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29 January 2010

A Pondering for a Cloudy Day

Do you ever wish you could just stop? Everything around you would come to a halt. Except you. You'd climb out of your chair and start walking. You'd pick that mouse from the cat's claws and move him to safety. You'd put a rose in the gnarled hands of that old lady. You'd dowse the small fire than started in that living room and turn the run away teenager around to run smack dab into his mother's open arms.

Then you'd clamber across stilled traffic and walk on. Following a soul compass you never bothered to check before. You'd collect dandelions along the way, blow the seeds in all directions and marvel at how they sit like jewels amongst the frozen skies. And when you paused you'd marvel at the sights, where your soul took you. Marvel at how you walked across waves and over mountains, how jets looked small when you held them in your hands. How even the air was fresher because the smoke belched from towers was no longer spreading.

When you finally stopped you'd climb down from the clouds and slip effortlessly into a you-shaped slot. You'd blow a kiss to unseen forces, the clock would resume ticking, those around you welcome you. And everything would be as it should be.

28 January 2010

An Award and Some Honest Scrap


I love receiving awards (who doesn't?), I just don't normally have the time to re post!! Which, by the way, I hate :( *cue sad violin music here. Hey...Is that Joshua Bell I see?*


Today, however, work is slow (geez, I hope I didn't just curse the last four hours...) and I just discovered that I was awarded this!


A big huge THANK YOU to Tiana Lei over at Spilled Ink for this bright award. I like to think my arms look like that when I grasp my pen. *cue laughing here*. If you haven't discovered her yet, you should! So go on over and take a peek. Do it! Pay no attention to the peer pressure heaped upon your head in dump truck loads.


It seems I'm supposed to post Ten Honest Things about me. Well, here goes!


1. My all time favorite movies are the original Star Wars trilogy. You know, the ones with Harrison Ford in them? The REAL Star Wars. Yeah. Those.

2. I love cheese. Seriously. If I could live off of cheese alone, I would.

3. My ancestors on my dad's side were from Nottingham England.

4. If I went to Hogwarts I'd be in Slytherin.

5. I have a crush on Dave Matthews

6. When I was four years old I could recite the poem "Little Orphan Annie" in its entirety

7. I read the dictionary for fun

8. I have this incurable desire to live in a steampunk world.

9. I would love to get licensed to pilot hot air balloons

10. I am 99.9% certain I am related to Edgar Allan Poe


That was fun! And now for the dolling out of the Honest Scrap Award (if you already have it, then this will just go to show you you're quite the honest bloggy blogger :)


1. Kristen at Write in the Way (because she needs some happies in her new home :)

2. Baino at Baino's Banter (because I do so love a person who can tell it like it is and entertain)

3. Angela at Parisienne Farmgirl (because I am not ashamed to say I agree with her most recent post)

4. Terresa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle (because her views on life, birth, and death are more real than anything I've come across in a loooooong time)

5. Ann at Holy Experience (because I have yet to come across a blog that rips my heart out, opens it up and forces me to take a good, long, hard look at it's contents like this one does)

6. Sarah at The Teastained Page (because I have never in my LIFE met a more gifted young author. If you haven't met her yet, run over right now! But only if you want to get lost in dreams.)


In lieu of my normal Thursday post, I wanted to post this little scrap of honesty. Today I have read about life, about death, about love and loss, about birth and about politics. I've laughed, I've cried, I've cheered. Somewhere in all of this, something very profound hit me right smack between the eyes. My dear readers YOU are all the most honest people I know! I constantly find myself surrounded by people who are so afraid to live, to make mistakes, to be human. And I am constantly delighted at finding another God fearing, Jesus loving, word worshiping, straight talking, chocolate and wine loving individual in this great wide blog sphere. I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for being honest. For being real. Mistakes and all. I love you all the better for those. And thanks for accepting me, scars and bruised knees, ink stained fingers and broken toes.


Thank you.


Honestly :)
(I got a little link happy with this post, didn't I?)

26 January 2010

Reconsidering Rejection

Yesterday, above the romp with wonderful questions, I posted a little quote about critics. I like it. In fact, I like it so much, I'm going to re post it here:

"A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote." ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

I read a lot of quotes. I collect them. Some may say I'm addicted to them. I don't deny it. My quote infatuation began when I started learning calligraphy. I found other's words far more beautiful than my own. This quote, however, really stuck with me. We hear all the time about how rejection will come, how to cope with it. How some writer's wallpaper their walls with them, how some of them burn them with much pomp and circumstance. I've thought about keeping them for posterity, in case, after I'm a multi-best selling author, one of my "rejectors" ever asks me at a fancy cocktail party why I didn't contact them. I can show them I did. With a smile, of course :)

It's interesting to think that our words, which mean so much to us, may not mean as much to someone else. In fact, they may mean nothing. Or, and this is stranger still, they may mean something else entirely. Something we never planned for them to mean. Everyone takes from a work of literature what they bring to it. We have life experiences that are unique, we have personal and private battles that travel with us, even in the land on the other side of dreams. We have wounds and joys that alter our perception of things. And, here's the kicker, so do our readers.

I like to think that people will be encouraged by my writing. That they will lose themselves in another world and emerge with a greater sense of self worth. That's the goal I create for all my characters. I've always loved stories where the MC is a little on the low self esteem side, without friends or any noticeable talents. It's fun to pluck them from their humdrum existence and put them somewhere where, suddenly, they have what everyone needs! Or, what everyone thinks they need. The MC is frightened, mad, confused, hurt, angry. They want to run and hide and pretend it's not happening. That the end of the world will not be imminent if they throw it all away and go back to what was boring, yes, but comfortable at least. They don't want to hurt anymore, they don't want the weight of the world on their shoulders. They never asked for it!

How often do we feel that way? Most of the time, I'm sure. I want my readers to know they are not alone. That someone understands. And my job is to do all I can to make that happen. To the best of my ability. But once the story leaves my hands and travels to the hands of an agent or an editor, I have no control over what they take from it.

No control.

Now those are two words we don't like seeing together. I think that's why writing is such a stressful and emotional occupation. We control the universe on paper but once it's submitted, it's out of our hands. We must trust we've done our best to communicate. And we must trust our readers to understand that which we are trying to say. However, there will be those who don't "get" it. Who aren't there yet or who have already passed by. They'll reject our words. And that's okay. Yes, you read that correctly: it's okay.

If you've done your job, your best, and your story is told as it needs to be. If, as Madeleine L'Engle said, you have "served the call" to the best of your ability, then your story will find a home. It will reach those who need to be reached. The hardest part of this is finding those people. And the waiting that comes along with the hunting.

Don't give up, do your best, and write your heart out!

Happy writing,
Jen

25 January 2010

Monday Musings (and a blog tag from Willow)

"A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote." ~Mignon McLoughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Hello dear readers! I fear I have been neglecting my reading. There are so many posts on which I must catch up. Case in point. I wandered over to Willow's Manor and found that a week ago (a WEEK!) she posted some answers to a tag and then commented (quite sneakily) that it would be nice to read what my answers would be. A week. I shake my head in shame, dear friend.

However, all is not lost! I am posting the questions here, now, and I shall, a week late, answer them :) What fun, yes?

1) What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
I've been capturing some random thoughts in a notebook at work. It started last week. The last thing I wrote is in there, gathered up between parchment pages and tied with leather chord.
Ick. The first thing I wrote that I still have is a story I started when I was somewhere between 10 and 13. It was going to be a ghost story about a haunted china doll. It's dreadful!

2) Write poetry?
So I've been told. If I rhyme, however, it is completely by accident.

3) Angsty poetry?
Only if I'm feeling particularly angsty on a poetry day. It's never good and always crammed into a hidden crevice to be laughed at when I stumbled upon it at a later date.

4) Favorite genre of writing?
I write young adult/new adult fantasy/suspense. I also wield a mean supernatural suspense tale. At least, I think so. I scare myself writing sometimes. Does that count?

5) Most annoying character you've ever created?
Ha! I was thinking about this last night. A villain in my WIP is a whiny, paranoid cretin. I look forward to dishing out his come-uppance.

6) Best plot you've ever created?
Oh, I'm working on it. It's rather complicated and will take several books to tie up. Let's just say it has a lot to do with mythology. So much fun, those ancient myths. There's so much room to run and so many people to play with.

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
Oh dear. That's in my WIP as well. And I cannot, will not, simply won't tell. Trust me. If this is ever published, you'll thank me that I didn't :)

8) How often do you get writer's block?
How often can you say "now"? I guess I think of writer's block as a demon that perches between me and my latest big project. I will push out many little things: poems, hearts on strings, raven's nests and powder blue stars. Those come easily. If I listen. The novels, the world building, that's where the block camps out. Perhaps I could write a novel in the little things. Confuse that block real good. Hmmm, a challenge.

9) Write fan fiction?
heh. Actually yes. I have. And I have some of them up on a fan fiction website. How silly is that? Did I confess that out loud? Oh geez...

10) Do you type or write by hand?
Both. I eek out my initial ideas through pen, sweat and tears. Then I call in a translator in ancient Welsh, which is what my scribblings resemble. I pound that into the computer and then begin the piecing together of the tale that must be told.

11) Do you save everything you write?
No. Some rantings have mysteriously gone missing over the years. I think it's the bats in the belfry. They feed on old pains.

12) Do you ever go back to an abandoned idea?
Every new book I start is a once abandoned idea. My books are once and future things.

13) What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
My WIP. It's a tangled web of lies and mythology, of love and loss, of regret and anger, of bitterness and resolution. It also ends with the annoying inkling there could be more. There is. A lot more. But if I told you what, it would spoil the surprise :)

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?
I have several people reading my WIP. So far they really like it. I'm flattered and heartened. I am humbled they read my scribblings.

15) Every written romance or angsty teen drama?
There are always elements of romance in what I write but out and out romance? I thought about it once and I laughed myself silly!

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?
The thin line between Reality and the Otherworld. My characters almost always come from Here and cross over to There with the help of a motley band of Others. I am far more comfortable with the Otherworld than what most call reality. Makes one wonder, doesn't it? What IS real?

17) How many projects are you working on now?
At the risk of being berated, poked, prodded and thumped, I am working on finishing up my trilogy, I'm scratching out the beginnings of something that came to be prior to Christmas, I have a mystery outlined and on the back burner, two fantasies in the wings, and an outline for the continuation of my trilogy (yes...continuation) that is begging me to write right now. And my blogs as well as those little snippets I mentioned somewhere above. Whew. I'm tired.

18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?
I've been given numerous awards from my wonderful blog friends? Do those count?

19) What are you five favorite words?
Only five? Parsimonious, Ecclesiastical, Melodramatic, Persnickety, and Effervescent

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?
As frightening as it is, all my characters are a little bit of me. Even my villains. Especially my villains.

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
I pluck them from the playground of my mind. They come to me, in the night, in the stillness, when I can't quite reach them. They hover in the corners, quietly waiting, sometimes tapping incessantly on the door frames of my brain. Sometimes they leap out of closets and grab me by the collar. Those moments are frightening but the immediacy they create are quite phenomenal. I have no choice but to write.

22) Do you favor happy endings?
I like closure. Sometimes happily ever after annoys me. No matter how fantastical the tale, I like it to hold a sense of reality for me. Real life has ups and downs. There are battles won and lost. I like that in a story too. Make me believe I was there. Make me hurt and laugh with the characters.

23) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Too much so.

24) Does music help you write?
Yes. If it's too quiet the voices get too loud.

25) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.
"You mean he's going to kill a deer and bring it back here?"
"Venison usually does require a deer, love."

That was fun. I'm terrible at the rules to these things. I just get so bogged down! So here's a few instructions for those of you who like those sorts of things. Wander over to Willow's (you'll find the link above). Her Manor is filled with wonder, woolly socks, and things that go bump in the night. Then, if you feel so inclined, answer these questions on your blog. Answer them all, answer none of them. Make up your own. It's a question free for all! Let me know if you do :)

Happy Monday,
Jen

22 January 2010

Breathing Exercises



Sometimes I just get this feeling that Amazing passed by.

A feeling of other world and parchment flavored skies.
A feeling that if I look around, my eyes closed tight,


I'll see wings of burnished copper and lavender covered roofs.
A land of perpetual sunset under the light of three small moons.


Where words are plucked from branches,
scribbled on leaves of coffee stained fibers.



Pen-quilled porcupines offer their services
in exchange for belly rubs and blue green marshmallow wands.


I breathe and it evaporates, this feeling of unseen bliss.


I smile and adjust my shoulders.


The phone rings, as I reach,
I wonder softly at the ink beneath my nails.



Enjoy your weekend, dear readers. May your days be filled with rest, dreaming, and ink stained hands.


Jen

21 January 2010

The Importance of Confidence

I get emails from The Highlight's Foundation. They publish Highlights Magazine for children. This post is from their most recent newsletter, an article written by Stephen Roxburgh of namelos, llc.

"The three C's of writing fiction are Creativity, Craft and Confidence. Of the three, confidence is often the hardest to achieve. A writer needs to have confidence in her reader, respecting her intelligence and acumen, trusting that the reader is paying attention."

I like this. Having confidence in your reader. A lot of times, we as writers feel we have to explain everything. I've been guilty of this. During this last round of editing, I noticed that I tend to have my characters over explain things. This is boring and unnecessary. Sure, we need to put enough information in so that the reader isn't completely lost, but we don't need to put so much in they figure out the end in the first ninety pages!

Trust your readers. Put faith in them to figure out where you're going. Give them some of what I like to call "holy crap moments". Anyone who's watched a Shyamalan film knows what those are. You're cruising along, minding your own business, reading when *WHAM!* you're hit between the eyes with an outcome or a revelation you never saw coming. Excellent. We as readers love that. But it's also nice to follow along and whisper, "I know who did it" and have it confirmed a few pages later. You didn't know at the beginning. The author was smart. She let a few clues trickle in here, some more there. Your brain gathered them together and made it's own assumptions. Sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong. But you followed along. You didn't have, or need, a character to hold your hand and tell you everything.

Roxburgh goes on to say, "A writer also needs to have confidence in herself, trusting in her own ability to communicate successfully. I see the lack of confidence most in scenes where the writer both 'shows' what's going on and then, lacking confidence that the reader will get it, 'tells' the reader what she is supposed to take from the scene."

The example he gives is when a character tells a joke and then the writer finished it with, "he said, laughing". Ouch. A show of hands for the guilty? Yep, mine's up there.

Of course we need to be confident in our own ability. Not to the point where we just write whatever the heck we want and take no guidance from anyone. A quiet confidence, where we study, we read, we ask and seek. And when the time comes, we put pen to paper and produce the best work we can produce. We edit, we cut, we slice and dice until, through the sweat, tears and blood we know we can do no more. But we have to have a confidence in our readers.

This is something I'm going to be pondering as I continue with my edits. How much am I showing and telling? When would a simple "he said" suffice over expounding on the obvious? I know, I know, something ELSE to look for while editing. "I thought I was done!!!" Yeah, so did I. I'm now on my fourth edit of a trilogy. I was bemoaning that fact a while until I realized, if I'm not 100% sure my manuscript is the best it can be (and I'm not talking about over obsessing to the point of never submitting), why would I want to risk a publishing career on it? Sure, I can write again, I can even submit again. But I'd rather know I send out the best I could and be rejected because it wasn't right for a house or an agent, then send out something that was a flop from the get go.

I want to communicate effectively. I also want to add enough mystery to keep my reader's guessing. Just another fine line we as writer's have to walk. And we thought this job would be easy ;) (that was a joke, in case you were suddenly questioning my sanity...well, questioning it more than usual)

Happy writing,
Jen

19 January 2010

A Place Called Belonging


We write to be heard. To express our ideas, our dreams. To touch lives that we may never meet tangibly but through words we are pilgrims along the same path.


It's easy to get lost amongst all these words. Fat ones, the kind that drip from your lips and run down your chin. Thin ones that crunch when they slip past your teeth. Salty ones, bitter ones, words so sweet they hurt your teeth. Soft words, hard words, words foul and ugly that are spat away and slung to the mud paved stones.


They build up, pile up, forming trees of looming darkness. We trudge onward, spouting words as they come, letting them tumble and crest into hills and valleys, all the while our feet walk blindly on. Until we hit an impasse. Until the wall is so high and the branches so thick around us. Until our feet are sunk in the very same mud we thought we'd washed our hands of.


There's a Place called Belonging and it's where we thought we were going. We used all the right words, the ones we heard others say. We threw out some wrong words, the shocking and the bleak. They made us feel edgy, hard core and refined. What about the sweet words? The ones everyone wanted to hear? Those counted for something, right? Right?!?


In desperation we claw at the wall, telling it to move, yelling at it in shrill tones that would crack glass and shatter the sugar coating we thought surrounded our dreams. There is not toe hold, no finger gap to cling to. What now? What then? Panting we sit, our knuckles are bleeding, our eyes swollen from crying. All that remains is the path down which we've already walked.


Go back? Nonsense! I've come this far! If I turn around I'll only go backwards. Backwards goes back to where I started from. I don't want to go back there. It's where I don't belong.

Perhaps not. But the wall, can you get by it? Can you get around it? Turn around, brave soul and seek out the path you passed. As words were flying unchecked from your lips, your fingers, your pencils you scattered it's faint footfalls and shadowed it's doorway.


Think now. Where did you taste that fruit? The one that was like nothing, like nothing you've had before? Only once, maybe twice, when the words came you knew. You KNEW your voice embodied them and you held them so briefly, cradling them like birds. They trembled and fluttered, wanting freedom and you gave it. They flew away, circling, calling to you, not goodbyes as you thought but a beckoning to follow.


To follow? Yes. The path. You had to go back to find it. You thought you were moving backwards but in truth you were going back to where you belonged. The birds,they nested, perched and waited. Now they sing and are ready to guide you to a Place called Belonging.


"But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg. 28

18 January 2010

Addendum to the Awards Post

Speaking from the Crib was so very kind to nominate my recently late blog Lessons in the Art of Slow for a stunning blog award! I'm touched!!! I told her I would mention it here and suggest you all wander over to read her fantastic often hilarious accounts of life, the universe, and everything!

Thanks, Speaking! I am sorry my little blog has been retired but the award is accepted posthumously (and don't worry, the images and the articles from Lessons will be up here on Fridays. The articles on living the slow life will be over at Sagewood Manor on Thursdays).

Jen

And Yet Another Nod to the Academy


Dawn over at Plotting and Scheming awarded me this delightful little award! I adore it :) It's so good to know I can make smiles appear in blog land. Thank you Dawn! And if you have yet to visit her place, go over there. Go on. You know you want to! And tell her I sent you!

Cheers!
Jen

I know, I know, there are rules to these things, but I have very limited time right now and instead of succumbing to more rules, I'm just giving kudos and thanks and sending you on to Dawn's wonderful blog! Don't feel offended if you pass on an award to me and I do this. It's just due to time constraint right now :( But I appreciate them ALL and WILL publicly post my thanks :)

Monday Musings


"Writing is my time machine, takes me to the precise time and place I belong."
~Jeb Dickerson

15 January 2010

The Sorting Hat

Anyone who knows me, knows I really enjoy the Harry Potter stories. So, it's no surprise that I would allude to them when using a hat to pick a winner in my 1ooth Post Give-Away.


As you can see, there were many who came. All worthy of so much more than I was offering. Yes, I really did hand write all of your names down on slips of paper and cut them to size. It was way more fun than just randomly pointing at the computer screen.


Like I promised, a real hat was used for the sorting ...er... drawing

I folded those bad boys up tightly so there was no way of cheating. Not that I could cheat. Honestly, I wanted to send something to EVERYONE. I'm just that way. My husband, o rational one, informed me that shipping could get a trifle expensive if I did that. I shrugged and agreed. Grrr...


Snug as a bug. Everyone ready?


The suspense!!! The nervous waiting! The twitching limbs and biting of nails, gnashing of teeth, the... ok, it's not that bad.

And the Winner is...
*
*
*
*
Tabitha Bird!!!!
*If I had a way to shoot off fireworks through the computer, I would do it.
However, that may prove risky to both her and me :)
Congratulations! This is my first ever give away and I was super excited to do it! Thank you, Tabitha, for your wonderful posts, your kind comments, and your every inspiring word. If you haven't been over to Tabitha's place, you really, really should go! It's a feast :)
Tabitha, you're the lucky winner of some fine handcrafted paper. If you'll send me your mailing information to jstantonchandler (at) gmail (dot) com, I will get that out to you first thing Monday morning!
And now I must tell you a rather funny story about this drawing. I was telling my husband about it and, in passing, said "Wouldn't it be funny if I had to ship it to somewhere like Australia?" Yeah, well, be careful what you say, dear children. Instant Karma's gonna get 'cha ;) Not that I mind! Always wanted to go Down Under. Maybe I can figure out a way to ship myself too. You wouldn't mind a visitor, would you Tabitha, dear?
Fear not, dear readers, I do plan to do another give away and hopefully soon. In keeping with the 100 theme, I'll be thinking up something else to send out when I reach 100 followers. Can it be done? I think so. Nothing's impossible, right?
Have a wonderful and blessed weekend! Enjoy yourself and don't do anything I wouldn't do. That leaves the field wide open, now, doesn't it?
Cheers,
Jen
I've got to figure out how to get my spaces back...grr.

13 January 2010

Seek and Ye Shall Find


Wouldn't it be nice? To grab a butterfly net, an Ernest Hemingway vest and a Dr. Livingstone hat and go in search of our next great story? To go wandering over hill and valley, through deepest jungle, tangled vines, traverse across snow covered peaks and through misty woods, every seeking the elusive "Once upon a time...".


If only it was that easy.


Stories float about in our heads day and night. If you're like me, you always have a new idea wandering around. Do you tap it on the shoulder, invite it in for tea? Do you trap it, unsuspecting with a box propped up with a stick and a ream of paper underneath? Do you scream in terror when it taps on your window pane in the night? It's easy to get distracted. It's easy to push them away. "Not now," you say, "I'm already too busy!"


But the idea is waiting. It's longing to be loved. All it desires is to be taken in, given a warm bed in a file folder, and a promise that, even if it takes a hundred years, it will not be forgotten. Most of them have no plans for stardom. They don't wish to be Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes or Jo March. Some of them only wish to be a shop at the corner, a street name, or a dessert in a scene under the stars. There are some that desire to be mountains, or small covered bridges, or the sword held between the hands of the reluctant knight.


What ideas are swarming above you? Are you welcoming them with open arms? Have you ever been picked up by them and carried away? I know I have...in fact, I'm waiting with my hands outstretched, above my head.


Story time, take me away!!!


Jen
PS: Don't forget to comment on yesterday's post. You'll be entered into a drawing to win something marvelous :) You have until Thursday at five!!!

12 January 2010

100th POST!!


Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, dogs, cats, and narwhals!
I welcome you all to my 100th post!


***the crowd goes wild! fireworks light up the sky, a Chinese dragon whisks by and a national holiday is declared by all world leaders***
Can I tell you I'm shocked and rather excited by this! I noticed the other day that my post counter was getting rather close to the old 100 mark. And here it is! I could have put it off, but why? Why not party on a Tuesday?
What does this mean? Well, actually, it just means I've reached a personal milestone. I've committed to something and followed through. Do you know how hard that is???? I have battled this long standing fear of failure, of stepping out into the unknown because "what if I fail?" "what if I don't follow through?". But this time, I had some help. YOU! Yes, that's right. YOU. I have been pushed to post as often as possible because of you. You keep me writing, keep me reading, keep challenging me to move forward, to reach for that elusive star of publishing. No matter what, I know I can persevere because if I don't, I have quite a few wonderful people here in blogtopia that I'll be letting down.
This calls for some long over due changes to the landscaping. As some of you know, I have decided to retire my blog Lessons in the Art of Slow. It was a blog I started in conjunction with this one last January in order to keep my ponderings about life in order and in tact. However, I've noticed something in past few weeks: my articles that I'm posting there, are the types of articles I'm wanting to pursue to publication. Since this little gathering is all about writing, why not post those articles here? Hmmmm, said I. Sounds like a plan. What about my other weekly post over there? Well, those fit wonderfully with my new venture, Sagewood Manor. I'll be posting a new post schedule up over there today as well.
With that being said, I have decided to take a NEW leap. New year, new challenge, new goals. If you look to your right, you'll see I now have a post schedule. Scary, I know. Why? Because I need goals. I need something to stare me in the face and scream at me "you'd better do THIS!". Where this terrifies me, I know I have an advantage this time. Yep, you guessed it. YOU. Just by reading these words, you're holding me accountable to my new goals for writing. I have others for this year, but for now, I'll leave it to the sidebar. I'm adding two posting days to this blog, as you will see. This should get interesting! These posting changes will begin next week.
I'm convinced this combining and streamlining of my blogs is a positive change, one that will allow me more focus on the two passions of my life: writing and the creation of a lifestyle business. And I want you all along for however long this journey may be!
Oh, why not. How about a give away!!! Woohoo!!!! Hmmm, let's see. Something totally random. Um...leave me a comment. Yeah, that's it. Leave me a comment between now and Thursday. I'll add them all up, assign a number to each commenter and pull a name from a hat. A literal hat. I'll even take a picture :) What will you win? How about a nice stack of handmade paper? I've been itching to make some more and this will be the perfect excuse to do so :) So how 'bout it? You guys game?
Happy Tuesday!
Jen
(the multi-colored text? it's to help make this easier to read. for some reason, if I post a picture, my layout will not show spaces where I need them. grrrr.....I'm off to slay some computer gremlins!)

11 January 2010

Monday Musings

"The story I am writing exists, written in absolute perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it and copy it." ~ Jules Renard, "Diary" February 1895

I love this quote. The thought that my story (stories) are floating about up there, somewhere, in their perfected form excites me and makes me want to work all the harder to pluck them from the clouds and settle them down on the page.

Happy Monday,
Jen

08 January 2010

Another Post, A New Challenge

It's slow at work. So sue me! (Um on second thought, don't. Just bear with the multiple posts and humor me with wishes of snow drifts and Godiva hot cocoa.)

I've read a couple of wonderful posts this morning about reading lists for the new year. Mmmm, says I, a reason to devour more books! More importantly, an opportunity to publicly announce my intentions and thus shackle myself to the knowledge that if I don't keep it, many wonderful people will forever consider me a slacker.

Am I up for this self-torture? You bet!! Come on, it's reading :) And I'm making it easy on myself. I'm not going to commit to a certain number of books, or genre of books, but I am going to commit to reading something different at least once a month. Different as in NOT rereading A Wrinkle In Time for the umpteenth (is that a word) time. I do read it at least twice a year, but it doesn't count. I'll list it, but it doesn't go towards my goal. There's so many spectacular books out there, one's that don't fit my "usual", that I turn down in favor of rereading an old favorite. There's nonfiction books (yes I do count cookbooks as a good read), writing craft books (yes I know I'm behind having NOT read the Master's instructions), and collections of Scandinavian poetry I've yet to tackle! I'm depriving myself of cultural and personal awakening! Ok, so maybe it's not that dire (nor have I ever actually seen a book of Scandinavian poetry OTHER than the one linked here), but you get the gist of what I'm saying.

There's a neat little list in waiting on my side bar. Just above the Creative Tuesday's link (which, by the way, I'll be posting this weekend over at The Manor). Just another way to push myself forward, give myself something to attain, and stretch into the growth I know I'm capable of. I'll be updating about the books as I read them. Feel free to ask any questions about them if you like!

Enjoy your weekend and may your year be filled with new adventures, on the page and off!
Jen

How to Handle Disappointment

1) Throw a royal pity party

2) Get mad, REALLY mad. Pouting and flouncing are encouraged

3) Get ready for work anyway and curse the Weather Channel while you shower

4) Pray all the way to work that you stumble across a freak snow drift and simply MUST turn back!

5) Shuffle into work, turn on your space heater, and sigh as the "snow" drips from the roof

6) Brew some tea, breathe deep, and thank GOD it's Friday

Ok, so it did "snow" last night. Frozen, wet, white stuff fell from the sky for a few moments and we bundled up and danced about on the concrete for a while. Alas, this morning dawned and no ice on the road (not that I wished for traffic accidents and little old ladies tumbling into the gutters as they checked their mail) and it was all business as usual. There wasn't even enough ice in the drive to keep from feeling guilty about a little white lie (pun intended). Ah well...there's always March...or Oregon. Yeah, I'm really feeling the urge to move to Oregon today. Usually it's to England but today, it's Oregon.

Happy Friday to one and all! I hope your weekends are wonderful, bright, and as cheerful as you can make them, snow or no.
Jen

PS: These steps also work for rejection letters and mass amounts of rewrites

06 January 2010

The Magic of Show

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
~ Anton Chekhov

That quote captured me, wrapped me around it's fingers and spread me open like the night sky.

"Show me."

How many times have our critique partners, writing group leaders, mentors said that? My writing mentor always said, "Write with your five senses." All of them. Leave not a one behind. Don't tell me dinner smelled good. Show me how Calvin salivated as the fragrance of baked turkey and ham flitted across the room, how his stomach rumbled in embarrassment at his hunger, how he had to rub his eyes just to make sure he wasn't dreaming. Don't tell me Melissa cried. Show me her streaming tears, her blood shot eyes, the blanket clutched to her chest as he lays, balled up in bed all day, staring at the brick wall. Don't tell me the mountain was majestic. Show me the snow capped peaks, the rocky crags, the steep crevices, the gaping mouths and popping eyes of the mountaineers as they stand atop it's peak.

"Show me."

Remember show and tell? I loved it! I always brought something weird or odd because, well, that's just the way I am. If I had only told someone I had a plastic snail that would open, with use of a large, pink skeleton key, to be used for storage, they may have shrugged, nodded, said, "yeah, that's nice". But I took it in, showed them how it worked. "Oohs and ahs" abound when you show.

There are somethings you can't really tell. How much Bill loves Carol. How much Eleanor loves Emily Dickenson. How much three year old William loves his new puppy. Sometimes words aren't enough, especially for love. Show me how Bill brushes the hair from Carol's eyes. Show me how he holds her hand as she gets up to walk for the first time after knee surgery. Show me how Eleanor will sit for hours pouring over Dickenson, how she smiles, subtly, a knowing smile, sips tea and snuggles under her blanket, perfectly content. Show me how William struggles to carry the puppy everywhere, how he tumbles about the yard with it, how he lets it give him slobbery kisses right smack dab on the lips.

Show, don't tell. Telling has it's place. Sure, we need telling. But it lacks magic. You can tell me Egypt is intoxicating all you want but I'd much, much rather be shown the pyramids, the market place, the temples, the Nile.

I always knew India was a mind-bogglingly different country. I'd been told as much. But until I saw it, smelled it, touched it, tasted it - until it has been shown to me I didn't really know it.

Hmmm, perhaps that's the key after all. Tell me about a book, and I know about it. Show me the book, let me devour it, and I'll know it.

Happy Wednesday,
Jen

PS: Here are two articles by author Donald Miller about reorganizing your life into stories rather than goals. I thought they were appropriate for the new year. Enjoy!

Living a Good Story, an Alternative to New Years Resolutions
Living a Meaningful Story Pt. 2: Creating Memorable Scenes

05 January 2010

Award Time

Just a quick post to say THANKS!!! to Kori over at Blonde Episodes. She's super sweet and her blog is a treat! Go check her place out and tell her I said hello :)

Having been bestowed an award featuring Marilyn makes me feel glamorous, even in my brown trousers and floral loafers (can you say, nerd?).

Happy Tuesday,
Jen

04 January 2010

Monday Musings...and an Announcement :)

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
~ Anton Chekhov

Happy New Year!

Ah, Monday. That roughest of days, especially so after the holidays. Christmas came and went with the usual joy filled gusto and silent reflection that leaves me gasping for more. The new year was quiet, rejuvenating. I was ready to take on a bright new year, put my goals in front of me and advance, advance!

Then the alarm went off at 5am and my old pal temptation to snooze crept in, whispering, "It's OK. It's Monday. No one would blame you if you stayed put." But I prevailed, emerged bleary eyed but victorious, and got a jump start on a frigid day.

The New Year always excites and entices with the promise of better, new, and opportunity. I have always loved new beginnings, even if it was just a self imposed experiment on a random Thursday. A new year, a new decade, and some new tricks up my sleeve.

I left you hanging with my last post. I love cliff hangers but many I know (such as my mother) hate them and get so aggravated by writers who end with "to be continued". For me, that means that there's another story on the horizon, another chapter. Something to look forward to. And heaven knows we all need something good to look forward to. Not that my announcement is earth shattering or life changing. But it's new and for me, it's exciting.

Some of you may not know I have another blog. Lessons in the Art of Slow was a little experiment I started at the first of last year to try and make some sense of life. It turned into a place where I write random musings about life, about living a slow, simple, more measured existence. I intend to keep this up in the coming year, focusing on reflections and lifestyle articles and musings on cultural aspects which sap us of our energy and take from us what we so desperately need: to slow down, to just breathe. Go on by when you have a moment. Let me know what you think. I'd love to have you visit. There's a link on the sidebar of this blog that can lead you there and one on that blog to bring you back. Come and join us Tuesdays and Thursdays. The more the merrier!

And now for the news. I've noticed a few of you already are aware of it, and I am shocked that the few who found out, did. It's fun, really. A third blog has come into being but this one carries with it a bit more weight than my other two. I have long desired to start my own business. I've tried, failed, tried again, fizzled out, changed course, stepped out, rearranged, announced and paused. It was this final pause that gave birth to Sagewood Manor. A place where I can be myself and create that which brings my heart joy. Initially I intended to open wide its virtual doors on Etsy today, but it was that pause that made me realize I was not ready, it was not ready. And that's OK.

Sagewood Manor is a blog, a business, and an experiment in lifestyle. For the next six months I will post daily about my journey, not only to a full blown online shoppe (yes, I do love the old English spelling best) but also in a change of lifestyle, a shift in priority and style. It's not something I can easily put into words but I do hope it's essence will come across in words and photographs. Expect craft projects, experimental products, really bad excursions into metalwork, ramblings and attempts at making homemade pasta and tomato sauce. And always, always, an outstretched hand eager to embrace new friends and create community. The shoppe will open her virtual doors 01 July, 2010. *cue the noise makers and fireworks!*

Do stop by when you can. The door is always opened for you, dear friends. I invite you all on this new journey with me. This experiment. I do love experiments. Mad scientist like. Evil laughter, purple rubber gloves rubbed together as the lightening swirls around and brings my creation to life! But don't worry, that's just what goes on in the dungeon :) Upstairs, the fire is lit, the kettle is singing, and there's plenty of cushions, leather sofas, and velvet covered settees to go 'round. Leave your hat and coat by the door, your cane and gloves will await you on the table just there. Stay as long as you wish and visit as often as you will.

Welcome to 2010! May it be the best yet.
Jen

01 January 2010

Happy New Year

Hello friends!

I hope you all had a marvelous new year's eve. A safe one, especially! The husband and I stayed at home and watched movies, laughed ourselves silly and made cookies. It was wonderful.

I just wanted to put up a quick post to say two things:

1) I have met so many wonderful people this past year through blogging. Count yourself as one of those wonderful people :) Thank you for reading my musings. Your blogs and your comments inspire and fuel me to continue down this often crazy, winding path of creativity with words.

2) I have a little announcement to make but you'll have to wait until Monday to find out what it is :) Wicked, I know, but it will keep you guessing until then!

Happy New Year, dear readers! I wish you all health, joy, and the fulfillment of your dreams large and small.

Always,
Jen