Posted in life, writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 8: A Writer Rambles

Greetings fellow humans, how goes things? How have your days been? Are you busy with work, school, or writing? Has the autumn chill crept in yet? Have you dug out your collection of fuzzy knits, or woven wools? We had our first freeze a couple weeks ago and it’s been a little colder than it usually is this time of year. But that means it’s the perfect sort of weather to get some use out of my extensive sweater collection, and that makes me happy. My days have been pretty well occupied by a number of things lately. I’m not working at the greenhouse through the winter, and my list of to-do’s is much shorter now that we’re nearing the colder months. That gives me a little more freedom so I decided that it’s the perfect time to enroll in an online class. I haven’t mentioned it here on my blog, but herbal medicine is something I have become very passionate about. I love the study of herbs, the amazing qualities they have, and the ways they can improve our health in gentle ways. This will be my second online herbal medicine class, and I’m feeling pumped to learn all the things.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’m considering participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. For those that don’t know, NaNoWriMo, stands for National Novel Writing Month. A yearly challenge, where writer’s from all over the world take on the challenge of writing an entire novel during the month of November. The goal is to reach 50,000 words, (roughly 1,600 words everyday), which is the technical length for a novel. Every year I watch the excitement and hype leading up to it, from afar. I’ve been much too intimidated and unprepared to even attempt such a feat. But this year, I am happy to say that I’m a lot more confident in my writerly abilities and I already have a decent outline worked out. I even went to a coffee shop, like all of the posh writers do, and hammered out some of the important details. I have no doubt that it will be a huge challenge, but it’s one I’m ready to accept. Oh, and I’m also planning on writing it all by hand.

Over the summer, I wrote a short story, and as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I wrote the first draft entirely by hand. (Prior to that, I wrote mainly on the computer.) I was amazed at how different the writing experience was. Writing by hand, seemed to lift the invisible pressure I had placed on myself, though one would think the opposite to be true. And writing by hand actually brought back a joy to my writing, that can be so easily lost. Needless to say, for this new project, I am prepared with a shiny new notebook for a shiny new story.

I’m still in the editing phase of my short story and am hoping to finish it very soon. Maybe I’ll even let somebody else read it. Truth be told, I’m one of those writers that hordes their writings and guards them with their life–not even letting a single sentence be read by prying eyes. I’m trying to break out of that habit, but it’s easier said than done. I’m also still working on the sci-fi novel I started last year. I’m actually really close to the climax, but progress is still slow-going. As with my previous novel, I again, hit a wall near the midpoint. It seems that that is the most difficult hurdle for me to get over with my stories, but if I can make it through that midpoint, I can make it through all the other parts too! At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s one of the main reasons why I’m going to write my next novel by hand, and try not to follow any of the same patterns I usually fall into. I’ve accepted the fact that this story is just going to take a little longer than I had planned, but I have faith that I’ll get to the end in good time.

Besides all of that, I’ve been making the most of the fall season. Fall is really the shortest time of year and winter seems to swoop in all too soon. I love the cool air, and deep colors of fall, and it’s an almost mesmerizing effect. It’s always so sad when I have to see them go. This year, I started celebrating early, by doing a spooky photo-shoot in a corn field with my sister, visiting a haunted house with some friends, and I’ve had some form of pumpkin spice drink, nearly everyday. In short, I’ve been embracing the quiet calm of the season–the here and now, and trying hard not to think too much about what is ahead. So often I can get preoccupied with thoughts and worries and plans for the future, that I end up missing all of the special moments right in front of me.

So here’s to peace and goodness, right now. I hope you’re living wholehearted today, and worrying less about tomorrow. May we all have faith that tomorrow will take care of itself. I hope you have a blessed fall, my friends. Stay well.

via GIPHY | Nature stickers, Powerpoint background design, Backdrops  backgrounds

What’s your favorite part of autumn? And are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Book Reviews, reading

Books You’ve Never Heard of – New Titles for Your TBR

Greetings friends. I hope this entry finds you well, in body and spirit. I’m doing quite well, thank you. Fall has arrived, and I’m very happy about it. Most days are still in the upper 90s, but the morning’s and evening’s are so dusky and crisp, and I’m loving them. But I’m not here to talk about the weather (*again), I’m here to talk about books–my other favorite topic of discussion. It’s about that time when readers all over the world start to rummage around, and squirrel up some juicy reads for the remainder of the year. And since we are all eternally, foraging for good books to add to our lists, I thought it would be fun to share a few books that you may not have heard of before. In the book world there are many books circulated that nearly everyone has read, or has plans to read. But there is a vast library of hidden gems out there, and maybe your new favorite book is still waiting for you to find it. Today, I’m sharing a few books that you may not have heard of, that I really enjoyed, and that you might enjoy as well.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm, by Dianna Wynne Jones (Middle-Grade Fantasy)

I’ve mentioned Dianna Wynne Jones on my blog many times before, since she is one of my favorite authors. But apart from Howl’s Moving Castle, not many of her other books get much attention, which is a shame because she’s written a lot of books. One book that I truly adored was, The Dark Lord of Derkholm. This is a fantasy book, with a premise that’s almost too convoluted to describe. It takes place in the same universe as all her other works–which consist of many different worlds. In this novel, there is an event which takes place each year, where those from across the worlds can take part in a Pilgrim Party–an all expenses paid trip to a neighboring world where “pilgrims” a.k.a. “tourists” can take part in a rehearsed adventure. These so-called pilgrims get to defeat dark lords, and dragons, and experience a “real” adventure. And for this year’s event, Derk, and his eccentric family are chosen to host it. We follow our main characters as they endeavor to put on the show of a lifetime, and create a convincing experience for the good paying tourists. The book is hilarious and completely enthralling.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë (Classic Literature)

We are all familiar with the Brontë sisters, and their widely acclaimed books, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights–but you don’t often hear about the third sister, Anne. If you haven’t heard about this book, I’d just like to say that in my humble opinion, the The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, far surpasses the two aforementioned, both in plot and writing style. Wildfell Hall, centers around a reclusive young woman, and her son, and their mysterious past. When a young gentlemen takes a liking to the woman, he makes it his goal to befriend her, and find the truth about the unfortunate events that lead her to the quiet, secluded cliff-side town. This is one of the most honest, and poignant works of fiction from the 18th century, I’ve ever read.

Blur, by Steven James (YA Thriller)

Occasionally, I like to pick up a story in the thriller, or paranormal genre. I read this book on a whim, when I wanted something gripping and dark, and I was pleasantly surprised by the story. It takes place in a small, quiet town in Wisconsin, where the body of a teen girl is discovered. The death is ruled an accident, but the main character Daniel, soon comes to believe that may not be true after all. He tries to get to the bottom of the case, while strange and unexplainable things begin to happen in his personal life. For anyone interested in a chilling, and mysterious story you might want to pick this book up. Oh, and Blur, is the first book in a trilogy, but I didn’t really like the other two books as much as I liked the first.

The Forest of Wool and Steel, by Natsu Miyashita (Contemporary, Slice of Life)

This year I’ve been delving into some Japanese Fiction. I decided to pick up The Forest of Wool and Steel, and the title is what initially drew me to this story, but I then stayed for the characters. This story is about a young piano tuner, apprenticing at a piano shop in a small mountain village. The main character Tomura, was someone I really related to in many ways. The book managed to make the challenges and difficulties he faced while pursuing his dream, somehow feel like my own struggles in life. This is a heartwarming and true to life story about a young man forging a path for himself, while walking in the footsteps of great teachers.

The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery (Classic Literature)

As a self-professed member of the Lucy-Maud-Montgomery-Fan-Club, you can imagine my surprise when I found this book, while doing some online book shopping. I knew Miss Montgomery wrote other books besides her famous Anne series, but somehow, The Blue Castle slipped by my radar. As soon as I read the title, I immediately, ordered the book. I might be the only one living in ignorance of this book, but in case you too have not heard of it, don’t worry, I just fixed that problem. It was interesting to read a more modern book by L.M. Montgomery, and a story very unlike that of Anne of Green Gables, or Emily of New Moon. Our main character, Valency, is only months away from turning thirty when she receives shocking information that spurs her to break free from her overbearing, and stifling family. Much to the chagrin of several aunts, uncles, and cousins, Valency casts public opinion aside, as she chooses to live the life of her dreams. This is probably my favorite read of the year, and is one of those books I know I’m going to want to read over and over again. So if you’re in the market for something humorous, uplifting, and heartfelt, I think this is just the book you’re looking for.

Book Sticker for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Thus concludes my list of lesser-known masterpieces. Searching for hidden gems in the book world is one of my favorite hobbies, and something I intentionally seek out. The mainstream book market dominates nearly all of social media, yet when you take the time to find books outside of that realm, you may be pleasantly surprised by the treasures that are out there.

Tell me, have you heard of any of these books before? What are some of your favorite lesser-known reads? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life, WORDS

A Page From My Journal

Do you keep a journal? A super secret notebook for your eyes only? Or maybe a notebook where you collect stray thoughts and ideas before they escape into the ether? Journaling has always been a part of my life. Even when I was very young, writing daily was always encouraged by my mom, and through the years I’ve filled up dozens of notebooks. Sometimes I write about the adventures I’ve had, or milestones in my life, but most often I write about the ordinary, everyday things that can often slip by as seemingly unimportant. I don’t write in my journal as often anymore, but I still try to keep up with it even if it can sometimes feel like a chore. There is just something calming and therapeutic about writing like this, and when I’ve reached the the end of the page my hand may feel sore but I usually come away feeling calmer and more at ease.

Back when I was younger, there were some days when I just didn’t know what to write. I would stare at the blank page, too uninspired to think of anything to say. That was when my mom would bring out a certain list of journal prompts to get me writing. I recently rediscovered the list and I wanted to try it out again. It’s been years since I used this list, and it brought back so many fun memories from my childhood. The prompts are simple but they serve as a great conversation starter. Just a little nudge, or suggestion to get your brain into gear, and get the words flowing.

So what is on this list? Let’s take a look.

Outside my window…

I am thinking…

I am thankful for…

From the kitchen…

I am wearing…

I am reading…

I am hoping…

I am creating…

I am hearing…

Around the house…

One of my favorite things…

Plans for the weekend…

I think its a pretty good list and now I’ll share a “page” from my journal. I wrote it by hand, to make the experience feel more authentic, and then I typed it out here for you to read. It’s always fun to look back on old journal entries from a few weeks, months, or even years back. And sometime it’s even more fun to read from the pages of someone else’s journal. So let’s have a read, shall we?

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Outside my window, the sky is a mix of strange phenomena, and odd weather patterns. It’s terribly hazy from a distant forest fire and a little cloudy from a rainstorm that must working its way here. I am thinking, of how incredible it is that the sky changes so quickly. In the space of an hour it could be completely transformed by an approaching storm or a cloud of dust and smoke, only to clear again shortly after to make way for a bright sunset. I’m always thankful for such sights.

From the kitchen, I’ve pilfered a bag of trailmix. The day is well on its course, but I’ve yet to have a proper meal. Eating what I can here and there when I get a chance is my motto, but we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the day unfolds. I am wearing, my summer uniform today, which as it happens, changes daily. Today that uniform is shorts, with a large T-shirt. Air flow is essential, so I tend to base my fashion sense on the suggestions of breath-ability, and aerodynamics.

These days I am reading, a great many books about a great many topics. One of them is about the search for a lost Welsh king, in the small town of Henrietta, Virginia. And yet another book spends much time explaining the harrowing, yet heroic partnership between vast forest systems and and friendly fungi. I am hoping, for an afternoon rainstorm, so that I can have an excuse to hunker away with one of my books. Because when it rains, it is absolutely imperative that you drop everything you are doing and pick up a book immediately. You don’t even have to read it, you can just hold onto it and gaze moodily out the window. Trust me on this.

I am creating, a whole host of things lately. You’ll see remnants of them everywhere in my room. An unfulfilled summer to-do list, a half completed crochet project sitting on my desk, half-written stories in notebooks, and computer files. I think it’s about time I stop creating, and start completing.

I am hearing, the ever present hum of the air conditioner that has become synonymous with these summer days. But underneath all of that, there is a lo-fi playlist adding a bit of aesthetic ambiance to this decidedly un-aesthetic environment. Around the house, there are ceiling fans, and swivel fans, and probably some other type of fans valiantly working together to rid the house of stuffy, heavy, swampy air. But despite their best attempts, it is a losing battle.

One of my favorite things, to do in the summer is sitting outside and watching the sky. Sometimes at night, I’ll climb up onto the roof and stargaze, or search for the milky way streaking across the sky. And if I have the opportunity, I’ll sit out under a shade tree and watch big, fluffy, cumulus clouds trudge across the horizon bringing with them a summer downpour or maybe even, some mighty thunder and lighting. The weekend, is always lurking around the corner, and I do not have any plans to fill it just yet. A funny thing happens though, when I try to make plans. For some reason, they usually do not come to pass, no matter hard I try. So I’ve adopted a new philosophy when it comes to the weekend. Instead of me, making plans, I simply wait for plans to make me. So far this method is working out swimmingly.

But I guess that’s all I have to say today. Time is pressing, and other tasks are calling my name. It was nice chatting with you, and I thank you for your time. Hopefully we can do this again sometime. But until then, have a great summer. Ciao!

* * * * *

Moving Sunny Day Sticker By Christine Polz

If you want to play along and try out these prompts for yourself, go right ahead! You can pretend this is a tag and that I’ve tagged you! Or, just have fun with these prompts and play around on a piece of paper, or your own journal. If you do try this out please be sure to let me know! I’d love to read your responses. Thanks again for stopping by.

Yours truly,

Lady S

Posted in writing

Tick-Tock This is a Clock

I have a question for you.

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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.

* * *

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