28 June 2011

Home :)

It's as if my house is filled with light. I come home and colors are more vivid, sounds more brilliant, and smells more delicious. I am filled with contentment; the message 'everything will be alright' beats through me. I love coming home, particularly because home is filled with music.

One of the very first things I did after getting back to MN (after I went on a run with Dad, the dogs, and Cale, and after I ran into the house to give Mom a big sweaty hug!) was to lift the piano lid, sit down and play, letting the music spin around me. I have an electric piano in MS, but it just isn't the same as the real thing. After playing piano, I played guitar with Dad.

Today, I'm going to leave you all with the first piece I sat down to play. It's glorious. Of course, there are about a bazillion I'd like to leave with you, but this one has some wonderful parts. So relax, sit back, and enjoy some beautiful music.


Oh, and uh...before y'all start getting crazy ideas, I don't play it near as well as this dude ;)

25 June 2011

Sentence Sundays! Words!

Yes, I know it's Saturday night and not Sunday, but tomorrow I start the drive from Mississippi to Minnesota to go visit my family. I can't tell you guys how ridiculously excited I am :)

So, here's your sentence Sunday post a night early, and it's all on words, specifically word variation.

I admit, varying words is not easy. But honestly, does your reader really notice if you've used the word cacophany twice in one book? Umm, yes! At least I do.

But what this post is really about is insuring you vary how you begin a sentence.

Here's an example of a paragraph I wrote tonight:
    Twisting on my toes, I look back to Kira, her blond hair brittle in the morning sun. My shoulders sag and I turn look over the expanse of desert we are travelling across. I shuffle forward, continuing to walk up the small mound of dirt that has formed into a hill.

But what if I had written it like:
   I twist on my toes, looking back to Kira, her blond hair brittle in the morning sun. I sag my shoulders, turning back to look over the expanse of desert we are travelling across. I shuffle forward, continuing to walk up the small mound of dirt that has formed into a hill.

Every sentence here begins the same way, always beginning with the word I (yes, the format is the same, but I don't know what you call those sentences so I'm not messing with that part). Isn't the first example more interesting? The reader isn't punched in the face by an 'I' character, someone completely all about me, me, me.

If you find yourself beginning several sentences in a row with the same word: he, she, I, my, change it. Those words begin to grate on your reader and your writing will become boring as there are no surprises, and as we all know, surprises are a great thing :)

24 June 2011

Ode to my Neighbors

We are moving.

It's sad to think we're leaving this beautiful neighborhood where Cale and I first lived together, where we got Piglet, I started writing, Cale went to school, and where we met Amanda and Justin, our amazing neighbors.

I'm sure it's the Southern Hospitality thing, but as of yet, I have never met another person who every single time they say, "Hey, how are you, today?" I genuinely feel they want to know how I am. Every single time. I swear, I could sit down and spill my life and they both would sit with me and actually, honestly care.  It's a pretty incredible gift to have been given these two wonderful people as our neighbors for the past year.

Plus, Cale and I have both always known that if the house was burning down, one of them would break out a window and save the dogs ;)

Yes, this isn't actually an ode because isn't an ode a poem? I don't know. But I do know that I don't write poetry; I'm terrible at it.

Anyway, thanks for the past year, guys. We're going to miss you.

21 June 2011

Tears of Writerly Sorrow

I haven't cried while reading since "Where the Red Fern Grows" in elementary school, but "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" had me all sorts of teary.  I read some reviews of "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" and realize not everyone enjoyed it, but I loved the writing, characters, plot, the whole sha-bang.  After finishing the book and setting it on my nightstand, I curled up in bed and tried to sleep.  Eyes puffy and headache coming on, all I could think was, I want to write like that.  I want to move someone to tears and outright laughter.  I want to take people away to another world so that they can't put the book down until they've reached the end.  My next thought was, I have so much more work to do! And that's when the tears started again.

Ugh.

I laid there feeling all sorry for myself and as the first tear dripped down my nose, Pre jumped on my head.

Seriously.

She went to the side of the bed, aimed her little body, and jumped, landing with her sharp claws straight on my closed eye and forhead.

Cale thought it was hilarious.  I didn't.  But, reality check!  Writing a novel isn't about writing, it's about rewriting.  Yes, I have a ridiciulous amount of work still to do, but that's the deal I've gotten myself into.

So, thanks Pre for jumping on my head and making me stop feeling all lousy.  Dogs are the best.

(As a side note, I realized today I have the habit of writing dialogue backwards.  Usually I know how the conversation will end, so I write that first and then go from there.  Is that weird? Hmm)

(And as another side note, I'm in the midst of putting together a crit group for YA fantasy- or something along those lines.  I have two wonderful ladies who are interested and there's room for a couple more.  If you're interested, let me know :)

19 June 2011

Sentence Sunday! Punctuating dialogue

I've learned over the past months that I do not punctuate dialogue correctly and I've noticed it's an easy thing for people to mix up.  So, today's lesson is on punctuating dialogue.  Aren't you excited?!

The main source of confusion is comma versus period and when to capitalize letters.

Capitalize vs Not Capitalize
"Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!" yelled Juliana.  [Here, the y on yelled is not capitalized because yelled is a continuation of the sentence 'Stop chewing on that book.' A good way to look at it is to read it as a whole sentence, Stop chewing on that book, yelled Cale.]

"Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!" The binding on the book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper. [In this example, the T on The is capitalized because a new sentence is beginning.  'Stop chewing on that book' is separate from 'The binding on the book...']

The book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper. "Piglet! Stop chewing on that book!" Running toward her dog, Juliana curled her fingers over the soggy, torn cover of Nevada Barr's book, Blind Descent, and realized she would have to buy a new copy. [Each of these sentences are complete on their own and so all start with a capitalized letter.]

Juliana yelled, "Stop chewing on that book!" [And here, the letter S on Stop is capitalized even though it is a continuation of the sentence 'Juliana yelled' because it is the start of dialogue.  The beginning word in dialogue is always capitalized.]

Comma vs Period

"Piglet! Stop chewing on that book," yelled Juliana. [The first time I used this example I had an exclamation point, but here I've changed it to a comma.  I would not use a period because 'yelled Juliana' is not a sentence of its own, as I said before, it's a continuation of 'Stop chewing on that book.' The comma is used to connect the tag to the dialogue.]

The book frayed as Piglet sunk her teeth into the thick paper. "Piglet! Stop chewing on that book." Running toward her dog, Juliana curled her fingers over the soggy, torn cover of Nevada Barr's, Blind Descent, and realized she would have to buy a new copy. [Just as before, all of these are new sentences and so use periods and not commas.]

"I hope," said Juliana, "That my book tasted good, Piglet." ['Said Juliana' is set off by commas because it interrupts the dialogue and is not a separate sentence of its own.]

Alright, there are a few examples and explainations for you.  If you think of any I've missed, add them in the comments section :)

16 June 2011

Heavy Legs are better than Jelly Legs

I trail run.
Yup, that's what I look like when I run trails, nice and smooth.  Totally kidding.  That's Anton Krupicka- he is one of the better ultra runners out there.  Anton runs, on average, 14 miles in the morning and 6-8 at night, his week ranges from 180 miles to 200.  Crazy?  Yeah, I know.

And no, that's not what I do, but do you want to know what the most crazy part is?  That's what Cale wants to do.  Cale's an ultra runner.

When I say I'm a trail runner, really, I just mean that I go to the trails with him and hike/run around while he's doing his thing, putting in his miles.  I get some excersie and some awesome time to let my muse run around in my head, and he gets my support on the trails.  I figure it's my way of saying thank you for putting up with the hours I spend writing.

If you're interested in running trails, here are a few tips:
1. Let your eyes fall a few feet in front of you and be prepared to put the brakes on.  It's pretty typical for snakes to come slithering across the trail in front of you.
2. Either know the trails really well, have a map or bring a compass.  Yes, it's easy to get lost out there.
3. Don't expect running on trails to be like running on the road.  It is much, much more difficult, but oh so worth it.
4. Have your hands ready for A) brushing away spider webs or B) for falling.
5. Always leave a note or let someone know where you're going.
6. (This one is from Cale) Just do it.  The more you do it, the easier it will be.

Mostly, have fun, running trails and being around nature is incredible.  Yeah, you have to expect to walk up the hills, run the rest and yeah, sometimes you fall, or lose your shoes in mud puddles, but in the end, you feel like you've accomplished something, you feel free, apart of something much bigger, and that totally makes it worth it.

14 June 2011

Crazy Dreams

Cale has the funniest dreams.  Many times, I'll wake up and he'll be saying something about soccer or directing his team around the field (he played in college).  But a few days ago, when I went to see if he was waking up, he was in the midst of a dream I couldn't stop laughing about...
Me: Are you waking up?
Cale: Yes, do I need to get dressed up?
Me: For what?
Cale: For Piggy's wedding (Pig is the brindle pup to your left).
Me: She's getting married today?
Cale: Yes.
Me: Is she wearing a white dress?
Cale: Yes.
Me: Is she marrying a Pitt Bull?
Cale: No.
Me: Is she marrying a German Shepherd?
Cale: Yes.
(Piglet comes into the room)
Me: Do you want to see Pig?
Cale: No, I just saw her and told her I was mad at her.
Me: Why are you mad?
Cale: Because she's leaving me.
Me: Why is she leaving you.
Cale: Because she's getting married.

-Seriously, it was hilarious and I couldn't stop laughing.  Eventually, dream Cale got mad at my laughing and finally woke up.  Hilarious.

12 June 2011

Sentence Sundays!

I will be the first to admit, I am not the best writer.  Now, I may not be a great writer but I am dedicated, I work hard, I study and learn, and I want to be the best writer I can be.  And the first place to look to improve my writing is starting at the beginning: the sentence.  Thus, Sentence Sundays!  From here on out (or until I decide either I have nothing else to learn...right...or everybody votes Sentence Sundays stink) I will be posting what I learn about sentences.

As there are usually four Sundays per month, each Sunday will be designated to a different aspect of sentences.
1. Sentence Variation
2. Respect to the Greats
3. Punctuation
4. Word Choice

Since this technically is the second Sunday of the month, I'm going to leave you with one of my very favorite suspensive sentences: "He drove the car carefully, his shaggy hair whipped by the wind, his eyes hidden behind wraparound mirror shades, his mouth set in a grim smile, a .38 Police Special on the seat beside him, the corpse stuffed in the trunk."  (If any of you know who wrote this, let me know because I can't find it anywhere :(  )

Now that, is a great sentence.

Keep in mind, I will be learning as I post things here.  If you see any mistakes, please let me know!

So, I'll see you all next Sunday for a lesson on punctuation! 

(As a side note, I've had three of you take me up on my offer (for a critique partner or just to have a new set of eyes read your WIP) and a few of you say you were interested.  If you're still interested, or are anytime in the next couple months, let me know!  The offer is still standing :)

Note: in light of Kristen Lamb's, (who wrote We Are Not Alone (#MyWANA on Twitter)), post on why writers blogging about writing is bad, Sentence Sunday's will be the days of the week I blog on writing.  Tuesdays and Fridays will be my other blogging days, for other fun things :)

09 June 2011

Writing is like...

K.V. Briar tagged me in a meme and I am in love with this one!  The meme is to think of a metaphor for writing.  KV likened her writing to blowing on dandelion fluff, which I think is a beautiful metaphor.

For me, writing is like a mesmerizing tapestry.


Tapestrys weave together colorful strands of yarn and twine to tell a story.  Weavers spend years on their work, crafting a flawless tale and perfectly placing each strand next to the others.  For me, writing is like this.  There are hundreds of strands to each story I write, and placing them together takes focus, courage, and deep love for the craft.  And hopefully, the end product is beautiful and whole, just like the picture above :)

And the people I'm tagging are...

I can't wait to see what you guys write!  (Even if I didn't tag you, you should post on this because it's awesome!)

05 June 2011

#YAsaves

I assume all of you have seen the #YAsaves trend on Twitter, but if not, check it out.  I've read a few hauntingly powerful posts in reflection of the @wsj article and have been inspired to add my voice to the mix.

The most important thing I've noticed from all the tweets are the many people who have written that they wish they would have had access to the YA books that teenagers have today.  I was lucky to have grown up when YA books were becoming popular, though not as they are today.

Depite having a wide group of friends, several best friends, and always havign something to do on weekends, I grew up a very lonely girl.  My close family saved me from expressing my sadness and lonliness in negative ways, but it wasn't until the end of college that I finally understood that lonely was just a part of me.  Once I accepted that, it became okay and it no longer hurts me like it once did.

While I don't have a story like many of those I have read, I still connect and understand that it was books that saved me.  I spent enormous amounts of time at the library, feeling the bindings of books, wanting to jump between their pages.  Concocting stories of my own is what carried me from day to day.  When I didn't know how to express what I felt, books did.  This is why I write- I want to give that to another person who needs it.  In books, there is always a safe place to escape to when the real world doesn't provide that.

YA isn't too dark, it reflects reality and educates teenagers on aspects of life they need to know about.  More often than not, kids don't become aware of issues like anorexia, cutting, suicide, and rape until it confronts them in real life.  This should not be the case.  Kids need a safe place they can learn about these things and know how to react when they happen in life.  I say there needs to be more YA and absolutely, never in any way, should there be censorship of the written word.

Thank you to everyone out there for helping put to words why I write and read, and why YAsaves

04 June 2011

Tag!

Angela tagged me and because I like fun questions, I'm participating and passing it on!

Do you think you're hot?
Yes! Particularly because it's triple digits here and our house refuses to cool off to a decent temperature.  Is that what this question meant? No? Well, then I'm still saying yes (because Cale told me to :)

Upload a picture or wallpaper that you're using at the moment.
I like to use pictures from National Geographic.  They're the best!  (They're one of my favorite to follow on Twitter).



When was the last time you ate chicken meat? I had chicken with pasta a day ago.  Chicken is my favorite meat, yum.

The song(s) you listened to recently.
I was just listening to Mumford & Sons in the car, but the CD I most often listen to is the most recent Maroon 5 CD. 

What were you thinking as you were doing this?
That I didn't get my writing goal finished for today. A break every now and then is okay, right?

Do you have nicknames? What are they?
My sister calls me Julian and I've been called Jules on occasion, but otherwise, I am not a fan of nicknames.

Tag 8 blogger friends...
(I clearly need to make some new blogger friends because I keep tagging the same people in these things).
1. JC Martin
2. Christie Koester
3. Kate Larkindale
4. Deana Barnhart
5. Tanya Reimer
6. Ryan G.
7. Sophia
8. Rebecca Enzor

Who's listed as No. 1?
JC! She did an amazing edit of my query for Rupert and is now one of my favorite blogs to visit.

Say something about No. 5

Tanya was one of my very first followers and has an awesome post up about eyes and body language in writing.  Go check it out.

How did you get to know No. 3?
Through her blog...of course.  I also had the privilege of getting to know her through her writing (through her WIP TailLights).

How about No. 4. For those of you who don't follow Deana, you need to.  She has an amazing blogfest coming up that I am really looking forward to.  Go sign up!  (She also has one of my favorite backgrounds on her blog, lol)

Leave a message for No. 6

I love your posts...well, I love the one post you have and I've decided you needs to post more, so here's your incentive!

Leave a lovey dovey message for No. 2.

Send me the rest of your WIP!  I want to know what happens to Ella and who her man ends up being! (That was more insisting than lovey dovey).  The recipes you post always look incredibly delicious, especially the most recent salmon one, yummm (was that any better?)

Do No. 7 and No. 8 have any similarities?

They're friends!  I'm not sure if that's a similarity though...but I did find Rebecca's blog through Sophia's :)

02 June 2011

Pigs in Snow

I'm feeling uncreative with blogging today, but still feel I should post, so instead of writing something I'll leave you with a video of Piglet and her first time in snow.  It didn't snow much this winter, but both Pig and Pre like it when it did.

video