Friday, February 29, 2008

Feathered, wakeful thoughts

Recently I came across a description that I fell in love with. Here's a bit of the passage by Henry David Thoreau:

"And now, at half-past ten o'clock, I hear the cockerels crow in Hubbard's barns, and morning is already anticipated. It is the feathered, wakeful thought in us that anticipates the following day."

It's the "feathered, wakeful thought" that I love so much. Is there a more perfect way to describe those hazy thoughts as a day of expectation draws near? This is the best I've come across.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I think (about weird stuff) therefore I am (a writer)

One thing that I know, is that as long as I have my senses (the 5 senses, that is, not my cognitive capabilities) I will never be bored. I find myself thinking about weird stuff all the time. One time I spent an hour on a balcony overlooking the ocean just so I could REALLY REALLY figure out the sound it makes. (by the way, I have resolved that it goes "Sahrushhhhhh, Sarushhhhh" Just in case you're wondering.)

Today I was at the gym, and as I walked into the locker room, the pungent smell of stainless steel cleaner from the freshly shined bathroom stalls nearly knocked me over. (pardon my adverbs) And what did I do? I spent the first 10 minutes of my workout trying to figure out what stainless steel cleaner smells like. I wondered how I would describe the smell if I were to write about it.

What I came up with is a mixture of sweet, metalic antiseptic.

But rest assured, I am in good company! I'm finding there's lots of "weird" thinkers out there, and if you're one of them, you're my kind of folks! :0)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blogging: a writers Discipline

Yesterday my Jackeflap friend Sara Lewis Holmes wrote a blog about potato chips and coffee that inspired me.

Yes. Potato Chips and coffee. You read that right. You can read the blog for yourself to see what she had to say, but here's what I took away from it:

Blogging can be used as a writers discipline. All the writing books, conferences, retreats etc. tell us to get our butts in our chairs and just write. Even if it's about potato chips and coffee. It's a great way to get your thoughts out in a public setting. It's one thing to write in a journal that is for "your eyes only." But writing whatever is on your mind, knowing that your thoughts can be accessed by anyone via the power of google! At first that can be intimidating. But as writers, don't we want the world to read what we write? Couldn't a blog be a great tool to help us aquire and become comfortable with the skills needed to write for the public? The more you write in this manner leads me to think it is not only good writing practice, but also good thinking practice as well. I remember the first time I went to my critique group. I was scared out of my witts to have other people read what I wrote. Now I'm much more comfortable with having others read my stuff, and also accepting criticisms of my work. Blogging seems to be a branch that stems from that type of discipline: writing with an audience in mind, yet also comfortable enough to not freak out about what other people will think.

So, I'm going to try to start using this blog as not just a vehicle for only topics I deem "blog-worthy' but also as a writing discipline. What do I see or experience in my day that I can write about? Does everything in my day seem mundane? If yes, then I better snap out of it! I'm a writer for crying out loud! If I can't figure out a way to make the mundane interesting enough to write about it, then I'm going to have some huge obstacles in my writing and story telling abilities. Maybe blogging as a discipline will help work out those kinks.

So, Thanks, Sara, for the potato chips and coffee. Can I have some orange juice and mints with that? :0)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Color illusioin: Your eyes will deceive you!

Look at the brown cube and the yellow cube in the middle top and side.

Would you believe me if I told you that the middle brown cube and the middle yellow cube are really the same color?

They really are the same!
Your eyes are playing a trick on you.
If you don't believe me. . . examine it photoshop for yourself.

Tricky eyes!

These pictures are from the Mighty Optical Illusions web-site.
More about this illusion as well as others can be found at

Friday, February 8, 2008

What will I--errrr, um-- I mean, what will the character choose? Clean or write?

Something I deal with every day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Writer Super Powers: Rope'em in with rhetoric

Rhetoric has a bad wrap. At first, the concept puts me in mind of sleezy politicians, boring college lectures and heated debates.

All stereo-types aside, I listened to Modern Scholar's course "A Way with Words" taught by Prof. Michael C. Drout at Wheaton College. (available for check out through your local library) This man certainly has a way with words! He's the first person I've ever listened to who has a fervor for rhetoric. It's infectious!

Like it or not, rhetoric is a powerful and effective (if used well) form of communication. A Super Power! Able to change hearts, move nations and create a reality that was once believed impossible.

As writers, don't we all want to grab our reader so that they want to sit back and buckle up for the entire ride?

So, I asked myself, "How can the children's writer use this power for The Good in our novels?" Can the principles of rhetoric be used to capture the reader like an orator would want to capture their audience?

Here's how I applied the knowledge from the course "A way with Words"

Rhetoric as it applies to novel writing:

1) Find a starting place of common ground: What do we all care about? What makes us want to stay with the speaker (aka main character) It's not the action that draws us in as much as caring about/ relating to the character.

2) How do other authors do it? Example: In "A Wizard of Earthsea" the main character, Ged, isn't necessarily likable. He's an arrogant, careless and prideful youth. Yet, I was drawn to the character because I (as I'm sure many others) can relate to the consequences of youthful error. And Ged's redeemable qualities? He changes. Now humbled, scarred and regretful, Ged seeks to make right his wrongs.

So, I guess in a nuttshell, give your character both flaws and strengths as well as circumstances that most readers can relate to, not just at the beginning but scattered through out the book as well.

Now, go grab your Super Hero Cape or your Lasso and Go get 'em!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Book Review: Letters from Rapunzel

Letters from Rapunzel is a story about a teenage girl trying to cope with her dad's clinical depression, or as she calls it, the "Evil Spell."

I would think that it would be difficult to write a book about clinical depression in a humorous way and still be able to maintain tact and as well as give the character an honest voice, but Sara Lewis Holmes manages not only to do it, but she does it well.

Some books string words together like strands of pearls. This book also strings gems together, but more like the glittering beads on an ornate Mardi Gras necklace; beautiful yet so colorful that you just can't help but smile. Here's one of my favorite descriptions in the book re: Rapunzel's aged neighbor lady:

"She's a retired real estate agent, but I think of her more like a retired Good Fairy."

I just love that! :0) There's lots of great little gems like that through out the whole book.

Loved it!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Illustration Friday: Blanket

OK! I am loving this cartooning stuff! Why didn't I start this in high school? I'm having fun with it now, so I guess it doesn't matter.

You people who get to do this stuff for a living are soooooo lucky!!!!!