Writing Journal: Now what?

fairy_tale_comes_to_life_by_chervona-d66vqmkI’m writing this having been sick for almost two weeks. By the time it gets posted and you’re reading it, I hope I’m a bit better. For the first week, I could do nothing more than lay on the couch and watch movies, sometimes read. For the second week, as long as I stayed on the couch, I felt relatively okay. Even long, drawn out conversations or facebooking left me feeling exhausted. But, at least during this second week I’ve been able to write. And write I did. I’ve tried to get some blog post going. I’ve thought about all the blog posting that needs to be done. But mostly I’ve worked on my fairy tale. I’m not up to my normal typing speed just yet, and I feel like I have more blog post to write than I can ever find time to write. But at least I’m feeling well enough to get something done.

And something is what I did. I got my fairy tale to the point of well . . . I’m not really sure. I have five main story lines. I’ve been working for weeks to get three of those five story lines together. And Eureka! It happened. I got everyone where they needed to be! Yes! As soon as I did, my brain just fizzled out. I know what I want the end result to be. I know where, far in the future, I want them to be, but I pushed so hard to get three of the lines together, that now I’m not sure what happens next, as in the next few hours.

imagesIt’s like braiding or weaving. You have five different colored strands draped over your fingers. One by one, you fold them over and under one another to create a beautiful image. Three of the colors create this perfect pattern in your mind. So you work and you work and you work those colors. Suddenly, their pattern is complete! Now, it’s time to weave the other two colors back in before you can move forward.

After puzzling over my fairy tale for a while, I realized I couldn’t move the story forward until I went back, found the other two story lines, and got them caught up. I’m still feeling a bit fizzled, but I know where I’m going. That helps. I’m still feeling stumped. But, I think once I get this person and that person caught up with the rest of the gang, things will become clear.

One of the advantages to doing something for a long time, over 10 years now, is gaining a bit of confidence. I’m confident that if I just leave the fizzled part alone, watch a few movies, read a few books, work on the other story lines, the fizzle will bloom into a glowing firefly. How do I know that? How do I know that I just haven’t reached the sad end to a short fairy tale? Cause I’ve had fizzles before and I’ve worked through them. Now off to read and feed the muse! Off to weave with different colored threads!

Any excuse to talk about fireflies or firefly...I'm taking!

Any excuse to talk about fireflies or firefly…I’m taking!

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Writing Journal: Fairy Tale Clichés

15d36b45535aae5f4059390444a98b26I have recently found myself returning to some fairy tale clichés such as the Seventh Son of the Seventh Son, the white stag, and such. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if I found a hidden King, Prince, or Princess in my wanderings through my new world. This return to childhood has brought to mind some of the more cliché things in the Christian world. There are some passages of the Bible and some hymns that everyone uses. Not just Christians memorize these passages, but nominal Christians, and just everyday Americans. Sometimes this devalues them in our eyes. We hear them applied incorrectly, or taken out of context, or just used over and over and over until we become dulled to their beauty. The two that come to mind most often are the 23 Psalm and Amazing Grace. How often do we hear these two beautiful and wonderful things used by people who don’t understand them at all? And yet, does that mean we should stop using them just because they are overused?

Let me tell you about why I’m in love with these two clichés:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;

-Psalm 23:4

I love the imagery of this verse. I love the idea of walking through the valley. Not flying over the mountain tops, kissed by the sun. No, the image is of walking, which is slow, through a valley of shadows. This is a deep dark valley with high mountain walls on either side. Mountains so high the valley is always dark. And notice the name of the valley. It’s not the valley of the shadow of lack of comfort, or the valley of frustration, or the valley of the shadow of poverty, but the valley of the shadow of Death.

Death, dear beloved, is the darkest water we must pass through and very little in this world makes death light. We fear it and, as believers, we understand it is the ultimate price for our sin. But, we also know Christ paid that ultimate price. One of the speakers at the ARBCA-GA conference I recently attended, Pastor Michael Kelly, pointed out that death is proof that God keeps His promises. Have you ever considered that? Death was the promised curse for sin and we die. Death is proof that God keeps His promises.

36e454014f10fe9978e95ded4f546d47So, I walk—not run, not fly—walk through—not over or around—but through. I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death. We all must walk this valley at one time or another. I will fear no evil for you are with me. I won’t be afraid because Christ is with me. This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It is rich in truth, reminds us of God’s promise keeping and is a great encouragement because life is often dark and fearful. Don’t let over use and misuse steal the beauty of this verse from you.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Many people get tired of this song. It’s applied to the worst of sinners who have no sign of grace in their lives. It’s used sentimentally to garner particular emotions. But, if it’s one of the hymns you love, you can use these situations to feed on truth. You can enjoy its doctrine no matter how poorly the user might intend it.

Ponder the words. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

Have more beautiful words ever been penned by man? The older I get the more obvious and multi-layered my sin becomes. I was unaware as a young child, saved at an early age, of just how indoctrinated, insidious, and putrid sin is. I was unaware of how sinful I could be. I had no idea. But, amazing grace that saved a wretch like me. I love this song for all its lack of luster. I love it despite the abuse it suffers at the hands of emotionalism.

My plan is to work both of these clichés into my new Fairy Tale. I have a character who is a good man fighting on the wrong side of the war. Meaning he’s on the side of evil. He loves to read and quote old and forgotten phrases. He will quote both these at some point before his death. Yes, I already know he’s going to die. They won’t be worked in just as quotes by this character I love so much, they will  be themes throughout the story. One of the biggest influences for this particular character is a song that I treasure called the Soldier and the Oak by Elliot Park. The line that is driving me is:

But one day a rebel with a bullet in his chest
Hung his rifle on my limbs and laid to rest
And there beside me as the blood soaked to my roots
The soldier sang
A song of grace

I love the line: The soldier sang a song of grace. The beauty of this song is that the very familiar tune of Amazing Grace is worked into the main tune of the song. It is perfectly done. And my poor soldier will sing a song of grace at the end of his time.

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Sometimes the clichés are clichés because they are so beautiful, and so rich, we have to keep going over them. And because I’m a fairy tale writer, I get to indulge my love of them a little more.

Writing Journal: Being a Mini-Creator

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Being a novelist has deepened my understanding of some of the truths of Scripture.  It has helped me relate more personally to some doctrines I knew and believed but found difficult to understand.  These are very personal observation.  Please take them with a grain of salt and not as perfectly sound, doctrinal expositions.  Meaning, they are like all experiences, examples, and analogies for the truth of Scripture – they fall short at some point.

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
― George MacDonald

I read this quote the other day and it gripped me in the corner of my mind where my stories wait for the chance to come out and play.  I have sets of characters that I have written stories about for years.  Again and again, I send them off on dark adventures.  Some of them make it out on paper…or computer, and some of them don’t.  New stories with new characters get mixed in there, too.  It’s like having a new friend – so exciting.  Some of you with children will probably tell me that you get what I’m saying but you learned it by having children.  I learned it through the process of creating worlds, lives, and the events in those lives.  Someday, I hope to join you, but for now, you can join me.

The process of creation is something unique to human beings.  Sure, you can stick a paintbrush in the trunk of an elephant and watch them splash paint on a canvas, but to birth art you have to be human.  Why?  We are created in the image of God with souls.  Part of that expression is being little mini creators ourselves.  I can relate to the power and beauty of realizing God, the incomprehensible, has comprehended me because I create.  The process of creating little fictional lives makes this quote mean more to me.  Why?

I destroy their lives and rebuild them.  I walked with them through the darkest of moments.  I design and create them.  I weep as I injure them knowing they had to be injured or they’ll never be who they need to be.  I suffer and rejoice along with them.  I am irrevocably tied to the lives of my characters.

This may sound strange, and it may be something only other novelist can relate too, but these fictional characters are very ‘real’ to me.  I don’t mean that in some mystical way I think they exist, but they are something I’ve created, and they are an extension of my soul.

This is just a hint, an inkling, a tiny example of what it means to be formed by the hand of God, to have Him write my own story.  I’m real.  I’m a human writing about humans.  He is God creating.  To move beyond my experience as a writer and think about God – mighty, holy, loving, perfect, complete in Himself – thinking, designing, and creating me, is a humbling thought.  Mind blown.  My brain just can’t comprehend it.  So I return to my little example to keep my brain in my head.

e4ddc8cd09daedbde32cae418edd178fI spend so much of my time thinking about my characters, and God says my worth is far above sparrows, which He tends to every day.  I plan each little step they take, each word they speak, each mistake they make.  God says He formed me in my mother’s womb.  I focus on how I’m going to heal them.  God says he will make me more like Christ and finish the work He began.  I’ve literally sit and weep on my keyboard as my characters suffer, experience loss, are tortured, and even die.  God says He’ll never leave us or forsake us.  I’ve gotten a better sense of walking through the valley of the shadow of death and fearing no evil for He is with me.  Why?  Cause I’ve put some people through hell and agonized over them more then than I did when they were happy.  I don’t worry about them when they’re at the good part of the story.  I worry about them when they’re at the darkest part of the story.

I have a better sense of not rejoicing in the death of the wicked because even my evilest characters have a small drop of pity from me.  I don’t have any qualms about their death.  My antagonists are evil.  But, I still pity them.  I pity them because they don’t want salvation.  They love their evil and have no desire to leave the darkness and come to the light.

I have a better sense of the salvation of monsters because I’ve saved some.  My favorite characters are the ones so unworthy of salvation.  I look forward to the day when I am before the Throne of God and I get to see all the vile sinners He has saved.  I anticipate that there will be some very horrible people there.  Why?  Well, for one, I’ll be there and I know my sinful heart.  I also know because on a very small, human level, I have copied my creator – like a fumbling child after a parent – and saved my own monsters.  Saved monsters are so much deeper and more wonderful than saved unicorns.

517af6dcdb6fb3c8f6e3f067d3827746I write stories, even my fairy tales, about things that go bump in the night and the men and women who battle them.  I’ve have characters who give up on anything resembling a normal life to protect that normal life for others.  This has given me a deep appreciation for the sacrifices required by the men on the front lines in the physical battles and the women who stand by their sides.  That understanding has blossomed into a deep respect for the men who wage spiritual battles against darkness.  It has helped me appreciate and pray for the men responsible for my soul.  Do you ever think about what your pastor has given up to be your pastor?  A well paying career, worldly respect, friendships, hobbies, a hidden life free from judgment and peering eyes to name just a few things.  Pastors have many sleepless nights filled with concern for their flock.  Everything they do is under the microscope.  And yet, they willingly put themselves and their families through this for the sake of the glory of God, the gospel, and you and me.  My appreciation for their sacrifice has been enriched by my writing.

If I, a weak and distracted writer, can spend that much time working on her characters, how much more does God work on us, His beloved children?

All this the Lord has helped me see over the years I’ve been writing.  In another words, I look at life through my Christian-colored glasses translating my experiences through the Bible, not the Bible through my experiences.  When you do it in the right order, there is a treasure trove of truth to learn.  I’m so thankful for my writing gift from God.  I hope to encourage and lift others up with it.  I’ll never write a story void of darkness, but I will always have light, hope, and a happy ending.

Writing Journal: Writing a Fairy Tale

I don’t have any great writing let-me-splain-01lesson to share at the moment, so what I’m going to talk about is the joy I have suddenly found in writing a fairy tale.  Some of you followed my Worlds before the Door blog and so you know what I used to write.  You have my permission to skip the next paragraph.  For those of you new to me, let me explain…that would take too long…let me sum up.  🙂  (Now you know exactly what kind of geek I am, and that I grew up happily in the 80’s.)

My writing is dark and detailed.  Now it’s hasn’t been detailed for the readers, but under the hood, it’s complicated.  I told all of my dark stories in a magical, fantastical setting.  This fantastical magic had very intricate rules.  It had to.  If you’re going to give your supernatural heroes supernatural enemies and have consistent battles, or any type of battles, you have to know who can do what.  Who can have visions and who can’t?  What type of visions?  When?  That’s the details.  I wrote about serial killers, mass murderers, insane asylums, and other such things.  The darkness came pouring out of me because light shines brighter in the darkness.  Hope is sweeter after emptiness.  Healing only matters if you’re broken.  Forgiveness is for the damned.  This is why my stories are dark.  I had to do a lot of emptying, breaking, and damning before I could bring hope, healing, and forgiveness.

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The problem was very few people could stomach them.  Those who actually made it through my 70-page prologue, where everyone died, did so with lots of shudders.  A few readers told me they couldn’t read what I wrote.  They loved the message but they couldn’t bear the depth of the darkness to get to the light.  The people not interested in my stories far outweighed the people who loved them.  (Thank you to everyone who loved them!!!)

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I wanted to share my stories and I wanted to encourage the body of believers.  I wanted to remind them through my stories that there is hope in the darkness when you’re broken and bleeding.  I wanted to remind them of the power of forgiveness.  I want to show a true love that is a choice of the mind instead of a whim of the heart.  I didn’t want to be one of those people who stubbornly and rebelliously refused to change at the request of others or the dictates of the Lord out of some misguided desire to be true to self.  What did I do?  I started writing fairy tales for children.

1024For the past few months, I’ve pounded my head against a brick wall with my Fairy Tale: Icicle Rain.  It was such a struggle.  I had so much to learn about this world.  Nothing felt comfortable, familiar, or smooth.  I had to edit every scene already written as I wrote new scenes and discovered more about the story.  Then it happened:  I had a moment.  The whole story came together.  The darkness became so very dark and the light became ever brighter, if smaller for a time.  I found a piece of the heart of the story:

(Just to make it clear, Gus is a mouse and Presto is a mushroom with many eyes.  Oak is a dryad.  I told you it’s a fairy tale, right?)

“And your heart?” Presto asked raising several eyebrows at Gus.

“My heart?” Oak patted his coat and trouser pockets.  “Where’s my heart?  Oh, yeah, I gave that away.”

“Do you know who has it?”

“No, but they needed it.  Their own heart had been broken, so I gave them a new one.  I gave them mine.”

“Can you tell us even one little thing about who has your heart?” Presto asked getting irritated.

Gus grunted at him.

“You know, sir,” the mouse turned to Oak.  “It might be a good idea to know a little bit about this person.  Your heart belongs to them now and that brings responsibilities and obligations.”

“I know that they are kind,” Oak said.  He leaned forward, listening not with the ears he no longer had, or seeing with eyes no longer his own, but listening to what he had given away.  “I know they needed hope.  I know great sorrow and loss mark them.  She lost everything she cared about, and that loss broke her free.”

“Did you say she?” Presto said, leaning forward.

“Yes.  I gave my heart to a woman.  She loved eight men and when the last one was safe or dead, or both, she left.”

“Sounds like a bit of a floozy if you ask me,” Presto muttered getting another pointed glare from Gus.

“No.  No.  Not grown men.  There was only one grown man.  The rest were growing men, her growing men.”

Gus gasped.  “She had seven sons?  You gave your heart to the mother of seven sons?”

“No.  I gave my heart to a woman with a glint in her eye and a heart for trees.”

The mouse and the mushroom gasped.

“That’s impossible,” Presto said, never truly at a loss for words.  “Impossible, I tell you.”

These few lines won’t mean a whole lot to you, but to me they were the moment I found a huge part of why I was writing this story.  They represented all the darkness still coming, but it wasn’t an empty darkness.  It was a darkness with lots of hope.

I fought against writing children’s literature for years.  Poor writing plagues it.  Everyone is doing it to try to capture some of the monetary magic of Twilight.  I often find most YA, and Tween books filled with angst instead of adventure, worship of romance instead of the truth about real love, and lacking adults as if adults can’t be in YA fiction.  (Obviously, there are exceptions.)  I didn’t want to throw myself in with that mix, and yet…I love good children’s stories.  Many of my favorite books are books I read in high school or were written for that age group:  Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sunshine, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  I love a well-written story for children.

So, I shook off the self-imposed stigma I had attached to writing for young people.  Who cares if most of it out there is tripe or poorly written?

I embrace my new stories.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because it can have all of the darkness, and not all the magic has to be explained like it was in my other stories.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because I can pull from all the myths and truths that I love and hold dear.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because I found a piece of the heart.

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Shiny!

I’m not one of those people who believe that the best way to battle darkness is to pretend it doesn’t exist.  I think it’s best battled by facing it head on.  Heavy thoughts from someone with a blog covered in bright colors and paisley patterns who writes kids stories about her nieces and nephews, right?  Nope.  I consider myself the Kaylee of the battle against darkness.  I can face the darkness with tears and a smile because my soul is safe.  A Hand mightier than my own holds it.  The darkness doesn’t like hope, laughter, and smiles.

Writing Journal: Timeline

I’m a pantser, as most of you other writers know.  I’ve done a fair amount of writing about being a pantser over the years.  You can read the article I wrote featured on the Magill Review here.

Because I’m a pantser who abhors all things outline related, my stories come out a bit on the messy side in the first rough draft.  I’m aiming for a particular goal when a great idea or plot point derails me, and I’m off chancing that rabbit until I sort out how it connects with the rest of the story.

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Squirrel!

Case in point, my WIP(work in progress): Icicle Rain started out as a revenge story.  Two friends commit a crime.  Deke goes to prison.  Jonah accepts the mercy offered to him.  Deke languishes in prison feeling betrayed by Jonah.  He breaks out determined to get revenge.  Now that I’ve grown more comfortable in my new world, gotten to know my characters better, and fleshed out the political lines, the story has turned into an epic war story.  (Surprised?)  The kernel of the revenge story is still there, it’s just no longer the main driving force.

Let’s look under the hood of novel-writing.  Behind every well-written story is a complex timeline of events.  One the reader may never ever see.  It lists out everything from hair and eye color to seasons and day-by-day actions.  It tracks where and when each major player is at all times regardless of whether it’s a scene in the book or not.  It tracks weather.  It makes sure everyone ends up at the right place at the right time.  It even tracks chapter breakdown and has character portraits.  (A writer has to remember who has a big nose and who doesn’t.)

So, each morning as I add a new scene, or edit an old one, or both, I make little adjustments to my Timeline page.  When I first started writing, I wouldn’t start the timeline until I finished the first rough draft.  But as I developed stronger writing muscles and my stories became more complex, I began my Timelines whenever my brain became confused and muddled by facts.

With Icicle Rain, I started the Timeline at the same time I started the book.  I had three or four characters in my head, one or two magical abilities, a couple of scenes, and an undeveloped setting.  Over the next few weeks, that grew into a handful of chapters, ten or so characters, and four days of plot points.

For the first time, I’m recording events on my Timeline as they happen in the book.  I’m adding and adjusting the Timeline as I add and adjust the story.  I always make sure the Timeline file is open alongside the story file.

What has this done for me?

  • First, it’s let me see my progress as a writer.  I believe having the Timeline open from the beginning shows a level of commitment and professionalism.  It shows my growing confidence in my storytelling and writing abilities.  Before I would have just written, let the chips fall where they may, and sorted it out later.  Now I know what editing is like and I’m trying to save myself some work up front in the initial rough draft.  I think, and hope, that this is growth in my ability to write.  I know what’s coming when the books done, so I plan for it now.
  • Second, it’s let me watch the world grow.  This is a new world, a new writing style, a new voice for me.  No matter what genre or age group I write, I have signature elements: darkness, damage to the hero, healing heroines, grace, mercy, hope, friendship, and ultimately light overcoming the darkness in the end after a long hard road.  But this brave new world is not modern, it’s futuristic, it pulls from my other world, for sure, but it’s very different.  It’s a fairy tale.  This has allowed me to be more poetic in my descriptions, mythical in my creations, and mysterious with my magic.  Those of you who have read any of my other stories will recognize some echoes from those worlds, but seen in a new light.  The Timeline allows me to see the world grow in a more truncated format than the chapter-by-chapter story.
  • Third, it’s helped me be aware of timeframe conflicts earlier on.  Instead of writing, writing, writing, reaching plot point 24 and realizing nothing is coming together correctly, I’m on plot point 4 making sure everything’s moving forward at the right pace.  When I see they aren’t, I adjust either the story or the Timeline.  This gives me a greater sense of control and helps me see where I need to go.

How is this not outlining the story?  It is in a way.  It’s outlining in hindsight.

Gamers are familiar with the Fog of War.

Gamers are familiar with the Fog of War.

Any story I’ve ever written has a goal.  I’m either working towards a scene or exploring two characters.  But, I still don’t know what twist and turns the story is going to take.  Icicle Rain still has big dark patches.  I know how I think I’d like it to end at this point, but I’m not sure of the exact path to get there.  I know what I want to happen in the next few days to each of the main characters, but I’m not sure how that’s all going to play out.  Keeping a Timeline as I go let’s me see where I’ve been but leaves the future dim.

And, I like it that way.

I like the not knowing because it lets me hear the story for the first time.  I get to be sad, happy, touched, and angry as I’m writing.  I don’t know yet how all the threads weave together.  It’s exciting and motivating just like when I read a book I’ve never read before.  I can’t wait to pick it up and find out what’s going to happen and how it’s all going to come together.  It keeps me turning the pages.  It keeps me typing and dreaming.  That’s why I’m a pantser, a reverse outliner, a Timeliner.

You’re Help Needed

I probably need this more than you do.  Every once in a while I need to remind myself of my goals, my dreams, my hopes.  I need to keep them before my eyes or I might lose my way.  I might get lost in the fog of possibility and never complete a project.  I might never grow beyond where I am today.  Being a writer means having other people living in your head.  They queue up to have their story written, but they don’t know how to stand in line.  They push, shove, cut, and get in fistfights.  One moment, I’m all pumped about finding the opening lines for a new story.  The next, I finally figure out how to re-write a scene that’s just had a temper-tantrum.  Then, this blog needs a new article and I’m off to find a 1000 interesting words.  Soon, my nieces and nephews do something adorable that must be captured on my computer.  But wait, my pesky fairytale pushes ahead of it all demanding my attention.  See how maddening it can be to be a writer!  (Yes, you literally feel crazy sometimes.)

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There are four writing goals at the forefront of my life:

1. Children’s Stories:  Capitalizing on my growing number of nieces and nephews, I’m working on a handful of children’s stories featuring their many adventures.  My goal is to have a handful of whimsical stories and a handful of moralistic stories to present to a Christian publisher.  Right now, I have two moralistic ones dealing with the differences between boys and girls, and two whimsical ones.  I envision watercolor illustrations, but I’m flexible on that point.  I hope to publish with a traditional publisher and market them towards homeschoolers.

2. FairyTale:  When I think back to the stories I read as a teen, I find many of today’s YA stories lack true adventure.  Oh sure, they have vampires and witches, but they don’t have innocents or strength.  Most of them are based entirely around romance, too easy to read, and self-focused.  They too quickly cave to raging hormones to gain readers and don’t remember that someday these people need to be able to deal with real life.  My goal is to write a Fairy Tale series featuring both grownups and teens captured in the flow of history.  They will face darkness, but light will win in the end.  Friendship will be the focus and theme.  This series will take me many years to finish, but I hope to have book one’s rough draft done around this time next year.  I don’t have any specific publishing plans yet, as the book is still in the rough draft stage.  I am sharing it with my writing group and have gotten rave reviews.

3. Blog:  I plan to continue to feature two to three articles on my blog each week.  The articles will cover sanctification type posts, movie and book reviews, writing articles, guest posts, and interviews.  My goal is to expand my readership base (followers) so that when I’m ready to publish I can prove I have an engaged and active platform.

4. Finish my two series:  When I made the switch from Urban Fantasy to Children’s Stories and YA, I left two intense series unfinished.  They may never see the light of day, but for my own sanity, they need to be finished.  If I don’t finish them, questions will haunt the back of my mind forever.  This is my hobby/vacation project.  I don’t plan on working on these stories on any sort of regular schedule.

These are my writing goals.  I don’t plan to spend more time on them than I currently do.  Writing is not my career.  My church, husband, home, and family are my careers.  But, part of the service I can offer is writing these stories.  I want to serve my church and my family through my writing.

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How can you help?  Well, that’s easy!  First, read my blog.  Read and comment.  Let me know you were here.  I check my stats page to see how many people viewed my blog each day, how many looked at different articles when they came, what articles and subjects are the most popular.  When you read the blog, comment, and share, I know!  Please, share my blog with your friends and family if you’ve enjoyed it.  If you like the children’s stories, read them to the little people in your life and let me know what they thought.  If the writing articles helped you, tell me and share it with other writers.  If you were encouraged by the more spiritual articles, maybe someone else will be too.  Read, comment, share.  Last, follow me on Facebook.  Facebook is an easy way for me to let you know how my writing is going on a daily basis.  It gives you insight into the mind of a writer and who doesn’t want that??  It’s also a convenient way for you to share me with all your friends and family when you’ve enjoyed something I’ve written.

A writer is only worth their salt if they have readers.  I am so encouraged by the number of you who regularly read my ramblings, like my posts, and even stop me at church to tell me you’ve enjoyed my stories.  I can’t tell you how much it means to me.  To all you Moms who’ve told me about reading my stories to your kids, two words: DAY MADE!!!  All writers feed on their readers.  You’re what drives us to keep going.  You’re what keeps us going when we feel like that was the biggest, garbbled pile of green ooze ever written.  Thanks for reading my musings.  Thanks for supporting me in my change of direction.  I love all of you!

 

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, Beauty blessed a girl with all the physical loveliness she could bestow.  The girl’s chestnut hair flowed down a petite straight back.  Her dark eyes sparkled like brilliant smoky topazes set in flawless skin with just the right amount of olive, pink, and yellow tones.  Beauty’s creation moved gracefully in a figure both thin and curvaceous.  She spoke with a soft voice and a quick, sparkling laugh.   Gold and silver rings envied her long fingers and flowers her straight, cute nose.   Beauty’s creation gave material substance to Beauty’s spirit.  But, creating in a hidden away place, Beauty forgot to seek the help of other creators.  Her creation lived and moved, but lacked a character to match.  Beauty‘s delight became her disappointment.  Not once did her creation, endowed with so much of her own heart, show grace, charity, pity, humility, or empathy towards her fellow-man.  Without a good heart to match, Beauty wasted her gifts.

Beauty cursed the girl and removed her physical attractiveness.  She twisted her right shoulder up and out into a hump, and her fingers into hooked claws with no mobility.  Her left foot deformed into a dragging club, while her beautiful lips mashed into a soft sneer which marred any smile or frown.  Beauty Quasimodo-ed her creation as passionately as she had Helen-of-Troy-ed her.

With her outward attractiveness striped from her, the girl’s friends faded.  What she failed to provide to those around her, she now required of everyone: grace, pity, and love.  Abandoned and alone, the girl haunted the dark, dank sewers under the city which once worshiped her.

The King looked on the cursed creature and gave her the compassion which no one else offered.  As an old creator died, he graced the deformed monster with her powers – Happy Thoughts.

“She is still cursed,” Beauty told the King, watching his pity in action.

“The curse can be broken,” he said.

“Only if a man can love her.”

“A man will if she grows a straight soul inside her twisted body.”

(My own twist on the old Beauty and the Beast story.  I was inspired to write a story where the woman was the monster and the man the beauty.  Not because I feel like a woman can do anything a man can do, but because we women can think far too highly of ourselves while we backbite, gossip, and destroy.  We are just as much monsters and men, and in just as much need of pity as they.)