Writerly Musings

The ideas come at strange times, but I suppose that should be expected considering that I’m thinking and brainstorming about Echoes at random and somewhat strange times.

One of my recent happy breakthroughs took place when I was driving to work – early morning, windows down, music cheering me on. I was singing along with Josh Wilson (I think that’s who it was anyway), happy to be alive, enjoying the long drive, and musing my way through how to make Kios (the country where Echoes takes place) keep true to it’s non-European setting.

By the time I got to work I was nearly wishing my drive had been longer, which happens to be a first for me – at least when it comes to driving to work. When my co-worker asked how my day was going I informed her that it was going great and I’d come up with a needed breakthrough for my writing. She asked if I’d be able to remember it and I assured her I would, then I switched my brain gears and got to work and put bookish things aside for a bit.

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But here I am now – several (busy!) days later, sitting at my desk, Whimsy in my lap, prepared to edit away.

It’s a beautiful day to be editing. (Who are we kidding? It’s a beautiful day even if editing wasn’t on the plate for my morning. Y’all. I know I probably gush about Ohio and how much I appreciate my life here, but it’s seriously amazing. As I blog this morning I’m sitting in front of my window that overlooks a little gravel country road, a newly cut hay field, and a couple of deer munching contentedly right outside my window. But enough of all that.)

This morning reminds me of the years that I’ve taken part in National Novel Writing Month which starts in just two weeks. It makes me think of the delightful hours I spent holed up in my room, drinking coffee and juice, and typing away to my heart’s content – and sometimes far past that.

I’m not planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling nostalgic and wishing I could squeeze it into my life. Maybe today when I’m editing I will pretend that this is already November and I’m taking part in that wonderful month of focused writing. (Shh! Don’t remind me that I’m editing, not writing.)

What are some of the nostaligc feelings that surround you during the lovely month of October?

September Reading Wrap-Up {Vlog}

Y’all! Today in my video I have a special guest. Exciting, right? Okay, in reality, it’s simply Whimsy because he was over in his cage making a ruckus, but still…. 😉

What was your favorite or least favorite read of September?

Confessions of a Quirky Writer 

Y’all, I really don’t know how this happened, but I really thought today was Tuesday. Yes, obviously I’m delusional when it comes to seeing how much I can fit into a week, but it’s the good kind of delusional where the cup seems totally full instead of just half full or half empty.

I feel like a good title for today’s post would be Confessions of a Quirky Writer, except for the fact that I haven’t been getting much writing done recently. Still, down at the core, I am a quirky little writerly human, so I thought I’d go ahead and write the post anyway.

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Confessions of a Quirky Writer

  • I have a spoon-type tea infuser at my desk so I can fiddle with it when brainstorming
  • My desk nearly constantly has unopened containers of glitter on it – simply so I can stare and be inspired
  • I talk to my computer. A lot
  • I also make faces at my computer. A lot
  • I also make weird noises at my computer. Kinda maybe more than a lot
  • I dance in my chair
  • Chewing on things – random things – when I write is perfectly normal
  • Having the perfect atmosphere – aka candles, music, and a clean office – is essential to productivity when writing if I’m not feeling hugely inspired
  • My spelling and grammar are something I’m always working on, but am pretty lacking in
  • I speak in hashtags, which is probably really bad for a writer to admit
  • When writing I’d rather be dressed nicely than clothed in pajamas
  • Thinking about how weird words are is a normal occurrence for me – for instance, look at the word pajamas, now say it aloud a few times. Totally weird, right?
  • Having blank moments where the correct word won’t surface is also a rather common occurrence for me. That’s when my brain switches on a black background and begins flipping through words like a slideshow. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s brain behaves like that?
  • It’s easy to be distracted – not only by things like other writerly projects (emails, jotting down ideas, updating my author social media pages, “research”, etc…), but also by things like cleaning my office and making delicious chili to simmer until lunch time
  • When something exciting happens with my writing, I’ll literally walk around the house yelling or singing about it loudly and off-key. My family’s no longer even phased by this type of behavior
  • My default “getting to know you” topic is books
  • When someone doesn’t like to read I experience a small moment of near-panic as I wonder how I’m supposed to relate to the individual
  • I drink huge amounts of water while writing
  • Stuffed animals sit on my desk to keep me company – I sometimes chew on them, too
  • I keep pencils on my desk…. Not to write with, but rather to chew on
  • Calling on my friends to help me brainstorm is a normal activity, but sometimes it might simply be an excuse to text them (#oops)
  • Getting so caught up in writing that I’m late for my nonwriting job has never happened, but we’ve had several near disasters, including right now 😉

Echoing Echoes

‘Tis a happy day to be alive.

October has arrived wholeheartedly and nearly steals my breath with its inspiring beauty, vibrant colors, and the full grand ushering in of autumn. Yesterday I had off from both my nonwriting jobs, so after getting some writing work done, I hopped in my car and drove to my adopted parents where I spent a very relaxing day and night. Now I sit at their table, listening to the rain drumming on the metal roof, and preparing to head to work.

I spent the car ride over listening to an audiobook, delighting in the autumn scenery around me, and thinking of how incredibly grateful I am for the friends I have. After I got here I set my laptop up on the table and all throughout the day dropped by to work on catching up on writingish stuff.

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The overwhelming response yesterday was to start the third draft of Echoes, which quite frankly made me very happy. Nicolette and Raquel are characters I’ve worked with for over seven years now, so as you can imagine they hold a special place in my heart.

It’s amazing to me how characters morph and grow and develop over the years. These girls started out as mirror images of each other – body and soul. It was after years of thinking about them on and off as I went about my daily tasks that I realized how very different they are despite being identical in appearances.

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I still haven’t settled on an opening line for Echoes, but I did change it. Originally the first line read: “Princess Rylie.” Dropping into a soft curtsy, the woman in front of me seemed to expect recognition on my part. Which I actually still like, but this draft was a long time ago – one that I ended up not using at all, except for the concept and names, etc….

Later on, the first line read: A commotion in the hall broke into Father’s and my conversation. And that was more of a filler first line, because I didn’t figure I’d actually use it in the final draft.

But now it reads: Loyalty is a harsh taskmaster. I like that line because the next one reads: I looked down at my hands – hands kept white by the loyalty I had for Father, but longed to dye blue due to the loyalty I felt for my people.

The opening to a book is supposed to make you ask questions, and I don’t know about you, but that opening makes about a dozen questions leap to mind. I’m excited to see what else changes in this book, and where all it goes. Editing is hard for me, but it can also be so much fun.

What about you? Which of the above lines is your favorite and makes you most curious to read the book?

A Modern Princess With an Itch to Blog? An Adventure that Goes Haywire? Masquerading​ Twins? {You Choose}

Today I don’t have to work either of my non-writing part-time jobs, which means that in addition to hanging out with some family, I’m also going to be able to hopefully catch up on some writing work. That also means I spent the last ten minutes running around my office trying to clean up all the odds and ends so I can get some filming in for vlogging. (And we won’t talk about the four coffee mugs, spoon, and random cake pan I found hiding among the books and papers…. And no, I am not the one who brought the cake pan into my office. And yes, it was clean.)

So far this month I’ve not had a lot of time dedicated to writing work as I try and figure out the correct balance and rhythm of my other jobs. That doesn’t stop my brain from coming up with ideas though. Goodness, no. In fact, my brain has been doing such a great job of throwing ideas at me that I no longer know where to start. I suppose that spending the last half of August and all of September working on getting Where Dandelions Grow ready for release also adds to how eager I am to start working on a new project. There’s something so fantastically delightful about working on a brand-spankin’ new idea – I just have to figure out how to figure out which one to start on….

The top projects I have in my mind bank have been narrowed down to three different ideas.

Montana Badlands Mystery

 

(Not a title – simply a way to refer to the book)

With five older brothers, fifteen-year-old Molly Kate is used to proving that she capable of doing anything. Anything, it turns out, other than single-handedly solving the mystery regarding the “accidents” and disappearances at the ranch where they’re spending two weeks.

Modren Princess Blogging Adventure 

(Not a title – simply a way to refer to the book)

In Aurora Isles, there’s no law that says a member of the royal family can’t have their own personal blog. The head of security argues that’s simply because there’s never been a need for such a law, but that doesn’t stop Princess Alexandria Kennington Rylie Malana the Third from accomplishing her dream.

Echoes 

(Y’all know this one, but I’ve been getting some pretty cool ideas for the re-write.)

In a land where twins are outcasts, identical princesses masquerade as Princess Rylie, heir to the throne, a secret not even their father knows.

And now it’s YOUR choice! Which one do you think I should work on next?

Many Sparrows {Book Review}

Many Sparrows 

BY: Lori Benton

Find it on:

Amazon
Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • Multiple Points of View • 400 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.

When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son…especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

Why I Choose this Book:

I don’t remember requesting this book, and by the time I picked it up to read it I had completely forgotten what it was about. I didn’t even know what time period it was set in, so it was one of those total surprises.

What I Thought about this Book:

 

It’s been a long time since a book has gripped me so fast and furiously. The setting, the plot, the characters… They all shouted at me to give them my utter attention, and I hardly wanted to put the book down after I got into it.

Since I’m an Ohioan I’ve always found it interesting to read a settlers/Indians/frontier book that takes place in Ohio. It seems like so many of those types of books are set out west, and although I get why out west is so intriguing, reading about the history of Ohio is quite gripping as well. This is probably my favorite Ohio frontier book that I’ve read.

The characters felt real to me – very annoying at times, special at times, and adorable (children, at least), at times. Goodness. Don’t even get me started on the Indians and all it showed of their lives. Growing up I wanted to be an Indian so badly that I probably even prayed that I could become one. (I don’t actually remember for sure….) I know I did at one time decide I would marry a full-blooded Indian so my kids could at least be half Indian. (Yes, I’m weird. And yes, I know that technically it’s called Native American.) One of the things this book did was portray life for both the Indians and the settlers – I could see, feel, and empathize with both people groups. Jeremiah Ring was a great character for making that happen. That was probably my favorite element of the book.

There were two minor characters who really drew me in and made me feel like they were going to have a spin-off story. In the back of the book the author mentions that they are characters from a previous book, so now I really want to read that book, and I kinda wish I had read it first.

There were some issues I had with this book which is why I had to lower the rating to three stars, even though this book was very nearly four stars, and could have almost made it to five stars. My main problem with the book was that the characters continued being in situations that weren’t morally good to be in (even though nothing bad happened), even after it was possible for them to escape such situations. There was also some dishonesty going on. I know why they did it, and I think in some cases it would have been fine, but since that the situation they were in could have been avoided, I had a problem with the dishonesty.

Conclusion:

I want to read more from this author. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone due to some violence (although it didn’t go into detail), and also the issues I mentioned above. But, I do think a lot of people would enjoy it, and overall it had a good message.

Rating: 

I’m giving Many Sparrows 3 out of 5 stars, and 7 out of 10.

*I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review

Dear Future Me {25th Birthday Musings}

Dear Future Me,

Knowing you, one day you’ll be reading this in the far distant future, being amused by your former self – and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, that’s kinda the purpose of this letter: To freeze this moment in time so you can look back on it and remember. Also, I wanna tell you some important things that you could possibly forget as the years slid by in the excited frenzy of life.

But first, a snapshot of what’s going on at this exact moment so you can look back from years and picture it perfectly.

It’s 8:53 on a nice and calm, Saturday morning. This isn’t my actual birthday – no that was a week ago, but we were in Florida visiting the family and then traveling home, so we’re celebrating today. (Although, of course, we also celebrated last Saturday, but you know me, carrying on with celebrations and all.) This week was a wonderful and busy one with arriving home Sunday late afternoon, having stuff going on all day Monday, and then working at Chapman’s Coffee Shop for the next four days. Since I knew I had today off I allowed myself to indulge in staying up until one this morning reading a book.

I’m sitting at my desk in a clean office, although there are a few stacks of papers that need to be gone through. (Always papers to go through.) I also, for some odd reason, have a pair of sparkly socks sitting on my desk. I used them just a moment ago to erase my whiteboard, cause you know me, I can’t work at a messy desk. (Are you still like that?) I also have a salt lamp some pictures, a pad of paper, and six containers of glitter on my desk, but all those are to be expected, right? In the stuffed animal category I have a cute little elephant and skunk residing on my desk, because how could I write without those critters? I’m drinking decaf (although my caffeine intake recently has been exorbitant compared to normal), and eating a delicious Lindor white chocolate truffle Kaitlyn so sweetly sent me for my birthday.

Whimsy is hanging out in his cage. All three of my windows are open. The trees and field are beautifully autumn. Yesterday I transitioned my closet from summer clothes to winter clothes and rediscovered in the process how many of my clothes are either dark blue or red. (Maybe that means I have a certain style after all? I always figured my style was along the lines of “Whatever is fastest and easiest to wear.”) And, amazingly enough, I’m listening to JJ Heller. Remember how her music used to stress me out? I suppose wonders never cease.

Alexa, Zach, and Aubrey are planning on coming for brunch, along with Sarah and her family who are making a special cake that we are all looking forward to. I’ve wanted to make homemade noodles for a long time, so I’m planning on diving into that project this afternoon with Sarah, and perhaps some of my sisters. I’m hoping my adopted parents can come for supper, but we haven’t worked out all those logicists yet.

Does that make you, future self, feel nostalgic? But enough of the snapshot of life, now onto what else I had to say.

As I write this I’ve officially passed that threshold of being a quarter of a century old. Which in reality isn’t old, but it feels like a commemorative-worthy event. I have such a long list of things I’ve gotten to do, places I’ve been, mistakes I’ve made, successes I’ve seen, dreams I’ve realized, problems I’ve solved, and people I love. I feel like I’ve fit a lot of life into my days, but I also feel like I’ve lived a fair amount of days.

Do you know what though? I have currently only lived a grand total of 9,138 days.

That’s not very many. See, if I live to be a hundred years old, that means I have a grand total of 36,524 days – only 27,386 days left. Each day matters. Each day is important. Each day that slips by is one I’ll never get back – time I’ll never be able to redeem.

Psalm 90:12 says So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. 

I want to apply my heart to wisdom. I want to learn, grow, become who I’m supposed to be. I want to live, love, serve, see, change, become, grow, need, and be needed. I want to do big things – be the hands and feet of Christ to those who I’m around. I also want to do whimsical things – dance in the rain and sleep under the stars. I want to do huge things – become a bestselling author and be a successful, encouraging blogger. I want to do little things – play skip-bo with my little brother and read books to my nieces and nephews. I want to do balanced things – sleeping when I need to, running half marathons, hanging out with people. I want to do adventuresome things – RV across the USA, travel the world, own a skunk. I want to do creative things – creating, exploring, discovering, tasting, growing, and learning. I want to do rememberable things – going out of my way to help people, writing unforgettable books, making up new recipes. I want to do challenging things – regularly choosing to step out of my comfort zone and make the right choices. I want to do faith-filled things – following God even when it doesn’t make sense to me. I want to do still things – listening to God, enjoying the moments, being content.

Dear Future Me, this is what I want to be able to look back and nod at. To know that I was able to stay on track, to take the time to simply be. The time to run full steam ahead. The time to become who God wanted me to be.

So much of life up until this point has been growing my roots down deep, and I’m so thankful for that. I hope to always continue to grow my roots deep and deeper. Yet at the same point, I want to be ready now for whenever the time for the next phase of life comes. Not that I want to give this one up because it’s beautiful. But sometimes change can be beautiful as well. No matter if it’s when I’m twenty-five and getting a new job, or if it’s when I’m fifty and my first child is getting married.

This is my life – your life – live it, grow it, redeem it.

Sincerely,

Lydia Howe