was in the details of that character's background, and the rules she had imposed on herself.

In my current WIP, my character Clara is given a crystal sword, but it isn't just any crystal sword but the one pure crystal sword. She has trained hard for years to be accepted into Septily's Sword Master Circle, but when she receive this sword she struggles to wield it.

Why? The story is in the details of her character, but the story is also shaped by the details of the "rules" of the fantasy world where she lives.

What details matter to your story?

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Random Awesomeness

With way too much random awesomeness in the world to share, I have to choose a few items:

and last but for me definitely the most awesome news for today is:

Today is my oldest daughter's 13 Birthday!!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Called for . . .

When we hear the phone ring, we know that someone is calling for a purpose, whether that purpose is friendly conversation or a sales call, there is purpose in every call.
What does it mean to be “called” by the Lord?

Does it mean giving up our whole lives for our faith?

And what does that look like?

At worship yesterday our Pastor had me on the edge of my seat, sitting straight up, listening intently. His subject: the call. We studied Jonah 3:1-5 and 10 wherein Jonah is called a second time, and fulfills his ministry, and Mark 1:14-20 wherein Jesus calls his disciples and says, "follow me." The disciples leave everything to follow Jesus.

Is this what being called looks like every time?

Well, Samuel was called while living in the temple to serve in the temple his whole life.

Lydia, the purple cloth seller, was called to open her home for a new church.

Jesus calls each of us in unique ways.

A friend of mine has been called to Swaziland to teach while her husband builds, digs wells and helps with sanitation and irrigation. Their four kids will learn and serve alongside them. They've sold 90% of their possessions, and they've given up "life as we know it" in America for a 24/7 mission field.

I've been called to sing, to teach, to write, and to speak (occasionally), and to listen.

Beyond his "real" job, my husband has been called to help people with their cars, computers, household repairs, snowboard lessons, youth mentorship, and his favorite area: church tech.

A year ago, my family and I felt called (and pushed) out of our comfort zone to start a new church with a whole bunch of other people who felt called at the same time.

When we follow Christ, we give him our lives and sometimes that means staying where we are, and sometimes that means leaving everything behind. We need to listen to his call, and keep listening. Jesus wants us to follow him, with our whole lives.

How has he called you?

For a moment of light-heartedness about call, check out this video about tech gurus, who plan to rest when they are "with Jesus in heaven."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview with Open Minds' author Susan Kaye Quinn

Open Minds is a fast paced, gripping, adventure with a protaganist of unexpected mental talent. I loved it, and asked Susan Kaye Quinn if she would be interested in an interview. She agreed, and the results are here:

What makes you passionate about writing?

My passion for writing comes from the intersection of several other things I love: science, technology, politics, kids, and reading. I’ve always loved reading, but once I had my kids, I realized the profound importance of stories for kids. Seeing the impact that stories had on them, lighting up their curiosity and creativity, filling their playtime with wizards and robots, impacting their lives … well I wanted to be part of that. Stories have always been a way to teach us about the world, and I think future stories like the science fiction that I write, teach us about what the world can be (as well as what it shouldn’t be) and how we as human beings can fit into it. Stories like that can have just as big an impact on adults as kids, which is why I think so many adults read YA (young adult) novels, and even MG (middle grade).

What’s the toughest challenge you face as a writer?

On the business side, the biggest challenge is discoverability, or building a base of people that know and enjoy your work. On the craft side, the biggest challenge for me is finding the time to do all the writing, and writing-related activities, that I want to do. I love reading in my genre, reading craft books, talking about and teaching writing (to teens at my local library), networking with and supporting fellow writers, and blogging about my writing journey. And then there’s the writing itself, which I try to keep front and center for hours every day. Making sure I keep it all balanced, all the while pushing myself forward in my craft – these are my greatest challenges. But I’ve always loved a good challenge.

Who has been the biggest encouragement to you as a writer?

My fellow writers have been a consistent, constant source of encouragement. Seeing the success of fellow writers, like the recent movie/TV deal for fellow Indelible writer Addison Moore, inspires me. Knowing I’ll be reading a chapter to my local SCBWI group on Wednesday keeps me on track. Reading amazing books like Across the Universe by Beth Revis keeps me striving to be the best writer I can. Even my brother, who doesn’t write any more but cheers me on, keeps me motivated to tackle the manuscript every day.

How do your real life hobbies and experiences strengthen your fiction writing?

I did a lot of living before I started writing. While sometimes I wish I had started earlier, I think everything I did before (engineer working on jet engines, scientist studying global warming, politician running for office) helps me to write the stories I craft today. Writers have to draw from every bit of their lives to create stories that are uniquely theirs. Just sitting in the restaurant with my family today, observing body language of people, fuels my writing.

What’s your favorite part of your book, Open Minds?

This is a tough one!! I don’t want to be too spoilery, so I’ll pick one of my favorite scenes early in the book. I really enjoyed writing the scene where Kira first discovers her power … by knocking out the boy who was about to kiss her. One of the great things about writing YA is that there are so many firsts: first kiss, first boyfriend, first time you knock him out cold with your super mind powers.  The book is very serious about a lot of things, but I try to have fun with it as well.

Susan's book Open Minds reflects her passions in life and storytelling, her balance between home and adventure, her strengths and her encouragement. Her main character Kira lives in a near future science fiction world with tough politics at play, and her challenging adventure is balanced by the love she has for her family, and the encouragement she finds from those she loves.

Thank you Susan, for taking the time to share, and for your writing.

If you haven't read Open Minds yet, go find it at Open Minds at Amazon

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Edible Experimentation Day - extra post

Slushy snow and ice today. Time to do some experimental baking.

Why experimental?

We have tons of food intolerances and allergies in our household, my 12 year old turns 13 next week and she wants to do something different. Our tried and true allergry free cocoa chocolate cake just isn't "enough" this year. So today we tried some allergy free extra vanilla cake . . .and we tried an experimental recipe.

How do I experiment carefully?

I go to an awesome gluten free website like gluten-free goddess, read over that recipe, look in our cupboards, think over our allergies, and proceed to make substitutions that work for our family.

For instance in the gluten-free goddess recipe for vanilla cupcakes, tapioca flour and eggs are in the recipe - both no-nos for my whole household. So, I just use my usual trusty Martinson gluten-free flour mixture (sorghum and bean flours combined in a particular way), and I soak a little bit of chia seed in water.

Isn't chia seed for chia pets?

No, it's actually edible, and when let to sit with water it makes a gelatin like substance that can be substituted for eggs in recipes. It helps recipes fluff up, and it does the osmosis work of an egg in a recipe too.

However, in today's experiment we tried using coconut milk instead of any other kind of milk and our cupcakes puffed way up, and then fell in the center. This would be bad except . . .

my daughter wants to make filled cupcakes anyway.

Next we are onto making chocolate filling without dairy, corn syrup, or eggs. Our solution that we hope will work: chocolate syrup (made without corn syrup), mixed with coconut creamer and . . .we haven't figured out yet, maybe cooked with guar gum (a thickener) or our flour (which is also pretty dense), or maybe we will make our cocoa frosting, and just frost the insides as well as the tops.

Have you tried any cooking experiments lately?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Snow is Falling, The Snow is Falling!!!

Photo by "aquilasteve" on Flickr aquilasteve's photostream

I had a regular post planned, but my mind has been overwhelmed by "snowmageddon" outside.

I live 1/4 mile from Puget Sound, and we usually get a dust of snow that melts by mid-morning.

We have six inches of snow this morning, and I feel like I've gone back to my childhood. I grew up in Enumclaw, Washington which is a plateau made from an old lava flow from Mt. Rainier and is nestled up against the foothills that start the ascent to Mt. Rainier National Park. We had a good amount of snow every winter, except maybe one, in my memory of growing up. Snowmen, snowball fights, snow forts, and even snowslides on the neighbor's back deck steps were a wonderful part of life.

Here, my kids are happy to build a snowman every 2-4 years with all the snow in our yard, and hope to take a picture of him before he melts. We go to the mountains to ski and snowboard, sled and throw snowballs.

Today, it's here in our very own yard, and it's deep enough to really play in. True, my girls had friends over on Monday and played in the 1-2 inches that melted by 4 in the afternoon, but this . . .this is so much better, so much more snow.

Humorously, the weather reporters in the Northwest are calling it "Snowmageddon" . . .this is due to most Northwesterners inability to drive, think, or do anything when snow is on the ground. Unless one is an avid skier or snowboarder, or lives in the foothills or the mountains, snow sadly frightens most Northwesterners. If you don't believe me, check out this news article in one of the local papers, Snowmageddon

For us, it is a source of delight. Now, the question is . . .do we romp in the yard all day, or do we head to the mountains for deep powder skiing this afternoon and evening at the snow area with night hours?

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Have a Dream, and a Hope

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; 'and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.'"

- excerpt from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech

Growing up in a small town, labeled with many labels and not allowed to forget that I came from a "salt and pepper" family, I have a great admiration for Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., his faith, and his work as a Civil Rights Leader and Reverend. Thanks to the efforts of Rev. King and all those involved in the Civil Rights Movement, all of my cousins were able to attend regular schools. Voting, state education, and employment opportunities opened up, and for some, hearts were opened as well.

However, we live in a sinful world, and racism still exists. Each of us is responsible to live, love, and dream a better dream, to make a better world.

I have a hope and a dream that someday labels won't matter to anyone, and that we will all love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. I have a hope that someday all the children of the world will have loving homes. I have a hope that Christ will bring us peace in our hearts, and in our world.

"There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:4-6

To read Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s full speech go to American Rhetoric: Martin Luther King, Jr.

And for the She Sparkles Memory Verse Challenge, Verse B is: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved . . ." Acts 16:31

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow School and 280daily

(pic from 2009 Whistler trip with our nephew)

So, you may be wondering how in the world I actually get any school work done with my kids when we go snow crazy on Fridays during the snow season.

We just get flexible.

If that sounds too loose, don’t worry I often feel that way too. I have a binder to track progress, and keep a list of goals to meet during the school year. Sometimes we start earlier, run later, do school work on Saturdays, do half days in the summer, or whatever it takes to get our curriculum work done, and keep learning alive.

On snow days we: read literature, history and science in the car; take a deck of cards with us on the hill (math review = card games); and bring science and language vocabulary notecards. Journaling happens in the car, or on any electronic device that has a text/note-taking/web option.

280daily is an online site that offers totally private journaling and journal tracking for individual writers. We decided to try it, and so far we like it. Today, we’ll be journaling from the Summit lodge.

For my daughters, this is a way that I can continue their journal work without bringing two separate journals along for the ride. For me, with that 280 character count, it’s a push for concise writing.

If you like to journal daily, or would like to start journaling, check it out 280daily

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Foot Undie Picture - it's not as bad as it sounds

pic of a the Capezio brand foot undie, called Foot Undeez.

Poetry Moment

With revisions for The Crystal Sword moving along steadily thanks to the advice of a friend, I've had less time for writing poetry.

However, I would like to post some poetry each month, and I found and started revising this poem last night as my daughters danced. Originally I wrote it for all the company dancers from our old dance company who ranged from age five to sixteen.

For the Dancers I Know

We Dance

We dance in taps, sneakers, foot undies, point shoes.
We dance to pop, hip hop, and waltzes slow.
We want to get on with the beat, the show.

We may be only five, or sweet sixteen,
we dance with heart, with rhythm, feeling
music flow from toes to ceiling.

We stomp, tip tap, get down, and leap.
Across the room, we float, we jive, we scuff.
Don’t you dare call what we do just fluff!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Movie and Book Blast

During the Christmas and Ski/Snowboard Season I don't usually get out to watch many movies, and yet we managed to watch two in the last few weeks. The Twelve Days of Christmas (starting Christmas day) are often filled with mega reading moments for our whole family, so I've managed to read at least 8 books recently, but for the sake of time, I'm only going to mention my favorites here.

Hugo - "Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton."
My daughters and I were involved in reading The Clockwork Three when we saw our first trailer for Hugo, and the parallels of automatons and adventurous kids heightened our anticipation for this movie. Our expectations were different than the movie, but yet we all walked out of the theatre satisfied by the heartwarming, beautiful story of Hugo.

"The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name."
As part of a week long celebration of my husband's 45th birthday, we went to see Tom Cruise race around the screen, climb tall buildings, and take some crazy leaps as Ethan Hunt. I found this to be the best of all the Mission Impossible movies, and really enjoyed it from beginning to end. However, my husband was disappointed that at one point in the movie Ethan Hunt, superspy, struggles in a fight with an older chunky intellectual and I admit, this did strain Ethan Hunt's credibility. However, overall, it rocked with action, humor, and a decent plot line.

"Sixteen-year old Desolation Black wants nothing more than to stay in Hell where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent back to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she always feared."

Out of all the books I read over the Christmas season, Become by Ali Cross was the finest crafted novel. Tightly woven, intense, and packed with meaning, I was drawn into this story immediately and read it in one sitting. However, it is dark fantasy, and I had to wrestle with that a bit in my head. I really enjoyed it, but I struggled with some of the intense moments, and it made me realize that I have a tendency to bury my head in the face of some the world's sinful and ugly realities. The dark stuff in the novel is based on real life, ugly stuff that is in our world this very moment. We can't all be kickin' superheroes like Desi but we can make a difference if we take the time to pay attention to the hurting world around us.

"They are outcasts. Hal, Stig, and the others - they are the boys the others want no part of. Skandians, as any reader of Ranger's Apprentice could tell you, are known for their size and strength. Not these boys. Yet that doesn't mean they don't have skills."

I dare you to read The Outcasts and not love these characters, and beside who doesn't love a good underdog story, especially when those underdogs make some serious mistakes and learn from them. Flanagan's new series, the Brotherband Chronicles, promises to be as good as his Ranger's Apprentice series.

"Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss."

The end of the Hunger Games trilogy is bittersweet, and heart-wrenching. (spoiler alert)There are unexpected twists and turns, action scenes, untrustworthy allies and the stresses of war. Katniss battles through them all, and survives to win a better life for her land. At one point, I needed tissues.

All photos and quoted synopsi are by IMD and Amazon

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Snow Day Follow Up - Epic Fail and Lessons Learned

Yesterday we had a fun, yet challenging snow day.

Usually we have an 8-10 hour snow day, not including drive time to the snow area. My husband teaches snowboard lessons, my daughters and I ski, and then we all roam the mountain together for an hour or so.

Yesterday we spent nearly 12 hours at the Summit. My husband taught two snowboarding classes, and assisted our 17 year old nephew as he taught skiing for the first time.
We skied a number of runs from blues to blacks (intermediate to advanced) and visited with family and friends on the mountain. It was almost a perfect day, except for end of the day exhaustion and

an epic fail on one of my favorite black diamond runs, “360 Showoff” – also called “Face”. One of my bindings was a bit loose, and my left ski popped off on an easy turn near the top of the run. I couldn't get back into the binding, and when I tried to stand on one ski, I ended up back on my rear sliding down the hill with one ski on and one ski in my hand. I tried and tried again, and I started to panic, feeling that all the awkwardness of too much weight and not enough muscle might be too much for me to overcome. I finally settled for the humiliation of sliding down the hill on my rear until I could find an area less steep.

With the run being called Show off you can correctly imagine that I was directly under the run's ski lift in full view of the lodge and several other ski lifts. People pointed, laughed, yelled encouragement and other things, until a complete stranger stopped and helped me by letting me lean on him while I fixed my binding. After accepting my thanks, he skied off, and I skied down the run without any further incident.

Still, I seethed with embarrassment and chagrin until I redeemed myself a few hours later by going back on the run, and staying on my skis the entire time.

I still didn't ski it as hard and as fast as I used to be able to - once upon a few years ago, I raced my husband down that run and kept up with him. (He's an amazing downhill snowboarder and skier so that isn't too shabby)

So, this morning, despite tiredness and sore muscles, I got back on the exercise bike and put in my time. I know that I want to conquer that run again, and the only way to do it with style is to drop about 20 pounds and gain some muscle.

This reminds me of my writing lately, my novel The Crystal Sword is in the throes of a painful revision. Determination and a desire to conquer the story and make it true to my vision are keeping me going each day.

Lessons Learned:
Sometimes the only way to stand up is to get help.

Anything worth doing is worth a little sweat and concentration.

And yes, pride comes before a fall. Even though outwardly I laughed at myself and teased myself, it seriously stung to find myself unable to complete a run I thought I could do easily.

Friday, January 6, 2012


This pic is from last year . . .but it's all I have time to post. We are off for a full day of skiing and snowboarding fun!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group - Goals and Revision

Today, in my pre-write notes, it says “share encouragement.” That’s it.

Hmm. So, I’m pre-writing for a moment before I post, but not much before.

And, I admit I’m feeling a bit low on my own writing journey today.

I had these goals, you see. Goals that I wrote last year, that stated I would be finished with a polished draft of my novel, The Crystal Sword, by January 31st.

Umm. Well. That’s not going to happen at this point, unless the rest of my life stops and I only write.

With two very important family birthdays this month (my husband turns 45 today, and my oldest daughter becomes a teenager in a few weeks), and all of life’s usual activities. I can’t put my life on hold, and I don’t want to. My family comes before my writing.

So, what to do?

Throw out all goals, like all the New Year’s Scrooges suggest?

No. Just rewrite them to be more realistic, and enjoy the journey of life and writing intertwined.

Goals can be changed, revised, and polished – just like my novel.

So, here’s my new goal: Finish polishing The Crystal Sword by June 1st, 2012.
Then, pursue publication.

So, as usual my encouragement really boils down to seven words:
Just Keep Writing, and Enjoy the Journey.

If you need to revise your words, or your goals, it’s ok.

Just Keep Writing, and Enjoy the Journey.

Then, go, and share encouragement with your fellow writers through the awesome Insecure Writer's Support Group:

Monday, January 2, 2012


Of all the themes I’ve listed that I would like to visit once a month on my blog, the one that stands out as first is worship.

In all things, in all times, worship is integral.

Worship connects all parts of my life to one purpose in Christ.

When I write, I hope to write with faith.

When I live life fully with my family, I remember with gratitude the one who gifted my family to me.

When I worship at home, in Bible study, prayer, song, and quiet moments, I find peace.

When I think of my friends and family who are undergoing trials in their life, I pray for them and praise God for their hope in all circumstances.

When I undergo my own trials (pretty small ones lately), I give praise to God for giving me the strength and patience needed to walk through those trials and back into the fullness of life.

When I worship at church, I feel connected to the Lord and all the members of my church family and to the members of the whole Christian church around the world.

Worship makes me whole because the Lord fills up my emptiness with love and peace through His salvation.

Worship isn't just one day a week, but a way of life.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5

Added Later - Just discovered a blogfest that fits with today's theme:

and I've decided to join in. The current verse is:

A - "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15b
For more details about the 2012 Memory Verse Challenge, visit
She Sparkles