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!

The Story I was Meant to Write

I’ve recently been going through a goal-setting exercise in my writing. I was having a hard time figuring out why it was easier for me to write certain types of things versus other types of things, and by writing down the things I was passionate about, I realized that story, my story, was the one I was most excited about. I know I’m capable of writing other things, but they always seem harder for me. It takes me forever to get the words down on paper or on a computer screen.  So, I’ve decided if I ever want to have a complete draft, I need to write the story I was meant to write.

If you are having trouble developing your writing goals, try to think of the things you are passionate about, the things that matter to you most, and use those things to develop your stories. This will help make your story uniquely yours.

Until next time, be real!

Two Separate People

I’m not sure if this is actually possible, but I had an intriguing thought this morning after reading one of my writing inspiration books–the thought that writers can actually be two separate people. Now, hear me out. Of course, there are all the other parts of what I do when I’m not writing–homeschooling my kids, spending time with my family, cooking, cleaning, exercising, reading, and just plain living.  Then, there’s the part of me that writes and creates stories. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a persona that just cared about what I was creating and what I was writing and not about any other parts of the ‘writing business’ per say? It is a worthwhile goal and gives me a sense of tremendous freedom. I think I might just spend some time doing that today–creating and writing and not thinking about what comes next.


Until next time, be real!

October 15 – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

I have posted here about my miscarriage before and am giving this space over to promoting what today is—Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and what this month is.  Here is the proclamation that President Reagan gave 24 years ago.

Proclamation 5890 — Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 198

October 25, 1988

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child. National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 1988, offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.

Health care professionals recognize that trends of recent years, such as smaller family size and the postponement of childbearing, adds another dimension of poignance to the grief of parents who have lost infants. More than 700 local, national, and international support groups are supplying programs and strategies designed to help parents cope with their loss. Parents who have suffered their own losses, health care professionals, and specially trained hospital staff members are helping newly bereaved parents deal constructively with loss.

Compassionate Americans are also assisting women who suffer bereavement, guilt, and emotional and physical trauma that accompany post-abortion syndrome. We can and must do a much better job of encouraging adoption as an alternative to abortion; of helping the single parents who wish to raise their babies; and of offering friendship and temporal support to the courageous women and girls who give their children the gifts of life and loving adoptive parents. We can be truly grateful for the devotion and concern provided by all of these citizens, and we should offer them our cooperation and support as well.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 314, has designated the month of October 1988 as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month” and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.

Ronald Reagan

quoted from:

Robyn Bear, who is the founder of the www.october15.com website, wanted to have a day when people could come around women who had experienced this loss. Since October 15 is in the middle of this month, she chose this day. If you or someone you know has experienced pregnancy or infant loss, I encourage you to reach out to them today.
Until next time, be real!

What Writers and Parents Can Learn from Teenagers

I thought this would be a humorous take on something else I read in one my writing inspiration books since I have two teenagers of my own.

1) Humor—If you spend time around any teenagers, you know they take very little of what you say seriously, and therefore, you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously either.

2) Honesty—Teenagers can spot a fake from a mile away. If you’re genuine and honest with them, they’ll be the same with you.

3) Respect their Interests—Just because you think a teenager should be interested in something doesn’t mean they’ll actually be interested in it.  Take some time to learn about the people they are becoming. They might surprise you.

4) Learn to Play Video Games—That one was from my younger son, but I guess if you can play them properly, it would be good bonding time. 🙂

5) Passion—Listen to what teenagers are passionate about. If you listen long enough, that passion and emotion will translate into whatever you’re writing.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Until next time, be real!