Highlights and Goals – July 2017

Unbelievable. It’s here. The half-way-ish mark of 2017. Is that just crazy or what? The year is more than half done? Wow . . .  Aliens, I’m tellin’ ya. They’re messing with us.

Okay, it is also time for another highlights and goals post – a little note showing the highlights of June and looking forward to the goals of July. Ready? Let’s go.

JUNE HIGHLIGHTS

Gardening, writing, reading, such fun! So, I finished reading Athol Dickson’s The Cure, and also finished reading Angela Hunt’s Bathsheba. I’m actually ahead of schedule on my reading list. Awesome! Another amazing highlight landed on the first of this month when my mom took third place in Faithwriters’ Best of the Best yearly award. That is just so awesome! Congrats, Mom.

Also in June, we picked and packed fifty-six pounds of gorgeous strawberries into the freezer for this winter. EEPP!

Another highlight also came at the beginning of this month, when I spent a couple days with wonderful cousins on the wonderful coast of Maine. Shout out and a big thanks to them. 🙂

JULY GOALS

Now for the fun part. For one, I am going to be getting back to my every-three-to-four-days blogging schedule. Juggling two blogs is a little tricky, but I think that routine worked far better for this blog. So get ready, my friends, ’cause there’s lots more coming!

  • Continue with my new “anonymous” writing project (details to follow later)
  • Read one or two more books
  • Submit at least four articles for this Faithwriters‘ quarter
  • Journal! I’m so bad at journaling
  • Pick peas fresh from the garden and eat ’em! It’s that time of year.

And looking ahead, once the “anonymous” project is completed up to the first draft stage – fall-ish – I’m going to be diving into the writing of the second draft of my YA portal fantasy, One Light ShiningI am very much looking forward to that. 🙂

And that concludes this highlights and goals post. Stay tuned, however, because we will be back to a much more diligent blogging routine. How-tos, how-not-tos, writing, reading, writing, stray cats and other cats, and . . . did I forget to mention writing?

Let us chat! What are your ventures this lovely month? What summery things did you do in June?

Posted in Highlights and Goals, Personal | 2 Comments

Books ‘n’ Strawberries – Such Fun!

Show of hands – who among you consumes books and strawberries at the same time????

Okay . . . maybe nobody. I mean, you’d hate to get strawberry juice on the book, so . . .  Yeah, but there’s a reason I brought up the both of them. I mean, yum.

Reason for the strawberries: We are going strawberry picking tomorrow. Yippee! We found what is supposed to be a real nice farm about an hour away, so we’re packin’ up and headin’ out to stock up for the long winter. 🙂 If you want to hear all about our adventure, I’ll be posting on the Diary on Saturday with the details!

Reason for the books: I just finished reading Athol Dickson’s The CureThat’s reason enough.

The Cure was a hidden gem and a rare find. And the ending . . .  Oh, the ending! But I won’t betray it, or skip ahead. This book is about a man named Riley Keep, former missionary and presently an alcoholic beyond all hope. At the end of his road, he discovers a packet of “medicine” with a note explaining it to be a cure for alcoholism. But sometimes the cure is more dangerous than the disease . . .

OH WOW, was this story a winner. I was so engrossed and so blown away. Athol’s characters – Riley, Hope, Bree, Dylan, and the list goes on – are incredible. So well-fashioned and so brilliant. His writing is doubly so. And the book just happens to take place in a coastal Maine town, so . . .

You cannot go wrong in reading this book. Amazing.

And so, without further ado, we’re off to pick strawberries on the morrow! It ’tis summertime, after all.

So, my friends, what are your plans now that summer is officially underway? What books are you reading? Do tell!

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookish Things, Inspirational, Personal, Reading | Leave a comment

Writing a Synopsis – How to and How Not

Don’t forget to stop by my new blog, Diary of a Teenage Prepper, for fun homesteading updates!

 

It doesn’t seem like it would be that big of an issue, right? A synopsis just states what the book is about. No problem.

If only . . .

Today, let us delve into the tricks, the how-tos and how-not-tos, of writing a synopsis.

HOW-TO #1 – READ THEM

The best way to figure out how to write a synopsis is to read them. How much info do they give? How much do they withhold? Take note of key words and phrases. Is the title of the book incorporated into the synopsis or left out? Above all, does it make you want to find out what happens? All of these things are critical points of crafting a gripping synopsis.

HOW-TO #2 – PRACTICE MAKES ALMOST PERFECT

I can’t think of any synopsis that is “perfect.” They’re just blurbs, more or less, and perfection is vastly opinion, but anyway – #2. Practice writing a synopsis for your WIP. No matter the stage, write one out and read it over and over again, compare it with the ones you’ve read, read it to someone else. All of these things should help smooth out a synopsis for your work.

HOW-NOT-TO #1 – MAKING IT TOO LONG

I have heard it said that a common problem among authors looking to self-publish is a synopsis that is too long. Just remember, you’re giving the reader a taste, not the entire banquet. You aren’t writing a book report in which every detail must be disclosed. But for that matter, don’t make it too short, either.

HOW-NOT-TO #2 – THINKING IT’S NOT IMPORTANT

A synopsis, in my opinion, is every bit as important as, say, the cover or the first line. It is the invitation for a reader to pick up the book and read it. A synopsis is important. You don’t have to stress over it. Maybe try incorporating a few of these thoughts to get you started. I’ve even used the creation of a synopsis to help in my outlining, and believe me, it does help.

ONE-LINERS AND THE WHAT-IF QUESTION

A grabbing sentence to start off a synopsis can be a pretty great idea. So can a what-if question. After all, a creative what-if setting in a plot – “What if gravity worked in the opposite way?” “What if the sky was orange?” “What if humans were the size of ladybugs?” – can pull a reader in all on its own. So if you’re story has its own what-if, why leave it out when creating your synopsis?

And because she’s one of my favorite authors, I can’t resist sharing her fantastic what-if-question synopsis. Nadine Brandes wrote the Out of Time Series, and her opener for the first of those novels was entirely gripping. Here’s why: “How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?” Who can resist that? I don’t want to know the day I’ll die, so if this character does . . . well, I have to know about it. 🙂

TELL ME YOUR OPINION! What pulls you into a book? Is it the cover? Synopsis? First line? Last line? (I should hope it’s not the last line.) Let me hear from you in the comments! We’ll chat about bookish things.

Posted in Bookish Things, Reading, Writing, Writing Tips | Leave a comment

Exciting News – Blog Launching – the Diary of a Teenage Prepper

We’ve got some exciting news circulating today. I’ve launched a second blog, this one dedicated to my “diary” of our homesteading journey. The original, this one, will remain completely active for my writing, but I will be posting once weekly, on every Thursday. Our blog series, Musings of a Goat Herdess, will be transferred to the new blog.

I encourage you to check out and share Diary of a Teenage Prepper!

The unique thing about the diary, is that it documents the journey of a sustainable homestead from a teenager’s prospective. I hope it will inspire its audience and shine a light for those searching.

Want to show your support? I’d welcome it! If you’re interested in helping launch Diary of a Teenage Prepper, please become a follower and/or recommend the blog to friends. Leave a comment with your honest feedback, or like the posts that interest you. Whatever the form it takes, your support is so much appreciated!

I’ll be doing a follow-up post for this on Thursday, and from there I will enact the weekly blogging schedule. If you are curious, the diary will be updated anywhere from daily to weekly, depending on what’s happenin’ on the homestead. 🙂

Thank you all in advance for helping to launch this new blog, and thank you all very, very much for the support you’ve already shown in my launching of this blog.

Tell me – what sorts of things do you hope to see on either of these blogs? What writing- or reading-centered posts do you like best? What homesteading posts? Your feedback is invaluable!

Don’t forget, drop by at the Diary of a Teenage Prepper today! HERE

Posted in Musings, Personal, Reading | Leave a comment

Bookish Things – a Review of the Well Spring Series and an Update

Hello, friends!

Today we’re delving into the three-book series I recently completed reading, James Rubart’s Well Spring Novels. My review in short? I was left both amazed and refreshed.

James’ writing is more brilliant than anything I’ve read in a long time. While in structure I’ll say the dialog was a tad rough in spots, the stories were seamlessly crafted, and the characters beautifully created. Every character had something to overcome, something to face in their lives, and the author took them through that brilliantly.

But I’m skipping ahead. If you’ve never heard of these books, you’re likely wondering what I’m babbling about. 🙂

Okay, okay. So, book one, Soul’s Gate, begins the journey with Reece Roth, a man who has been trained to enter the souls of others and fight for their freedom. He will go on to train the “four” prophesied to battle against the enemy in ways never before seen.

These books are remarkable, and as I mentioned, brilliantly written. I was kept reading from the first page of book one to the last letter of book three, Spirit Bridge. It is not an easy feat for me to be sucked into a story. I was vacuumed into this one.

wellspring

And if the review wasn’t enough, how about that cover? Isn’t that cover just, like, crazy cool? I mean, if a cover alone could drag you inside the pages it conceals, that one does the job.

And now . . . for the update! Just a small note of no importance. 🙂  I’m currently reading Athol Dickson’s The Cure, and there was a gargantuan spider inside the house this morning. Uh, yeah, like baby tarantula size. We, like, freaked. It was swept out of the house and deftly squished in the driveway.

Ooohh, and in other news, my recent story done for Faithwriters took sixth, which you can read here. And you must read the winning story for that topic. It was fantastic.

And I suppose that’s about it for today. The next post will feature the second installment in our little blog series, the non-fiction musings of a goat herdess, and it bears just that name. Stick around!

And you must tell me, friends . . . what is your present reading venture??? Any gargantuan spiders crawling ’round your house??? Don’t be shy! Pour yourself a cup of tea – or coffee or, even better, apple cider – and let us chat.

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookish Things, Personal, Short Stories | Leave a comment

Crafting Characters – Antagonist’s Apex

There’s a trick to crafting your antagonist. As much as it may seem like their only purpose is to throw a wrench in things for your MC(s) and be hated by the readers, that is not entirely true. The best way to nail down a solid antagonist is to give them a side that can be related to and felt for by the reader and by you.

Yep, I said it. If you can’t swallow that yet, that’s okay. Keep on!

EXAMPLES OF THE ANTAGONIST APEX

What I’ve called the antagonist apex is where the reader is brought to a point or a side of the character that makes them stop and grumble, “I thought I was supposed to hate him/her” because they’ve suddenly found him/her to be slightly less hateable than they thought . . .  Is that confusing? Here’s a good example.

 

HG

Martin Cummins as Henry Gowen in “When Calls the Heart”

In the popular frontier TV series When Calls the Heart (all you fellow “hearties” please raise your hand in the comments!), you will find one of the best examples of a remarkably solid antagonist. Henry Gowen, as portrayed by Martin Cummins, has so many different levels of character, good and bad, that it’s hard to keep up. He is seen as despicably evil at times and is completely despised, and as someone deeper at other times, someone with more on the inside than just greed.

Because of this, he cannot be universally hated. This makes him a great antagonist, and makes whoever wrote his character a really good writer. 🙂

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

This is one of the more, I believe, optional parts of writing. You by no means have to make your antagonist 3-dimensional, but it is highly recommended. Fill in the cracks – make them human. Give them a cause we can understand – not agree with, but understand. Give them a motivation that is clear and realistic. But above all, make them human. Give them qualities and depth that leave the reader – and maybe even your protagonist – feeling just a tiny bit sorry for them.

AND NOW . . . let me hear your opinion!

Have you had any experience with these things in the past, whether in work you’ve read or written? Do you agree or disagree with this approach to an antagonist? Do you feel the reader should despise that character? Why or why not? Don’t be shy! Let’s chat.

Posted in Bookish Things, Writing, Writing Tips | Leave a comment

To Shine as Broken Glass – There is Hope!

Broken.

That’s a hurtful place to be, and yet we’ve all been there. We’ve gone to sleep in tears that no one will see left to dry on our cheeks. We’ve woken up feeling as though we waged war through the night. We’ve wandered through days begging why.

Sun reflects brightly on glass. It reflects all the brighter on broken glass, amplified by the jagged edges and reflected by the places where the breaking took place.

When in the place of broken, we can commonly wonder why we feel no hope, if there is any such thing left to feel. Whether we face loss, discouragement, anger, illness or fear, we long for hope, for some remnant of the sun to shine upon us, just once.

Why bear the pain of broken? What is the reward for turmoil?

To shine as broken glass.

If this is your question today, there is hope, my friend, there is. Reach for it with the very last of your strength!

 

hardship quote

As writers – and artists in general – we are not in the least immune to the harsh sting disappointment or depression. In fact, I’ve been told we’re rather susceptible targets. 🙂  But when these things confront us, when the challenges around us block what may flow upon the page, take heart! My friend, we will come out on the other side alive. There is light at the end of this tunnel. If you are afraid of the dark, take the hand of the person beside you. They’re likely afraid of the dark too.

You’re not alone.

As an artist, coming out on the other side of hardship is quite likely to make you a better writer, or musician, or poet, etc. Sky high is inevitably followed some day by the depths of low, the result of a bitterly fallen world and the basic unfairness of life. Thank the King we do not trudge through the lows alone. Jesus holds my hand.

My friend . . . Jesus holds your hand, too.

Broken. It’s a hurtful place to be. Why suffer through hardship when all we can see is the dark?

Because the sun shines brightest on the broken glass.

Anchor

Posted in Inspirational, Writing | Leave a comment