Celebrate the Small Things: Struggle and Forward Strides #fridayfeeling

Fridays are all about celebrating the Small Things thanks to a weekly blog hop created by author Lexa Cain. Joint co-hosts this week are authors L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog The mission coincides with what I’m hoping to do with my own writing, inspire and focus on the light when those slippery shadows creep around our shoes. Want to sign up? Click Lexa Cain’s link to find out more.

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Last night, I listened to my son at piano practice until suddenly the sounds on the piano silenced and his voice quivered with frustration and tears. I listened closer to the teacher as she slowed her voice and softened her tone. She offered him a glass of water and talked about pushing through our mistakes. How we have to slow down and correct our hands and our fingers to play the right keys. How we all have to learn sometimes, and not everything worth the struggle comes easily. I thought to myself, Thank goodness you take the time to listen and encourage. Thank goodness you allow him time to feel his discouragement and then set a time on that feeling before asking him to recharge and start over.

Because she’s right, and no matter our age, I believe we all need to remember we struggle at some point with something we love or care about. We all need to make ourselves do hard things sometimes to reap the greater reward. Practice, Practice, practice, I always tell my son. Giving up never gets us anywhere we want to be.

So what has happened to me this week I might celebrate through the struggles? Finally, my kiddos have made it through multiple illnesses from the stomach flu, to fevers, to tooth decay issues and then boom—allergies beyond sufferable. Finally, we’re all sleeping again. Finally, we’re all singing to our own little rhythms because I am a noisy mom and I apologize right now, but my children are noisy too, singing, whistling, singing louder in the shower, talking about their worlds and their adventures both good and bad—nonstop. I see me in them. I see them striving for joy no matter what happens in their days. I’m loving it. I’m also loving the fact that it’s their last day of school and I’m taking off early to walk them home, eat ice cream, a non-dairy kind for me, and celebrate all of our successes over the course of an academic year. I’m celebrating home improvement projects I’d like to begin, painting the trim and the cabinets in the bathroom from their golden oak color to white. And new curtains for the kids.

On the writing side, I’m celebrating several things: the end of historical Celtic research and the beginning of writing again. At least a little every day.

And while I’m talking about celebrations and books, I’m helping out a sweet friend Author C. Lee McKenzie, with her new Middle Grade Release: SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC.

Isn’t the cover lovely? I saw the playful text and it made me smile.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution – fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost – will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again…

Release date – May 15, 2018

Juvenile Fiction – Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men

$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460

$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

About the Author

Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.http://cleemckenziebooks.com

Where can you get the book?

Happy Friday, all. May your weekend be great 🙂

The living problem of ACT II Storytelling #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

***

  I don’t know many people who run into drama and maximal conflict with their arms wide-open, ready to face off with someone near and dear to them, ready to cut them off or curse them to infinity and beyond, excited about being alone because trust is something we no longer know.

  Welcome to the world of writing ACT II.

  In 90 Days to Your Novel, Sarah Domet states, in real life, we are “conflict adverse … We strive to stay out of trouble and make decisions to bring us as close as possible to our desired outcomes … unless seriously provoked.”

   I reread this page just yesterday. I reread it over and over because finally, I’ve been given permission to do a very hard thing for me, create tension, difficult tension, which might really hurt the characters we breathe life into.

  ACT I is the introduction to your character and the world. ACT II is what Domet calls “the story.”

  In the Hunger Games … ACT I shows us Katniss as a realistic survivor whose mission is to provide for her younger sister because her father is dead and her mother lost herself while grieving. Katniss has one trusted friend with the same survival mission. Life is as it is. Then suddenly she finds herself at the name drawing ceremony when a boy and girl will enter an Olympian style fight to the death. Her younger sister is selected. Shocked, Katniss volunteers to take her place. ACT II begins on the train on the way to capital where she’s exposed to her wildest fantasies of food, clothing and the comforts of what was once an unattainable lifestyle. Her perception of what she is has to change. She must become pretty and fake. She must make allies of people she may one day kill. Survival is not just about skill anymore, and can she play a different version of herself to survive for her sister against her internal nature?

  In Jane Eyre … Act I is all about a young ordinary orphan growing up devote to her christian faith and unwilling to compromise her internal character. Finally free of a hateful aunt and an orphanage, she takes a well respected position as a governess. ACT II is all about her conversations with a sour older patron of the home. Unexpectedly, she develops feelings for the patron. When she finds out he loves her too, she falls hard and her love challenges her internal strength and christian devotion where she must ultimately make the choice between her faith and her strength, or, the only love she’s ever known.

 

  How do we take away what our characters want the most?

  • According to 90 Days to Your Novel, the best place to start is a timeline of events between ACT 1 and ACT 2.
  • Note the plot points of wants and needs.
  • Ask yourself how you keep your character from getting what he or she truly wants along the way.
  • Ask yourself, What continues to keep her/him from getting it and how can I deepen the conflict? 
  • How does the character motive and wants contribute to the action into deeper conflict?
  • Lastly, what points are left to get him or her to the climax, when finally you are free of ACT II.

Remember, bad things happen to all of us. Bad things must happen to your beloved characters. So as you write through ACT II remember this: Don’t give your MC this deep want or desire. ACT III is the choice of this attainment.

Additional Sources:

https://stevenpressfield.com/2010/06/second-act-problems/

https://www.emwelsh.com/blog/writing-act-two

https://www.well-storied.com/blog/second-act?rq=act%20two

The Month of May is Wonder #IWSG

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts areJQ Rose, C. Lee McKenzie, Raimey Gallant, & E.M.A Timar!

And thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂

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I love the month of May. As a kid I’d look forward to outdoor adventures in tents near the lake, or in the middle of Kansas on my dad’s land in a grove of trees staked inside a dried up river bed. I’d live imagined adventures and dream of characters I’d read about in books.

Maybe it’s the warmth. Maybe it’s the way sunlight slips into every crack of life. From early good mornings to lingering evening sunsets, reminding me how peaceful endings are always possible no matter what happened in my day.

This month’s IWSG question asks; “It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?”

Most mornings, I tip-toe down the steps to my writing workstation just off the side of the kitchen island. I brew my coffee and open the Celtic patterned curtains because lately, the sun is already peeking over the horizon. The birds are clearly awake too, chirping in the trees. Just yesterday, I glimpsed a couple of rabbits outside wrestling around in the grass in my backyard.

My answer is yes.

I’ve always loved spring. I’ve always loved flowers. Sunshine motivates me and trickles into my thoughts, changes my words sometimes, and my fast flying fingers sing.

Currently, I’m researching solid historical patterns before I revamp an old manuscript. I’m also waiting on edits from my last new YA Sci-Fi and I am very nervous, but with the sunshine over my shoulder, each day feels a little brighter.

On the reading side, I also just finished reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It’s fantastic if you like YA.

So if May is your month like me, then why not use it to best of your goals and dreams? Even if it’s not, there’s something good to be found in every season.

Happy Wednesday, IWSG Day all.

Sequencing human interaction #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!

***

When we speak, a series of steps has already occurred:

  • An external action
  • An emotional reaction
  • A thought blooms from the above mentioned steps.

The result is return dialogue or reactive action.

It’s human nature.

Writing scenes and paragraphs should ideally follow the same logic we use when we speak or react.

Writer’s Digest suggests: “… get your reader to invest emotionally in your character, and you’ve laid the foundation for every action scene.”

A year ago, I came across a writing article on sequencing sentences. I hadn’t thought about the pattern of action, emotion, thought and reaction. I didn’t know how much it mattered until I wrote for it. I wish I could find the article and share it today. *Big shoulder sigh.* I lost it in the move to my new home over the summer.

Consider two examples:

Example One

    The moment Henry stepped out of the door of his apartment complex, he shivered with a chill then violently sneezed three times. With his shoulders arched up, he froze under the awning. Germs. He hated them. They hated him. Or at least he’d pictured it as an even exchange to survive.

   Henry’s hand trembled as he reached into his back pocket for his hand sanitizer, but stopped short with his thumb resting on the ridges of the cap. Something in the wind drew him. A cry so soft it couldn’t be a man or woman. A lamb? No, not in L.A. 

   He listened, shuffling down another couple of steps to the paved walkway.

   There. In the shadows. The barely there cry came again.

Example Two

    The moment Henry stepped out the door of his apartment complex, he shivered with a chill then violently sneezed three times. He removed his sanitizer from his back pocket and shuffled down the steps. Cars zoomed past the street. The wind tickled his nose. He shuffled backwards and peered around the corner of the building. He swore he heard a sound. A cry. Soft, like a lamb, urgent and hungry.

What’s Different?

    In the first example, Henry is moving, leaving his apartment when an outside irritant stings his nose and he sneezes (external influence/action).  He hates sneezing (thinking). He reacts to his phobia of germs and reaches in his pocket for his hand sanitizer (result of what we are thinking).

    In the second passage, we go from action to action to action. We miss a point about the character. We miss his phobia. We miss the connection between the first action and the second action. Then we miss the reason why he turned and went back to the building.

   So as we write, don’t forget motive, intention, and the process which leads our characters into action. Write for logic and sequence.