Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries, pt. 4: Flopsy, Mopsy, and the Runaway Bunnies

“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were– Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter. They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.

‘Now my dears,’ said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, ‘you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor. Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.’

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries: But Peter who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor’s garden, and squeezed under the gate!”

Bunnies are cute, I think most people can agree. But if you’re a writer, the word might trigger something a little different in your brain. Plot bunnies are story ideas that appear from out of nowhere, and refuse to go away until they are written. I’m sure all writers have dozens of stories and ideas swirling around in their heads, which is that magical brain fodder used to craft new and exciting stories. But what if you’re knee deep in a project, with a couple of K’s written down and all of a sudden…out pops a cute little plot bunny—bright eyed and bushy tailed? You’re then caught between two differing ideas, each demanding your attention.

I don’t know how other writers deal with the notorious plot bunny, but that saying about rabbits multiplying has never been more true. I’ve reached a bit of a rough spot in my current project, and I’ve been feeling stuck. But since I’ve run into a wall with one project, ideas for new stories seem to be cropping up everywhere. A few weeks ago, I was flipping through an old notebook, and stumbled across a story idea I’d completely forgotten. After I read the short scene, whoosh, my imagination started running on double time. I had to wrangle in my impulses, not to dive blindly into a new story so spur of the moment. Especially since I’ve already committed to another.

My question is this—how do you manage those shiny new ideas when you’re already working on a big project? As of now, I don’t feel equipped enough to juggle two stories at one time, so I’m trying to keep my focus on my main project. But that doesn’t change the fact these new ideas are growing, and evolving each day. I can try to ignore the characters inside my head all day long, meanwhile I’ll still hear them bickering amongst each other.

Right now, I think I’m suffering from a bit of the, grass is always greener on the other side syndrome; I’m struggling with one story, yet these new ideas sound so much better, and more intriguing. While working on my last novel, I experienced the same thing, during one of my many rounds of edits. I’d grown tired of that story, so I started plotting for my next project. I remember thinking that my next novel was going to be amazing. The ideas were flowing so easily, I couldn’t wait to begin writing. Now that I’m actually writing that novel, the rose-colored skies have begun to gray a little. I’m not going to give up though, or cave into the new ideas—especially since I’ve already written 40k words. I think it’s just a matter of forging ahead and pushing through the tough times.

My current project has so much yet to develop, and I’m actually I’m looking forward to it. But I need to find a way to match the excitement I feel for these new ideas, with the project I’m already working on. I’m going to have to dig deep, and rediscover those little nuggets of inspiration that encouraged me to first begin this novel. When I have a moment or two to spare, I’ll be jotting down those new little treasures that pop up (when I’m least expecting them). So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be out in the garden setting traps for some very naughty bunnies. But don’t worry, I shan’t be making any pies…at least not yet.

~

What do you do when you’re feeling bored with your story? How do you manage when a brand new story comes knocking on your door and says, “hello, may I come in?”.

Leave a comment to share your thoughts with me!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

Discovering Forgotten Books: the Weird, the Wacky & the Wonderful

Recently, my bedroom has gotten a major makeover — fresh paint, new floors, the whole shabang. As a result, I had to completely empty out all of my belongings, including my bookshelf which was a major undertaking, due to the fact that it’s a hefty floor to ceiling structure, (custom made by my brother, I might add ;p). It was easy enough to empty all of my “junk” a.k.a., shove everything in storage bins. But when it came time to unpack it all and return everything to its proper place, boy oh boy, was that a challenge. It took me several hours to complete the job, likely because I spent most of the time sitting on the floor staring dismally at the piles and piles of books, instead of delivering them back to their designated place.

It can be very hard to let books go, but I realized I had so many books that I was never ever going to read, and even books that I disliked but was still hanging onto. I was determined to minimize, and be honest about the books I didn’t want, so I buckled down and weeded out lots of books that simply did not spark joy in my heart. (Marie Kondo, anyone??) I was able to eliminate a whole bin full of books that were taking up very valuable space on my shelves! Clearing things out not only cleared my mind but allowed room for my future acquisitions.

While sorting through almost every book I’ve collected in the last ten-or-so years, I was able to rediscover so many books I’d forgotten about. And today, I wanted to share with you some of my most epic finds from the depths of my little library. Some weird, some awesome, and some slightly eccentric books I didn’t even remember that I owned. Let’s start with…

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

Let’s just call this one book research. Yeah, that sounds reasonable. Plants and herbs have the ability to do amazing things from healing wounds, and disease, to becoming a valuable tool for sabotage. Because you never know when you might find yourself in a situation where you need to poison your enemy– I mean, when your characters need to poison their enemies, you know, in fiction. ;p

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt

Next, we have a middle-grade book, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. This is one of the oddest books I’ve ever read, about a strange boy who appears in a small town in a camper trailer which he is unable leave, for reasons I’m not going to tell you. Some of the other children in town visit him regularly, and try to get to the bottom of the mysterious predicament the boy is in. If you want to find out more, and don’t mind reading something a little wacky, you’d better get yourself a copy.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

I stumbled across this series at a thrift store, and it sounded interesting so I snatched it up. I found book 1 and 3, but I was missing the second book, so I waited patiently and lo and behold, the next time I went thrifting there it was, just sitting on the shelf waiting for me, (a major success in my book). Honestly, about 90% of the books I own came from thrift stores, many of which I knew nothing about before I purchased them. Sometimes they can be a flop, but sometimes they are true winners. This is an extremely underrated series, that I think a lot of people would enjoy if they knew it existed! It’s a sci-fi/dystopian retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and it’s totally epic.

The Milagro Beanfield Wars

A lot of the books on my shelf were inherited by me, from my brother when he moved out, and thus I have no idea how, or why he acquired some of these titles. The perfect example, would be these books right here. I don’t know much about this series, other than it being a historical, and possibly magical tale. It looks so strange and creepy I just have to keep it, and perhaps read it one of these days.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

I’m sure a lot of you have heard of this book, and probably read it, as it is the rightful bearer of the Newbery honor medal. I’m not someone who cries easily, but this is the one and only book that has ever made me shed actual tears. Heartwarming, and heartbreaking, this is a touching story of a young girl on a journey to her mother. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read this book, but it left a lasting impression.

Michael O’Halloran by Gene Stratton-Porter

I love to collect vintage books, and read them too. There’s something so captivating about cracking open an old book with yellowing pages, and a creaky spine. Not to mention, the musky old-book smell, that generally accompanies such treasures. The thrill of diving into a story from days gone by is priceless, and Gene Stratton-Porter is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I’m slowly reading my way through all of her works. She has a unique talent for making somewhat simple stories, flow so deep, and tug on your heart-strings. I would recommend any of her books.

Magic Tricks

Back in the day, my brother was quite the magician, always showing off his newest trick and such. He used to guard his secrets with his life, but no longer… Looks like his secrets are about to be exposed. What do you think? Should I try out some of these tricks on my own, or keep his mysteries hidden?

Dune by Frank Herbert

I bought this book more recently, and I read it only last year. It’s considered a classic in the sci-fi world, so naturally I wanted to give it a go. While I did find it interesting, and somewhat entertaining, it was just a little too weird for my taste. It had some very dark, and slightly occult themes which admittedly, turned me off. Though I must say, I did like the sand worms, and thought they were absolutely terrifying. I would describe this book as Star Wars meets Tremors. There are many more books in this series, so I can’t say if/how my opinion would change if I were to continue on with with it, but as of now I’ll call it a done deal.

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, book 2 of the Airborn Series

This is another one of my favorite underrated trilogies. I borrowed this series from the library, so I don’t own all of the books, except for book two which I happened to find at–you guessed it–a thrift store. I would really like to re-read this series if I ever get my hands on the other two books. From airships to spaceships, this story takes you on a wild ride, and really gives you that “steampunk” vibe. Fun fact: I found out about this series from Adam Young, (a.k.a, Owl City), after I learned that one of his songs was based off of a line from book two. All I can say is, Adam never let’s me down and if you like adventure you’ll like these books.

So there you have it, the conclusions of my discoveries for today. It took a lot of work to get my books looking all nice on the shelf, and my back surely paid a fair price. It was a lot of fun to remember many of the books I had forgotten about, and fawn over my favorites. And it was surprising to find that I have so many awesome, yet underrated books that I don’t think many people have heard of. If you’re interested, I can do another post dedicated to some of my top underrated books, and series. Let me know.

I hope you enjoyed exploring my bookshelves with me, and maybe added a few new titles to your TBR. Do you have any strange books on your shelf? Do you like to search through your shelves for old and forgotten books? Tell me about it down below, I’d love to hear from you.

As always, thank you for reading,

Lady S

P.S. If you’re curious, this is the Owl City song I mentioned. Give a listen.

Posted in Adventure, nature

All the Fall Feelings

Guess what? Fall is finally here, like really here. The sky is wide open and blue, all of the trees are turning orange and gold, the nights are chilly, the birds are starting to migrate, and the list goes on. Fall is one of the most beloved seasons, and it’s for a good reason. Seldom is a change in the earth felt so keenly, as when the end of summer approaches–the temperature cools, and a rainbow of colors burst forth from every green thing, transforming the landscape. Back in September, we got a sudden cold snap and for a couple of days it was actually freezing. In only a matter of days, the temperature went from upper 90s F, then dropping below 40 F. I thought winter had decided to come early and skip right over autumn– but it was only a false flag as a few days later the temperature shot back up to 80/90 degrees. But those two days served as a wake-up call, signalling that the end of the Summer was nigh.

Now that we’re over halfway into October, the weather is much more mild, and it feels like a proper autumn. A few days ago, I went shopping and came home with eight giant pumpkins for the front porch. Before that, it had been suffering from a rather disappointing lack of orange–but I took care of that and now I can rest easy. (Alas, I had to give most of them away. I mean, eight giant pumpkins on my front porch may have been a little excessive.)

October is a peaceful month, with no major holidays to overshadow, or steal away these quiet days. It’s a wonderful time to just be, and sit back and enjoy the beauty around us. So today, in honor of this most favored season, I thought I would gather up some of my favorite fall-time things, and share them with you.

Let’s start with one of my personal year-round favorites: tea.

Homemade Ginger Cinnamon Tea

Ingredients:

  • 2 cinnamon sticks (make sure they're the edible kind!)
  • ginger root (about 2 inches)
  • honey, sugar, or maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 C water
  • Directions:
  • Fill a medium sauce pot with water. Peel your ginger nub, (spoons work great for this), and slice it into discs. Place ginger, and two cinnamon sticks in the pot. Turn heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover partially to reduce evaporation, and simmer for 15 minutes. (Simmer only 10 minutes for a more mild infusion.) Let cool slightly, pour into cups and add sweetener of choice. You can also add milk or cream, if that's your thing. (Makes 2 cups)
  • Enjoy!
  • *When using fresh ginger, it can be quite strong, so adjust amount to your preference.

Ginger is incredibly warming, so it’s great to drink on cold nights. It’s also an immune booster, and a powerful anti-viral/anti-bacterial, which is perfect for all of the nasties that come along with colder weather. Cinnamon is also very warming, and useful in improving digestion, and circulation–plus it’s pleasantly tasty. I’ve been drinking this tea in the evenings, when I want something warm, and comforting.

Now that we’ve got our drink covered, I think we should sit down to enjoy our cuppa, and do some reading. I wracked my brain, and came up with a few titles to recommend for your autumn TBR. These books aren’t specifically fall-ish, but they have that certain wistful feeling that often reminds me of fall.

  1. The Scent of Water, by Elizabeth Goudge

You can’t spell autumn, without the word British…wait, that doesn’t make sense. What I’m trying to say is, there is nothing more cozy or heart-warming, than good ol’ British fiction. The Scent of Water, is about a woman who inherits a cottage in the country from a distant relative. We follow Mary, as she gets to know the villagers, and transitions to country-life. Isn’t it everyone’s dream to receive a letter, saying that a distant relative has left you their entire estate, which just happens to be in the country?

2. The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Steifvater

On the small windswept island of Thisby, the capaill uisce are beginning to wash ashore before the Scorpio Races–the only place in the world where the ravenous water horses are trained to compete. Puck Connolly finds herself a contender for the prize in the deadly races, the only girl ever to do so. I read this book during the summer months, but even then, it transported me straight to October, and I could almost feel the sea spray on my face. This story is intense, and the atmosphere is so vivid, I can’t think of a better autumn read.

3. Into the Fire, by Kim Vandel

Kate is an ordinary college freshman, until one day she receives a calling to become a Guardian–chosen by God, and given supernatural abilities. It’s a call she must accept, and her life is changed forevermore. Set in Seattle, with gloomy days, and drizzly skies, Into the Fire has the perfect fall vibe. This is one of my all-time favorite books.

4. The Dark Hills Divide, by Patrick Carman

Twelve-year-old Alexa Daley, has found herself caught in the middle of a dangerous scheme which threatens the entire Land of Elyon. With strange forests, and talking beasts, Alexa must solve the dark mystery before it’s too late.

5. The Maine Woods, by Henry David Thoreau

A collection of letters, and journal entries, Thoreau writes about the times he would would visit and explore the yet-unknown parts of the Maine woods. He recites stories from his guides, records moose encounters, and offers much wisdom from his experiences. It’s been a couple years since I read this book, but I still think back on it fondly, and it’s one of my favorite non-fiction reads.

One of the first ways I notice the changing of the seasons, even when the days are still long and hot, is by the stars. The Bible says the stars are for signs and seasons, and I never understand that so well as when I see constellations like the Big Dipper, and even the Milky Way inching their way across the sky as winter approaches. Winter is a great time to stargaze, though it’s usually too cold to do so. But even in autumn, the stars are so clear, and nearly every night I see something spectacular, like planets and “falling” stars. If you are able, I highly suggest doing a bit of stargazing yourself.

By this time of year, most of the garden has either died, or been pulled up, save for a few tomato plants still clinging to life. But as the cooler months settle in, you have an opportunity to start up a whole new crop. Things like carrots, peas, lettuce, and kale rather prefer the not-so-hot days. A couple of weeks ago, I planted some bush beans from seeds I saved in the spring. They took a while to break through the soil, and I was starting to get nervous they weren’t viable, but one morning I noticed a tiny green shoot poking out, and now they’re growing by leaps and bounds. I’m hoping we’ll get a couple of harvests in before it freezes too hard. Which reminds me, I still have potatoes to harvest… I’d better get digging.

And lastly, to truly set the mood for any occasion, one must have music. In autumn, I tend to listen to more acoustic genres, or songs that are a bit melancholy. Maybe it’s the chill in the air, or the crispy leaves, but I often listen to songs that are even a little creepy, (like the classic Goosebumps theme song). I listen to lots of different styles of music, and I’ve put together a playlist of songs that I think suit fall-time well. Give it a listen, if you’re looking for something new. Check it out

I’ll conclude this post here, before I go on any longer, and you start getting sleepy. I hope you enjoyed this post, and maybe feel inspired to try some new ideas this autumn. Thank you so much for reading all the way to the end. May you enjoy this season, and all of its changes. I’ll see you on the other side.

What are some of your favorite fall things?

Lady S

Posted in Adventure, nature, photography

A Little Bit of Adventure

Do you ever like to hop in the car, and go for a drive? Leaving the city far behind, just to enjoy the passing scenes of nature? Sometimes, if you travel far enough and the last remnants of civilization are no longer visible, you can gain a new perspective on life. No houses, no people, and not many cars. Only endless hills, and mountains stretching out farther than the eye can see. When you are suddenly outside of your normal environment, many things in life feel trivial. Arguments, grievances, or unpleasant matters feel so small compared to the vast expanse before you. It’s a lovely feeling, especially when society is pressing so hard on every side and clouding our vision, doing its very best to control our emotions, according to what it says matters. Sometimes you need to break away from all of that, and steep yourself in the beauty of God’s creation. It can help reorient your heart and mind. A few days ago, my family and I did just that. We piled into the car, and headed West for a bit of good old fashioned exploring.20200823_122112

We went to an area I’ve never visited much, so everything felt new and interesting. And after leaving the city behind, the great wide nothingness of the desert opened before us. It was a grand, beautiful nothingness, which is my favorite thing to see. After driving for nearly two hours we finally came to a town. It wasn’t a big town, just a little blip in the middle of the desert. Sadly the boarded up windows, and old crumbling architecture showed the tragic state of small towns these days. As cities grow wider and wider, the little ol’ towns that once thrived are slowly becoming extinct.

By this time, everyone was starting to feel hungry, and a little cranky (if I do say so). But in such a small town, we didn’t have many options. I’m quite a staunch McDonald’s hater, but if there is one thing I know, when you’re hungry in the Middle of Nowhere, USA, McDonald’s is pretty darn good. Needless to say, our bellies were filled, and our hearts lifted for the rest of the journey.20200829_091001

After a few more miles the terrain became steeper, and more foresty. We passed a sign that said, Ice Cave This Way, so of course we had to go. After turning off the highway onto a dirt road, we came to a stop outside of an old trading post, turned gift shop. Tall pine trees surrounded the grounds, and a few little cabins dotted the area. It was the perfect little forest getaway. I explored a bit, nabbed a couple of pine cones because I just couldn’t help myself, and enjoyed the mountain air before starting on the hike to the cave.20200823_111506(1)

“Four-hundred yards, and seventy two steps down,” the lady at the front desk said. That sounded like a breeze, until we remembered that it was summer, and there would be no breeze. Nonetheless, we ambled along the path, strictly adhering to the rules to not leave said path at any time. Even though I desperately wanted to climb across the lava rocks. Oh, did I mention the lava? Before arriving at the cave, we drove for miles through a sea of lava rock. At one point, I had to wonder if the massive volcanic eruption was what caused the dinosaurs to go extinct all those years ago. Volcanoes are fearsome wonders to be sure, and I’m glad whichever volcano once existed there, is no longer active. (For the time being, anyway.)20200823_111604(1)

After traversing some four-hundred yards, we arrived at the cave entrance. I wasn’t sure what to expect because it was allegedly an ice cave… in the middle of the desert. Pushing doubts aside, we began to descend the seventy two steps. The creaky old wood was a bit questionable, but I tried to ignore that, and seventy two steps didn’t sound terribly hard. (More on that later.)

20200823_112424(1)

Something strange began to happen the lower I went.

During the first few steps the sun was beating down on us, and it was very hot—but as I stepped down one peculiar, particular step…WHOOSH. We suddenly felt an arctic wind blow over us. It was so shocking, I had to step back up and come down again. As we went down the remainder of steps the temperature kept plummeting. I don’t know exactly how cold it was, but apparently the temperature in the cave never exceeds 31 degrees (Fahrenheit), thanks to the thick rock walls, and perfect shape of the cave to capture the frigid air. When we arrived at the bottom, the cave opened up before us and there was a hug slab of green ice. Yes, green! According to the information pamphlet it’s apparently caused by Arctic algae. There’s a lot of history regarding the cave. Ancient Indians once mined the ice, and made their dwellings in the caves of the other lava tubes nearby. (Did I mention the cave was actually an old lava tube?) Many years later, settlers also mined the ice until the practice was stopped to preserve the cave. 20200823_113137

Also according to the pamphlet, the circular walls of lava rocks we noticed along the path in some of the other lava tube/caves, were remnants of the Anasazi Indians who lived in the region many hundreds of years ago. (And if you’ve never heard of the Anasazi, there are many mysteries related to the ancient tribe.) After basking in the glorious arctic air, it was time to head back to base camp. Remember when I said seventy two steps wasn’t all that bad? Well that was going down. I had forgotten that in the mountains the elevation was a bit higher than at home, and boy did I feel it. Seventy two steps never felt so far or  so painful. When I reached the top, I had to take a break and remember how to breathe normally again. My poor heart was pounding out of my chest.20200823_112145

Back in the car and on the road again, we continued our excursion into the wilds. We came to yet another town, this one even smaller than the last. My dad said there was even a lake there. But after seeing no evidence to support that fact, I doubted that his memory was serving him correctly. We searched and hunted and followed some dilapidated signs and finally found the parking lot for this evasive lake. We parked, and still saw no sign of a lake. But I knew that it must be somewhere hidden behind all of the brush, and shrubbery, so I took it upon myself to hunt it down. This time I brought my water bottle, and again, headed out into the blazing sun.

As my steps took me deeper and deeper into the thicket, I couldn’t help but wish I was back inside that dark cave where I could be nice and frozen like the ice. But just as I began to lose all hope and call this lake search a farce, I climbed up a steep embankment, and behold! A lake! A big, shiny, glorious lake! (Reservoir, to get technical.) It truly exceeded my expectations. It was still blisteringly hot, but just the sight of the water made me feel better. It smelled very swampy and, and looked a bit gooey, but I’ll take what I can get. We took lots of pictures, explored the rocky shores, imagined what it would be like to jump in, and then decided to make the trek back to the car. I’m glad I didn’t give up on my search for this hidden place, because it was a treasure indeed.20200823_132005

By this time we were all pretty tired and still had a couple hours on the road to get home so we decided to head out. But alas, we took a wrong turn on a dirt road, and ended up on someone’s “private” property. The owners were none too happy about it. We apologized as best we could, then left as quickly as possible. But not before getting chewed out for allegedly running over some plants, (which looked suspiciously like weeds, if you ask me). Unfortunately, the hostile encounter left a bad taste in our mouths, but we tried not to dwell on it.20200823_134726

Speaking of dwelling, just when we thought we’d seen all the interesting wonders there were to see in one day, we spotted some “prehistoric Indian dwellings” high up on the cliffs. A little plaque said they were some 800 years old! (Yet more remnants of the Anasazi, a.k.a., Ancestral Puebloans.) It’s fascinating to imagine what life looked like back then. To think there were whole civilizations that once thrived in these lands, and people who lived just like you and me is amazing to consider.

Eventually we made it home, and I was grateful to have air-conditioning once again, since I don’t have the luxury of an arctic ice cave in my backyard. It was a long day, but I’m grateful for all the sights and sounds I was able to experience. 20200823_130843

I hope you’re enjoying the last bits of summer, and spending time with your family, and maybe getting out of the city to enjoy the majesty nature has to offer you. It really is good for your soul! Blessings to you, my friend.

Have you gone on any adventures this summer? Or explored any ancient wonders lately? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

Tick-Tock This is a Clock

I have a question for you.

What is Time? 20200802_061137

Everyone talks about this elusive creature called Time, but has anyone ever found it? What does it even look like? Is it some sort of genie, that grants all of your wishes? Or is it a nasty troll, that steals moments away from you before you can get to them? Joking aside, my question today is, how do you find time to write?

As writers it can be difficult to find the best writing time. A time when your brain is fully functioning, and ready to be let loose onto the paper, or when the hundred-and-one other things you do are taken care of (for now). I usually tell myself that after I finish this thing, or before I do that thing, I can write. But before I know it, the end of the day is looming and I realize it’s too late for writing. The whole day has gotten away, because I was too busy waiting for the right time.20200730_195516

But what is the right time? So many authors have tried to tackle this issue with their own tips, suggestions, and schedules, but none of those things have stuck with me. And lately I’ve been struggling with fitting writing into my day. Even though I don’t have a full-time job, the day easily gets filled up with so many other tasks, chores, and projects.

But here’s the thing; there’s always going to be dishes that need washing, or laundry waiting to dry, or a million other things on your to-do list. It’s a never ending cycle. So I’ve learned that the perfect time to write is now. In between all of those endless tasks, you might have ten, twenty, or even thirty minutes to spare that can be used to make progress on your writing. You don’t need to set aside a whole afternoon to write, you can write now.20200801_184617

I know there are some days that writing is just not going to happen, and that’s fine. It’s important to allow yourself space to breathe. But there are other times when you want to write. You wake up and tell yourself that today is the day! You’re going to sit down, and work on that exciting scene… But first you just have to do this little task, or that little chore, and then the day will be yours. The hours will tick by, the sun will go down, and then it’s time to head to bed. You’ll sit there baffled, wondering what happened, because you were supposed to write today.

When you rewind all the moments of your day, you’ll see the moment when you finally sat down at your desk, with a few minutes to yourself. And what did you do with those minutes? I haven’t checked Instagram for a while. Oh! A new video was uploaded, I should watch it. And so on, and so forth, until the window closes, and it’s now time for you to make dinner. This kind of thing happens to me a lot, and it’s something I’m trying to work on. Maybe you feel this way too, or maybe you have much better time-management skills than I, but I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one.

A daily reminder I tell myself, is that life doesn’t follow a pattern. Some days are busy, some days are slow, but through all of it, there’s always a few minutes free to be used at your will. And if writing matters to you, you can use those minutes for all they’re worth. I’m learning that to be a writer, you don’t get to spend endless hours building up your word-count; you might only get a quarter of that. Every day is new, and different, and should be treated as such. And chances are, even on the busiest of days there will come a moment when the opportunity arises to write. So seize that moment, before it’s too late.20200724_153058

I hope this post inspired you to keep going, even when things are rough, and it feels like writing is getting further away from you. Take heart friends. Keep calm and write on.

 

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in reading

5 Books on my TBR for Summer

Hey, everyone!

How goes it? Are you keeping afloat in this sea of uncertainty? It feels like monsters, mayhem, and certain death is lurking around every corner…or so we’re told. Besides all of that though, we’ve made it into the thick of summer – which means swivel fans running nonstop, long lazy days too hot for anything, ice cream, and cold drinks all around. It’s supposed to be monsoon season here, but one little rain shower, doesn’t qualify as a monsoon, does it? So this heat-wave has me feeling more like a puddle, than a person. And to make matters worse, there isn’t a single beach within five-hundred square miles of me, or even a pubic pool open to wade in, so I’m left with many, sweaty afternoons to fill. And what’s better than to fill my time with books?20200712_150346

As with all readers, my TBR (To Be Read) list is ever growing and expanding, while the list of books I’ve actually read is criminally short. But amongst the eternally broadening TBR, there are some titles that are calling out to me louder than all the others. Some of these books have been on my list for ages, and others are newly added. I am hoping to cross these titles off my list very soon, so I thought I’d share with you the top five books I’m so looking forward to reading this summer.

1. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

In this “utopian” future, humans are genetically engineered, socially manipulated, and pharmaceutically anesthathized to become docile, and uphold the authoritarian ruling order… all at the cost of freedom, humanity, and our very souls. Is it me, or does this sound a little too, familiar?20200718_123801

I’ve known about this book for a long time, but my curiosity was first piqued when I heard from someone that they preferred this book, to 1984. (Not that I’ve read 1984 either, but that’s beside the point.) A couple of months ago, I got this book as a gift for my birthday, so now that I have it in my possession, I’m going to be reading it very soon.

2. The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy

Set in the year 1792, this story takes place in France, during the Reign of Terror. Sir Percy, and Lady Marguerite Blakeney find themselves targets, at the center of a deadly political scheme. And only one man can help them–The Scarlet Pimpernel— a master of disguises who leaves only a calling card behind, after his covert rescues, emblazoned with the infamous red flower.20200721_111236

This book is relatively new to my list, but when I heard about it, it jumped straight to the top. I was at a book store and saw this book sitting on a table, so I snatched it right up. I think the themes, and content of this book could be especially valuable in today’s world.

3. Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus

 In 1841, Manjiro and his four friends are castaways on a deserted island. Beyond the island are countless unknowns – demons, monsters, and barbarians, or so they’ve been told. One day, an American whaling vessel passes the island, and brings the castaways aboard. Together, they sail across the high seas, and visit places they never could have dreamed exist. But years later, Manjiro wants to return to his home in Japan–to become samurai.20200721_111017

First off, can you think of anything cooler than samurai’s? If I could be anything, I think, I’d become a samurai. So as you can imagine, when I read the title of this book, I knew I had to read it. I’d seen the book floating around the book world, at libraries and such, and I got lucky and found a copy at a thrift store. So I’m excited to dive into this story very soon. (Also, this book has pictures. Bonus points!)

4. Shirley, by Charlotte Brontë

Centered around two young heroines, this story takes place during a difficult time in history. With the Napoleonic wars raging, Luddite revolts, and industrialization of England, this story covers many social struggles of the contrasting characters.

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I’m a huge Brontë fan, so this book was a given, for me. I’m ashamed to say though, this book has been sitting around, gathering dust on my shelf for far too long while I waited for the right time to pick it up. But there’s no time like the present, right? Charlotte usually writes very deep, and profound books, so I can’t wait to start Shirley.

5. The Wingfeather Saga book 1: On The Edge of The Sea of Darkness, by Andrew  Peterson

“Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog, Nugget.”IMG_20200713_085140_255

Just about everyone and their grandma has read this book and loved it – and I’m starting to feel a little left out. I’ve heard such great things about this series, so I am really stoked to read it. And if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s that the so-called middle-grade books can truly be some very impactful stories.

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So that’s the list. This year hasn’t been a very good one in terms of getting books read. I’m sure it has a lot to do with procrastination, and the threat of extinction hanging over our heads, so its understandable that I’ve been reading less than usual. But in June, I decided I was going to make more time for reading, and spend less time endlessly scrolling on social media. And happily, it’s been working. The more I read, the more I want to read, and I’m feeling ambitious about crossing these books off my TBR. So wish me luck, friends, and I do the same for you!

What are some books on your TBR? How is your reading year coming along? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in WORDS, writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 3: Potato-Potahto-Tomato-Tomahto

Hello!

Welcome to part three of the Writing Diaries. (If you missed the first/second post, you can start here.) Today, we’re going to discuss how you tell your story.

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When you think of your favorite story, what comes to mind?

Often, when I think back on stories, whether it be in the form of a book, a TV show, or a movie, the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t necessarily the plot – it’s usually everything else. Essentially, story and plot are one in the same, but I consider plot to be the black and white road map, whereas, story is the rainbow of color that makes it unique.

Say you’re planning a road trip – your plot is the destination, and your story is the route in which you take to get there. You might take the scenic route, or you might take the highway. Either way, the path you choose is up to you. While the plot is still the ultimate destination, how you get there is what really matters. You have the freedom to expand, and explore across a vast variety of landscapes. And if you happen to stray too far from the path, you always have your road map to get you back on track.

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Here’s an example of plot vs. story – if someone asked you to describe the plot of a particular book, or movie, you could probably do so in just a couple of words, and it wouldn’t sound very exciting.

Someone: “Hey what did you think of the plot for The Lord of The Rings?”

Me: “The usual, hero must destroy the evil thing to save the world.”

Not all that gripping.

But if you’re asked to describe what the story is like, the imagery, and nuances require a bit more detail.

Someone: “Hey what did you think of The Lord of The Rings?”

Me: “It was awesome. The hobbit, Frodo, and his friends, had to battle evil forces, on their journey to Mordor, in order to destroy the One Ring, that held great powers, in the fires of Mount Doom. They had to go through the terrifying, Mines of Moria, and I’ll never forget how real the dank cold, and darkness felt. Oh, and I loved it when they visited the elves in Lothlórien. I wish I could live in a tree house like they do.”

That statement still describes the plot, but it also shows a glimpse of the route, that brought the characters to their destination.

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To bring this back into context, my novel right now, could similarly be condensed into a short statement; hero must stop bad guy from doing bad thing. Sounds pretty generic, right? A dozen stories with the same problem probably popped into your mind when you read that. But if so many stories fit that idea, what sets them apart? How you choose to tell your story, a.k.a., the path you take, is what truly matters. The places, the faces, and everything in between are what makes each story unique, and memorable.

While the ultimate goal in many novels is to defeat evil, we don’t necessarily read stories just to find out if good will triumph over evil. We read stories to experience new worlds, and see life through the eyes of the characters who live there. Through books, we are able to see things we may have never imagined, and feel things we never knew we could feel.

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It’s our job as writer’s, to bring our characters to life, and open the door to their world, to create lasting images, feelings, perceptions, and experiences that readers will remember for some time. As a writer, I’m still learning, and like anything else, storytelling takes practice to fine tune your skills and expose your flaws, along with determination and a certain amount of vulnerability, to do better on the next round.

By taking time to develop and explore your story world, you might find that it opens your mind up to new possibilities that may have gone unnoticed, if you’d only taken the highway. And if you’re like me, and lean more towards the pantser side of the street, you may find this idea of exploring your world to be an unlikely key to fleshing out your plot as well. At one point, I was struggling with how to move my plot forward, but I was able to find the answer I needed hidden in one of the physical features of my world. (The answer to my struggle, came from within the story itself!)

Remember, a story is more than the plot. It’s the people you get to know, the places you get to see, the life you get to experience – all through words on a page. Don’t be afraid to explore new avenues and leave no stone un-turned. If you want your story to affect readers, you’ll have to give them something to remember. So be sure to infuse your story with as much richness of life, and character as possible.

“Hey Siri, let’s take the scenic route.”

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This little series is dedicated to exploring, and documenting the different threads and shreds it takes to write a story worth reading. So thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you next time.

Lady S

 

Posted in Adventure

A Week in the Life

Hi there!

How’s it going? I thought I’d do something a little different from my usual posts.

Have you ever been curious about the way others live their lives? What does a normal day look like, for someone who lives a completely different life from yours? If that’s the case, then today is your lucky day, because I’ll be revealing what a “normal” day/week looks like for me, in a journal type format. You may be stuck at home, or you might be little affected by all of the strangeness going on right now, (at least on the outside), but whichever it is – I hope you’ll read on to see the many trials, and triumphs of my daily life.

Monday, April 27

Ah, Mondays; you either love ’em, or hate ’em. I don’t particularly hate Mondays, because I like to get back to my regular schedule, after loafing around over the weekend. Though I have to admit, Monday’s during my work season at the greenhouse, are a little more dreaded.

On this Monday, I had the morning shift at work, so it was actually pleasant. Everything went off without a hitch. And when I got home, I sat down and dug into some third draft edits on my novel. It felt good to make some progress, after not touching it for a few days. But later, I had to leave the comfort of my desk, and take my dog for a much needed walk. He’s been a good boy lately, and deserved the reward. It was a really nice evening, and we found a new place to explore. The night concluded with chocolate cream pie, and a random disco music party.

Monday was a good day. IMG_3514

Tuesday, April 28

Tuesday… my old nemesis. I don’t know why Tuesday has become my enemy, but we simply can’t get along. I had the afternoon shift at work, which left the morning completely free. With a million possibilities before me, I couldn’t make up my mind on how to spend my time, and in the end, I did nothing. Before I knew it, the morning was gone, and it was time for work.

When people hear that I work at a greenhouse, or when they visit one, they often view it through rose colored lenses. (Literally.) But I am here to shatter that illusion. On one hand, I truly love my job, because I get to work with flowers, and seeds, and dig my hands into the dirt. But on the other hand, it’s a very challenging job, physically and mentally. There’s a lot involved, and many different aspects to this line of work, which I’m not going to get into. I’ll share a few pictures, instead, to offer some insight as to what it’s like.

A: Flower arrangements that I’ve just planted.20200430_142954

B: The temperature in which they were planted.20200428_150107

Bonus: Everything in this picture was planted by hand. Impressive, right? (And this is just ONE greenhouse, of many.)20200415_170138

Eventually, I made it home to food, and AIR CONDITIONING. Not to mention, I did a little late-night online shopping, to soothe my worn out mind and body. It helped a bit. And thus, Tuesday came to a close.

Wednesday, April 29

Back to work for another long, hot shift. I planted many more flower arrangements, which turned out lovely, if I do say so myself. The day was a little more bearable, because I remembered to bring my Hydroflask, which saved my life. But even so, by the end of the day, I was hobbling out of there, because my feet hurt so bad. But in all, it was a productive day. The highlight was definitely a quick stop at my favorite ice cream shop on the way home. (Hooray for drive-thru’s!)

I was ready for bed by 8:30, but instead of getting well needed rest, I stayed up and watched random videos on YouTube. Then somehow, I wound up reading a bunch of old journal entries. (And I must say, I crack myself up.) Do you ever go back and read your old journals? It’s something I have fun doing once in a while, because I either cringe, or laugh! Then it was finally lights out, after a long day.20200503_205318

Thursday, April 30

A day off – F I N A L L Y! I was able to sleep late, but instead of feeling strengthened and refreshed, I woke up feeling like a corpse – groggy, and extra stiff. But the feeling wore off, and I felt alive again. That is, until I plunged myself into some hard-core cleaning/organizing. We currently have a lot of projects going on around the house, and since I had the day off, it was time for me to pitch in. After I got that done, another task was calling my name. My poor desk was getting more and more buried, underneath old coffee cups, shoe boxes, cookies, and other things that do not belong. It really needed some TLC, just like me.

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The rest of the day consisted of writing, editing, and some reading. I had planned on taking a nap, but things just didn’t work out. But speaking of which, I did manage to get in some exercise. A few lunges, a few pushups, and a few squats, before I called it quits. I didn’t do too, much because I knew I’d regret it the next day – and I did, but it still felt good to be moving. To finish off my night, I settled in to watch a K-Drama – and my day was complete.20200501_114034

Friday, May 1

Friyay? Not here, just a regular ol’ Friday, with nothing special to celebrate. Once again, I awoke feeling like I had been run over by a truck – a sensation that I’m becoming quite familiar with by now. Exhaustion is expected at this time of year, until the growing season is over. In the greenhouse world, business isn’t year round, otherwise, it just might kill a person! And luckily, the end is already in sight. For breakfast, I made myself a lovely egg-toast, and tea, (Lady Gray, my current favorite tea. <3). Then I parked myself at my desk, to read through some articles, and catch up on emails.

Before long, it was time to head to work. It was very busy, and very hot, and I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. (Sorry to be so graphic.) At one point, I got my finger stuck in a container, and injured it quite nicely. (It’s still sore.) By the end of the day, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, or faint – but the important part is that I didn’t do either. I made it home in (mostly) one piece, and for that I was grateful.20200501_170654

Later, when it cooled off, I went outside to read, and hang out with my dog. I love to be outside when the sun is setting; it’s so peaceful with the purple desert sky, birds chattering with one another, and the sweet scent of blossoms on the air. It was a pleasant evening, but the best part was when a robin perched up in the tree dropped a squishy surprise on my sister’s head. (If you know what I mean… ;p) But she failed to see the humor, and did not appreciate the gesture. In the end, Friday was a tough day, but I’m still thankful for every minute of it.20200501_18411920200501_193512

Saturday, May 2

Work again. Today was another long shift, but I got donuts – and no matter what anyone says, ya’ just can’t beat that. It was long, and it was hot…just like every other day. But after work, I had pizza, and received a much anticipated package in the mail. Remember when I did that impulse buying? Well, that impulsive order had very fast shipping! Excitedly, I tore into the box, and pulled out the most beautiful, obnoxiously colorful pair of shoes I’ve ever owned in my life. (Actually, the most colorful anything that I’ve owned, period.) You may be wondering if I plan on wearing these bad boys out in public, and the answer is – no. But around the house, my tired feet will be very happy. And very eye-catching.20200502_184118

Later that night, my sisters and I, gathered up a bunch of snacks, and we brought out the old Nintendo 64′, to play some serious throw-back video games. Super Smash Bro’s, and Snowboard Kids, were the games of choice, and even though I wasn’t very good, it was fun to reminisce about our childhood days. But the party couldn’t go on all night, as it was almost passed my bed time. After putting the games away, I managed to read a chapter in my book, Paranormia, by Paul Regnier. Before I knew it, my eyes were too heavy to hold open a minute longer, and I checked out for the night.20200502_211249

Sunday, May 3

A day of rest, at last. After having weird dreams about tarantula’s, (don’t ask) I awoke feeling not very awake at all. But even so, I got out of bed and made some much needed, herbal tea. Then I headed outside for my weekly, outdoor Bible reading, with my sisters. When warmer days come, I always look forward to quiet mornings outside with my Bible. Surrounded by trees, and flowers in the open air is my favorite way to study Scripture. For the rest of the day, I didn’t have big plans – resting, reading, and writing were the main agenda – just what I needed.20200503_110030

Looking back, it was a very full week. I didn’t have much time, or energy to get done everything that I wanted to, but I’m thankful for what I did accomplish. And I’m happy that I survived another tough week at work.

Also, I found that I listened to a lot of the same music last week, which kind of made it the soundtrack of my week. That soundtrack was, Hoppípolla – their new album, Spring to Spring. I listened to it almost exclusively. So if you want to know what my week sounded like, and you enjoy the sound of the cello, and lovely harmonies, I think you might like them.Screenshot_20200503-125343_YouTube

Hopefully you all had a good week – working hard accomplishing tasks, or maybe just taking things slowly, one day at a time. No matter what your days look like, I hope you are well, and feeling blessed. I hope that you can find a moment to remember what you have to be thankful for, even though everything around us seems quite rough.

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Thanks for sticking around, and reading about my week. If you found this at all interesting, perhaps I’ll do this again some time.

What were the trials, and triumphs of your week? Tell me about it down below, I’d love to hear from you!

Yours truly,

Lady S

Posted in WORDS, writing

The Writing Diaries pt 2: In The Beginning

Hello friends, how are you doing? I hope this post finds you well.

I’d said that I would be posting each month, but with all that is going on these days, my blog has slid down the list of my priorities. But after much thought and consideration, I see that was a mistake. Sitting at my desk, chin in hand, staring out at the blue sky and bemoaning my existence – I realized something that had been staring me right in the face. I saw plainly that life is not on hold, contrary to what we’ve been told. The sun is still shining, birds are still singing, and life is brimming just beyond the front door. With that in mind, I built up the courage to finish up the draft that had been sitting untouched for over a month.20200315_191259

I bring you – The Writing Diaries: In The Beginning.

In this second installment, I’m going to cover exactly how I began my outlining process for my new novel, and what worked for me. As the title states, I’m taking you back to the very beginning…

In late 2018, as I was finishing up my [then] current novel, I felt that it was time to prepare for the next one. One day, I was wandering among the many notebooks at Michael’s craft store, and I figured it was the perfect opportunity to buy myself a shiny new notebook for my new outline. I love writing on smooth paper, so I chose a Rhodia dot pad. (My favorite, by the way.)

I took my treasure home and opened it up to the first page, ready for the story that had been building inside of me for years, to unfold across the silky pages. But with my pen poised above the paper, no words came. I had decided that it was time to officially begin, but I didn’t know where, or even how to start. Should I begin with chapter 1? The first plot point? The ending? Since it was only my second novel, I didn’t have a proven method for getting my brain into gear. (And I still don’t.) I knew that many authors like to list numerous possibilities, all with a what if attached to them. So I gave it a shot, but it wasn’t giving me the answers I needed.20200411_155059

I knew the general direction of the story, but I was having trouble conveying that idea on paper. So I wrote a short opening scene. It wasn’t much, but it was the first real glimpse I got of my novel’s world. For the very first time, sights and smells were described through the senses of my main character. Colors and feelings came to life in just a few sentences. Somehow, that small scene provided me with enough inspiration to get my creative juices pumping. Though it was more like a vitamin shot, which gave me a little boost, yet left me hesitant to start on the actual outline. I got a look at the surface skin of my story, but I needed to go deeper and work on the skeletal structure.

I drew a little map of what my world looked like, physically. Next, I wrote down some bits of information about the technology used there, the way people lived, and how the social structure was aligned. Then it was time to get to the actual story, but I still couldn’t find the traction to prompt my characters into action. It was then that I realized I needed to go back – years – and even centuries before my novel takes place. You may think it’s unnecessary to go so far back in time, when your characters weren’t born or even thought of yet, but that was exactly what I needed.20200411_155238

I knew that backstory was important, but I didn’t realize how necessary it was for getting my own brain into motion for developing the future of my story. Taking a moment to go down history lane, tracing all the way back to the exact domino that will effect the course of events for years to come, is vital for building a firm foundation under your story. And most surprisingly, the words did come – flowing easily from my pen.

As I traversed the past, I was amazed at how much information I gathered. I found answers and explanations I would need later on, that I may not have known about if I hadn’t gone back in time. If you’ve hit a road block, and you’re having trouble moving your story forward – why not go back? Even if only a fraction of that backstory makes it into your novel, that knowledge will keep your feet grounded as you wade through a sea of new ideas, and concepts.

What about you? What is one thing that helped get your story off the ground? Leave a comment down below, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Thank you so much for reading,

Lady S

 

Posted in WORDS

The Writing Diaries pt 1: A Brief History of Me

Hello, and welcome to the start of my new series– The Writing Diaries, wherein, I’ll be sharing my writing process through an ongoing blog series, specifically during my next project. I’m a little nervous about sharing this publicly, but by documenting this process, I thought it might inspire anyone out there interested in writing, or publishing. I hope to show that there are others out here, struggling along that path, and working toward that same goal. If that sounds anything like you, climb aboard, because this ship is just setting sail.20200208_150315

To give you a bit of insight about the person behind the keyboard, I’ll start with a little intro on my writing history up to this point. I’ve mentioned this story before, but as this is the first part of the series, I thought it would be good place to start.

I first got interested in writing at around age twelve, when my mom discovered a website designed to showcase the work of young, Christian writers; Kingdom Pen. Before then, I used to write short stories here and there, but it was only after finding Kingdom Pen, that I really began to invest in my writing. From there, I wrote story after story, and even had a poem published in Kingdom Pen’s, e-magazine.

After a couple of years, my inspiration seemed to fizzle out. And thus began a hiatus that lasted 3 years! Slowly but surely the spark began to reignite, and I felt compelled to get back into writing. But in order to do so, I needed a story–and that is when things got rough. I can’t even remember how many different stories I started, that led me nowhere. Over and over, I thought I had found  The One, only to give up, when it Wasn’t. It was disheartening, to say the least. But I did not give up.

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It was at this time that I discovered the wondrous work of K.M. Weiland. I read through many of her articles, and finally her book, Outlining Your Novel. From then on, I had a better understanding of what a proper story should look like. And to make a long story short, I crafted my first ever outline. It wasn’t great, but it was something. And that little something, led me to actually writing, and completing my very first novel, though it did take me an entire year to get it written. (Did I mention I’m a slow writer?) After that, it took another entire year to edit the second draft. (Did I also mention I’m a procrastinator?) But the important part is that I wrote it, and my first novel is officially behind me.

Thus concludes my brief history, which brings us to 2020, where I’m a little more knowledgeable than I was a decade ago, when little ole’ me first thought it would be fun to write stories.20200208_121011

In the next installment, I’ll go into more detail about my new outline, which I wrote in 2019, while editing that first novel. This story has been growing, and evolving along with me, for over six years. Already, this new outlining process has been the complete opposite of all of my previous works–in a good way. I’m actually amazed at how this story is unfolding, both, in depth, and in structure.

Right now, I’m transcribing my notes, and trying to organize them in a linear fashion, that I hope will make sense later, when I begin my first draft. I’ve made it all the way through part one, and I’m making good progress on part two. But, I’ve still got a lot of work ahead in part three.

So stay tuned, and subscribe for my next update!

Thank you for reading,

Lady S