"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Thank you so much for visiting. I'm spending time with family and friends this week. We'll be celebrating our traditions, and maybe even starting a few new ones. I hope you are able to enjoy all of the blessings of this loving season. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Book Flood

Our local schools have spent the past week talking with the children about how different countries and religions celebrate the holidays. So, a friend recently shared this graphic on facebook.

While it sounds like the perfect way to spend the night (what could be better than snuggling in bed with a good book and chocolate) I was curious if this was true and wanted to learn more. I came across this interesting article: Literary Iceland Revels in its Annual Christmas Book Flood.

Do you give books as gifts? Do you enjoy receiving them? What's your favorite?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Joy Blog Hop

Elizabeth at Liz’s Random Ponderings is hosting the Christmas Joy Blog Hop today. To participate, simply visit her site and add yourself to the list!

I am participating because Christmas is my favorite holiday. As a Christian, it is a reminder of what my Lord has done for all of us, and how we are meant to treat each other. I am most grateful for my faith, family, and friends.

I am lucky to have a wonderfully supportive and loving husband who is my best friend and has given me two beautiful daughters! (see picture to the right).

December is always a crazy month for us, filled with holiday cheer - Christmas concerts and show, activities, and parties. Any evening where we find ourselves without obligations, we spend driving around looking at Christmas lights, or snuggled on the couch with popcorn and a Christmas classic.

One of our favorite Christmas traditions includes reading "The Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve, while wearing new warm nightgowns. We reminisce over our favorite holiday memories, and enjoy staring into our Christmas trees - yes, we have more than one - before we settle in for the evening.

One of the best gifts I have ever received for Christmas is my dog who just celebrated her tenth birthday (see left), and, of course, there are always plenty of books and magazines subscriptions given as gifts. We all love to read!

One of my favorite Christmas songs this year is "Mary, Did You Know?" - the Pentatonix version. I hope you enjoy it as well - view below.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions and memories?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

3 Lessons Every Writer Can Learn from The Martian

A year ago, most people had never heard of Andy Weir. Even if you you were a follower of his blog, or had purchased a copy of his self-published The Martian, you had no idea what lay ahead for him. Today, he is a New York Times bestselling author receiving royalties from his movie deal.

I truly enjoyed the book, and wasn't disappointed in the movie (something that frequently happens to book lovers - especially if story changes are made). After reading this story and watching several interviews with the author, I realized there are three basic lessons any writer can learn, or have reinforced for them, from Weir's work.

1) First lines are important - We are frequently told that opening scenes matter most. Their job is to lure the reader in, and force them to continue. Some authors have condensed this advice to "hook them with the first line." Weir does an excellent job of this... I'm pretty much fucked. Your feelings about use of language aside, the reader is immediately invested in this character and this story. They already want to know what went wrong, and if it's possible to fix the situation. Curious how some of the best books ever written have begun? Take a look at these 100 opening lines.

2) Write what you know - Weir's father was a physicist, his mother an electrical engineer, and his own admitted hobbies include space travel, orbital dynamics, astronomy, and the history of manned space flight. Even when you specialize in a field, or have completed hours of research, believeability is more important than reality. When you know your material like a pro, you can take liberties with the facts and readers will follow you anyway. See more here.

3) Characters are more important than plot -  Even people who don't particularly care for science fiction were able to enjoy this book because of the characters. The main character had a personality you couldn't help but enjoy. And the author spent time allowing a glimpse into the lives - emotions and relationships - of the minor characters as well. If your reader becomes invested in the characters, it doesn't matter if your plot has a small hole in it; if the details aren't all there. The readers won't be able to put the book down if they love the people inside the story.

Curious what Adam Savage and real-life astronauts thought of Weir's tale? Check out the panel discussion with the author below.

Did you read this book, see the movie, or learn anything interesting from either?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: Year-End Review of Your Writing

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

I can hardly believe it’s December already, and this is the last IWSG post of 2015. The pressure of the season is already mounting. I’m feeling overwhelmed, and not yet enjoying the Christmas cheer. How about you?

Perhaps it’s time for a reflective mood, and a year-end review. We should take a breath, remember, and be proud of what we’ve accomplished so far this year. DO NOT use this time to stress about what you didn’t do. It’s not about judging yourself. Instead, use this time to experience pride and gratitude. Remind yourself what you DID accomplish.  You’re still a writer and reader, you haven’t given up, and hopefully you still find joy in exploring your creativity.

How do I successfully perform a year-end review?

1)      Collect all your writing in one-place - You will need a lot of room. If most of your writing is on your computer, you might consider printing it out. Collecting everything into one place may be the most difficult and rewarding piece of this process. The act of simply handling your work from the last year will do magic for the next.
2)      Read - Read a little of everything. Whether you simply skim over everything, or dive deep into several pieces the outcome can be just as rewarding. The goal is not to read everything, but instead to become familiar again with what you’ve written.
3)      Enjoy - You are your own worst critic, but this is not a time for critiquing. Read your writing out of a place of appreciation instead of judgment. Rediscover the pleasure you found when first creating these works.
4)      Categorize - As you read, you may notice themes in your writing, images that come up again and again, or moods that you seemed to slip into often. If you like, you can use highlighters or colored pens to visualize these different themes, but simply noticing is enough.
5)      Consider - Why did you write what you did? Why these pieces? Why these forms (blog posts/poems/novel chapters)? What motivated you to write over the last year? Why were you drawn to this theme or that image? Who are you as a writer? And what are you about?
6)      Forgive - You may find that you are unable to give up judgment and enjoy your own writing. In this case, you must forgive yourself. Let yourself out of the expectation of genius and perfection. Accept that the year is what it is and choose to be content with it. Do not compare yourself to others, or even yourself (What you’ve done in years past, or feel you should have done this year). Only seek complete acceptance.
Don’t worry about goals, that can come later (January 1st perhaps). For now, remind yourself of why you like to write, and what you’ve been able to do so far. If you don’t appreciate your own writing and abilities, how can you expect others to?

I hope you’ll try this. What did you accomplish this year? Please remember to praise YOURSELF!