Books & Tea & Happy Things!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

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So the year is near over, and I thought it would be nice to stick with tradition and what's expected of me and give you all a list of what I read in 2013. I promise you no interest, but I like hearing what other people have read, and that's why I share. Plus, it's good to document these things somewhere, don't you think?

What I read in 2013 (in chronological order):
Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally

The Pearl by John Steinbeck
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemmingway
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by the man himself
A Raising in the Sun by Lorrainne Hansbury
Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier
The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Shakespeare Alive! by Elizabeth Kirkland
Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Dragonwitch by Anne Elizabeth Stengl
The Lively Art of Writing by Lucille Vaughan Payne
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Annabeth's War by Jessica Greyson
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Unknown
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Divergent by Veronica Roth
1/2 of Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Eagle of the Ninth (yes, that's cheating.)

To put things in persepective, the bolded titles were assigned for school. As you can see, that's at least half of this year's reading - a shaky total of 26, if you're counting The Eagle of the Ninth, so basically 25. It's more than I thought it would be, to be honest, and though my goal was thirty books, I think I did alright, all things considered. ;)

What books did you all read, and if you managed to somehow pass thirty, tell me how you did it!

Chatterbox: Mythology

Saturday, December 14, 2013

via Pinterest
Perhaps it's because I'm something of a non-conformist that every time Chatterbox comes around I don't want to rattle the given topic around with the characters I'm currently working on. Or perhaps it's something else. Either way, instead of tossing Scarlett, Damien, and Florence into a mythological conversation, this time I'm playing the strings of two very tentative new characters with ostentatious personalities. Meet Starlyte and Ryker.
"Somebody close that window before I die of frostbite!" The crumbling white frame banged shut, and a muss-haired Ryker floped back onto the couch, slapping his book on the table.
"You are particular, Miss Windsor." She didn't seem to mind this, but petted the soft heather duck-fluff of her stole with mock disconsolance.
"Read me a book, Ryker, I'm dreadfully restless." He'd been told she was difficult, but hadn't imagined her being demanding.
"What book, madame?"
"Oh, that one looks well enough for a day like today." She pointed an unspoiled finger at the previously-discarded book with some interest.
"It's mythology, you wouldn't like it." 
"Why don't you try me? I do so love fairy tales."
A cloud of irritation shaded his browline. 
"They're not fairy tales. They're myths."
"There's a difference?" She wasn't trying to be particularly nagging; Ryker felt his skin prickle like gooseflesh nonetheless.
"Of course there's a difference!"
"Oh, and what is it?" She'd given him the hurdle now, and though he mumbled out some discombobulated nonsense Starlyte waited with practiced indifference until he surrendered with an upflinging of his hands.
"There isn't a difference, see?" Her eyes twinkled with the jocund flare of supremacy.
"There is."
An idea occured to him, a brilliant idea, worthy of even Hermes' aproval. 
"As you wish, madame." He plucked the book from the table, flipped to a haphazard page and began to read, adding his own annotation as to the differences between this and fairy tales. At the end, he clapped the book together with a told-you-so smirk, and awaited her response with the posture of a gentleman at the finish of a fencing match, waiting for the defeated opponent to pick up his discarded sword from the far end of the field in a march of shame.
But the match it seems, had been a phony, and his opponent's broadening smile portrayed her long-shot win. 
"Splendid, Ryker, brilliant. Read me another!" Starlyte wiggled more comfortably in her pink brocade chair like a cat on her throne and Ryker chuckled, wagging his head. Miss Windsor was something, a Cheshire in the throne room, with attendants scrambling after her blooming footprints. And she was puring satisfactorily.

Dress Up

Monday, December 09, 2013

So apparently it's very obvious that I love fashion (ho hum). Who knew the writer was an artist too? (Don't tell that to the publishers though...)
When Jenny did a post featuring a good armload of character outfits in the form of Polyvore collages, I knew I wanted to join in the game. This is essentially a combination of fashion and writing, and really, what could be more fun? The following are modern takes on a few of my characters' styles.

Enjoy these for now - since I've been M.I.A. and will continue to be for the next two weeks most likely, due to our Christmas dance recital & several exams to be taken. 

Oh, and don't forget to stop by Bree Holloway Designs! For the month of December all packages are 25% off: this would make a great Christmas gift for the blogger in your life. (Purchase now and you can request a ticket to ensure a free slot in the month of January.) Spread the word!
Adara: Traveller

Tarquin Cromwell

Damien Warrick

Kaitlyn: Traveller


Adara: Queen



Elysium of Oliander

Kaitlyn: Queen

Dior; dramatic as usual.
Scarlett Alexander, hipster extraordinaire. ;)
Which are your favorites, and - if you have characters - how would they dress?

November Snippets: Finding My Balance

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

via pinterest

Time for snippets again! I prefer to share my writing-bits at the end of the month, since then I have the full scope of that month's writing from which to choose. Thus the tardiness of this post. Ahem.
The majority of the writing I did in November was, reasonably so, from Finding My Balance. I did actually dabble a bit in Gumusservi, long enough to plot it and fiddle with it but not long enough to write decent-sized portions: thus, the snippets from that story are few and far between. It's hard to choose favorite bits from a month chock-full of writing, especially when my favorite bits usually end up being spoilers, but here they are nontheless and I do hope you enjoy them. :)

"She was liked because she was the Sugar Plum Fairy, though even that had sparked some jealousy among the girls Scarlett had learned to avoid. But when a dancer is injured, she is out, useless. Another dancer would take her place and Scarlett would have been quite forgotten." -Finding My Balance

"Her back was running with sweat, her breathing was in tatters, and her heart was on fire with a fever she’d thought lost forever. This was going to be a strenuous, consummate semester. Scarlett couldn’t wait." -Finding My Balance

"The tarmac cut a black silhouette across the clear blue sky, and suddenly she felt a flurry of excitement in her stomach, a nervous sort of joy that she hadn’t felt since the phone call from the general manager of the NYC Ballet. It felt as though everything she’d been dreaming of all her life was here, waiting for her to just take a leap and do it. Scarlett wasn’t sure what it was, but she was on the brink of something brilliant – a breakthrough of sorts – and her fingers tingled excitedly in the flannel pockets of her sweatshirt. " -Finding My Balance

"Would he wonder where she had gone, would he know? Or would he ask? Scarlett’s heart felt guilty, and perhaps something more, something that was so smothered she could convince herself it was nothing." -Finding My Balance

"But even in her usual character, she knew she’d won the spar. 
Hugo, breathless, turned to face her. His face was swimming with expressions and emotions, all changing as constant as the ocean. “How’d you do that?” 
Scarlett winked fetchingly, not affording him any reply." -Finding My Balance

"“Yeah, I guess I did. I still don’t think it’s actually happening sometimes. Sometimes I...” Scarlett’s gaze flicked to examine herself in the mirror, a new look taking over her eyes. “I feel like I must be someone else sometimes. The clumsy Scarlett I know never made it this far.” Nostalgia crept into her bones like the night: soft, dark, and unexpected. " -Finding My Balance

"The sun was low in the sky now, and both felt an urge to move on from the spot, to keep distancing themselves from whatever evil was behind." -Gumusservi

“No, Rune. Your kindness does you well, but I cannot hide forever. The Council knows I am not the late Queen’s child. You know; I know. Heaven knows who else has found out. I can’t play this ruse much longer.” -Gumusservi

Beautiful People: Damien

Friday, November 29, 2013

via Pinterest: Damien Warrick
Since I won NaNoWriMo on Friday (hurrah!) I've been working on several different projects writing-wise. The nice thing about making myself write two thousand words every day is that now, to dabble a bit here and there in Psithurism edits and Gumusservi ideas feels easy and healthy simultaneously. This morning I plotted Gumusservi officially, which felt good, and while I've finished the first draft of Finding My Balance, I realized I didn't introduce the characters to you all. So. This is Damien and good luck disliking him: he has a dimpled smile and wears quirky glasses. 

(I'm sorry, I'm pretty sure I've broken every rule with this Beautiful People game.)

1. Do they believe in anything that most people think is impossible? 

Sure. Damien has relatively natural desires for his future: a wife, a home, children, good food and good books. But he also believes life can be awfully good despite its troubles, which isn't exactly a common conception.

2. Are they strong, or the "damsel/knight in distress" sort? 
Strong, for sure. But he doesn't go around flaunting this strength (unless in jest!) to noticeably. He's content to know he's got it, and if anyone doubted his abilities a swift black eye is all that is needed to set them in place. Damien really sees things quite simply. ^_^

3. Do they have a special place? (e.g. a corner in his/her bedroom, under a tree...)
Damien likes the kitchen in the winter, warm with the smells of cooking and the little cinnamony candles that his mother puts out around November. But whenever the weather will allow it, the outside is where he feels most at home, with an apple in his hand and a tree over his head. 

4. What occupation do they have, or plan on having?
Damien's future aspirations involve an airplane and a pilot's hat. His father's always been proud of the idea.

5. Describe their current place of residence.
The Warrick home is a modest place in the suburbs of middle Tennessee, with a green front yard and a garden in the back, full of lots of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. It's on a higher ground and the area is surrounded by trees of every sort. The home itself is comfortable enough, though a little large for the family of three (five if you count Scout and Jem, the two golden retrievers named for the book characters you are thinking of).

6. Explain their last crisis. How had they changed when they came out of it?
Unfortunately, I can't exactly relay this to you without spoiling a portion of the plot of Finding My Balance. Sorry.

7. If they could drive any kind of car they wanted, what would it be?
Oh a nice sports car, of course! Most likely a snazzy shade of blue, but black is always nice too.

8. How does he deal with change?
With lots of frowns, furrowed brows and a sharp tongue. Mostly pretty moderately, I would say.

9. If he had to amputate one body part, which one would they choose?
What a question! Damien depends rather heavily on his hands and legs, but a toe isn't too necessary is it? Yes, a toe a believe. Who needs balance anyway.

10. What would their favorite be at the local coffee shop?
A medium Italian roast, with cream and white sugar for a normal day. Special days require sweet things like peppermint mochas however, and Damien has never been known to refuse chocolatey coffee.

Damien hit to the core. “So why do you sit here and write instead of talking, like everyone else?” -Finding My Balance

Chatterbox: Death

Monday, November 25, 2013

via pinterest
I'm supposed to be dead to the blogging world this month, but for NaNo updates, but when word somehow manages to pass my ear (sisters, who'd be without 'em?) that Rachel was back with Chatterbox this month I decided to jump along. These are a few characters from Gumusservi, bantering about Death because they can. Enjoy.
Kaitlyn groaned heavily, drawing herself up from the salted deck on bent elbows, and massaging a bruised head. Rune pulled her closer to him and set her head against his chest.
"You alright?" Heavy rains made it hard to hear him, but his lips inclined towards her ear and she picked up his words.
"I'll be better in a moment." She blinked the droplets from her lashes and splayed the rest of the water from her cheeks with the back of a china-white hand.
"We'd better get inside." The rain was coming down heavier now, and their clothes were very nearly soaking in the pooling water.
The two drug themselves slowly across the breadth of the deck until they reached the cabin door and could safely sneak into its welcome warmth.
"Devilish storm," Rune said, his grey eyes challenging the raging storm outside. Kaitlyn shivered in the corner and found a musty old blanket from one of the cupboards to wrap herself in. "Makes one loose his sense of manliness, if you'll allow me."
She listened calmly, setting the blanket to rights. An inky sky watched them in the dusty half-light, clunking about the ropes and anchors and nets, trying to get comfortable.
"Like death," Rune continued, and Kaitlyn looked at him queerly.
"What do you mean by that?"
"Death takes the wits out of a man. Puts him on edge. A man will do anything to avoid death. Just like this weather; it makes him feel powerless."
"I don't know." She bit her lip. "Men should be willing to die for king and country."
"They say that, you know, but not all men are. Some men are cowards, and at the harrowing bottom of things it's just a matter of will. Sometimes that will's not strong enough. Sometimes men fail."
This had a negative effect on her peace; it had seemed that men should all be brave things, but where did the coward fall on the scale? Was he less a man because he cowered, or was he a coward because he was less than a man?
"Death could undo anyone I guess." Rune flicked the water from his hair with a burly hand.
"What about you - would you stand in the face of death?" It was now very important for her to know, though it didn't seem relative to their present position.
"I don't know. I suppose that's what makes matters so very awkward: I fancy I would, but the courage of man is no trustworthy thing. It falters now and then. I only hope I'd live to see myself more than a coward."
"I think you would," Kaitlyn whispered, and Rune's grey-lit face brightened.
"You have my best interests, madam."

Keeping Side-Characters From Anarchy//A Guest Post by Rachel Heffington

Saturday, November 23, 2013

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Some authors have these massive plots with epic battles and awe-inspiring, heroic deeds...but they don't have anyone to do the deeds. Me? I've always been a people-person and therefore I'm invariably saddled with a dozen full-fleshed characters blinking up at me with curious expressions on their faces, waiting till I figure out who is who and how the heck they fit into the sometimes-meager plot I began with. More often than not this sudden show of characters aids my plot: with more people I have more events, more back-story, more interactions, more choice! Often it seems like a stroke of beautiful mercy straight from Heaven.
But beware the overly-helpful side-people. The danger for an author whose strength is in characterization is that there will be too many side-shows and the story will become decentralized. Government and Stories are two different things - the proper role of government is to be decentralized. The proper role of Story is to centralize everything. The mark of a good writer is their ability to attach significance, continuity, and importance to every scene in the story. Side-characters who are well-fleshed and have their own histories are a great boon to this continuity:

The chemist is really the preacher's son? Well that's pretty amazing because the preacher was once a reprobate and had a liason with Lady Annabella who is now married to Lord Harrolds and hates the chemist, not knowing it's really her son. And did I mention that the chemist has secret dreams of being a novelist but for now is stuck with being a jockey for the county races on the sidelines?

Oooooookayyyy. Not that we really care about Lady Annabella, Lord Harrolds, the chemist's novelistic dreams or the fact that he races horses. Not unless it figures largely into the plot.
"But the chemist is so LOVEABLE!" you might squeak.
Mmmm yes. And he figures into exactly one scene. Two, if he's lucky, and three if he's absolutely amazingly fortunate. If your tendency is toward being character-prolific, make sure that your maincharacters are just as interesting as the side ones. In The Baby ( a book I have shelved but will be returning to) I began to pay more attention to certain side characters than I did to the principle two. This began to tell on my ability to keep the plot centralized and on the prospective reader's ability to sympathize with the main characters.

But how do you keep larger-than-life characters tame?
This is where you have been gifted with a deep well of gold: profile your side characters all you want but don't spill all their beans. What you need to do instead is channel that back-story into a few select phrases of the main text. Drop hints as to the characters' pasts, dreams, hopes, aspirations, but don't go into detail. Not only does this give the main story a richer, deeper feel, but it also sets you up well in case you'd like to star these side characters in their own book later on. One thing it is easy to forget when writing a book is that these characters presumably have a life outside of the realm of your story. That means you don't have to spill all their guts into this one book. You don't have to tell their entire life stories. Think of it this way: You meet people all the time and they are real, living, breathing people with thoughts and motives that you are seldom told, but that are acted upon by them in every "scene" they have with you. Could you accuse most people of being cardboard cut-outs? No. They have full realities of their own. Do they tell you everything about their poor David Copperfield childhood in a conversation that began at how much you like their purple pea-coat? Hopefully not.
Sprinkle the depth into their actions and when there is a spare moment, drop a bit into the actual prose. But most of the time your side-characters can be amazing without having to take over the show.

Rachel Heffington
I am not a drop-dead gorgeous sort of girl. Thankfully that does not matter on paper, nor does it matter for real in this world. I sometimes am deceived into feeling that it matters, but it does not and so I ignore those lies and continue on my merry way. I have a distinctive voice, as you will soon find, and that voice is the one I hear all day long in my head. It's saucy. It's funny. It likes to think itself clever. It uses misplaced capitals Like This. I love all things vintage, romantic, and lovely. I am a woman--what can I say? This is me. The me apart from and in my blog. The Rachel Heffington that pours herself into a story, works hard at it, and hopes for the best. Pleased to meet you.


November Anthem

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

via Pinterest.
I have seen this idea on various blogs (namely Mirriam's, however), and thought it would be fun to give you guys a piece of what I've been listening to while I write Finding My Balance. I have very eclectic musical tastes, so the genres/sounds of these songs will vary greatly. I can't claim there's any rhyme or reason to the selections: I listen to it when I write, and it inspires me. Nothing fancy here. ;)

1. Titanium - David Guetta feat. Sia
2. Story of My Life - One Direction
3. Stolen Child - Loreena McKennitt
4. Carry On - fun.
5. Some Nights (clean) - fun.
6. Au Revoir - One Republic
7. Fix You - Coldplay
8. Til Kingdom Come - Coldplay
9. Beautiful Things - Gungor
10. Oceans - Hillsong United
11. Sooner Or Later - Matt Kearney
12. Feel Again - One Republic
13. How - Regina Spektor
14. All Too Well - Taylor Swift
15. Begin Again - Taylor Swift
16. Drops of Jupiter - Train
17. Gone, Gone, Gone - Philip Philips
18. Home - Philip Philips
19. The Call - Regina Spektor
20. Wake Me Up - Avicii

What do you listen to when you write?

Finding Magic In The Mundane//A Guest Post By Ivania

Saturday, November 16, 2013

(c) Ivania Navarro

I love writing. I know some of you are probably going, “Oh, yes, we all know how much you like writing. That’s why you write so often, huh?”

I know. I do it rarely. But when I do it, I love it. I love the feeling of putting words down, especially with a pen and paper. I love how invested I get, once I get going. I love hearing the words in my head before I write them down. I love watching the scenes unfold in my head, and I love trying to figure out how to describe them the way I see them.

I love writing because it’s an escape. If I could, I’d write away all of my problems. A few words typed up, and poof. Everything would be fine.

But the thing is, sometimes, that actually works. Sometimes, if I sit down, take a deep breath, and start writing, my problems do fade away. Maybe they’ll come back as soon as I get up again, but it doesn’t matter. In that moment, they’re gone, and the only things I have to think about are words. And words are good. They’re reliable, they’re comforting, and they’re easy to work with.

I love writing because I’m actually good at it. I’m not good at many things. In fact, even with writing, I’d say I’m slightly above okay.

I feel uncomfortable doing most of the things I’m good at. No matter how hard I work at them, I always see the little imperfections, and they bother me to the point of making me just throw my hands up and walk away. Not so much with writing. Of course, I see all the flaws, and they frustrate me constantly, but I’m more confident about fixing them. They’re something I control with a degree of ease.

I love writing because it makes the ordinary seem extraordinary. Writers see the world a little differently, I think. I don’t know about you, but I’m almost always describing day-to-day events in my life in my head as eloquently as possible. I love making the mundane seem magical. Describing things helps me appreciate the world around me in a way that nothing else does. Words help breathe a kind of life into something that it didn’t have before. It’s truly beautiful.

I'm Ivania. I occasionally blog at alberta girl. :)


Friday, November 15, 2013

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This week's word count minimum: 21,667 words

This week's total word count: 30,000 words

Current song on repeat: "Oceans" by Hillsong United. This song is particularly potent with emotion and I love the fact that it is nine minutes in its entirety. It really lets you delve into a scene and get rolling with it before having to change music. 

Currently sipping: English breakfast, because sometimes simple is better. 

Currently reading: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer (I'm about half-way through and loving it.)

Did you meet your week's goal?
My goal for this week was 28,000 words, which I reached on Thursday as was desired. :) I am right on track, thankfully, and so far inspiration has been playing nice. So far, so good!

Next week's minimum: 36,666 words.

My personal goal for next week: 44,000 words (by November 22nd).

When she did recall these sacrifices, the thought always came soaring back to her heart, piercing like an eagle’s talons; remembrance is never a gentle whisper. -Finding My Balance
For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I would love if you'd take this format for your blogs so we can keep up! You can leave the link to your post in the comment section below.

This Is Why I Journal//Guest Post by Liza Morales

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"One little girl stood out to me at the dump. I served her food with a 'buenas' and got 'gracias' in return - never asked her name, or anything. She looked about nine or ten years old, had a bright personality and a hop in her step and was wearing a High School Musical shirt. She looked, talked, and smiled just like Caroline. The thought in my mind there was How Easily She Could've Been Caroline. But my sister is home - probably at swim practice or rehearsal - wearing clean clothes, hair washed, full tummy. This girl, with the same smile and pouffy ponytail, however, is eagerly enjoying her meal of beans…a nice break from picking through the filthy trash." - July 10, 2012 // Day Four

"There was this one sweet lady whose hands and legs were crippled, her body is giving out, but she smiled at us and held out her hand to Amber. Instead of a handshake like Amber expected, she gave her the 'Nica' handshake/greeting: side high five, fist pump, thumb tap. It was so cute, so unexpected, so funny - love it. Her name is Teresita. Joy, in a dark place. Beauty from ashes. That seems to be a theme on this trip. Grace in sin. Mercy. Power. Humility. All these things. But mainly joy." - July 13, 2012 // Day Seven

"I saw something so touching out there [the train station] today it makes my eyes tear up when I think about it. There was a young lady - I thought she looked early-mid twenties, but most young people here are much younger than they look, so I really have no idea. Anyway. She was walking on the road in front of the station with an adorable baby on one hip, holding the hand of a three or four year old. They stopped as a young man in jeans and a baseball hat walked up to them. The two started talking, and during the conversation the guy was very gently, very sweetly playing with the baby. Then the girl licked her finger and reached out to wipe something off the guy's chin. They spoke another minute, then he walked away, his hand lingering on her arm, then the baby's head. I have no idea who these people are - whether they are a couple, whether that's their baby, how old they are…I don't know. But it was, to me, a beautiful little picture of life and love in the midst of such…challenging circumstances." - July 13, 2012 // Day Seventeen

These moments were captured in my little flowered notebook - a notebook now affectionately dubbed "the Nica journal." Therein lies recorded (in various colored metallic gel pens) the saga of my month in the beautiful yet broken city of Granada, Nicaragua. I'm a journaller, have been for nearly a decade. Sometimes my entries aren't the most interesting or thought provoking, but then, sometimes stories unfold in such a way that they strike a chord whenever you read them over.

These moments were such moments.

It is for these moments that I continue to journal.

I encourage you, fellow writers - journal your life. Record the stories. Record the memories. In some ways, it captures what even a photograph cannot: how you felt when the moment happened. Life slips away so fast - a journal is a time capsule that reminds you of what made your heart sing in days gone by. Journal….because life is short.

Liza is a musician, actress, and author residing in the beautiful state of Virginia. Her one desire in life is be a faithful reflection of the Savior Who won her heart, and to be His hands and feet in the world - whatever the cost and wherever that leads. She is a lover of all things beautiful, and it's the little things in life that make her smile…little things such as peppermint, candles, tea parties, ice skating, babies, plaid, summer, books, flannel, football, fuzzy socks and chocolate.

you can find her at her blog, scraps, or on Instagram: misslizajanem

The Eyes of Experience: A Guest Post by Joy C.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

#Scribbles, Stories and Tales <3
'I do not think that you can be changing the end of a song or a story like that, as though it were quite separate from the rest. I think the end of a story is part of it from the beginning.'
The Shining Company Rosemary Sutcliff

It is such an honour to be guest-posting on Tea and Bree! When Bree asked me to write something under the umbrella of writing, my mind flew to a conversation we'd had together on this blog. It was on how our spiritual walk with God and how our daily life play such large roles in our writing. As I was preparing to write this post, Bree sent me her guest-post for my blog and I was amazed at how similar our topics matched up! I'd hardly call that chance ^_^.

It is pretty much a known fact in literary circles, that the art of writing for even the most extrovert persons among us can be a lonely business - though for the most part a joyful one! For me, writing has often been a sort of therapy, a way of escape and relief from the stress of life even when it has been hardest to pen those aching words and bleed out those stories of my heart. I am by nature a very bubbly people-person, and absolutely love spending time with my family and friends. But I confess, there are times that I long to bury my head in the sand like a fanciful ostrich; and just delve into my imagination and scribbles. Sometimes, when the world is especially cruel, when people just don't make sense and disappointments crash on top of each other, I become something close to introverted. I detest 'disturbances' with a vexation that makes me blind to the reality that this is normal life. I then flee into the little world of my literary life. I cry my heart out into epic stories and heroic characters and plots of heart-wrenching proportions. That attitude makes me numb to the aches and sorrows around me, but also to what is beautiful and glorious, even in strained harpsongs and catches of ancient blessed tunes. And then I think of those around me, and say I will write deep themes to inspire and help lift others up!

But lately, I’ve felt the Lord showing me that in doing so, I was acting in a shallow, self-centred manner. In fact, this attitude is so opposite to the way of Christ. C.S. Lewis' book, Surprised by Joy, startled me with this thought as I saw what it was doing to me... but also to what I was writing. The truth is, we cannot write what is both real and meaningful in our books if we shrink from any of life's experiences, trials and friendships, loves and hurts. We won't be able to write deep devotional and spiritual truths in stories, if we are not praying and living them out ourselves - and learning from them.

The lessons we acquire from the mountains and valleys we journey and the attitudes we have will forever mold their way into our stories. It will influence the perspectives of our characters, the situations and relationships they go through. But I do not mean that we should go strutting through life in a happy-go-lucky attitude that is always laughing in the face of adversity. Truth be told, it is usually the 'darker' threads amid the gold of our lives that are worth the telling in tales of greatness. What I mean is when you and I face some trial, some obstacle or hurt, we instead need to pause and realize the Sovereign plan our Heavenly Father has for us. God is making you go through a journey of growth through the experience of pain and suffering for a purpose - to make you more like Him and conform to His glorious image. Oh! instead of 'escaping', let us instead thank the Lord for those lessons; let us trust that He'll accomplish what He pleases in you and me. The things we face will, by God's grace, help us mature in godliness and wisdom, not only for ourselves, but also for for our writing.

I think of examples of men and women who stood through such trials and grew from them so that what they created became all the more rich and powerful: J.R.R. Tolkien faced the terror of death in WWI and saw his friends die in horrific battles such as the Somme - yet he also found the beautiful and transcendent in his life and was inspired to write flesh and blood heroes who still live in our hearts and imaginations - Frodo and Sam, Aragorn, Bilbo and Thorin. I think of the story my sister once told me of Beethoven - how some of his greatest masterpieces were composed after he became stone-deaf, and how through the agony of his soul beautiful music was born. Elizabeth Elliot may not have been the inspirational and godly writer that she is today if it were not for the martyrdom of her husband, Jim Elliot, or the many painful lessons she went through in the jungles of Ecuador as she learnt what it means to forgive one's enemies, be still before the Lord and trust Him with quiet assurance the way she did.

Nonetheless, even with all of life's experiences, our writing ought to be filled with a sense of hopeful longing for what 'might have been' or what 'will be', even if we have not personally gone through such things ourselves. The tale of our lives is like a tapestry. We see the upside-down side...only the shadow of tangled threads; But God sees it all...the ugly black stitches and the beautiful full picture too. But experience gives those longings some depth, I think. Many of my most loved characters and scenes that I have written have in fact been inspired from lessons and trials I've gone through myself or from what I've learnt from others. Those experiences made little sense at the time. But now that I look back, I see how much the Lord has worked in my life things which in turn influenced my stories for an ultimate good. 

My mind flits to that beautiful scene in the Disney movie, Tangled, when Rapunzel would see from her window on her birthdays the distant special lights of the city float to the sky, and how it filled her with longing. But when she went out that day and saw those lamps, it all finally made sense. She saw the light... and it changed her whole life! In the same way, when we see things from a human perspective, it can at best be only a glimmer of something beautiful, but most times quite dreary and hopeless. But when we look through the eyes of Jesus, all things will be new. He is the Author of all beauty, all songs to be sung, all tales to be written and told. And if we dwell and abide in Him, and ask Him to teach us to see all things through His eyes, we will also be able to write that way too. We will see what we were meant to see all along - in our own little personal story... in our far flung dreams and hopes... in those quiet times of prayer and rejoicing in God's Presence... in the tears trickling down a sister's cheek as she shares her heart with you... in the little freckle-faced smile of a curly-headed baby... in the stalks of dew-green grass between golden heads of dandelions at your feet... and in the mundane-ness of an Algebra equation;  in doing what you are meant to learning what you are meant to learn... and in appreciating what God has given you and me through life and experience...)

Then, we can truly write a story of beauty.
 Then, we can write a story from its beginning to its end. 

Joy is a young daughter of the King, a sinner saved by His Amazing Grace. The goal of her life is to love and glorify her Heavenly Father, as He guides her on the path of life. Joy is home-educated by her parents, and has three amazing sisters who're her closest friends. She resides in a sunny little corner of Queensland, Australia, which is as lovely as it sounds. Imagination is her favourite cup-of-tea, a world which she traverses daily. Joy wars with words through her pen (and naturally the laptop!) and scribbles stories, plays the violin, sings with her heart, photographs Creation as she sees it, and is an avid lover of books. She also keeps a blog, Fullness of Joy, where she scribbles about faith, writing, music, her family, raindrops on roses and of things in between.


Thursday, November 07, 2013

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Word count: 13,000 words

This week's word count goal: 11,666 words

Current song on repeat: "Feel Again" by OneRepublic. The funny thing about writing a contemporary novel is that my music, instead of the usual movie soundtrack/Loreena McKennit/Enya mix, has been consisting of a lot more modern music. (Though I don't think I'll ever find myself listening to the things most girls my age listen to, I'm loving OneRepublic's "Native" album, along with a few others. ;)

Did you meet your week's goal?
Seeing as this is the first week of NaNo and I didn't announce a particular goal here, I'll say 'yes.' I started off NaNoWriMo intending to write the usual 1,667 words per day that everyone is expected to write. I found myself a little over-prepared, however, and with some spare writing time. With concentration and a goal set strong in mind, I've been writing at least 2,000 words a day, which is a wonderful thing. On Thursdays it is impossible for me to write any more than some chicken scratch in a notebook in my one hour off, so on Wednesdays and Fridays, I'm writing 3,000 words to keep up. All in all things have been going remarkably well, and I do hope I can keep to this even pace for the rest of the challenge (and maybe even finish up before Thanksgiving!).

Next week's goal: 23,333 words.

My personal goal for next week: 28,000 words.

For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year, how have you been getting along? (Also, if you wish to be my Writing Buddy, you can find my NaNoWriMo page here.)

The Sway Of The Script

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

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My writing has been very emotional as of late, for various reasons. The first is, however, that the story I am telling is essentially mine on a dramatized scale. (To get a good idea of just how draining this can be, think of the story closest to your heart, on steroids.) Needless to say, it's been a bit of a roller coaster.
It has helped that I've been reading The Grand Sophy (Georgette Heyer, I'm convinced, is a genius), which is not, at least in the beginning, a particularly exhaustive book. It is one of those books that could swing just as wildly as it wished, but in the hands of its capable author is still somehow grounded. Needless to say, I'm enjoying that.
I promised you all weekly NaNoWriMo updates, and I do intend to post one quite soon, but as of the moment I'd like to brush on the topic of emotional books, since that's what I'm currently dealing with.

How can our work affect our readers if it hasn't affected us?
Ah, the eternal question! It's truth rings clear to every author, because of the simple sense it holds. But just for today, I'd like to argue the other point: how much emotion is too much emotion?

I like a good emotional book probably a bit more than the next person. It may be because I hold that all well-conducted books should bring out some sort of emotion from their reader, or perhaps it's simply because I love to cry over books. 

But there comes a point - whether with a book or a movie - that the reader/viewer cannot put up with all the trauma. It wears us down as human beings, and we find ourselves longing for the comfortable scenes, the happy scenes, the lovely scenes (and if they are brought out at just about this moment one gets even more emotional, but I'll leave that for another time). I love to cry over a book or a movie, but if it's been a weepy ordeal the whole way through, I find myself emotionally exhausted. In some circumstances this is acceptable because, as I've mentioned, it's a beautifully miserable tale and the happy scenes are tear-streaked too because they are so rare. (Les Miserables is a good example.)

But it's the books (ahem, Mockingjay, I'm looking at you) that are hopeless the whole way through and end hardly any happier than they began that the reader (worn thin from emotion) wants to toss behind her head before reading A.A. Milne for a good week as a form of recovery. 

As usual, the key is in the balance. A book that does not draw some form of emotion - even laughter - from you as you are writing, will most likely alienate your future readers. As humans, we like to identify with the characters in the books we read. For that to happen, the characters have to bring out our emotions just as well as anyone we know in real life can.
Similarly, the books that plunge our hearts into the depths of despair, while perhaps well-written, are like that one person who makes her life miserable, drawing a gap between herself and the people around her. Unless we are also in a hopeless situation with our lives (which I seriously doubt any of us are) we cannot relate to the characters, and we feel like strangers, watching a life asunder.

It's been difficult to make this work with Finding My Balance, because of the wealth of emotion presenting itself to me. But I'm giving it my best, most hopeful shot, and if in the end I find myself drained (more than the usual I-just-wrote-a-novel-in-a-month-drained, that is) than perhaps I need to go back in a lighten things up. After all, life is dark enough on its own, why do we dwell so long in its murkiness?

Alright friends, I'm off to write - see ya!

An Aged Tale in Fresh Ink

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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I was supposed to be working on a Beautiful People post this afternoon, but after staring at the previously typed words, and the space for more, I felt more like writing this instead. So.

Why One Does Not Simply "Write When She Feels Like It"
This is something of a dead-horse-topic. (Hence the title). And perhaps that's why I like it so much: that we as writers cannot write only when we feel like writing. But let me backtrack a piece.

Inspiration, as we are well aware, loves to run off into the proverbial sunset and quite frankly doesn't want to return. Some of us take it as it is, and work with it because it's not really going to change. (Some of us pull out our hair over it, but I won't get into that.) We have various methods of making Inspiration return (blackmail, neck-wringing, you get the idea) or we sit about patiently and read books until he returns. Because he's got to at some point. And in the meantime we leave our pens dormant, the ink cakeing on the nib and the quill collecting dust like anyone's cobwebs.

This is the point in which one's writing deteriorates. Which, if I'm quite perfectly honest, is what happens to my writing a good deal too often during the school months. I really only end up writing what I want to write 1 hour per week consistently. (I do, however, spend several hours on academic writing.) I can hardly at this point call myself a practicing writer, and I'm not - I'll never be - "alright" with that. In order for anyone to improve her writing (and this really goes for any sort of writing, not simply fictional/novel writing) is practice.

Oh, we've heard it enough that the words are more of a 50th repetition than new light. In fact, it probably doesn't have much of a result on us at this point, now does it? The desire is somewhat lost.

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." -Matthew 5:13

If we loose our vigor, our desire to better our writing, our writing looses it's desire to be written. The plots collect dust on a shelf, the characters age and move along, and the talents we spent time on crumble to pieces. What must be done to renew that fire?

In order to begin to write well again, one must first return to her inspiration. Prayer does something nothing else can: because God is the one who gives us our writing abilities, it only makes sense to take them back to him when we falter.
When a writer has prayed and cleared her mind, dumped her burdens into the seas and listened to the words of her Savior, practice is all that is left. And practice, though teeth-pulling in the beginning - and yes, all the way through - is the only way to improve your writing. A dormant writer makes around as much sense as a genteel cat.

What's all this to say? I'm slowly accepting the fact that I won't get near as much writing done during the school year because that's life and he wasn't cut out to be an obliging fellow. But I'm also realizing that I need to push myself more that I am - I use the "busy" excuse entirely too often, when in reality I just don't feel like writing. November doesn't allow that sort of lethargic behavior, however, so I've pulled out my feather duster and I intend to use the month to it's utmost: which includes abandoning the internet. I won't be on any social media sites for the month, save an occasional NaNo update here on the blog, keeping in touch via email, and only-if-absolutely-necessary-pinterest-peeks at my Finding My Balance board, for inspiration alone. (I'm turning comment moderation off for the month so all of y'all can chat without my assistance. :) It will be (hopefully) be a much-needed respite from the world and it's craziness in general. It will also cut out more writing-time, something always needed. :)

In the meantime, I've got a couple of very good guest posters premiering--keep an eye out for their lovely posts. See you in December, friends - and be good while I'm gone! ;)

**UPDATE: I'll also be updating the little NaNoMeter at the top of this page so those of you not on the NaNoWriMo website can still keep up with how things are progressing.**

September Snippets & An Update

Monday, October 21, 2013

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Bother - I am rather late with these. But better late than never, as the line runs, yes? Last months writing was all over the place, I'm afraid; I have snippets from Psithurism, Gumusservi,  and even a bit of Finding My Balance (the latter are literally only snippets - the scenes to which they belong I have yet to write in full). But before we get into that, I've a few things that must be said.
It seems I keep intending to get back to a more regular blogging schedule, and then something jumps in the way. For example, we celebrated three birthdays jointly this weekend (mine included) which had a way of making any other plans impossible. But we had a marvelous time, and here I am, back at you all a week later than I intended, but just as hopeful as ever. I suppose that's life for ya. 

Psst...we watched The Fellowship of The Ring! And we fully intend to finish The Two Towers sometime soon. I know you all have been telling me to watch these movies for so long, that I'd feel silly not telling you. :)

Finally, with NaNoWriMo looming straight ahead, I realized that, as usual, I've waited until the last minute to scrape up guest posters for the month of November. You'd think that by my fourth year doing NaNo, I'd be somewhat more organized. Hrm. If anyone is interested, I'd love if you'd shoot me an email ( - I believe I've already directly contacted a few of you, but I'm so terribly good at forgetting that I thought I'd open up the playing ground for all.

And now for the snippets!

"“What’s with you two? Having a blushing tournament?” Rune sauntered into the room, breaking my gaze easily.
“Rune!” Kaitlyn exclaimed, eyes flung up to his face.
“You little-” I began, before Rune cut me off.
“Genius?” He laughed as though nothing was wrong, flinging a metal fixture of some sort onto his bed and rubbing his hands on a greasy rag. “Look here, I’ve fixed the leak.” He grinned like some sort of fool." -Gumusservi

“It’s Agapeto, actually,” I replied to some degree of nonchalance. I scrambled down into the dank space, and waited a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim light. “And you know,” I continued, following in the direction of her voice to the servants bunks, “you can call me Peto.” -Gumusservi

"“But you belong here . . . Kate.” We were in the private of this library with but the dancing figures on the bed tapestry and the fat carven cherubs of marble to hear; no one would know he had not used my proper title." -Gumusservi

"“Would you want your past wiped away, replaced with something starched and proper before you could see it?”  I flicked around to face Rune, my eyes finding his quickly. I wasn’t angry, but I was firm. Sometimes Rune could be frightfully dull." -Gumusservi

"The wind swept through the mourning willows crisply, and the brittle crunching of a hundred and one brooms sweeping the streets echoed in my ears as I flung open the bedroom window and stuck out my suffocating head." -Psithurism

"Love was a slow, aching pain that would not arrive nor leave in a timely fashion, and had a stubborn way of showing up at all the wrong moments." -Psithurism

"His name is marked on the soul of man; you could not escape him if you tried." -Psithurism

"It was not uncommon to find a girl wearing her shirt like a sweater, or with a single legwarmer raked all the way up to her thigh to ward off a pulled muscle. Each condition, each dancer was different, but there was a similarity strung like a shoe-ribbon through all of them: they danced, and this required an entirely different way of life." -Finding My Balance

“Good luck with that audition then,” Damien called after her at the door, but she refused to turn around and give him the benefit of a last glance." -Finding My Balance

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