Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kindness and Love

Recently I had to speak in church about Christlike love. I don't usually talk religious or spiritual things on my blog, but I thought I'd share what I spoke about because what better time to talk about having love for each other than at Christmas.

The world needs more kindness. How much better would the world be if we all had Christlike love? I’m on both Facebook and Twitter, and I often see so much hatred out there. Sometimes, it’s awful comments people make to each other, often anonymously. It’s so easy to be mean when no one knows you’re doing it. But not only this kind of hatred, but I’ve seen a lot of negativity when people don’t agree. When someone speaks out against popular opinion, or unpopular opinion, they get vilified. These days, it feels like people automatically go to a place of anger and hatred towards another who doesn’t share their beliefs or opinions. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought, “can’t we all just get along?”

Good happens on social media too- I wouldn’t be on it if there wasn’t. I remember someone posting on Facebook once a little phrase that has stuck with me ever since. “Just because I don’t agree with you, doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”
It’s so true. We can disagree, we can be different from each other, hold different beliefs and opinions, but that doesn’t mean we should lash out. I might not agree with you, but that doesn’t stop me from loving you. From being kind to you, from only hoping the best for you.
Sometimes people get up in church and say, “I love everyone.” I used to inwardly scoff at that- there’s no way you can love everyone. You don’t know everyone, so how can you love them? But I’ve come to realize that this kind of love is about having no ill-will towards our fellow man. It means having an open heart.
There’s an article in the 1983 Ensign by Ann N. Madsen called: Tolerance, the beginning of Christlike love. In it, she mentions a keynote address that Henry B. Eyring gave once entitled “The Rope.” She says, “In this address, he suggested a powerful metaphor: we are like mountain climbers, he said, bound to each other as children of God. As he spoke, I thought how Satan must laugh when we push each other down—by faultfinding, criticism, name-calling, and labeling—when part of our purpose in mortality is to learn to lift each other up.”

She also said, “If we can learn patience, allowing all men the privilege of seeing truth at their own pace, we will have moved measurably toward the compassion and love of the Savior, who saw no enemies among his crucifiers. His example stands for all time to teach us the tender path from tolerance to compassion and perfect love.”

My favorite scripture, ever since I was a teenager, is found in Moroni, chapter 8, the last line of verse 16: “for perfect love casteth out all fear.”
Fear causes us to hate. It causes us to be angry, to lash out, to get offended, to withdraw. We become afraid that we’ll get hurt again, so we put up defenses to avoid it. Then what happens to us? We carry it around, this anger or hatred of offendedness (which probably isn’t a word). We carry it around and it festers. It can consume us. We only end up hurting ourselves. When we fail to have Christlike love, despite what someone might have done to us, we are the ones who lose in the end. When we carry all that negativity around, how can we possibly love?

I found a quote from Jeffrey R. Holland that says, Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world.
I don’t know about you, but my goal has never been to change the world. But what about changing ourselves? Can you imagine how much better the world would be if we all strove individually to have Christlike love?

“Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood,” said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. “Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.”

President Monson gave a talk at a Christmas devotional called, “Christmas is Love.” He said, “true love is a reflection of the Savior’s love. In December of each year we call it the Christmas spirit. You can hear it. You can see it. You can feel it.”

He went on to tell this story which particularly touched me, since I’ve been called to Primary. He said,

Recently I thought back to an experience from my boyhood—an experience I have related on another occasion or two. I was just 11. Our Primary president, Melissa, was an older and loving gray-haired lady. One day at Primary, Melissa asked me to stay behind and visit with her. There the two of us sat in the otherwise empty chapel. She placed her arm about my shoulder and began to cry. Surprised, I asked her why she was crying.

She replied, “I can’t seem to get the Trail Builder boys to be reverent during the opening exercises of Primary. Would you be willing to help me, Tommy?”

I promised Melissa that I would. Strangely to me, but not to Melissa, that ended any problem of reverence in Primary. She had gone to the source of the problem—me. The solution was love.

The years flew by. Marvelous Melissa, now in her 90s, lived in a nursing facility in the northwest part of Salt Lake City. Just before Christmas, I determined to visit my beloved Primary president. Over the car radio I heard the song “Hark! The herald angels sing glory to the newborn King!”2 I reflected on the visit made by wise men those long years ago. They brought gifts of gold, of frankincense, and of myrrh. I brought only the gift of love and a desire to say thank you.

I found Melissa in the lunchroom. She was staring at her plate of food, teasing it with the fork she held in her aged hand. Not a bite did she eat. As I spoke to her, my words were met by a benign but blank stare. I took the fork in hand and began to feed Melissa, talking all the time I did so about her service to boys and girls as a Primary worker. There wasn’t so much as a glimmer of recognition, far less a spoken word. Two other residents of the nursing home gazed at me with puzzled expressions. At last one of them spoke, saying, “Don’t talk to her. She doesn’t know anyone—even her own family. She hasn’t said a word in all the time she’s been here.”

Luncheon ended. My one-sided conversation wound down. I stood to leave. I held her frail hand in mine, gazed into her wrinkled but beautiful countenance, and said, “God bless you, Melissa. Merry Christmas.” Without warning, she spoke the words, “I know you. You’re Tommy Monson, my Primary boy. How I love you.” She pressed my hand to her lips and bestowed on it a sweet kiss filled with love. Tears coursed down her cheeks and bathed our clasped hands. Those hands that day were hallowed by heaven and graced by God. The herald angels did sing.

Having Christlike love isn’t just a feeling, we have to show it too. We have to give of our time, and say Thank You, like President Monson did. Christlike love is charity. The pure love of Christ, known as charity, is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind of love and the most joyous to the soul. Christlike love is service. In Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry, He “went about doing good,” showing tender compassion for the poor, afflicted, and distressed. To develop Christlike love, we must seek it, pray for it, and follow the example of the Savior in our thoughts, words, and actions.
This is especially difficult for me. It’s easy for me to feel Christlike love. I don’t get easily offended, I don’t hold grudges, I genuinely feel no ill-will towards anyone. But showing Christlike love? Not my forte for sure. I have just as hard of a time expressing it with words as I do showing it through service.

In For the Strength of Youth it says about service, “There are many ways to serve others. Some of the most important service you can give will be within your own home. You can also serve in your Church assignments, school, and community. You can serve by doing temple and family history work. You can serve by sharing the gospel with others. Often the most meaningful service is expressed through simple, everyday acts of kindness.
Service isn’t my forte, but I say, play to your strengths. I’m not good at the big, noticeable acts of service, but that doesn’t mean I can’t serve. I like how it said, “often the most meaningful service is expressed through simple, everyday acts of kindness.”

Recently I had an opportunity for this. I was standing in line at Walmart. I had Avery with me, who’s five. The lady in front of me going though the check-out had a couple of kids as well, younger, and she was busy with them- something I can easily relate to. She ended up leaving two of her shopping bags behind. The check-out lady was the one to notice. She showed me the bags, said the lady left them behind. We both stood there craning our heads both ways to see if we could see her but she’d left.
What did I do? I hate to say that I hesitated. I stood there and didn’t know what to do, when it should have been obvious on the spot. Finally, I told Avery to stay put, grabbed the bags, and ran out of the store. I managed to catch the lady in the parking lot and give her her two bags.

Was this a big thing? No. It was a simple act of kindness. I hate to admit that I was pretty proud of myself for it because I easily could have just left it alone. In the past, I would have. Not because I’m mean or lazy, but it just wouldn’t have occurred to me to chase her down and give her the bags. I’ve had to teach myself to be more mindful of others needs. I’m still learning.
As we approach Christmas, Christlike love tends to be easier, doesn’t it? Not just for us in the church but for everyone. Like President Monson said, we identify it as the Christmas Spirit.

I’ve always been interested by history and especially war. One of my favorite Christmas stories is one you’ve probably all heard. It’s the story of the soldiers during World War One in the trenches. There’s a video on YouTube that you should watch. It’s a commercial for Sainsbury’s- I think it’s a British supermarket- and it re-enacts this event. I’ve watched it multiple times and cried every time.
December of 1914, when the war had only raged on about five months (I think), Pope Benedict the fifteenth suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. Neither side wanted to declare an official cease-fire, but the soldiers in the trenches did it on their own.

On Christmas Eve, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front. Some of the German soldiers began singing carols. The Allies joined in. They sang carols together and the allies even reported hearing a brass band joining in from the German lines.
On Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s land, calling out Merry Christmas! in English. At first, the allies thought it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed, they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. They exchanged presents of food and cigarettes and sang Christmas carols together. There is even a documented case of soldiers from opposing lines playing soccer.

Can you imagine? I try to put myself in the place of one of those soldiers. I don’t feel a lot of hate for anyone now, but if I was in the middle of a war, on the front lines, if I had to kill people, see my friends and comrades killed beside me, what kind of hate would be in my heart? And would I be able to lay that aside? Could I shake hands? Could I share precious presents from home?
This story is often repeated because it’s amazing. They put aside war and killing and hate for one day of love.

On it says, “The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.”
A Christmas truce never happened again. How sad is that? Having Christlike love isn’t just a Christmas thing. It’s forever. It’s something we need to strive for every day. Those soldiers put aside their weapons for one day, but can you imagine how amazing it would have been if they didn’t just put aside their weapons for one day, but for good?

I know that’s idealistic thinking, for the soldiers to refuse to fight. That doesn’t happen. War doesn’t work that way. But still, imagine it. If both sides decided they just wouldn’t fight anymore, not just for Christmas, but for good. Now THAT, truly would have been amazing.
In order to have Christlike love, we need to lay aside our weapons like those soldiers did, not just for one day, but for good. We need to lay aside intolerance, anger, offence, unkind thoughts, negativity, and hatred. We need to lay aside fear, and embrace love. Serve each other, have charity, reach out to others, love them, be kind. Feel it in our hearts and show it.

I pray that we can strive daily to have perfect love, Christlike love, in our thoughts, in our hearts, in our deeds, in our daily life and always.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Revising and Being Girly

I have this inability to NOT read something. While waiting for a book from the library, I picked up Inferno by Dan Brown. I've liked Dan Brown in the past, but reading this I'm noticing why he gets criticized quite a bit. For example, I found three of these: ?! on one page alone. Why, Dan Brown, why?! Anyway, the book itself isn't bad, although I'm still nursing that reading slump. :(

Finished a revision of SWAY, my adult romance/retelling. I needed to rework the beginning especially and I'm waiting to hear back from a couple CPs if it needs more work.

Deadlines. Suddenly I had this deadline- not an exact date but something I needed to do and preferred to do quickly, and it worked. I got done what I needed to in a timely fashion. Go me.

The hubs had his Christmas party on the weekend which was blah but I got to dress up which was fun. Not that I don't dress up every Sunday for church. Anyway, I really wanted to rock a late fifties/early sixties look- the full skirt past the knees and pointy-toed shoes- but with a modern flair. I had a heckuva time finding what I wanted but finally found some pieces that I liked. I'm such a girl sometimes.
Me and the hubs                          My shoes
Also, my oldest turned eleven and we celebrated her birthday as a family. And I had to speak in church (yikes!). And coming up this week- kids Christmas concerts and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies!!!
Whaddaya think, one more week of Hobbit gifs, or what?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: The Hobbit

I finished The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I actually like the movie better. Even though I think Peter Jackson probably could have done it in two movies instead of three, I love most of the stuff he added in and missed it all while I was reading. Like Legolas! And Tauriel! Also, I feel the movies are a little more focused than the book (which is weird), and of course a lot more action packed. Can't wait to see the final movie, hopefully next weekend.

Right now I'm waiting on a book from the library so what am I reading? Calvin & Hobbes!

I've set my WIP aside because I've been super busy, but I've had a sudden (unexpected) revision to do so I'm working on that right now. Oddly enough, I've managed to find time to work on this revision. Funny how that works...

I'm getting a lot more into outlining. For this revision, even though the MS is finished, I went through and outlined the beats from a tweaked Save the Cat beat sheet. It's helped me get back into the MS and see the spots that need work. I've been using the same outline for my WIP.

We had a family Christmas party with my husband's family on Saturday which was fun. Then on Sunday the hubs had a work family Christmas party- also fun. The kids got to meet Santa, receive a present, and this year they had stations with airbrush and glitter tattoos, balloon animals, and letters to Santa. I got myself an airbrush tattoo of a dragon, because SMAUG.
Also, #PitMad and #SFFPit happened and coming up on Friday is #PitchMAS. So much tweeting!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Shopping, Not Writing

I finished Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour. It had a very vivid world which was lovely in the beginning but all the description started to bug me midway through. For example, I didn't need to know what EVERY character was wearing EVERY time they came on the scene. Also, I got to this point where I felt like I should be FEELING more and I just wasn't. Otherwise, the book was good. No, it really was. I'm just being nitpicky. Now I'm reading The Hobbit, in prep for the last movie coming out oh-so-soon!

I did a bit. A tiny bit. Just a wee small amount of words. I swear, I've had no time lately. I have no clue what exactly I've been doing to take all my time, but somehow it's disappearing down a dark hole of nothing. Also, I'm just not feeling this WIP right now (which is surprising since it's a retelling of a story I LOVE). So I've decided. I'm not going to force it. If I'm feeling the inspiration, I'll write. If not, I'm not going to beat myself up. For December only though. Once January hits, I will kick my WIPs butt.

Normally, I'd say GOALS, but 1k a day has been my goal since November first and I'm only at 16k, so you can see how well that's going. I blame Christmas.

Shopping! Black Friday is still becoming a thing here in Canada (which is fine because it's not Thanksgiving so no big deal), although the weather here was terrible over the weekend. I wouldn't have gone out at all on Friday except that I had to get a present for treat bags for my daughter's birthday party, which was Saturday. I took her and her friends swimming and then out to dinner Saturday night. Then Sunday, the kids did their annual presentation at church which went really well (thank goodness, since I was one of the adults who organized it all). I've also done some Christmas shopping, Christmas party clothes shopping, looking for White Elephant gifts, and buying things for my daughter's new basement bedroom and bathroom, like a shower curtain and a bed frame (among other things).

And of course, I need to give a shout-out to the Calgary Stampeders who won the Grey Cup, not that I watched. ;) What have you been up to?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reading Moods

How much does your mood affect your reading?

I wonder about this a lot, because I go through stages. There's the times where I devour books and luuurve everything I read. Then there's the times where I read slower, where I'm just not that into reading, or into a particular book, and where I notice flaws and things tend to annoy me.

Am I just in a bad reading mood? Is this totally unfair to the books I read when in said mood? I could easily say yes. But at the same time, something usually pulls me out of that mood. Something, as in, a great book.

A really great book would pull me out of a reading funk. I really believe that. If the book is AWESOME, I'll WANT to read it and I'll be EXCITED about it and ta-da! No more bad reading mood. So I think there's something to be wondered about the books that don't get me all revved up, bad mood or not.

But mood definitely plays a part. If I was in one of those la-la-all-books-are-wonderful moods, I end up loving a book which maybe doesn't deserve quite so much praise. And while I'm in the reading dolldrums, good books get picked apart a little more thoroughly than normal.

So my mood affects my reading. What about you? Does mood affect your reading? Or is it only about good books vs. mediocre ones?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Mockingjay and Christmas

I read Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl- it's the last of the Beautiful Creatures novels, and again... argh, I just wasn't that into it. My reading mood is really wonky right now for some reason. It's almost unfair to any book I read. Right now I'm about halfway through Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour. I'm enjoying the book, but I have a few pet peeves. Again- wonky reading mood.

I made a little progress on my WIP this past week. A little over 3k. I have a feeling it's going to be slow through the holidays. But anything is better than nothing, right? RIGHT? I also figured out my outline through the break into act 2, so there's that.

It's hard to come up with something that works for me when it's been a fairly unproductive week therefore, nothing has been working. Ergh. But I'm gonna take inspiration from all of you who've been knocking your WIPs out of the park and hopefully get more done this week!

I saw Mockingjay Part 1 on the weekend! I really enjoyed it, more so than I did the book (SHOCKING). It was a little slow- not much action, but as usual Jennifer Lawrence totally nails it. She had me in silent tears a few times. I'm just disappointed that we have to wait a whole year for the last one.
Me and the kids put up our Christmas tree on Sunday. Fun, but crazy! And I've had a lot of church responsibilities this past month, so that's been keeping me busy.
What's up with you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Headphoes and Hunger Games

I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and it was as good as I thought it would be, although not as good as I wanted it to be. Maggie Stiefvater is an amazing writer, and I love her characters (and wish they were my friends), but I wanted to be blown away by the book and sadly, I wasn't. Honestly, I think it has to do with my reading mood more than anything.

I've hit just under 12k with my WIP and I'm happy about that. I just wrote the 'inciting incident' which was lots of fun although in my outline I originally had it as my break into Act 2 so I've got some more planning/figuring out to do.

Headphones. On Saturday, I really wasn't in the mood to write, but I had time so I forced myself. My computer is in our family room and my kids were in there as well as one of their cousins. They were playing and the TV was on and it was very loud. So I popped in some headphones, put on a playlist, and managed 1500k in one hour, even with the occasional kid-shaped distraction.

Doctor Who withdrawals. Carne Asada fries. Carpet in the basement. Christmas decorations. Baking cookies. Querying. The Hunger Games. My oldest daughter just read the first book and I'm seeing Mockingjay on the weekend, so we rewatched the first movie.
Oh, and I've joined the YA-NA Sisterhood. I'm excited to join this great group of women and I'll be blogging over there occasionally. You can check us out here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Failure

Last Wednesday I found Blue Lily, Lily Blue at Costco for less than twelve bucks!!! So of course I bought it and cancelled the book I had planned to read. Surprisingly, I'm barely halfway through right now. Reading fail.

I'm at a pathetic 5.5k right now. Writing fail. I just haven't had time, which makes me glad I decided not to do NaNo this year because I would have bombed. On the other hand, I wonder if I had committed to it, if I would have MADE the time to write. Who knows.

Right now? Nothing. I'm bombing, which I know is okay because I'll get back on track, but I can't help feeling a bit perturbed at myself. (I love that word, perturbed. It's so wonderfully awkward.)

While I got to relax and take the kids to Big Hero 6, Jeff and his brother Kent were busy doing this in our basement:I'm doing better at life than writing/reading. I took the kids to Big Hero 6 on the weekend and it was great! Super cute and the kids loved it. While I was doing that, the hubs and his brother tiled our basement bathroom. Our basement should be done soon and I'm sooo excited to have that space! I've also got more than half of my Christmas shopping done (woot!).

Yesterday of course was Remembrance Day and I made sure to take a few minutes to remember the sacrifices of our veterans and those who serve now. Lest we forget.
Here's to the Heroes
It's not until two minutes in that the song really gets started, but it's a good one. Gets me teary eyed every time.
What have you been up to?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Halloween and Fury

What I'm Reading
I just finished Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir. I read the first book, Timeless, a couple of years ago and I remember loving it. Timekeeper was... good. I love the premise. Both books remind me of my own time travel series I was working on awhile back. I also loved the New York setting in different times. The plot was solid. Buuut, it just didn't resonate. The dialogue was a little off to me, and I wonder if that was it, or if there was more that I just can't put my finger on. Who knows. (I also wonder if Timeless was the same but I just didn't notice it back then?) 

What I'm Writing
I started a new WIP, YAY! I'm not officially doing NaNo this year because my November is going to be a crazy month, but I'm aiming for 1000 words a day. I still haven't figured out the end for my outline, but I wanted to get writing and I'm hoping the end will come to me before I actually get to it.

What Works For Me
Staring into the distance, a disheveled soldier stands in front of a tank, with "Fury" written on the barrel and other soldiers leaning/sitting on it.A goal. Sometimes it's a deadline, but usually it's a word count. Like I said, 1k a day with the hope that I finish by Christmas.

What Else Is New
Halloween! My kids dressed as Tris, a Stormtrooper, Elsa, and Anna. The kids got quite the loot. I also saw FURY on the weekend, the World War II movie starring Brad Pitt. It was extremely gory, there were lots of F-bombs, and I had trouble understanding one of the characters at times because he had such a thick accent, and there was one scene I thought was a little odd. However, it was interesting to watch a WWII movie focus solely on a tank crew and I thought Logan Lerman was fabulous. Also, I'm pretty sure I've never jumped as many times as I did during this movie. It was seriously heart-pounding.

What's up with you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: North and South and Taylor Swift

What I'm Reading
Still reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It's a classic so there's a lot of long descriptions and unnecessary scenes and drawn-out dialogue. Despite all that, I am enjoying the book.Especially getting more into the characters heads than you can watching the four-part BBC movie.  (Although this is one of those rare times where I prefer the movie over the book. Shhh, don't tell anyone.)

What I'm Writing
Still trying to prep for NaNo. I'm outlining more than I ever have before, using this template similar to Save the Cat (but more detailed) that my sis-in-law emailed me. I'm good through the midpoint and I know the end, but I've got issues after the midpoint that I need to work out. I'm not sure I'm going to be ready in time for Saturday so I haven't officially signed up for NaNo this year and I don't think I will. But I will use the month to keep to a daily word count, once I can get the book outlined anyway.

What Works For Me
A few of you have said this too, but it really helps me to have someone to brainstorm with. My (aforementioned) sis-in-law and CP loves to edit (she's an editor intern with The Zharmae Publishing Press) and she's really good about responding to my random messages. She always has great ideas and even if I don't end up using them (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't), talking with her alone helps to get my creative juices flowing. This is seriously one of the best things ever and I'm very grateful that she's willing to chat with me at random times of the day.

What Else Is New
I bought Taylor Swift's new CD on Monday and I've been listening to it on repeat when I'm in the car. It's definitely different from her other albums but there are a few songs I'm already loving. It'll probably only take a few more listens until I love the whole album.
Out of the Woods- one of my early faves
What's up with you this Wednesday?

Monday, October 27, 2014

On Retellings

So here's the question of the day: What do you think about retellings?

For me, I like a retelling that stays true to the story. I don't mind a twist, I don't mind changes. I don't mind if certain characters are cut or if scenes or plot points from the original are missing. I don't mind if a classic becomes an epic fantasy story of if a fairy tale turns sci-fi. But I like my retellings to stick to what makes the original good. It's taken me some time to learn that staying too close to the original isn't a good thing to do, but I'm not a fan when retellings go completely another way until it's really not much of a retelling at all. But that's just my personal opinion.
Some of my favorite retellings
What are your thoughts? For example, what if the ending is completely different? What if one (or more) of the characters is changed in a fundamental way? I think it's safe to say that setting can be a total free-for-all, but again, maybe this is just my personal opinion and someone else might not like it if the setting is way out there from the original.
Shakespeare Retold: Much Ado About Nothing (part one)
I watched this recently. The end was different from the original but made total sense for this retelling.

What kinds of things stay the same and what changes in your favorite retellings? Is everything about the story safe for the author to change, or should some things automatically be included? I would love to hear your thoughts/opinions.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Disneyland

What I'm Reading
I'm reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I didn't get a lot of reading done this past week because I was on vacation so I've already been at this book for more than a week. Ah well.

What I'm Writing
Planning for NaNo but unsure whether I'll be ready in time.

What Works For Me
The first thing I do when I'm prepping a new WIP is start figuring out the characters. What they like/dislike, what they look like, their characteristics, what they're interested in, the MC's voice, and if it's an adult book like the one I'm writing next- their jobs. For me, characters always come first.

What Else I've Been Up To
DISNEYLAND! We left two Friday's ago and drove to Vegas first. Spent Saturday afternoon there, then drove on to our resort in Carlsbad, California on Sunday. We spent three long days at Disneyland last week but it was a lot of fun. My girls got to get done up at the Bippity Boppity Boutique, my son built his own light saber, we went on lots of rides, and met a lot of characters and got their autographs. We also did some shopping, swimming, and I got to spend an afternoon with my sister and her kids who live nearby. It was a great trip, but exhausting- especially with all the driving. I need a vacation after my vacation!
It was crazy trying to meet Anna and Elsa but worth it in the end. They were so good with my girls!
Family pic in front of Fantasyland. I got asked three times that day if I was dressed like Princess Jasmine. (The answer: no. It was a total fluke.)

We were with Tigger when Winnie the Pooh came up and grabbed my daughters hand. So cute.
On Radiator Springs Racers.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Halloween Decorations

What I'm Reading
I read Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee and I thought it was great- such an imaginative world and different than anything I'd read before. Then I read Strange and Ever After, the conclusion to Susan Dennards Something Strange and Deadly trilogy. It was good but I was super disappointed by the ending. Ergh.

What I'm Writing
Queries. That's about it. I've been doing a lot of brainstorming about the project I want to tackle for NaNoWriMo, but I'm nervous because I haven't figured out the HOW yet. Double ergh.

What Works For Me
Breaks. I try not to take too many, but it's nice to have a little break now and then. I'm glad I finished up my revisions in enough time to give me this little break before NaNo starts.

What Else I've Been Up To
We're going to Disneyland soon! Me and the hubs went on our honeymoon but we've never taken the kids so it should be lots of fun (and so so tiring). Any tips? It's been so long since we've been that I have no clue what's good to see/do/eat.
I've decorated the house for Halloween!
Melanie Burt Stanford's photo.
Melanie Burt Stanford's photo.Melanie Burt Stanford's photo.

What have you been up to? Link up at Jaime or Erin's blogs.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: There Is No Else

I read Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and it was excellent. It did take me a bit to get into it, but most fantasy is like that for me. Once I did, I loved it! Can't wait to read the next one!
Last night I finished Isla and the Happily Ever After and I loooooved eeeeet. Stephanie Perkins writes such swoony romances and wonderful characters. However, I liked Anna and Lola better than Isla. I think I just connected more with Anna and Lola as characters. I never really got a clear sense of Isla. Maybe I was too distracted by all the hot kissing scenes!
I finished my revisions on Jar of Hearts yesterday! *dances* Now I'm going to let it sit awhile while I revamp my Eponine query, and then start planning for NaNoWriMo.
Schedules. I started writing "seriously" when my youngest was six months old and the best time was always during her early afternoon nap. I've kept that same time since then (5 years later), only straying from it on the weekends or when I've wanted to keep going at night. I'm a pretty scheduled person and this is my scheduled writing time and I'm keeping it because it WORKS.
Else? Sometimes it feels like there is no "else" when I'm neck-deep in a WIP. But I did have some more family time with my sister and her baby and my parents, and me and the hubs snuck in a movie date.

What's up with you?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: ERGH

What I'm Reading
I read Landline by Rainbow Rowell and I've got lots of thoughts about it. First, I'd read anything Rainbow Rowell writes. She does characters and dialogue SO WELL. However, and I hate to even say that word, but I felt like there really was no character arc for the MC whatsoever. It felt more like reading about a week in someone's life. Things happened, but nothing changed by the end. I just got to know a couple of characters really well, that's it. The ending was REALISTIC, but this is a novel I'm reading here and I expected some sort of real resolution and didn't feel like I got that. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't say any more than that. Except, ergh.
Then I read Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. I saw the movie awhile ago and always wanted to read the book. It was funny like I thought it would be but I felt like something was missing, probably because of the diary format. (Spoiler coming: For example, Robbie suddenly likes her in the end but we get no real reason why because he's barely there and they barely interact and he has maybe five lines of dialogue the entire book.) I did like it enough that I do want to read more of the books sometime.
What I'm Writing Revising
Still JAR OF HEARTS. It's going good. And that's all I've got to say about that.
What Works For Me
Music is huge for me. I know I talk about it all the time. Sometimes songs come up that remind me of my WIPs, but sometimes I hear a song that I want to write a book around. Like Jar of Hearts. I heard the song back when it was first performed on SYTYCD and loved it. Later, I thought it would make a great contemp YA book, but not one I could write. Then on one random listen of this song, I got an idea. I got a wonderful awful idea. (Bonus points if you know what that's from.) And last NaNo, I ran with it. It's YA magical realism instead of contemp and it's been wonderful and awful all rolled into one.
The song that inspired it all

What Else I've Been Up To
My sister has come for a visit from Ottawa which is awesome because she brought her 6 month old son whom I've never met before! It's been great to spend a little time with her and the baby and some other family members this week.
Also, I finished watching the last season of Being Erica. I'm a little sad to say goodbye to the show, but it wrapped up nicely and now I can go back to Doctor Who!
Fan made trailer of Being Erica season 4

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: The Tenth Doctor

What I'm Reading
I finished A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris which was really cute, although I liked My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century better. (They're companion novels, MSSSC came out first and takes place in the past while AToTC happens present time.) Then I read Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood, the last of the Cahill Chronicles. The book was great. I liked how even though I could barely remember what happened in the first two, I jumped back into the series no problem. She wrapped it all up nicely and I wasn't disappointed. (Still liked the first one better, but that's just me.)

What I'm Writing Revising
Still working away at JAR OF HEARTS.

What Works For Me
I'm a very visual person, and I'm also rubbish at describing things. So when I'm trying to describe a character or setting, I like to look up pictures to help me out. On Monday, I got a little side-tracked doing exactly this thing. There's a lot of characters in JAR OF HEARTS and I've already "cast" the four main ones. But there are also four girls who are important to the story and very different from each other in both looks and characteristics. So I looked up actresses to "cast" these girls because I really wanted to SEE their physical differences before moving onto their character differences. It was surprisingly hard, but this is what I came up with... for now.

What Else I've Been Up To
Doctor Who! I watched the first season last year and thought it was just okay. I DID NOT get what all the hype was about. When I finally got around to starting season two, I was hooked almost instantly, and the seasons have just gotten better (so far). I've finished season four and right now I'm waiting (anxiously!) for the specials that happened between seasons 4 and 5 to come in from my library. I'm really going to miss the Tenth Doctor though. I almost don't want to start season five because there will be no more David Tennant. Boo.
What have you been up to?