Friday, August 29, 2014

Giving a Writer Some Encouragement--It's a Public Service! (The Blog Tour Continues)

The "Writers on Writing" Blog Tour continues!

And it's my pleasure to introduce you to three talented eclectic bloggers.  They've each answered four "simple" questions.  

First up is Kerry Raterink.  I've known Kerry for years and have had the fortune to read many of her witty, word-smithy blogs.  Kerry says of herself:

After a very bright start I've settled comfortably into a rather more dull adulthood, spending time in the kitchen and cubicle instead of in front of the camera as I'd once envisioned (so famous I only needed to use my first name, like Cher!). Journal-keeper from 12 years old, lapsing blogger, rekindling the writing fire to see at least one dream come true and plant my name permanently on the page for posterity. When not dithering about starting that novel I've been thinking on for 4 years, I'm throwing words around for a living in possibly the most boring way possible, ignoring my gardens, and practicing kindness when at all possible.

"No Accent Yet" is the name of her entertaining ramblings. You can find "No Accent Yet" (and read her answers, and cheer her on/nag her about this lifetime dream) HERE.

Second up is t.e.George--a blogger and novelist who I've also known for years. His writing is intelligent and thought-provoking--never boring. This is what t.e. says about himself:

t.e. George is the name I write fiction by, but most of my friends simply call me Tim. I’ve seen and lived many stories in my life. Some were joyous, some quite sad, but all a part of the tapestry that makes up who I am. Modern convention says that an author should remove himself completely from his writing. Trust me, I try. However, no matter how entertaining or moving a story is, I just don’t believe there is any way for an author to completely hide who and what he or she is. There is a bit of hero and villain in all of us. Good fiction illustrates that in a way that makes it impossible to not care about its characters with all those complications.

You can find Tim's answers HERE. Also, any reader who comments on Tim's blog will be in the running for a Kindle copy of his new novel, THE SOURCE. When I'm done here, I'm heading over myself to buy a copy--nothing like a little suspense to rev up your day!

And last, but most definitely not least, we have Miles O'Neal. Miles is a multi-layered personality who sometimes makes me laugh, and sometimes makes me think--depending on what he's written. He's not like anyone I've ever met--I mean that in a good way. Here's his bio:

Miles has been reading and writing almost as long as he can remember. At one point he wrote a story a day, focusing on following or breaking a standard writing rule per story (he once wrote an entire short story in the second person). There was a fairly dry time when he didn't write much. One day he asked God whether it was worth writing because it didn't seem to be going anywhere. The answer? "Use it or lose it!" 
Miles spent the next few years filling writing journals (some of it under the tutelage of _Writing Down the Bones_). Eventually he started writing and polishing short stories, hoping to get published. In the midst of these he accidentally wrote a novel. That and its sequels (including getting them published) are his main focus these days.

You can visit Miles' blog, "Roadkills-R-Us" HERE. And I agree with him--I would've rather answered four other questions, too!

Give these blogs a try, and leave a comment.  Giving a writer a shot in the arm with a little encouragement is good for all of us.  

No one likes listless writers.

They annoy their loved ones and don't do much good for society at large.

I know from personal experience.

All in Goodwill,

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On Knitting Things Together

Be glad I wasn’t the one who knit you together.

Hannah B., on the other hand, is a skilled knitter.  In fact, she knit a perfectly gorgeous two-foot by two-foot square (made of the softest yarn known to mankind) for the Sweet Bobblehead to keep with her for comfort. 

And the Sweet Bobblehead loved it.

 A lot. 

(I would post a picture of it, but Maddie, Aaron, and the baby have gone on an outingthe two-by-two-foot square, of course, with them.)

It began to worry me—what if the blanket went missing?  Or something happened to it? 

What would we do???

Being the proactive person I am, I decided to knit an equally soft square to have on hand should the need arise.

After all, I can knit.

I went to a store that carries many items—including extra beautiful and soft yarns.  We (her mother and I) had the three-and-a-half-month old Sweet Bobblehead with us.  She preferred the indigo color above all others—we could tell by the way she quite literally drooled over it. 

We guesstimated it would take two skeins to complete the square based off the sample (an infinity scarf) provided by another obviously talented knitter.  The sample unfortunately, was not for sale—what a timesaver that would have been.

We brought the two skeins of yarn, plus a few other items, to the register.  The total seemed  high, but the Sweet Bobblehead had become antsy as it was time for one of her twenty-two daily feedings.  Ergo, I didn’t stop to figure out why the total was as much as it was.

That night I began knitting the square.

I skipped the step where you measure your stitches per inch to get an accurate measurement.  It was just a simple square.  Eyeballing it would suffice.  

Within the first five rows, I inadvertently knit in a couple of extra stitches.  By the time I was done with twelve rows, it became apparent this square would be larger than two feet by two feet.  It would be more like three feet by three feet—unless I kept adding stitches.  Then there was no telling how big it would be.

Towards the end of the first ball of yarn, I realized I had a financial crisis on my hands.

This is how much comes from a single skein.  

That's maybe six inches. 

I sat down at the kitchen table with a heavy heart upon making this discovery.

Sam was munching a snack at the counter.  

“What’s wrong?” he says.

I explain this square is going to take more yarn than I'd anticipated.

 “Hannah used bigger stitches on hers," he says rationally.  "Can’t you just add a couple more purl twos to your knit ones so the yarn will go further?”

Silence from me.

“What?” he says.

“First off, you have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“And secondly?”

“Secondly—I don’t actually know how to purl two.  I only know how to knit one.”

He looks at me—hesitant to speak.

I shrug.  “Maybe that’s all my grandmother knew how to do.  Or maybe she thought knit one was all I could handle.  I don’t know.  Remind me, and I’ll ask her when we get to the other side.”

"But what about"

"I don't remember a thing from those classes."

“So go buy a couple more balls of yarn,” he says gently.

Skeins—but that’s the thing…”

“What's the thing?”

Now I’m hesitant to speak.  “The thing is is that I didn’t pay attention to how much one of these babies cost when I was making the purchase…”

“How much could one cost?”

Oh, the innocence of men.

I turn the remaining unopened skein so he can see the price.

A mild expletive may or may not escape from his lips.

Then he says, “On the bright side, what are the odds you’ll actually finish it?”

Oh, I’m finishing this, Buddy. 

I don’t care what the evidence says.
Unfinished sweater from a class I took 8 years ago…

Not one but two unfinished red socks from another class...
There’s no way, Buddy, that I’m not finishing this. 

I’ve already got thirty-five (of your) hard-earned dollars invested in it!

I try to think positively.  I'll only need what?--five or six more skeins, right?  

Depending on how you look at, is that really so much?

I imagine it will become the Sweet Bobblehead’s very favorite carry-along square—no matter its final dimensions.  It will soothe her when one of us can't.  It will quiet her during a home invasion, thus saving her entire family from discovery and possible death.  I’m pretty sure she’s going to want to pass it along to her first-born child.  I can hear her now:  My Soosa made this for me when I was just two years old (that’s how long it will take me to finish it), and now I want you to have this priceless (haha) treasure.

No pressure, Sweet Bobblehead.

Hey, on another note, does anyone know how to cast-off when the square is done?  I’ve never gotten that far…

See, be glad I wasn't the one who knit you together.

 All in Goodwill,

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Writing About Writing" Blog Tour

Thank you Elizabeth Cottrell of Heartspoken for including me in the “Writing About Writing” Blog Tour. I only had to answer four “simple” questions.


A week from now (or thereabouts), I’ll introduce two or three other writers who will tackle these questions from their own perspectives. If you’re new here, be sure to add your name to our email list in the sidebar. Your information will be protected, and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

For a price.  

Just kiddingthis isn't Facebook.

Okay, here we go!

1) What are you currently working on?

A most excellent question.   I would like to provide a most excellent answer…

There’s a halfway-finished novel (that may or may not see the words:  The End).  There’s a children’s/YA adventure (The Cloud Walker) (that may or may not see the words:  The End).  There’s a mostly finished collection of short stories (Her Shorts in a Bunch) (that may or may not see the words:  The End).  And hopefully there will be another screenplay in the works (four have seen the words:  FADE OUT).

…Maybe I was meant to be a screenwriter...

2) How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

Another most excellent question. 

I'm still becoming the writer I'm going to be.  I'm all over the genres as far as content goes—yet I usually write from a Christian worldview.  Not that you'd always be able to tell.  Human beings are complex, and I like writing about those complexities.  My goal isn’t to convert a reader—it’s to show the reader something about the human condition, something about the wonderful mess of it.  I believe God does the saving, and that there is absolute truth in the world—it comes from Him.  Ergo, my job is to write as truthfully as I’m able, hoping it points toward the origin of that truth should someone be seeking to find it.

I'm trying to stay truer to this calling than to write what people expect me to—even if those expectations live in my imagination.

3) Why do you write what you write?

I write (in general) because I can’t sing or play a musical instrument.

I write because it’s cheaper than therapy, and is accessible both day and night.

I write because I quit my day job.

I write because now that I've quit my day job, my husband expects me to be doing something while I'm at home.

I write because it makes me look authoritative in cafes.

I write because I can sound a lot braver on paper than I ever could in person.

I write what I write to understand what I don’t understand, and to explore ideas that are interesting or humorous, or worthy of exploring.  If an idea contains all three, I've hit the jackpot.

4) Describe your writing process.

There’s a process?

Like with most writers, something comes to me—a title, a theme, an image, a phrase, a last sentence—and it lingers in my subconscious, and it plays with other ideas that have been hanging around waiting for synthesizing to occur—which usually happens at dawn as I’m teetering from sleep into wakefulness.  From there I’ll write a rough draft.  And then there’s the editing. Recently, I’ve come to see exactly how much I enjoy editing (for context), and how much comes together there.  I don’t mind rounds and rounds of polishing and layering, of seeing connections I hadn’t intentionally included and fine-tuning them. 

It often feels like magic. 

At other times writing feels like twenty-four-hour childbirth of the world’s largest baby—without medication in a room full of people taking pictures and checking their watches.


Like the pressure I felt answering these four questions. After I post this, I’ll think of better responses.  I might come back and change some of my original answers.  If writing has shown me anything, it’s that people aren’t static.  Our foundations may be sure, but the house is always undergoing renovations.

In the next couple of days/weeks, I’ll introduce you to a couple of other writers as the “Writing about Writing” Blog Tour continues.  Thanks again to Elizabeth for having invited me.  If you haven’t visited her blog Heartspoken, I encourage you to do so.  She is as warm and generous as a person comes.  She is all about connection—whether it’s to God, yourself, others, or nature.  Because of her, I’m getting notecards sent out that are long overdue.

Finally, I hope you all have a breathtakingly beautiful weekend.

All in Goodwill,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Loss of a Friend--To all You People with Vegetable Gardens

I have a tale to tell.

It’s about a former friend.  Nonna is her name.  Lisa, she says one day—the garden exploded—especially the green beans, she says.  You are welcome to come and pick as many as you like—I don’t want to see them go to waste, she says.

A couple of hours later, she and her comedian husband, Brian, scoff at the Pampered Chef Mixing Bowl I bring to collect the organically grown Blue Lake Green Beans. That’s not gonna work, dear—Nonna says. You’re gonna want one of those—and we have plenty.  She’s pointing to a five-gallon bucket. 

I was born and raised in cities, never had a vegetable garden, never picked a green bean—and apparently I know nothing of the term “exploding garden.”

Nonna shows me the garden in question; it looks deceptively manageable.  You can pick as much of these three rows as you’d like, she says—though we have a family reunion at 3:30.  Three-thirty?  It’s what—eleven now?  She hands me a pillow and a stool resembling a miniature saw horse.  That’s for your comfort, she says.  Don’t forget to come in for water and some shade, she says—you’ll need it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Boomerang Words…and Their Lessons

Boomerang Wordsthe ones that come back to us.  Some fly back to thump us on the head. Hard. I’ve had a few doozies.  

But others have been a wonder.

When Sam and I were dating, there came a point when he wanted to know about my mother and step-father.  In 22 years of life, I had made up a lot of stories about them, but looking into Sam’s dark browns, I didn’t have it in me to lie to him.  Not directly, anyway. That’s when I wrote “The Story of Ingrid and Richard”—for his reading pleasure.

Theirs was a great love story of high adventure and travel.  They were utterly faithful and loyal to one another.  They were kind and thoughtful in a hundred subtle ways.  He was noble and had incredible strength of character.  And together they laughed.  A lot.  Their story included dancing—not all of it good—which added to their charm.  

I penned three pages of (poorly written) whopping Ninth-Commandment Transgressions.  

Never mind what happened a couple of months later when Sam asked to meet these people.