"By the very function not of our doing but of our being, I see we are the beloved of God." ~ Ann Voskamp
This is too stunning.
Too awesomely terrible for me to think on.
Not do? I don't have to do?
it's what I am.
I don't know how to be.
I am afraid to be
because who could love that?
Who could love me for just being me
instead of what I do for them?
No one. No man.
And I weep.
Even if you're not currently on the market for a new house, you might want to be . . . if you happen to have $3.9 million laying around, that is. The house that inspired The Great Gatsby, the very home that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda lived in, located in Great Neck, New York, is for sale. Curious to see some pix? Click HERE.
I probably won't be making an offer, but it did get me to thinking what would the ultimate literary dream home look like? What kind of extras would it have?
With a mandatory roly-poly ladder and wingback chairs.
A cute, little French press and espresso counter in the kitchen.
For all the kinks incurred by sitting in front of a keyboard all day.
Preferably overlooking a garden with plenty of pathways.
Perfect for day dreaming.
Brick Walls covered with Ivy
On the outside, of course.
For those cold and dreary days, there's no better place to cozy up and ponder.
Wrap Around Porch
With plenty of rocking chairs and swings. And don't forget ferns.
That's my list. What's on your literary dream home list? Leave your ideas in the comment section.
I always knew there were different types of writers. Plotters. Pansters. Plantsers. Those who write at lightning speed and those who plod along and enjoy the scenery along the way. But I never knew there were different types of readers, and I certainly never guessed I'd have to one day confess to being a polygamist, but, uh, yep, that's the kind of reader I am. What are you?
The 6 Types of Readers
This kind of person reads one book at a time. Period. Cover to cover, never veering off course to even peek at the first page of another novel.
A reader of this persuasion has their nose stuck in several books at once. I know. What hussies, right? Well there's too many books and so little time, I tell ya.
You know those people who read anything in front of their face? Like milk cartons, the back of a dental floss container, or even the washing instructions on the tag of their tee-shirt? They have a name. They are called extrovert readers.
This person not only sticks to one book but to one genre as well. We're talking vanilla city here, folks. An introvert ponders, analyzes and frequently obsesses over one book at a time.
These are the cheerleaders of the readerly bunch. They sing the praises of the books they've read, recommending titles to anyone and everyone.
We're talking ADD, folks. This reader can't finish a book because they're too distracted and switch books mid-stream.
Did you find yourself somewhere in this list? What kind of reader are you? Fess up in the comment section.
Some questions are hard to answer, like what's the square root of a bajillion or what nutmeats do rock badgers prefer? Ask me something like that and I'll give you the stupid-faced-open-mouthed-roly-poly-eyeballs kind of look because honestly, I don't know.
But ask me how long it takes for me to write a book, and I'll still hesitate to answer. Not because I don't know the answer. I know exactly how many minutes I've banged my head against the wall for every plot point and word I've typed. When I'm asked this question, I pause because I'm usually studying the asker's face, trying hard to discern what it is the person really wants to know and wishing I could do a Vulcan mind meld to find out.
Because really, when someone asks me how long it takes for me to write a book, they really want to know how long it's going to take them to write a book, and as awesome as I am, I cannot answer that for anyone but myself.
Here's the deal . . . every writer is different. Some people pound out a story in six weeks. Other's take five years. You can't measure yourself against either of those because on one hand, you'll feel like horse hockey if you can't whip out a novel in little over a month, or else your pride will swell to sinful-burn-in-hell proportions if you can finish one in under half a decade.
What I'm saying is there is no answer to this question. I can share how long it takes me (ten months to a year) but that is completely meaningless when it comes to how fast another writer takes. The bottom line is forget about the time frame and just write. The novel will be finished when it's finished, then -- and only then -- can you answer that question for yourself.
Whether you're a reader or a writer, have I found a site for you to check out.
weBOOK brings the best of both worlds together. Readers get to read. Writers get to write. Win, win, eh? Here's how it works . . .
There are three levels that an author's work can progress through. First you submit a page of your work then watch the ratings roll in.
After five weeks, if you receive high ratings, you'll be asked to submit fifty pages for -- you guessed it -- another round of ratings.
After three rounds of this, if you continue to score high, you're promoted to a pool of literary agents who just might sign you and land a great book deal.
You can also simply pitch a plot idea or get feedback for a bugaboo in your plot.
Choose a genre and read the first page of a wannabe published author, then rate it.
You can compare your rating to those of other peers and professionals.
Follow your favorite authors to see if they make it through all three levels and eventually on to publication.
So, how much does all this cost? Nothing, for readers. For writers, it's usually a $3.95 submission fee, but woo-hoo and Hallelujah! They're running a special freebie submission offer right now, so get yourself over there while the getting is good.
My most recent post on Instagram: Crema in Minneapolis.
My latest favorite social media is Instagram. Yeah, I know it's not new, but my iPhone is and hot dang, does that beast take some fan-freaking-tastic pix. What I love most about Instagram is that it makes me feel artsy. I suppose I could get that same effect by whipping out some Crayolas and banging away with them on a large sheet of paper, but this seems just a tic more sophisticated than that.
Another reason I love this site is because it draws readers to your books. No, really. And without even having to whap them over the head with a huge BUY MY BOOK stick. People see your photos, get a feel for who you are, and eventually toodle their way over to your website. Then let the whapping begin.
Love number three is that I get a peek into the lives of some of my favorite authors just by following them. Example? I've learned that Laura Frantz cooks some amazing southern dishes.
I also love the creative ways that people use Instagram. Bibliophile Jakub Pavlovský uses his account simply to encourage the love of reading. He posts pix of himself reading a book in a variety of places such as a bank vault, a subway station, in the rubble of a building, on pallets of cement mix, and more.
There's a lot to love about Instagram so try it out yourself. And feel free to check out my account HERE.
Huh. There are a few funny things about his list. First off, there's no Brentwood's Ward on it. And secondly, not one of those titles is on my summer reading list. Here's what I've got in my stacks . . .
Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he’d kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined. Just when Julia thinks she’s managed to untangle herself from Macy’s clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy’s lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson’s daughter―and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts. Though Julia knows Macy’s version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet.
Wonder by Travis Thrasher As the town of Appleton is rocked by the death of a teenager, the high school year begins under a dark shadow. Brandon continues to pursue Marvel while trying to discover what she believes will happen to her. It’s easy to fall more in love with her. It’s easy to forget she thinks God told her she will have to sacrifice herself to save others. But Brandon can’t forget about the shapeless evil that seems to watch him around corners and seep through the streets of his town. Strange things start to occur to Brandon. He starts looking for clues about the dead student, thinking this might be related to whatever evil Marvel is talking about. He also continues to battle against the guys picking on a nerdy senior named Seth Belcher. Marvel falls in love with Brandon, and he truly accepts her faith even though he doesn’t understand what to make of it. Something is growing in the darkness. Something is coming. Will Brandon be able to stand up against the malice that draws ever closer? Will he be able to save Marvel from the horrors to come? A Stranger's Secret by Laurie Alice Eakes As a grieving young widow, Morwenna only wants a quiet life for herself and her son. Until a man washes ashore, entangling her in a web of mystery that could threaten all she holds dear.
The Blooding by James McGee Matthew Hawkwood, soldier turned spy, is stranded behind enemy lines, in America, a country at war with Britain. Heading for the safety of the Canadian border, Hawkwood's route takes him to Albany where the chance sighting of a former comrade-in-arms - Major Douglas Lawrence - within a consignment of British prisoners puts paid to his plans. For as the two men make their escape they uncover an American plot to invade Canada. If it is successful, the entire continent will be lost. The British authorities must be warned. Pursued by a relentless enemy, Hawkwood and Lawrence set off across the snow-bound Adirondack Mountains; the land the Iroquois call 'The Hunting Grounds'. But they are not alone. Buried deep in Hawkwood's past is an old alliance - one that could save both their lives and help turn the tide of war... Nonfiction: Save the Cat by Blake Snyder This ultimate insider's guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a show biz veteran who's proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat!
Do you ever have a particular emotion, a certain kind of feeling, but can't find a word to describe it? Like think about when you first walk into a bookstore. There's nothing like that feeling . . . but what the heck do you call it? Never fear, have I found the site to solve that little dilemma.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrowsis a site self-described as "a compendium of invented words" with the express purpose of giving a name to emotions we all experience, those that up to this point in time, have not been identified. Here are some examples . . .
Ambedo A kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee
The sense that time keeps going faster.
The awareness of how little of the world you'll experience in your lifetime.
The desire to care less about things—to loosen your grip on your life.
The fear that everything has already been done.
And last, but not least, my personal favorite:
Vellichor The strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
Pop on over to The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows and check out some new words for yourself.
Oh, stop shouting. I hear you. "Duh, Michelle! Everyone knows the purpose of a book cover is to sell the dang thing. That's why it's so important. Now take your ball and go home because no one wants to play with an idiot."
To which I reply, "Hold up there, Hoss. Sure, the sales aspect is valid, but there are other reasons a book cover is important. So pipe down and listen up. You just might learn a thing or five."
5 Reasons Why Book Covers Are Important
No, not as in you can whap someone over the head with it. A book cover's most functional job is to protect the brilliant writing within. It holds together and protects the pages.
You are what you read . . . or at least that's what other people think when they see you toting a book. Other's perceptions of you will be very different depending upon if you walk around with a copy of War and Peace under your arm or if it's a Harlequin romance.
Even if Martha Stewart isn't your middle name (and if it is . . . wow, stinks to be you), books are part of a living room's decor, or family room, or wherever it is that you keep your books. A coffee table wouldn't be complete without a gorgeous book sitting on it.
I'm never one to arrive late to a movie because I love to see the movie trailers. A book cover is like that, giving you a bit of a teaser for the story inside.
A cozy mystery cover is distinctly different from a bodice ripper, and a cover gives you that information at a glance.
Book covers do have a pretty full agenda besides simply being a marketing tool, which honestly makes me glad I'm not a designer. Way too much pressure.
Last night the other mammals of my pack and I loaded into the family truckster and toodled off to a drive-in movie. Yep. They still exist. First up on the screen was an animated flick called Home. My review: el stinko.
Not that the animation wasn't great. It was. In fact, this movie had all the ingredients of what makes a memorable family-friendly classic . . . a young girl on a quest to find her mother. An underdog hero who turns into a champion. Humor sprinkled throughout the whole end-of-the-world type of plot. So why the stink bomb rating?
It was trying too hard.
Even though all the elements for a great story were there, it still fell flat because they were just that. Elements. Like the writer simply ticked off the boxes on a writerly checklist. There was no risk. No freshness. No soul. The writer was clearly striving for perfection instead of simply reveling in telling a story.
What's the fix for this? While you're writing your first draft, forget about the audience and delight in the storyworld.
"It's better to write for yourself and have no public,
I’ve always wanted a pair of night vision glasses.
It would be pretty sweet to see in the dark, to not bump into a wall, or trip over a shoe, or be able to see the creepy killer monster and run the other way. But what if there were a spiritual version available? Night vision goggles that worked in daylight as well, letting you see the demons, the angels, Jesus at work. Would I be bold enough to put them on, or would I rather remain in the ignorant safety of the blind? And yet, every time I read more of God’s word, dwell on its meaning, my eyes see a little sharper, distinguish things more clearly. Maybe night vision isn’t an outward pair of glasses but an inward cleaning of the lens of the soul.
Guess what I got in the mail this week. No, not another credit card application or an invitation from AARP. Not even a twofer pizza dealio or yet another bank statement that I'll just ignore. I got a letter. A for-real, bonafide, not-a-crappy-piece-of-junk-mail handwritten letter. And it was a dang glorious feeling as I slit open the envelope and pulled out a swirly-twirly cursive greeting just for me. Why would someone take the trouble or why should you put the effort into sending just such a note to someone else?
5 Reasons Why You Should Send a Handwritten Note
1. It shows that you care.
It takes like two seconds to pop off a text or shoot an email to someone. Making the effort to lug out a notecard, address and stamp an envelope, and jot down your sentiments longhand shows the recipient that you really do care about them.
2. A letter is timeless.
Handwritten cards don't disappear when a computer crashes or the electricity goes kaputz. Think about all the letters preserving history in museums.
Respectability is subjective. Some dress up in fishnet stockings and feather boas for a night on the town. Others won't leave the house without a three-piece suit. The same holds true for a daily word count. What is a respectable amount?
It varies, writer to writer. Here are the goals of a few big names . . .
Anne Rice 3000
Ernest Hemingway 500
Jack London 1500
Mark Twain 1400
Maya Angelou 2500
Michael Crichton 10,000
Nicholas Sparks 2000
Stephen King 2000
As for me, I shoot for 600 a day. Sometimes I do less. Oftentimes I write more. I suppose if I had a deadline, I'd be writing like crazy go nuts. The point is that there isn't any particular goal that makes you a little champion. Write what works for you.
And if you need help keeping track of those words or like to see a visual of your progress, here are a few handy dandy sites that will do just that . . .
Looking for some summer reads to toss into your beach bag? Then READGEEK is the place for you. This site recommends titles based upon your ratings of books you've already read. It's a pretty sweet service, but besides great reading ideas, my favorite thing about this place is the message it brings up while you're waiting for the recommendation list. It says that little elves are hard at work rummaging through the library to find your books.
Based on the ratings I gave them for books I've read, here are the top 10 recommended for me . . .
1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
2. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
4. Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman
5. The Arrival Concept by Shaun Tan
6. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
7. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
8. Hiroshima by John Hersey
9. Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
10. Dracula by Bram Stokes
Interesting list. Of the 10, I've already read The Count of Monte Cristo, The Things They Carried and Dracula. The Lies of Locke Lamora sounds the most interesting. Here's a blurb:
An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.
So go for it. Visit the site, rate a few books (I rated 24), and see what's recommended for your summer reads.
Apparently it takes the Goodreads gods a fair amount of time before they grant a giveaway to a plebian such as myself. Good news, though. The magical fairy dust I sprinkled all over my request must've worked because lo and behold . . . shazam! My request was granted.
So just pop on over to Goodreads by clicking HERE and you'll be entered to win one of two copies. It's just that easy, folks. Contest runs from May 11-31. Tell one. Tell all. And maybe you'll win!
I thought I'd start out this week with a bang by doing a Goodreads giveaway. Why?
- All the cool writerly kids are doing
one and I caved to peer pressure
- It's "supposed" to be good for
- May is the last month I can do a
giveaway on Goodreads because
they only do new book releases.
- I'm just that awesome.
But alas. Sorrow. Cue the depressing violin music. I followed Goodreads directions step-by-step yet they never sent me the dang stamp of approval. I have no idea why. Maybe I smell funny.
All this hullabaloo makes me wonder, though, if giveaways are even worth it. Oh, no doubt they're valuable to the lucky winner. It's the poor slob of an author who's got to suck up the loss on purchasing and posting the books. Yes, authors have to pay for their own books.
So I decided to do some research (which I probably should've done before simply following the writerly pack of cool kids) to find out the benefits and detriments of doing a giveaway. Here's what I found out . . .
Pros of a Book Giveaway
Generates interest in your book because who doesn't like to enter a contest? It's just one more format to get your book cover in front of the face of a reader.
Garners you new reviews.
Can pique the interest of a reader so much that if they don't win, they'll sprint over to Amazon and snatch up a copy.
Cons of a Book Giveaway
Your book ends up in the hands of someone who entered without reading what the book was about and hates that genre, which earns you a crappy review.
The cost to the author.
Setting it up and monitoring it.
What do you think? Seems kind of either or to me, like the pros and cons balance each other out making it a big, fat whatever. If I hear from Goodreads and they give me the green light, I'll go for it. If not, then I don't think I'll seek them out again. Stay tuned along with me and we'll see what happens together.
Everyone loves a yes.
It's a happy word.
A smile word.
The kind of word we anticipate,
wrap our arms around
and squeeze it for all it's worth.
Yes, you're a winner.
Yes, you are loved.
Yes, I hold you in the palm of My hand.
It's easy to adore yes and scorn its ugly step-sibling,
No is black, angry, endless in spite and deprivation.
Step closer. Observe. Dare to look beyond the warty facade.
No more sin.
No more tears.
No more death.
Next time a no comes your way, remember these.
There's nothing Jewish and certainly nothing orthodox about me . . . except for my language. Yeah, I know, right? Like what the heck? I've been using Yiddish words without even knowing it, and maybe you have too. Words such as:
Nosedive, a minor problem or error; a slip.
Literally this means "a block of wood," but it's most often used for an awkward, clumsy or "dense" person.
To make small talk, usually with someone you want to impress.
Let's not forget schlep, kosher or chutzpah, either. But lo and behold, I discovered a bunch of super fun Yiddish words that might be fun to use in a story or simply just toss in everyday conversation to spice things up.
To explode and/or collapse. Possible uses: "Don't plotz!" meaning "Don't freak out!" or "After chasing toddlers all day, I could just plotz."
A stupid person; a jerk.
Fershtinkiner A stinker, kind of like a schmendrik, but this one's really fun to say out loud. Go ahead. You know you want to.
Belly. If you punch someone in the stomach, you just hit them in the kishka.
A day-dreamer, which might be a good description for a writer.
A persistent and annoying person.
And those are only a few fun words. Which one will you use today?
Guess who was playing on the interweb this week . . . and have I found some ridiculously fun/stupid sites for you to take a quick visit to -- emphasis on quick. These places don't require the brain of a rocket scientist.
I Love You Like A Fat Lady Loves Apples
So call me a freak, but I love this site. It's a line drawing of a lady sitting at a table. Quirky music plays in the background. All you need to do is use your mouse to help her clutch an apple and bring it to her mouth. Every apple she eats, the fatter she gets. What's the point? Umm. Yeah. Beats me.
Want to see a bunch of flying cats ala Monty Python's Flying Circus? This is the stupid site for you. You can even click on a cat and drag it around the screen.
But if you're more of a dog person, here's a pug for you. All he does is lick the screen. Go ahead and click on it. Seeing is believing.
Draw A Stick Man
This is one of my favorites. It tells you exactly what to draw. And don't worry if you're not an artist. They bring this to life in magical ways.
The Useless Web
This site acts a lot like StumbleUpon except it directs you to goofy-butt websites instead of informational ones.
Go ahead and try them out. It won't take a ton of time. Which one is your favorite?
"Your creativity is not a baby rabbit. Perfection is itself the most perfect lie. You can be destructive to yourself or you can be constructive instead. You cannot walk another's journey. Why would you want to? We all chart our own course and burn the map afterward. You can do this. It'll take work and time. You want to write? Then write. Write better today than you did yesterday and better tomorrow than you did today." ~ Chuck Wendig
Easy: Wallowing in self-despair over your writing.
Hard: Writing anyway.
Easy: Stoking a slow burning envy fire in your gut because someone else's writing is better.
Hard: Writing anyway.
Easy: Giving up.
Hard: Writing anyway.
Noticing a theme here? Writers write, no matter how they feel or what kind of opposition they're up against. Don't wait for a hand to reach down and pull you up the writerly food-chain. Yank yourself up, rung by rung, all shaky muscles and sweaty and exhausted. No, I can't promise you'll reach the top . . . but you'll be higher than if you didn't climb at all.
Instant success. Everyone wants it, whether they admit it out loud or not. Most people would even settle for near-future success, as long as they knew it would be attainable sooner rather than later. But success after decades? Or maybe not until just before you take your last breath? Yeah. That's not so popular.
But honestly, that's the way it sometimes is with writing. Unless you're one of the lucky few, born when all the stars were in perfect alignment, then success is going to be a long, slow, slog, taking all the stamina you think you've got. And more. Sounds kind of depressing, eh? Right again, buckaroo.
Unless you redefine success.
Who says a yearly book contract with one of the big five is the measuring stick of victory?
Why is a certain dollar amount the validation of being a "real" author?
Not that those are bad things. Shoot, I'd snatch 'em up in a heartbeat. And I acknowledge that even with those things, it's still a ton of hard work to write a novel.
But maybe the real successful writers are those who pound out words every day, with no guarantee of a buyer for their story by the time they type The End. Those are the brave souls writing because of an inner drive. Those are the writers I want to cheer for.
“If we had to say what writing is,
we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage.”
Everyone's trying to guess what name will be given the new little princess born to Prince William and Kate. Alice and Charlotte are the front runners so far, but who knows if they'll pull a crazy hippie moment and name her Starshine Galactica?
So I Googled around with name generators, trying to help out the royal couple because hey, that's just how awesome I am, but instead I ended up getting snagged at a fun site called The Fantasy Name Generator. It's a hoot. Here's what I came up with . . .
If she were an angel, I'd choose Anahita.
For a Lord of the Rings female elf name, I like Gelluel (Gellui meaning triumphant and the el on the end means female = triumphant female).
My favorite female steampunk name: Sophronia Natalie Corbyn
If the princess were a My Little Pony: Violet Glow.
And there are oh-so-many more names to find, ranging from Star Wars to Harry Potter to even dragon names. It's doubtful the royal family will use this resource when christening the princess, but if you happen to be in need of a character or place name, The Fantasy Name Generator is the place for you.
True contentment isn't smiling when the sun beats warm on your face.
It's peace in the lean times,
the raw ones,
holding up empty hands in a soul-felt thank you
despite the emptiness;
to be content in all things.
The wealthy times. The poor.
The healthy. The sick.
God says He is here.
God says He is now.
Brand those words on your heart,
for therein lies rest,
even when tragedy grabs hold of your hand.
"Our enough is always in the now because He never leaves us." ~ Ann Voskamp
I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me
two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the
latter. Way cheaper. I've been writing since I discovered blank wall space and
Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write...except for that graffiti
phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?