Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Taste of Maine

Sunday we were heading down to my parents home for a visit.  They live way off the beaten path on a dirt road that goes around a huge lake. (It's actually a pond - Maine's full of huge, lake size ponds). This is the place my children affectionately call "Up in Maine" and we spent many vacations there. Now we all live in Maine so every visit seems like a mini-vacation. My stepdad was finally out of the rehab center and my stepsis, niece and nephew where visiting from Florida. 

Before we left I had checked my email and that's when I got the word that the editor was interested in my book project. So what's a writer to do?  I brought my notebook and pen and worked on my story in the car. We live about an hour and and a half north of my parents so it gave me a nice opportunity to slip away into my imaginary world. It was wonderful to be able to share my good news with my family! It was fun to talk over a some new ideas that I got on the ride down with my stepdad, who has been my consultant for this novel.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Big Step Forward

Here I go . . . the editor at my target publishing house for the book project that I'm working on wants to see my manuscript!  Next week I'll be sending in my first 3 chapters and chapter-by-chapter synopsis.  This is the first time an editor at a publishing house will be reading my work and I sure hope it makes a good impression!

This is such a big step! I've been trudging forward for such a long time now.  First baby steps, then more confident steps, and now I'm making strides. What aspiring author hasn't dreamed of getting her foot in the door?

This is all new territory for me. I don't want to go there without prayer support so I appreciate your partnering with me in this regard.  I'll be interested to hear your advice, experiences, and your own aspirations!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Writer's Tool Box: Creating Your Character's Physical Traits (Part 1)

It can be a lot of fun creating a character for a story. One of the first things I do is imagine what the characters will look like. This is always a great deal of fun. I can make them look however I want to . . . well, almost.

When it comes to creating authentic physical characteristics  there are many things to take into consideration. It's even important to take know the physical attributes of that character's family members, especially if they are written into the story. 

My oldest son has eyes as bright and blue as the sky while the other has chocolate brown eyes.  But where did those blue eyes come from when my husband and I each have brown eyes? We can thank the Swedes and the Scots for that. But it's interesting that if we both had blue eyes that having a child with brown eyes would have been impossible. That's just a little biological fact that has to do with alleles.

A short trip to What Color Eyes Would Your Children Have can help determine your character's eye color while calculating heredity variations.  For instance, when I tried to make a character's eyes green, I discovered that wouldn't have been possible and had to either adjust her eye color or one of her parents or grandparent's. This isn't going to be critical information to have for every story that you write, but if you are going to mention that both parent's have blue eyes (say they are Swedish immigrants) and then give the couple a green eyed child there's going to have to be some 'splainin' to do.

Have you ever tried to figured out physical characteristics for describing certain ethnic types? With a good description, the reader can probably envision the character and even guess their ethnic group. There is an excellent Artist's Guide to Human Types at DeviantArt  which is a series of charts on body type, skin tone, hair type, eye color, facial characteristics, etc.  This can help you get the character right from head to toe.

Click on the links below to save the charts to your computer for reference. (Click on the gray area to see image. At first look you cannot see the full images, but they are saved as the enlarged version).

Human Types 1 
Human Types 2
Human Types 3

I'm sure it's no secret, but another very useful tool is image searches with Google Images or stock photo sites such as iStockPhoto. Sometimes I didn't know exactly what my character looked like, but after entering some description and browsing I found myself saying, "There you are!"

Although it isn't necessary to describe every aspect of a character's appearance, the more you know about it will help authenticate the character on the page and bring your character to life.

I hope these tools are helpful to you.  Next time we'll talk more about how your character looks.

Do you have any useful tools to share for building your character's physical appearance?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sticky Notes: Writing Brevity

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”
— Blaise Pascal

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


My nest has another new occupant. My 22 yr. old, Brandon, decided to move back home for a while. So now I have Justin (23) and Brandon both home again.  I call them the "boomarang boys". I love it when they come home.  I do! But naturally, I wouldn't be fulfilling my duty if I didn't encourage them to build their own nests and learn to fly on their own.  Since they've already had a taste of that, I'm happy to have my baby adults back home for a season.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blogging is a Blessing

I'd like to introduce you someone very dear to me, my cousin, Lynne.  Lynne is just a couple of years younger than me and we are not only cousins, but kindred spirits.

When Lynne was just a teenager she developed Lupus and has lived heroically with this disease, though she would never say so. Overcoming great odds, on many occasions doctors have called her "the miracle girl".  She lives by the grace of the Great Physician who she relies on evermore since she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis last year. Lest you think Lynne's chronic health problems are what define her, nay, she is a devout follower of Christ, an inspiration to many, generously shares her gift of encouragement, has a servant's heart, and is a talented poet.  'Nough said, lest she blush!

. . . but can she cook?  Lynne has recently entered the blogosphere with her new blog Lynne's Favorite Recipes!  For those of you who are looking for quick, easy, and delicious recipes you are in for a real treat. I can assure you that good cooking runs in the family - though I am slightly deficient in this area :) .

Lynne has found great comfort in writing through the years and is also sharing these words through her poetry blog.

Patterson Poetry features hundreds of her original poems and the poetry of those who would like to contribute to her blog.  You will also find some great inspirational poems, prose, songs, and quotes of some of the great Christian poets of time, whom she highlights by introduction and sharing examples of their work.

Lynne encourages others to interact by commenting on posts and submitting Christian poetry to the blog. Patterson Poetry is featuring a POETRY CONTEST and invites you all to to enter by contributing your original poetry by June 30, 2010. For details please visit her blog.

I'll leave you with this inspiring poem written by Lynne and encourage you to visit her blogs to get to know her better and be blessed through her tasty recipes and lovely words of faith and hope.

I met with a King to begin my day,
To help me not to go astray.
Although I did not see His face,
I know all about His character and grace.
He led me through the morning rain,
And carried me through the storms to train.
His voice was so gentle, yet full of power!
I heard Him speaking to me every hour.
I met with a King again at noon.
I was so glad He came to commune.
I told Him my deep concerns and cares
As He took them on Himself to bear.
He gave me such joy and inner peace;
To be near Him, my worries were released.
I met with a King again at sunset.
He calmed my mind, when I would fret.
Although He was royalty and the Savior as well,
He let me come by His side to dwell.
I met with a King as the evening did end.
This King of Kings is my very best friend.
He is full of humility in spite of His reign,
And died for sinners, even though there was shame.
I cherish His love, and He lives in my heart,
Forever to stay and to never depart!

by Lynne Patterson

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough

"Sometimes God asked difficult things of a man, and for Luke Davis, what he was fixing to do was the hardest task ever."

And so begins The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough (Barbour).   This book brought me many delightful hours and kept me wondering throughout the book . . .

How many brides does one man need?

It's been years, but Luke Davis is back--older and wiser--and still alone. Returning as Lookout's new town marshal, Luke is determined to face the past and move on. He flippantly tells his cousin he'd get married if the right woman ever came along. But then he discovers that the woman who betrayed him is now a widow, and all his plans fall at his feet.

Rachel has carried her guilty shame for eleven years. Her marriage to James Hamilton was not what Luke or the town thought it to be. Now James is dead, and her long-time love for Luke is reignited with his return to town. So when three mail-order brides appear, she panics.

Could they possible find love a second time?

Rachel begs his forgiveness, but Luke finds he has none to give.

And then the brides arrive. Three of them--ordered for Luke through newspaper ads by his incorrigible cousins. The only place in town for them to stay is Rachel's boardinghouse. And none of the ladies is willing to let Luke go. When choosing a bride becomes a contest, the chaos that ensues is almost funny.

When the mayor forces Luke to pick a bride or lose his job, will Luke listen to his heart that still longs for Rachel or choose one of the mail-order brides?

Will Rachel find the courage to tell Luke that she loves him? Or take an anonymous part in the contest for his hand?

The Anonymous Bride was a joy to read and a very entertaining historical romance. Vickie McDonough is an experienced author, but this first trade length novel was fantastic! The novel was filled with many interesting and lively characters. I found the hero and heroine endearing. Vivid and historically accurate descriptions of the ficticious town of Lookout, Texas brought this story to life. Although the book was sprinkled with humor, the satisfying, sentimental end had me reaching for a tissue. Vickie is a talented storyteller and I look forward to reading the next two books in the The Boardinghouse Brides series.

Read the first chapter.

Vickie McDonough's website.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


What a whirlwind of a weekend.

We drove through tornado warnings and torrential rain to get to my parent's home for a visit with my Mom and Stepdad (who has lung cancer). Dad was doing very poorly and before we knew we were following the ambulance back to the hospital. He has pneumonia and was not responding to the anitbiotics and is now having heart and kidney issues. Mom, Brad(hubby), and I were at the hospital until midnight and there again all day today. Before we left his temp. was down and he managed to eat something, which was a good sign. He is being monitored closely and is determined to get through the remainder of his radiation treatments (9). Even so, it was hard to say good bye tonight - any one may be the last.

In the midst of all this, the query for the book project I've been working on was fine tuned and sent out by my partners. As you know I've been working on this for some time now. My book is almost half way done and all the research and ideas are in place, so I'm gearing up for completion. Lord willing, we'll hear soon regarding if, when, and how this will go forward.

It's just amazing how such various emotions can swirl around and around in such a short period of time. Be it heartache, hard-work, emotional or mental fatigue, concern, excitement, joy, or anticipation I'm so glad to find a calm in the eye of the storm.

And I've just got to say, while Dad slept we all had our noses in books. I finished up The Anonymous Bride (I cried at the end), Mom's reading The Apothecary's Daughter, and Brad was finishing up At Plymouth Plantation. So for those published authors, I say thank you for giving people a pleasant diversion during stressful times!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Finding Time to Write

It occurred to me that today is Friday and I've barely had time to write this week, well except for
three blog posts now. That counts. But what I mean is that I haven't worked at all on my WIP and I feel as though I'm not only having a hard time finding the time to write, but sometimes feel that I'm losing time. I have to remember that just because I'm not going forward, it doesn't mean I'm going backward. Nor is time standing still.

Work has been extremely hectic lately with reports due and a special event to plan, so I've put in some extra hours.  I've also been catching up on some website work on my days off.  I've been blessed to have almost two weeks migraine free to help get me through the the busy season.

So what's a writer to do?

It's OK that I haven't been able to write much. The "write every day" thing can make one feel very guilty. I prefer to "write diligently" and consider the overall picture, not just the daily grind.  I'm just doing what I can and being a writer is only part of who I am. My WIP is still there. And Hopefully I can pick it up again and enjoy the process of making progress. In the meantime . . . I do what I can and prioritize my roles and responsibilities. Writing is just one of them.

How about you? What keeps you from writing?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What is a Poet?

"What is a poet? An unhappy man who conceals profound anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so fashioned that when sighs and groans pass over them they sound like beautiful music. His fate resembles that of the unhappy men who were slowly roasted by a gentle fire in the tyrant Phalaris' bull—their shrieks could not reach his ear to terrify him, to him they sounded like sweet music. And people flock about the poet and say to him: do sing again; Which means, would that new sufferings tormented your soul, and: would that your lips stayed fashioned as before, for your cries would only terrify us, but your music is delightful. And the critics join them, saying: well done, thus must it be according to the laws of aesthetics. Why, to be sure, a critic resembles a poet as one pea another, the only difference being that he has no anguish in his heart and no music on his lips."

This quote, from Soren Kierkegaard's, Diapsalmata, implies that it is oft a tortured soul that finds its inspiration to write poetry, ironically to the critic's delight.  In this manner, I am reminded that the life of Jesus is like a poem to us.

Sometimes we think of a poet as a melancholy individual, but that is not entirely so. Poems may be soulful, reflective, romantic, humorous, historical, some poems rise up to praise.  As for me, I think I do tend to be on the melancholy side so my poems are romantic and reflective expressions, not evidence of a tortured soul so much, but of one finding her way. I also enjoy reading historical poems and sometimes even writing them on occasion to record special events of my own. I am especially blessed when reading inspirational poetry written by others as a testimony of what God has done in their lives, as Kierkegaard describes listening to the music on another's lips.

I never sit down to write a poem, the poem usually sits me down to write it.

What kind of poet are you?  What are your favorite poems about?