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Showing posts from December, 2013

11K and Counting

I had some more time to spend with Dungeon today.  I am now over 11k words.  It does not appear this will be a full-size novel -- at least not in its 1st-draft form.  My final conflict is in sight, as soon as my characters figure out what is going on...although that may take them a chapter or two. ;)
     I am looking forward to finishing Dungeon so I can read it and edit it and share it.  Exciting days!
     Writing, for me, sometimes feels like I am reading a book that I don't want to put down.
     But, I must.  Chores await...

The Plot "W"

Inspired to learn writing tips from great authors, I scanned the internet for brief tutorial videos.  I found a lot of unhelpful things, a few helpful things, and many more things to think about for a little bit (to see whether they are any good or not).
     Writers had different tips for plot structures.  One that I watched a video on was the "W".  The teacher had a W drawn on a large board.  At the beginning of the story (the top left of the W), everything is fine.  Then the conflicts pull the story down, down, down.  There may be multiple bumps in the road, but then the main character hits what they believe to be the lowest point.  This is the first dip in your W.  Fighting their way out of this, the plot begins to look up a little bit.  It makes it to a stable-ish place in the middle peak of the W.  Then everything falls apart and looks worse than it ever looked before.  This is the second dip in your W.  Finally, the end resolution of the book comes and you reach …

I've Jumped into a Dungeon

A while back, I had this random idea about a princess' discovery of a dungeon in her own castle.  It didn't seem like much of a story, but I typed up the first chapter to make myself feel better.  Then I shelved the project away -- not intending to ever come back to it.
     But, in the past 7 days, the dungeon came alive to me.  Strands of storylines and characters wound through my head.  Yesterday, I had the chance to sit down and type, and I wrote nearly 5k words.
     I'm at a little bit of a block today.  Yesterday, after many failed attempts, the princess made it down into the dungeon.  Today, she is trying to return to the dungeon, but the door is locked...again.  I am not sure why the door is locked and I am working hard to find a way to get her down there.  I'd really like her to be able to go down at will now.  If only she could find a secret door...or maybe find the keys...or something...I don't know, but that is where I am stuck (my princess is sta…

Distractions During Intense Scenes

Writers will tell you how much it means to them to be left alone while they are writing.  We have to be able to concentrate as we weave our tales.  And people trying to talk to you can make that difficult.
     I tend to get very involved in my writing.  When I am telling a story, I am there.  I can see it, I can feel it.  The emotions of the moment are strong inside me as I write.
     And my dog notices.
     Whenever I am writing an intense scene, when I am deep in that moment, when I am far, far away from real life..., this is when my dog feels the need to bring me back.  He props his front feet on my knee and howls.
     Yes, he howls.
      And then, as I quickly fall out of my story and back to earth, he wags his tail furiously.
      Now, how am I supposed to concentrate?

What Would You Like to Hear About Next?

Hi, all!
     I have introduced a number of writing projects on this blog.  Which things would you like to hear about next?

- Alexander
- Bella and Gerard
- Caleb the horse
- Dungeon
- horses in general
- other inspiring writers
- about me
- Reagan's Island
- Scooter the horse
- The Journey
- The Ultimate Stand
- veterinarian stories
- WhiteStar the horse
- writing tips, ideas, adventures

Why We Celebrate Christmas (The Short Version)

Thousands of years ago, the earth was beautiful and perfect.  There was no death, no evil, no pain.  In a special paradise garden named "Eden", there lived a man and woman.  Their task was to tend the garden, and with them was the Creator of all this beauty and perfection, helping them, loving them, talking with them.
     At some time before this, there was a rebel among those who served the Creator.  One, Satan, committed treason, trying to exalt himself above the Creator.  He was promptly banished...but that was not the end of his tale, not yet.
     Taking the form of a serpent, Satan pursued the man and woman as an opportunity for revenge and possibly a restoration of the power that he craved.  With twisted words, he coaxed the woman into disobedience to the very Creator who had placed her in this beautiful and perfect place.  And through her, Satan coaxed the man into the same disobedience.  This was too easy -- his evil plan was going perfectly.  Evil, pain, sorr…

A Clip from "Dungeon"

It seemed like a good day to share a little bit from a project I started earlier this year.  It has the working title of Dungeon.  Someday, I will give you the synopsis, but, for now, enjoy this clip from the book:

  *  *  *     The walls were cold and clammy to her touch.  And it was dark -- darker than any place she had ever been.  She sucked a deep breath into her lungs, wondering at the heaviness of it.  The feeling of oppression was almost tangible in those halls.  That was something she had not expected.  The weight of betrayed lives pressed in on her from every side.
     The hall turned to the right.  Here, the ceiling vaulted high above her head.  A tiny ray of sunlight filtered down in dazzling brilliance.  She paused, searching the high walls for the source of the beam.  It was a missing chink between masonry high above her head.  Somewhere up there, her parents sat idly with no premonition of the danger she was in.
     On she went, pressing deeper into the darkness.…

Bagels and Friendship

Hungry, I pulled a bagel from the freezer at work, popping it in the toaster to thaw it.  Then, caught up in the busy-ness that comprises an ordinary day at work, the bagel was left to sit...for hours.  By the time I got back to it, the bagel was pretty tough.  With some effort, I ripped a bite-size piece off and rolled it around in my mouth.
     "This bagel is tough enough to kill a blender," I commented to my co-worker.
     I felt secretly proud of my creative description, and I waited for my co-worker's response.
     To my delight, I heard her peal of laughter ring out.  It's great to have someone who can make you laugh, but it is also great to have someone whom you can make laugh.  Laughter should go both ways. 
      It is fun to have someone who appreciates your humor. :)

Playing with Caleb - Part 3

Game 1: Friendly game
    This involved a lot of touching and brushing.  Sometimes he let me touch him without hesitation and sometimes he pulled away.  For example: I reached out to touch his nose (to brush a fly away).  He swung his head away from my approaching hand and eyed me suspiciously.  In response, I kept my energy very low and calm.  I reached for a place on his neck that he consistantly trusted me with.  Then, with one hand on the trusted spot, I eased my finger toward his nose.  When I reached his nose, I didn't grab it.  Instead, I rubbed my finger back and forth across the itchy place where the flies had been.
     "Ahhh, that feels good," Caleb seemed to say.  "That feels really good."
     So we did a lot of that sort of thing.  Sometimes he would trust me and then he wouldn't.  If I could get him to relax enough for me to get a hand on that place (wherever it was), then I would.  If not, then I didn't worry about it.  Like I expl…

Playing with Caleb - Part Two

(continued from 12/17)
     So I moseyed out to the field to fetch Caleb.  I found him at the far end of the field.  He was grazing but he came and greeted me.
     "Hey, buddy, how's it going?" I crooned. 
     I lifted the halter and slid it over his head.  He was fully cooperative and seemed extremely happy about it.  After weeks of passing him by, I was finally here just for him.  I could almost hear him saying, "Really?!?!?  Me?!?  You want to play with me?!"  He was so excited that I was actually taking him out of the field.
     I brushed some flies away from him.  He had a lot of flies pestering him.  Then I turned and led him on the long walk back to the gate that led to the arena.  He followed without hesitation -- he just seemed so happy.  It was priceless.
     Our path led by a neighboring field with a dominent gelding pastured in it.  That gelding approached us as we passed by his fence.  This made Caleb very nervous.  So I let Caleb walk on the …

Playing with Caleb - Part One

A week or so later, I was out to see the horses again.  I overheard my instructor say that she might play with Caleb today but that she really, really needed to play with Scooter.  She also said that she needed to go into town.  I sighed, figuring that my long-awaited playdate was being postponed again.  But before I gave up entirely, I asked, "Can I at least go say hi to Caleb in the field?"
     Her answer was quickly encouraging.  "Absolutely, you should play with him," she said.  "You can bring him to the arena -- in fact, I prefer that -- and play with him here."  She did not seem reluctant or impatient; instead she was very happy and encouraging.
     As I gathered a lead rope and halter, my instructor talked to me.  She went down a list of Caleb's bad habits.  He had a bad habit of running off when he was behind you.  Occasionally (especially in circling game), he would squeal and bolt if his person brought up her energy too quickly or to…

A Clip from Alexander

Alexander is the working title of one of my auxiliary projects.  I have had this story rolling around in my head for years, and it has yet to safely make it out onto paper.  The central plot never changes -- it is fixed in my mind as securely as if it were true -- but the manner of telling the tale changes each year.  And, because of that, I have not gotten very far in the transfer from brain to document.  Nevertheless, below is part of a scene from Alexander for you to enjoy and comment on:

"...The soldiers handed out a few bruises and bloody noses among your remaining tenants, but nothing serious.There’s a reward out for your head,” Nathaniel recounted.
“What of my men?” Alexander asked.
“Edward will send his warnings to them soon, I am sure,” Nathaniel said.“I reached all of the leaders in this area.Caphogen and Rinton are cautious.They are loyal to Henrique’s line and will likely side against you as a rogue general if it helps them serve Edward.Testope and Vonklin will seek to r…

Feeding the Horses

One of the things you learn when you play with horses is how much you can say with your body language.  You can make your body like a brick wall that says, "I own this place.  Here you stop and go no further."  You can make your body tense with fear to say, "I see something that scares me.  I am now prepared to fight or flee or freeze."  You can make your body soft to say, "Come join me.  This is a good, safe, welcoming place."  You can also make your body soft to say, "Where you are is perfect.  What you are doing is perfect.  All is well.  Relax."

    Caleb met me at the gate the next week.  I did a little unofficial friendly game with him and then walked out into the field to get WhiteStar.  Caleb followed me.  I wished I could take him to the arena and play with him, but my instructor was busy.
     I thought about why my instructor wanted to help me with him.  I decided that, in addition to the safety issue, she also didn't want me…

I Talk to My Instructor About Playing with Caleb

With all of my interactions with Caleb, I was hesitant.  Was I even allowed to play with him?  He obviously wanted to be played with, and maybe, somehow, I could help him become a better horse for his current owner or any owners he would have in the future.
     So I went to talk to my instructor.  Could I play with Caleb?
     That conversation was easy.  She said she would be thrilled for me to play with Caleb some.  His owner had just called and offered to give him to her (again, and my instructor turned her down again), and maybe Caleb would even be available for me to own at some point. 
     She warned me that Caleb was a left-brained introvert who occasionally, and somewhat unpredictably, switches to a right-brained extrovert.  In other words, he is usually slow to move his feet and quick to think, but he flashes into full-action panic mode at times.  This, my instructor said, scares people.
     After telling me all about Caleb, my instructor summarized that, if I have …

A Different Horse

Caleb had an owner already, but she was very sick and had been for a long time.  She had not played with him in years.  Wanting him to belong to an actively caring owner, she offered him to my instructor.  My instructor turned her down (she didn't need any more horses at the moment), but he was much on my instructor's mind.  I began hearing more stories about Caleb's previous life.  She said he had some trust issues.
     One time he was tied in a stall when somebody unexpectedly started a tractor right behind him.  Caleb panicked, struggled, and fell down in his stall, hitting his head on the concrete hard enough to knock him unconscious.  His owner thought he was dead.  Caleb probably thought the tractor snuck up behind him, roared, and hit him in the head.  Needless to say, he was a little afraid of tractors.
     Caleb was also scared of fly spray.  One time, his caring owner glared at him and sprayed him in the face with chemical fly spray, with no warning.  Tha…

Talent Bashing

Do you have a talent?  One that you hope to do something great with?  Here is my tip to you:

Don't bash it. I am serious.  How many people down-play the very talent they want to go far with?  "I'm not that good."  "I could have done better, but..."  "My end product is awful."  "I don't know that I will ever be great."      Why do we say these things?  Because we are scared?  Scared of what it would take to be great.  Scared of people thinking that we are not as great as we hoped.  Just plain scared.      What good does it do to bash it?  Does it help you succeed?  Does it make your talent better in some way?  Does it actually do any good whatsoever? No.      Bashing your talent disrespects the One who gave you the talent.  Hiding in fear instead of pursuing it in faith does the same thing.  I challenge you to only speak well of the gifts you have been given.  Don't let those words of fear out of your mouth.      Try saying other…

12,000 words and counting

I have heard other writers talking about how much they have written in their books.  They say things like, "Oh, I wrote 10k words on my book this week," or "I wrote about 62k words on my book, and I probably have another 10k or 15k before it is done."
     These other writers have been blogging about their writing longer than I have, so I feel like a big girl now that I can say that Bella and Gerard has over 12k words.
     Unless someone makes me, I don't write to a word count.  I just write my story, and I will worry about how many words it has after I am done.  After all, who knows what changes may come during the editing process?  There is no point in worrying about the number of words yet.
     A novel generally seems to run 50k to 80k words (sometimes a little more or less based on the genre and the age range of the readers).  I can't predict how many more words there are in Bella and Gerard, but I am still introducing characters and plot strings…

Is My Chihuahua Dying?!?

Dr. Madison sat in the treatment area in the back of her veterinary clinic.  She was writing her clinical notes in the various charts from the morning appointments.  It had been a fairly quiet morning.
     Suddenly, pandemonium broke loose in the lobby.  Two women, sobbing and screaming, burst through the front door.  One of them held a tiny chihuahua who was "ki-yi-ing" at the top of his lungs.  Both women were too hysterical to explain what was going on, and the poor receptionist could not make heads or tails of the situation.
     Dr. Madison brought both women and the screaming chihuahua into an exam room.
     "We don't know what happened," one of the women managed to say.  She was visibly shaking.  "He just started screaming.  We came here as fast as we could."  And, with that, the woman started wailing again.  "Oh, my baby!!!  My poor baby!!!  What's wrong!!!  My poor baby!!!"
     "May I see him?" Dr. Madison aske…

Almost Veterinarians

Anyone who has worked with animals or worked in a facility with animals knows that the general populace views you as "almost-as-good-as-a-veterinarian".  In some cases, you are even better because, while you may not have studied for years in school, you are free.  Friends will call you on the phone.  Neighbors will swing by with a quick question.  Random people will stop you in the grocery store.
     Here are some questions you might get:

"My dog's got a limp.  What do you think is causing it?"

"What is the best over-the-counter product for flea control?  I want something that is completely effective, totally safe, and under $5/month."

"Can you come over tonight and look at my dog?  I think she's dying." (That was a sad one.)

"Hey, I just noticed that my dog's tongue has a black spot on it.  He seems to be acting fine.  I don't know if that spot has always been there or if it just showed up.  Should I be worried?"

I meet Caleb

I had seen him in the field with the other horses, but I didn't pay much attention to him.  He was not one of the horses I had been assigned to work with.  He didn't follow me around when I was in the field or crowd under my elbows.  He was just one of the horses out there, and, other than calling an occasional friendly greeting, I ignored him...until that day -- the day that I met Caleb.
     I had just finished a full afternoon of playing with WhiteStar.  As I turned her out to pasture, a couple of the friendly horses gathered around me for a quick pet.  I stroked each of them and then turned to go.
     That's when I saw him.
     He was standing on the outskirts, looking both shy and interested at the same time.  He shifted his weight nervously, obviously wanting to come closer but too unsure of the situation to pursue it on his own.
     I shifted my weight and invited him to come to me.  He hesitated and then came quickly.  He stood by me with head up and ears …

Friendly Game

Friendly game just starts out as a way to show yourself friendly to your horse.  Your body is relaxed and "friendly".  You might just stand nearby.  You might toss your string across his back, like a horse flicking flies away with his tail.  You might rub an itchy spot.
     At first, you just want to show yourself friendly.  But gradually, you want to show other things as friendly...especially things that could be potentially scary.  This phase is a combination of desensitizing the horse and also teaching the horse to trust your cues.  For example, let's say you are opening an umbrella next to your horse.  You are teaching your horse that (1) the umbrella is not scary after all and (2) as long as you are relaxed then the horse can be relaxed.

     Toward the end of the summer, I started adding the more advanced friendly game.  I did this very slowly, much slower than necessary.  It was all new to me, and I was preparing as though it were new to WhiteStar.  But she …

Some Quotes from Bella and Gerard

I am on the run today so I will leave you with these excerpts from Bella and Gerard:

“Your aunts want to see you in the dining room,” was all Miss Edna said when she met Bella at the door.Miss Edna’s voice was strangely urgent, though there was no panic in it, and her face was carefully devoid of expressing any opinions.Bella gave one last glance at it as Miss Edna pushed her into the dining room, but she could not figure it out at all. ***
“She belongs with me,” Gerard responded.His eyebrows puckered together as though he could not quite understand why his sisters were being difficult.“Her mother gave me guardianship.”

Something rustled beneath her window.Bella held her breath and listened.There it was again!Something was moving in the trellis that led up to her window.A cat, perhaps? No, it wasn’t a cat.A hand reached through the open window.Bella clutched her bedpost in fear and tried to scream but no sound came out.A man’s body appeared, silhouetted against the night sky, and craw…