(Who Needs Conestoga Wagons?) Traveling by Lawn Mower & #Goals

Yesterday I was cutting grass with Chadwin (who happens to be my lawn mower in case y’all didn’t know) when once again the perfect book idea came to me. And I say “once again” like that because this book idea is a recurring theme that strikes me as being brilliant whenever I’m cutting grass.

You ready for the idea?

I want to write a book where the main character travels across the United States on her lawn mower, mowing people’s yards as she travels to earn money to continue on her way. See. I told you it was a brilliant idea.

What could be more exciting than that?

Apparently, the answer most people think is the correct one to that question is “Basically everything in all of forever is more exciting.” Because I suppose traveling 3,431 at a rate of five miles per hour isn’t what the major population in the bookworm world want to spend their summer reading about.

(Which of course isn’t entirely true, because do you know how many thousands upon thousands of books have been written about going West via Conestoga wagons??? But maybe the realistic, historical, and adventurous elements in those stories help carry them along.)

So, once again I reigned in my brainstorming about traveling across the continent with my mower, and focused on my real WIP (work in progress) that y’all will get to hear about soon.

In the meantime though, I’m sharing my goals for the month of August. I haven’t shared goals on here since April, so it’s good to be back into the routine. If you have goals for August, I’d be delighted to hear them!

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If the Lord wills and I live, in August of 2017 I will…

Health:
1. Be in bed by 10:30 Ten Nights
2. Get up by 6:30 Ten Mornings
3. Eat Paleo (my version) Twenty Days
4. Go on at least Five walks a week
5. Do the PEMF Mat Twice a week
Spiritual/Mental:
1. Read two “spiritual” books
2. Read three nonfiction books altogether
3. Go to Wednesday night church when home
4. Go to Church & Sunday School when home
Writing Work etc…:
1. Plot DD
2. Write at least 30,000 words in the first draft of DD
3. Blog by 9:30 Twelve times
4. Research blogging/vlogging for Ten Hours
5. Post a Vlog every Thursday
6. Work on Writing/Vlogging/Research work for 100 hours (bonus – make it 120 hours!)

Brainstorming While Mowing

It’s still rather amazing to me how many story ideas come about while I’m mowing grass.

This is the ninth year I’ve been cutting grass, and I still find it to be one of the most delightful tasks I’ve ever been blessed with. My mower’s name is Chadwin, and we work together as a very loud (and efficient) pair.

While mowing I generally listen to music on noise-canceling headsets, and take off for hours of going back and forth, hither and yon, and around dozens of trees and other country-ish obstacles. Although I do have to pay attention to what I’m doing, cutting grass isn’t a 100% focused-requiared task, so I get to do a lot of brainstorming while watching the little grass particles fly.

IMG_6932Yesterday I cut grass for nearly four hours, and as soon I’m finished with this post I’m going to slap some sunscreen on (cause I didn’t think of doing that yesterday…), and head back out to cut some more.

Cutting grass during this time of year is my favorite – it’s not extremely hot yet (the high today is 81), and the multiple hayfields haven’t been cut yet, which makes the contrast between the cut yards and the uncut hayfields delightful. There are also thousands upon thousands of clover, daisies, black-eyed-susans, and dozens of other kinds of flowers to keep me company as I mow.

Yesterday as I was cutting and thinking, a story idea popped into my head and churned around for the last hour or so of mowing. Last night I jotted down some of the ideas, and am carrying my phone along with me as I mow which means I can keep writing down more thoughts as they come.

So many of my bookish ideas have either been thought up, or crystallized, on the mower, that someday I’ll probably have to dedicate a book to Chadwin. Before I had a phone I would carry a small notebook and pen with me when I mowed, simply so I could capture some of the amazing thoughts that would flood into my brain.

What about you? Do you have some daily activity that never fails to inspire you?

Re-Building Kios’ Storyworld (Part 1: What I’m starting with)

When I open up Pinterest on my computer and click on the search bar, my lovely previous searches come up “world building”and “writing prompts” and “exotic places” and “writing tips.” Because, as it so happens, I’m a writer. And, as it so happens, Pinterest is a really great place to learn and plot and be inspired.

The last two days have been fun as I’ve begun receiving feedback back from my beta readers for Echoes. Apparently I need to do more world building in the land of Kios, which in reality doesn’t surprise me at all. I hadn’t thought it through carefully, but after it was pointed out to me, I realized I just took it for granted that the world would make sense.

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The world – as in the physical world has been a jumbled mess in my mind. I know some basic facts about it: They lived in a land were there were hills, rocky outcroppings, lots of green pasture land, and a four-season rotation. One of the borders was a gigantic forest, another was the ocean, and who knew (or cared) about the rest?

The ruling system was fairly familiar to me, because it played a much bigger part in the plot than the landscape did. Sadly though, I didn’t do the best job of portraying it to the readers (probably because I didn’t realize how unusual it actually was). It’s a constitutional monarchy, but with the royalty having a lot of the power – just not all of it. What makes it unusual is that 1) Male and female royalty have the same amount of power, and 2) From the time the heir to the throne is mature enough to take part in ruling, they’re brought into the Judgment Hall and take part in the politics. That means that by the time the princesses in my story are sixteen, their voice is one the people (and the king) listens to regularly.

Another part of the ruling system is the Year of Proof, which happens whenever the king/queen and wisemen of the kingdom deem the heir to the throne educated/ready/mature enough to rule on their own if something would happen to the current reigning monarch. For the Year of Proof the heir to the throne chooses any city in the country, and goes to live there for a year – ruling over it, settling disputes, and connecting with the people. This is to prove to the whole population that they are a fit ruler and have been well-prepared.

The land’s main source of prestige among other countries is their superior skills with dyes, weaving, fabric making, and sewing.

Other things I know about Kios:

  • Slavery is illegal (although that’s not the case in some of the neighboring countries)
  • Echoes (twins) are thought to be cursed, or not fully human
  • Electricity, motorized vehicles, and sky-scrapers have not been invented
  • During the last 20 years Kios has risen greatly in terms of education, economics, and social standing with the neighboring countries
  • Even poor children are given the chance at getting an education
  • Cleanliness is highly valued – the Royal City employes street cleaners, etc….
  • They have a lot of sheep, cause, ya know, fabric
  • For the most part the royal family is in good standing with the people and well-loved
  • Although not extremely prosperous, the country is doing well financially

There are several more things, but that’s what comes to mind right away. Now that I have my groundwork though, I’m realizing I really need to organize this country a little bit better and really make it complete.

I’ve been working at deleting my previous Echoes storyboards on Pinterest (because they were rather vague), and starting over with all the details. So, stay tuned, and within the next few days I’ll (Lord willing) be posting more about where the country is after some brainstorming sessions.

The Swiss Alps, Spies, and Brainstorming Thoughts

Brainstorming is one of those writerly activities that I generally use as a treat for myself. It’s fun, rewarding, and full of possibilities, but it’s also work that seriously needs done in my writerly life.

Often times I’ll brainstorm for a few minutes here or there when I need a break from another writing activity – such as researching agents, editing, writing, proof-reading, or looking stuff up.

There are multiple different ways to brainstorm, but some of my favorites include:

  • Finding a brainstorming buddy and throwing out random ideas
  • Looking up writing prompts on Pinterest
  • Thinking through aspects of a story and trying to come up with a completely different twist than expected
  • Writing down all the crazy story-ish thoughts that pop into my head

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I’m currently not planning on actually beginning to write another story until I have at least several dozen more queries sent out, but all the advice I read/heard on the querying process said you should work on writing another book while awaiting feedback. That’s because it will help the waiting seem to go faster, which does make sense.

The thought of beginning a new book is exciting and spurs me on to hurry up with querying. It’s so exhilarating to think of creating a whole new world. I haven’t started a new book since November 2015, so it feels like it’s been quite a while.

As things stand, I have four ideas I’ve been tossing around to work on next, and I’m not even sure if I’ll end up going with one of them this time. For now, I’m not pressuring myself to decide. Instead, I’m enjoying the freedom of knowing that I have endless possibilities stretching in front of me, and the brainstorming I do now will probably be used sometime.

What kind of story would you choose to work on next? Spies, Princesses? Musicians?  A mystery with the setting of Hawaii-meets-the Swiss Alps? A contemporary where a very non-Native American girl lives in a tipi? A camping adventure gone wrong? See, the possibilities are really endless….