Tuesday, July 26, 2011

For a Dear Friend

Thinking of your smile
Imagining your tears
Wondering from what well
You summon such strength.

A portion of your grief
I'll share throughout the years
Pondering each sweet life
That ends at stunted length.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Power of Positive Words

Words are powerful.  Like bricks and mortar, they can be used to create a thing of beauty.  And like fire, they can be used to tear down and destroy.  For example, my daughter was told at her kindergarten orientation that she was a math whiz because she could already count to 100.  I believe that simple gesture has given her unstoppable confidence in the subject, and she has never had a problem understanding a math concept.  When it comes to reading, however, teachers and administrators--and maybe even I need to be included here--have told her that she needs work.  The result?  She doesn't enjoy reading.  She would do a stack of math worksheets over reading a book any day, crowing about how easy they are in the process.  And though her reading continually improves, she may never gain the same confidence in words that she has in numbers or love for reading that she has for arithmetic.

In the fourth grade, my class was given a writing assignment.  I wrote about a vacation that my family went on to the Lehman caves.  It made my classmates laugh (something that isn't easy for the shy girl to do) and caused my teacher to glow with pride and flood me with praise.  Similarly, a story that I wrote in the fifth grade about George in the Jungle making his way to Neverland earned me the award of Writing Raven at the end of the year.  Perhaps these things alone gave me the confidence and audacity to be a writer.  Thank you Mrs. Duncomb and Mrs. McDonough.

Some people are likely more susceptible to words than others, but I think that for the most part, they exist as something greater than letters squished together to create meaning.  They can make you float on clouds, or spark something inside your brain that changes the way you think and perceive the world forever, or cut deep to your heartstrings in a way that is much too personal and painful to share.  They can heal a wound like a cast holds a broken bone or they can scar one's self esteem and outlook permanently.  The examples I gave all involved children, and I think that is also significant, since adults are more able to reason through the things that people say.  But still, words have influence on all of us.  I hope I always use them for good.

What have you done with words today?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Follower Friday--Meet Cindy Paul

Today I would like to spotlight Cindy Paul Art.  I can't even remember how I came across her blog, but I fell in love with her artwork.  I have a secret wish to have her illustrate one of my picture books someday.  Cindy was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Q--When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
A--I knew I wanted to be an artist when I entered my high school art program. The teachers (2 groovy nuns) had a passion for creativity and it was infectious.
Q--What things inspire your art?
A--I am inspired by snapshots I take with my mind. I like the whole composition of a piece not just one or two elements. Light really plays a big role.
Q--When it comes to peanut butter, smooth or chunky?
A--I am totally a chunky peanut butter person. I like a few bumps in the road to make life interesting.

Don't you just love this picture?  I'm glad Cindy likes chunky peanut butter because now we can be friends for real.  And I'm a little jealous because I've never had a groovy nun teacher and I don't have the ability to take snapshots with my head.  Good thing I have a camera.  Thanks for visiting today, Cindy.

What kind of peanut butter do you like?  (Don't worry; I'll still be your friend if it's smooth.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

I love it when my cleats look like this because it means I've been playing some ball.  I started playing this game when I was ten and never really stopped.  There are other sports I enjoy, but none of them quite so much as the one where I get to swing a bat and launch a ball at someone.  It must be how I release aggression or something.  I also love the thrill and suspense of running the bases and cheering for teammates in the dugout while holding on to that chain link fence.  I love everything about this game.  Well, except the umpires.

What game do you love?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writer Wednesday--Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places

Do you ever have a hard time finding a name for a character or thinking of new words to describe elements of your fantasy world?  I remember an assignment in high school where we had to write "nonsense poems."  I guess if you remember an assignment from high school you either loved it or hated it.  This one I loved.  I still remember some of the words (like simmerbill) and could probably find the poem if I dug deep enough.  The point was to create some new, nonsense words and use them in a poem so they seemed like words everyone should know.  (Don't you know what a simmerbill is?)  Well, I have found a fountain of nonsense words.  Here are a few:  mistren, metive, plogies--which sounds to me like a type of troll--mingins, meringsl--so using that as a main character some day.  All of these "words" came from a word verification of some sort.  Have you noticed that most of the word verification "words" in blogger are pronounceable?  If I see one that I like, I jot it down.  Who knows, maybe I'll write a book someday where plogies and mingins are fighting to save the princess Meringsl, which would be strange because plogies and mingins are usually enemies.  They all live in the kingdom of Mistren...

What unlikely places have you found inspiration in?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Disturbing Images of Motherhood

Maybe this won't be disturbing for some of you, but mouths and open wounds in general aren't my favorite things.  This is the first tooth my daughter lost from natural causes.  As with many of the disturbing images of motherhood, this one also came with a lot of joy and celebration.
What "disturbing" things have you seen today?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Problem with !!!!!!!!!!

So, I sent a tweet one day complimenting somebody on something.  They replied a correction that contained an exclamation point.  Now I'm wondering if they were super excited about that tweet or if they were kind of yelling at me.  That is the problem with exclamation points.  They work well in books because the author can give some background or explanation, but on Twitter, not so much.  Since I like to solve problems, I have decided to invent:

The Zig-Zag, the Plain Jane, and the Whoop-Dee-Do.  Use the Zig-Zag if you're angry.  Give me back my crayon or so help me I'll smash your face in (insert Zig-Zag here).  Use the Plain Jane if you're just every day excited.  Check out my new shoes!  And use the Whoop-Dee-Do if you are so excited you can barely contain yourself.  Have you heard?  Melissa Lemon is giving away an ARC of Cinder and Ella (insert Whoop-Dee-Do here).  Do you think the world will catch on and that word processing will someday include the Zig-Zag, the Plain Jane, and the Whoop-Dee-Do?  I sure hope so; I'd like to know when someone is yelling at me.  I think.

Oh, and that little bit about giving away an ARC of Cinder and Ella was true.  Details to come.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Things I love" Thursday

Gardens have been things I love for a long time. My grandparents each had two green thumbs, as do my mom and dad. My mother's parents used to have rows and rows of irises, each row a different color. My father's mother had rose bushes, orange poppies, a raspberry bramble and a giant catalpa tree.  My mom always has something growing, either outside or inside.  And my dad spends each spring and summer toiling in a vegetable garden and making sure his lawn is greener than natural for a desert climate.  I only have 3/4 of a green thumb (my left one).  But I try.  Here are some shots of what's currently growing outside my house.

I used to not care much for lilies, but they have grown on me.  Probably because they're easy to take care of.  Consider the lilies.
These daisy bushes are almost up to my shoulders.  And look at that obliging bee.  I didn't even try to get that; it just landed as I snapped the shot.
More lilies.  I think the red and pink are my favorite.
 I love these flowers so much that I actually had the fake version in my wedding bouquet.  They're not quite out yet, but they are fun and a little wild looking.
And the ever popular sunflower.  These aren't hard to care for either, and they are way past my shoulders, just so you know.

What's growing in your garden?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writer Wednesday--A Tip or Two for Revisions

Since I am in the middle of a total rewrite of my first novel, I thought I'd let you know about a few things that I have found handy.

# 1 Don't be afraid to hit that delete key.  Cutting things out is part of revision.  Trust me, you'll be glad you did.  I am going to end up cutting huge sections out of this novel because of a POV switch and some plot changes.  And that's okay with me.  I've heard people say that they keep their first novel in a drawer where nobody will ever see it.  But I think that writers are a lot like architects.  It doesn't really matter that there is a problem with a design because the building hasn't actually been built yet.  You can still make changes, even drastic ones and everything will turn out okay.  If those changes don't work, you can make different changes.  Writers are problem solvers.  You can and will figure it out.

#2 If you are afraid to hit the delete key in some places, either because the writing was simply amazing or you think you will use it again somewhere else in the manuscript, create an additional file with the title of your book followed by "cut and paste."  Move text over there that you don't want to delete permanently.  That way, it will be easy to find again if you think you will need it.  This is something I have recently discovered and it has been a life saver.  I love organization.

What have you found helpful in revisions?

(And I'm happy to say that I actually spelled permanently correctly.  Like, before the spell check and everything.  Progress.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

People, People, People

Maybe it's just me, but commenting in Google is difficult.  If it's just me, please advise on what I'm doing wrong.  (Take advantage, because I don't ASK to be advised very often.)  If it's not just me, please allow me to advise you on how to make commenting user friendly.  From your dashboard, click on Settings.  When you are there, click on Comments.  (Make sure it is the Comments under Settings, not next to.)  Once there, go down to Comment Form Placement.  Click inside the bubble next to Pop-up Window.  Don't forget to SAVE SETTINGS at the very bottom of the page.  Please don't forget to save!

I am only telling you this because I love reading your blog and I want to comment.  This blog post came after someone tweeted something and I went to said blog post and wanted nothing more than to leave a comment.  But, denied.  Denied and booted out of blogger.  Every time.  Do you see my frustration?  Please, pretty please change to a pop-up window and hear the angels sing.

Did you know that a rap exists about this topic?  Here it is.

What frustrates you about technology?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What I've Been Up To

A little hiking...

Looking at the sky...
Enjoying mountain views...
And valley views of mountains...
Maybe this doesn't look like much, but there is a porcupine hiding in that bush--I swear.
Not picking wildflowers...Achoo!
And yes, even some slip-n-sliding.

What have you been up to?