Highlights and Goals – September

So, of course, school has thrown blogging WAAAY off schedule, but I’m back. *sheepish grin* Okay, so let’s just move on and look at August’s highlights:

  • Read James Rubart’s Book of Days. Oh . . . wow . . . just . . . wow . . .
  • Did a ton of tomato canning with my mom. She’s doing the very last batch of canning today so that we’ll have 200 quarts for this winter. 🙂
  • Did some writing. Some . . . not enough. *sheepish grin*

And without further ado – August wasn’t as dull as it sounded, I promise – SEPTEMBER!

  • Write. What else?
  • School. I mean, of course.
  • Read. As in, Michael Vey 7. 7! Already! The series is finished! Anybody as dying as I am to get my hands on that thing?
  • Do research. I’ve got a couple agriculture/livestock things to research this month for future reference.
  • Find out again what serendipity means.
  • Have Lentil the Cat spayed. Since, uh, she’s in heat again, only this time we have a four-month-old male cat in the house. AND she’s escaped, like, six times through the porch. 🙂

Yeah, so September looks like fun. What are your plans? Is reading Michael Vey among them??? Let’s chat!

By the way . . . on my next post I’ll be talking about a valuable tool for writers that is not the laptop/computer. Nor is it the pen and paper. Don’t miss that!

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The Many Uses for Secondary Characters

So, no matter what you’re writing, you probably have some characters that aren’t as important as the MC(s), but they’re just kinda there. The awesome thing about these seemingly unimportant characters? They can become important. Remember, you’re the author. You can more or less make them do what you want. However, it does sometimes feel like the story has taken on a life of its own. 🙂

There are numerous uses for a secondary character. One of the best, they’re expendable. If you need a character to get killed off, but you can’t bear to do it to a main character, consider fashioning a secondary one for that purpose alone. *wicked chuckle* Make them likable, too. *wicked chuckle*

Anyway, another great use for your secondary characters is how they can subtly influence the plot to steer it in a desired direction. For instance, I once wrote a draft in which an SC caused the main character to end up in this particular situation, which was the climax. She did this unintentionally – it was her presence and what that brought about in the story.

You can also have one or two SC(s) create a subplot. However, be aware that subplots can be used to “kill some time” and not to move the story along. You pretty much want everything – or close to everything, at least – to move your story along.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD A SECONDARY CHARACTER APPEAR ON SCREEN . . . OR PAPER?

It depends on their level of importance. You may have them start out in the first draft as a secondary character and end up by the last draft as an MC. It happens. 🙂 But how often a strictly SC will appear depends totally on the way you’re using them in the story. Typically, these characters in my stories have very important roles, but remain expendable.

DO I RUN THE RISK OF DISTRACTING FROM THE STORY WITH A SECONDARY CHARACTER?

That’s always possible, but if writing a first draft, don’t worry about it. You can edit later. Just remember if you’re bringing in an SC, it is probably to build on or move forward the story.

And now, LET’S CHAT. How do you use secondary characters in your story? Have I left something out? What is your opinion on subplots? Pour yourself some apple cider – or coffee, if you prefer – and I’ll bring dessert. Healthy dessert, mind you. 🙂 Anybody up for carrot cake?

When the Cats Come Home

So, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about the cats. Mostly we’ve chattered about bookish things, but who doesn’t love cats? My cousin doesn’t.

Here we go. A couple weeks ago, my dear friend Lentil – that’s a cat, not a legume – went outside around lunchtime . . . and just didn’t come back. We searched, searched, searched until dark. I fell asleep to dreams of her that night. It was pretty rough, since she has never, ever disappeared like that.

The next day, nothing. We called her name, we triple-checked all her favorite spots. Nothing. And yet I had the strongest sense that she wasn’t dead. She felt so . . . close. As if I could reach out and stroke her soft, gray-striped fur and feel her lick my finger.

Evening closed in. I was in the kitchen when I heard my dad say her name as though he saw her. Then came what we all longed to hear – Lentil was outside in the flower bed. 🙂

Sure enough, she’d found her way home to us. She came inside, hungry and a little flustered – as well as flabbergasted that Sam, the new stray kitten, was still here. Really?

Lentil’s back to her normal routine. Best we can tell, she either got lost, or was trapped somewhere. But our family – even with the addition of Sam – was disjointed for those roughly thirty hours. Like Mom said as we grinned ear-to-ear after Lentil came back, “Our family’s back together again.”

And just think – my dad used to hate cats!

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Lentil asleep on the windowsill.

Pinterest – Is it Good for Writers?

So, Pinterest is pretty popular now, and you have to admit, fun. But it’s remarkable how many writers actually use this social media outlet to connect with readers. Is it worth the time? I’ve been on Pinterest for quite a while now, and building up a following is a S-L-O-W process. Using this outlet requires a great deal of time. The more pins you save, the more diverse your boards, the more people you’ll reel in.

Plus, readers love to connect with a favorite author any way they can. I know I always love seeing a story through the eyes of its writer, and what they save on Pinterest is a good way to see that.

But that’s the reader’s side of things. How about the writer’s?

We’re writers. We’re people, I think. We’re busy. So, is the time that it takes to build up a foundation on Pinterest actually worth it?

As I’ve yet to publish a novel, I can only speak on this topic from two standpoints – an aspiring writer, and a reader.

AS A READER . . .

I look for an author I like on Pinterest. I devour whatever it is they have to say about their work through what they pin. In addition, when I know somebody has a new book coming out, I’ll look for hints on that story’s Pinterest board. 🙂

AS A WRITER . . .

I love it. Pinterest enables me to organize my ideas, share them with others – or not, as I often start a board as a secret board – and collect bits of inspiration for my WIP. See, I’m weird about my characters. I can’t see them. So Pinterest helps me nail down in my own mind what my characters might look like. That’s a serious plus for me.

THOSE ARE THE PROS, AND THE CONS ARE . . .

It is time-consuming. You don’t have to have a ton of boards, but the ones you have should be filled in so a potential reader can stay a while to explore.

If you’re dedicating a lot of your account to writing, you may want to consider having boards like “Character Inspiration” or “Writing Inspiration” or “For Readers.” Stuff like that, as it could help to bring in more people.

So, basically, I have found Pinterest very helpful and a lot of fun. Please share your opinion and experiences with us! It would be a huge help for us newbies. 🙂

By the way . . . if you’re interested in my new WIP, hop on over to Pinterest. I’ve just published the previously secret storyboard for y’all! Check it out!

Let’s chat. Let me know your experiences with Pinterest. (And don’t forget to drop by the new storyboard.) 🙂

How to Write When the Music Fades – Chronic Writer’s Block

When the music fades, write on, courageous writer!

But when the music fades, it can be hard to find a tune to write to. There are a million “best writing playlists ever” and a million blog posts with guaranteed keys to success in overcoming the fading music disorder, but . . . do they really negate the issue? Or is it something you, personally, must face?

Confession: The music faded recently for me. For now. You see, the WIP you may be familiar with, my YA portal fantasy, was a WIP. It is now RIP. For now. There are simply times when you have to accept the amount of work a story will need in its revising process, and I came to that point with the portal fantasy. However, I also realized that I did not have what it would take to rush into a second draft. It has been moved to the back burner.

And soooo . . . with that confession comes a little announcement. I am presently working on a new idea. Alas! I can’t divulge the details at this time. I must outline, outline, outline, and I must write, write, write! Stay tuned, because I’m eyeing my September “highlights and goals” post in just over two weeks for any *cough* official bookish *cough* announcements. But know, my friend, that I am marching on in the writing world, with or without the music, and I encourage you do to the same.

Everyone gives out tricks to the trade in overcoming writer’s block, but I think there’s only one thing you can really do when writer’s block turns chronic. Step back from your story and ask yourself what might be wrong with it OR what might be wrong with you. It isn’t always the manuscript. Don’t let that become an excuse to not writing. It may be sheer laziness. Yes, I’m being cruel! But believe me when I say I know how it feels.

In the case of chronic writer’s block, it may be the manuscript or it may be you. In my case, it was both.

So does that mean you’ll never read my portal fantasy? I doubt it. I believe in another year or so – maybe after I’ve finished this WIP, providing the outlining goes well in the next few days here – I will pick that story back up again. That’s the beauty of the moment when the music fades.

And so, when the music fades, write on, courageous writer!

Psst . . .  I will say, my critique partner has given the first chapter of this story idea a very good review. 🙂  Stay tuned.

Highlights and Goals – August 2017

Here it ’tis! August! The garden harvest is in full swing, as we are picking beans on a daily basis and the corn is just ’round the corner. But I’m squeezing in time for a tad neglected blog – *wince* – and guess what? This blog is getting a makeover sometime in the month of August. Fun! Who doesn’t like a little housecleaning? Good for the soul.

Anyhow, let’s get on with it and look at a few highlights from July. Can’t believe she’s gone, can you?

JULY HIGHLIGHTS

Gardening . . . Gardening . . . More gardening . . . Need I say more?

Yes, of course I have to say more, it was a whole thirty-one days.

Okay, so July thirty-first marked one-year-to-the-date since I was baptized at our local church. What a wonderful memory! I’ll never forget how I felt God standing beside me that day. 🙂

In July, I also kicked off the second draft of my WIP, so that was agonizing exciting.

AUGUST GOALS

  • Get some substantial work done on the second draft
  • Update Musings of a Goat Herdess, because it’s been forever!
  • Write for Faithwriters
  • Read and garden . . .
  • Garden and read . . .  (not at the same time)

Oh, and how could I forget! You remember our first cat, Lentil, who we rescued as a young feral kitten and tamed? I told her story on this blog, and now please wish her a happy birthday – she’s ONE YEAR OLD!!! Super exciting to see how amazingly well she’s done. And . . . one more thing . . .

I haven’t announced this yet on the blog, but here it is. Say hello to our newest stray cat family member, Sam, Lentil’s half brother, whom we trapped and have begun to gentle. He is adorable. Just sayin’. I’ll get his story onto a blog post one of these days. Get ready to squeal over his picture – he is adorable. Just sayin’.

And that about concludes this highlights and goals post. Let’s chat! I want to hear what you’re up to this lovely summer. (And don’t forget to leave Lentil a happy birthday, please. Thank you.) 🙂

WIPJoy and a Book Update!

We’re doing something just for fun today – and something for all of you waiting on news of my WIP, a YA portal fantasy entitled One Light Shining. You may have heard of WIPJoy, which has traditionally been a month-long social media thing for authors, but Katie Grace recently did this on her blog – thank you! – so here goes. I’ve handpicked some of the thirty-one questions to answer today with my WIP.

YOUR FIRST INSPIRATION FOR THIS WIP

I love answering this question. 🙂 Technically, the biggest sources of inspiration came through Torrent (River of Time Series – awesome!) and Defy (Blades of Acktar Series – epicness!) Bits of both of those stories greatly influenced the development of this plot.

3 BOOKS THAT GO NICELY WITH YOURS

Well, Defy, of course, but also Resistance by Jaye Knight and Lisa Bergren’s Torrent. Each have similar points to their stories, whether time travel or genre or themes of redemption and restoration and, of course, action.

WOULD YOU RATHER: GET TRAPPED IN YOUR STORY FOR A WEEK, OR HAVE YOUR ANTAGONIST ENTER YOUR LIFE FOR A DAY?

Oo, fun! That’s so easy. Get trapped in the story for a week. I mean, if the antagonist showed up here, I’d have to explain an entirely different world and time period. That would be . . . stressful. Besides, I don’t think he’d like my cats, and well, we just couldn’t have that, now could we?

A LINE INVOLVING A DECISION

First draft here, so you may not see this particular line in the final draft, but here ’tis. A couple lines, actually:

No one in their right mind – even half in their right mind – would consider this a valid plan. But she dragged her eyes to meet his anyway and forced her jaw to let a string of muttered words through. “What do you need me to do?”

CHOOSE AN IDEAL READING SPOT, FOOD, DRINK, AND MUSIC TO GO WITH YOUR BOOK

All right-y, reader, pay attention, because you’ll need this info when the book is finally out of my hands and into your hands.

Reading spot: On a front or back porch, I think, especially in the evening.

Food and Drink: Garlic bread and apple cider. What else?

Music: Ooo, Flight of the Silverbird.

WOULD YOU RATHER: HAVE TEA WITH YOUR ANTAGONIST, OR BE STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 3 HOURS WITH YOUR MC?

That’s so easy. Tea with the antagonist. I do not want to be stuck anywhere with my MC from any of my stories, past or future. Let’s just get that straight.

WHY DO YOU YEARN TO SHARE THIS STORY WITH THE WORLD?

Because words can change people. They can lift you up, give you hope, remind you that there truly is one light shining.

The main characters deal with a lot of challenges that I believe many people can relate to, self-worth being one of them. There are strong messages in this story of the consequences of one’s anger and the unconditional power of forgiveness.

This book tackles many day-to-day struggles without masking them. There is pain, and in turn, grace. There is hatred, and in turn, forgiveness. There is danger, and in turn, trust. And perhaps one of the strongest threads of One Light Shining – there are actions which seem beyond any redemption, and in turn, His love beyond all limits.

 

And there you have it! A peak into my WIP, One Light Shining. Book Update: I’ve officially begun the editing and rewriting I have to do this summer/fall, and it’s on track so far, aside from being totally agonizing. 🙂

Anyway, let’s get ready to do some reading, eh? Meantime, why don’t you take #WIPJoy on over to your blog? It’ll be fun!

 

Crafting Characters – the Protagonist

First, my sincere apologies for wandering so from this blog. A full explanation will be available at the closing of this post, so in the meantime, let’s chat about characters. They’re so important, you know. Especially your MC, your protagonist. Just like there’s a way to nail the antagonist of your story, there’s a way to nail this one, too.

SHOULD THE MC ALWAYS BE ON THE GOOD SIDE?

In short, yes. And no. You see, depending on where the plot takes your story, you may want this character to start out on the wrong side. Plenty of good books take this approach and, personally, I love it. However, let me caution you against the mistake I’ve made in the past – if you take this approach, outline ahead of time how the protagonist comes to “see the light,” so to speak. Logistics in this area are crucial.

So no, the MC doesn’t have to be on the good side all the way through. Though I wouldn’t recommend you end your story with him/her on the dark side. That could be a slippery slope. 🙂 Ooo, but say you had a trilogy and ended the first book that way . . .  Hmm . . .

SHOULD THE PROTAGONIST BE PERFECT?

Isn’t that what we all want? A hero? A fictional someone so infinitely better than us that we can wish we were like?

Sure, we do, but that isn’t life, and makes for a bit of a fluffy story. In fiction, we want life. Bring out the darkness, show it for what it is, make your protagonist a broken soul, but bring about victory at the end. That’s the whole point. Victory. Hope. Light at the end of the tunnel. Besides, a perfect-no-scars-or-mistakes hero who saves the day simply won’t be relatable.

God alone is perfection, and we cannot be. Neither should our fictional characters.

SO THERE Y’ALL HAVE IT!

There are, of course, many more ways to and no to craft a protagonist, but let’s save some for another day, shall we? These are good for starters.

And I’m back into blogging after a long absence. Explanation – I was insanely busy. We all were, what with harvesting the garden, milking the goats, harvesting the garden, setting up summer pastures, harvesting the garden . . .  You get the idea, right?

Now that we’re rolling a little easier again, you tell me something – what writing things and bookish things would you like to see on this blog? We share this writing adventure. We’re in it together. Let’s chat!

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?

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!