Posted in life, writing

Turtle vs. Sloth – A Writing Update

Hello there, how are you? I hope your spring is getting along well. You may have noticed that I’ve been absent for a bit. I’m still here, just fell behind on posting because I’ve been so busy with work and life, that everything else has gone out the window. I’m another year older, and maybe even a bit wiser. The years come and go, whether we want them to or not, and hopefully we continue to grow and blossom, just like the plants and gardens we tend. The weather here is warming up nicely, or so it seems, until winter swoops back in and reminds us that it’s not ready to move on just yet. Spring is strange like that though, almost like a battle of the seasons. Reminds me of myself too, hot and cold, summer and winter all at the same time. But before I blather on any longer about the weather, or my own existential crisis, let’s move on to the topic at hand– my writing progress.

I’m in the middle of two projects right now, and they are coming along nicely, for the most part. Sometimes I feel really motivated to write, and I make good progress, and other times I don’t feel up to writing anything for several days. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself, but at the same time, I have that nagging feeling that I should be. I’ve been working on my short story and it’s up to 4k words. I’m quite pleased with how it’s turning out, but progress has been slow, and I feel the need to give myself a little push. Be it my job monopolizing all my time and energy, or procrastination, or writer’s block, or all of the above, I’m not entirely sure, I just know that I can do more. I’ve been trying to remind myself of the words from the author in The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron. After reading numerous essays, the point she’s driven home the most is–just write, and the words will come. I tell myself that often, but somehow I always have a very good excuse not to heed her advice.

As for my novel, don’t tell my characters, but I’ve been avoiding them. Due to many of the previous reasons I mentioned, but even more so because I’m getting very close to the midpoint. I can feel myself bucking under the weight of concerns that I’m not going to do it justice, or I won’t be able to pull it off. I know that’s a silly thing to worry about but I can’t quite shake it. I know that this novel is not going to be perfect, and that no novel ever is, but the pressure is starting to pinch a little. The good news is, I’m still very excited about the story. I love the characters, and the world, and I really want to explore it more deeply. The bad news is, it’s turning out to be quite hefty. I haven’t even reached the actual midpoint, and I’m already passed 50k words. If my math is correct, the final story should be in the range of 100k words. I’ll probably have to dig out my axe, and do some serious trimming in later edits. Or maybe a chainsaw would work better.

Me at work!

Beyond those two stories, I’m fairly bursting at the seems with excitement about my next projects. I have two in particular that I can’t wait to work on. I’m not sure when I can start seriously working on them, but I’m slowly gathering information and inspiration for later. One is a fantasy trilogy, and the other is a paranormal short story. Hopefully I can begin the short story sooner rather than later but only time will tell. Overall, I’m happy that I haven’t run out of ideas or inspiration, but again, I’ve come to realize that I need to be a little more strict with myself. Or at least try to find a routine, and practice more self-discipline.

So that’s where I am lately in terms of writing. And if you’re wondering about my reading habits…let’s just say, they’re even worse. (I am blaming that all on bed-time procrastination.) Work has been busy and long, so I don’t have much time to read during the day and all I can manage is a page or two at night before my eyes drop shut. It took me about four whole days to get through one chapter. But progress is still progress, no matter how small, right? Isn’t there a saying about eating the elephant, one bite at a time? Some days, are tough but keeping a positive mindset and continuing to aim towards improvement, can help to see us through the rough patches.

Where are you, with your writing these days? Have you been accomplishing much, or maybe just taking things one day at a time? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 6 : A Handwritten Letter

When was the last time you sat down with a pen or a pencil, and just wrote? Allowing the words to guide you across the page, instead of a rigid outline? It could be in the form of a letter, a journal entry, or anything in between. If you’re a writer, then it might not be so long ago. But in the age of modern convenience, we likely don’t “write”, by hand as our forefathers once did. I know that I have given in to the kings of convenience, despite my fondness for simple, pen and paper. Technology has managed to sneak its way into nearly all forms of writing, and even reading for that matter. For today’s post, I want to consider the different ways that writing by hand, or through a computer might affect the writing process.

In the early stages of the story process I always opt for a pen and a notebook, to capture those first few details and snippets, as they unfold inside my head. I’ll use sticky notes to jot down random names or topics needing more research. I might even write pages and pages of backstory that will likely never make it into the final work. But when I feel ready, I leave the paper behind and open up a “Pages” document on my computer, and let the real story begin. It’s exciting to start filling the empty space with words, and quotation marks, and chapter titles. To me, that’s when the real story begins and it starts to look and feel like a proper book.

Occasionally though, as time goes by and the story begins edging towards its climax, I can feel discouragement set in and the flow of writing can come to a halt. I become frustrated and feel that my efforts no longer look or feel like a “proper” book. It might start to feel like a jumbled mess, and I can experience great disappointment. It feels like all the hours and days poured into the project have resulted in nothing more than a wilted bloom, barely clinging to life, instead of the vibrant flower I had first envisioned.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself this question: “Does writing the first draft on a computer add more pressure to my writing process?”

On one hand, I can say that writing the first draft in a word document is genius. It’s easy to pound scores of words out by the minute, it’s easier to make changes, easier to recognize mistakes, and most of all, it’s easier to read computerized fonts than the scribbled chicken-scratch on paper. You can send a snippet to a friend for feedback, or even delete an entire section if you so choose. But could that be where the trouble lies? On a computer, nothing is permanent, and anything can be altered or changed at any given moment. Instead of plowing ahead with the story, it might be tempting to work backwards, and edit as you go. Perhaps a bit of permanence is helpful, or dare I say, even needed.

I’m reading through a book right now about the “writer’s life“. In it, the author shares many writing exercises to practice. One of them is to sit down and write three pages of longhand everyday on any topic you choose. She calls it “morning pages”, but it can be done at any time of the day. The idea is to cultivate a habit, and commitment to writing each day. And to show yourself that you can indeed write anywhere, anytime, anyhow. It doesn’t matter how messy or mixed up your words come out. The exercise is meant to allow your words to flow freely, and uninterrupted.

In the past, I have tried many times to write the first draft by hand, but I inevitably give up after only a few pages. Quick and convenient, always seems to trump slow and steady. I know that many authors write their first draft entirely by hand, and that has always astounded me. Writing by hand takes a lot of time, and to me, the story feels closer to being done when I can see it all typed out on a screen, (even if it’s very far from actually being done).

Recently, I’ve decided to try something different, an experiment if you will. For starters, I’ve decided to write a short story–something I haven’t done for quite a while. I’ve felt that my writing habits needed some livening up, so why not turn my usual routine on its head? I pulled out a new notebook, filled up my fountain pen with ink, and simply began writing. I’m not worrying too much about when I should write, or even if I feel like I’m in the right mindset to write–I’m simply writing. So far it’s been fun, really fun. Granted, I’ve had to stop myself at times, from the “not good enough”, thoughts that try to interrupt my progress, but for now, I’m trying to tell that part of my brain to stay quiet.

I’ve found that writing by hand takes away much of the pressure I usually feel when writing. And I’m learning to write without the imaginary critic hanging over my shoulder, and to simply write to tell the story that wants to be told. And that notion, for me, had gotten misplaced somewhere along the way. Until I complete my little experiment, I may not know if my writing habits will forever be changed, but for now, I’m enjoying the process and I think I may be converted. (Which means I’m going to need some more notebooks.)

What about you? Do you like to write on a computer, or are you more old-fashioned, preferring the pen and paper method? Tell me your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in life

Bits & Bobs, Odds & Sods – A Life Update

Hello, friends! Looks like we’ve reached the month of February. I hope the winter has been kind to you so far, and that you’re settling into the new year nicely. The weather here is still very cold, but there is a distinct note of spring in the atmosphere. Birdsong fills the air and the sunshine just feels different, somehow. For today’s post, I thought I would change things up slightly and give a little life update of sorts. So if you’d like to find out what I’ve been up to, pour yourself a warm drink, and read on.

How’s Things?

January has come and gone, (one of the longest months of the year). After the busyness of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the many, many, January birthdays, life has subtly begun to slow down and return to a normal pace. (Anyone appreciate your normal life much more than the hustle and bustle of the holidays?) Last month, I tried to take a step back, and use the time to re-evaluate a few things. I know that New Year’s Resolutions are a bit rubbish, (after all, we don’t need to wait for a new year to make new plans, or set new goals), but I can’t help making them anyway. So for me, I spent most of January trying to figure out what my focus should be this year. I didn’t come up with any real answers, only more questions, but I suppose that’s life.

Writing Life:

In terms of writing, January was great. For months I was stuck, and seemed to have hit a brick wall, and just couldn’t get passed it. I think it was partially due to the holidays, and all of the activities that come along with them, but also, I let myself slip into a slump without putting up much of a fight. Prior to that I was making great progress with my novel, writing daily, and then suddenly it all came to a screeching halt. I felt discouraged, uninspired, and overall blah, about writing. But a few weeks ago, I finally broke out of that mood. I’m not sure exactly what changed, but I’m glad something did, and I’ve since written about 10k words! (The most I’ve written in a very long time.) Granted, I’m a very slow writer, so hitting 10k is cause for celebration in my book, (no pun intended).

How’s the Weather?

I mentioned that I can feel spring approaching, and while I’m happy for warmer days, I can’t help but feel cheated. This winter has been incredibly dry and dull. Living in the desert, we don’t get much precipitation, (during the best of times), but we usually have at least a few snow storms during the season. This winter we’ve gotten next to nothing. A couple of weeks ago we got about an inch or two of snow, which isn’t much. And before that we had a freak snowstorm, in the middle of October, no less, and had around six inches of snow! It melted fairly quickly, and even now it feels like I imagined the whole thing. I guess the good thing about the dry weather, is that it offered plenty of good days to go for long walks. My sisters and I, (and my dog of course), have gone on many pleasant adventures out in the wilds of nature, a.k.a., along the river paths. We even had a strange paranormal experience in the woods, (that’s a story for another time).

What’s New?

Let me preface this next portion by saying that I’m not a very sporty person. I’ve never played organized sports, never learned to skateboard (like all my siblings have), I tried snowboarding (twice), and did not enjoy it. (In my defense though, I do in fact, know how to ride a bike.) When I was younger, I was more of tree climbing, mud pie making kind of kid. All that to say, I’ve turned over a new leaf. A couple of weeks ago, my sister convinced me that my true passion in life is roller skating, and that every other desire up till now has been but a childish fancy. Roller skating is what I was called to do. I heartily agreed, and visited a skate shop, and forked out $130 of my hard-earned, cold hard cash and bought some shiny new skates, and a set of knee pads. I’ve been practicing for about a week now, and I think I may be on to something, because for about 2.5 seconds, when my path is clear, and my wheels are gliding beautifully and straight, I feel like I’m flying! Until, of course, I attempt to turn or stop… then things can get ugly, real fast. Nonetheless, it’s been a fun challenge for me, and I’m excited to learn something new. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

What’s To Come?

This year I hope to focus more on my blog. I really enjoy writing, and connecting with folks over the blogosphere, so I want to spend more time here. It takes me a while to come up with posts, and work on them because, I’m a #slowwriter, but so far I’ve been able to commit to one post every other week. Maybe if I wrack up some newfound inspiration, I’ll post more often. But for now, you can expect to hear from me twice a month. I’ve also been working on a secret project… okay, it’s not so secret, but nothing is official yet. I’m hoping to open up an Etsy shop in the near future. I’ll share more details on that later, but for now, my blog friends get to hear about it first! I’m still working on the designs and what products I’ll be selling, so stay tuned for future updates.

In Conclusion:

I just wanted to check in, and have a little tête-à-tête about what’s been going on in my life. I realize I don’t share a whole lot of that type of stuff here, so maybe I’ll continue to check in like this from time to time. How have you been lately? Is the new year going well? Are you excited at the prospect of spring? Leave me a comment, and let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in writing

The Writing Diaries pt. 5: Let’s Have a Conversation

As humans, we are blessed with the capability to have conversations with one another. Some of those conversations may be dreaded, others may be eagerly anticipated — and some conversations may be unexpectedly fascinating. Given the right circumstances, even the most introverted of introverts can find themselves invested in deep conversations at times. And whether we think so or not, the words we say, and the way we say them, say a lot about us. Tones, inflections, and word choice all play a huge role in how others perceive us. And that is especially true when it comes to novels.

Here’s a transcription of an interesting conversation I had, with my three-almost-four-year old nephew.

(Cat enters the scene.)

Nephew: “Can I pet him?!”

Me: “Sure you can!”

Nephew: *pets cat* “He’s so soft and crunchy!”

Me: “Um, yeah.”

Nephew:*pets cat again* *sniffs hand* “He smells like some kind of problem.”

Ouch. Sorry Rusty, you’ve been called out.

This conversation tells us a bit about what’s going on inside of my nephew’s head. He doesn’t dance around his words, but gets straight to the point, and tells us exactly what’s on his mind. (I’m kidding. I just thought the conversation was funny, and wanted to share it, lol.)

Back to the topic of today’s post which is — conversation, a.k.a., dialogue.

Dialogue is one of my favorite parts about stories. But what makes good dialogue? Inner monologue, thoughts, and prose, can tell us a lot about the characters or the story, but dialogue is how our characters interact with one another. And it can be tricky to write dialogue that feels authentic. I know we’ve all read the books with cringy, or overly-witty dialogue that no real person would say aloud. And then there are the long-winded lectures, usually found in older works. But among them all, thoughts and feelings are expressed. Just as in real life, our words carry weight, so it stands to reason that, in fiction, our words should be just as carefully chosen.

There are many ways to have engaging, and interesting dialogue; such as tones of voice, or a sense of sincerity behind the words. In one of my favorite books, The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater, there is actually very little dialogue, but when a character speaks, it usually matters. Each character has a unique, and distinct voice, and you almost always know who is speaking without having to be told. Much of this has to do with word choice, or certain phrases. But this approach of less is more, is greatly due to subtext, a.k.a. the unspoken implications in books. (This element is something I’m still trying to grasp fully, to put to use in my own novel). When a character is depicted vibrantly enough, readers don’t need things to be over-explained and there is an understanding between the reader, and the character on the page. When your characters are well developed, and words aren’t necessarily spoken explicitly, we can still have empathy and understanding of the character, adding another layer of depth to the character’s interactions.

Something I’ve learned from my own projects, is that I must listen very closely to my characters. Until I’ve actually begun writing the story, I may not know if my character is one of few, or many words. One I may have thought more subdued, might surprise me, and end up being the comical one. And a character I may have thought more talkative, may end up being reluctant to give too much away. Another thing we all should be doing, is taking note from real life. When we’re talking to our parents, our friends, or listening to the way others are talking to one another, we should pay close attention. Try and listen for the subtle cues that keep the conversation flowing, or the ones that stifle it or turn things awkward. In other words, the best way to craft authentic dialogue is to take from our experiences in every day life.

Dialogue is probably one of the funnest parts of your novel to write, but it’s difficult too. Being a person of few words myself, I sometimes struggle to keep the conversations on the page flowing easily, (kind of like in real life, too). So I have to really dig down, and get deep into my character’s heads. While I may be the one writing out their words, I have to remind myself, that I’m not the character on the page. I think the best way to write great dialogue, is to become familiar with your characters so as to be true to their voice. I love to read honest conversations between characters, and see the way they interact with one another. One of the hardest jobs of being a writer, is to find that connection with your characters and to be honest and sincere on the page.

In closing, dialogue is something that can be overlooked when you begin working on a story, but it has the ability, and potential, to be a master tool in crafting deep, and impactful stories. So I just wanted to share some of my thoughts, and have a little chat on the subject. What is your approach when it comes to writing dialogue? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Adventure

A Year in Review: 2020

Well, friends, we made it to the end of 2020. I think we should all get an award. This has been a stormy year like no other and I think we’re all still reeling. The months swept by so fast, yet not quite fast enough. So much happened, for the better and of course for the worse. But I’m not going to talk about the bad things—especially, that-which-shall-not-be-named, because if 2020 taught me anything, it’s that there is a silver lining to everything. Even in something as mundane as the sun rising up over the mountains, that’s a powerful reminder that light still exists. Or when a bird sings from high atop the trees, that too, is a reminder that joy still exists. God’s wonderful creation still exists, and we can find solace in that. So join me, as I look back at some of the events of this year that still make me smile when I remember them.

The year started out feeling new, but not so different from any year before it. I made plans, hoped to travel, pledged to be more disciplined, etc., etc., the typical New Year’s resolutions. Many didn’t end up happening, but one of them actually did. Early in the year, during that brief window when things were still normal, I scored tickets for… (you guessed it–) a concert! It was a spur of the moment decision—which are the best kind of decisions, in my opinion. (I think my family is getting used to me springing these ideas on them.) The concert venue was several hours drive away, but it wasn’t too bad as we’d driven that way dozens of times before. So in February, my mom and sisters, (and me, of course), hopped in the car and sped off for another adventure. The trip was a short one, but we managed to pack in everything we wanted to do; mainly, shop at IKEA. (Does anyone else stay in there for hours and hours?) Oh, and did I mention we went to see Stray Kids, in concert? Another one of my favorite K-Pop groups.

Remember when crowds were a thing?

Just before we entered the venue, a disaster struck! I’d handed out everyone’s tickets in the car before we arrived, which was a big mistake on my part. The line to get into the building was HUGE, wrapping around an entire block. After standing in the never ending sea of people, my older sister realized she didn’t have her ticket. We panicked, and everyone left me alone and went back to the car to find it. They searched and searched and were really beginning to lose hope. Meanwhile, I remained in line all alone among thousands of strangers, wondering who would have to stay behind?
Finally, when all hope was nearly lost, at the last moment before entering the building, my sisters came running back…with the ticket! Thankfully, the crisis was averted, and we were able to enjoy a great show. The drive home turned out to be a treacherous journey, as a blizzard decided to sweep in. But we made it home safe and sound, and for that, we were were grateful.

I’m so happy I got to see them live! ❤
“Stray Kids everywhere, all around the world.”

Fast forward to late spring, when I finally finished my first novel! To be honest, I felt like that day would never come. (Since it took me over three years to complete.) I progressed like a turtle, but that’s okay because I did finish it after all. And not only did I finish writing it, but I actually allowed other people to read it—which was the most nerve-wracking part of it all. I’m usually one of those people who guard their writings like a fierce dragon with its horde of treasures. But I knew that I needed feedback, and I needed to get comfortable with other people reading my work. Thankfully, my family was very supportive about reading my work, and my sister was excited for the job of “editor”, and left me several notes throughout. I’m proud of the accomplishment, but I was more excited to be free of the story, and move on to new ones.

I said I was only going to talk about good things this year, but I have to mention one of the biggest disappointments for me, and many, many, other people—but even still, it wasn’t without a silver lining. Remember last year, I talked a bit about the struggle trying to get tickets for a BTS concert? Well, we planned to go again this year, but we weren’t going to be so naive during the ticketing period. If we were going to score tickets, we had to be aggressively, proactive this time. The tour was to take place in early summer, but in January we entered a drawing for a chance to be chosen for the pre-sale. We weren’t guaranteed a slot to participate, but we took our chances anyway. Unbelievably, the night before the sale, we found out we were chosen! Not taking anything for granted, we knew it was too early to celebrate, as we still had to get the actual tickets. The next day arrived, and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. After another harrowing hour-or-so battle against unseen, online foes, we secured the tickets, in our ideal section! We couldn’t believe our success!

We had big plans for this concert, and the trip we would take, but as you probably know, most concerts were cancelled this year. A sad ending to our hard fought victory, but as I said, there was still a silver lining. The Bangtan Boys came through, and held not only one, but three online concerts throughout the year. I had to wake up at 3 a.m. to watch them because of the time difference from South Korea, but every minute of sleeplessness was worth it. And even though nothing can mimic actual, in-person events, it still meant a lot to me, and countless others, that BTS held these concerts. And in a small way, we were still able to feel connected, even miles and miles apart.

3 a.m. concert time!

2020 was the year I planned to write my next big novel. I say big, because this story has been developing on the back burner for a very long time. And when I was able to set aside my previous project, I could finally run full force with my new story. I’m currently about 40k words into it, and this process feels so much different than my last, though not without it’s own struggles. In honor of this this new chapter, (no pun intended), I wanted to bring you along with me so I launched my first ever series here called, The Writing Diaries. I wanted to document all of the triumphs and tribulations I experience over the course of this new novel. Writing is a very long, and evolving process, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’m trying to embrace the struggles, instead of fighting them.
You can check out part one here.

During the summer months, my family and I went on a couple of mini “road trips” in our home state. Since traveling far and wide is a bit out of the question, we stayed close to home and found new places to visit. We found two beautiful lakes, (reservoirs, technically), that I’d never even heard about before. (We also visited an “ice cave” in the middle of summer. Read about it here!) It was so nice to spend the day under the blue sky, and appreciate the calm stillness of the water. I was so happy to find such lovely places not so very far from home.

Of course, the year was also filled with all of the little mundane moments that we don’t pay much attention to, yet still make each day special. Take-out became the new dine-in, online shopping became a regular hobby for me, and my favorite evening activity was still watching K-Drama’s. (Some things will never change.) Despite the horrors and heartaches, the sun still shone, alarms still woke us up each morning—and life went on. Things are harder than they were, but that only makes them more valuable. The little everyday things we may have thought meaningless, are the very things still holding us together. That cup of coffee this morning that burnt your tongue, that late-night snack you regretted the next day, and those other small moments are reminders that we’re still okay. And we will continue to be “okay” even if things go south. Because there is one constant, that never left us this year, nor will it leave us in years to come. It’s something so simple, yet we tend forget it underneath the clamor of the world’s groaning. I heard someone talk about it in a video a few months back, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

My grace is sufficient for you.”

I’ve read those words before, but they have never quite hit home like they did, this year. No matter what the world throws at us, or takes away, the one thing that can’t be taken from us is the love, and sacrifice of Christ. And because of that, His grace is sufficient for me, (and you). For what else is there?

I hope that you were still able to find joy, and light this year. Thank you so much for reading this far, and sticking with me this year. Tell me, what are some of the bright, silver-lining, moments you’ve experienced this year? I’d love to hear from you. Oh, and before I forget—have a Merry Christmas!

God bless,

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 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

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