Writing

A New Year

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A new year is once again here. When I was young, it seemed like time would not move fast enough. I spent my summers wishing for school and my school years wishing for summer. IN the past couple of years, even when school has been horrible or the heat has been unbearable, I’ve tried to focus on living in the now. As a planner, that is no easy task.

2013 was amazing. IMy friends and family are good and healthy, my marriage is thriving, my home is beautiful, my puppies are happy, and I’ve been writing almost everyday. I wrote another novel in 2013, read a lot of books, and enjoyed my life.

For the last two years, my resolutions have been writing centered, and this year will be no different. Well, maybe a little different. This year, for the next 364 days, I want to succeed at writing everyday. I’m going to go through the novel One Year to a Writing Life by Tiberghien. I want to push myself in more directions than just fiction. I want to try my hand at some fiction that is short, write some creative nonfiction, and journal without feeling like I’m not writing “what I should be writing.”

So, my writing and reading resolutions for the new year.

1. Read 52 books.

  • 52 books means reading one book a week. In summer I can do more, but during school I feel this is an admirable goal.

2. Review the books here!

  • This serves a dual purpose. I want to blog more, therefor if I am reviewing the 52 books that I read, that will be at minimum one post a week. That’s a win.

3. Write everyday- for fun!

  • I write a lot, but I sometimes forget that I love to write. I make this crazy difficult deadlines for myself and forget to enjoy the process. Whether fun means a journal entry, a blog post, or words on my WIP, I want my writing to be fun.

So, there you have it. If you are interested in following what I’m reading, add me as a friend on GoodReads! Happy New Year people!

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Day 6: My Favorite Quote

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Day six is upon us, and Madi and I are still quietly tapping those keys. Don’t forget to let us know if you’ve decided to participate, even if it’s just one day! Today is all about quotes.

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As a writer and a reader, quotes probably could have made an appearance in my obsessions post. Every book, every speech, every extended dialogue will have these moments of purity that look into the soul of the human experience and make sense of a small piece of it.

I don’t know if I could choose just one quote because there are so many that speak to me and who I am and who I am striving to be.

I spent a lot of my life taking things in, whether it was information or ideas, I just took it all in. Now, as a woman who wants to write, I realize that taking things in isn’t enough. I can’t be content to keep my thoughts to myself, they have to come out in my writing or I’m not being honest.

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The quote that most recently has had an impact on me is one that one of my Writer’s Block kids introduced me to. Carlos Fuentes said, “Writing is a struggle against silence.”

That’s really why I write, why some paint, why some capture instances on film, why some draw. We don’t want to be silenced, and we live in a world where too many people are being quiet.

What is your quote?

Best Day Ever. Seriously.

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The Barnes and Noble seems to get more and more crowded with every Sunday afternoon visit. The old man to my left is completing a crossword puzzle, and one lady is walking around in a Hawaiian floor length dress and sweater. I count four laptops including my own, one actual conversation, three sets of headphones, one pastry, four coffee drinks and several waters. I see newspapers, books, magazines, and textbooks. Every one in this room has an agenda, a set of tasks that they need to accomplish.

I have the same kind of list that I should be addressing, but instead I’m writing to you guys. I haven’t written since NaNoWriMo started, and I haven’t even blogged about my first half marathon (my time was 1:57:54, by the way)! Something interesting happened to me today. I got to get up this morning and write 2,000 words. They didn’t come easy; sometimes I had to really struggle, and they weren’t all the right words, but they were words, and they were more than what I had when I started.

Then, I went to mass with Nathan, and like every mass, we discussed the homily on the way home and I was reminded how lucky I am to have such a thoughtful and well-spoken husband, even though he sometimes struggles with listening. (I promise while I was writing that line I was smiling because he really does, and it’s okay because I struggle with the speaking part so most of the time we get each other.)

After mass, I went to my school and worked with my co-facilitator on our next big project. We’re doing Writer’s Workshop and Manifest Destiny, and our learners will hopefully struggle and through the struggle become much better writers.

Book club came next. We sat and talked about The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer that we all loved. We had a real discussion and we talked about our future children reading the same book that we read because it was a book for middle grades. We talked about the role of fairy tales and how important they are. And the best part, we always write a message to each other in the front of the book. I will always have a piece of that meeting with me when I have that book.

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When I came home from book club, Nathan and I cooked dinner and ate together, like we do every night. He watched The Walking Dead and I took a bath and began reading the sequel to our book club choice, The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer. (I’m going to review both of these books, but I think that it will be best if I review them both in the same post.) After my bath, I packed up for tomorrow, got my office ready fro my writing in the morning, and sat down to finish this post.

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This whole day, I’ve been getting updates from learners who are reviewing their books on GoodReads and turning in their homework. Occasionally I will pause and read one or two, and again I’m amazed.

I know my life isn’t perfect; I’m not so much a surrealist that I don’t realize that. But, on days like today, it’s hard not to see the perfection in the little things. I get up and write every morning. Every night before bed I get to read. I teach learners all day long and let me tell you, some of them are going to change the world one day, I have no doubts about that. I get to spend time with my husband and my puppies. I run and exercise and enjoy life. I feel like in this world of chaotic beginnings and endings and middles, I’m paving my way in pebbles, the kind that move with earth so that I don’t stumble like I would on cracked concrete.

The Best Punctuation Mark To Never Make It…

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If you’ve been on social media, written a text, read a text, or been in any way involved with communicating with others in the last couple of years, you have probably encountered the interrobang!

Can you come over?!
What happened?!
Why?!

Can you guess what an interrobang is yet?! Let me give you a couple of hints:
1. It is not a question.
2. It is not an awesome verb you’ve been missing out on.

Now can you guess it?! If you guessed the annoying use of a question mark followed by an exclamation point, then you guessed correctly!

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According to Wikipedia, you know the only place I go to for information, ever, the interrobang is punctuation used to show that a question has been asked in an “excited manner.” The interrobang can also express “excitement or disbelief in the form of a question, or ask[s] a rhetorical question.”

But these awesome interrobangs aren’t just used for writers! They have an even bigger job in the world of chess, where “!?” denotes an “interesting” move, while “?!” denotes a “dubious” move. Who knew?!

So who is credited with this awesomeness? Martin K. Speckter is the man behind the mark, and he came up with it in 1962. He wasn’t a writer but an advertiser. When coming up with a name for this mark, he toyed with “rhet,” “exclorative,” and “exclamaquest.”

Seems to me there are just too many good naming options out there. Too bad the mark didn’t stick. It isn’t a standard punctuation mark, but it sure is fun to say!

Where I’ve Been…

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It has been a few months since my last post. I know what you are thinking. Here comes another excuse. Well, have I got news for you. I was very intentional with my three month furlough from blogging. Where before I might not blog because I got too busy or just didn’t make the time, for the last few months I have stepped back from technology, but not, however, from writing. Over the summer I decided that if I was really serious about this writing business- and I am- then I had to more seriously dedicate my time to writing.

I also knew from experience that I needed a safe place to experiment with words. If I was always writing on the computer and always for an audience, I wasn’t going to be stretching, flexing, and strengthening those writing muscles in the right way. I went to Barnes and Noble, and because I had tried and failed in this journaling endeavor before, I bought a cheap, light blue leather journal that would easily fit into my purse. I didn’t buy fancy pends or think about page counts or word limits; I just bought a journal and set a goal.

My goal was lofty, and I knew it. I bought the journal in June and I wanted to fill it by the time school started. Instead of spending the summer trying to write a novel or short stories, I wanted to spend the summer writing for me and only me. It took me longer than I had planned; I completed the journal on September 30, but I did complete it. One of my new, dear friends who is much smarter than I am, talked to me about the concept of “failing up.” It’s the idea that I didn’t meet my goal, but look what I did do.

For the first time ever, I filled a journal completely with my words. If that is failure, I’ll take it.

Along with my couple of months of journaling, on September 1 I started my next novel. This novel’s title has been elusive so far, and I promise a post when a title strikes, but as of today I am 15,609 words in. It’s really nice to be writing fiction again. I have quite a few ideas bouncing around in my head that I really believe if I hadn’t been journaling so much I would have missed.

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Aside from writing over these last couple of months, I’ve been dividing my time between running -I’m training for a half marathon on October 26- and reading. If you’re interested in what I’m reading and what I’m saying about books, you should add me as a friend on GoodReads. If you don’t have an account, you should! I swear I check GoodReads updates more than I check Facebook! Some of the books that I have read that really stood out to me were The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen, and The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri. There are way more, but these are three that I can hands down recommend!

In thinking about what I’ve been reading and writing, I think it is important, dear readers, that you know what to expect from me as I continue down this writing path. With the help of my friends, I have come up with a blog plan that will hopefully help me keep on track; managing so many different projects is time consuming, so I feel it is important to be prepared. For at least the month of October, here is what you can expect from me: a post every Tuesday and Friday with a possible Sunday writing prompt that I off to you and also write in response to. You can also expect between one and three book reviews.

If this doesn’t seem like enough, remember, I’m trying to finish a novel here! Having a plan will make my life so much easier and hopefully it will also make it easier to keep up with me.

After a LONG day at school full of learner presentations, a pretty quick six miles, and a very dramatic evening (that’s a story for a different time, the wounds are still fresh), it is time for me to sign off. Five in the morning will come swiftly.

Quiet Corners

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I’m sitting in my oversized cream chair in the living room, nursing a headache at the same time that I’m nursing my first cup of coffee. The garden and all the flowers have been watered in preparation for what could turn into a really hot day. Hot or not, it will be humid.

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Last night, Nathan and I attended a very beautiful wedding for some family friends. After the wedding and during the reception, Nathan’s Mom asked why we weren’t dancing. Nathan blamed me and I blamed him. You see, when I was still in college and he and I were just getting to know each other, I would go to weddings with him and he would ask me to dance and I almost always said no. I think it was a combination of me really not being able to dance (serious case of white girl syndrome) and being nervous about looking silly. Three years into our marriage and I’m not quite so concerned with all that. A couple of songs later, Nathan asked me to dance and I said yes. We danced through a couple of songs and it really was fun.

On the way home, I was thinking about all the things that make me happy, because as awkward as I am on the dance floor, I do feel happy when I’m dancing with Nathan. So here goes, a very short list of some of the things that make me happy.

–Coffee in the morning, or afternoon, or whenever really.
–Puppies that never let me write alone.
–The fact that CandyCrush only has so many lives.
–A clean, redecorated office that just feels right.
–Friends that have mad skills, whatever they may be, and their willingness to share.
–A clean house filled with glowing candles.
–A husband who not only puts up with by obsessive need for cleanliness and projects, but more often than not helps me with them.
–Friends who read as much as me, and “get it” when I share a favorite with them.
–A garden that may have weeds, but also has soul.

I feel like sometimes we get wrapped up in the unknown parts of life, of our possible futures, and forget to just be thankful for the wonderful parts of life. This is something else that journaling has helped show me. Life is full of the little details, and if we’re looking for the grand gesture, we might miss what counts. The thing with the wonderful parts of life is that they are usually found in the quiet everyday corners.

When I think about those quiet, everyday corners, I think about a hobby or activity that makes my heart happy. When you find something that you love to do, you have to do it, as much and as often as you can. This connection is most clear to me when I am writing, or reading, or playing in my garden. I have friends who love to bake, to sew, to read, to craft.

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My challenge for you, dear readers, is to make time for that thing that you love doing but never have time for. What is hidden in your quiet corners where happiness bubbles out?

Beyond Page 30…

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6-20-2013

When I sit on my back patio in the mornings, coffee, journal, and pen in hand, (especially during the work week), I close my eyes and slowly put my mind at ease. The sounds of the highway traffic almost sound like the ocean.

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I always saw the weaknesses in these people, but now I realize it was just because I was standing too close to notice all the ways in which their strength could really shine. The daisy is a symbol of strength: the wind blew and the storms raged and still, the small, simple daisy stood strong, rooted in peace.

6-25-2013

The rain patters on the windows as the overhead light glares off of my journal’s pages, reflecting off of my silver pen.

6-27-2013

The concrete of the step I am sitting on is hard on my butt, but the air is just the right temperature. The river in front of me is not a cal river, flowing easily as it lightly brushes its fingers on the shore. This river is rushing wildly, bowling over rocks, knocking the obstacles it faces out of the way, like a businessman late for a meeting. The river is loud, drowning out or at least blending with the nearby traffic sounds; I imagine the birds are puffing out their chests in an attempt to be heard.

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These are just a few lines from a few pages of my weekly journal musings. I can happily say that in two weeks of journaling daily, I have only missed one day. I must also sadly report that I have zero excuse for not writing that day. That’s okay though, I’m still growing.

I have several journals from both high school and college that I have hidden around my office. They contain angsty poetry and pissed off song lyrics. They have a few stories that I started, a few experiences that I wanted to document. Mostly, when I look at these journals, I see that I wasn’t ever able to finish the writing inside them. I usually got about half way, sometimes less, before I got bored and quit.

My goal for this summer is to completely fill this newly purchased journal. I am a little less than a quarter of the way done, but I am able to say that I am well past page thirty. I’m working on a personal essay that I am hoping to finalize and get posted this week. I am practicing writing with all of my senses all of the time, which is hard. It is making me more conscious of all the details that I take in throughout the day. It is hard work being a writer!

Well, I guess that’s enough to keep you in the loop! Hopefully next week I’ll be able to say I’ve doubled my journal page count! Keep your fingers crossed for me!