Saturday, December 31, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 12/31/2011


I can't believe that 2011 is over and that we are heading into 2012. I'm hoping that you all have a blessed New Year, and that the Christ Child grants you light and peace in 2012.

1.) We had a fun, fun, fun dinner tonight, with fruit kebabs, a vegetable spread, multiple cheeses, crackers, chicken wings and sausage, bruschetta, and of course multiple wines for wine tasting, with sparkling cider for the littlies, which was so, so, so lovely!

2.) I am half-way through revising a novel that I love, love, love.

3.) I seem to have a penchant for repeating things thrice tonight. :)

4.) I have decided that I want to get back into my music and my clay with the beginning of the New Year - one of my sisters bought sheet music of the Lord of the Rings for flute, and I have to say that music may be the thing I love the most, though writing is what I do best.

5.) The one thing about Christmas I utterly adore are all the Christmas songs - I admit I'm a really Christmas-hearted person, and I could listen to Christmas music all year, if everyone else would let me! - so I'm going to share a few Christmas songs I totally loved this year.

6.) We may have Bishop's wine tonight, which is a fancy way of saying mulled wine - it's a lovely, warming brew that makes you feel quite happy and fulfilled! :)

That's all I have for tonight, except I want to wish everyone a very, very Happy New Year full of blessings and answered prayers. I myself have promised candles to St. Andrew and St. Raphael if they come through with a particular thing I prayed for during Advent, and I think I may add St. Nicholas to that promise, as soon as I find a novena I especially love.

God bless, youse all, and have a very, very Happy New Year! May the Christ Child fill your hearts and souls and very lives with peace and happiness, and a joy that will last you all year round. God bless, and Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Epiphany, and Joy to the World!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My favourite Christmas Story -- Number 7

The last, and possibly best Christmas story ever is called THE CRIB OF BO'BOSSU. This is another story that can be found in Ruth Sawyer's THE LONG CHRISTMAS book, and it is another gorgeous story.

Bo'Bossu is a clever woodworker. In the boatyard where he works, his handiwork is the most sought-after. His is the hand that crafts the most delicate pieces for the ships, and he is the one who shapes and fashions the figureheads for the ships prows.

The other lads that work in the boatyard respect him. Amongst the lads in town, however, Bo'Bossu is mocked and humiliated, for he is a hunchback, slow and shuffling and not at all straight as the other boys are straight. Great sport it is for them to throw things at him and watch him run on his warped legs.

Bo'Bossu braves the jeers and thrown stones because of his great love of our Lady. He loves to spend time in the chapel and pour out the sorrows of his heart to her. As Christmas time draws near and the chapel is decorated in preparation of the great night, Bo'Bossu notices that the manger that will hold the Infant Child is a poor bit of workmanship. It is unworthy to hold the God of Gods in its frame. Bo'Bossu resolves then to fashion a new manger for the Child, a lovely thing in the shape of a boat with angel figureheads at each prow.

He snatches all the hours he can over this work, and though his days at the boatyard are long this job he has set for himself is a labour of love and he rests at it. He smoothes the wood, and carves it as perfectly as he can, and as the days draw near to Christmas and the village lads' torments become harder and crueller to bear, he makes a bargain with Our Lady: if he finishes the manger in time for Christmas, will she please make him tall and straight as the other boys?

A week before Christmas a new and urgent job is brought to the boatyard, and all the lads are made to work even longer hours in order to complete this task before the deadline. Bo'Bossu has no more time to work on his manger, and time becomes another relentless enemy. The night before Christmas he seizes the last scraps of daylight he can to feverishly work on his manger, but the daylight is against him and night falls before he can complete his task. In despair he sits in the darkness crying out his apology to our Lady.

In that bleakest hour a lad comes to him, a lad unknown but who also worked in his father's carpenter shop. This lad tells Bo'Bossu to rest, and he will complete the manger. Bo'Bossu is so exhausted that he throws himself down and does indeed fall asleep, and when he wakes the manger is complete and the lad is polishing it to a shine.

The two of them take the manger to the chapel before the Mass is begun, and as Bo'Bossu lays the figure of the Christ Child in the manger he recognizes him. Surely, surely the Christ Child and the mysterious Carpenter Lad are the same...

Every time I read this story I cry like an idiot, but it is such a beautiful story and written so well that you feel the tension as Christmas Eve approaches and Bo'Bossu's manger is still incomplete. You feel the amaze he feels when he recognizes the Babe and the Carpenter Lad.

Merry Christmas, my dear friends, and a very Happy, Happy New Year!!! God bless you all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My favourite Christmas Story -- Number 6

Today's story is called The Father Christmas Letters, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Between the years of 1920 and 1942 J.R.R. Tolkien's children received letters from Father Christmas. Each letter contained news from the North Pole about all the exploits that Father Christmas' helpers (notably the Polar Bear and his polar cub nephews Paksu and Valkotukka) got into during the year, and what trouble Father Christmas went through to get the presents to Tolkien's children.''

Many of the letters were accompanied by colourful pictures (drawn by Father Christmas) that showed different aspects of the North Pole during the year. Sometimes Father Christmas could not write and his Elvish assistant Ilbereth sent a letter instead. Sometimes Polar Bear sent a letter in his stiff, heavy handwriting, and sometimes the letters were very sparse. But each letter was a continuation of the stories that Tolkien created for his children about the life of Father Christmas in the North Pole.

The letters were beautifully detailed, written on stiff paper in shaky Father Christmas calligraphy, and the stamps on the letters were handcrafted originals drawn and pasted onto the envelopes to give a more authentic North Pole feel.

This delightful book is wonderfully peppered with actual copies of the original letters that Tolkien handcrafted himself. You can see the care he took in creating completely different handwriting for his three main letter writers: Father Christmas, Ilbereth, and Polar Bear

This blog contains many more pictures of the North Pole happenings. I hope you enjoy them!

Last, we have a winner for Cat's Mathoms contest, the Christmas Eve First Chapter Giveaway. Courtesy of Random.Org, the awesomest neutral random number generator, the winner is... Craftier!!

Congratulations, Craftier!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favourite Christmas Story -- number 5

This is my fifth favourite Christmas Story of all times. THE GIFT OF THE MAGI tells the sweet tale of young married couple Della and Jim. It is almost Christmas, and Della wants to buy Jim the greatest gift in the world, something "fine and rare and sterling -- something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim." But all the money that Della has is one dollar and eighty-seven cents. There was no gift she could buy for such a paltry sum!

Two fine things Jim and Della owned. One was Jim's watch, the marvelous gold watch that belonged to his father and his grandfather. The other was Della's hair, fine brown hair that hung to her knees.

In a flash of inspiration Della finds the means of procuring enough money to purchase a fine chain upon which Jim could hang his gold watch. She waits for Jim to come home from work, and when he does nothing could have prepared either of them for the twist of fate that their love for each other wrought.

This is one of the best and dearest stories about unselfishness and love. Jim and Della love each other so much that they are willing to part with their greatest treasures in order to give something great, something beautiful, to the person they love so much.

Luckily, you can read this story online here, which is wonderful because it is a sentimental and gorgeous little story. There are two book versions of the tale that I utterly love. One is illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, and the other copy is illustrated by P.J. Lynch.

This story is just beautifully written, and Della and Jim are such sweethearts that you can't help but feel that the world would be a sweeter place if people were more like them. The style is gentle and poignant, and Della's shining love shines through this story like a beacon, illuminating Jim's character and bringing a smile and a little tear of beauty to your eye.

"The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi."
~ O. Henry 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My favourite Christmas Story -- Number 4

Today's story is called "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson.

This is the endearing story of the Herdmans, the worst kids in "the entire history of the world." They smoke, swear, and lie most appallingly, and they never go to church. So when they crash into church one day and decide to take over the annual Christmas pageant no one in the parish quite knows what to do.

The Herdmans know absolutely nothing of the Nativity. As they hear the tale they air their own opinions of it quite belligerently and oftentimes their take on the story has the rest of the parish reeling in shock. But despite their rudeness and lack of refinement, the Herdmans interpret the Christmas story so honestly that their pageant moves more than one person to tears.

This story makes me laugh, and cry, because it's written so honestly and with such touching phrasing that you cannot help but love the Herdmans, ruffians though they are.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My favourite Christmas Story -- Number 3

Up next as Featured Christmas Story of the week is THE WEE CHRISTMAS CABIN OF CAR-NA-WEEN. This story is right up there with my utterly favourite stories to read at Christmas time.

This beautiful little story is written by Ruth Sawyer, and tells the tale of Oona, a tinker's child left on a doorstep in the little village of Car-na-ween.

All her life Oona's one dream was to have a house of her very own, but her tinker-birth betrayed her at every turn. No man in the village of Car-na-ween would dream of making her his wife. As Oona wends her way in life she is doomed to spend it in other folks' houses, helping other folk with their childher, nursing the sick and the very old, and being turned away to wander again whenever her usefulness is at an end.

One white Christmas, when Oona is an old woman and her usefulness finally at an end, she takes her bundle of collected treasures to a hill, and sits there beneath the falling white of snow, welcoming death. But there is a Christmas miracle waiting for her here, a Christmas miracle that will ease all the pain and suffering of a long lifetime and grant to Oona the only dream she's ever had: a wee cabin all her own.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any snippets to enclose here for you to read, but I know you can get this story on Amazon, either as a stand-alone book or in a collection of the Christmas stories by Ruth Sawyer in the book THE LONG CHRISTMAS.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My favourite Christmas Story -- Number 2

This post is actually a collection of Christmas legends that I absolutely love.

The first is the Legend of the Spider's Web. It is a lovely story, hearkening back to the day when Jesus Christ was but a young Child and His parents were fleeing from the murderous wrath of Herod. As the legend goes, the Holy Family took refuge in a cave, and since it was very cold a little spider sought to help warm the Family by weaving a web across the mouth of the cave. It turns out that the spider's web did more than just warm the Family, for when a troop of Herod's soldiers came by the web protected Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in a very special way. You can read this legend here. (There's another story about Christmas Spiders, which is also very lovely but not as wonderful as the Legend of the Spider's Web. You can read the Legend of the Christmas Spider here, and make your own choice about which you prefer.)

Next is the Legend of the Christmas Rose. Young Madelon was dreadfully poor, but she wanted more than anything to worship the Christ Child. Yet seeing the rich gifts being brought to the Babe in His stall she despaired of finding any gift worthy to offer the Infant Saviour. But God does not disappoint those that try to please him, and so He granted Madelon a very special Christmas miracle, and you can read about that here.

Third is the Legend of the Christmas Robin. Have you ever wondered why a Robin has such a red breast? On the night the Christ was born, the night was very cold and the fire that Joseph kindled was feeble. The Robin could not bear to see the Child suffer the piercing cold. This poem here gives an endearing explanation to the cause of the Robin's red breast.

Fourth is the Legend of the Poinsettia. Two children desired to bring some special gift to the Baby Jesus displayed in the village manger scene, as the rest of the villagers were doing. But being very poor they had nothing to bring, except perhaps a few weeds growing beside the road. God shows that a gift given with love is worth more to Him than any expensive offering. You can read this legend here.

Last is the Legend of the Candy Cane, one of my more favourites. The simple little candy cane is given a deeper meaning in regards to its colour and shape with the telling of this tale. You can read it here.

There are many legends about Christmas and Christmas decorations or traditions. These listed here are just my more favourite ones. I hope you enjoy them!

See you tomorrow for the next story. Oh, and don't forget... the contest at Cat's Mathoms is ending on Christmas Eve, so get over there if you have a First Chapter or short story or picture book you want critiqued, and make sure you leave a comment under the contest!

God bless, and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My favourite Christmas Story -- Number 1

For the week before Christmas I'm going to post one Christmas book, or story, that I particularly LOVE.

The story for today is called FIDDLER PLAY FAST, PLAY FASTER. I don't believe you can get this story in a single book format, but there is a collection of short stories by Ruth Sawyer (out of print, I believe, unfortunately - you may be able to find it on Amazon) that contains this story. But it is a gorgeous, gorgeous Christmas Story.

On St. Thomas' Eve, Billy Nell Kewley, a fine fiddler, is accosted by a strange gentleman with a fiery glow about him. This grim and graceful gentleman requests Billy Nell to come and play for a feast that he will be having three nights hence, on Christmas Eve. In exchange, Billy Nell will receive as many gold pieces as he can carry away with him.

Stricken by the power in the man's voice Billy Nell agrees. However, he fears he may have made a bargain with Noid ny Hanmey, the Enemy of the Soul: the devil himself.

Billy Nell seeks to find an answer to this question: What manner of spirit is the Enemy of the Soul? Can he be anything he chooses to be - a devil in hell or a fine gentleman on earth?

"Is the man noble or is he the devil?" asks the abbot whom Billy Nell begs an answer from. "I cannot say. But go. Carry salt, carry iron and bollan bane. Play a dance and watch. Play another, and watch. Then play a Christmas hymn and see!"

This is the Christmas tale of Billy Nell Kewley, the fiddler of the Isle of Man, who goes to fiddle for one who may be merely a fine gentleman, or else the very devil.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 12/17/2011

Enchanted Conversations
First and foremost, I have two announcements.

In case you missed it on Wednesday, I'm holding a contest on my site at Cat's Mathoms. Everyone is welcome to participate!

Second, and more exciting, the fantastic online magazine Enchanted Conversations is not closing! There was a point where it sounded like they were going under, but happily they are not, so keep submitting to them! They are a fantastic site that publishes fairy tales with a twist, and they are wonderful, so please please please support them. Click here to read their updated guidelines. Thanks so much!

Right, now onto this:

1.) It's A Wonderful Life has got to be one of my fav'rite Christmas movies ever... I think Jimmy Stewart has something to do with that!

2.) THE GREAT IMPERSONATION is one of the best mystery books of all time!

3.) I got all my Christmas presents bought and wrapped already.

4.) I'm going to buy ingredients for Christmas cookies tomorrow, which ought to be fun!

5.) I have the weirdest idea for a story brewing in the back of my head right now, and I'm just not sure how to go about writing it.

6.) I'm LOVING Josh Groban's Little Drummer Boy right now. Take a listen and see why:

That's all for now. Merry Christmas, and God bless you all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Words on Wednesday - The First Sentence

First sentences are the devil. Don't let anyone say they're not, because they really ARE! You need to impart so much information in one little slice of words that it almost makes you want to quit before you've started.

I won a critique giveaway awhile ago, back in July, and I was super-excited that the lady who held that contest read the first chapter and thought it was really good. The only comment she made that really stuck with me most though was about my opening sentence. It was a good sentence, but it didn't impart necessary information. This is what she said:

The first sentence is fascinating, but it doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. My first thought is “futuristic.” We’ve got a smart letterbox that can announce the mail. Furthermore, the box calls for [the MC], not one of her parents. But the book’s not futuristic (if it is, we need more signs). The assumption, both because her name is used and because she ran for the mail, is that she was expecting something important. But apparently not so. We have no clue why she ran for the mail. Does she always? Is that a way of assuaging some of her loneliness? Also, the sentence about handling the letter makes me wonder if she has powers. Can she handle objects and receive mental images? But I see no other hint of powers in this section, either.

It's so important to get that first sentence absolutely perfect. You need to tell the reader, clunk, who the MC is, what the MC can do, and what's conflicting him/her, and why this sentence was written in the first place.

Because of how wonderfully illuminating this critique was, I decided that I'm going to offer a Christmas Eve First Chapter Critique giveaway over at Cat's Mathoms. You can read the guidelines for entering, and I sincerely hope you do... enter, I mean. I promise I'll give you nothing more than my own honest, and very nice opinion! (And I sincerely believe that my opinion is very honest but nice!)

God bless!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 12/10/2011

Hello, and Merry Christmas! I just love that Christmas is getting closer and closer. Whee! I'm so excited!

Ahem. To continue:

1.) I've spent a lot of time editing my website and blog so now they look really similar. Joy!

2.) I've been cleaning like crazy, but I'm still bone-marrow frozen.

3.) The song I LOVE right now is Hayley Westenra's CHRISTMAS MORNING.

4.) I've got all my Christmas cards done! Now, to mail them...

5.) I'm nearly finished with all my Christmas shopping.

6.) I don't think the glasses I'm wearing right now are adjusted quite right... they're giving me a headache.

Merry Christmas! I hope you had a wonderful St. Nicholas Day (for those who celebrate that) and a blessed Feast of the Immaculate Conception (for those who celebrate that, which I do!) I'll update In Principio hopefully sooner rather than later, so you can read about these two feasts.

God bless!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Passage: Connie Willis

Joanna Lander is a doctor working at Mercy General Hospital. She specializes in NDE - Near Death Experiences - and her goal in life is to discover what really is on the Other Side of death. She interviews people in the hospital who have undergone NDE, but it's very hard for her to glean fact from fiction because of Maurice Mandrake, a pseudo-psychologist and famous author, who is only concerned with convincing people that warmth, happiness, and light await them on the Other Side so that he can sell a new bestseller.

Then Dr. Richard Wright arrives. He is a brilliant young neurologist also on the quest of discovering what NDE really is, and has even been able to manufacture NDE's with the aid of psychoactive drugs. Joanna and he team up to see if they can interview objective subjects as to what they see and feel during an NDE.

The scientific research and results are frustrating, and as time goes on the people that have volunteered for the experiment start drifting away until there is only one thing left to do. Joanna herself goes under the drug, and experiences an NDE firsthand.

The experience is both what she expected and not what she expected. The place she finds herself in is haunting and somehow familiar. It makes her want to go under again. But each time she goes under, she starts to feel a sense of dread growing within her, as though she knows why the place is familiar and why she should be afraid.

In an effort to try and understand why the NDE is so familiar, Joanna catapults on a "quest" to figure out what her brain is telling her as she is "dying." The results and discovery are unexpected to say the least, and the climax is a stunner, for sure!

PASSAGE is gorgeously written. Connie Willis lets you see, feel, and hear the heartbeat of Mercy General Hospital, and makes you aware of the undercurrent of tension that most likely pulses in the veins of every hospital. There is a lot of drama and build-up in the first part of the book, and though not a lot happens you can't stop reading, because there's just something gripping about people running frantically through corridors in an effort to discover what NDE is all about. PASSAGE is chock-full of memorable characters -- the incorrigible WWII veteran with his ever-changing stories, the Mandrake-influenced NDE patient with her newly-discovered facts about the Other Side, the critically ill child with a penchant for disaster stories -- and you'll laugh, cry, and bite your nails through every page of this incredibly haunting novel.

My Rating: *****

PASSAGE Book Description:

A tunnel, a light, a door. And beyond it ... the unimaginable.

Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist specializing in near-death experiences. She is about to get help from a new doctor with the power to give her the chance to get as close to death as anyone can.

A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Joanna’s first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined — so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why that place is so hauntingly familiar.

But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid.

Yet just when Joanna thinks she understands, she’s in for the biggest surprise of all — a shattering scenario that will keep you feverishly reading until the final climactic page.


Most of us would rather not spend a lot of time contemplating death
, but the characters in Connie Willis's novel Passage make a living at it. Joanna Lander is a medical researcher specializing in Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and how the brain constructs them. Her partner in this endeavor is Richard Wright, a single-minded scientist who induces NDEs in healthy people by injecting a compound that tricks the brain into thinking it's dying. Joanna and Richard team up and try to find test subjects whose ability to report their experiences objectively hasn't been wrecked by reading the books of pop-psychologist and hospital gadabout Maurice Mandrake. Mandrake has gained fame and fortune by convincing people that they can expect light, warmth, and welcoming loved ones once they die. Joanna and Richard try to quantify NDEs in more scientific terms, a frustrating exercise to say the least.

The brain cells started to die within moments of death. By the end of four to six minutes the damage was irreversible, and people brought back from death after that didn't talk about tunnels and life reviews. They didn't talk at all.... But if the dying were facing annihilation, why didn't they say, "It's over!" or, "I'm shutting down"?... Why did they say, "It's beautiful over there," and, "I'm coming, Mother!"

When Joanna decides to become a test subject and see an NDE firsthand, she discovers that death is both more and less than she expected. Telling anything at all about her experience would be spoiling the book's suspenseful buildup, but readers are in for some shocks as Willis reveals the secrets and mysteries of the afterlife. Unfortunately, several running gags--the maze-like complexity of the hospital, Mandrake's oily sales pitch, and a tiresomely talkative World War II veteran--go on a little too long and threaten the pace of the story near the middle. But don't stop reading! We expect a lot from Connie Willis because she's so good, and Passage's payoff is incredible--the ending will leave you breathless, and more than a little haunted. Passage masterfully blends tragedy, humor, and fear in an unforgettable meditation on humanity and death. --Therese Littleton

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 12/03/2011

I'm late. Again. But this time, it wasn't my fault. My 'tupid internet was downish, and then I was out of the house from 9 ack emma to about 5 pip emma, and then of course I had to grab something to eat. SO, without further ado, six sentences:

1.) I caved at last and got myself a nook, and so far I rather like it.

2.) I went CHRISTMAS SHOPPING, and it was SO MUCH FUN! I love shopping for other people.

3.) We had a pretty good choir practice for Mass IX.

4.) I don't like Walmart, because whenever I go in there I get an instant headache and tired eyes.

5.) I utterly love, love, love to look at books on drawing, and I love, love, love browsing art supplies, like charcoal pencils, mannequins, and coloured pencils.

6.) Tomorrow is SUNDAY, and that means a NIBLET WITH COFFEE! Yumm. :)

That's all for tonight. God bless! Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo success

Yes, I finished my NaNo novel in 28 days, clocking in at 50,800 and some odd words. Not bad! Now, to get to the revision process. Revision can either be very "Yay!" or very "Ugh" for me, depending on how much work there is involved. I hate it when I get to revising and discover a massive, and I mean MASSIVE plot hole. You feel like you can hear your inner editor snickering, "Bu-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-m-m-m-m-mer!"

This book that I did for NaNo (which, by the way, is the sequel to the book I wrote for Camp NaNoWriMo in July) will need a massive rewrite, because it actually turned out to be a book with two separate stories, told from the viewpoint of two MC's. What I actually wrote turned out to be a very well-thought-out rough draft, with a lot-a-lot of side notes, diagrams, and maps. (I LOVE drawing maps!) So, what I'm doing from here on out is the second draft of the book, smoothing out the rough edges. I'll need to stitch the two parts together so that there's continuity and motion in the tale, and no weird disjointed fragments. I'll probably end up printing out the entire thing so that I can have a physical copy in my hands to muck about with. I love scratching bold pen lines through sentences that I really don't like.

I like to do my revision on paper, with pens. There's something much more tangible about doing editing with a hard copy. I feel like I can actually see how the story is supposed to go if I have a printed copy to work with. How about you? Do you do better with computer or paper?

So, my list of "What to do" this week:

1.) Rewrite at least seven chapters of NaNo novel (I've already completed two)
2.) Do some research for an article I'm thinking about.
3.) Finish the short story I've written up and submit.
4.) FINALLY get to that critique I promised my sister I'd do.
5.) Drink some more tea and get better. I caught the world's nastiest cold from the rest of my sisters, who insist that the best way to get rid of a cold is to give it to someone else. Come on down, my friends, and I'll share with you!

What's on your agenda for the rest of the week?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Six-Sentence Sunday

I was late, late, late again for my six sentences. One of these days I will learn to write these posts early so I can post them on the proper day!

First off, I want to share the Corpus Christi Carol by Hayley Westenra, since this is the First Sunday of Advent:

Now, here are my sentences:

1.) I could browse craft stores for hours... and I mean HOURS!

2.) St. Nicholas and St. Raphael are two of my more favourite saints - St. Raphael is the patron saint of those looking for spouses, and St. Nicholas is seriously the saint of EVERYTHING ELSE you need to pray for!

3.) We (meaning my little parish) are going to do a High Mass for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, so we are practicing our Gregorian Chant.

4.) I have a terrible weakness for M&M's.

5.) I just found out that the movie, "Water for Elephants", was adapted from a NaNo novel. Isn't that amazin'?!!

6.) I only have 4,000 words to go before I finish my 50,000 NaNo novel. HUZZAH!

That's all, aside from a very warm Happy First Day of Advent to all of you! I love the whole Advent Season, because we can start singing the anticipatory songs of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "O Come, Divine Messiah" for Mass. It's a very preparatory time, very focused on sacrifice and anticipation of the birth of our dear little Jesus Christ. I adore the empty Nativity scene, which slowly becomes filled with oxen, sheep, a donkey, the shepherd, St. Joseph, our Lady, and finally the Babe Himself as the season advances. I love the Advent Wreath, with the lighting of the candles for each Sunday. I love the little crib that we set out, empty, ready to be filled with straws of sacrifice that all the little girls perform in order to present the Baby Jesus with a soft bed in which to lay. I love the Advent chains that we make, that count down the days until Christmas. I love the Advent calendars, the Christmas baking, all the decorating.

I just love Advent. For me, it's a much more joyous time than Lent. The focus of Advent is the coming of the Redeemer to earth, and He comes to us in the form of a little Baby. Who cannot love a baby? They are so soft, so dear, so precious. It is the time when the world makes ready for the Babe who came to save us from our sins.

Happy Advent! God bless!

Enjoy "Veni Emmanuel" as arranged by Anne Dudley

Since the Fish Eaters site has some of the best information on Advent Traditions, I've enclosed some links that you can follow to read more about Advent.

Fish Eaters: Advent Overview
Fish Eaters: Advent Wreath and Candles
Fish Eaters: Customs and Traditions of the Liturgical Year

Also, Amanda at Old Fashioned Girl has some good stuff to share about Advent as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NaNoWriMo and St. Cecilia

One thing that I utterly love about the month of November is that wonderful, hectic, chaotic thing known as NaNoWriMo.

For anyone who has not heard of NaNo before, this stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words in thirty days. That leaves you with a goal of about 1667 words per day. For all you non-writers laughing over there in the corner, try to write that many words. It's a LOT of words!

My goal during NaNo is to just write. This is hard for me, because I have an obnoxious inner editor that likes to revise chapters while I'm in the process of writing them. I generally lock her in a mental closet and just write. Also, since I hate feeling pressed for time, I generally try to go way over my word count for the day, so I don't have quite such the overwhelming amount of words to write. I think I have to write at least 1330 words per day in order to finish by November 30, but my goal is to finish sooner. :)

This month I'm working on a sequel I wrote to a story that I actually wrote for a summer NaNoWriMo, and I keep falling more and more in love with the characters. There are two alternating MC's in this book, and they are such polar opposites I'm having a blast writing about them. I'm also doing a lot of redrafting, because each chapter I write takes a tack I wasn't expecting. I mean, this one character popped into the picture and he wasn't even part of the original draft, and now I think he's going to be this great antagonist who's actually a traitor. Cool, eh? I would never have thought of that if I hadn't just been writing without thinking. I actually love it when that happens. It makes me feel like writing is so uncertain, and terribly exciting!

Even though this is totally off the NaNoWriMo tack, I just wanted to share with you that yesterday was the feast of one of my more favourite saints: St. Cecilia. I love St. Cecilia, primarily because she is the patroness of music, and music is right up there with writing in regards to which activity I'm most passionate about.

St. Cecilia was a remarkable saint. She was the perfect model of the early-day Christians, living only for God and converting many pagans to Christianity by the beauty of her preaching. Her prayers and example converted her husband Valerian to the Faith, and his conversion in turn inspired his brother Tibertius to convert as well.

Both Valerian and Tibertius preceded Cecilia in martyrdom, but when it came her turn to die God proceeded to prove her faithfulness to Him by protecting her from the first death initiated for her. This was to be death by suffocation, where Cecilia was shut up in the baths with fires kindled hotly so that they should have killed her through the heat. But though she remained in that prison for a day and a night she did not even break out in perspiration. Seeing this, the prefect of the city ordered that she should be beheaded, and sent an executioner to perform this duty.

Somehow, the executioner bungled the job, striking three blows that did not sever her head from her body. Cecilia was left in this condition for three days, during which she continued to preach and draw souls to God. After she died she was buried in the catacombs.

She is the patroness of musicians.

St. Cecilia
Catholic Online
Catholic Culture

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 11/19/2011

I manage to miss my Wednesdays quite frequently, and this is a sorrow to me. I feel like I spend so much time writing that I forget about my blog until late Saturday.

Anyway, here we go.

1.) It's gratifying when your sister tells you that the rough draft of your story is better than a published story she's reading... I realise one should not rely on family members for a critique, since there tends to be prejudice involved, but it is nice to hear that my descriptions are better than a published authors. *blush*

2.) I just bought Kate and Leopold from a video rental, which was cool!

3.) My employer agreed to wear a green scapular, which is AWESOME!

4.) Google Translate is pretty cool!

5.) I'm not sure when I'm going to find time to read next.

6.) My current favourite book is my own... how proud is that?

That's all! Thanks for listening to me rant. LOL

God bless.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 11/12/2011

First of all, let me just say, the Phantom of the Opera was AWESOME! I enjoyed myself so much, and even though I know the story intimately I still cried at the end. Broadway musical fans, raise your hands...

Hi there. Nice to meet you all. :)

Okay, so here are my six sentences:

1.) I can occasionally be an impulsive buyer... my last impulsive buy was a bag of dried banana chips. YUM!

2.) I went to Staples again and hung around there for awhile, drooling over the $1 sales, notebooks, and electronics.

3.) I hate exchanging/returning things, and never do unless I have someone with me to give me courage.

4.) My favourite movie right now is Real Steel.

5.) My favourite song right now is Nickelback's "Gotta Be Somebody"... once you can overlook the rock-out-iveness of it, its awesome.

6.) Me and my co-workers were working yesterday, Veteran's Day, and our employer was so sweet he came in at noon and gave us the rest of the day off.

Last, I'm going to share a poem with you now. Enjoy.


He came to save, He came to die--
His Sacrifice encompassed all
beneath the shadows of the sky.

Men mock and jeer with jaundiced eye--
their bitter hearts do not recall
He came to save, He came to die.

"Behold Thy Son." Who will reply?
His blood, as drops of payment fall,
beneath the shadows of the sky.

The Magdalen is standing nigh--
His Mother gazes, strong and small.
He came to save, He came to die.

In pain He hangs-- the wind keens by.
They offer vinegar and gall
beneath the shadows of the sky.

At last it comes! He gives a cry!
His blood is spent-- He's given all.
He came to save, He came to die,
beneath the shadows of the sky.

*For more information on villanelles, please follow the link below.*

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Fantasia

Hello, all my awesome readers!

This is just an extra post to inform all and sundry that I had a story accepted by Knowonder! magazine, and I just wanted to share the excitement with all my friends.

The story is called Araynee's Gift, and I'd love it if you gave it a read and left me a comment, to let me know if you liked it.

Thanks so much! WOOT WOOT! I'm a bit excited. Getting published is ALWAYS fun!

Until tomorrow, I remain yours faithfully, Katrina. (Ooh, and I'm going to see the Phantom of the Opera tonight, so that's DOUBLE fun!)

God bless.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post with Michaelbrent Collings

From Page to Page to Screen
By Michaelbrent Collings

People often ask me things. Things like, "How can I improve my protagonist's character arc?" and "Why is it important to have three acts?" and "Could you please stop staring at me? It's creeping me out." And those are all good questions. Except the last one. I wasn't staring at you, I just lose the ability to focus my eyes sometimes.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Questions.

Another question I'm asked occasionally deals with writing novels versus writing screenplays.

I know a bit about both. My novel RUN was's bestselling sci-fi novel for a while. It was also on the bestseller lists for horror and thrillers (it's a "genre bender"). Another novel of mine, Billy: Messenger of Powers, a fun YA fantasy about a boy who discovers he's in the middle of a secret magical war that will determine the fate of humanity, has been on numerous Amazon bestseller lists for most of the past year.

And as for screenwriting, well... I've had screenplays do very well in numerous high-profile screenplay contests. I've optioned screenplays (and if you don't know what that is, trust me, it's pretty cool), and been hired to do rewrite work on scripts. I've also sold several screenplays, and am a member of the Writers Guild of America (which is statistically harder to get into than major league baseball). So I've got some street cred in that world, too.

And let me tell you something: they are different worlds. Some people think that screenwriting would be easier than novel writing. After all, a screenplay only demands about 100 pages of writing (much of which has margins that dramatically cut down on the word count per page), while a novel requires hundreds of pages and tens of thousands of words.

But in reality, I have found that both have their "easy" parts and their "hard" parts, their ups and downs. Novels do require "more" work from the point of view of simple quantity, but they also allow you more leeway to spend time creating a world, to establish a credible narrative voice and reel the audience in. In scripts, you generally have about 200 words to "hook" your audience. After that, they're just not interested. On the other hand, scripts don't require you to explain the backstory of every major character in exhaustive detail (though most competent writers will at least have a sound idea what that backstory is).

In sum, both are different kinds of storytelling. I liken them to speaking different languages. It is possible to be fluent in both, but it also takes a lot of effort. That's why a lot of novelists write atrocious screenplays, and why a lot of screenwriters get bogged down and lost in the mazes of novel-writing.

But it can be done. And why? Because at their heart, both are in service of a common goal: telling a story. Whether on the page, or on the screen (or, in the case of some of my work, on the page of a novel and THEN on the page of a screenplay and THEN on the screen of a theater), the storyteller has one rule: engage the audience in a compelling story that will allow them to have experiences that they could not otherwise have.

I think that's the great thing about novels and movies: their ability to speak to us, to take us from one place to another in the blink of an eye. To give us the gift of story, the thrill of a tale well-told.

Again, they are different languages. But all languages, at their heart, are about talking, about communicating. And similarly, whether in a book or on the screen, a good story-teller is at the heart of each tale.

Michaelbrent is a bestselling novelist whose books <a href=>RUN</a> and <a href=>Billy: Messenger of Powers</a> have been bestsellers. He is also a produced screenwriter and member of both the Writers Guild of America and the Horror Writers of America. His website is, and you can follow him on Facebook at or on twitter @mbcollings.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 11/05/2011

Have you ever taken the time to browse "Pencil Lead Carving" on Google? Try it. I'll bet you'll be amazed at what sort of amazing creations you'll discover.

Okay, for today...

1.) Stay tuned, because there will be a guest post featured on Wednesday, November 9th, with Michaelbrent Collings, and I think you'll really find it interesting!

2.) There's a BOOK SALE at the library today - Guess who's going to be there?

3.) As soon as winter hits I remain in a state of semi-frozen until late spring.

4.) I'm at 8,000 words with my NaNo novel, which is good for five days. (I'm writing more later, so there.)

5.) I'm reading "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland" right now, and I'm deeply impressed with the author's daring take on fantasy.

6.) I can't wait for season four of Leverage to come out!

All right, that's all for now. Ta!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 10/29/11

Hello again! It is Saturday again, and almost the end of October. Where did THAT month go? Shu-reek!

Anyhoozle, here are my six sentences.

1.) I'm going to be NaNoing as soon as NaNovember hits, so don't disturb me!

2.) I really, really, really like Hugh Jackman.

3.) I also really like Christian Kane as Eliot Spencer.

4.) I haven't been to Staples for AGES, and I really feel the call from the paper over there.

5.) I want to get a couple more plaid skirts from Kohl's that are sort of like the ones I've recently purchased.

6.) I think I'd like to get CD's for Christmas.

That's it for now. :) God bless!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Catching up on Thursday

I've been having a sort of off-week. Maybe even an off-month. I just haven't gotten around to posting my updates when I'm supposed to, and it's so frustrating! So it's nice when something happens to make everything better. First off, I won the giveaway over at Kelly Hashway's Books! Thanks, Kelly.

Second, I watched Real Steel (twice) and that made me realise how much the depiction of a strong movie character can influence my writing. My favourite characters are the ones that "grow" during the course of the film, that make a slow alteration between the (possible) jerk that they were at the beginning of the film into that person you can respect, admire, even love.

Actually, not only movie characters either, but other book characters, singers, songs, anything can tug at my emotions and make me really feel. Usually it's a character that's depicted so well I get this weird, protective surge inside me, and if such a character (book characters usually, and any character in a ballad song) were real, I would do everything in my power to try and get him/her to heaven. With movie characters and singers, at least they're real so I can pray for them. :) I know, it's funny, but the movies and songs and books I like best are the ones that make me wish I knew such a person, and that I had someone like that to love.

Here is a list of some of the people, songs, and characters  that have made me feel:

  1. Josh Groban. He first did it with his song "Remember When It Rained," and he's been doing it to me ever since.
  2. Morgon in the Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy, a character written by Patricia McKillip.
  3. The Highwayman, written by Alfred Noyes and put to music by Loreena McKennit.
  4. David Wenham as Faramir in the Lord of the Rings movie. (In the books, it was Gandalf.)
  5. Tom in Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones
  6. Steve (Chris Evans) in Captain America
  7. James Braddock (Russell Crowe) in Cinderella Man
  8. Mark Williams, my music teacher, who will also be playing the Phantom in a production near Tahoe.
There you go! Hope you enjoyed reading, and sorry for the delay. God bless!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Six-Sentence... Sunday?

Yep, I missed my day yesterday. Have you ever had those weekends where you just feel so unmotivated and unable to get to your writing? That was my weekend. I don't know what was wrong with me, but I'm feeling a bit more like myself, and ready for my six sentences, and I'm oh-so-sorry about the delay.

1.) I watched Real Steel on Friday with my sisters, and the boxing scenes were amazing!

2.) I discovered that I have a very, very soft spot for fighters and underdogs.

3.) Hayley Westenra released a new album! (Yay!)

4.) Susan Boyle is also releasing a new album, and I can't wait until it comes out.

5.) The One-Click button on Amazon is DAN-GER-OUS!!!

6.) I really need to get my October Monthly Write-off written for Writer's Retreat already!

That's all for now. Habbut you?

God bless!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette: by Jeanne Birdsall

They were adorable in The Penderwicks.

They were just as good in The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.

And now, we get even more of them in The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, the long-awaited sequel that the School Library Journal says "takes readers slightly out of their comfort range but not so far that they feel adrift."

The very first line pulls you in. "The Penderwick family was being torn apart." Oh my goodness! you think, and squirm a little deeper into the couch and pull the book a little closer to your face as though to telepathically discover, before reading any farther, what tragedy could possibly pull Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty apart.

Then you learn it's not a tragedy. Just separate vacations.

It's summer time. Mr. Penderwick and his new wife Iantha (and Iantha's son, baby Ben) are off to England for "scientific conferences and a bit of honeymoon." Oldest sister Rosalind is off to New Jersey on a vacation with her best friend Anna.

The rest of the Penderwick girls - Skye, Jane, and Batty - are off to Maine to spend two weeks with Aunt Claire at Point Mouette. This makes Skye, in Rosalind's absence, Oldest Available Penderwick (OAP for short), a duty that Skye is grimly determined to fulfill as best she can.

The Maine beach is a lovely mixture of rocky shores and sand, and the cottage where they're staying with Aunt Claire is just right, not too big and not too small. As they settle in Skye thinks that maybe, just maybe, she can get through her OAP duties unscathed.

Then she accidentally destroys the list she created that gave her the much-needed guidelines for taking care of Batty.

Then Jane gets Writer's Block.

Then Jeffrey, their friend from book one who was supposed to go on vacation with them in the first place before his nasty mother changed her mind at the last minute and forbade him to go, is suddenly allowed to spend the two weeks with the three Penderwick girls at Point Mouette.

Then Jane falls in love, and later takes a bad fall onto some rocks, frightening Skye half to death.

Then Batty reveals she has a gift for music.

Then Jeffrey discovers someone who may, or may not, be important to him in a very special way.

Then there's a bonfire.

Then there's a concert.

And at the end the whole Penderwick family is reunited in their little house on Gardam Street.

Jeanne Birdsall somehow manages to capture the essential whimsical delight of a close-knit family without coming off as fake, forced, or foolish. Each character has a definite three-dimensional aspect that makes them like real people, people you'd want to know, to hang out with, maybe play a rough game of soccer with. Even  with four different sisters, Jeanne Birdsall manages to make them at once unique and believable, from the responsible Rosalind, to the scientific Skye, from the writerly Jane to the adorable multi-faceted Batty.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette is a classic destined, along with its two predecessors, to have a long, long life in every book-lover's library.

My rating: *****

Please do take a moment to visit Jeanne at her website, and enjoy the utterly adorable author interview (in two parts) included here for your enjoyment.

Giveaway at Kelly Hashway's Books

Want to have a chance to win the autographed copy of the Purrfect Puppy, by Kelly Hashway, and the colouring book version of May the Best Dog Win, along with some purrfectly delicious SWAG?

Then come on down and enter the giveaway at Kelly Hashway's Books! It's free, and fun, and you never know. YOU could be the winner. :)

See you there!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Quick "Extra" post

There's a contest going on over at the Children's Writer right now. Head on over, read the guidelines, participate! Imagine how cool it would be to win first prize! 

Good luck on everyone who participates. Hope you have FUN!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 10/15/11

Here they are, in no particular order:

1.) Today is my li'l sister's birthday. Hippo Birdy, Tiny!

2.) My storyboard's sorta coming along... I wish I didn't have such an abysmal headache! :-)

3.) Phantom of the Opera is the best thing to listen to if you're trying to warm up your vocal cords.

4.) Did you know it's vocal CORDS, and not vocal CHORDS? I think I knew it, but not consciously.

5.) Monday are private lessons for singing! So e'citing!

6.) Finished reading The Unwanted's, by Lisa McMann (which was okay) and Pegasus by Robin McKinley (which was better but made me wonder if there's supposed to be a sequel, 'cause it didn't quite feel like it ended).

How about you? What are your six sentences?

God bless!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Writing on Wednesday: Picture Books

I had two little news flashes to share with you today.

First of all, I'm working on a picture book, and I'm seeing if I can illustrate it myself. Whilst doing this, I learned two things about picture books and illustrating that I'd always known, but never really realized until this moment.

1.) When you are drawing a child (toddler-ish age or a little bit younger) you want the diagram of the child's body to equal four of its head sizes stacked one on top of the other. Like so: Dani Jones at

2.) When you are writing a picture book, read it through carefully to make sure its a picture book and not a short story. You're probably thinking, "What's the difference?" Well, I'll tell you.

A short story contains descriptions. It has a full plot told in very few words with well-chosen phrases used to inspire the imagination in as little space as possible.

A picture book is like a poem, where it makes you feel, but there are undertones that the reader has to understand on his own. A picture book uses those undertones as pictures which the illustrator interprets in a series of drawings that complement the words. What the words don't say, the pictures reveal.

Coolio, hey?

That's all for now, peeps. I'm off to do a dummy layout of a PB. Maybe it'll turn out to be fantastic! You never know. :-)

God bless!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 10/08/11

Here we are again.

First, an announcement: I've been so busy I just haven't been able to get in my three blog posts a week, so I'm whittling it down to two posts on Wednesday and Saturday.

Now, here we go!

1.) I went to the library today, looked up a couple books I really love, and turned to the back to see who the author credited as their agent, and compiled a list.

2.) I got some lovely critiques back on a PB that I want to sub, so I'm going to be working on that over the weekend.

3.) My next two seasons of Psych came in the mail today... HOOT HOOT! I'm so 'cited!

4.) I just finished a rather remarkably good book called The Lost Conspiracy, by Frances Hardinge, and I utterly LOVED her descriptions.

5.) I just started the first chapter of Maximum Ride... very interesting.

6.) I think I'd like to seriously learn how to do sepia illustrations.

That's all for this week. See youse all on Wednesday! God bless

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 10/01/11

Today is the first day of October, and WOW! Does it look like Fall out there! My fingers are cold. *sigh* Here comes winter. :-P

Here are my six things:

1.) I really do like Autumn - really! - it's just the thought of the following winter that I eye with a lack of enthusiasm.

2.) I 've been cleaning like a mad thing... I thought that was something you did in Spring? Hmmmm...

3.) I've been listening to tons of music - soundtracks, (Thor, Iron Man, Captain America: LOVE YOU, GUYS!) singers, (Camilla Kerslake, Sara Kempe, Ed Ames) Nature Sounds, on different kinds of media: mp3, CD, and vinyl.

4.) My friend Kelly Hashway made it to the 113 finalists of the 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading (Conga Rats, Kelly) and I voted for her.

5.) I drew yesterday, and found myself struck with a book idea for woman warriors.

6.) The Phantom of the Opera will be playing in Reno, and I'M GOING TO GO. I've decided. Just now. I'm going. :-)

So that's all for this Saturday. How 'bout you?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Giveaway at AmandaBeth Online

I've been busy cleaning and putting my house back in order, and I got an email from one of my sisters regarding this: A giveaway over at AmandaBeth Online. A GIVEAWAY!

Giveaways are fun. For absolutely nothing you can participate in a contest and maybe even win something cool. Believe me, this one is very cool. If you win, you get 50 Amsterdam Pens to personalize for your very own. Check it out here!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tough Guide to Fantasyland: by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones' book, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, is a must for the Fantasy writer working on avoiding cliche stories and creating whole new worlds that don't rely on standard formulae.

Unlike many "how-to" books, the TOUGH GUIDE is more of a handbook for the hardcore Tourist making his/her way through Fantasyland. It's set up to give you definitions of certain elements of Fantasyland while providing you with insight in how not to make your story same-old, same-old.

You open to the first official page, and you are greeted by a map. This is Fantasyland. It's a completely useless map but you are advised to keep it and peruse it at intervals, for it is the only map you'll get. Next comes a couple pages of Rules provided by the MANAGEMENT, after which you come across a page of identification elements. These are simply sign-post drawings that inform you whether or not the definition given pertains to something MAGICAL, PERSON, ANIMAL, BATTLE and/or FIGHTING. Of course, there are more categories than that, but these are some of the more important few.

Next, you can turn to the section labeled Toughpick, and here, arranged alphabetically and tidily from A to Z, you can peruse the main elements of Fantasy writing. Here you'll discover fascinating tidbits. For example, for some inexplicable reason, the further North and snowy you go, the scantier people dress, wearing only loincloths and armbands. Vice versa, the further South and sunny you travel, you meet the DESERT NOMADS wrapped to the eyeballs in robes and veils. Also you discover that, despite the shocking lack of sheep, everyone seems to wear clothing made of wool, and though no cow ever graces the pages of Fantasyland folk somehow manage to find leather boots.

In addition you'll learn about:

  • Apostrophes (their cunning placement and use of in Fantasyland)
  • Capital Letters (and their liberal use amongst the folk of Fantasyland)
  • Colour Coding (and how to pay attention to people's eyes, hair, and clothing in order to discern if they are good or evil)
  • Ecology (or lack thereof)
  • Hares (and how often they are mistaken for Rabbit)
  • Horses (and their amazing abilities unique to Fantasyland)
  • Management (and how they assist you through your Tour)
  • Official Management Terms (and how they help you understand your Tough Guide better)
  • Reek of Wrongness (provided to never, ever, ever let you confuse your bad guys with your good guys)
  • Swords (magical, non-magical, and the use of such a weapon)
  • Stew (the only Food you'll get in Fantasyland, aside from Bread)
  • Water (and how untainted it is throughout Fantasyland)
  • and Zombies.
Throughout the book certain words will be italicized with the official OMT trademark beside it, to show this is an Official Management Term and not a mere phrase only.

Also for your enjoyment, at the top of each alphabetical index is a Gnomic Utterance for you to read and absorb. Have a nice Tour through Fantasyland!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Six-Sentence Saturday 09/24/11

Once again, here we are!!

In no particular order:

1.) I went to a conference at South Lake Tahoe's new publishing house, Bonafide Books, and met the editor Kim Wyatt and had a fantastic time!

2.) I was inspired to become an SCBWI member.

3.) Since the conference, I have submitted four short stories, two of which (if accepted) would count as credits for SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America.

4.) I found out there's going to be a SCBWI conference in Lake Tahoe sometime in May next year, and I REALLY want to go.

5.) I'm trying to figure out how to become an illustrator (which is a work in progress).

6.) I got the soundtracks for Captain America and Thor, and they are joining my Iron Man soundtrack in my CD rack... Thor is a really good soundtrack, and Captain America is very cool too.

That's all for now, folks. Got to save my revisions for my WIP now and join the family in watching Escapade in Florence. See you later. God bless.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


In this world of writing, there are some facts of writing that you're just going to have to swallow.

One of these is queries.

A Killer Query must knock an agent's socks off. A Killer Query must grab your potential agent in a combination of voice, clarity, and focus. A Killer Query must relate to your agent the voice of your story, that is, the unique style that is your writing. A Killer Query must WOW an agent.

All this fuss for a query, you say?


A query is an essential element to the writer's workshop. A manuscript without a query is like a sandwich without the cheese. It's still good, but the cheese makes it fantastic. (Or bacon, if you prefer.)

A query gives an agent insight to who you are as an author. It portrays the voice and plotting strength of a writer, and gives a hint as to your writing style.

Don't be fooled. Queries are not easy. As a matter of fact, they can be downright evil. A query must convey to your potential agent, editor, publisher the full substance of your story without feeling like a lecture, or sounding like a complete waste of time. A query must be clear, concise, focused, and interesting. It must convey the entire plot of the story... in less than a page of writing.

I am in the process of crafting a query for my two WIP's; The Key Keeper, and Whisper Mansion. It is an interesting new view of the writing world. I've never seen it from this side before, and it's a challenge!

For information on how to craft a query, check out Nathan Bransford's advice:

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Pass a Degree with Confidence: an author interview with Anthony Fox

Hello everyone! Today I'd like to welcome author Anthony Fox to The World Crafter's Inkspot.

Anthony is the author of HOW TO PASS A DEGREE WITH CONFIDENCE, a motivating self-help book on how to pass a university degree with confidence. It contains detailed information for those individuals contemplating an under graduate or post graduate degree, as well as insightful stories from the writer's own experiences. It was recently published on July 29, 2011, by Chipmunkapublishing.

Hello, Anthony! Thanks for coming. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in London. As a young boy I went to school in America before returning to England to finish my education. I also lived in Australia before leaving for America with my parents. In England I studied art at Bideford Art College.

From an early age I wanted to be a writer / artist. Ever since I can remember I have been drawing and writing. Around the age of 12, I became a keen reader of history, archaeology and science. Throughout my life I have been a dreamer and thinker, always trying to understand the wonders of the world. I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge.

Ooh, London. I could tell you were British from the way you phrase your sentences. I love British authors! In a writer's "rule of three", three of my more favourite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Herriot, and Diana Wynne Jones, are all British writers.

Continuing with the "rule of three", what do you think are three of the most important things in your life?

My children come first - Colleen my daughter and my son Jamie - and then there's me. After that, well I guess whatever is most urgent. Love, hope and charity.

What was your goal in writing HOW TO PASS A DEGREE WITH CONFIDENCE?

I wanted to write a book that shared my experience so that other students could avoid some of the pitfalls I faced, and also have a useful study guide to help them focus of gaining that degree. On a more personal level, I wanted to become an author and was proud of the achievement of having a book published.

You should be. Publishing a book is an enormous achievement, as well as a terrific confidence booster. Before you decided to pursue a degree, and before you wrote HOW TO PASS A DEGREE WITH CONFIDENCE, what did you do for a living?

Over the years I have had many jobs, from salesman to office manager, power station technician to construction worker, as well as an IT consultant. Before starting my degree I worked as a carpenter and really enjoyed the satisfaction of working outdoors and making things with my hands.

Very neat! You were certainly an all-around kind of man, weren't you? How did this influence your decision to pursue a Master's in Software Engineering in Artificial Intelligence?

It didn’t. My interest in computers goes back many years before, to when I was building computers and writing code as a teenager. From an early age science has always been a keen interest of mine with the words and voice of Carl Sagan resonating in my head.

You actually wrote computer code? That simply staggers me. I don't think I could write computer code to save my life!

So what triggered the idea to write a how-to book?

I noticed there was no comparable book on the market that gave an insight to university life which would also be a useful study guide to passing a degree. I also wanted to share my experience so that other students could achieve what they wanted. And that it was never too late to start.

That's very true. Good for you for pursuing such a goal!

So, tell us a little bit about HOW TO PASS A DEGREE WITH CONFIDENCE.

I describe the book as an interesting, innovative, and motivating self-help book on how to pass a university degree with confidence by providing, not only the do’s and don’ts of college life, but also insightful and fascinating examples from my personal experiences. It was written using the knowledge I gained as a student representative as well as the achievement of gaining an MSc and a BSc Honours degree. Comprehensive and detailed information is provided to help those individuals contemplating an under graduate or a post graduate degree visualise and achieve their goals. Each chapter recalls a personal experience that helps to reinforce the academic topic. Topics include:

1.) How to write your project or dissertation
2.) Exam preparation
3.) How to research
4.) Time management
5.) How to reference correctly
6.) Critical thinking
7.) How to study
8.) How to revise (with a bonus anecdote of When A Girl Came Knocking At My Window)
9.) How to build confidence
10.) The need to set goals
11.) Student perspective
12.) How to cope with stress
13.) How to cope with meagre funds
14.) How to score more goals than Casanova
15.) Ten tips for university

and much more. Also there’s a bit more meat on the bone. Read the chapter why understanding critical thinking is so important.

Exam Preparation and Time Management were two of my more favourite chapters. I especially liked When A Girl Came Knocking On My Window. It showed a great example of managing your study time, as well as being hysterically witty.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Around 6 months, maybe longer. I originally started the project in mid-2005 but because of illness and other mishaps I didn’t start seriously until mid-2010.

What were the biggest obstacles for you on your road to publication?

At times, fear of rejection was my biggest obstacle. I had read so many horrid stories, about how difficult it is to get published or to find an agent.

Rejection really is an enormous barrier for writers. Those evil little letters are just so dispiriting! Do you plan on writing more books in the future?

Yes. I am currently working on a couple of book projects; one is a crime thriller novel and the other a non-fiction book.

Ooh, a crime thriller! That ought to be good! Can't wait for it.

So what is your main suggestion for people who are thinking to pursue a degree?

I recommend you ask yourself this question: am I doing this for me? If you are, that’s great, because if you’re enthusiastic about your task then you’re halfway there to gaining that degree.

Totally off topic, but I understand from your book that you like to dance the salsa. Aside from that, are there any other hobbies or activities that you enjoy?

One of my daily occupations is walking and exploring the countryside and the coastline, especially since I spend a lot of time on the keyboard. When I am in the mood then art becomes my passion. To relax I like to read books and watch films. I love a good story.

Me too. Good stories are rare and beautiful things.

Thanks so much for your time, Anthony! Congratulations on your success, and here's to many more published books. (Hurry up with that crime thriller.) :-)

You can find Anthony at his blog, How to Pass a Degree With Confidence, as well as on Facebook

The print version of his book is available for purchase on Amazon, or you can purchase and download the e-book version here.

Again, thanks so much for the interview, Anthony.
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