Adventures in Short Stories

I’ve never been very good at writing short stories. My attempts always stretched into something more along the lines of a novella. But this year I’ve made it a goal to get better at the art of short stories.

So far I’ve penned and edited two such tales. But I’ve also discovered a lovely resource that has me writing short bits and pieces every day.

Enter 642 Things to Write About

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Photo Credit: Charlotte Anderson, Spectral Star Photography

This book has looked so amazing for a very long time. But I never bought it because I didn’t want to spend $15 on it unjustifiably. But then, I had the brilliant idea of buying it for my wedding guestbook! And then in the spots left over David and I could have some fun.

Well not many people wrote in it at the wedding, leaving plenty of space for my creative ideas. Note I said mine…. I kind of took the book over and David hasn’t used it at all…. Oops.

Here’s what I’ve discovered through my daily use of this book.

  1. It’s completely worth the $15.
  2. I wish I’d bought it sooner.
  3. It is really beneficial for a writer. Every day I’m forced to think creatively, choose words wisely, and keep my word count at a minimum. It’s helping me to write short, and also has given birth to a lot of great ideas I’m going to be using for other longer projects.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to enhance their writing life, or anyone looking for a really fun activity. (And it does make a pretty unique wedding guest book.)

Do you have any writing resources that you’ve been using this year? Let me know in the comments!

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The Day My Life Changed Forever

It was my first time at the Cincinnati homeschool convention. We were armed with the usual homemade packed lunches and snacks and enough water bottles to keep us well hydrated. Of course, we arrived early because that’s just who we are. Daddy I believe was volunteering and had to be there before the doors opened anyway.

While we waited for opening time Mom and I flipped through the brochure listing all the vendors, looking in particular for The One Year Adventure Novel, which we would be looking into that day. But it wasn’t listed! I was rather disappointed, thinking they had canceled. But I figured that if they weren’t there God didn’t want me to get that curriculum so no sweat.  I continued to wait with anticipation while staring at traffic through the large window in front of us. I happened to see a van painted up like The Mystery Machine and had a long fangirl moment.

When we were finally inside the vendor hall the familiar drone of hundreds of voices met my ears. The shopping commenced. We walked up and down the aisles, stopping to talk to interesting vendors. I had a couple booths I was especially eager to visit. But they all pale in my memory because of what happened next.

The One Year Adventure Novel was indeed there (under the name of Clear Water Press, though. It’s a confusing thing.). I thought the guy at the booth was just a representative, of course. I never dreamed he was Daniel Schwabauer himself. (I laugh about that so much now.)  Mom and I flipped through the curriculum books, studying the content for anything morally objectionable. I was a little wary about that chapter about Boy Meets Girl, because *gasp* romance!!?? (You get the feeling of how we were at that point? Yeah, thought so.)  Anyway, after talking with this “representative” guy, we walked around so more to think about it.

At the end of the day it was time to make our purchases, and Mom asked me what I wanted to do about the Adventure Novel thing.

That moment was the turning point of my entire life.

What if I, who so often struggles with decisions, had said no, never mind, it’s too much money I don’t know if it would really be fun or not. What if Mom had suggested I wait until next year?

Who would I even be?

I don’t have an answer to that question.

It is terrifying, really, to even try to think of it.  Because when I said “Yes, I want it.” I set in motion a complete life change for me and my family.  It was a moment that seemed so insignificant. Sitting at a table against the wall of a busy vendor hall, trying to decide if I wanted a High School English curriculum. Who would have thought that simple little insignificant moment in time would be the most important of my entire life?

But it was.

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My first critique group at my first ever OYAN Summer Workshop. This was one year after I bought the curriculum.  (We were the Laughing Lothlorien Ladies)

We bought OYAN that day. Got a yellow slip of paper in return stating our order and being assured that we would be getting it in the mail soon.  Mr. S even threw in a free T-shirt for me (that I didn’t realize he was giving to me at the time) because I wanted one of the old versions that they didn’t have much left of.  A week or so later it came in the mail. I started the curriculum that very day in my living room with the window open letting in the new spring air. And I listened for the first of many times to those blessed words… “What makes a story a story?”

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Favorite pic with fam

Today I can tell you that OYAN has effected every single area of my life. It has grown me spiritually. It changed how I viewed myself physically. It has put me through more emotions than I ever thought possible. I met the best friends I have ever had on this planet. I met my husband. My sister met her best friends. My family now makes annual trips to Kansas for the OYAN Summer Workshop. I gained confidence in my ability to be me by flying for my first time all by myself so I could go to Texas and sell OYAN at a homeschool conference down there.  I’ve written books and short stories and have a career path all because of The One Year Adventure Novel.

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At my first homeschool convention as an OYAN rep with the lovely Tineke.

It’s nearing seven years now, since I joined the OYAN community. Seven years that were more beautiful and more heart rending than I ever thought possible.  Seven years that I would not trade for anything, and I am so grateful for.

And it all balanced on the head of a pin, relying on a 14 year old’s decision about school books.

God works in amazing ways.

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At our wedding with our best friends, all students of The One Year Adventure Novel.

Books of the Month

Well the first month of 2017 has come to a close, and with it several books were closed in my snug little apartment as well. Yes, I’m back to making time for reading and it has filled me with intense joy. Nothing like turning the pages of a book being completely absorbed in the words.

This month I finished 8 books!

  1. Linger by Maggie Steifvater
  2. Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee
  3. Havah: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee
  4. The Girl’s Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs
  5. How America Lost Her Innocence: A History of the Sexual Revolution by Steve Gallagher
  6. The Quest of the Fair Unknown by Gerald Morris
  7. The Adventures of TinTin Volume 1 by Herge
  8. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

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Favorite Book of the Month: The Quest of the Fair Unknown

Why?  I love the Squires Tale series more than any other book series I’ve ever read. It is beautiful, whimsical, charming, and full of characters that breathe life into every volume. The Quest of the Fair Unknown is the only book in this series that I hadn’t read yet (I had started to when I was reading through the series for the first time, but I was wary of it dealing with children being born out of wedlock  so I decided to put it down. I am very sorry now that I did.) I fell in love all over again with the world of King Arthur and his knights. Especially Gawain. Always Gawain. ❤

Least Favorite Book: Linger

Why? After reading Shiver and chomping at the bit to delve into the next book in Maggie Stiefvater’s series, I was met with great disappointment.  While it was still amazingly written with characters you cared about deeply, I was unhappy with how my emotions were manipulated. Grace’s parents were the bad guys. Even though what she and Sam were doing was horribly wrong, I hated her parents for saying so, for doing what they did (granted they weren’t totally in the right either).  For me, there was too much struggling against my since of morality, justifying too much for the sake of True Love, even if there were super bad circumstances.

A Quick Look at the Books:

Linger

 

  • Rating: 2.5 Stars
  • Thoughts: See above
  • Favorite moment: Admittedly… it was when Cole stopped Grace’s dad from punching Sam in the face again and then yelled at him saying Sam had more right to be in the room than he did.  That’s the moment I loved Cole completely as a character. *sigh* See, it was very upsetting for me to have feelings this way. *harrumphs*

 

Demon

  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Thoughts: I’d been waiting quite a while to immerse myself into Tosca Lee’s first novel. I’m a huge fan of her work, and as usual, she didn’t disappoint. Demon is a strong, powerful, creepy (at least for me) book that, though it started a little slow, actually had me up until midnight reading with a flashlight so I could make it to the end.  Also, she took an element from my childhood and incorporated it in the most terrifying way. I have never been so scared while reading a book to be honest.
  • Favorite Moment: Other than the mention of my old favorite book There’s a Monster at the End of This Book, it would probably be the ways Lucian keeps popping up. I know that isn’t one specific moment, but the details Tosca weaves into each person he appears as is amazing, and he fits each one and yet they are so different. I loved that.

Havah

  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Thoughts: Havah was immersive, emotional, deep, and breathtaking. Tosca twists such an incredible story, that sucks you in completely.  I expected a great book. I got even more than I expected.  Following Havah through her entire life was a roller coaster of emotions for me. The details Tosca sets up put me firmly in the beginning of the world, longing for the perfection that was Eden, devastated when it all came to ruin. I mourned for the anger and tension between Adam and Havah, rejoiced at the triumphs of their children. Dreaded so hard the dark moments I knew would come. It is an incredible book. Second favorite read of January.
  • Favorite Moment: When Adam rejoiced over having one of his own kind.

 

The Girl’s Still Got It

  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Thoughts: Since this is a devotional I’m not looking at this the same as my fiction reads. But this book was a breath of fresh air. Liz takes you on an in depth journey verse by verse to get to know the women of the book of Ruth. With her big heart and engaging humor, Liz makes the journey a truly memorable one. Definitely recommend.

 

How America Lost Her Innocence

  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Thoughts: This book was sad and hard to read through. I ache for America and the horrible things done in her, especially to children.

 

The Quest of the Fair Unknown

  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Thoughts: See above
  • Favorite Moment: Either when Terrence shows up (because Terrence ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ) or when Gawain and Terrence and Beaufils are traveling back to the world of men.

 

The Adventures of TinTin Vol.1

  • Rating:3 stars
  • Thoughts: Not as good as later volumes I’ve read before. A little too many convenient escapes there, TinTin.
  • Favorite Moment: When TinTin says goodbye to his new found friends in China. Even though it’s really sad 😥

 

Gregor the Overlander

  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Thoughts: I was really impressed with this book. I didn’t expect much from it to be honest, but I found myself swept into a world and a story that kept me hooked until the last page. I thouroughly enjoyed my experience, even if there were spiders *shudder* (I just skimmed spider parts.)
  • Favorite Moment: Boots screaming for a cookie and being a secret weapon.  Also her recognizing the roaches. That was precious.

 

What books did you read this month? Which was your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

Hidden Figures

The first movie I had the pleasure of seeing in theaters this year was Hidden Figures. What a perfect film to hit off 2017 with. This story is beautifully written, compelling, interesting, fun, and leaves you simply glowing with pleasure and pride for our fellow humans.

The story focuses on three brilliant women who use their God given talents to rock the world of the Space Program and obtain justice for the colored people working for NASA.

I don’t really want to give you a detailed review, that just isn’t my style. Nor do I want to spoil anything, ’cause that isn’t my style either.  But I just want to get out there that this movie is brilliant and beautiful and is so well worth going to see.

It’s one of those stories that hit a 5 star with me,and that’s a pretty big deal 🙂

So if you haven’t seen it yet, then you really should. Why? Well if you need a list of reasons…

Ten Reasons You Should Go See Hidden Figures Tonight:

  1. It has good role models.
  2. Low language (though there are several mild words, especially at the beginning)
  3. A look into what it took to get man into space
  4. Jim Parsons is in it
  5. Romance that isn’t highly sexualized
  6. A good sense of what really matters in life
  7. You get a look at what it was back in the 60s to be a person of color. It gives you a greater understanding than you would have just reading text books about it.
  8. Beautiful humor
  9. Space stuff!
  10. It is an extremely important story, I believe, and one that needs to be told.

I know, I know. I’m still being vague. But I can’t tell you everything! You just have to go see it yourself 🙂

What was the first movie you saw this year?