Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Writing an Experience

Don't you just love it when you read a scene and it feels like you're actually living it real-time as each word unfolds before your eyes? It's like you get to be a little fly on the wall that has access to the characters' thoughts as well.

Now that's experiencing the read!

Sadly, I discovered that far too many of my scenes don't play out like an experience. Why? Because I make the mistake of including passive writing. Even if I only slip a line or two in the whole scene that alerts the reader that what's happening isn't in the here and now, but rather a recollection, then I've taken them out of experiencing the scene for themselves. It's a form of author intrusion, in my mind, and it diminishes a scene that could otherwise provide an amazing experience for the reader.

Considering this, my writing tip for the day is: Wherever possible, stay in the present tense consistently for scenes that you want the reader to experience!



16 days left in this year until the main celebration our Saviour's birth.
Merry Christmas to all!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Seeing the True Christmas Story in the Traditions of Today

A few weeks ago I asked how you brought the true meaning of Christmas into your celebrations. I received some great feedback. If you didn't happen to read that post or the great comments left, click here for a peek.

My family participates in many of the same ways that were offered in those comments. We donate to the food bank, not just at Christmas, but year round. We've participated in local Angel Tree programs throughout the years, and/or contributed shoe boxes to the Samaritan's Purse ministry each year. We also donate more generously to various charities during this time of year. A nativity scene is displayed in our home on a coffee table in our living room each year, as well as a set of individual pieces hung on one of our Christmas trees that we proudly decorate in celebration of this season. I also make a point of praying for the true meaning of Christmas to be revealed more clearly and broadly.

But even in doing these things, I felt guilty that I found so much pleasure in the Christmas traditions of today. Traditions that so many people feel take away from the true meaning of Christmas--Love, Peace, Hope, and Joy that is given to us so faithfully through the birth of Jesus Christ. So I decided that if I wanted to surround myself with all this beauty--the traditions of today--I had better find a way to make these things remind me of Jesus and all that He is to those who believe. So here is the piece that I formulated, putting my thoughts into words, for our latest Church newsletter.

In my heart…

The festive season is a celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Twinkle lights of all shapes, sizes, and colours emulate the star of Bethlehem .

Modern day cinnamon and pine are reminiscent of the Magi’s gifts of incense and myrrh.

Trees, garland, candy canes and Angels convey the shepherds’ glorious story from long ago.

Baked goods and presents remind me of the sweetest gift of all—our Lord Jesus Christ.

In my heart, I offer all this up as a birthday celebration fit for the King of kings, Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Saviour, for He is truly the one and only reason for celebrating with such magnificence.

May the spirit of Christmas, no matter how we celebrate, bless us all and glorify His name.

I pray this week brings you much joy in celebrating Christmas!



17 days left in this year until the main celebration our Saviour's birth.
Merry Christmas to all!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Break from Writing?

My own little critique group, The Pearl Girls, are entering into discussion of when we should start and end our annual Christmas break from the submission rounds.

Other writers, do you do the same?

You hear over and over again that you should write every single day if you want to succeed in this craft. Do you REALLY write every single day? And I'm not talking, making a grocery list, typing in a letter, writing cheques for the latest bill that's due, etc.

Do you write something "writerly" or "crafty" every single day? That's what I'm talking about.

When you take breaks from rounds of critiquing, do you still work on your own stories every day?

I confess, I don't. Though I love to work on my stories, family takes precedence, and Christmas is one time of year that consistently calls me from my stories. Oh, I dabble here and there when a quiet moment presents itself, but I keep no writing timetable, schedule, or agenda during the few weeks before Christmas and the week and a bit after New Years. Once the girls are back at the grind, in school, then my scheduling begins once more.

How do you balance writing and Christmas?



23 days left in this year until the main celebration our Saviour's birth.
Merry Christmas to all!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Snow Day

In our little part of the world, today, December 1st, marks the first snow day of the school year for our three girls. School buses are cancelled in our Township, so our eldest daughter's school is closed, and for the first time since moving out to our little Village, the girls' elementary school will remain open for those who can safely travel to the their school, but the buses won't be running for all the rural kids.

To me, this is a sign of how the urban lifestyle encroaches on the rural. So sad. I certainly understand the reasoning for the fight to keep the school open during "snow days" that don't effect all schools in our school board's region. I, too, was in the fast paced, defined family and sick days work force for many years, but I cherished the days that called me to take pause, and combine quality and quantity family time. That's what used to be great about rural living. You didn't have to feel guilty about staying home with your kids on designated snow days because the choice was not yours to make. The school board did it for you.

Do you get "snow days" in your area of residence? What do you do with your student-aged children on those special days? Bake? Play in the snow and possibly shovel yourselves out of the snow? Shop once the roads are cleared? Visit family and friends? Play board games?

I've done a mixture of these over the years, but unfortunately this snow day's family-time will have to be cut short for me and my girls. I have an appointment in a city about a half hour away, and since the highways are reported to be fairly clear, I can't cancel, so our official quality and quantity family time will have to begin around noon today when I return. I so look forward to our afternoon together!



24 days left in this year until the main celebration our Saviour's birth.
Merry Christmas to all!!