Thanksgiving  (Day 5)

I’m thankful for so many things today!
I’m thankful for the chilly, wet, dark morning! I’m thankful for time to write and the joy of working on my YA Faerie Tale. I’m thankful for a quiet day and the joy of looking forward to spending time with friends tonight.
I’m thankful that in the middle of trials, we have ordinary delights.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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Birthday Week Day 4

Started out my day with some writing and coffee,  then it was shopping with hubby,  hair cut, and boba tea. We finished by grilling out and making cookies.  I love enjoying all the ordinary things!

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Writing!

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Yep. That's me!

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So sad. It's all gone. 😦

Accepting Critiques of your Work: Sanctification

criticism (2)

Courtesy of bing.

 

The rough draft is done. The rewrite is done. The first round of alpha readers is in. (You know who you are: thank you!) Adjustments are made, notes are taken, and the story is ready to simmer while the rough draft of Book 2 is written. Rinse and Repeat.

This is my general cyclical habit when I’m writing a novel.

Last year, I added in a new step via Scribophile. As I read, critique, and learn from other writers at various stages in their craft, I share my chapters to be critiqued in their turn.

What a different world. I get the email notice that my work has been critiqued and I’m instantly nauseous. This is not my writing group of gentle suggestions. This isn’t fellow believers who see the beauty of the gospel in my work. This isn’t friends who’ve been reading my work for years. This isn’t even acquaintances of friends who wanted to see what I write. These are people who don’t know me and are willing to take any given chapter apart word by word. (I’m now crawling into a corner.)

If you’ve never opened yourself up for a sound critiquing, you need to know there is little in the world as painful. I had to build a tiny network of friends/fans/readers just to talk me down off the rough every time I got a critique.

I will admit much of the negativity and harshness is in my head. The critiquers have, over all, been very encouraging, kind, positive, and helpful. But, God is a master at using every element of our lives to point out our remaining sin and make us more like Christ. Getting critiques of my beloved story was the perfect opportunity for God to help me see my pride.

Sigh. There was a lot of it.

Paragraph breaks, commas, dialogue, telling, info drops, confusion, descriptions. Each time someone pointed out something that needed another polish with the old rag, a little voice of anger rose up in me: “Can’t they see that this is the greatest work ever???? What’s wrong with them?” Whoa. Hold up there, Betsy. Greatest work ever? Really? Come on.

Someone’s struggling with pride. Me.

Lesson 1: Getting Critiqued Requires Humility. If you want to survive any type of criticism and come out better on the other side, you must willingly admit that you are in need of improvement. You do not have it all down. You aren’t perfect. And you can’t see everything. It’s a scary and vulnerable position to put yourself in even when you have a computer between you and a critiquer. But! It’s also very healthy. I’ve done my greatest growing under strong criticism. (Generally, after some pity-partying, but I’m working on that.) Thinking you have it all together, that you have no room to learn, grow, or improve is not a good place to be. It’s a place of pride and a place of stagnation. We all have ways we can be better. Better writers, wives, mothers, church members, and just all around human beings. If we don’t accept criticism, we’re probably in danger of also deciding we don’t need to listen to the preaching of the Word, or our spouses, or our parents. This leads us right into rebellion.

God used an online critique group to really poke at my pride. It wasn’t fun. But, I’m thankful he didn’t leave me thinking I was all that, and didn’t need to keep growing.

Lesson 2: Getting Critiqued Requires Confidence. Having other readers and writers tell you a name doesn’t work, or a sentence doesn’t fit, or they don’t like the description here, or a character isn’t making sense to them is very important for the storyteller to hear. But, the storyteller can’t blindly apply every suggestion given. Why? First, constantly contradictory advice is given. What works for one reader doesn’t work for another. One person loves a description and someone else hates it. You must decide what works in your book. Second, only you the storyteller sees the end. You know that the description is important, or the character, or the name. They haven’t read the whole book yet.

So while you humbly listen to their advice, you also sometimes have to confidently reject it. They don’t know your story as well as you do. You can’t make everyone happy. Sometimes a critique is wrong.

I’m the kind of person who hates conflict. (ISFJ, here.) I’d rather sacrifice what I want in the name of peace and quiet, then stand up for something. I’ve had to learn that it’s okay to ignore critiques, advice, suggestions, and outright demands. I don’t have to do what someone says just cause they really hated something. It’s my story.

This flows out into the rest of my life as a warning about who I listen to. I need to be very careful who I allow to critique my life. My pastors, my husband, close, wise friends. These are the people I need to listen to and I can confidently trust. I don’t need to accept every criticism the world or people level at me. I don’t need to listen to people who tell me how they think I should manage my health, my life, my home, my schedule, if what they say doesn’t line up with the truth of the Word, or what my husband has laid out. I can confidently ignore them. They aren’t my authority. Sometimes this means preaching to yourself when you read a blog article, watch TV, read magazines, or even talk to friends. Sometimes it means talking to your husband when you get home about what a supposed authority said.

 

criticism

Courtesy of bing.

 

From having my work critiqued by strangers, I’ve learned that you must hold in one hand great humility, and in the other great confidence. You must be willing to admit you need work, while at the same time know what’s best for your story.

Life is the same. You must humbly listen when others point out faults or make suggestions. You must confidently stand strong so you don’t try to be everything to everyone and forget who and what’s important in your life.

God is good and uses everything, even a harsh critique of a chapter you love, to show us our sins and to make us more like Christ!

 

March #WIPjoy (Part 3)

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

March #WIPjoy (Part 3)

To see Part 1, click here.

To see Part 2, click here.

Moving on to the third part of the March #WIPjoy created by author Bethany Jennings. If you want to join in the next go around visit Bethany’s Twitter profile (@simmeringmind) to be updated on the next #WIPjoy!

In January, I used my WIP The Cost of Two Hands (Book1). This month I’m using The Sparrow and The Star (unfinished Book 2). I will try to refrain from huge spoilers.

 


 

Line Love Week

  1. Share a line about a cool setting.

They trooped out the door into an orange and pink sunset, a soft warm breeze, and a view Sparrow could hardly comprehend: Metropolis. A city that wasn’t bones but bright, polished metal stacked up in row upon row before her all copper, gold, gunmetal grays, and silver. Tall square buildings with round caps, thin curved buildings, large windowed globes standing on thin stalks, spiraled buildings like sharp curls, and unusual shapes she’d never heard of made a unique skyline as far to her left and right as she could see, dotted with bright hot-air balloons.

  1. Share a line (or several) that makes you smile.

“Well, well, well, by the beautiful Sundance’s golden hair, I must have struck a chord with that one.”

“Who’s Sundance?” Sparrow ran her sleeve across her face.

“Who is Sundance? Do you not know the stories of the Guardians of the Material World?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“No idea!” the snail huffed. “No idea!? Genesis? Quinn? Ronan? The Justicar? Crow and Olive? Please tell me you’ve heard of Crow and Olive?”

Sparrow shook her head wanting to get back to the Sons of the Dragons.

“Jack? Have you heard of Jack the Wolf and his Unlit Companion?”

“No…”

Ebenezer groaned. “I have suffered a mortal wound.”

 

  1. Share a line that makes you feel the pain.

A keening wail came from just ahead. Royce’s hair stood on end. He’d never in his life, even as his parents died and his siblings were taken, even as the leader of the Dragons, even when they found Tom-ears’ boy among the Clowns, heard a sound like the breaking, ripping of a soul. He rushed forward. In the gloom and smoke with the fire burning to their right stood Skip. His gun hung from the tips of his fingers and fell. Ash shifted into the air as it struck the ground and bounced. The horrible sound continued to rise from Skip. Pink’s face drained of all color. Malarkey, Shifty, and Babe hurried to his sides.

 

  1. Share an intense line.

Girls with faces wrapped in scarves, hair shorn, and round wide eyes, poured from the Mall and raced towards the battle.

 

  1. Share a line about love.

“Yes, you do.” Mrs. Cummbers broke in. “You surely do, child. But, you aren’t saved, Adele, by what you did or didn’t do, or by what you will and will not do.” Mrs. Cummbers took Adele’s hand. “You’re saved by my salvage. I already took your punishment for you. You made the choice to do what is wrong and you will have to bear the consequences of that, but I already took your punishment.” She pointed down to her legs which no longer worked. Very gently, she pulled Adele into her arms. “Now it’s time to do what’s right.”

“‘Not to earn my salvage, but because of my salvage’. That’s what Jonah said.” Adele’s eyes glistened in the lights gleaming in the night.

 

  1. Share a line that amuses you.

“Genesis save me,” Ebenezer swore. “I’m not ready yet, Sacrifice. She can’t communicate very clearly.”

“Okay, okay.” Sacrifice disappeared then returned. “I’ll be back. You know how Heart is.”

“Silly boys, give a snail a chance.”

  1. Share a line that wrings your heart. (SPOILER ALERT)

The body. Soul looked at the body. He saw gray skin, scarred. He saw disheveled brown hair and a pointed nose.

“Oh King!” He rushed towards Cry of the Storm. The disk Jonah meant for him to have at Christmas thumped against his thigh as he ran. Dead. Dead. Dead, it said with each strike. Soul pulled Jonah’s cold body off the back of the horse who danced to the side. Soul gathered Jonah’s body close, rocking his boy, trying to warm him. Haze bent down one hand on his shoulder.

“It’s my boy, Haze. They killed my boy. They killed him.”

All the Feels Week

  1. What kind of relationship is at the heart of your WIP?

Love in many different forms is at the heart of my WIP. I have a handful of romances, but I have many more elements of friendship, brotherhood, loyalty, parent/child, and love as a choice made, not so much a bubbly emotion.

  1. If you could enter your WIP for a day, what would you do there?

I would split my day between riding Cry of the Storm through the snow, and curled up somewhere in Greenhome with a hot apple cider and Lazarus at my feet with all my heroes around me.

  1. How do you feel about your WIP right now?

I vacillate between absolutely adoring it and feeling overwhelmed by how much work is still left to be done.

  1. Have you ever cried about this WIP? Why?

Funny enough, I was just working on a single sentence and started crying…so yes, I’ve cried over this story. You should know, I cry pretty easy. Commercials can make me tear up. This story takes place after the apocalypse for a handful of people. The worst thing that could happen, did happen to them. That’s how Book 1 ended. Book 2 starts with the aftermath of the loss of families, homes, and friends. Added to that is the upswing of the story into a little bit of hope. Sometimes hope is as painful as loss. Lots of tears. Some happy. Some sad.

  1. What makes you the proudest about this WIP?

I’m not really sure how to answer this question, so I’m going to reword it. The things I’m most thankful for about this WIP are how far it’s come even with all my health issues which sometimes keep me from writing at all, or limit me to only a few minutes here or there. (50,000+ words) I’m also thankful I get to work around so many Christian themes, Christmas, and that at some point I will get to introduce a group of characters that I love, who I thought would never see the light of day.


 

Thank you so much for reading about my WIP. I love sharing it with the world!

The Tethered World by Heather FitzGerald

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(I received an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.)
This book was an absolute delight to read. It has a little bit of everything: adventure, battles, political intrigue, betrayal, friendships, danger, legendary creatures, dragons, fairies, gnomes and so much more!
I loved that it centers around an eccentric home school family, and, no, not a denim skirt wearing family, just a normal home school family. (NO offense if you wear jean skirts.) The Larcens are fun, relatable, and just a little crazy.
Describing this book is hard because it has so many elements that would normally turn me off from a book: it’s safe, it’s Christian fantasy, it’s safe. LOL. I don’t need to put any sort of warning on it. There is no language. The kids are smart and not rebellious. The romance is sweet, mild, and not acted upon by either party. It has a family that trust the Lord and loves each other. There is nothing here that isn’t good and wholesome. Most books that I can say this about are also boring, badly written, preachy, and trite.
Not The Tethered World.
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Map of the Tethered World.(Supplied by H. FitzGerald.)

 

When their parents disappear, the Larcen children have their lives turned upside down and the adventure begins.
The mythological creatures are handled perfectly: just different enough to be interesting and just familiar enough to tie them to other stories. The struggles faced by Sadie as she tackles a world she only wants to leave are real and relatable without being annoying. Sophie is my heart and I love her to death. She spends most of the adventure trying not to have too much fun. Brady grows into a man by fighting and sacrificing himself, and Brock finds his place. (Brock’s story is one of the great joys of this book.)
If you have a kid, boy or girl, who loved Narnia this is the next book for them. It’s written very much with Lewis’ world in mind and has much of the same feel. Danger and struggles are there, but not so detailed or dark that they overwhelm the story.
This is a great book to read to introduce the wide world of fantasy to adults and children alike.
So, I say this story is safe in the same way I would say The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is safe. It has moments of great darkness, but also great joy. It has moments that made me chuckle and laugh while I read, and moments that brought me to tears.
If you are tired of YA books that seem to have far more Adult and not enough Young, if you want a story about kids who aren’t so worried about boyfriends and girlfriends, but about taking care of their family, if you want faith that isn’t preachy, and if you want good fun adventure, check out The Tethered World.
On a personal note, I’ve worked with Heather for a couple years now on her writing and her on mine. She was one of the earliest members of the Manet Writing Group that I founded and a dear friend. The praise I’ve given her book isn’t something I take lightly and isn’t given because I actually know her. Her writing is wonderful and her world is magical. I plan on giving her book as a gift to my nieces this month and can’t wait to talk to them about it.
Join us for a FB Launch Party for the release of The Tethered World this evening! There will be some awesome door prizes given away including a Kindle and gift cards to Starbucks and Amazon. If you join us, make sure you say I sent you! 🙂
(If you follow the link above it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase The Tethered World which will give me a small kick-back. Thank you in advance!)

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Heather L.L. FitzGerald lives in Texas with four someones that call her mom and one special someone that calls her his wife. She homeschooled her children–one of whom is autistic–and teaches ballet at a fine arts school in Forth Worth. Heather is a member of the North Texas Christian Writers, and helps to facilitate the Manet writer’s group in Fort Worth, Texas. She loves drinking ice lattes, cloud watching, and getting lost in a good book.

 

You can connect with Heather on her website/blogFacebook, Pinterest: (Belongs to her main character, Sadie), Character blog: (Sadie’s mom has a blog about legendary creatures.), Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads.

Happy Winter Solstice!

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

Because so much of my first book, The Cost of Two Hands, flows around Winter Solstice, I thought I should celebrate! Happy 1st Day of Winter! Also winter is my second favorite season. Time for some hot chocolate, a good fire, a warm blanket, and a good book!

Thanksgiving 4: Eucatastrophe

Courtesy of Google.

Courtesy of Google.

Today, I’m thankful for eucatastrophe. This is a term coined by Tolkien to mean the turning point of grace. He himself says in his lecture on Fairy-Stories that the true turning point of grace in history is Christ’s Incarnation and his Resurrection. Think about that! It is the moment of surprising hope. It is the moment all that is dark and bad turns to good and joy. A true fairy story must have this moment. These are my favorite stories to write. They aren’t so popular right now, the happy ending I mean, but I love them all the same. I am very thankful for real eucatastrophies and fictional ones.

It is because of this I have decided to stop saying I write Fairy Tales and start saying I write Fairy Stories. 🙂

Eucatastrophe is a neologism coined by Tolkien from Greek ευ- “good” and καταστροφή “destruction”.

 

It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the “turn” comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.

On Fairy-Stories

Two Years Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Sunday, I marked the 2 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m two years old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

Imogene's second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

Imogene’s second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband was leading our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed.

In 2015, I developed a chronic issue, Epstein-Barr Virus, that made it impossible to maintain the writing schedule I’d had last year. Instead of multiple posts each week, I barely kept up with a few posts a month. I didn’t even really have the energy to care. What little writing I did get done revolved around the books I was reading. The Lord has seen fit to continue to bless me with readers and, as I’ve started to feel better, time to write.

I had two funny situations this year:

One, I actually introduced myself to Tom Chantry as “A gentle and quiet Spirit” at the ARBCA-GA.

Two, a pastor-friend pointed me out at our SBFC-SW as the woman who wrote My Church is a Failure. I almost had a heart attack as that is the article that I got the most negative feedback over, but at the same time I felt so excited.

Life as a writer, right?

Now, let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 206
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Cindy V, and TheGatheringFire.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Brazil, the Untied Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
  • Top Posts: Being a Childless Wife with 1,356 views. Followed by Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 376. And My Church is a Failure at 272. I have no idea why the Red Heels article is so popular. The Childless Wife article was shared by several other friends and blogs. I think it hit home for many women. Plus, it providentially went up at Mother’s Day.
  • May 2015 was my highest traffic month with 2,130 views followed by Sept with 1,058. While my numbers are lower over all than last year, it’s not by much, which is very encouraging.
  • This year, I also redesigned my blog to fit my personality better. I think it has also made it easier to navigate.

Last year, I submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration. Those stories got lost in cyberspace, so I touched base with SGP again this year and we’ve started down that road again.

This year, I also finished up the major plot re-write of my YA Fairy Tale Book 1: The Cost of Two Hands. And, I finally started Book 2: The Sparrow and the Star. Book 1 is in the hands of some excellent beta readers. It is my goal to finish Book 2 and Book 3 before starting in with heavy edits. I’m so thankful for all the dear women who have agreed to read the Cost of Two Hands and help me see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

God is good. God is trustworthy. Dealing with chronic exhaustion has challenged my commitment to God’s goodness as many things I love had to be set aside, many opportunities to serve had to be passed on, and many things I wanted to do had to be postponed for the foreseeable future. God is still good. He has used this sickness to grow me, grow my relationship with my husband, reprioritize my life, and enjoy the service of others.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my books, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this second year!

Finished!

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I just wanted to update all my blog followers, that yesterday afternoon I finished the rewrite of Book 1 of my YA Fairy Tale.

I finished the original rough draft last summer (2014) only to realize, with a little promoting from one of my Alpha Readers, Rob Akers, that there was a major plot point going in the wrong direction. Since then I’ve been up to my neck in rewrites. The plot problem had to be fixed and it’s effects on the rest of the world had to be followed through.

It was a lot of work, but I’m so much happier with the book now. It’s gone from 54 chapters to 93 and totals out at 168,800 words.

I think it is now ready for another set of Alpha Readers to come along and check it for holes, problems, and any issues. If you’re interested let me know!

Now I’m starting the next part of the story. My plan is to finish the series without worrying about whether its two more books, one more book, or twelve. Once the whole story is done, I’ll go back and start editing from the top!

Thanks for Cheering me on!

Quote of the Weekend

“I’m glad to report that even now, at this late day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me—more promising than a silver cloud, prettier than a little red wagon. It holds all the hope there is, all fears. I can remember, really quite distinctly, looking a sheet of paper square in the eyes when I was seven or eight years old and thinking, ‘This is where I belong, this is it.'” E. B. White (HT: Gretchen Rubin)

(This is amazing! I feel much the same way about a blank sheet of paper, I just wish I’d realized it when I was eight, but all in God’s hands with no worries.)