Monday, September 29, 2014

Autumn is Here

It's autumn where I live, and, unlike most years, the season’s arrival coincided with the date on the calendar. As if on cue, the air turned cool and crisp and the leaves began to turn. The drop from summer's heat to fall's cooler temperatures sent me scrambling into the depths of my closet for a coat.
This autumn promises to be an interesting one for me.  At my workplace, I am moving into my final stage of training before I get to turn in my paperwork and sit for my 8-hour exam.  That means that I am suddenly doing a lot more in both clinical and didactic studies…which is exciting and overwhelming at the same time.  This is a busy season at work anyway, and the extra studies on top of that are a challenge.
I am also doing new things in my writing.  I have my secret project that I am currently editing.  This is a huge step forward for me.  The things I have learned over the past couple months have been tremendous.  I’d really like to see my secret project go all the way through editing and publishing and marketing and so forth – for the learning experience if nothing else.  I am also doing the 100 for 100 Challenge at GoTeenWriters – which I have never done before.  And, since I decided to tackle a new project for the challenge, it has opened up a fresh story for me.  I’m writing it in first person, which comes easy to me after so many years of journaling.  And the POV character is observant so it isn’t hard to describe the world through her eyes.  I’m having fun.  J
There are other things in my world, too.  All of my siblings are moving soon – some closer and some farther away.  Hopefully, a couple of them will move back in with us temporarily during their transition. That will be an adjustment but a delightful one. 
And who knows what else the autumn holds for us?  For now, I will just lean back and close my eyes.  I can feel the sun’s warm rays on my face, contrasting with the cool breeze against my skin.  The breeze carries a sweet smell with it.  The harvest is coming in.  Apples are ripening.  I open my eyes and walk under a tree, feeling a shiver run through me as I step into its shade.  Leaves crunch under my feet.  I accidentally kick a mushroom, and it releases a cloud of spores, quickly carried away in the breeze.
And I am happy.
Autumn is here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Snippets from 100 for 100: Week Two

Here are my snippets from week two of the 100 for 100 Challenge at GoTeenWriters:

     ...the swarms of fashionable teens and tweens flowing from every direction toward those two jaws they called doors.

     It all filled me with an overwhelming desire to crawl under the van seats and become permanently the leftover cheetos that were already down there. 

     Dude, your shoulders are not snowplows! 

     Embarrassment clouded my vision and I struggled to focus on the steps as I hurried into the school. 

     Inside the school hall, the smells of fresh floor wax blended with the perfumes and colognes of students eager to make their first impressions.  Later the scents would die down to sweaty socks and lemon floor cleaner, but for now everything was new and fresh.

     “You have to sit with us or Miss Young will think we aren’t doing our assignment,” she said, leading me to a table where Renee and Gertrude were already sitting.


Friday, September 26, 2014


I am

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Writer's Mind Game

     It amazes me how much writing is like a mind game.  We talk about this in sports.  If you want to be the top of your sport, you have to believe that you can do it.
     Even for top athletes, this is not easy.  Thoughts come.  "It's too far.  It's too high.  You won't make it this time.  Your opponent is better than you."  When you are breaking records, you are asking your body to go beyond what it thinks it can do.  If you give in to those negative thoughts, all of your physical efforts will fall short.  You won't make it.
     You have to turn it around.  "I can do this.  I'm good at this.  I will reach my goal.  I can push harder because I have even more to give."
     Artists know about the mind game, too.  Your emotion is visible in the lines you create.  What do you think about as you portray your subject?  Whatever it is will be visible in your art.  The end goal is different (no marathons or long-jumps here), but you still have to have joy in what you do.
     If you love what you are writing, there is a much greater chance that, regardless of your genre, people will love reading it.  They will pick up on your joy as a writer.
     People love joy.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Snippets from 100 for 100: Week One

Here, as promised, are some snippets from the writing I have done this week in the 100 for 100 challenge.  Enjoy!

     The man, in his dress pants and button-up shirt, had a look of polite duty – as though he were picking up a business partner.

     If there’s anything I hate, it’s random strangers cuddling you like a stray puppy.

    Mrs. Rithaven twisted her face in a wistful expression as she looked around the room.  “We’ve never had a little girl before,” she said.  Her eyes were soft and bright.

     He seemed to be one of those children who have mastered the art of perpetual motion and haven’t figured out how to control it.  

     Houses were scattered few and far between, and most of them were nestled into the woods like hermits.  

     She took the hint and her hands fluttered nervously as she dropped her arms.
    “He looks like Jeremy,” I thought, turning my eyes away.  It was an unwelcome thought, and I tried to block it out.  I didn’t want to think about Jeremy.
     “Nope,” I said, pulling clothes out of my suitcase.  Life is tough, kid.  Get used to it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What Have You Been Doing Lately?

via Pinterest

I had so much fun on Go Teen Writers last week, reading the comments.  The post was about the adventures that we, as writers, have through our stories.  Maybe one writer feels like she has been wandering through a parched desert with her main character.  Maybe another writer has been kidnapped by pirates.  Maybe a third writer helped 100 Jews escape from Germany.  If you think about the adventures that we go on (through our characters...while sitting in front of a Microsoft Word screen), we lead pretty amazing lives!

So go to this post:

and read the comments!
I hope it delights you as it did me.  :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

They Really Add Up Quick

     Hi, readers!  I just wanted to let you know that I am doing the 100 for 100 Challenge, hosted by Go Teen Writers (you can see the badge in my sidebar).  And I am going to try to set up one day a week with snippets for you.
     Essentially the challenge is to write 100 words (or more) per day for 100 days.  The point is to build the habit of writing regularly.
     The rules stipulate that it has to be on one project (there are a couple exceptions, which you can read about on their announcement post).
     Thankfully, they allow one "grace day" per week and one "grace week" per challenge.  I used this week's grace day yesterday (on the first day of the challenge) due to unpredictable circumstances which had me far from my writing implements.  Ahem.  With my job, this challenge might be difficult, but I am going to try it anyway.
     I wrote 738 words on my project today.  But, since the point of the challenge is to build good habits, my wordiness today does not make up for my absence yesterday.  I just have to make sure I don't miss any more days this week or I am out of the game before it's hardly started!
     It's a fun thought that, at the end of the challenge, I will have added 10,000 words to my story.  When you actually look at it, one hundred words are not very much.  But they sure do add up!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Anon, Sir, Anon Cover Reveal

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to announce the cover reveal information from Rachel Heffington's new novel.  Without further ado:

Rachel Heffington's
Anon, Sir, Anon
A Vivi & Farnham Mystery
"Remember, remember, the 5th of November..."
Release November 5th, 2014

The Back-Cover Blurb:
The 12:55 out of Darlington brought more than Orville Farnham's niece; murder was passenger.
In coming to Whistlecreig, Genevieve Langley expected to find an ailing uncle in need of gentle care. In reality, her charge is a cantankerous Shakespearean actor with a penchant for fencing and an affinity for placing impossible bets.
When a body shows up in a field near Whistlecreig Manor and Vivi is the only one to recognize the victim, she is unceremoniously baptized into the art of crime-solving: a field in which first impressions are seldom lasting and personal interest knocks at the front door.
Set against the russet backdrop of a Northamptonshire fog, Anon, Sir, Anon cuts a cozy path to a chilling crime.

Link to the Goodreads Page:

And, here, ladies and gentleman, is my favorite part:
The Cover Reveal!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

100 for 100 Challenge

Anyone else doing the 100 for 100 Challenge hosted by Go Teen Writers?

Sir Francis Drake: A Prayer

On her blog earlier this week, Rachel Heffington posted a prayer by Sir Francis Drake.

Don't turn away, thinking that it is stuffy, Old English piety.

It was actually incredibly inspiring and rallying.

I don't want to look like I am stealing it so I am sending you guys over to Rachel's blog to read it.

Here's the link:

Friday, September 12, 2014

September Beautiful People

I am not sure if we are still allowed to call it "Beautiful People" when we are talking about villains.  Hmmm.  There is a bit of philosophy in there somewhere.  But we are also not willling to rename the whole event just because we talk about a different type of character.  So here are this month's Beautiful People questions (see below).  I am answering them for Lord Ives.

An actor I thought would be able to pull off this role.

1. What is their motive?

To maintain the estate exactly as it has been passed down to him.  In his mind, this means that he must provide the best of everything for his family and honored guests; he must be aristocratic but congenial to other noblemen; he must keep a clear line between upper and lower classes.

2. What do they want, and what are they prepared to do to get it?

He wants to make sure that the classes are separated.  He is prepared to beat, starve, shout at, exile, and even kill members of the lower class to achieve this.  He wants instant obedience.  He wants excellence of service.  He was complete servility and humility in their behavior to him.

As an extra note, he does not consider himself as cruel in general.  He simply does not think of the lower class as humans on the same level as himself...or even as his dogs.

3. How do they deal with conflict?

He rages. 
If the conflict comes from the lower class, he likes instant punishment or death for the impudent one. 
His own children are never in conflict with him as he acquiesces to their every demand. 
A conflict with an equal or superior turns him white with rage and he quits the scene as soon as possible. 
If the king were to be in conflict with him, he might be fearful, thinking that the king would treat him as Lord Ives treats his inferiors.

4. Describe their current place of residence.

A great mansion of cream-colored stone; the finest of everything; gorgeous; beautiful grounds; hunting forests; small neat cottages for his outdoor workers; a distant poor hovel that he rarely visits.

5. If they were writing this story, how would it end?

(sorry...I wrote the answer, but it would spoil the I can't post it)

6. What habits, speech patterns, etc. are unique to them?

Raging.  Screaming.  Screeching.

7. How do they show love? What do they like to do with/for people they love?

He dotes on his children.  They get everything their heart desires and then some.  He likes to watch them playing with the toys he has showered them with or riding their little ponies. 

8. Do they have any pets?

He has horses, hunting dogs, and two great big dogs that sleep by his fire.

9. Where would they go to relax/think?

Lord Ives hardly knows the meaning of the word “relax” but he does find a hunting trip refreshing (usually) and he likes to spend time with his children in their rooms.

10. What is their weapon of choice? (FYI: words, eyes/looks, and fists count as weapons, too.)

Sword or whatever is closest at hand.  He prefers to use a weapon over his own fists (he wouldn’t dirty his hands on a peasant).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finding an Art Teacher

Once upon a time, a little girl went looking for an art teacher.

She found a man who was famous for his art.  His work was displayed in many public places.

"Please, sir, I wish to paint a beautiful ballerina," she said.

"Nothing easier," said the famous artist.  "With a few lessons, you will be able to paint a ballerina like this:
Gabby Zapata

"Oh, but that is not what I had in mind at all!" the little girl said.  "It is beautiful and talented, no doubt, but I do not think you can teach me to paint my ballerina."

So she left him and searched for another. 

In the basement of a remote dwelling, she found another artist.  He was poor and reclusive.  Few people even knew that he existed and even fewer knew that he was a painter.

"Please, sir," said the little girl, "I want to paint a beautiful ballerina."
"I cannot teach you," the man said.  "I am a nobody.  You want to study under someone who has been successful at their craft.  If you follow me, you will starve as I have."

With those words, he turned back to his work.  The little girl took a step closer and gasped when she saw his painting.  It was almost exactly the ballerina she had envisioned.

Probably my favorite. I love ballet and Edgar Degas... <3

Which man would be the better teacher for the little girl?
[Note: This story is no reflection on the artists of the above pictures (which I took from pinterest).  I merely looked for two very talented but very different representations of a similar subject.  I know Degas is the actual painter behind the second picture (although my story is not about him).  I do not know who painted the pink ballerina (the first picture).]

Monday, September 8, 2014

Upcoming Cover Reveal - Anon, Sir, Anon

     I am so excited to announce that I get to participate in the upcoming cover reveal party for Rachel Heffington's next book: Anon, Sir, Anon.  Be sure to check back here on September 15th to see the cover.  Yay!
     Rachel wrote a post today mentioning how far away the 15th seems.  It's true.  I was thinking much the same thing myself.  However, it will come.  In fact, it will be here in only a week.
     I had a sneak peek at the cover, and it made me wonder even more about the novel.  What is the significance of the ________ (sorry, I deleted that word because I don't want to spoil the cover reveal for you)...mwahhaha) on the front?  I can't wait to read the book and find out.  :)
     See you here next Monday for a look at Anon, Sir, Anon!

September Chatterbox -- PEARS

This months Chatterbox topic is PEARS.  Where does Rachel get these ideas? 

"From me head...same as most people." (quote from the Little House on the Praire - Martha books, but it seems appropriate as a response here)
In any case, as surprised as I was, I still think pears is a good topic.  I am too busy to write anything new on the subject at the moment, so I will use a old scene with pears (from Dungeon).  Enjoy!

      The princess huffed angrily and dropped her pear on the ground.

     “Woe, now!” the old man remonstrated.  “Don’t be angry, my lady.  It isn’t good for my digestion.  And the fact that the lad won’t take a bribe doesn’t mean that an old man wouldn’t.  He might even take a bruised one,” the old man hinted.

     Ashamed of her outburst, the princess picked up the dropped pear and crossed the room to the old man’s cell.  “I have an apple, two pears, and an orange,” she told him, offering him his choice.

     The old man picked the dropped pear.  He took a bite, slurping up the juice as he went.  The princess raised an eyebrow, thinking how horrified her mother would have been at the old man’s manners.

     “Don’t want to waste a drop,” the old man explained, catching her expression.

     She flushed, embarrassed that the old man read her face so easily.

     The old man coughed and shifted his weight.  “Now let’s see if I can’t answer some of your questions, my lady,” he said.  He pointed a crooked finger across the room.  “The lad is Jacob.  He’s here on account of his principles.  He just couldn’t look away when an injustice was being done.  He’s the newest arrival, too – been here less than 2 weeks.”

      The old man pointed out another cell.  The princess saw a man with a bushy brown beard standing against a side wall of the cell.  “That’s Abram,” the old man said.  “He doesn’t know why he is here.  They brought him in about 2 months ago, beat him soundly, and locked him up.  Eh, maybe they didn’t like the color of his beard.”

     Finally the old man pointed to the cell to his right.  The princess eyed the man in that cell.  He leaned against the front bars of his cell, watching her.  The princess did not like the look of him at all. 

     “This is Fane,” the old man said.  “The scoundrel tried to rob some lord somewhere.  He’s been here about 6 months…maybe a bit longer.”

     “The Owd Un misrepresents me, my lady,” said Fane with a polite bow, though his eyes mocked her.  “Turn me loose, and I am your man for whatever you need.”

     The princess ignored Fane’s proposition and turned back to face the old man.  “And you?” she queried.

     “I’m known as ‘The Owd Un’ or ‘the old man’,” he said.  “Been here so long, nobody remembers my name.  Nearly fifty years, it’s been.  I don’t know if my wife, Ressie, is living or dead.”  The old man’s eyes clouded with sadness.

     “And why are you here?” the princess asked softly.

     The old man laughed softly.  It was a sad, hollow laugh.  “My tongue wagged too freely,” he answered.  “I was a man of opinions.”  He shook his head.  “I should have kept them to myself.  I might still be with my Ressie if I had kept my mouth shut.”

     The old man picked a seed out of the pear core.  “That was three kings ago, my lady.  The second king might have released me…if he had known I was here.  But that is what happens.  You are thrown in here and forgotten – left to rot until the end of your days.”

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Knowing an Author

If you read an author's works, do you know the author?  I present the yeahs and nays.

     He who writes can write whatever he desires.  He has time to make up things about himself...and to leave other things out.  You may read his blog daily, but find out later that his life was full of many things that you did not know about.

     A writer who feels more comfortable with paper than people may reveal his true self through his writing.  People may be with him every day and yet not know who he truly is.  It's the readers who know his deepest thoughts.  The masses who read his books may know his heart better than his daily acquaintances. 

Draw your own conclusions, but I think that a reader does know the author when she reads his books...particularly if the author is good at what he does.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Back from the Beta-Reader

     My regular readers know (from my post earlier this week) that I was getting ready to send my secret project to a beta-reader.  Well, I sent it and now I have it back.

When I worked at McDonald's all through high school and college, I used to correct all the messages and memos that our managers put on the bulletin board. They hated me.
Red letter corrections
via Pinterest

     There was less red than I expected.  When my beta-reader handed my story back to me, I was sure I would find an endless stream of criticisms, filling the margins with his red pen.  Instead, I thumbed through several pages that had no corrections at all.  He found a few places that were confusing to him, he thought the fight scene needed to be longer, and he seriously called into question one of my side characters.

     Now comes the part where I assimilate his work.  Everything he says has to be taken seriously.  He reacted negatively to the way I described a certain character -- do I want that reaction out of my readers?  He was confused about a detail, even though I thought I had explained it -- will other readers miss my explanation, too?  He wants a longer fight scene -- do I have room to create it?  He thought a bit of symbolism to be a useless detail -- should I delete it or should I deepen it to greater importance?

     I sat down in front of my computer to delve into corrections and found that words simply did not come.  They aren't ready yet.  My thoughts are not even coherent.  Instead, I find myself brooding like a hen over her eggs.  I know the story is inside of me; I can feel it stirring.  And I know if I just wait and let it come up when it is ready, my story will be the better for it.
     It's kind of like making a stew.  Whenever you throw a new ingredient in (such as my beta-reader's input), it has to simmer together before it is ready to serve.  The new input will change, taking on the flavor of the story.  And the story will change, absorbing the fine qualities of the new ingredient.

     It will be ready later...tonight or maybe tomorrow...and I will sit down with Microsoft Word again.  Until then, I will brood and think and write blog posts.  :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Learning an Art

     For me, the idea of learning an art is rather a tricky one.  Part of being an artist is to express what is already in you as well as to possibly present something to the world in a way that they haven't seen it before.  Lessons seem likely to stifle that.  Lessons teach you how other people have created art.  You learn their brush strokes, their representation of light and darkness, and their favorite subjects.  How is that art for you?  You are not learning to be an artist but a copycat.
     I feel strongly about this, but there is another side to it.
     What if there is a picture (or a story, or a song) locked inside of you and you don't know how to get it out?  You can see it; you can feel it; you can hear it; but all of your attempts to express it fall horribly short.  Then what?
     What sort of pride keeps you from listening to the ancients?  Why do you refuse to "stand on the shoulders of giants?"  If you keep stumbling along, will you eventually find a way to share your hidden art?  Maybe...after many, many years.  Or maybe not.  How many people have lived and died without sharing what they wished they could share?
     What if the study of art (or writing, or music) was not a way to re-express what others have already said but a way to unlock the art inside of you?  Would you study it then -- teaching your fingers to make your heart visible?  Is it something you want to be good at?
     Can art be learned?  Can art be studied?
Probably my favorite. I love ballet and Edgar Degas... <3
via Pinterest

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Sense of Obligation

On Anne-girl's new blog (Half-Baked), she posted a series of questions for us to answer.  Here is the post.  Below are the questions and my answers.
Best French Vanilla Cake Recipe from Scratch -

What is your favorite kind of cake? If you don't eat cake {because of gluten issues or allergies or diet or whatever} what is your favorite dessert?  I like vanilla...or lemon...with the perfect kind of icing.  I am sorry to say that I don't know the name of the perfect icing, but I can promise that I will know it when I taste it.

How long have you been writing?  I was making scribbles across the page in imitation of words before I even knew my alphabet.  Whether or not you can actually call that writing...

Do you read books and blogs about writing? If so what are some of your favorites?  I find writing tips mostly from GoTeenWriters, K.M. Weiland, Anne-girl, theinkpenauthoress, and thepenslayer.

Do you believe it's important to study writing as an art form? Why or why not?  Interestingly enough, I already have a post scheduled on this very topic -- check back tomorrow for it.

Who's writing has influenced yours the most?  Hmm...hard to say.

Do you consider writing more important than food? Why or why not?   This depends. 
If we are only delaying the food for a little while, then, yes, maybe.  I have been known to type on while everybody else is sitting down to lunch.  It's not worth interrupting an important scene.
If we are actually skipping meals or (horrors!) skipping two meals, then, no, it is not.  How am I to produce excellent story material on a starved brain?

Tell us the thing you are most excited about with your writing.  I love weaving plot threads.  This is something I think that Dickens does well.  I also like scenes that make me laugh, scenes that make me fall in love with my own characters, and scenes that have such gripping action that I am on the edge of my seat to see what my fingers type next.  And I like knowing that I am getting better at writing.

What are you dreading most in your writing?  I am sure this is one of those teacher-y questions that helps the instructor know where to start with a student.  I should answer with something like: "I hate maintaining my characters" or "writing the third act is such a chore for me."  But I can't think of anything like that right now.
No dread, Anne-girl, just excitement...unless it is dread that others won't see the story the way that I do nor understand what I am trying to say.

Would you rather have people love your book now or be considered a genius after you are dead?  I don't think I care, really.  Both would be nice, of course.  I think it would be hard to spend my whole life thinking that I didn't write well enough for the general public.  If I KNEW I would be considered a genius after I died, that would make it easier.  I could plug away at my writing, knowing that it would eventually count for something.  Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like that idea.  I could live out my days in peace and quietness -- no fame, no marketing gimmicks, no public demands -- and then my books could be revered after I am comfortably in my grave.  :)
There is something to be said for the books that stood the test of time, even if they were not well-received when they first appeared.  I have a lot of respect for that.
But I would appreciate the encouragement, while I am still alive, of my books being loved.
When it comes down to it, though, I would write whether my books made it big or not.  Sooo...we are back to where I started: I don't think I care.

And, Anne-girl...I'm just teasing with my title.  ;)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Another Secret Project Update

via Pinterest
An adorable picture that has nothing to do with my post.
     It is quite possible that you will hear a lot about my secret project.  I have already exhausted my mother's ever-patient ears.  But it has me in various stages of excitement and despair.  The logical part of me lectures, as Marilla did, that I would be better off if I avoided the roller coaster of emotions.  Write the story, edit it, submit it -- none of this jittery stuff need be involved.  But the Anne side of me refuses to do this.  After all, half of the excitement of a Christmas is the anticipation!  Is a story submission any less?
     Editing has begun.  Oddly enough, it isn't as hard as I anticipated.  I can't help but wonder if somebody out there is praying for me because, seriously, this was not my forte last time I checked.  There were a few scenes that I knew were horrible, but they smoothed out very easily under my fingers.  Once I finish going through it (about 5 times), my friend is going to beta-read for me.

      It took me until today to get the courage to ask my friend to beta-read for me.  You see, he beta-read for me I knew what I was getting into.  Last time he read one of my stories, he (figuratively) ripped it to shreds and demanded I put it back together right.  I deeply respect his opinion, and he can be quite blunt.  Hence, the reason why it took me a few days to get my nerve up.
     Why do I still go to him?  Because he is right.  Because every time he shreds my work, I come out of it a better writer.  And that's what I want.
     But I am still, as a friend of mine likes to say, taking deep breaths.

     All of this will be worth it if I become a better writer as a result -- and I usually do.  Each time I finish a project, whether or not it makes it to fame, I can see how much I have improved.  And that makes the effort worth it.  If it goes on beyond that to be published, then so much the better.

    In fact, I would be positively ecstatic to be published. J

Half-Baked Giveaway

     Don't worry -- the giveaway itself is not half-baked.  This post is about a giveaway hosted by Anne-girl at her new blog: Half-Baked .  I have mentioned this blog before -- it is the blog where Anne-girl shares the things she has learned about crafting stories.  If you click on the link, you can check it out for yourself.  See you there!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Half-Baked Opens Today

Hello, everyone!  Anne-girl's new blog with writing tips starts today.  Head over to Half-Baked and check it out.  See you there!