Happy Halloween !!!!!

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Hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!

 

With tomorrow being the first of November and the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I will go to updating this blog once a week with my word count for my novel. Hope everyone who is participating has a wonderful month filled with lots of words.

Until next time, be real!

Less than Two Days

It’s less than two days until National Novel Writing Month starts. I’m really excited! I’ve got a good idea I’m expanding on; I’m stocked up on caffeine and other good “junk food”: and The family knows not to bother me during writing time. NaNoWriMo changed my life the first time I participated two years ago. It gave me confidence I could actually do this thing called writing, and it woke up something that had been dormant in me for a long time. If anyone reading this is participating for the first time, I would say this to you. Be prepared for the creative floodgates to open, and be prepared to be a different person at the end of the month whether you win (get all the way to 50,000 words) or not, because even if you don’t, you would have tried something you never tried before. And that’s always a good thing.

Until next time, be real!

Persistence

Yesterday, my thirteen year-old son did something that he had been wanting to do for a while. For those of you who follow either my Facebook or Twitter feeds, you might have seen the post I made during his baseball game. Yes, he got his first official hit, and he was very excited! This was a long time coming. He tried t-ball out when he was six, and it was not a good fit. At that point, my husband and I decided that we were going to follow our children’s interests and not force them into playing a team sport if they didn’t want to. The only requirement was that they needed to be active with something.

So, fast forward a little over four years. Both of the boys found baseball and became avid fans very quickly and wanted to learn everything they could about the game. This delighted my husband to no end because he loves baseball too. The boys started practicing all the skills involved with the game including hitting, throwing, catching–that kind of thing.  We were going through a rough time as a family as my husband had just had surgery and then lost his job so something positive to focus on was good for both boys.

They continued practicing and getting better at the game through our moves in 2011 and our arrival in Birmingham. Our older son played in a spring league this past spring, but the younger one didn’t want to play because he didn’t think he was ready. He continued to work out with his brother and his brother’s team. They also worked through the summer on their skills.

When it was almost time for school to start, I found a link to sign up for fall baseball, and my younger son decided he wanted to play. I was told that it was mainly an instructional league, and it was a great opportunity for kids who had never played baseball before.  So, he’s been playing since the beginning of September. He has worked hard on his skills the entire time, and in fact, has very much surprised his coach who couldn’t believe this was the first time he had ever formally played the game.

And yesterday, he got his first official hit! The excitement in the stands was palpable as most everyone there knew about his journey. We were all on our feet clapping and cheering. You might wonder why I wrote about this today. Well, I wrote about it because it has taught me something as a writer and given me something that I will be able to take forward with me as I continue my own writing journey. That is the lesson of persistence. It has been almost two years since he became interested in baseball enough to want to play it, and he’s worked on his skills to be better at the sport the entire time.  My goal is to be that persistent because I know I can always be better at writing just like my younger son knows that he can always be better at baseball.

Until next time, be real!

Time Passes by so Fast

Wow! It’s almost the end of October. It seems like the month just started.  And, of course, with the end of October comes the advent of the holiday season (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, if you celebrate these) and National Novel Writing Month in November. But, that’s not what I’m going to talk about today.

I’m also not going to talk about how time passes by quickly for those of us who are parents. It seems like yesterday that my boys were small, but we are about to enter into teaching the oldest how to drive with the younger one following shortly thereafter.

No, what I’m going to talk about today is following your dreams. Too many of us let the mundane parts of life consume us, and then there’s nothing left for thinking and dreaming. I’m not saying I’m not guilty of it. I am. I want to be better though. I want to be the person who appreciates the people around her, the person who can look up and enjoy the stars, the person who creates something with her words, the person who encourages instead of discourages. I think all of us have that capability. We just need to decide that we want to.

Until next time, be real!

Time for a Book Review–Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon

I just finished this book last night and was all excited to come here and review it today because I enjoyed it so much. Of course, once more I read out of order in a series as this book is number 3 in a series, the titles of the other two being The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack and The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man. I thought it was an excellent read despite being confused at the beginning with all of the jumping around in time. I’ve always been fascinated by alternate forms of history, and this book does a nice job of combining alternate history with time travel. The time periods it focuses on are Victorian England and Africa in the 1863 and Africa in 1914 and a side trip to London in 1840 at the end of the book which was a surprise, but which I won’t spoil.  I also enjoyed the extensive description of the scenery and the characters and felt like I was actually in the world of the story. I’m looking forward to going back and reading the other two books in the series as well as reading more books going forward from this author.

Although this book is not marketed to young adults, I feel like an older teenager who enjoys the genre, the historical era, and science fiction would do just fine with it. I plan on offering it to my older son and seeing what happens.

Until next time, be real!

Finding Words Amidst the Juggling

I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot I do every day.  Between Chemistry and Geography, baseball and bowling, cleaning and washing clothes, sometimes it’s hard to find time to fit the words in.  But find time I must because writing is what fulfills me, makes me alive.  So, how do you find the words when you have to juggle? Well, for me, I take a notebook everywhere, and when I find a few extra minutes, I’m always either plotting or working on my latest story and using the new scenery as inspiration. It can be crazy sometimes. I’ve lost track of the number of times last spring when I was writing on a picnic bench at the ballpark, and I anticipate doing more of the same this coming spring as both of my boys will be playing baseball.

This quote from Graham Greene sums it up for me. “The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You’re there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see—every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties.”

Here’s to finding the words.

Until next time, be real!

Showing, not Telling

Every workshop or class I’ve ever attended on writing has talked about how important it is to show what the characters are doing in a story and not just to tell. It makes the story more interesting and makes people want to read it. I can see this. The books that I’ve found more interesting are books that do a good job of describing their world and the situations that the characters find themselves in. That makes world building very important to me as a writer.

I’ve found another use for this concept though. I am a parent of two boys who are teenagers. One is 13, and one is almost 16.  If any of you are parents of teenagers, you know that you tell them lots of things every day. And you probably think that whatever you tell them goes in one ear and out the other. Well, yesterday I had a revelation. For the past three years, I’ve been writing stories, and they’ve seen me carrying notebooks just about everywhere we’ve gone. I always thought they had just seen this as Mom’s thing. Last spring though, when I was talking to my older son about what kind of English he would like to do for the coming school year (We homeschool.), he chose a course that had the students writing a novel during the course of a school year. I had decided to let him choose for this year, his sophomore year, since we would be doing American literature and British literature the following two years. I was very proud when he chose this course as identifying with Mom is not something a 15-year-old boy usually does. So, yesterday, I was thinking of how this had come about, and I realized that I had not told him to choose this course. I had shown him that writing was valuable and enjoyable. It brought home to me that my children are always watching, and if I consider something to be important, I need to make sure my actions reflect my words.

Until next time, be real!

Words are like Stars

You’re probably thinking that’s a very unusual title, and you would be right, but first let me tell you what happened to me earlier this morning. I usually get up every morning at 5:30 to walk. It’s still dark then, and I enjoy the quietness of my neighborhood before everyone gets started with their day. Some mornings, it is cloudy, and some mornings, the sky is bright and clear. This morning was one of those mornings. I looked up into the sky and saw several stars shining brightly. It was so bright, as a matter of fact, that I just stopped and looked. If you’re familiar at all with astronomy, it’s the kind of view of the night sky that you would usually see out in the country and away from the city.  But, I wasn’t there. I was in my suburban neighborhood.

And I realized something. There are billions and billions of stars in our universe, almost too many to count.  With there being just about as many words,  I thought of all the words available for us to communicate with. When I’m writing, there is as much a multitude of words as there are stars. Now, to find the right words…..

I wish you all much luck in finding the right words for whatever you’re working on.

Until next time, be real!

Planning versus Winging It—Almost Time for NaNoWriMo

I realize that every writer who has ever participated in this has their own system. What I’m trying to do though is puzzle out what my system should be. I’ve done it both ways. The first year I had a vague idea of what I wanted to write about and just started writing on November 1. The second year I had more of a loose outline and had a bit of an easier time finishing.  Over this past year though (since last year’s NaNoWriMo), I have learned a lot about writing and have realized something.  My chances of finishing and having a complete draft are much better when I have a detailed outline. This is what I’m working on now.  I’m actually looking forward to it.  I wish everyone the best as they are making their preparations. Here’s to a successful November.

 

Until next time, be real!

Paying Attention to the Details

I’ve found that since I’ve started writing again, I’ve become more attuned to the world around me.  It really is incredible how many different ways there are to describe something.  The vividness of language can make a picture in a reader’s mind that can rival the most vivid portrait.  It’s my job as a writer to use the best language to make that picture come alive for a reader.

Here are some quotes from other writers that demonstrate this vividness:

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.”—Ray Bradbury

“It’s hard for us to open ourselves to rebuff….if you’re going to write and be published, you’ve got to expect to have a few arrows thrown at you.”—Madeleine L’Engle

“The writing life is a life lived with all the windows and doors opened….And rendering what one sees through those opened windows and doors in language is a way of bearing witness to the mystery of what it is to be alive in this world.”—Julia Alvarez

Can you see the pictures in your head? I can, especially with the last quote. It is a beautiful fall day here today, and I have all the windows and doors open to let the fresh air in.  Let the details come alive in whatever you are writing.

Until next time, be real!