Friday, May 31, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Jumper

Celebrate the Small Things is hosted by the multi-talented, ever-thankful Viklit!
My two dogs, waiting for my mom to come and walk with me (and them). Pic from a while ago.
Lady, our Rhodesian Ridgeback/Mix, was left in a campground with a whole litter of puppies just like her. My parents brought her home to us. She's 13 going on 14, and she has joint pain. We think this might be her last summer with us.
Jumper, our Beagle/Basset/Who Knows?/Mix with mostly Beagle behaviors, came from the pound for my oldest daughter's 7th birthday present. She picked him out, and we brought him home. No one could tell how old he was - somewhere between 2 and 7. (Kind of a big range). He was malnourished, almost actually mangy with some kind of skin disease that took special shampoo to get rid of, had street dog behavior (no garbage can was safe from him, he could even open the ones with the foot pedal), and he had been in a car accident. Later, we found out he had seizures.
Recently, we found out that seven places on his spine were messed up in different ways . . . most likely from the same accident, and made painful by a recent excursion outside the fence at night (we thought he was in, but we were tired and he loved being sneaky).  
In the seven years he lived with us, he went from an occasionally snarly street dog to a totally affectionate buddy. His name was Jumper for a reason. He liked to jump, but he never jumped on us - just next to us in the air. 
He did like to cause a bit of trouble now and then, escaping the confines of the fence, running through the wooded acreage that my parents own and over the neighbor's houses where he would sometimes knock over garbage cans or eat cat food. Thankfully, our neighbors were gracious with us, especially when they saw us chasing him (he only came when called inside the fence or inside the house -even if we had treats). He gave us stories to tell.
He loved to walk. He loved to sniff the world. He loved to bark, at anything, including the wind and the sun. He loved to eat (anything except one stew I made that no one liked - and he didn't like "greens" unless they were grass) He even liked fresh blackberries off the lower parts of the blackberry bushes around our house. He loved us with soulful eyes, snort-filled conversations, a wagging tail, and a desire to sit on our feet, or to lean against us if we were seated on the floor. He loved to be petted, and he loved to sit on the back deck in the fresh air.
After nearly two weeks of increasing pain despite pain meds, muscle relaxers and prednisone, we decided we had to let him go.
I miss him. We all do. But I'm celebrating the goodness of his life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Get Healthy Blogspot

Get Healthy Bloghop

Stephen Tremp, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Michael Di Gesu, and L. Diane Wolfe have teamed up for a Blog Hop that focuses on health.
The Objective: Share with everyone something you have done that affected your health in a positive way.

So here are my 3 top tips, followed by a video:

1. Just Dance . . . in other words, just move - no matter how awesome the dance moves are, or anything else for that matter. That's my biggest tip, and the attitude that helps me get moving when I've falling into a sluggish state. Just turn up the music and move . . .

2. Pray before eating. Taking a moment to pray over my food (even snacks) helps me remember to treat this body like a treasure instead of a trash can. (I'm still working on this one, but it definitely makes a difference.)

3. Surround yourself with positive, loving people.

Speaking of which, I happened to know this guy, Dennis Nichols, who recently did a TED talk on healing hearts. He's a heart surgeon, the husband of a beautiful lady-writer named Grace, and the father of eight kids (5 adopted). It's kind of a longish video, about both physical healing (and heart transplants), and spiritual healing (a different kind of heart transplant), but it's definitely worth a watch.

(You might need some tissue though . . . he's a army surgeon who's been deployed in combat zones and he stops mid-talk with tears running down his face)

And if you don't have time to watch it now, bookmark it and watch it later.

And if you just can't make the time, I'll tell you his key note: Love. Love the face in front of you. Love, and make a difference in someone's life.

So, that's my bonus tip: LOVE! (It will keep your heart healthy)

Friday, May 24, 2013

3 Ups, Sydney Aaliyah, and Celebrate the Small Things

Randi at The Emotional Process of Writing a Novel, is hosting the awesome, encouraging 3 Up! Blog Hop! Each blogger visits another blogger and gives them 3 Ups, or writes a 3 Ups post in their honor, or writes an e-mail, or all three . . .

So, I just want to present to you:
Sydney Aaliyah! Now I admit, even though I follow Sydney, I realized I needed to get to know her better/stalk her blog to give her the best 3 Ups that I could. So here's what I've discovered anew about Sydney:

1. She sets goals, and gets them done. She's written novels, short stories, articles, and movie reviews. She's putting foundations under all her dreams, and it's pretty exciting to read her posts, and check out her Bucket Lists. Seriously, this lady has climbed the Wall of China and participated in a half-marathon! Wow! She rocks! She's also eaten some amazing food at world-renowned restaurants and traveled to amazing places.

2. She has great taste in movies! I loved her choices for the recent Best and Worst Remakes Blogfest. Total Recall rocks, and I love her reasons for choosing it - it made her want to write scifi and do world-building. She also is a great movie quoter. I love movie quotes, but I can never remember them "just right" in conversations or posts, so I have to say, wow! Great memory, great quotes! (And loved her post on Iron Man 3)

3. Her blog has a great theme: "Happiness, Passion, Love, & Faith." It's a fun place to hang out. I highly recommend you visit her!

Celebrate the Small Things is an awesome weekly hop hosted by Viklit!

My parents are healthy and well! (This is actually a huge celebration)
They embarked on an adventurous planned out two month road trip on Tuesday on a motorcycle with a sidecar. They planned to take a long slow drive on back roads to Arkansas to a "Sidecar Rally" but after just three days, they were in an accident. When they called last night, I seemed to just focus on that word - accident. I had to call them back later and talk to them again, because I really lost any sense of the conversation after that word. It was a word that I feared - knowing their ages (75 and 72) and some of their health issues - I had been nervous about them taking this trip - but at the same time glad that they were fiercely living life to the fullest.

The accident, thankfully, took place at fairly low speeds, and they both stayed on the bike (this is the benefit of the motorcycle with the sidecar - more stability), and the medics who arrived on the scene checked them over and decided that they didn't need to visit the hospital. My dad's wrist is sprained, but other than that and the bent up front wheel of the bike, they are ok. They will be coming home, in a rental car or Uhaul truck, early next week. They plan on selling their motorcycle, and their motor scooters. However, this last part is a bit bittersweet for me. I'm glad, and I'm sad at the same time. I don't want them to lose their adventurous spirit.

Here is a few pics of them from last Tuesday when they took off:

Yes, that's a fist pump from my mom as they drive away.
And today, I'm just celebrating that they are ok, and praising God for watching over them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Secondary Characters Bloghop

Sometimes secondary characters steal the show, (or the book) and become our favorites. On May 22nd we want you to tell us about your favorite secondary characters from books or movies, or both!
Whether it's the funny best friend or that goofy kid next door,
we want to know what secondary characters
you just couldn't get enough of and why.
Theresa Paolo, Kelley Lynn, Jessica SalyerJenny Morris and Suzi Retzlaff
are cohosting and were all generous enough offer critiques as prizes!
These ladies are brilliant, wonderful critiquers.
Rachel is also planning on giving away a three chapter critique along with an ebook
Secondary Characters,
which releases on May 28th.
Cassie Mae and Kelley Lynn will also pick a winner to get either an ebook of Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, or a signed copy of Fraction of Stone.

Not sure why, but when I originally wrote this post, I was thinking of my own book (sorry, for being so stuck in my own little world here - scroll down to see my favorite secondary character in other books)
A secondary character almost took over my first book. Stelia wasn't even around when I started the short story that eventually became a novel (after a helpful rejection letter). I just had a few bare notes for her when I started my first rough draft - a dusty, older mentor with a bitter past and a knowledge of the enemy that my MC, Clara, would face. She was going to be there for Clara in small parts, and in bits of memory - flashbacks from Clara about following this forbidding woman around wanting extra swordsmanship lessons. Then something happened in that first draft, and then the second.
 Stelia's knowledge of the enemy went bone deep. She was troubled. She was . . . fascinating, and I wanted to follow her around and get a few extra swordsmanship lessons for myself. She had a past that haunted her, and Clara needed to hear about it, at least a little bit, to know what she might be facing. She went from occasional mentor to close mentor, and she took over her own chapters. I even toyed with the idea of letting her take over the book, and then I stopped myself.
Champion in the Darkness is Clara's story, not Stelia's, but Stelia is still there - strong, determined, troubled, and full of life. She is, in many ways, my favorite character to come out of the book. And yet, I still love Clara too . . . so they get to share the story, because it isn't really just about one Champion standing by herself, it's about a Champion with friends, and an important mentor - one who struggles against the darkness that she finds around her and within herself.

Favorite Secondary Characters:
Valentine and Graff  in Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Valentine gives us insight into Ender's family and world politics, and that helps make the decisions made by Ender all the more meaningful. Also, Graff is a great secondary character and we get most of him just through small quotes at the beginning of chapters.
Sam in LOTR. He's loyal, heroic, faithful, and all he really wants is to go home and have a good meal.
Luna Lovegood and Neville in the Harry Potter series.
Wash from Firefly.
Sulu from Star Trek.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Quote and Goals

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.”   - Lloyd Alexander
I have to admit, I almost didn't post today. I wondered if I had anything to share . . . and then I decided I would just take a moment, and share my goals, and that cool quote from fantasy writer Lloyd Alexander.
My writing goals this week:
1. Finish print formatting for Dragonfold and Other Tales.
2. Revise 4 chapters for Champion in Flight.
3. Glance at the way I have the poetry collection set up, and daydream about title possibilities.
4. Free-write every day for a minimum of 3 pages.
5. Write "that" article - it doesn't have a name yet - in rough form.
Whew. That might be too much, but I'm going to try and tackle it. However, the story collection and the poetry collection are both projects that mainly entail taking previously written material, giving it a small make-over and then formatting it - should be doable, right?
My exercise goals:
1. Biking 4 days.
2. Dancing 2 days.
3. Stretching for an hour - 1 day - that's probably on Sunday a.m.
My "crazy, real life" goals:
1. Get homeschool lessons all done this week - last week was "halfsies."
2. Make sure my daughters have time for practicing their dances, monologues, commercial scripts, and the "model" walk. (They are going to the Big Apple this summer for a competition.)
3. Start planning for homeschool 2013-2014 year - 9th and 7th grade.
Blogging goals:
1. Visit.
2. Start planning Writer Wednesday interviews . . . let me know if you would like to be interviewed in the comment section. I'm planning on super short interviews.
3. Warn blogger buddies that I will be taking some Mondays off . . . (can I check this one off now?)
What are your goals this week? What do you post on those "no idea" days? And would you like to participate in a super short Writer Wednesday interview?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Best and Worst Movies Blogfest and Celebrate the Small Things

Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, Stephen Tremp, Livia Peterson, and Father Dragon Al.

When Hollywood runs out of ideas, they remake older films. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it fails miserably.
List the best remake you’ve ever seen and the worst.
Added bonus – list the worst and/or best song remake you’ve ever heard!

Best remake:
Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. Out of all the Sherlock movies ever made, this is my favorite. Robert Downey, Jr. captures the arrogance and the cleverness of Holmes in a thoroughly enjoyable way.
However, I'm also a big fan of the BBC show, Sherlock.
If I had to choose between these two, it would be a tough toss up. Both productions are awesome in their own way.

If we are just looking at old movie versus new movie, and not looking at the myriad of different takes on a similar character (Sherlock), then I would have to say the new Total Recall is a cool remake of the older movie.

And then, I like the new take on Star Trek too . . . . but is that a remake or a different timeline continuation?

Worst remake:
I'm going to go a different direction with this one . . . I had a tough time thinking of just movies here.
I loved the Nickelodeon show, Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was fun, clever, had great character development, and a redemption theme with one of the villains. In short, it was just awesome, and my family and I have watched it over and over again.
So, we were super excited, and then super disappointed when the movie came out.
It sucked beyond belief . . . they even changed the pronunciation of main character's names. Aagh! I've heard that people like this movie if they've never seen the show. But if you liked the show, don't watch the movie, ever.
I know I should be able to think of just a worst movie remake here, but I just couldn't get the Airbender travesty out of my head.
Best Song Remake (maybe): Killing Me Softly by the Fugees
The story: I was sitting in traffic when this remake came on the radio. I could sing every word, and it was the first time I had heard it .  .or so I thought at first. Turns out, that one of my aunts used to play this song repetitively back to 1973 when it first came out by Roberta Flack.(I was two years old, how in the world was I able to remember all those lyrics so many years later?) 
I'm not sure the new version is really better than the first one, but I loved that it was remade and I was able to rediscover it. It's hard to describe the feelings that it brings up, like I'm transported back 40 years just hearing it. My aunt didn't have an easy life back then, but she had a poetic soul .  . . and this song just captures that.
Worst Song Remake: A rock song I heard remade into a slow, folk song . . .I was in a coffee shop, and I wanted to plug my ears. I have nothing against folk music. I used to listen to my Dad's Kingston Trio records as a kid, but Bon Jovi made folk music . . .Nooooooooooo!
Anyway, I loved this fest, even if I didn't quite follow the rules . . .
Oh, Almost forgot to celebrate the small stuff:
1. My beagle dog is on meds for major nerve pain. (We have some tough decisions ahead, but for now, the medicine is working, so we have a bit more time with our Jumper buddy.)
2. Had a breakthrough idea moment for my story and poetry collection. It's now two projects. Dragonfold might be ready for release in late June, the other one (working title: Poetry's Taste) might be ready in August.
3. Slow, steady progress on Champion in Flight revision.
4. This awesome commercial that made me smile, and laugh, and laugh again.

If you don't know why Nimoy is singing about Bilbo Baggins, check this hilariously bad video out.

Have a great week! Hope you have small things or big things to celebrate! And tell me, what's the best, or worst remake ever?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Mix and the Filling the Creativity Well

It's Wednesday, and I'm in a mixed state of hurry, go, and do, and sit, stay, and write. It's just like that on Wednesdays.

I've been reading a couple of writing books simultaneously, On Writing by Stephen King, and the Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Creativity by Julia Cameron, and I have to wonder why I didn't read them both sooner. They are wonderful gems, and I love them both for their honesty and pointed advice. They are very different, and yet, both great books. This isn't really a review, just a momentary gush.

A few quotes the many that I like from them:
On writing what you know and love, Stephen King says this: "Be brave. Map the enemy's positions, come back, tell us all you know. And remember that plumbers in space is not such a bad set up for a story."

On filling the well of creativity, Julia Cameron says this: "Our focused attention is critical to filling the well. We need to encounter life experiences, not ignore them."

I also think that paying attention to the world, or even the blogworld, can help us find prompts for our creativity, so I just want to highlight a few creativity inspiring fests.

Misha Gericke is hosting a Word Master Challenge . . . it's definitely inspiration for creativity, so go check it out.

Also, this Friday, Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting the Best and Worst Movie Remakes Fest along with Stephen Tremp, Livia Peterson, and Al Diaz.. . . and I know sometimes I find that thinking over movie making gets my own creative ideas going. You know those thoughts that you might have when leaving a movie theater, "I didn't like the way the director did _____. If I was directing the movie, I would have _____." So join in, have fun, and maybe we'll all get more creative! (or just have fun!)

Also, Julie Luek is hosting Writing Through the Seasons, a four part series on writing through the seasons of life. I highly recommend checking it out. This week, Jennie Bennet shared what it takes to make a writing dream come true.

What do you do to fill the creativity well? Have you read Stephen King's On Writing, or Julia Cameron's the Artist's Way? Signed up for the Word Master Challenge, the Best and Worst Movie Remakes Blogfest, or read some of Writing Through the Seasons?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spring and Summer Goals

It's that time of year, the time for resolutions and goals, and . . .
Wasn't that back in January?

Well, I like to re-make my goals at least three times a year: January 1st, Spring/School Ending, Back-to-School/September.

So, this spring/summer, my writing goals are:

1. Finish revisions on Champion in Flight by the end of August.
2. Publish Dragonfold and Adventures in Writing sometime in June. (Any title suggestions are welcome . . .)
3. Write 3 morning pages daily, creatively, with no worries.
4. Write a new short story or poem or article each week. (or all 3 if I'm super ambitious)
5. Keep reading good writing books . . .

My health goals are:

1. Remember my thyroid medication each and every single day, preferably in the morning before breakfast when I'm supposed to take it.
2. Exercise daily, meaning: Cardio and Strength Combo - 3 days a week, Fun Fitness - 3 days a week (biking with family, dancing, fencing, etc), and Stretching - 1 day a week (well, every day but with one day devoted to that)
3. Measure portions of my food. (I can't stand calorie counting, but I think I can handle using measuring cups, etc)

Summer goals:
1. Have fun with family!
2. Relax.
3. Enjoy the outdoors.
4. Large amounts of yard-work, berry picking, and jam making.

Do you make or re-make goals at different times of the year?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Intervew with Allyson, and Celebrate the Small Things

During the entire month of May, Allyson Lyndt is doing a reverse blog tour, highlighting authors and novels from several different genres! I thought this was awesome, and decided to reverse/reverse her blog tour . . . in other words, while she's hosting me today, I'm hosting her too, in a blog swap interview.

1 - What's your ideal writing environment? I have this fantasy of taking a day or two off from everything, finding a quiet hotel room somewhere with no internet, and just writing non-stop. In this vivid and wonderful dream, I live off coffee drinks that are way too sweet, muffins, and whatever the fast food place on the corner is serving, and I write half a book, and it’s glorious.

In reality, I know I’d probably spend 3/4 of the time playing solitaire and staring at the walls. Currently, I find a quiet table in a diner once or twice a week, and scribble down words, and those tend to be such very productive hours, which makes them ideal ^_^

2 - Summer or Winter? Er….um….hmm….I’m a natural redhead, so I sunburn easily, so summer isn’t usually my friend. I’m not too fond of driving in the snow either, but it is gorgeous when it’s white and untouched and muffling the quiet of the entire world. So I’m going to go with winter.  

Especially with big, white flakes drifting from the sky, and me inside with my sweetie, a blanket, and a good movie.

3 - Dogs or cats? Cats. Just like that. We have four, and I adore every single one of them. Dogs are fun, but cats are wicked, mischievous, and 75% ego (also 25% fluff, and 15% empty belly).

4 - What's the craziest thing you've ever done? In my eyes or other people’s? When I was twenty four, I quit my job, packed everything I could fit into a Hyundai hatchback, took $750 in cash, and drove from Salt Lake to Atlanta to split the rent with someone I met on the internet a month earlier, and their roommates. (We got engaged three years later and have been married for almost 11 years now, for the record). I can’t imagine what made me think that was a good idea at the time, but I’ve also never regretted it.

5 - What do you think the coolest invention is that we use today? *laughs* I love that you asked this question, and in return, I expect you to come answer the same question for me and my readers ;-)

This is a tough one. There are lots of things I use on a daily basis, but I don’t think they’re cool. My smartphone? Curse the man who invented that addictive might-as-well-be-another-limb device. My laptop? That’s okay, except it makes me think I should be writing everywhere I go, even when I know I won’t.

I’d have to say bread makers. Possibly the best gadget I’ve ever purchased, and really spiffy when I think about it. I toss in a handful of ingredients, it takes less than five minutes, and three hours later I have fresh bread. How neat is that? Or if I have to be more practical, lasers. Because, lasers.

 Ooh, I get to answer this one too? There are so many cool inventions that it's hard just to pick one. At the moment my instant hot water heater that got my tea water ready in less than two minutes sounds good . . .but in reality, I think that the awesome innovations being done in robotics and prosthetics are seriously cool.
And lasers are really cool - good choice!

6- What question do you always wish someone would ask? Why Loki?

Allyson's new book, Conflict of Interest, is out!

Kenzie propositions a sexy stranger in a coffee shop to prove to herself she’s capable of taking a risk. She doesn’t expect him to be sitting across from her the following Monday as her newest client. Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about what might have happened between them on a personal level if it weren’t for their professional relationship. He knows how to push her buttons, and she doesn’t want him to stop.

Scott has built his software company from the ground up to escape things like stuffy old men telling him how to behave, so he loathes his board of directors ordering him to make the public forget he doesn’t have a verbal filter. When his new publicity manager is the almost-fling he never expected to see again, he seizes the opportunity to have fun and still pretend he’s complying with the board’s edict.
Giving in to desire could mean both their jobs, but each “one last time” always leads to another. Now they have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to indulge this conflict of interest.



Find Conflict Of Interest at:
Liquid Silver Books (All digital formats available)
Allyson Lindt is part-time gamer, a full-time database developer, and a fuller-time contemporary romance author. She was lucky enough to marry her muse and soul mate. Their cats are their children, and when they’re not spending way too much time gaming, they’re building new worlds together. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies. She loves a sexy happily-ever-after and helping deserving cubicle dwellers find their futures together.
Find me at:

Hosted by Viklit
1. Gorgeous sunshine every single day this week!
2. I remembered to take my medication every day . . . on Tuesday it was at 3p.m. and ideally it should be taken a half hour before breakfast . . . but I didn't miss. So, I'm managing my thyroid issues slowly.
3. I finished editing and putting together a booklet of my writing students' best work for the end of the year. (students at a homeschool co-operative) It goes to print at Office Depot today.
4. My oldest daughter had 8th Grade Graduation last Saturday from our homeschool co-operative. Eighteen teens, including her, had to stand up in front of a big room while their parents gave a two minute talk about their achievements and showed slides (yes, there were baby pictures).
 8th grade graduation is important at our co-op, because many homeschool families send their kids to private or public high school, or their homeschool kids get so busy with activities or preparations for running start that even a once a week co-op time is too much. 
My daughter's high school plans include homeschooling, lots of busy activity including co-op, and preparations for running start. The focus of my two minute speech was that she's always been on the go since birth.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Indie Life: Just write.

I hesitated to post today, because I really need to just write.

I'm setting up a writer's workshop night at my church, and my life is so crazy busy I can't decide on the best date . . . and my writing time has dwindled lately.

So I need to just write.

I think that's just where I'm at today, as an Indie writer . . . I need to write. Nothing else will do.

What about you? Where are you at today?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A to Z Reflection

I'm a reflective mood these days, not just from A to Z, although I'll focus mainly on that.
Today, I feel like that last word on the badge "SURVIVOR" - I came into A to Z this year, excited, sure, and ready to go. By the end, due to personal life stuff and the nature of the challenge, I felt like I barely survived.

I wanted to visit more, comment more, be a better blogger buddy. It was tough.

And yet, I still feel blessed to have been a part of the challenge. Not only did this amazing, talented blogger Michael Di Gesu honor me with a guest post on J - Joker's Wild Day, but I also found a whole batch of new-to-me, talented bloggers to follow and befriend.

I enjoyed so many of the posts, but I'm going to highlight a few of my favorite themes here: Michael Di Gesu creatively introduced us to 26 books and authors, Alex J. Cavanaugh intertwined favorite movie characters with talented bloggers and his favorite music, Michelle-in-Transit had us guessing definitions of words, Mark Means unearthed a variety of lesser known comic book heroes, Misha Gericke's writing and faith posts at her two blogs made me think and laugh, and Father Dragon had me laughing every day, and I needed that laughter. I also love the eclectic posts that were slices of life, the travel blogs that expanded my horizons, and the faith based blogs that helped me gain a little more perspective in the midst of a tough April. I also appreciated Diane's tips on marketing in little slices throughout the month.

For all the challengers, and for all the hosts, and for all the minions, I just want to say:

In the homeschool part of my life, I'm doing some reflecting over the end of the year, the changing of seasons in my oldest daughter's life, and I captured some of my muddling about that in this post: 8th Grade Graduation.

BTW - it's Sunday, but this is my Monday post . . . I decided not to wait, but just put it up.

Oh, and scarily enough, I have some ideas for next year's challenge . . .

Friday, May 3, 2013

Guest Laurel Garver answers Why Read Poetry? and Celebrate the Small Things

Please give a warm welcome to Laurel Garver, author and poet!

Why read poetry?

By Laurel Garver, author of Muddy-Fingered Midnights

If you want to write more stylishly, one of the best places to learn about writing craft is in a book of poems. Poetry is by nature condensed and intense. Every word matters. Beyond craft considerations, reading poetry can also expand your understanding of where moments of change happen, and how to navigate the deep seas of human emotion.

(Yes it does!)
Like fiction, poetry also has sub-genres: lyric (descriptive), narrative (story), formal (following rhythm and rhyme patterns), concrete (artistically shaped lines), found (“stolen” words and lines combined artistically), spoken word, Flarf (avant garde combos of pop culture), and many more. There’s a little something in verse for everyone—even fans of “pulp fiction,” romance, SciFi or horror. (For an extensive list of magazines with poetry, see Poets & Writers database here.
I fell hard for poetry while taking a contemporary poetry course as an undergrad. The prof began the class by lining us around the perimeter of the room and having us shout random portions of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” at one another. This was a universe away from the precious ponderings of Wordsworth and a game changer for me creatively. Many scenarios I would’ve previously thought unpoetical became grist for the mill--my janitorial work-study job, memories of Dad slaughtering chickens, a weedy patch in a slum--because truth is beautiful, no matter where you find it. That, in turn, helped me think more broadly about what warrants description in fiction, and what evokes our deepest feelings.
(I love Laurel's thought that "truth is beautiful, no matter where you find it.")

Taking courses in poetry also pushed me hard to develop my vocabulary, to delve deep into the world of words. A poet must look not only at a word’s definition, but also its connotations and connections. A poet must hear the tones and feel the textures of words. Studying poetry has made me especially aware of the power of sound devices: alliteration (repeated initial sounds), assonance (repeated vowel sounds within a word), and consonance (repeated consonant sounds with a word).

I believe these devices can make anyone’s writing more musical. The thinking behind sound devices is often onomatopoetic; the sound and meaning are linked. If you want to convey a sense of something sliding, for example, you’d choose hissing, sibilant words containing “s”, “sh” and “sw.” For example, “In her rush, she slipped sidelong, smearing grease along one sleeve.”

I like to quietly work these devices into my fiction during revision to undergird the texture and emotion. Of course, like any technique it can be overdone, so I’m careful to use vocabulary that’s natural to the character and save the effects for important moments. Watching poets do it well was an important first step.

National Poetry Month may have come and gone, but for writers building their skills, every day should have a little poetry in it.

(I completely agree, Laurel!)

Laurel Garver is a magazine editor, poet, and writer of faith-based fiction. She enjoys quirky independent films, British TV, and geeking out about Harry Potter and Dr. Who. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.


About Muddy-Fingered Midnights

This thirty-poem collection is an eclectic mix of light and dark, playful and spiritual, lyric and narrative free verse. In an intricate dance of sound play, it explores how our perceptions shape our interactions with the world. Here child heroes emerge on playgrounds and in chicken coops, teens grapple with grief and taste first love, adults waver between isolation and engaged connection. It is a book about creative life, our capacity to wound and heal, and the unlikely places we find love, beauty, and grace.

Buy Links: $1.99 e-book Kindle  / Nook  / iTunes all other e-readers  $6.50paperback

 Thank you for bringing some poetry to my day, Laurel!
1. I climbed the hill (see Wednesday).
2. The National Day of Prayer.
3. The Premier showing of my daughters' performing arts class film, "The Lady of the Earrings." - We had a red carpet evening!
4. Laurel's Guest Post today! Thank you Laurel!
5. Time for writing.
6. An awesome critique partner.
7. Ironing . . . this would take an entire post to explain all of why I'm thankful for this, but in short, I get some imagination time in while ironing.
Thank you VikLit for this time to celebrate and give thanks for the small things.
The scripture verse that I'm praying over today is: 1 Thessalonians 15: "Rejoice always" - two words, big meaning.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

National Day of Prayer

I want to thank everyone for stopping by yesterday and giving me awesome words of encouragement! You made me smile, and I am thankful for your virtual presence in my life. Thank you!

Today is the National Day of Prayer, a time to entrust all our cares and worries about our lives and our nation to the Lord, and to do so together in prayer.

I'm thankful to be a part of a group of churches in our community who are taking part in a 24/7 prayer vigil starting this morning at 12a.m. and going through May 19th (The Global Day of Prayer) at midnight. My church's day is May 6th, but I'll be focused on prayer throughout that time.

We are called to "pray without ceasing," but what does that mean, really?

I usually pray when I wake, and before every meal, and with my kids at bedtime, and then by myself before I go to sleep, and then, you know there are those "Lord, help me," kind of prayers throughout the day, that are more like whining than prayer, and the few "Praise God" moments when I'm thankful. 

But what does it really mean, to pray without ceasing, or to pray continually?

What do you think? And what are you praying about today?

1Thessalonians 5:16-18 (KJV)
16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

or in the NIV translation
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Scripture for today from Bible Gateway

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 NIV

A simple prayer for the moment:
Lord, mighty, awesome God, savior, friend, and lover of my soul, teach me to pray. Amen.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IWSG: Weariness

It's that time of month, where we can whine, kick, or encourage with all our fellow Insecure Writers. This amazing monthly blog hop, hosted by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh has been a huge benefit to my writing and blogging. I hope it has been for yours too!

This month, I'm weary. Overwhelmed.

This is not about the A to Z challenge, it's about life and writing and blogging and teaching and housecleaning and yard work and homeschooling and writing and blogging and life and . . . everything just seeming to pile up.

Or, it's the fact that my thyroid levels are low. I have hypothyroidism with Hashimoto's Disease and a goiter. Most of the time the symptoms are under control with medication, but lately they don't seem to be and a recent blood test confirmed that my levels are low. The problem is, I seem to be forgetful about taking my medicine, which is driving me nuts. I have one of those pill holders now like the one my grandma used to have. . .you know the ones where each day of the week has its own container.

The problem is, I'm not sure which it is: just too much craziness in life, or the thyroid thing.

Either way, I'm just weary. With 8 hours of sleep behind me, I still feel like I could easily retreat under the covers of my bed this morning.

And insecurity, well defying it is taking some serious effort these last few days. Yesterday, I almost wanted to sit down in the middle of a walking trail that seemed all uphill, and just give in to the feeling that I would never, ever have enough energy to make it up that hill, or finish revising my second book, or get all the things done that seem to be piling up.

However, I did climb the hill, and I did write, and I did homeschool my kids yesterday, and I did grade papers, and I did get up this morning, write, and make a mammoth list of things to do, which I then broke into reasonable chunks.

I will continue to defy insecurity.

And I will continue to defy weariness. (as well as figure out if this is a thyroid thing, or something else with another blood test and doc app scheduled in a few weeks)

I didn't want to write a whiny, kicking my feet type post this month, but I'm laying it all out there like raw road rash.

How are you doing this month? Are you defying insecurity? Are you walking about with a spring in your step?