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

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

2019 Completed Reading List

20200125_140456Hello friends. How has life been treating you? Are you settling into the new year?

I’m finally, here to bring you my annual list of books read in 2019. Hard to believe it’s my fourth year of compiling this list on my blog. Time really flies!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record… I’m a bit disappointed with the amount of books I read. I didn’t set a specific number for myself, but every year I say I’m going to get back into the rhythm, and “read all the things”! I’m still reading a lot, and studying, so I guess I need to adjust my expectations and not be so hard on myself. Life changes, routines change, and sometimes that’s just how life goes. In truth, I feel like I might have done more reading than I ever have before, just not the kind that builds up my library. I think I’ve done enough yammering, so let’s move on to the list!

Rating: 1/5 stars

Favorites in: bold

Classics:

  1.  Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen 4
  2. Napoleon of Notting Hill, by G.K. Chesterton 3
  3. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury 5
  4. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens 4
  5. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens 5

 

Non-Fiction:

  1. Structuring Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland 5
  2. Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass, by Harold Gatty 4
  3. The Creator and The Cosmos, by Hugh Ross 5
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading, by Anne Bogel 5
  5. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau 4

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:

  1.  The Dark Between, by Sonia Gensler 2
  2.  Dune, by Frank Herbert 3
  3.  The Fork The Witch and The Worm, by Christopher Paolini 5
  4.  Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson 5
  5.  Flashback, by Shannon Messenger 4
  6.  The Year of The Griffon, by Diana Wynne Jones 4
  7.  The Raven Boys, by Maggie Steifvater 4
  8.  Itachi’s Story: Daylight, by Takashi Yano & Masashi Kishimoto 2
  9.  Romanov, by Nadine Brandes 5
  10.  The Silent Corner, by Dean Koontz 4
  11.  Wicked Fox, by Kat Cho 4
  12.  The Expeditioners, by S.S. Taylor 1
  13.  Shadow Keeper, by Hope Ann 5
  14. Healers Bane, by Hope Ann 5
  15.  The Merlin Conspiracy, by Diana Wynne Jones 5

Total: 25

There it is folks. No surprise that I read mostly fantasy, but I did try to break away now and then, and pick up a classic or something non-fiction.

And Speaking of non-fiction, one of my favorite reads was, The Creator and the Cosmos, by Hugh Ross. If you find the cosmos to be utterly fascinating, and amazing, I highly recommend this book. Back in the day I studied a bit of astronomy, and ever since I’ve grown a deep appreciation for space. This book offers an in depth look at the creation of the universe, from a biblical perspective, and I found it beautiful to learn of the exquisite design and attention that went into our Universe. Though some of it was over my head, I admit, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Also, if you enjoy reading books, on the very topic of reading, I think you’d like, I’d Rather Be Reading. It was a lot of fun to talk about all of the different things related to the life of a reader.

In the fiction realm, one of my favorites was, The Merlin Conspiracy. I never knew much about the original Merlin…and I still don’t! This book had nothing to do with the old Merlin, at all, but instead, wove a magical and chaotic tale, as only Diana Wynne Jones can. By the end of each Jones book I read, I’m left struck by the way she creates such wild stories, and yet ties them all up nicely in the end. Her style, and creativity is one that I greatly admire.

Secondly, I was pleasantly surprised by, The Fork The Witch and the Worm. The Inheritance Cycle, also by Paolini, is one of my all-time-favorites, and reading this book reminded me of the good old days, when I marathoned the series. It was nice to settle back into the land of Alagaësia, even if my favorite characters didn’t get a lot of screen time.

~ ~ ~

So there you have it. How about you? Did you reach your reading goals in 2019? Did we read any of the same books? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

As always, thank you for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Adventure

A Year In Review: 2019

The days are cold, the nights are long, and we are creeping ever closer to the end of another year…or the beginning of a new one, (depending on how you prefer to view it).

It’s sometimes hard to grasp how things have changed in the span of a year. What did we learn, what did we accomplish, what failed, and/or what were our experiences? Until we take a moment to pause, and hit the rewind button, we can’t always see the whole picture.

For me, a lot actually did happen, and I wanted to share some of the highlights.thumbnail_20190921_184506

Writing:

Firstly, back in February, I wrapped up the first draft of my first novel. At the time, it felt a little anticlimactic. Maybe I was waiting for a sign from the universe, that I had leveled up on the writing totem pole, or some such thing. But nothing like that happened. Instead, everything felt exactly the same. Currently, I’m nearing the end of the second draft, which already feels like a bigger accomplishment. Looking back, I can see that it’s the little tiny steps, (that may feel insignificant,) that grow into the big, monumental leaps. Patience, young grasshopper.

The other half of my writing time, was spent working on a brand new, cohesive, and detailed plot. I always thought I was a full-fledged pantser, but that’s changed. I’ve spent a lot of time studying structure and plot this year, and I’ve learned so much. For my next project, I don’t want to make the same mistakes. The way I intend NOT to do that, is by plotting, properly. ( I’ll talk more about my new story at the end of this post.) Basically, I took this year to go back to square one. Reviewing all the story principles the writing world had to offer, and take my time working on my projects.

Travel Adventures:

When I was younger, my family used to travel a fair bit. Now that everyone’s older, and has jobs, and other boring stuff, we don’t travel as much anymore. But this year, we went on not only one big trip, but TWO. (I know, I know, I might as well sell all of my belongings and start a new life as a backpacker in Europe.) They weren’t just any ol’ trips, friends. I somehow convinced my mom and sisters to travel across the country to attend the concerts of not only one, but two of my favorite musical groups! I honestly still can’t believe it actually happened. Seeing BTS live in concert, is not an everyday thing, you know. And even though my memories from that night are kinda foggy, I’m so grateful I was able to go. And to top it off, I also got to see Day6! After another online purchasing ordeal, we snagged tickets, for a much better price. The show was amazing, and we made a lot of crazy memories along the way. I’m so happy we went, even though it meant suffering through an eleven hour drive to get there.

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*Psst! Check out the vlogs of my travel adventures here, and here, on my sister’s YouTube channel.*

Though I never would have imagined crossing off two such events in one year, they still can’t compare to one even bigger and better thing; seeing the OCEAN again. Even though I dearly love my home, (that is far from any great body of water), I have always had a deep yearning for the sea. No matter how long time stretches between visits, that feeling never lessens. It’s a feeling that is always there. (I wonder if everyone feels that way?) I’m eternally grateful for the few days that I was able to sit on the sandy shore, soak up the cool mist, and watch the beautiful crashing waves. For me, being near the water is healing and I can truly feel the magnificence and majesty, of the One who created it.thumbnail_DSC03378

Study:

This year, I studied quite a bit, over a range of topics. Studying is no longer something that is “required” of me by someone else, but something that I now “require” of myself.  I really enjoy it and plan to continue always. Some of the topics I delved into were, plant science, the creation of the universe, herbal medicine, and WWII. It’s been so much fun choosing any subject that interests me, and dedicating my time to study it. I’m really grateful for the freedom I have to learn, and explore so many topics.thumbnail_20191222_141457

Life:

Another major event this past year, was the welcoming of a new life into our family! Babies are truly one of the best gifts in this life, and I’m so blessed to be an aunt again!

I’m also grateful for the precious visits with my family. Life can be rocky, and the future quite uncertain, but I hope that I will always remember to treasure and cherish the moments I have with loved ones.

Thinking back, 2019 was long, yet it feels like it ended in an instant. With each passing year, life feels scarier, and more unpredictable than the last. But I hope that we can all grow stronger in our FAITH, cling tightly to the TRUTH, and the love of CHRIST, and TRUST that tomorrow is in HIS control.thumbnail_20190627_202104

The Year Ahead:

An old decade is ending, and a new one is about to begin. 2020 sounds so strange, like it belongs in the title of a sci-fi film. It’s so weird… but we’re all in this together, right?

In 2020, if all goes according to plan, I’m going to begin a new writing journey. My next project is one that has been lingering in the back of my mind for several years now. Over time it has changed in subtle ways– new names, new faces and scenes, but at its core it’s still the same. I’ve held off from writing it, until I felt my skills were advanced enough to begin. Though I still don’t feel all that adequate, (and probably never will), I do believe I am ready to begin. I’m actually, even thinking of starting a new series on my blog. So early next year, I’m going to begin the first draft of my yet, unnamed novel, and I hope to chronicle that journey, here. Posting monthly updates on my progress, and sharing any wit, or wisdom I come across along the way.

A while back, I told my family I wanted to be published by the time I reach age twenty-five. And that number is not as far off as it once was (or as I’d wish it to be). But I’m hoping that by saying this aloud to the world, and having some accountability, it may propel me forward, and help me get down to business.

Thank you for another year, and thanks to those who read my posts! I really appreciate you. I hope you all have a blessed year ahead!

~~~

Do you have any goals for 2020?

Did anything special happen this year? I’d love to hear from you!

As always, thank you for visiting,

Lady S

 

Posted in WORDS

Sunshine Tag

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re doing well, and enjoying the change of seasons. I’m finally able to enjoy the outdoors again, now that it’s no longer hazardous to my life. This summer was brutally hot, but I’ve made it through, and I’m grateful for the respite winter will bring.

Today I’ve been tagged by Chelsea, from An Ordinary Pen for the Sunshine Blogger tag. If you have some time, you should hop over and visit her site. You can tell her I sent you!

Anyhow, we’ve got eleven questions in need of answers, covering a wide variety of subjects… Let’s begin, shall we?

If you could learn any language in the word, which would you choose?

There are lots of languages I find interesting, and would like to learn, but if I had to choose only one– I’d pick Japanese. I’ve mentioned before, that I’ve been trying to learn Japanese for a couple of years now, but I have not been a very good student as of late. One step forward, two steps back, as the saying goes.thumbnail_20191019_155419

Do you have any pets? If so, share a pic!

I have a nice little herd of pets, who all tend towards the un-photgenic end of the spectrum, but you can view my attempts below. For reference, I have 3-5 cats, (it’s kind of complicated) and 2 dogs… But also a rabbit and some chickens, and possibly a turtle, though I’m not certain. (It was too hard getting pics of them all!)

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Do you prefer using black pen, blue pen, or a weirdly colored pen?

I like a classic look, so I mainly use black ink. But if I’m feeling rebellious, I will use a blue pen now and then.

Do you have an app on your phone you feel you couldn’t live without?

I don’t have many apps on my phone, but the few I do have, I often wish that I didn’t, since they inevitably encourage procrastination. (I’m looking at you, Instagram.) But for the sake of this post I’ll say YouTube, because I’d likely be lost without it.

What’s your current favorite song?

If you don’t know, I’m a big K-Pop fan. That being said, my “favorite” slot is subject to change quite frequently, as the influx of new music is almost overwhelming. But one song I can listen to over and over again is, Wanna Go Back, by Day6. It’s a song about missing your childhood, in the midst of growing up.

What was the last movie you watched?

The last movie that I watched was a horror-film, that I’ll spare you the name of.

What did you think of it?

To be completely honest, I thought it was lame, with a capital “L”. Scary movies lately, are just not good, or even scary for that matter. There’s usually only the barest hint of a story to them, and in the end, they all turn out to be carbon copies of one another. I think I’ve seen enough of the same ol’, face-painted, screeching woman in a long white dress to last a lifetime.

Are you a collector? (Stamps, coins, china-figures, etc.)

When I was a kid, I used to collect feathers— eagles, pigeons, chickens, peacocks, you name it. But more recently, I’ve begun collecting enamel pins. If I ever travel, or visit a new place, pins are a nice souvenir to bring home. Plus, they’re just so cute!thumbnail_20191019_144902

What’s your favorite non-fiction read?

When it comes to non-fiction, I have a strong preference for nature-oriented books. One such book is, The Maine Woods by Henry David-Thoreau; a narrative of his explorations into the untamed woods. There is nothing especially exciting about it, as there are no life-or-death action scenes, or groundbreaking ideas. But it brought much peace to me each time I opened it up, and read through his accounts.

If you had to move to another country and live there for the rest of your life, where would you go?

Believe it or not, this is something I think about all the time. And I’ve come to the conclusion, that I’d be quite chuffed if I could live in the English countryside. The rolling hills, and mild weather sounds glorious to me. But the French countryside sounds lovely too. I wouldn’t be picky.

If you suddenly became leaders of a typical fantasy land, what immediate social/political/environmental reforms would you make?

Hmm… This is a tough question. But perhaps, I’d rid my land of those dangerous fight-to-the-death competitions fantasy lands are so fond of. Because if I were a citizen of such a place, that would not be my ideal living-condition.

~~~

And that’s a wrap!

Many thanks again to Chelsea, for tagging me. I had fun answering her questions, and I hope that you enjoyed reading them.

And since I’m a compulsive rule-breaker, (when it comes to tags, anyway) I’ll not be tagging anyone specific. Instead, if you fancy answering these questions, feel free to do so, and say that I tagged you! Or if you’d like, you can answer the questions in a comment down below. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Lady S

Posted in WORDS

Reviving Inspiration

Hello, friends! Sorry for vanishing on you, but I’m back now, and hope to be posting more regularly.

Let’s move on with today’s post:

20190818_203358Reviving Inspiration

As of late, writing has been taking up much of my time, and brain space. I don’t typically talk about my writing online, but I thought I’d open up a bit today, and offer a glimpse into my writing journey. At the time of this writing, my very first novel has been completed. *cheers & applause!* It may be a tangled mess that needs work, but at least I can say I’ve finished the thing!

It took a lot longer than expected to finish the draft, but I’ll allow myself some slack, since it was the first work of fiction I’ve completed in years.

You heard that right– years.

But let’s start at the beginning.

In my early teens, I realized that writing was something I really enjoyed. So naturally, I began to write short stories, one after another. And then… I stopped completely, for a good three years. For some reason I had lost interest; be it laziness, fear, life or just plain discouragement, I don’t know.

But then, a couple of years ago, (2017-ish) I felt compelled to take up the mantle once again. I dusted off my ol’ writer’s cap, and allowed the story ideas and creative juices to start flowing.  (Little did I know, I was in for a looong and bumpy road.) With this resurgence of inspiration, I tossed together a very vague plot, and jumped right into the first draft.

I wrote a few chapters, and was on a roll, until I realized that I had dug myself into a hole. Painted myself into the corner, was up the creek without a paddle… You can probably get the picture. It was a wreck, and I ended up abandoning it.

Going back to the drawing board, I came up with new characters, different plot, yet still the same old quandary. What I like to call, naivety. (Until recently, I was a pantser in the extreme; writing by the seat of my pants, as they say. It makes me cringe now, thinking back to my lack of forethought.)20190816_143215

After trying, and failing four times, I had to sit myself down, and have a serious discussion. I had to admit that I had no idea what I was doing. And no matter how much I pretended that I didn’t need to plot, I was W R O N G.

This fact was further cemented, after I read K.M. Weiland’s books, Outlining Your Novel, and Structuring Your Novel, (both of which I highly recommend). After combing through multiple articles from her website,(and Story Embers,) I made the executive decision to begin a proper plot. It was difficult and awkward at times, but gradually I became accustomed to the process.

Fast forward through a long and painful process, I’d written the first draft. It was most definitely not a future best-seller, but it was a real story, with a (somewhat) consistent pace, and (slightly) recognizable structure, and most importantly, it was complete!

It was the first story I had completed in several years, and my first novel, e v e r. Currently, I’m neck deep in the second draft, in the throes of editing, and revising. But dare I say, I’m actually enjoying it. Though I may moan and groan, I know this is a very necessary step in working towards a future in writing. Becoming an author does not happen overnight. (Am I just realizing this now?)

For so long, I felt that writing (and completing) a novel was too far-fetched to be a reality. You too, may feel that your goal is beyond your capabilities, but don’t ever give up. Persevere, and work hard because in time, it is possible to reach your goal. 20190816_142808

I’ve already started outlining my next project, which I can’t wait to start writing, but I’m holding myself back, until I have a solid structure to build my world upon. I still have much to learn, and in fact, I have more questions now than ever. But that’s okay. Taking the time to study and hone my skills, I feel more hopeful about the future. And I’m going to keep striving, working hard and pushing forward.

So write on my friends! And remember, if I can do it– you can too!

~~~

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found some small bit of inspiration in this post. And if you’re ever feeling discouraged, don’t forget that somewhere out there in that big wide world, there are others like you, (and me) who are struggling too. But through prayer, and hard work you can make it through!

Until next time,

Lady S