Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writing Pyramid

Last month I had the privilege of attending an author event at our Church. Author Sigmund Brouwer spoke on how to encourage our children to write. What stuck with me the most from his talk was his warning to not edit our children's work, but rather encouragement creativity and not let the editing start until they are in middle school, well after creativity is fixed in their soul. I love this advice.

Brouwer went on to state what we hear all the time. Story trumps all. With that thought, doesn't it make sense to just let our children run with their creativity, not stifle it by imposing grammar rules. I think even as adults some of us need to go with this method to truly create stories that stick.

I really liked how Brouwer divided writing into a three-tier pyramid. The base, the largest part, is story. Without the story, a writer has nothing to work with. The second most important element for a writer is word choice. So once we have the best story down, then a writer's job is to manipulate the words to create the best word choices to polish the story. And at the very top of the pyramid is grammar. Only after we've created a winning story and chosen our words carefully to create just the right ebb and flow do we venture into the mundane task of making it grammatically correct. And, thankfully for those of us like me who are horrible with grammar, there are professional editors out there to polish our work with grammar as their main focus.

With this in mind, when next your little one presents you with a story, what will you do? Will you praise his/her creativity, encourage a brainstorming session to enhance the story if it runs a little flat, or will you be marking up the page with comma's, question marks, periods, etc., tap them on their heads, and smile at their accomplishment?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, February 15, 2010

Lucky Winner of A Valentine's Wish by Betsy St. Amant

Okay, I admit it, I was too lazy on Valentine's Day to make ballots for each of the twenty-two entrants (number of comments at the time of drawing), so I had my youngest daughter pick a number from one to twenty-two. She picked sixteen, which makes Jessica Nelson the lucky winner!!

Jessica, I know you've won from this blog in the past, but I don't harvest addresses, so please do send me an email with your snail mail addy so I can send this book out to you. I hope you like it!

So, what all did you guys get for Valentine's Day from your sweetheart? Guess what my special guy got me? Don't be jealous now, but my wonderful hubby got me season one of Castle. Isn't that just the greatest gift for a writer? I love it, and since I'm one who falls asleep waaaay too early, I need these on DVD because I miss far too many episodes to sleep.

Blessings prayed for all and may the spirit of Valentine's Day live on all year long!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, February 12, 2010

A Valentine Book Giveaway!

Hello, All:

Sorry I've been absent for a while here in cyberspace. Planning for possible renovations is taking far more energy and concentration than I ever expected. Good for the winter blues for sure, but costly on the writing and blogging. Now that a professional designer is on it, I hope to get life back into some semblance of normalcy around here.

But, hey, Valentine's Day is upon us. I've bought the munchkins and hubby a little something to celebrate, and I also bought an extra copy of Betsy St. Amant's A Valentine's Wish for a giveaway to one lucky blogging buddy. So leave a comment with your snail mail addy if you'd like to be entered in the drawing. I'll have one of the munchkins draw the lucky winner sometime on the big day and let you all know the winner on Monday, February 15th's post, which happens to be Family Day here in Ontario so I'll have the whole family home for three days straight this Valentine's weekend. Yippy!!! Love it when that happens.

Here's a peak at the first page:
Unemployed. Single. And out of brownie mix.
Lori Perkins tapped her nails against the open pantry door. Canned vegetables and peanut butter crackers were nowhere near sufficient for this kind of low. She rested her forehead against the frame and blew a strand of dark hair out of her eyes. It really wasn't her fault—well, maybe two of the three problems were. She probably shouldn't have quit her job at the aquarium gift shop before the administrative position across town was a done deal, and she definitely should have gone to the grocery store before her chocolate stash ran out. But her single status was most certainly not of her own choosing. Add the fact that Valentine's Day was mere weeks away, and it became official. She was broke, hungry and destined to be alone.

The cordless phone on the counter jangled a shrill ring, and Lori snatched it up while peering one more time at the contents of her bottom shelf. "Hello?"

"Lori? I can barely hear you. Are you in a tunnel?" It was her friend Andy Stewart, the youth pastor at her church, L'Eglise de Grace.

She stretched one arm toward the back of the shelf. "No. The pantry."

"Searching for chocolate, I assume."

"Funny." So what if she'd become a little predictable over the years? Lori fumbled around a jar of peanut butter and felt a crinkly wrapper. Maybe a forgotten candy bar? No, just another package of crackers. She let out a huff. Was a little chocolate too much to ask for a girl having one of the worst days of her life?

"Are you all right? I can call back."

Lori shut the pantry door with a loud click and rested her back against the wooden panels. "I need chocolate."

"You're out? How is that possible?"

"Gracie helped me finish the last of my emergency stash."

"And she didn't refill?"

"There wasn't time before the wedding." She supposed Gracie had more important things on her mind at the time, like planning a honeymoon. Excited as she was for her friend's new life, Lori couldn't help the flicker of jealousy in her stomach. Happily-ever-after endings apparently weren't meant for everyone—her ex, Jason, had proven that point well enough.

She slammed the brakes on her runaway train of negative thoughts. "Look, is there a point to this conversation, or can I finish my desperate search for relief now?"

"Ouch. Bad day?"

"Did you not hear me say I'm out of chocolate?" Men. The cute ones cheated, and the funny ones were dense. Take Andy, for example. They'd been practically best friends for how long now—two years? Three? And he'd never once considered Lori as anything more.

Though it was probably for the best. If bitter thoughts of Jason still crept in her subconscious, she wasn't ready for more. The need for chocolate intensified, and Lori squeezed her eyes shut. Maybe if she pretended hard enough she could—

Andy cleared his throat. "How about I bring over some chocolate doughnuts? I have something I need to talk to you about."

Lori stopped the no from automatically rolling off her tongue. She preferred to indulge in her chocolate bad moods by herself, but without the chocolate, the bad-mood part sounded pretty lonely. "Fine. See you in twenty."

Leave a comment for your chance to read the rest of the story!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Three Things

First, I'd like to thank you all for your wonderful input regarding my single or double MC story goals. I have to say that in four out of the five stories I've written, I've give both my MC's a story goal, not always in contention with each other, but none the less they've each have a measurable story goal to work toward.

But in the current manuscript I'm revising, I realized that my heroine doesn't have a story goal. And here comes my second thing for this post: The problem with my dear Fiona is that she is a free-spirit type. She has scene or chapter goals and some segment goals (ones that span several chapters/scenes) but not a big story goal. How does one take a free-spirit who refuses to box herself in, but rather takes life as it comes while trying to manipulate it to her own liking and give her an external, measurable story goal? And one that perhaps works against the hero's goal of generating more income at his church? Okay, there you have it, I'm shameless, but yes, I'm asking for some brainstorming help for this round of revisions. If something wonderful pops in your head while reading this to solve my problem, please, please, please, do share!!! I and Fiona will be eternally grateful!

Thirdly, a dear blogger friend really helped me to face facts this week and I must share. Check out Georgiana's post regarding how we're doing with our 2010 goals. She's holding herself accountable and so should I. It's February already, and if it's not bad enough that this month marks my forty-fourth birthday, Georgiana's reminder of assessing our goal journey has me seriously considering waking at 4:30 to 5:00 am to actually fit some heavy revising, critiquing, editing, writing, into my life regularly to ward off impending depression.

Winter is known to spark darkness in our life, which I'm seriously bending toward, so add to the vitamin D deficiency, frustration from not getting time to do what I love, write, has me needing to make a change...and fast. But, oh, that start time is so, so early. But if it gets rid of this spiral into depression, it will be so worth it. And just think, those 4:00 am starts for horse show days won't seem near as bad if I'm already in the habit, right? But will I actually do it?

Only time will tell.

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, February 1, 2010

MC Goals ... One or Both?

Hi, All:

I'm back to blogging after an unintended week off. I guess you could say I'm taking life as it comes in 2010. How about you, do you see any changes happening in your lifestyle this year as we begin February?

On a writing note, I've been pondering this MC External Goal thing that all we writers strive to reveal early in our novels. For all you romance writers out there, here's a question for you. There are generally two MC's in a romance, the hero and the heroine, and if you're writing your story in alternating POV do both the hero and heroine need individual measurable external story goals? Or would having one strong one for either the hero or heroine suffice?

Surrendering to Him,