Friday, December 31, 2010

The Seventh Day of Christmas

Happy (almost) New Year, to all my family, friends, and members! I hope you have a very safe, very nice New Year's Eve celebration. I plan to spend mine at home. If I can keep my eyes open, I'll even toast in the New Year with a shot of brandy.

On this Seventh Day of Christmas, we celebrate the gifts of the Seven Sacraments that our Good God gave to us. These are: Baptism, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction, and Matrimony.

Baptism is like New Year's. At the end of a year, as we face off into the next year and wonder what it will bring, it's like a renewing of life, of living. New Year's Eve is the advent of what will be in the coming year. It's a rekindling of hope, of anticipation, of renewal.

Baptism is the Sacrament by which we are washed clean from the stain of Original Sin, made children of God and heirs of heaven. Baptism is a renewal of life spiritually, a kindling of hope for our salvation, of anticipation for our future in heaven. There is the same pattern of expectation, of hope that this new year, or this new life, will bring peace and happiness to us.

God bless and keep you all. Happy New Year, my dears!

On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Love (God) gave to me,
Seven Swans a-Swimming, (the Seven Sacraments)
Six Geese a-Laying, (the Six Days of Creation)
Five Gold Rings, (the Pentateuch)
Four Calling Birds, (the Four Evangelists, or the Gospels)
Three French Hens, (the Theological Virtues)
Two Turtledoves, (the Old and New Testament)
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (Our Sweet Jesus Christ)

We're nearly at the end, aren't we? It's almost Little Christmas! Too bad I have to work on that day. Oh well. I'll celebrate anyway.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Halfway To Epiphany

On this Sixth Day of Christmas, I do hope you all take a small moment and just thank God for giving us this Day. After all, this Sixth Day commemorates the Six Days of Creation, when God created all the world for us.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas my True Love (God) gave to me,
Six Geese a-Laying, (the Six Days of Creation)
Five Gold Rings, (the Pentateuch)
Four Calling Birds, (the Four Evangelists, or the Gospels)
Three French Hens, (the Theological Virtues)
Two Turtledoves, (the Old and New Testaments)
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (Our Little Jesus Christ)

Sixth Day of Christmas

On this Sixth Day of Christmas, I do hope you all take a small moment and just thank God for giving us this Day. After all, this Sixth Day commemorates the Six Days of Creation, when God created all the world for us.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas my True Love (God) gave to me,
Six Geese a-Laying, (the Six Days of Creation)
Five Gold Rings, (the Pentateuch)
Four Calling Birds, (the Four Evangelists, or the Gospels)
Three French Hens, (the Theological Virtues)
Two Turtledoves, (the Old and New Testaments)
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (Our Little Jesus Christ)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Point of View

So, I sit and look out the window, and all I see is snow, snow, snow piled up in mounds. From my point of view, it's very lovely, because it's the afternoon and it's not really snowing seriously any more, so I don't have to go out and shovel the driveway. I can just enjoy it.

From my point of view this morning, though, it was the most horrible stuff in the world, because I had to get to work, and the plows hadn't come by to clear the roads yet. Also, it was still dusky outside so it wasn't safe for me to walk to work, which is what I normally do. Instead, since it was snowing pretty hard, I had to go outside with the rest of my family and clear out the driveway so my Dad could drive me to work. It was like shoveling oatmeal mixed with watery milk. It was terrible, and it was HEAVY!

From the tourist's point of view, I'm sure this snow is a dream. Tahoe snow really is quite lovely, especially after a storm when the skies clear and the sun comes out. For the ski resorts, though it may not be beneficial yet, in the days to come it will be a skiier's dream. From a skiier's, or snowboarder's point of view, I'm sure this snow is pure heaven.

From the local's point of view, the snow is just another ordeal to get through. It may mean getting out the chains, or making sure your four-wheel-drive is working, and dealing with tourists who aren't quite sure what they're supposed to do in snow, but it's life. It's nothing new.

Point of view is so variable, but so important. Everyone's point of view is different. In a book, you have to make sure your point of view remains consistent, whether your sticking yourself in your MC's head alone, or being the all-seeing-eye and looking through all of your characters POV in turn. How do you choose a view, and stick to it?

For me, I find it easiest to remain in my MC's POV if I'm in the first person. When I'm in third person, I find I jump slightly from my MC's POV to my secondary character's POV, to my antagonist's POV. It helps me see the full picture that way. How about you? What do you do?

On this Fifth Day of Christmas, when we receive the Five Golden Rings (the first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace), I'd love to hear your thoughts on Point Of View. Come on down, pull up a chair, grab some cocoa, and let's chat.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas my True Love (God) gave to me,
Five Gold Rings, (the Pentateuch)
Four Calling Birds, (The Four Evangelists)
Three French Hens, (The Three Theological Virtues)
Two Turtledoves, (The Old and New Testament)
and a Patridge in a Pear Tree. (Jesus Christ)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Writing is like Christmas, you know? There's the beginning of the season (the first idea), the growing anticipation (a gathering of inspiration), the celebration of the day (the conclusion of the story). The parallels are beautiful.

Writing gives me the same joy and peace that the season of Christmas gives me. When I go to write, my heart feels at peace, as though I'm listening to the beat of God's heart, and what I write are the whisperings of God's voice.

What I love the best about writing is that I learn so much. For instance, did you know that the first Christmas Card was drawn by John Calcott Horsley in 1843? I thought it was really interesting, and thanks to the Monthly Write Off's we have at our Writer's Retreat, I think I may endeavour to try an Historical Fiction on this. That's the other thing I love about writing. I enjoy the challenge of stepping out of my fantasy comfort zone and trying something I'd never thought I'd try.

Today is the Feast of The Holy Innocents, little helpless babes that died after Christ's birth, when Herod commanded them all to be killed in an attempt to slay little Baby Jesus. It is also the Fourth Day of Christmas.

"On the Fourth Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle doves,
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree."

The Four Calling Birds represent the four Gospels, and the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, authors of the Gospels.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, God gives us the Four Gospels, the Three Theological Virtues, The Old and New Testaments, and His own Jesus Christ.

It's only nine days until Epiphany! Merry Christmas to you all, and soon to be Happy New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas...

... my True Love gave to me,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtledoves,
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
This is the next stanza in the Twelve Days of Christmas song. The Three French Hens refers to the three Theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. On the third day of Christmas, God has given us Faith, Hope, and Charity, the Old and New Testaments, and Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This song was written by a man named Drennon. He helped prevent young Catholics from being punished for reading religious books by giving them the tenets of their Faith in song, rather than by the written word.

Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge. A mother partridge will fake injury in order to lure predators from her helpless nestlings. So did Christ for us, though He faked no suffering. He was born to us, that He might die for us.

In this Christmas season, I marvel at God's love for us. He has been especially good to me. I may not be the happiest person, content with my lot in life right now, but He was given me such an overflow of love in my writing craft, and the desire to succeed with it, that I can do no more than say, "Deo Gratias." I mean, over Christmas I came up with ideas for two articles and two more stories in a steampunk genre. I NEVER do articles. How can I think about doing TWO? Neither have I been a huge steampunk fan, but all of a sudden I can't think of a better genre to write. How is that possible?

I've decided that God is showing me new facets to writing that I never would dared have explored without His aid.

Merry Third Day of Christmas, everyone! Keep Writing, Keep Inspiring, Keep Loving It!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

We are now celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas. The first day of Christmas was actually yesterday, December twenty-fifth, on the day of Christ's birth. We will count down the rest of the twelve days from now until January fifth, the Eve of the Epiphany.

On the First Day of Christmas, we receive the Partridge in the Pear Tree. This song is actually not just a nonsense rhyme. In England, between the years 1558 to 1829, Roman Catholics were prohibited from practicing their religion. In order to help young Catholics secretly learn their faith, The Twelve Days Of Christmas was written as a Catechism Song.

The "True Love" refers to God, the "me" refers to all baptized persons, and the "Partridge in a Pear Tree" refers to Jesus Christ.

Today, on the Second Day of Christmas, we receive Two Turtledoves. The Turtledoves represent the Old and New Testaments.

"On the First Day of Christmas, my True Love (God) sent to me (baptized person),
a Partridge in a Pear Tree (Jesus Christ).
On the Second Day of Christmas, my True Love sent to me,
Two Turtledoves (the Old and New Testament),
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree."
Doesn't that rather make you think? It suddenly becomes a much more meaningful song, doesn't it? I think I shall view it with less distaste, now.

Merry Christmas, and Goodnight.

The First Day of Christmas

The Second Day of Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010

No One Will Be Sleeping On the Night Of Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve to you all! I hope you all have a blessed Christmas day, and a wonderful Merry Christmas. I hope you receive the one true gift you wanted this year. For me, I pray I receive my gift too.

Isn't that line above so true? I remember lying in bed on Christmas Eve, unable to fall asleep, so excited and filled with anticipation that my insides shivered. I remember being able to hear the Christmas music playing on the radio in the living room, and when I lay very still in bed, I thought I could hear Santa on the roof. It took me forever to fall asleep, and I remember waking up, feeling a tingle in my toes, and know that it was Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve has always been one of my most favourite days. On Christmas Eve, we finish wrapping the presents, and bake ourselves into a super frenzy. As of 6:45pm tonight, we have finished making batches of pizzelles, biscotti, truffles, snowballs, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, chocolate-dipped pretzels, and chocolate chip cookies.

Because it's Christmas Eve, I'm going to share another Christmas poem with you. I hope you like it. It was inspired by the picture posted below.


The Babe lay on the Mother's knee,
the Angels gathered 'round.
On bended knee adored Him:
their wingtips brushed the ground.

The faint, sweet smell of heaven,
mixed with the fiddle's tune
rose like a fragrant incense
up to the sickle moon.

"Hosanna!" crooned the angels,
their joyous sigh of love
rising to God's throne on high,
and echoing above.

"Hosanna!" sang the angels,
The stars returned the same.
And all the silence in the night
Called out His holy name.

The Babe lay on the Mother's knee,
the fairest Christmas Rose.
The angels bent to kiss His face,
and guard His sweet repose.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Nativity: A Poem

This is my simple little Christmas poem. I hope it does as much homage to God as I pray it does.

When all the stars cried out, "Rejoice!"
and flowers bloomed 'neath winter snow,
then, in that silver, silent night,
God's Child came to us below.
He came to us through Mary pure,
and she sang in that holy night.
The angels bent to hear her song:
their perfect hearts beat with delight.

"Gloria, my holy Treasure,
Gloria, my goodly Pleasure.
Gloria, mine own, my being.
Gloria, Creator King!"

When all the heavens rang with joy,
and untouched snow lay glimmering,
when in that diamond, velvet sky,
the diamond stars danced, shimmering:
when Joseph and the shepherds sang,
and Mary sang, o wondrous thing!
then through the angels' jubilee
came Jesus Christ, our God and King.

"Gloria, my holy Treasure,
Gloria, my goodly Pleasure.
Gloria, mine own, my being.
Gloria, Creator King!
My Sweet, my soul, my every grace,
my Saviour of our sinful race.
My Hope, my Joy, my Baby King,
my God, my Life, my Everything!"

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Back to Front

Most people begin celebrating Christmas right after, or around the same time as, Thanksgiving. The tree goes up, the houses are decorated, lights, Santas, reindeer decorate houses and yards, and generic Christmas songs blare in the stores.

What a lot of people don't realise is that Christmas doesn't begin until... Christmas. The days before it are all days of preparation, the season of Advent. Christmas, and the season of Christmas, begins ON Christmas.
In my family, we celebrate Advent. We prepare for the coming of Christ, and we listen to the traditional Christmas songs, like O Holy Night, Silent Night, Adeste Fidelis, The Wexford Carol, What Child is This?, and others of a similar nature. It's about Christ. It's not about what presents we're going to receive, or what sort of deserts and cookies we're going to make for Christmas.

That doesn't mean we DON'T look forward to all that. We are human, and God wants us to enjoy life. But the real focus is on our little baby God, born of a virgin and laid in a manger. Our twelve days of Christmas doesn't start on thirteenth of December and end on Christmas. Our twelve days start on Christmas, and end on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men brought their gifts and humbly offered them to our God.

In my family, it is traditional to save one present we receive on Christmas day, and leave it under the tree until the Epiphany, when we celebrate "Little Christmas." Then, the Wise Men come and bring one gift, and we celebrate another Christmas, on the twelfth day of Christmas.

How do you celebrate Christmas? Is it back to front, like ours, in the traditional Christmas way?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Hero Of My Own Story

I kept thinking about that line all evening. It's from Nim's Island, when Nim tells Alex Rover, the writer, that "I can't be the hero of my own story."

I know how she feels.

It's so easy to make the character of the story you write be extra-super heroic, because you, from your creator throne, KNOW that everything is going to turn out well. You know your hero/heroine is going to go through this rough time, and that he (or she) is going to have to be incredibly courageous and sacrificial, but you know that the happy ending is coming. They may not know, but you know.

You can have your character face certain death, because you know it's actually NOT certain death, but a really cool fight scene. You can have your character suffer misunderstanding and a broken heart because you know the resolution is just beyond the next chapter. You can have your heroine muddle through, day after day, lonely, sad, trying to be content in her niche in life, because you know that her hero is coming soon. You just have to turn the page, and the happy ending is there.

In this story of mine, my own, non-fiction, real-life story, I DON'T know the ending. I don't know if the happy ending that I want is coming. All I know is, right now, I can't be the hero of my own story. I need a hero.

Now that I've had my pity party, I wanted to share that today is St. Lucy's feast day. Her name means "light". According to the Julian calendar, the winter solstice fell on December 13th. Under the Gregorian calendar, the solstice now falls on December 21st. However, her name is still associated with the winter solstice, when the days grow brighter and longer after it.

She is the patron saint of those that suffer from eye diseases, or eye issues.

St. Lucy
Catholic Online

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Magic Thief: Sarah Phineas

What do a thief and a wizard have in common?

They are both trying to discover why the magic in their city of Wellmet is disappearing.

When Connwaer, a young thief, picks the pocket of the wizard Nevery and steals the wizards locus magicalicus (a stone that helps a wizard focus his magic), the wizard can only wonder that the locus didn't kill the boy.

Nevery takes the boy home, curious about his affinity to magic. Conn will be Nevery's apprentice, on the condition that he find a locus magicalicus of his own. Conn has only a month to do this, and it becomes a near impossible task as he also spends his time trying to discover who... or what... is stealing Wellmet's magic.

This is a romping good story, the first in a trilogy. Conn was a good character, personable, likable, with a distinctive voice.

My Rating:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dream in Life

Everyone has a dream, something they want the most out of life.

For me, my first dream has been to get married, to be a mother like my own wonderful Mom. I want to have my own little kids, little children that have a little piece of me in their faces, in the way they talk, in the way they move. Those little souls, that my husband (to be) and I can teach to love God. That is my first dream.

My second dream is to a writer, someone who reaches out with a pen and touches the hearts of people, all across the world. How fantastic is that? To know the words you say will resound in someone's mind. What a gift! What a frighteningly powerful gift!

If I could be a singer too, and touch people with my music, that would be a powerful thing too, but I'm trying not to be TOO greedy, here. ;-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remember Them

Today was a lovely day for me, not too busy, not too slow, but with enough time for me to come up with more developments to my new novel idea. But sixty-nine years ago, it was probably the worst day in the lives of many, many people.

Can you imagine what it was like sixty-nine years ago, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor? Can you imagine being a little girl in Pearl Harbor, waking up to the sound of a Japanese attack squad? Wouldn't that be the worst experience in the world? There was nothing lovely about that day. There was only death, fear, and shock.

The first detection of the raid that two Army operators in Oahu had was at 7:15am that day. Their report was disregarded, because the officer in charge thought the planes were American B-17 planes, expected in from the U.S. west coast. At 7:53, the first Japanese assault wave commenced their attack. The raid lasted about two hours, ending around 9:45am.

Eight battleships were damaged, and five were sunk. America lost three light cruisers, three destroyers, and three smaller vessels. 188 aircraft were shot down. In very little time, America lost 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians, and 1,178 of her people were left wounded.

This attack led America into World War II. I wonder what would have happened if we'd stayed out of the war? Isn't it amazing to think about what could have been? It's almost frightening, isn't it? It would make an interesting Parallel Universe story.

Just take a moment, and remember all the young men, the old men, the children, women, and sons, the mothers, husbands, aunts and uncles, cousins, sisters, friends, that lost their lives sixty-nine years ago.

For just a moment, remember them.

For more information on Pearl Harbor, here are some rather neat links. Thanks for reading!

History Matters
The History Place
Eyewitness History
Naval History and Heritage
Oread Daily

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dreaming Up A Story

I'm not one to put all my faith in dreams. However, I will put my faith into the dream that inspires a new story.

I dreamed about this character, who named himself Hero. Ironically, he really did just stroll through my dream, completely fleshed out and fantastic. He's on par with Badger, my NaNo MC. He's this Slovakian boy, newly arrived in America after the death of his parents. As time goes by, it becomes apparent that Hero is not just a boy. He's the person destined to save the world.

I've written out an outline, and an idea of the story I dreamed. I just love it when the story appears in my head like this, with a character that totally excites me and is so completely real. I love it when a story materializes without a struggle. Instead of peeling the story out of my bones, it oozes out of my pores and dances in my fingertips, singing, "Write me, write me!"

How often do you dream a story? This is the second time it's happened to me. My advice, for certain sure, is this: Keep a notebook with you at all times, writers! Inspiration strikes at all times, and sometimes the best things happen when you just wake up.
Also, today is St. Nicholas day. We put out our shoes last night, and this morning St. Nicholas came and put candy and chocolate in our shoes, and one little gift. I got lovely little hair diamonds in my shoe. It was a most welcome gift. I had decided I was going to buy them for myself for Midnight Mass, but St. Nicholas anticipated me, and bought them for me instead. I'm going to wear them for Christmas.
Merry Christmas, writer friends! God bless, and Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Working With Wonder

Work is work is work, right?

Not always. I have a job I love. Not many people can boast of that. But I do. I have a job that MAKES you dream, imagine, pretend, and act like a kid all the time. It's the best. I get to work with wonder, and inspire others with wonder.

One of the things that's so funny about what I do, is that I can never give myself too long a break. For instance, I finished my NaNo novel, and I felt... hollow. It was almost as though I'd carved out my heart and soul and left myself completely drained. In order to fill myself back up again, I started on other projects. I'm working on my two other novels, The Key Keeper, and Whisper Mansion, and several short stories that I'm writing for submissions. I just love it.

The thing about being a writer is that you are basically your own boss. It's good, and at the same time, it's bad. I mean, you have to make sure you schedule yourself. You can't take off time all the time, because you'll never get anything done. You can't just say, "I'll write an hour each week, and that's all," because, unless you are a genius, you'll never perfect your skill, and you won't get much done, anyway. You have to schedule yourself. This is a part of the business I'm still trying to perfect, myself.

You have to be dedicated. It does absolutely no good to say, "I'm a writer," and then do nothing but research, research, research, without any pen-to-papering going on. Research is important, but you can't let yourself stray into the realms on internetism. You have to keep your focus.

You have to love it. If you're writing purely from intent to become rich and famous, you're not going to make it. Your writing is going to be shallow and quick, with no time taken to the ebb and flow of cadence, and no care taken to revise and edit repetitive words. Writing comes from the heart. Write the absolute best you can, and you'll be a success.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Two Good Things

Hello, everyone!

I just love posting new entries. I like to post things that are fun, exciting, happy, or new. Today, I have two good things to post.

The first is this: I won in NaNoWriMo! Basically, that means I hit 50,000 words in a little less than thirty days. Isn't that fantastic? I got a certificate, too, a dowloadable certificate that I can print out, with my name and book title on there. It's pretty neat. I may end up getting myself one of the NaNo coffee cups. That would be fun, drinking out of a cup that sports the little Viking NaNoWriMo logo. Don't you think?

I am going to take a break from Badger for right now, and do revision on him a little later. I've completed his story, but I need to do the revision, and I can't do it right now. You wouldn't believe how much of yourself you pour into a story. I'm a little drained, emotionally, to revise his story at this moment, so I'm focusing instead on different magazines and online e-zines, to see if there are some out there I want to write and submit to. There's about six magazines/ e-zines I want to explore tonight.

My second good news is this: It's the first Sunday of Advent. That means it's about four weeks to Christmas.
I love, love, love Christmas. It's my absolute most favourite time of year. Advent is my favourite, favourite, favourite, favourite season, the preparation for the coming of the little Christ Child.

Contrary to what you might believe, we are actually not in the Christmas season yet, though the world tries to make you think we are. This is the time of preparation before Christmas, when we are readying our hearts for the coming of Our Lord. The actual season of Christmas doesn't start until the first Mass on Christmas Eve, and it goes on, liturgically, until January 14th, which is the Octave of January Sixth, the Feast of the Epiphany. Spiritually, the season of Christmas is celebrated until the Feast of Candlemas on February 2nd.

For the first Sunday of Advent, we set up the Advent wreath, with its three purple candles, one pink candle, and one white candle set in the middle of the wreath. We put out the empty stable with only the lowly donkey inside it. (Don't worry, we'll add the rest of the figures each Sunday, until Baby Jesus makes His dwelling there on Christmas Morning.) The manger that sits on the little stool in our living room is empty. There is no Christ Child in it, for He has yet to be born.

This first Sunday of Advent, it is tradition to bless the wreath and say a little prayer over the wreath. After the blessing, the first purple candle is lit, then the prayer for that Sunday is said. In our house, after we say that prayer, we sing two verses from "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and leave the candle lit throughout the Sunday dinner. During the rest of the week, we only sing one verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and we blow the candle out before we eat. Each Sunday, a new candle is lit, until Christmas day, when we light the white Christ Candle. It's beautiful.

If you'd like to read more about Advent, here is a great site for you to browse. God bless!

The Fish Eaters:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving is such a lovely time for my family. We always have a beautiful brown turkey, cut into separate piles of white meat and dark meat, thick whipped gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables, salad, and stuffing.

The best part is that we use fancy dishes, set the table quite elegantly, and have fun beverages to drink. Red wine is my preference, but highballs are lovely, too.
To top it off, Dad always listens to Nat 'King' Cole sing "O Holy Night". It is the first time before Christmas that we listen to Christmas songs. Me, before I get off tonight, I'm going to make sure I listen to Josh Groban sing "O Holy Night." That's my favourite version of the song, and my favourite singer, too. (If you want to listen to it, here's a link: )

It's kind of interesting how we celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a United States/ Canadian holiday. In America, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thrusday of the month of November. In Canada, they celebrate it on the second Monday of October, which is the United States' Columbus Day.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated back in 1621. It was a feast shared between the Wampanoag Indians and the Plymouth colonists, after the colonists managed to survive the first grueling months of settlement and benefit from their corn harvest. Also, this Thanksgiving did not occur in November, the way it does now. The pilgrims' first Thanksgiving was celebrated in December, and it was a feast that lasted for three days, instead of just one.

Between the 1600's and 1800's, Thanksgiving was celebrated sporadically by different separate colonies and settlements. Thanksgiving wasn't officially made a holiday until 1863, during the Civil War. President Lincoln proclaimed that a national Thanksgiving Day be celebrated every year in November.

Here are several different links that you can follow, to read more about Thanksgiving. God bless, and happy Thanksgiving reading!

Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo... Day 19!

Wow, can you believe we're already 19 days into this thing? It's amazing how fast it's going. The really exciting bit is that my novel is almost done. I'm looking forward to the revision process. I think it's unjust that my inner editor is waiting until NOW to start being domineering!

How are all the rest of you doing? I know some people weren't able to do it this year, but I'm so glad you put the effort into trying. Sometimes, life gets complicated, and I'm only grateful that the story I chose to write was simmering forever in the stove top of my memory, just waiting to boil out. I don't think I would have come as far as I did if the story didn't beg itself to be written.

Happy NaNoing, for the next eleven days. Only eleven days, people. WE CAN DO IT!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo... Day 14

Yay! I hit 40,000 words today in NaNo. It's amazing how a novel can just take off, so long as you let yourself go and promise you'll be back to fix that one scene (or two, or three, or ten scenes), that are really bothering you. The freedom is in the JUST WRITING bit. I love it.

It's funny, isn't it, how a story can kind of end up doing it's own thing. In the beginning, Badger was going to have a hard time all right, but I wasn't expecting him to get hit by a car, or get chloroformed, or get handcuffed, or wind up as a suspect in a murder. I mean, I thought he had enough to handle with his Dad's death, and his brother's kidnapping. Wasn't that enough drama? Apparently not!

One of the things I love about writing is the adventure. You may think you have the journey plotted out quite neatly in your head, but when you go to travel it, it's much more vast and complex than you realised.

My advice? Go with the flow. Push your character to his ultimate limit. If you don't like what you've got, there's always the "delete" button. But the ideas can flicker and die if you don't write them down. Write them down, and see what happens. Go with the flow. Revise later. Have fun. Just be a writer for awhile, and not an editor.

Good luck! God bless! Happy writing, NaNoers! (And all other writers, of course). Have fun, be confident, keep writing, and good night.

(And don't forget, Josh Groban's CD is coming out tomorrow. BUY IT! LOVE IT! And, of course, keep writing to it. :))

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo... Day 11

So, it wasn't such a bomb of a day. I actually was able to write about 900 words, which was a big thing for me.

I'm so glad I'm off on vacation tomorrow. Work was long, and packing was longer. I feel like I'm forgetting everything, even though I know I'm not. What I'd really like to do right now is sit down and watch Tim Hawkins, except it's 10 pm, and I need to get up at 3 am to leave for the train station. Bummer.

So, I'll say my prayers and spend a little while staring up at the shadows on my ceiling. While I lay there, I'll probably remember stuff I still need to pack, and hopefully by the time I get up I'll still remember what it was I remembered... if that made any kind of sense.

So, 900 words today! That was stellar. Really. I thought I'd do a great big zero, so I'm happy with 900. We'll see what happens tomorrow. My brain's fuzzy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo... Day 10

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. I've been rocking on Badger's Cross. I'm falling more in love with my MC every day. I wish he were real.

One fun thing about NaNo... They have some fun videos you can watch to get "inspired". They're like these fun pep talks. They make me laugh when I watch them, and it recharges my battery. Check it out!

I'm going to be ridiculously busy for the next couple days. Somehow, I have to find time to pack tomorrow on my 45 minute lunch break, because after work I'm going to have dinner at a restaurant that's about an hour from where I live, and the reservation is for 7 pm. It's a staff dinner, so I HAVE to go, but I'm not going to get home till late, and then I get to get up at around 3 am next morning to catch the train that will propel me on my vacation! I'm nore sure how many, if any, words I'll get written tomorrow.

Do they have power cords on trains? 'Cause I think I'm going to spend the travel typing. Gotta share all I can about Badger, you know!

Goodnight, everyone. Have fun writing!

(Oh, and a small happy aside: Josh Groban's new CD, Illuminations, will be available in stores on 11/15/10. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!)
God bless.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNoWriMo... Day 4

Hurray, I hit my word count goal for the week. Know what that means? I get a Starbucks coffee. Oh yeah!

One thing I wanted to share. I received a critique from a friend at my Writer's Retreat a few weeks ago. He's a fantastic critic, and he made an excellent point that I just wanted to share.

When you are writing, and you want to change your passive voice to an active voice, simply do this: Go through, find all the verbs that end in "ing", and change MOST of them to "ed". Believe it or not, that automatically takes your writing to the stronger active voice.

My second thing I wanted to share: Cut extraneous adverbs. Don't rely on three different words, all the time, to say one thing. SAY JUST THE ONE THING.

Good night! Happy writing. Yay for NaNo! Have fun with me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo... Day 3

There really is nothing like getting into the flow of a story. I could write all day, if only the computer's glare wasn't quite so bad. :-)

Seriously, once I get past the first five hundred words, it feels like I could write forever... until I hit a block. That doesn't usually happen for at least another thousand words.

If no one has done NaNo yet, I encourage you to try next year. Have the NEED to write 1,667 words a day is a great spur to one's creativity. There's nothing like typing the amount of words into the NaNo records and seeing the sentence "One unsuccessful day" pop up to encourage one to keep writing until the full allotted amount is attained. It's fantastic, being PUSHED to complete a goal.

One thing I noticed during these three days of NaNo. It's really a great feeling just WRITING a story. I love going through and just pouring my thoughts onto the paper without feeling the need to go back through and edit as I write. I get a lot more words written, and I feel fantastic about myself at the end of the day.

Right now, Badger just had a small meltdown, and is wondering if his mind is wandering. I'm feeling very bad for him. This MC of mine is going to be pushed through the entire gamut of tragedy that I can thrust on a human being: sorrow, grief, anger, rage, disillusionment, faithlessness, despair, forgiveness, all that kind of stuff. He just got hit by a car, too, so he's going to lead a very exciting life for the next 27 days. Poor Badger! :-)

I'm just loving this. I can't wait for the climax. Too bad I have to wait for another 27 days (or so) before I reach teh exciting conclusion. Death, drugs, revenge gone wrong... it's going to be fun!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo... Day 2

It's now about 8:32 pm where I live, and I must say I'm just having so much fun with NaNo right now. I'm absolutely loving the pressure that's making me sit and write, and not waste time on the internet, or checking my email, or playing stupid games.

As I'm writing, and just letting the words come (keeping that inner editor locked away inside myself. She's not coming out until after NaNo's over, and then we'll sit down together and edit), I'm just loving how, once I hit a certain amount of words, the flow just starts. Ideas and images flash into my head so fast my poor little fingers just can't keep up with my thoughts. It's fantastic.

I'm sure, as time goes by, the ideas might flicker a little bit, but for right now, I'm going to enjoy the ride. Besides, I'm going on vacation come November 12th through the 20th, so I'm trying to write as MUCH as I can, 'cause who knows how many words I'll hit during that period, you know?

But oh, I can't describe how much I'm loving my MC! He's such a poor, confused, bitter little guy. I feel so bad about what I'm putting him through, but at the same time I'm glowing with the knowledge of how he's going to turn out. I can't wait to reach these next few chapters. Action is going to happen, boy!

Uh oh! My computer battery is down to eight percent. My computer is one of those that gives you a warning, and then, about five minutes later, the screen goes black and the computer shuts down. SO, I'm going to say goodnight for now, before I lose everything I've written. Until then, good night! God bless! Happy writing! Cheers, NaNo nuts! Talk to you later.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Article is UP!!

Hurray! My new article, "Seeing Red," is now up and ready at Super Teacher Worksheets. You can follow the link on my Publication and Achievements page to the site, and read (and download) the article and worksheets.

I actually got my check in the mail today. That was pretty exciting! It's nice when you get money for your work, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seeing Red... not really

Getting published is fantastic. Getting published, and getting PAID for your work is even better!

My article, "Seeing Red," is about ladybugs, different facts I found out about them, and an interesting story about where the origin of their name came from. It was actually an assignment I did for the Institute of Children's Literature. I believe it was my fourth assignment. I had to do a non-fiction article, and I was like, "WHAT!!? Non-Fiction? News flash. I don't DO NF."

Today, I found out that, actually, yes, I do. I'm a writer. I write, and about anything! (Check out my "Reaper's Son" post, to read about venturing out of one's safety zone.) Non-Fiction can be fun, and I found it really was fun. I LOVE ladybugs, and it's all because I did the research and read up on them. Now, I've found a safe home for my ladybug article at Super Teacher Worksheets.

Every night I come home from work, and I realise how blessed I am to have the drive and imagination God gave me for writing. I love it. It's a job I can come back to all day every day and always be fired up, ready to go, and eager to learn more. It's a tough job. Who REALLY loves criticism? But it's rewarding. The thoughts you think, the dreams you dream, the ideas you share, last. They live on forever. And that is something.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reaper's Son

I'm not one for horror. Horror... well, it horrifies me. I generally walk away from it going, "uhhhhhh" and **shudder**.

However, at the online Writer's Retreat that I frequent (and get lots of writing tips from), there are these fun monthly competitions called Monthly Write Offs. What it is, is this: one person gets to be the "Ruler", and say what kind of story needs to happen, i.e., fantasy, fiction, non-fiction, etc. The Ruler also gets to say what kind of word count you get, whether 750 words to 2500, or even 500 MAX! Then there are certain key elements that you must include. For example, in one Monthly Write Off, we had to insert four different random lines (two of them were "Give it to me",and "It must be a joke") and several different words, such as "confabulation", into the story, and make it FLOW. It's always fun, and at the end of the month you've got this story you'd never thought you'd write, but which might just be marketable.

Well, for the MWO in May, we did a Halloween theme, and I surprised myself by actually dreaming up something creepy! Really, really creepy. I scared myself, you know? In fact, it was so eerie I called it the Reaper's Son, and submitted it with a kind of shocked disbelief that I had written it. Now, I'm in the revision process of the Reaper's Son, and I've got two potential markets I'm going to sub it to. Isn't that something?

So, no matter what genre you think you're "blocked" into, remind yourself to always try something new. I'm rather fond of the Reaper's Son... I hope I'm able to place it. Be that as it may, it opened a new door for me and let me explore a new niche that I actually enjoyed venturing into.

Good night!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Badger's Cross. What do you think?

What do you think of the title, "Badger's Cross"?

I thought it was a poor, pitiful excuse of a title. But then, I had several people comment on it, how intrigued they were by the title, and how anxious they were to see what the story was about.

So, I think I may keep it, after all.

To be quite clear, "Badger's Cross" is NOT about a badger... it is about a boy whose nickname is Badger. The MC's name is actually Paul Ryan. (Don't you just LOVE that name? **sigh**) Paul Ryan is prob'ly on of my more favourite MC's that I've created. I can't wait to spill the essentials of his story on NaNo. I chose to do this story, 'cause I'm hoping the constant action of the plot will keep me propelled enough to grind out my 1,667 (or more... hopefully) words a day through November. Only eleven more nights 'til NaNo!!

"Badger's Cross" is going to be a YA mystery/thriller type of story. It's going to feature murder, a fall from faith, revenge, drugs, and lots of shootouts. I'm hoping it turns out as well as it sounds here!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meet Annie

Don't you just love it when a new character wanders into your head, and says, "Hello, there" ?

I do, too. While I was working on Soccer Sam, a new little voice knocked on my head and demanded, peremptorily, that I needed to write about her. Since she was SO demanding, I did so.

That's how I met Annie. She doesn't have a middle name. She doesn't have a last name. She's just Annie, with a Daddy, and a Mommy who's having a baby.

Annie is SO excited that she's going to have a baby brother, or sister. Babies are so much fun. They're like little live dolls that you can play with and love, but better.

Then, everyone begins doing things just for the baby, and Annie begins to wonder if the baby is going to be as fun as she thought it was.

Don't worry, she finds out that it is. After all, who can't love a baby?

I hope you all love Annie as much as me. She's a WIP, right now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Destiny's Son

It's amazing how just looking at an open submission can get creative juices flowing.

Pill Hill Press is open to submissions for their Shadow and Light Vol II anthology, and an idea just sort of oozled into my mind and demanded to be written.

All I had for character was "he", a man "who was more wound than man". That line sort of pummelled my brain and said "Write me! Write me! Write me!" and wouldn't leave me alone until I did. Ideas poured out of me onto paper, and I transferred it all to my computer, and that all took about one day.

But remember, after you've transferred something to the computer, DO NOT for a second believe you are done! If you don't belong to a critique group, I urge you to join now. I finished Destiny's Son, and sent out a request for a critique to people at Writer's Retreat, an online writer's forum that I frequent... frequently. Thanks to the generous fellows who answered my call, my story got critiqued, and edited to the most perfect form I could create for it.

Now, to say farewell to this character that I have just been introduced. Time to let him try his wings and see if others love him as much as I do.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


So, I'm thinking to myself, "Am I crazy?"

I mean, I'm planning to write, or at least get down a rough draft, of a 50,000 word novel. Did you hear me? A 50,000 WORD NOVEL. Yeah. That's what I'm thinking. That's roughly 1667 words a day. That's a lot of words.

I'm going to start off with an outline before the "event" actually starts. That's allowed in the NaNo guidelines. I feel lost if I don't have at least a glimmer of an idea in my head when I sit down either before my computer or at my notebook.

I'm planning on writing the story of Paul Ryan, one of my more favourite characters that I've dreamed up. Paul is such a complex character, I'm going to have to spend some one-on-one with him before November so I can get into his head and see how his brain works.

It's interesting, because I'm primarily a fantasy writer. Yet, for Paul, he's going to be thrown into a mystery, a drama, a life and death situation in the real world. I'm keeping this strictly down on earth, and not beyond the boundaries of earth to another world. This will be my first, non-fantasy novel. Wow, huh?

Well, I like to challenge myself. Quiet over there! I hear you saying, "So, 50,000 words in 30 days isn't challenge enough?" I admit, I have an ulterior motive. This is a story that's been kicking at me for a couple years. I've drafted chapters, gotten rid of them, written a couple more chapters, decided they're too much information and not enough action. This time, I'm just going to get my outline out there, and start from square one. I'm going to just mob through it. I'm going to get Paul's story out there.

Oh, and, by the way, he actually goes by Badger. Just so you know. :-)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Joys of Writing

After a hard day at work, it's so nice to know that I can come back home and be welcomed by my characters.

No matter how horrible a day has been, my worlds are always waiting for me, awake and ready for me to dive back in.

I open a notebook, and there on the page I see my MC, poised on the brink of a scene, patiently waiting for me to pick up a pen and start writing again. It is such a comfort to know that she is one thing in my life that is sure.

I'm certain every one has something in life that makes them so happy. Writing is the one work I can come back to again and again and again and never find tedious. I'm always excited to get back to my imagination.

Once I'm done with this post, you can be sure I'm going to head back to my MC and her world, and bury myself back in words and ink and fantasy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Tale of Catastrophe

Here's a funny little story that just came to me. I hope you like it!!


Once upon a time there was a girl named Catastrophe.

Cat was the seventh daughter of the seventh son of the seventh son, and on and on for quite a few generations. When she was born it was quite tragic for her parents, for she broke the seventh son trend. When she was born her father looked at her and cried out, "Catastrophe!" That was how she got her name.

Isn't that sad?

In all the kingdom of Serenity there was never a girl so catastrophic as Catastrophe. Whatsoever she did or touched or made was either ill-done, broken or destroyed. She could not even dream, for when she did her dreams were shattered.

Catastrophe was a maid in the Castle of King Melliflous. When she swept the floors she did so carefully, so that she would not break the stones. She was often scolded by the Official HouseKeeper for damaging Royal Property. She wept at nights behind the cupboards in the kitchen, wishing for just one person to ease her pain.

One night, after Cat had finished sweeping and scrubbing and cleaning for the day, she lay down on her pallet behind the warm fireplace and shut her eyes. But she could not sleep. Too much sadness was going through her mind.

"I shall never be anybody," she said sadly. "I shall always just be a catastrophe. Why, even tonight I managed to destroy the Official HouseKeeper's broom. Now I must pay her for a new one, and heaven knows I make few enough Ownsies as it is. This is a tragedy."

Cat turned over and stared at the sooty cobwebs above. She wished she could take them and make a ball of wishes from them. Hopelessly, she whispered:

"Soot of cobweb, bring to me
One white wish to comfort me."

A ribbon of starlight twinkled through the window and caught in the cobwebs. Cat sat up, staring at the figure that materialized from the starlight.

It was a little woman, very old but still very pretty. There was a mischievous gleam in her eye and she was dressed all in white, with a little silver tiara on her brow. Her white hair was braided and bound in a bun about her head. About her waist she wore a blue sash and in her hand she carried a wand.

Cat stared: the wand looked very much like a fountain pen. Surely, she thinks, it really isn't!

"Hello," the old lady said in a sweet voice. "Dear Cat, don't look so alarmed! I am the wish fairy, here to grant your wish."

Cat stammered in amaze, "But Lady, what did I wish?"

The wish fairy tutted. "You must remember. You wished for one white wish to comfort you."

Cat's mouth formed an O.

"Quite right," said the fairy and handed her wand to Cat. Cat took it reverently, and looked at it. Hm, she thought. It is a fountain pen, no doubt about it.
"I perceive," the fairy said, "That you have a vivid imagination, yet you cannot afford the money it would take to buy yourself a pen and paper. So here. Here is the pen, and here," and the fairy pulled out a monstrous ream of paper, "Here is paper. And don't worry. No matter how much you write there will always be paper for you. It will magically replenish. Isn't that something?"

It was something. Cat sat upon the floor, marvelling at the white texture of the paper, at the fine nib of the pen. She wrote the first three letters of her name upon the whiteness. Cat. The blackness of the letters look very fine against the white paper.

The wish fairy smiled. "Happy writing," she said, and vanished.

Cat smiled back. Happy writing indeed! Perhaps she could write and sell her work. Think of all the Ownsies she would earn!

Cat shivered and ran her fingers along the edge of the paper. These white pages are full of possibility.

"The tale of Catastrophe," she whispered to herself, "By Cat Scribbler. That sounds fine."

Katrina DeLallo, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Moment Of Quiet

What I love most about the end of my day is the fact that I can just come home and relax with the one thing I love doing above all else: writing.

I'm sure we all have our own different ways of relaxing. Some people love to cook. Some people love to read. Some people love listening to music.

I love to write. It excites me. It's the one job I have that I can't wait to come back to. I go to my normal day job, and dream away the hours until I can come home and sit down with either my pen and paper, or my trusty laptop, and just do a brain drain.
Right now I'm working on my full novel, The Key Keeper, a short story temporarily titled "Hope's Soldier" that I'm trying to complete for Pill Hill Press's Shadow and Light VOL 2 anthology, a drabble for Sam's Dot 2013 drabble contest, and an article 'bout ladybugs for Imagination Cafe, and I LOVE it! I'm not stressed out at all. I can do what I want to do when I want to, and nobody has any expectations on it except me. That freedom is intoxicating.

I'm also plotting the outlines for a couple WIP's that I'm trying to complete. One of the several outlines is going to be the basis of the novel I'll do for NaNoWriWee, but I'm having a hard time choosing between them. I love all the ideas, and I'm not sure which one I want to pour my heart into for the next month. BUT, I love it. I wouldn't want to alleviate the agony of the choice by one little bit.

I've also decided I'm somewhat of an anthology addict. Anthologies are such a nice length of words... not too long, not too short, plenty of space for action and plot and character building without having to go too deeply into the sometimes terrifying job of worldcrafting. Anthologies are fun. I'm having fun with the MC of my short story, "Hope's Soldier". He's a poor, confused man with a destiny he's not sure about and a future he has forgotten. I can't wait to finish it and get some critiques on it from my writer friends.

Oh, and I also love drawing. Random fact. I hope one day to be able to write AND illustrate my own books. Wouldn't that be awesome?

AND... I got another story accepted into the SOMETHING FROM THE ATTIC anthology, publishing date TBA. That was exciting, 'specially since the editor said it was a lovely, great, really wonderful story. That brightened the li'l cockles of my heart.

Last fun news of the day: today is my brother and sister-in-law's anniversary, and today their baby is one day old. Little Samantha Renee DeLallo looks like a real treasure. God is good.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Yesterday was the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.

Every time I think of them, it seems they are God's greatest fairy tale. Don't you agree? Each on of us is born with this incredible guardian, this invisible warrior who watches over us and wakes our conscience when we are about to do something we know we'll regret later. They are with us from the moment of conception, and when we come to die they will be the ones to escort us to heaven, if we so deserve it.

Not only was it the Feast of the Guardian Angels, I also got a story accepted into an anthology called Trunk Stories, publication date yet to be announced. There is nothing quite like the taste of acceptance, to know your story was good enough to be shared with the rest of the world.

That's all for now. I just wanted to wish you all a (belated) Happy Guardian Angels Feast Day, and woo hoo! I'm going to be in print!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Generally, unless I'm writing plain fiction, I like my character's name to correspond with whatever theme the story is about.

So, if I'm writing a dark and depressing fantasy in which the bad guys are winning, a little ray of hope needs to appear that will make all things good, so my MC would have to have a name that means Hope.

If I don't have a language of my own that would work for this, I use Google Translate. (I'm confessing this here.) For my story, Fathom's Hope, the MC's name is Remeny, a Hungarian noun translation that means Hope. It all comes together.

My favourite language, if I can't do my own, is Old English. Those names have the right kind of feel for old-age writing. A lot of the humans in my fantasy worlds ending up having Old English influenced names. It's a weakness of mine.

However, sometimes just an unusual name I hear can inspire a story. There is someone I know whose name is Alandra. Thanks to her, I have a novel called Whisper Mansion that is in the process of being written. So, sometimes a story inspires the name, but sometimes a name inspires the story.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

St Michael the Archangel

St. Michael is one of my favourite saints. He's a fighter, a warrior, the field commander of God's Army.

St. Michael is amazing, because he was just an archangel. He was one of the lower ranking angels in the nine angelic choirs. Lucifer, ever after known as Satan, or the devil, was a Seraphim, the highest ranking angel in all of God's legions. Yet, it was the highest, purest, most perfect angel in the whole heavenly host that fell, and it was the archangel that obeyed God's laws and brought about his downfall. It is a great symbol of humility, that one so low should be brought so high.

Even though he is an archangel, the Greek fathers and many others place him over all the other angels, naming him as "the Prince of the Seraphim."

The name Michael means "Who is like God?" It illuminates his humility, that he refers all his glory, accomplishments, and honour back to God.

He is invoked as the patron and protector of the Catholic Church. He is the Patron saint of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, and police.

Other sites to read about St. Michael:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Finished Manuscript... or so you THOUGHT

Once you get to the end of that manuscript, what's the first thing you do?

Me, I gloat.

Oh," I say, flashing a bright and beaming smile around at my family. "Look at this paper. Isn't it amazing? That's a whole story here. Did you hear me? I wrote a whole story. Hey, look at this, I actually finished. Isn't that awesome? Isn't that great? What a good feeling! That's a lot of work, you know. I finished! I finished!"

(In less polite words, people may say I'm going "Neener neener." I'm really not. I'm just so jazzed with completing a story I have to strut my stuff a little bit.)

However, once that rough first draft (yup, it's not an actual ready-for-submission manuscript quite yet, peeps) is completed, praised, and flashed around, next comes the second step, often dreaded. Revision.

Revision isn't so bad. I like to drink a pot of coffee while I'm doing it. The worst part, for me, is the red-eyed look I develop. (Just kidding.) No, I actually get just a wee bit daunted by the sheer amount of words I have to go through. I think to myself, "Golly, Cat, did you have to be so eloquent?" It's a lot of cutting, cutting, switching around, erasing, deleting...erm, yeah, cutting. But at the same time, it's kind of fun. It's like taking a beautiful red apple, and paring, and paring, and paring, until you've got a lovely mound of white clean apple meat, cored and seeded, and sweetened in a bath of sugar and cinnamon, placed in a bed of beautiful crust, and baked until the most gorgeous apple pie emerges.

I'm probably the first person to compare revision to making apple pie, but think about it. If you didn't go through all the work of making that apple perfect for a pie, how good would your pie be?

When I revise, I like to go through it once, twice, three times, four times....until someone clicks their fingers under my nose and says, "Come in, Katrina." Sometimes I start back to front, with my last chapter first and my first chapter last, just to see how that view looks. Sometimes I'll try switching the point of view, to see how the character comes through best. But at the end of the day, I always find out one more thing.

Revision can be fun, and it will never be done.

Especially if you're a perfectionist.

So tell. What do you like about revising? I like the coffee that goes with it, and the journey of rediscovering my character all over again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Right On Target

Writing is like a game of darts.

Okay, I can see you all going, "What? Has Katrina LOST it?"

Well, I admit. My family were playing darts outside, and each game reminded me of a writer's perseverance.

Think about it. You've got the bulls-eye, which is your primary goal, an acceptance for publication. Then you've got the plain little targets which are like your multiple submissions with either personal or form rejections. Then there's the doubles, and triples, which are like your royalties or advances.

So, then there are the darts themselves. A dart is an idea. Each idea you aim at your board either lands on an acceptance or rejection. If you land on a rejection, you need to other words, you get to aim again. If it lands on an acceptance, bulls-eye!

But sometimes a dart pops out. That's usually an idea that fizzles. You can either try to revise it, or just choose a new dart. I usually try to revise my darts. I can't stand seeing a dart go to waste. Most of the time, when I aim again, I manage to get the dart to stick. Not all fizzles are failures.

Would anyone like to join me? The board is new, and the darts are fantastic.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

God and Man: a poem


A derelict stable, quite forgotten,
A Godly Baby born within,
Sinless love come down from heaven,
Selfless, saving us from sin.

Pure, unwritten paradise,
Born into the world’s great dark.
In His Hand remark the imprint
Of a shadow-nail’s mark

A mess of hate, a multitude,
Delivering God to human power,
To put Him through an awful Passion,
Delivering Him to His fateful hour.

A bridge of mercy spans His lifetime,
A shaming tattoo scars our hearts,
This Hero goes to die for us;
Language of His love He imparts.

A rust of sin upon us stains
As God in torment, hanging, dies,
The darkness comes, devouring,
In that moment men realize,

"Truly, He was Son of God.
Truly, this was God most High.”
Through the darkness there’s a calling,
God was born so God could die.

Monday, September 13, 2010


When I get home from work, anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30, sometimes I am so tired all I do is read a book and vegetate for the rest of the night.

But, in the back of my head, there's this nagging little voice whispering, "Don't read. You've got to write at least 250 words of your story tonight, and you've got to peruse the magazine markets and pitch your stories out for submissions and examine the book market and target houses for your novels and write that MWO idea that is floating through your head before you forget it, and critique that paper for your friends at Critique Cafe and...and...and..."

After a while, you either have to give in to the guilt or drown that voice in a cup of coffee and more persistent reading!!

What do you do, when you just don't feel like writing? I figure, it's a job. True, it's a job that you love, passionately. But still, it's a job. Even at a job, you get weekends. Once in while, I can take a night.

But tomorrow, boy, better get those 250 words written!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Character Journal

I am in the process of reading Alice Orr's book "No More Rejections: 50 Secrets To Writing A Manuscript That Sells". It is fabulous, by the way, and I am positive I shall eventually own the book, instead of having it on loan forever from the library.

Anyway, one of the things that really struck me about the chapter I was reading was the way Alice Orr encouraged writers to "go deep" into their characters. One way she hinted to go about doing this was to keep a "Character Journal." I'm sure we've all heard of writer's journals, where you just write about your day so as to get a feel for sensory details. Well, this is the same, except you take on the persona of the character whose story you are in the process of writing, and keep her journal.

For example, I am writing "The Key Keeper", and my character's name is Bonnie Ward. She is about twelve. She has short, dark brown hair, brown eyes, a slight anger problem, and a sarcastic, spunky wit. But that doesn't reveal the full Bonnie Ward. So, as Bonnie Ward, I keep her journal. I write her thoughts as though I am her. I become Bonnie, and everything I write or say is written purely as her, not as me at all.

The best part about it is that you can find one great huge journal, divide it into sections, and keep several character journals in one. So I can write a journal for Bonnie Ward, my MC for "The Key Keeper," a journal for Alandra Rood, my MC for "Whisper Mansion," a journal for Anair, my MC for "Beyond Boundary," and a journal for Paul Ryan, my MC for my WIP temporarily titled (for lack of anything better) "Badger," in one place.

Isn't that the neatest idea? I'm so excited to share it! I hope you find it very useful.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Howl's Moving Castle: A Tribute Poem

This is a poem that I wrote, based on a book that I love. This is a tribute poem to Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl's Moving Castle. I hope anyone who reads this, if they haven't read the book yet, shall be so inspired to do so. Enjoy!

Howl's Moving Castle
A Poem Told In 458 Words.

Sophie was the eldest.
Sophie was depressed.
While Sophie Hatter talked to hats her
mettle was suppressed.

A Witch lived in the Waste, and
this Witch came in to buy.
Her rudeness woke up Sophie’s tongue,
and caused her to reply.

Sophie lost her temper.
Sophie got a curse.
From young to old she swiftly went,
and life got quickly worse.

Sophie sought her fortune,
Talking as she went.
She found a stick and made it live
by saying what she meant.

Sophie found a scarecrow,
Brought it quite to life,
Freed a dog and fled the scene,
complaining ‘bout her strife.

Sophie sought a castle
Coal-black as a frown,
Owned by Wizard Howl, and
allowed to roam the town.

Sophie took up residence,
Brandishing a towel.
She found a star named Calcifer was
bound to Wizard Howl.

Sophie met young Michael.
Earnestly, he charmed.
Sophie met the Wizard Howl and
Promptly was alarmed.

Sophie made a bargain,
Calcifer, a clue,
Sophie tried to clean Howl’s room but
didn’t manage to.

Sophie scrubbed the bathroom,
Sophie washed the sink.
Sophie mixed up Howl’s fine soaps, and
turned his hair quite pink.

Howl had quite a tantrum,
and Howl sank in gloom,
Then Howl’s dreadful tantrum oozed green
slime throughout the room.

Sophie cleaned the tantrum.
She tried then to depart.
But Scarecrow had been following, and
startled Sophie’s heart.

Howl shook off the scarecrow,
Mended Sophie’s scare.
Sophie stole his seven-league boots and
went to take the air.

Michael mixed a spell up,
didn’t get too far,
Went out roaming on the moors, and
tried to catch a star.

Waste Witch reappeared then,
to make threats on the King.
Howl was called upon to help, but
Howl, well, had this thing…

Howl, he made a perfect plan,
because he had an aim,
Sophie played his Mother, for to
blacken Howl’s name.

Sophie made a blunder,
and Howl’s aid seemed fated…
Howl went out to get a drink, and
got inebriated.

Howl caught a head cold;
complained quite shockingly.
The Witch killed Mrs. Pentsemmon and
Howl, he went to see.

Howl, he fought a battle
Of witchery and wit,
The Witch was made to run away: It
Mattered not a bit.

For Howl, he was in danger,
But Howl just wouldn’t say.
The Witch’s demon sought his heart, so
Howl moved quite away.

Scarecrow made reentry,
A skull’s head clamor caused.
The Witch’s demon tricked them all,
But Sophie hardly paused!

Sophie lost her temper,
The demon kept its head,
Howl’s heart was in its hand, but
Sophie, she saw red.

The Witch was blown to powder,
The demon fell apart.
And Sophie freed up Calcifer,
And mended Howl’s heart.

All went back to normal,
Sophie wasn’t old.
Howl’s heart was back in place:
This story’s finally told.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Finding Words In Woodstacks

So, my family and I spent an hour of the morning stacking wood. It's not my idea of the best time I could ever have, but it's vigourous and splintery, and a good workout.

As I was tossing pieces of wood to my younger sister (not really tossing, just occasionally chucking a piece to check her reflexes), I thought that writing was rather similar to harvesting wood for the winter.

See, you start with a tree, which is like a wonderful glorious story idea in your mind. Then you cut the tree down, to see how it looks from a different angle, much as you plot up different story scenarios to figure how best the story would flow. Then you cut the tree into lengths, like you cut up the storyline into different chapters, to get an idea as to how much story is hiding in those lengths.

Next, once you've loaded the "chapters" onto your truck and brought them home, you split them into logs, opening them up to see how fruitful the ideas are. Then, you throw all the wood into a pile and let it age, like a good idea has to be mulled over a little bit in order for it to work.

Then comes the stacking. You go through the pile of wood, your ideas, good and bad, that are all thrown together. Gnarly, knotty pieces of wood, or splinters, or bark bits, all the pieces of wood that are impossible to stack, you lay aside for later. Smooth, square bits, perfect stacking wood, you lay neatly in rows on the deck. The neat rows are your sentences. The occasional odd piece of wood that is perhaps slightly too long or slightly too short are your plot changes. The odd gnarled bits that you plop on top of all the good rows are your climaxes and twists of plot.

In the end, they all create one thing: a wonderful roaring fire of a story that you can enjoy every evening during winter...and hopefully with a story, every evening of the summer, as well.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Give Yourself Permission

This was a brilliant post, simply because I have a hard time really giving myself the permission I know I need as a writer.

Associate Editor Molly O'Neil, funny, witty, and concise blogger at WriteOnCon, had this to say on the subject.

First, being a writer is a solitary act of the will. Where your writing goes, or doesn't go, depends solely on you. If you become a writer, a really fabulous selling author, it's because you willed yourself to keep going on the journey even when the journey felt impossible. If you are a writer who has remained in the same rut year after year after year with no intention of ever struggling free, it's because you allowed yourself to give up, to stop running after that dream of really becoming the writer that's sleeping inside you.

There are a list of permissions that Molly O'Neil gave us. I encourage all serious writers to take this list and pin it somewhere in your home, or in your head, or on your desktop. It's gold.

Permission to call yourself a writer. (I do)
Permission to collect sparks of inspiration from even the unlikeliest of encounters. (Definitely do!)
Permission to wander your way into telling stories completely unlike those you perhaps once thought you would write. (All the time!)
Permission to start writing something new—totally, gloriously new—even if the thought terrifies you. Especially if the thought terrifies you. (I'm still scared.)
Permission to admit that a story you’ve been trying to write isn’t working, or isn’t actually something that you love writing anymore, and to liberate yourself from it. And then, to start something new. (See above!)
Permission to stray from your outline. (ALL the time.)
Permission to keep writing, even if it feels like you may never “get there.”(**sigh** I do. It's hard.)
Permission to steal the parts of a story that ARE working out of a story that mostly isn’t, and to use those parts to make something fresh. (Working on this one.)
Permission to change your manuscript from first-person to third (and possibly back again). Or to change tenses, or settings, or main characters, or any other part of your story, once you see a way to make it better.
Permission to let a character become someone totally different than you originally expected him/her to be. (Characters have a disconcerting habit to become real people, and abandoning the characters I've written for them.)
Permission to kill a character. (And to cry a little when you do so.) (I've killed them. I've cried.)
Permission to hire a babysitter, or to blow off some homework, or to order dinner in, or whatever it takes, to give yourself a little more space in your life for writing.
Permission to write a scene or story that might make certain people who love you shocked and surprised. (Still scared about this one. :-)
Permission to submit something. (Done. But ooh, it's scary!)
Permission to fail, maybe more than once. (Because you can’t fail unless you’ve tried.) (Feels like I fail all the time. **sigh** I give myself permission to accept it.)
Permission to feel things deeply as a writer—disappointment, grief, doubt, jealousy. But then to balance those negative emotions with more positive ones: ambition, determination, persistence, hope. (WIP)
Permission to be where you are in your path as a writer. Right now. Even if you think you should be farther along.
Permission to write in the oddest of places—on the back of kleenex boxes and receipts; at ballet lessons or soccer practice or with a car full of groceries going warm; on napkins in restaurants; in the bathroom of a friend or relative’s house when you’ve gone to visit—in order to capture an idea, or images, or words that flash into your mind, already strung perfectly together. (On a post-it in between visual fields. :-)
Permission to ignore all the conflicting pieces of advice, and simply to write the story within you that wants to be told. (Yay!)
Permission to step away from measuring yourself against other writers.
Permission to be inspired by EVERYTHING. (Always!)
Permission to be uninspired…but to try to write through it anyway. (SO HARD!)
Permission to mess up. Possibly many times. Every day. (Thank you. I have.)
Permission to do what you need to protect yourself as a writer—to turn off the internet, or to stop reading blogs for awhile, or to avoid Twitter—and enable yourself to do that thing which writers must do—TO WRITE. (Yes. Very hard to do, too.)
Permission to think of your characters as real people (and to perhaps actually like them better than some real-life people you know). (You mean they're NOT real? Confession: I really do like most of them better than real people, too.)
Permission to delete. (Hard, hard, hard. But I do.)
Permission to write things that perhaps no one but you will ever see. (All the time.)
Permission to write things that perhaps many people will see. (Scary.)
Permission to…Write On! (Insert cheer.)

Molly O’Neill is an Associate Editor at Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsChildren’s Books
Read her blog at:, and follow her on Twitter @molly_oneill.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How Visual Are YOU?

WriteOnCon hosted a wonderful vlog by Mary Kole, the literary agent who writes the blog awesome blog, by the way, for anyone who is interested.

Mary Kole spoke on stereotypical characters, and how often agents see that in submitted manuscripts. The worst thing, she says, that can happen in your writing is "Cliche"...that is, writing exactly what everyone else does. Writing dies with cliche. Think about it. Wouldn't you get so tired of reading stories if every single one you read featured a person of less than average size who is faced with a quest to destroy an amulet, or a ring, or a necklace of great power so that an evil dark lord will be finally destroyed and the MC's haven of peace will be left alone? Tolkien did it brilliantly. I'd hate to have to read a thousand books of a similar nature, with perhaps some or none of Tolkien's masterfulness.

The reason agents react so strongly (and usually negatively) toward stereotypical characters is because there is something "grating" about the familiar. An agent really likes to be surprised by the new and intriguing story.

This vlog was so nice, because Mary took us on a quick tour on how one can take a simple stereotype and change it into a character that is uniquely your own.

It's actually rather simple in a shockingly difficult way. Mary Kole did it this way. She took a stereotype, (and a Rubik's Cube), and demonstrated how to liven up a character.
The Rubik's Cube is all one colour, to demonstrate:
The Math Elite, a super-brilliant kid who only cares about her GPA, and who is a little bit socially stilted. (Boring, right?)

Now, Mary Kole livens it up by twisting one side of the Rubik's Cube: This teenage Math Elite, she doesn't really like math. Numbers are something that just come easily to her. It's actually not something she wants to do with the rest of her life. (The Rubik's Cube is still a little boring, but it's a bit more interesting now.)

Okay, back to some cliche:

The teen Math Elite usually has strict parents that really stifle and try to control. (We restrain a yawn. Geez, that old story, huh?)

Mary Cole twists another side of the Rubik's Cube:
What if the parents aren't strict? What if they're actually irresponsible hippies, and it's the teen's job to basically keep the house together? (We're feeling less sleepy now, and the Rubik's Cube is definitely looking more interesting.)

Mary twists another side of the Rubik's Cube:
What if the teen Math Elite just got a scholarship to a really great college, but she's not going to take it because what she really wants to do is open a record store in her hometown. (Hey, this might be a story worth reading.)

Mary keeps twisting that Rubik's Cube, and it's looking quite mixed up and lovely now:
What if the teen Elite, brilliant and pretty, with quite a future before her if she so desires to take it, is also dating a "bad boy"? (We're definitely getting a much more interesting story, and a conglomeration of subplots nicely mixing inside the main plot line.)

We're starting to have more of an idea about our MC now, her character, her secrets, all the fun stuff that makes her an actual living multi-faceted person instead of just a boring cliche.

From here, Mary puts the Rubik's Cube down. It has served it's purpose in creating a juicier storyline than the stereotype we started out with. (At the end of the vlog, though, she puts it to rights in about 20 seconds. Amazing. I digress, though...) Now she produces a list with words on the list that can help to clarify what makes any human being, and therefore any character, unique. These are a person's, or character's:

Relationships with other people or characters
Hopes for Future
Secret Pain
Secret Joy
Things they do in private
Things they do in public

Once your character has become more human, Mary provides a list of questions to ask yourself about every one of you characters as you're writing your story that will help give your character more depth. These are:

  • Your character has a box buried in the depths of her closet. What does it contain?
  • It's late at night, and your character can't sleep. Everyone else in the house is basically dead to the world and will not wake up even if your character plays drums in the living room. In that dark middle of the night, what will your character do?
  • As a kid, your character wanted to be "X" when she grew up, but then "Y" happened, and now she wants to be "Z". What happened, and why did it change her trajectory to "Z"?
  • What is your character's relationship to all the other characters in the story? When is the relationship easy? When is it complicated, and what complicates it? What is your character's primary conflict with the other characters in the story? How does the conflict change over the course of the story?
One of the greatest weapons in your writing arsenal is the element of surprise. For example, no character should always be the same flavour, like a single vanilla flavour. It's boring boring boring. Add a little chocolate. Much better, right? In the same way, don't make your characters always 100% good. Again, boring, boring, boring. We like our characters to have some flaws in them, because it makes them human and more relateable. If you add a little chocolate flavouring of cowardice or deceit or pride, it makes your character come alive.

In the same way, don't make your villains 100% flawed. They have to have some spark in there that can make them a little bit sympathetic to the reader. Add some vanilla to their mix.

If you can pull a moment where your reader is surprised and intrigued when a new facet of your character is revealed, it will pull your reader deeper into the story and deeper into caring for your character. However, no matter what kind of surprise you pull, don't lose the character of your character. Make sure that your character stays in the character you created for her. Reveal new "wrinkles" or flaws or sparks of light that were previously unknown, but don't completely present a false side of your character to your reader in order to justify a scene in your story, because you will lose faith with your reader.

From here, you are well on your way to creating a completely real character that is unique, personal, and has a true story to be shared with the world. There's nothing like this journey, where you can take a cliche and turn it into something so much better.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The voice of a story is like the voice of a singer who sings like he/she means the words. It is the heart and soul of a good piece of writing. Without a driving, unique voice, a voice that gives us the personality of the main character in a completely believable way, a story can be impossible to read.

In her blog at WriteOnCon, Elana Roth says this about voice: "Essentially, a voice is something to be listened to. The stronger the voice, the better it will be heard. And once you have it down, that’s all it takes for someone else to fall in love."

It's so true. Voice cannot really be explained. Voice is something that is inherently part of a good story. Without realising it, the voice is what makes a story sing along.

Voice, by the way, ISN'T how the main character speaks. Voice is the personal soul, the soul of the writer that is revealed through the words chosen to place on a page of white paper. Voice portrays the emotion, love, and tenderness of the writer who cares, really and truly, for the characters created. Voice is the passion that drives the reader on to care as much for the story as the writer does.

Voice is incredibly personal. A lot of what I think, feel, mean, and say is passed on to you, the reader, through the words of my creation, my main character. Voice is my heart, my innermost me, cut open and revealed, like a diamond that is so precious that I want to share it with you.

When you write, you want to keep the voice consistent, to keep it layered with more information that will keep the reader turning the pages. Every new chapter should reveal more facets to your character, each page should be consistent with the voice of the page before.

Be true to the voice that is inside you, waiting to be released. It's vague, and it's hard to understand. It's like the chemistry between two people. As Elana Roth says, "You know it when you see it, and you know it when you don’t feel it, but if you had to analyze the components of it, you’d be hard-pressed to find adequate evidence to point to."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Character Collage

So, this was one of my favourite topics that I listened to on WriteOnCon. It was a vlog by author Tera Lynn Childs, and it was fantastic, because I am a very visual person as well, and I really loved her suggestion with this one.

What you want to do, is make a collage of the character that is in your story. If you really are involved and have tons of time on your hands (which unfortunately, I do not), you can actually make a collage of ALL your characters including secondary characters, minor role characters, and villains. Actually, I would recommend doing the villain anyway; it's always nice to see who your hero is up against.

So for your collage, you make a "scrapbook page" of your character. Tera Lynn Childs suggests using catalogues, home magazines, and Lucky magazine, to find pictures of people, homes and furniture, and things that reflect your character's personality.

With a piece of white paper, you find a background image that will act as your background image for your page. I would recommend finding something that is a large, scenic picture of something, such as a beach, a sunset, a meadow, anything that your character particularly loves. Then, you look through your magazines for a picture of a person who reflects YOUR character. If you happen to be particularly artsy, I'd recommend drawing your own picture and using that. Then look for objects that your character might wear, or things that your character would use, such as purses, wallets, cars, instruments, anything that is uniquely your character.

For the last thing, Tera Lynn Childs recommends finding words or phrases that personify your character. You can use these words to present a final image of your character, to show the heart, as it were, of your character.

For me, I think this is an awesome way to preview your character. When you're stuck and aren't sure what your character actually WOULD do in a given circumstance, I could see how perfectly these would boost you through a writing slump. You'd look up and see your character on display, and you'd know instantly what they would or would not do.

Thank you, Tera Lynn, for giving me this idea. I think I'm going to make collages of my characters and frame them.....

Actually, I wonder how my sisters would like that? Heeheehee.
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