Blog Archives

5 Reasons to Love Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts Gang and Thankful Book Blessings #IWSG

Charles M. Schulz did me a fantastic favor when he created the Peanuts Gang and animated important lessons about the holidays. With Thanksgiving a few short days away, my kiddos and I have been soaking in the Thanksgiving and Mayflower specials.

To show you what these thoughtful cartoons mean to me and my family, I’ve asked my kids to narrate 5 thankful lessons they each learned from Snoopy or any of the characters. Here’s what they had to say 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The holidays are the perfect time to reflect on what matters most, to relax, to focus on the good in who we are and what we do. To give thanks where thanks is needed.

In honor of family and dreams worth chasing, I’m also taking time to thank my Writers Group and Publisher. Thank you to IWSG and always being there to support all of us writers, authors and dreamers. Thank you for all the opportunities to help us grow and give us faith in what we hope to accomplish.

Print ISBN 9781939844361 eBook ISBN 9781939844378 Fantasy Available at: Amazon (US) Amazon (Canada) Amazon (UK) Barnes & Noble (print book) Barnes & Noble (ebook) iTunes or Kobo

My short story The Wheat Witch was picked by the IWSG Contest Judges last January and I’m so honored to have met all the other wonderful authors. So if you’re interested in a great book of stories about fallen heroes and the journey to climb back up, check out Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. My own story shares what I loved so much about the Kansas farmland. It was a magical place for me growing up. I loved my grandparents so much and especially, listening to their stories on the farm in a time before electricity, indoor bathrooms and refrigerators. I still remember my grandmother laughing about birthday presents as baths in the farm animal watering tanks, or the chores before the sun rose no matter the weather, and how church was the center of social life aside from helping the family and maintaining the farm.

Enough about me and my memory lane. Take a moment to check out other lovely books by my publisher at Dancing Lemur Press LLC. You’ll find all sorts of subjects from natural disasters, space travel, religious devotions and even young adult.

 

 

Author Alex J. Cavanaugh, Founder of IWSG

What was the last Schulz cartoon you watched? Do you have another favorite holiday movie tradition? Any favorite holiday books?

Thank you for visiting me. Have a lovely rest of your week 🙂

Celebrate the Small Things: Remember the Greatness of Today #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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I haven’t written a grateful post in sometime. But this week, I have a lot of smiley moments and I need the gentle reminder to believe in the small miracle of today. I need to remember that today, no matter what happens, we are still making progress of some kind. We are still doing something great for someone, no matter if we recognize that or not.

So what has happened this week and what can I celebrate?

Sunday night, my 5-year cat was clearly ill. He moped around the living room and wasn’t interested in dinner time. The biggest problem? He stopped using the litter box and invented a new strategy to use his personal facilities on top of my washing machine. Needless to say, my heart hit the floor. I knew I had to take him in to the vet the next morning. I also knew I needed to shift his current surroundings to keep him from using the same spot in my laundry room. But I always think of the hardest solution, and when my daughter gently said, “Mom. What if you scoot his box forward and close that door. He’ll still be in the bathroom mom. His food bowl could go right there.”

It was so easy. I couldn’t believe my 7-year old came up with such a perfect solution. I hugged her. I thanked her and mentioned what a brilliant solution to the problem she created, and I was proud of her. My cat was better off for the night too.

Monday, Reading several chapters out of the book Wonder to my two snuggle bunnies on the couch, my heart just beamed for the compassion my kids had for the character in the book. The narrator is a fifth grader with a disease impacting his physical appearance. My kids are such bright little souls and I feel so grateful every day I get to hold them and talk to them about what’s going on in their lives.

Tuesday is piano day. My son doesn’t like to practice, but he loves it when he succeeds. I think we sometimes always begin there, with a really great dream we are scared to act and commit to. What if we fail? But the question is, what if we don’t?

Wednesday, a stranger wants to pay it forward. I receive a phone call at my desk about paying off a student lunch balance. I ask her who, she says she has no one in mind. Just the most delinquent account in the school district where I work. WOW.

Thursday, My honey has dinner ready for me and the kids when I get home. He’s just given me back a good hour of my time. I love that. I love that he jumps in to help. On the writing side? I’ve been working hard on so many great new scenes for my star person book. I can’t wait. I am feeling so good about my characters and the direction it’s taking.

Lasty, today is Friday. My heart is full of small wonders and blessings. I want to hold on to that. I want to remember how lucky I am. I want to say thank you and blessings to you for who you are and what you are striving to do. Smile. Shine brightly.

Last great word of the day …

 

 

 

 

Writing Scenes In Unique Perspectives #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

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!

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Years ago, I attended a leadership communication course. I learned how to handle confrontations in the workplace. The key is to remember this formula: every action between two or more people contains an instance, a generated feeling, and a reaction or response. I also learned in the course of that workshop, the importance our backstories play in the generated feeling and the end result/response. We all tell a different story based on unique and different key findings from our pasts. We all need to realize we might not always be right.

As I’ve discovered, this formula is also true in writing.

Today, I’m sharing a great writing exercise to develop ultimate conflict and to also reflect on different points of view and character interest in telling the story. This exercise was something I encountered in 90 Days to Your Novel. Completing it changed the way I write my character voices and action scenes.

Here’s my gentle interpretation:

 

  • Pick three to four characters in your book. I picked 4, 2 major and 2 minor characters.
  • Put them all in the same scene. Write out their views based on their backgrounds and what you know is true about their character and their voices.
  • Then, make something go wrong where they question the course of their life or the instance changes them in such a way they can’t go back.
  • Next, reflect on each character and what they mean to your protagonist.

 

In my exercise, I wrote about a life changing death of an important character to two main characters and two minor characters. I hand wrote my ideas in a quad drawn graphic organizer with each character name in a box. I wrote out details of the where and the what for each character when the earth shattering news hit them. I wrote out the action, the thinking, and their unique and different reactions based on their backgrounds. Then I reflected on the differences.

The important part is to let the exercise sit for a day or two before you revisit it.  After reading my reflection I learned more in that two-hour writing period than I had all year.

It taught me the values in flashback scenes,  points of view, and the possibility of combining some of the reflections in present action scenes. It taught me something about life for my books.

My purpose for today’s post you might wonder? If you haven’t done something like this, try it. It’s a fun way to break out of the ordinary writing routine and dig into all of your characters.

Thank you for stopping in today. I hope I helped give you something new to think about 🙂

Why Flash Fiction is my Cure for Brain Drain #authortoolboxbloghop

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!

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This week, I’m preparing to teach a writing workshop to honors eighth grade English Language Arts students. I’ve been asked to talk about Flash Fiction. Thus, my purpose for today’s post and why I think it’s the best cure when you really need to refocus and shift your thoughts.

  1. It’s like real life when you stop to think about it.

No matter where I am, memories or flashes of my life slip into my thoughts and steal my focus for a brief period of time. I might be sitting at my desk working on the design of a new logo for a school, and suddenly I’m hearing the voice of my son from earlier that morning chattering about some funny story that made him laugh in school, or hear the sound of my daughter’s voice bellowing down the hallway to some book on cd or karaoke song she played and practiced in her room. There’s always a beginning, middle and end. It’s brief. It’s meaningful. It’s relief in the busyness of my day.

  1. The challenge to think of something new.

Ever tried to write with visual props?

When my writing partner introduced me to the idea of trying to write multiple pieces a week, I laughed. I thought, How in the world can I shift my focus so fast? Writing prompts are all that’s needed. When using them, I find it’s helpful to let your mind wander and then stop on something that makes you hold your breath. I combine quotes with visual faces, landscapes, animals, sparkly bubbles. Typically I write with two, sometimes three. Pinterest is my go-to tool. I have a board called writing prompts where I keep visually intriguing pins. What works best for me, is to limit myself with an amount of time to focus on one story. When I make up my mind, I usually commit myself to three pieces a week. I assign a deadline and set the clock. Usually these exercises take place during a lunch break and begin on Monday. When the hour is over I shift my focus again. I allow myself to reread the story later that night after the kids have gone to bed. I edit it. Then I share it with my writing partner. The next day at lunch, I might take another look, but by Wednesday, it’s time to move on to a new one.

  1. Low pressure to be perfect.

With Flash Fiction, I allow myself to shove every lengthy novel idea I have out of my head. The prompts are the perfect visual distraction. I free write and let my mind wander and don’t focus too deeply on the histories of my characters, because as I know about me, I go pretty deep into their stories. It’s also a major point of Flash Fiction mentioned in Writer’s Digest. You can read the full article here.

  1. Surprising outcomes.

In my practice with Flash Fiction, I came up with four very different stories from my usual topics of interest. It was surprisingly fresh and gave me a new view about how far I could push my brain.

 

  1. The pace is fast and complete with a beginning, middle and end.

I try to keep my Flash Fiction between 1,000 – 1,500 words max. It’s also great exercise to help focus on a point of conflict, the moment we define our theme and hold back our character’s most wanted thing in the whole world, and finally create a conclusion in a brief and satisfying period of time.

Question. What helps you create new and different story ideas?

Lastly, here’s my favorite quote about challenge and adventure: