Monday, February 25, 2013

Editing, Writing, and Reminiscing

Life is exciting for me right now for quite a few reasons:

First off, I'm in the process of final edits on a new book that I will be adding a sample of to my website soon. The book is called IN AN INSTANT. It deals with the poignant question we all face when something changes in our life: What would life have been if this hadn't happened? The book follows the two divergent paths of Liz - one where she is diagnosed with leukemia, and (in alternating chapters) what would have happened if she didn't have cancer. Are the difficulties in life really the tragedies?

I'll be sharing the first few chapters soon, but if you'd like to be a test reader of the entire book, please email me.

The second exciting thing I'm working on is a new book I'm writing called TEMPO. I'm on chapter 19 of what my outline tells me will be around 65 chapters. I'm not ready to give too many details about this book, except to say that it deals with the questions: What if you could live more than 24 hours in a day? How would it change your life and the world we know? And what cost could you accept?  More details on this book will be forthcoming.

Third, and unrelated to my writing, but extremely exciting, I spent the last weekend with my brother, Ean, who just returned home from two years in Guatemala. He has been serving and teaching the people there, and I am so proud of him. I had a great visit with him. He is an inspiration to me to work harder and always give my all and very best.

Life is great. Time to get back to work!

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Favorite Baby/Children's Books

I've mentioned before that I have a one-year-old daughter named Allie. She is a HUGE fan of books, which is awesome! She'll sometimes sit in her rocking chair pulling books off the nearby shelf to look at for half-an-hour at a time. I love reading with her, even though it's a departure from my usual literary standards.

Here is a list of my favorite books to read with Allie (in no particular order). I'd love to know what books you like to read with your little ones, as I'm always on the lookout for new books for my little bookworm.

No Matter What by Debi Gliori - This is a sweet book about the enduring nature of love a parent has for their child.


 I Love You All Year Long by Steve Metzger - Love endures through every season and the fun and special activities of those times.

That's Not My Monster by Fiona Watt - A touch-and-feel book where each monster isn't quite right "eyebrows too hairy" or "paws too bumpy" until finally, the little mouse finds HIS monster and "It's ears are so fluffy."

Where's My Teddy by Jez Alborough - This is an adorable book I actually memorized as a teenager because it was just so fun. Eddy's looking for his teddy in the woods, only to discover a real bear who is also frightened and looking for his own teddy.

I'm Not Sleepy by Jonathan Allen - This little owl can barely stay awake, every parent that has seen their child fight sleep will understand and relate.

Thank You Bear by Greg Foley - A perfect book for anyone who has ever had something truly great, even if those around them didn't see as much value in it.

Henry Babysits by Robert Quackenbush - A cute book about a favor to babysit that keeps snowballing out of control.

With You All the Way by Max Lucado - A meaningful allegory about how God is "with us all the way" if we ask him to travel with us.

But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton - I never expected to have a favorite board book author, but I do, and it is Sandra Boynton. All of her books are really cute and cleaver. This one is really probably my favorite.

It's a Little Book by Lane Smith - A cute little story about all the potential uses of a book if you didn't know what a book was for.

Good Work, Amelia Bedilia by Peggy Parish and Lynn Sweat - Amelia Bedilia is a maid who takes everything completely literally, making for hilarious events.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Awe Inspiring Quotes: Overcoming Adversity

 "The difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter." - Unknown

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant."  - Horace

"The problem in front of you is never as great as the power behind you" - Unknown

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." - M. Kathleen Casey

"If the going seems easy, you may be going downhill." - Fortune Cookie

"The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work." Harry Golden

"Triumph comes when we put a little more umph into our try." - Unknown

"After a storm there is always a rainbow, but you'll never know that if you are too afraid to go outside again." - Melanie James

"If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." - Frank A. Clark

"Don't wait for your ship to come in. Swim out and meet it." - Unknown

"Footprints on the sands of time aren't made sitting down." - Proverb

"Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure." - George Edward Woodberry

Thursday, February 14, 2013

5 Tips for Striking the "Write" Balance

I love to write. I write stories, books, and this blog. As I write this post, my baby girl is pulling things out of the desk drawer next to me. At the moment, she’s only happy if she's right where I am, and exploring new things at the same time, so I have to find creative ways to entertain her while still accomplishing anything at all. I'll clean up the mess she's making later.

Even before I had a baby, though, at times, writing was a challenge to fit into my life. Balancing family, work, housekeeping, eating, sleeping, and still finding time to write can be difficult, to say the least.

When I get really excited about a project, though, I always somehow find time. Unfortunately, it’s my sleep that tends to suffer for it. And I fear sometimes my family doesn’t see as much of me as they should for a while. I love writing so I don’t find it hard to set aside other recreational activities for it. But still, balance is key.
 Here are several things I have found that help:

1. Make an outline. I was resistant to this for a long time, but now I am sold. With a DETAILED outline, I can relax, knowing my thoughts are recorded and safe. Then I can work on a book when I get time. If I have to set it aside for days or weeks, it's okay. I'll be able to remember where I was going and how to get there.

2. Make goals, then write. I tend to want to dart to the computer and start typing away the moment the baby is asleep and the house is quiet. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other things that need to get done during these precious, quiet hours. I try to set goals. Check off a few things from the list first, then write. If I reverse the order, I almost never get back to the to-do list.

3. Take every opportunity. I keep the files I am working on open on my computer so it's easy to type a few lines here and there. I also jot down notes on paper and keep an ideas notebook so that I can capture my thoughts while they are still occurring, before they flee.

4. Always be thinking. When I can't write, I can still think. No matter where I am, I often find myself thinking about my stories. I'll work out specific scenes, lines, and dialogue in my head. If I can get to a computer soon enough, it's just like transcribing because it's already laid out in vivid detail in my mind.

5. Don't fight the current. If it really isn't happening, just accept it and go with it. Some days, my daughter will play happily while I write. Other days, the second I sit down at the computer, she starts fussing. It just frustrates everyone involved if I try too hard to push forward on these days. If I take a break and play with her for a while, we're both happier and sometimes, she'll calm down and let me write. Either way, I'm not being productive or respecting my priorities when I choose writing over my family, so I try not to.

Even so, it's not always easy. That leaves me wondering as I write this post, do other people have such a hard time striking the “write” balance, if you will? Even if you don't actually write, how do you make time for the things you love to do? It’s all about priorities, I know. Still, I’d love to know what your challenges are with balancing writing/hobbies and the rest of your life. How have you tried to overcome these obstacles, successfully or unsuccessfully?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lively Quotes: Love

In honor of Valentine's Day, the topic for my favorite quotes in this post is love.

Please share any good quotes, or any thoughts you have on the topic of love in the comments. Happy and mushy, as well as bitter and cynical are all welcome.

Happy Valentine's Day!

True love stories never have endings
you can give without loving, but you can't love without giving 
The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return
Don't frown, you never know who is falling in love with your smile 
love can be magic, but magic can be an illusion
Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable. 
Don't forget to love yourself

Monday, February 11, 2013

Burning (a short story)

Time to share another story! Burning is my delve into the realm of heroes.

It is ER meets X-Men.

This story is the first of a series of short stories I envision with a set of  robust characters who possess supernatural gifts. I haven't gotten back to writing any of the sequels, though. A lot of interest to this story may help nudge me to get back to work on this particular imaginary world.

Dahlia already knows what you'll think of this, but it's time for you to find out...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Did Something Change?

Right about now, you may be looking at this blog asking yourself, "Did something just change?" And the answer to that would be, "Yes!"

Take a look at the top of the page, and you'll see that I have renamed the blog. It is now called Muse, Write, Repeat. I thought this was a more appropriate, fitting name for the process I got through in my writing. I also felt it was a more concise and pithier name than the mouthful it used to be (Something to Write from Home About).

You can still find links to my stories to the right, and I'll still be writing about made-up stuff, and writing, and life. It's going to be fun, so let's keep the process going!

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Favorite Books (Part 2)

See the first half of my list here.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - I won't say I completely agree with Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism that she presents in this book (especially where it comes to her atheistic view and aversion to doing anything nice solely for the sake of being nice). However, she presents excellent points about truth, rationality, responsibility for actions, and the value of hard work. The philosophy is conveyed through the vehicle of dynamic and compelling characters and events that makes this an enjoyable book that I would call a must-read.

The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld - This is a fun, futuristic sci-fi series about a dystopian society of tyrannical control. It's a page-turner for sure.

Watchers by Dean Koontz - An exciting and emotional tale that examines the dichotomy of good vs. evil.

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins - A futuristic dystopian society punishes former rebels by making their children battle it out to the death in "The Hunger Games" each year. Excitement, adventure, and a sweet little romance weave through this gripping trilogy.

The Giver by Lois Lowery - I guess I like futuristic dystopian stories about oppressive governments, because here's another one. This is a great, thought-provoking tale of safety verses freedom, choice, and progression.

If You Could See Me Now by Cecilia Ahern - This is a fun story. It turns out that imaginary friends are real, wonderful confidants, and even open to a little romance. Sounds strange, but it's very fun and heart-warming.

A Walk to Remember by Nicolas Sparks - The heart-wrenching tale of young love, loss, and finding meaning in life.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer -Alien body-snatchers have taken over the world, but they didn't count on human tenacity and the way love changes people to the very core.

The Children of the Promise Series by Dean Hughes - This is a historical fiction series that takes place during the onset of WWII on through it's conclusion. It follows a family of Mormons as they are pulled into every aspect of involvement from life back home to life as a P.O.W. and more.

The Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull - This is a fun and fabulous fairytale series (comparable to Harry Potter) where fables are real and the mythical creatures live on preserves where only certain people are privy to the truth. It is fun and gripping, and full of deep truths about the nature of good and evil.

What are your favorite books? 
I'm always on the lookout for something new to read and love!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Favorite Books (Part 1)

In addition to writing, I love reading. I thought I would take a little while to catalog some of my favorite books, and share them with you. I'm going to split this into 2 posts and I'm sharing them in no particular order, just as they occur to me. This is fiction books. I'll make another post for non-fiction later.

Please share your favorite books with me in the comments and maybe they'll become new favorites of mine.

The Declaration by Gemma Malley -This is the first of 3 books, and I include them all here. This is the tale of a future society where the secret to eternal life has been discovered. The catch: to op-in to life-ever-more you have to sign The Declaration vowing never to have children, thus keeping the planet's population stable. Anna, is a surplus (an illegal child). Let the fight against injustice begin.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown - I love lots of books by Dan Brown, but this is my favorite. Dan Brown is a master of creating mystery and tension that keeps you engaged and turning the pages.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - Along with this, I'll include all of the Ender books and the entire Shadow series, which is a companion series. This is a great sci-fi series filled with an awesome world, fantastic and dynamic characters, and pearls of astonishingly poignant truths about life and human nature.

Empire by Orson Scott Card - This is a thriller about a modern day civil war in the U.S. It's full of political maneuvering, deception, and manipulation. Especially great for anyone who cringes at the thought of the word "progressive" when it comes to politics.

The Choice by Nicolas Sparks - I love almost all of Nicolas Sparks' book, but this one was especially compelling. It features not only a sweet love story, but a heart-wrenching choice everyone who's truly loves dreads ever having to face.

Deception Point by Dan Brown - This is my second favorite book by Dan Brown, also filled with great gotta-know-what-happens suspense. This is a mystery of Political maneuvering and government cover up with a side of astonishing scientific discovery. 

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling- It's a modern classic. I think what I love most about these books is how detailed and integrated they are. A minor, though interesting, detail in one book will later turn out to be a key clue to an important mystery one or two books later. As an author, I take my proverbial hat off to J.K. Rowling. 

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer - I know, I know. These books are cheesy and melodramatic, but they are also fun and create such vivid characters. I enjoy the books just as much on a serious level as I do poking fun at them. They had to make the list since I've read them all at least half-a-dozen times (gasp).

The Odd Thomas Series by Dean Koontz - A fascinating tale of a guy, Odd Thomas, who can see dead people. Though his ability pulls him into some truly terrifying situations confronting sadistic, monstrous people, Odd Thomas manages to remain truly good. Good in spite of the evil, not because he's sheltered from it, but because he chooses to be good knowing full well what the options are.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin - I love the subtle and clever wit as much as the love story. Jane Austin is one of my favorite authors, though I love listening to the audio books best.

Lightning by Dean Koontz - This is an exciting thriller about love, tragedy, strength through adversity, history, and the future, with a fabulous and surprising sci-fi twist.

Lost December by Richard Paul Evens - A modern-day Prodigal Son story told in a relatable, surprising, and gripping manner that makes this book an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fabulously Quotable: Friendship

I love great, pithy, poignant quotes. Here are some of my favorite quotes on the topic of friendship.

Please share any quotes or thoughts you have on friendship in the comments!

There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.
 a friend is one that knows you as you are...
The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.
Anybody can sympathize with the suffering of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend's success
In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends.
There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other...The best vitamin for making friends is B1What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.