Gallery

My other hobby

This gallery contains 5 photos.

I’ve mentioned one of hobbies already – herb gardening.  My other hobby is photography.  For a long time – before I turned to writing – I thought I wanted to be a professional photographer complete with a studio and clients and lots of fancy equipment.  I decided that I prefer to make pictures for me […]

Opening books

As an avid reader, I look forward to opening a new book.  I love the smell of the paper.  The feel of the pages.  I’m careful to not bend the cover or crease the spines.

Don’t get me wrong – I will always love and buy “physical” books, but I’m no hard-copy snob.  I love “opening” e-books almost as much.  Though I do live in fear of my phone battery dying… Always at the best part, right?

It doesn’t matter which type of book I’m opening, the experience is the same for me.  I’m not opening a book.  I’m opening a whole new world.  I’m opening another person’s imagination, stepping inside, and having a look around.

How exciting is that!

There’s a meme (several actually) that goes around Facebook pretty regularly that says, “If you think reading is boring, you’re doing it wrong.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Become one of the helpers

I don’t want to post on anything that starts with N today.  I have something more important on my mind today.

A good friend of mine has a 13-year-old daughter.  She’s a sweet kid – big smile, big heart.  I love her to pieces.  My friend posted on Facebook today that her daughter has developed extreme crowd anxiety.  She becomes shaky and pale and has difficulty not becoming hysterical.  After discussing this with her daughter, my friend discovered the cause of her daughter’s extreme anxiety.

What she learned is that there is a whole generation of kids who have grown up with not only the War on Terror but the threat of shootings and bombings in any given public place.  Places that should be fun.  Places that should be safe.  My friend’s daughter isn’t the only one.  Some of her daughter’s friends exhibit the same issues.

Before I go any further, let me just say that this is not a post about gun control or anything like that.  I have opinions just like anyone else.  This is not the place for them.

Even here in Joplin, the increase in severe weather in recent years and our experience with the devastating force that is an F5 tornado has caused many people – not just kids, though it is most noticeable among them – to have severe anxiety associated with stormy weather.

Someone posted a great idea in response to my friend’s story.  This person suggested that the best way for kids to deal with their fear of something bad happening is to learn how to respond to scary situations appropriately and (most importantly) helpfully.

Teach kids – teach EVERYBODY – to be among the helpers.  Knowledge is power, and once you have it, there’s less to be afraid of.

FEMA offers CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training in every state.

Please check out the Citizen Corps website.  There’s information on CERT training as well as planning and preparing for a disaster.

Magic

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

~ Roald Dahl

Fairy

A stain on a baking sheet… It looks like a fairy to me.
Can you see her?

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

~ W.B. Yeats

Eye

You can even find something magic in a random wet spot on a counter if you look for it.

These are two of my favorite quotes.  They remind me whenever I think of them that there is magic everywhere.  All I have to do is open my eyes and look around me.

The Yeats quote I keep posted inside the door of my locker at my day job, and the Dahl quote is on my cover photo on my Facebook page.  I keep them where I will see them everyday so I never forget.

Where do you find magic in the everyday?

Killing Characters

 

It is a common misconception that writers create their stories. We create our characters, and we create the world they will inhabit. But the stories? They kind of create themselves when we turn our characters loose in the world we made.

Characters, if developed well, will always behave true to their nature. Characters may change over the course of the story, of course. They might become more compassionate or more daring or less reckless, they gain information or experience misunderstandings that effect their actions.  Characters are people, too.

So I’m faced with a decision that I’m sure every fiction writer has to make at some point.  I have a character that I might have to kill.  The character’s nature and decisions through the story will lead up to one big decision.  Choose one path, the character dies, choose another, and the character lives.

The dilemma is this:

If I kill my character, my readers might hate me.  It’s a likeable character, and one that, if I write the story well, people will become attached to. If I don’t kill the character, though, I might not be staying true to the demands of the story.

I’m still early enough in the writing that things could change.  As I said, the stories create themselves, and this one is still creating.

The writer is just along for the ride.

Incredible People

a-to-z-letters-iWhen I first jumped into social media, I skipped MySpace altogether and went straight for Facebook.  I did it for the games.  I kept my friends list pretty small and limited mostly to “real-life” friends and family.

I mentioned before that my husband is a cop.  Cops are – both by nature and by training – suspicious of everybody.  Most of them have a motto: “In God we trust, everyone else gets run NCIC” (that’s the National Criminal Information Center database for those non-cop types out there).  I often pick up on his tendencies, so I was pretty suspicious of social media and its informational free for all.

But as I went on, I got more comfortable.  I started learning more about what to watch for and ways to protect myself.  Then I started to get a little brave.

I joined an author’s group – Where Writers and Author’s Meet – and I started to talking to complete strangers (if you are as introverted as I, you know what a big deal this is; if you are an extrovert – go ask one of your intro friends – I’m sure they’ll explain it to you).  We connected over a shared  interest and shared struggles like plot holes and character arcs and publishing questions.

I met some incredible people!

I met Virginia, who writes sci-fi and is dedicated to helping other writers find their way.  I met Victoria who loves science and religion and discovering all the wonders the universe holds.  I met Stuart who is one of the silliest, quirkiest guys I know and is always there to make me smile.  I met Jim, editor, teacher, and author who is always willing to offer any help he can.  And Morgan who lives and breathes poetry, dancing, and joy for life.

Encouraged by my initial success, I decided to join another group – one a bit way outside my comfort zone (an even bigger deal than meeting other writers) because I wanted to research magick and its uses for my writing work in progress.

I met Kat, who has an adult autistic son, and I am blown away by her strength and devotion.  I’ve seen her struggle with her life’s ups and downs, and I’ve shared her joy as she came out the other side.  (I’m crying a little right now because I am so in awe of her.)

Through an argument over our differing beliefs, I became friends with Tammy who has, since then, been one of my greatest supporters and has become the unofficial head of my cheering section.

I met Ivy – an amazing witch and Faerie friend who has answered my incessant and obsessive questions about the Faeries.  Click her name to see her blog, and she’ll tell you all about them, too.  I must not neglect to mention her Faerie friends as well.  Through her, I met them (in a manner of speaking), and they have been most helpful as well.

I have met teachers and students of many arts, crafts, and sciences.  I’ve met artisans and artists.  I’ve reconnected with incredible people from my past and with members of my own family.

I’m still careful with what I share on social media because you really never know who you’re going to meet.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve become anything even resembling an extrovert (even on a social media level), but I’m really glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.

H is for… ?

a-to-z-letters-hI’ll be honest with you.  I’ve got nothing for “H” today.  I’ve been thinking about all the things I like that start with the letter H, but I haven’t hit on anything that screamed “Blog post!” at me.  I even resorted to flipping through the H section dictionary.

I could post about “History”, but, of course, that’s a subject that can fill entire libraries.  I already told you a little about how I came to choose historical fantasy as my writing genre (see my April 6 post “Faeries, Flappers, and Flights of Fancy”).

I could post about herbs – one of my great loves! – but I could go on and only scratch the surface of that subject, too.  Growing, cooking uses, medicinal uses, folk uses and beliefs, teas, tinctures, aromatherapy…  Don’t get me started!  I promise, I’ll put up a little something herb-related now and then (on “V” day, I’ll be sharing my super-awesome, better than Vick’s, all-natural vapor rub recipe).

I could write a post about how I try to be Honest in my writing, but I hope you are already getting that from what I’ve written so far.  I could write about Hope or Home or Help (I can always use a bit) or Halloween (though that last seems a bit out of season for an April blog post).

So I think I’ll leave this post as it is: a picture of what I go through trying to decide on blog posts.  Sometimes I hit on something right away that strikes my fancy and about which I have something to say, and sometimes (like today) I come up with a bit of a ramble that doesn’t accomplish much beyond letting you in on how I think.

Gardens for Schools

School GardensMy good friend Morgan Dragonwillow recently introduced me to the idea of school gardens.  The idea is like that of a community garden, but in this case, the community is the students.  The kids plant the seeds, weed, water, watch nature unfold, and ultimately harvest the fruits of their labors.

It’s an idea so simple and beautiful, and so obvious I can’t believe that every school doesn’t do it.

There are so many benefits:

  • Kids learn teamwork as they work together to accomplish a goal
  • Learning is hands on, and there’s none of that, “Where am I going to use this in the real world?” stuff.  A garden is the real world.
  • Gardening is active.  It’s real exercise.  (I was never athletic.  I hated sports and gym class.  I would have loved a garden.)
  • Kids are more likely to try new, healthy foods when they have a hand in growing those foods themselves.
  • There are numerous opportunities to apply classroom learning from science and ecology to math skills, following directions, responsibility…

The list goes on.

If you are interested in learning more, and maybe even in working with your local schools to start a school garden project, Here are a couple of links for more information:

And please like and share the Gardens in Schools Facebook page.  Morgan has been posting links to lots of great information for schoolyard gardens.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you are or how big or small your school.  All kids can benefit from the things they can learn in a garden.

 

Faeries, Flappers, and Flights of Fancy

LouiseBrooksFantasy has always been my reading genre of choice.  I think the first fantasy story I can remember reading on my own was called “Morgan Mine.”  It was one of those children’s books that comes with a moral at the end.  I was a girly five or six-year-old, and it was about a princess trying to catch a unicorn.  Yeah.  I was hooked.

I’m sure that I lived in my own little world before then.  You would have to ask my parents to be sure.  It hasn’t got any better since.  It seemed only natural when I started writing that I would write fantasy.

Unicorns were my favorite fantasy creature for years, at least until I discovered faeries that weren’t all adorable, tiny, butterfly-winged creatures.  I discovered Irish folklore and the Sidhe: beautiful (rather than “cute”), powerful, and not to be trifled with.  I was hooked again.

I mentioned yesterday that I have a wide range of greatly varying interests.  Another of them is history.  Not so much the dates and numbers stuff.  The culture stuff.  I love learning about the ways people thought and how they did things.

I’ve been through several “era obsessions.”  Ancient Egyptian, Gothic, Renaissance, Victorian…  Most recently, it’s the 1920s.  I love the glamour of it, especially the flappers.  I love their joyous embrace of everything the ’20s represented.  Of course, I do realize that it isn’t all as romantic as my imagination makes it out to be.  No era is what those of us in later generations think it was.  But the “Roaring 20s” marks a change in the way people thought and the things they embraced.  I think it’s all very fascinating.

Originally, I thought much of my writing would be modern fantasy and paranormal romance.  It’s very popular right now, and it comprises much of what I read for pleasure.  Then I started thinking about mixing my interests, and decided that maybe historical fantasy is more my cup of tea.  The first big bonus is that I get to research all those fascinating time periods I’ve been alternately obsessed with through the years.

I won’t go into what exactly my current works in progress are.  They’re always in a kind of shifting state until I lock down the details.  But I’m diving into the research head first, and I can’t wait to see what develops!

Eclectic

a-to-z-letters-eI love all different kinds of things.  If you ask me about my favorite anything, the answer you are most likely to get back is, “It depends…”

What’s your favorite color, Stacey?  It depends… Most of the time I like dark reds the best, but once in a while, I see a shade of blue so pretty it makes me want to cry.

Who is your favorite band/musician?  Well, most of the time it’s Bon Jovi… until I hear something by Meat Loaf on the radio.  Then he’s my favorite until I play a CD with the song “Drops of Jupiter” on it, and for a few minutes I can’t imagine loving anyone but Train.  Same goes for certain songs by the Goo Goo Dolls, Pink Martini, Dashboard Confessional, the Beatles, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, King Crimson, and any number of others.  (Kudos to you if you know who King Crimson is without resorting to Googlemancy!  And extra points if you are now singing one of their songs in your head, or – better yet – singing out loud.)

Favorite author?  What have you got?  I’ll take them all!

This same constant flow of favorites carries to almost every other thing: foods (Japanese, Mexican, good ol’ American-style pan-fried chicken…), styles of dress (vintage, retro, boho…).  I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

I’m guessing this all makes me seem a bit wishy-washy, but I disagree.  I think this tendency to be eclectic in so many different areas make me a better writer.

Some people say write about what you know.  I can do that because I love and have tried to learn about a lot of different things.  Others say you should write about what you don’t know.  I can do that, too, because there’s so much out there just waiting to be added to one of my “favorites” lists.  All I have to do is discover it!