Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Perspective on Gratitude

A few months ago I was the passenger in a terrible accident. I've thought about telling about my journey here, but have struggled with the thought. Finally today I realized that the lessons I'm learning are ones I should be sharing. This was our car after the accident. Every time I look at this picture I realize what could have happened. I am so grateful to be here with my family. They are my joy. I'm grateful for so many things.

Sometimes bad things happen in life. At those times it is so important to recognize the blessings surrounding those incidents. I know I was protected by my Heavenly Father that day. I was unconscious for a half hour while they cut me out of the car and woke up in time to be life flighted, but one by one they ruled out internal bleeding, broken bones and other things. Don't get me wrong. I've had challenges. My legs are still healing from the deep bruising where they were effected by the impact. I hope someday the shard of glass will no longer be there to annoy me every time I brush my forearm against something. Soon enough the fractured teeth they removed will be replaced by implants. My shoulder and neck are better than they were, and although some things will be permanent, most of the pain will go away. Lots of it has already.

How can I not be grateful. I'm grateful for quick responding paramedics, helicopters, doctors and therapist who have taken time to explain injuries and healing processes, nurses who cared for me when I couldn't, my recliner where I slept for the month after coming home from the hospital, insurance and billing people who have helped me understand that process, the other driver who swerved (not knowing that would save my life), my family and friends who have done so much, and a loving God who knew I needed to still be here.

It doesn't take a perspective altering experience to find much to to be grateful for. I'm grateful for a place to call home, the novel I just finished and submitted to an agent, my legs, seasons so I can look forward to spring and rest a little in the winter. And so much more.

What are you grateful for?

Friday, November 1, 2013

All I Want For NaNo

My friend, Jennie and four other writers are celebrating NaNo and the release of their new book with a blog hop. The Spirit of Christmas is now available for purchase. Make sure you get your copy here! It's only $2.99 and it's for a great cause. The proceeds go to NaNoWriMo.

Authors of The Spirit of Christmas are J.A. BennettJessica Salyer, David Powers King, Kelley Lynn, and Cassie Mae.

What do I want for NaNo?

To finally succeed at writing 50k words in a month without getting sidetracked. The problem is that I have two books to work one, a novel and a non-fiction how-to herb book that is under contract. So I will be tracking my 50k myself and splitting the work between the two projects. Got to be flexible sometimes.
Check out the blog hop.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Author Interviews: J. Scott Savage, A.E. Cannon and Carol Lynch Williams

The blog for Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers has posted interviews with J. Scott Savage, A.E. Cannon and Carol Lynch Williams. Next Tuesday's interview will be Ammi-Joan Paquette.

I love reading through these interviews and learning little tidbit like the fact that Ann started writing as a child because she got sick and Scott started writing because he couldn't sleep.

It's encouraging to know that even these amazing authors, whose books I love, get stuck. It sounds like Carol keeps working through it when she gets stuck and kind of works the pieces out. Scott makes a note that something cool happens in that spot and he keeps going.

I guess learning our own style is the key, but it is helpful to know how others work through the hard spots or how they get their inspiration.

View these interviews and more from upcoming authors, including Martine Leavitt, Sharlee Glenn and illustrator Steve Bjorkman. http://www.wifyr.com/blog/

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Family Life

Family life is important. It can be a challenge to keep your family strong, write a book and keep all the other balls in the air that add to the juggling act. I’ve heard many successful writers say that their greatest accomplishment is their family.
How does a writer keep it all in perspective and prioritize effectively? It can be stressful to spend time with a child struggling with homework, when you have a writing deadline. But remember, you can never get that moment back. You may never have another opportunity to teach that child what can be taught only in that moment.
Scheduling your time helps a lot. But as the mother of six children I've found a few other tricks that can help too.
Writing in timed segments can be effective, especially if you have small children. Be sure children have something to do, then set a timer for a chunk of time and let children (large or small) know that you are writing. Explain that when the timer dings, you will be able to listen again, but you need this focused time to write. Even small children can learn to understand this at an early age (if the writing segments are short).
Sometimes small segments of time don’t do it though, and you need some focused writing time. That’s when it’s time to escape. Leave somebody else in charge and find a quiet library or motel room. I’ve even take my laptop and parked in a less-than-easy-to-find parking lot where nobody would find me. Accomplish what you can in that focused time and then enjoy your family when you return home.
That delicate balance between family life and writing and the rest of life can be found.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Original Ideas

There are no original ideas.

Or are there? 

If there are no new ideas then why are we all still trying to write something original? And why do people keep reading?

I have been excited about the novel I’m starting. The idea seems new and fresh enough that I have thought a lot about how to make it work. I couldn’t think of any other book that had been written from this angle. Then I picked up Far World by J. Scott Savage, and there it was. A character who was born on earth, but we are meeting her in another world as the story begins. She doesn’t even know earth exists. My idea. It’s already been done. Of course.

What’s fascinating is to see what Scott Savage has done with this idea. It’s very different than what I’m writing. Even though it’s the same idea, it’s a different angle. A different character. A different world. 

If you stare at life from a different angle you may see a new facet to an old idea. A writer asks new questions that haven’t been asked quite like that before. We turn life inside out and find the extraordinary. We examine it and look for a new facet to that old way of looking at a situation.

We write something original.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Avoided Moments

Years ago I heard Richard Peck say, “You learn the most from the experience you would have avoided if you could.” In the same keynote address I also heard him say, “You are only as good as your opening line”. Although the second quote is one of my favorite, that will have to be a discussion for another post.

Think about the experience you would have avoided if you could. We all have things in our lives that fit this description. What emotion is connected to that experience? What would you have done to avoid it if we had known it was coming? Who would you be now, if that experience had not existed in your life?

Your character needs an experience like that. They need to be faced with something so terrible or terrifying that they would have avoided it at all cost. Maybe they are trying to avoid it. Perhaps they know, and understand what is at stake.

How do we help our character find that experience? Is it something we have experienced in our own lives and know about? Not always. Maybe you are experiencing this situation for the first time through your character and are trying to understand the emotions connected to this experience.

I’ve been trying to create a character that is dominating and has an entire community under his thumb. He would have to be so controlling and scary that nobody dared cross him. The problem is, fortunately, I’ve never experienced such dominion. However, as I’ve struggled with this character, I realized that there are moments in my life when I was terrified of a situation or person. Especially as a child. I’ve examined those experiences and the emotions that go with them and tried to transfer them to this fictional character that plays such a critical role in my novel.
Transferring these emotions does not mean transferring the exact experience. But the emotions can help you to create this character and give him real traits. You will better know how the characters around him will react as you pull from these emotions and then interview your characters. All your characters. How are they feeling? What are they thinking? How will that cause them to react to the particular rough spot where you have led them?

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

Lots of talk about NaNoWriMo going around. Are you planning to write a novel in November?

What is the best way to prepare for that? Many suggest that you make sure the family is on board and you have all the big things in life taken care of when November arrives. Sounds good. Not a perfect plan with four busy kids, but I think they'll work with me to make it happen.

What about the novel itself though? How do you plan to write 50,000 words in one month?

Last year I found a book that helped me think through the process of writing a novel. Book in a Month gives daily exercises that help with plotting and character development. I've wondered about doing some of the excercises now though so I'm even more ready to dig in and start writing on  November 1.

Book in a Month really encourages you to have some kind of an outline. Many writers say they don't write that way, but I'm realizing that having a basic direction works well for me.

Dan Well's offers suggestions for plotting out your basic ideas as well. His 7-point system leads you through hooks, resolutions, midpoint and pinches. With a basic idea on where your story is headed, you will be ready to jump in with both feet and write, write, write.

I know there are some other great methods for plotting out a story. What method do you use to plot out a novel? What do you do to get ready for NaNo?