Description

Hello everyone! I’d like to take this time to share a writing exercise with you. Since I’m working on building my world so my readers can picture what’s going on, I thought this exercise can be about description. Ok here we go. I’ll start, and then if anyone wants to post their exercises, post it below mine.

The rules:

In 100 words or less, create a setting or scene using only descriptive words. Show us through hear, taste, smell, feel, and see.  (I’ll post a new writing exercise each week. Maybe one day I’ll make it a contest. Updates on that later.)

Go!

The clearing was covered in a blanket of wildflowers, spread all the way to the trunks of tall

evergreen trees, standing majestically around the perimeter. Lavender and poppies, Indian

paintbrush and columbine, bleeding hearts and lupines, and many more varieties crammed in next

to each other. Whoooshh! A cool summer breeze kissed the petals, creating a ripple from one end

of the clearing to the other.

Honey bees flitted from flower to flower, collecting pollen. Still others, proboscis’s extended,

sucked up nectar. A spider’s web, transparent against the blaring summer sun, glittered between

two huckleberry bushes.

 

 

 

 

 

SCBWI

I had a great time at the annual SCBWI conference in Oregon this year! I met a lot of interesting writers, illustrators, and a few agents and editors. I really learned a lot. I loved being around people who enjoy writing as much as I do. I loved getting to see things through an agent or editor perspective and what they are looking for. It opens your eyes to the reality of publishing now days. I will now be able to make better commitments to making my work even better than it is. These agents and editors are now real people and not just names on the internet. It’s neat to hear about the publishing process through their eyes.

I took a query class, learned how to make a picture book dummy, how to craft the perfect villain (BWAHAHAHAH!), how to create character voices, and even had my work critiqued. I am excited to begin taking what I learned and incorporating them into the middle grade novel that I’m writing.

Each time I go to a conference I feel that much closer to eventually getting published. My writing grows tremendously afterwards. It’s thrilling to see how much my writing has changed since I first started my novel almost a year and a half ago.

Epu

My cat Epu (his name means I Love You in Hawaiian) died yesterday from a cougar attack. It was especially hard on me since in the days leading to his death, I didn’t get a chance to hold him one last time. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I’m allergic to animals so I couldn’t really engage with Epu that much. Sometimes, when I couldn’t resist his rubbing against my feet, when he looked up at me with his handsome gray eyes, I had to pick him up. I’d use a towel and wrap it around him so that his fur didn’t touch me. Then I’d talk to him and stroke his head with gloves on.

It all happened so suddenly. I got home from work to find him upstairs in the bathroom lying on the floor unresponsive. He looked like he was in a lot of pain as he pulled in ragged breaths. His eyes were shut tight and parts of his body already looked stiff. (I’ve seen dead animals before. I owned 17 rabbits and have seen some of them die from disease, taking them out of their pens, their limbs stiff and rib cages sunken) I felt helpless watching him breathe like that. It really scared me. I had to get to work and I was torn between leaving or staying home and holding him until he passed. I didn’t want him to be alone in his final hours. No beloved animal deserves that. I had to go to work though. It broke my heart leaving him comatose in the bathroom.

 

Epu was the kind of cat who loved people. Whenever he saw someone, he’d immediately cuddle against their legs and purr. He wanted attention. People wanted to give it to him. He was the perfect cat. He never hissed at or bit or clawed anyone (except when he is being attacked) He liked being held and stroked. He was very social and very handsome. He made my day that much lighter when I saw him. It was very hard letting him go. It was like losing a family member. He was family.

He originally belonged to my sister, but when she couldn’t have Epu in her apartment, she left him with me and my mom to raise. I raised him outdoors and in the winter let him come inside for food and water. So he learned to be both wild and domestic. In the winter we allowed Epu to come inside to eat and drink. I had to keep my bedroom door closed so he wouldn’t curl up on my bed. (I caught him once when I came home from work, all snug underneath my covers. It made me laugh even though it meant I had to wash everything ASAP). So in the weeks before his death I had to not let him come into contact with my clothing or bedding. I had a choir concert to prepare for and didn’t need allergic reactions. I didn’t even think Epu could be taken from me so suddenly. I regret that I couldn’t give him any attention. He has a special place in my heart. I can’t believe he’s gone. One moment he was there, the next nada.

My mom told me she had found Epu standing in the driveway doing nothing. Just staring at nothing in particular. Not moving, just standing. Very odd Epu behavior. That’s when she noticed the bite marks (2 punctures on either side) on his head. My dog, Ruby died this same way from a cougar attack a few years ago. (It makes me nervous to have outdoor pets now.

I’m going to write a song for him and sing it to him at his grave site. I miss you Epu. May you rest in peace and enjoy heaven.

Morning Writing

I work full time at the Hood River County Library in Hood River, Oregon. There is a room at our library that looks out over the Columbia River and downtown. This has become my writing office in the morning before my work day starts. I love writing in here. I can see the kiteboarder and windsurfers on the water, the bright colors of the kites and sails gorgeous against an overcast sky. I can see people walking to get their morning coffee before work. Tourists gazing up at the library and wondering what’s inside. Our library is over 100 years old, which catches a lot of attention. We don’t have any signs downtown saying that old building tourists are looking at is a library. It’s amusing seeing them pointing at the library and turning to each other in confusion. They don’t see me in the study room watching them. Sometimes I want to shout “This is a library, come on in during our working hours”

I love writing in this room before all my co-workers, and even my boss sometimes, because it’s so quiet and peaceful. The view opens my mind to new ideas and scenes. My writing flows faster and I’m able to get a lot done. There’s something about the early morning that expands my creativity. I feel like it’s me against my writing, against the world. This room calms me when I get tired of writers block or a scene that won’t end or isn’t working. I take one look at the beauty that is Hood River and I’m automatically breathing again.

It’s hard to get in enough time to write sometimes, working 8 hours a day, so I take whatever time I can: before work, on lunch break, waiting during appointments, etc. This way, when life happens I can always find time. I find time or I block it out. It’s hard for non writers to understand this sometimes. Why can’t you exercise during that time? Why do you want to get up that early? etc. Well my friends, a writer writes. Yes, we will still take time and enjoy family and life, but we also must have our time to get inside our minds and push our stories forward until they shine. Writing is a lonely thing at times, but it’s fun and relaxing too.

I’m so glad I have this special room to myself to think and write.

Zumba

I am working at a small branch library today. The library is part of a larger community building so if there is an event I can hear everything. Right now, there is a zumba class going on. I can hear all the words to the music they’re playing. The music is so loud I can feel it pounding through the floorboards and through my entire body. It’s rather thrilling.When it’s dark outside I can even see the multicolored lights from the disco ball they use. It’s really fun to work with the music. It almost makes me want to go over there and join them, but alas I’m a professional and will work.  The music helps the last half hour of my shift go faster. It’s fun to walk over to their zumba room and peek in on the dance moves. There are some pretty creative people in there. I’ve always wanted to try zumba, but my asthma won’t let me. I’d have to use very slow paced songs in order to breathe.

 

New design

It’s a relief to finally get my website looking better! It has been under construction for the past few weeks as I’ve had to teach myself how to create the links and pages. Not to mention a better background! It was crazy at first. A background that was too busy, where it was hard to read my posts, or should I say the post ha ha ha! I’m still discovering even now. I apologize to those of you who have viewed my page before only to see a messed up design. I’m going to stick with solids for now.

 

Writing Style

I have heard that there are two writing styles: Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters plan ahead what their story is about from beginning to end and then fill in the details. Pantsers write whatever comes to their minds.

I find it hard to belong to either one or the other. To me, I’m half way in between. My current project started as a plot. I knew the story from start to finish. Yet at the same time while I was writing, the story took off in a completely new direction than I had initially planned. My characters wanted to go down a different path. Was I to ignore them and continue on with my carefully drawn out plot? I don’t think so. You see, my characters wanted more adventure. I had to go down their path and see where it ended up. They threatened me with bad dialogue if I continued my original plans for them. Not to mention other things that I won’t discuss here. I wrote what came to my mind and things I didn’t think of before came out. New twists came to mind. New characters. New situations. More depth. More color. For the first time my writing flowed out of me. I saw my story in a new light.

So does this make me a pantser then because I chose to follow a different path than my original outline. I was originally a plotter. So how do you explain this new course of events?

I believe there is no certain way to write. Every writer has their own way of doing things. From using sticky notes to outline plot, white boards, frantically typing away. etc.You don’t have to be a pantser or a plotter. Not one is better than the other. Whatever works for the individual is best for that individual.

I was reading in Writer Magazine (January 2015) the other day when I came across an interview with Laurie Halse Anderson. She said “While it probably makes extra revision work for me, I have no interest in outlining my YA’s. I love the magic of watching the characters grow, without knowing how the story ends.”

I laughed as I read this because this is exactly how I feel. The characters become alive on their own. Not at all how I originally thought of them. I can hear their voices in my head, how they will react, what they will say and do. The more I understand them the more I write well. The less I understand, the more frustrated I become.

I often wonder what my story would have been like had I chosen the first plan. What would have happened? Who ends up being the heroine? Would my characters have the adventure they wanted? I go back and forth between both versions all the time. Getting the best of both and merging them together. It’s a long and often frustrating process, deciding what to keep and what to cut. What fits best here or there. Now, I have no idea how the story will end, at least for the first book.