Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Goodbye for now

Well, this is it... the last post I will most likely write in the next 2 1/2 weeks.  Let's see what interesting tidbits I can come up with to hold you off until the next post, shall we?

First of all, I started looking into the book "T'aragam", a POD book originally published by createspace although the author's book publishing name is sweatshoppe.  Cool name.  I haven't read the entire book yet, but by visiting the website at and going to the page titled "Free Stuff", a person can download half of the e-book and the entire audio book read by the author for nothing at all.  I've now listened to the audio book.  It was pretty good... there were a few scenes that seemed... well, cliche really.  But on the whole, it was pretty good.  And to top it off, the author -- Jack W. Regan -- is one of the judges for the Highschool contest called "Tweener Times Competition" in which Highschoolers can enter a story they wrote aimed at a middle grade audience.  The competition is hosted by Moody Ministries.  (I even entered the RD for "Song of the Daystar" a few years back.  In fact, SOTD was originally written because of that competition.  Didn't win, but that's ok; the book went through major revisions since then.)

I've also been looking up some interesting blogs. is one of them.  It has an interesting post about building a platform up right now.  The owner of "authorhaven" is also soon to be a published author, come 2011.  Check out her website to learn more.   At her other blog here, there's a good post about Publishing Christian Fantasy in Today's World and Market.  I was a bit inspired and discouraged at the same time after reading it... but discouraged in a very good and wholesome way.  I would definitely suggested reading it to all of my followers; it's very good.

On another note, if you haven't already checked out, now is as good a time as any to do so.  It's a POD publisher for authors who would like to self publish.  It doesn't cost anything, but it does take a bit out of an author's "royalty" as compensation for publishing costs.  This means that every time someone buys your book, you get some and they get some, and depending on what your set list price is, you may get more than they do or vise-versa.  But all in all it's an intriguing site, and after seeing the success of T'aragam, I've been considering it.

Well, that's all for now.  I've finished reading Cynder's Midnight but don't have a review written up so I'll have to work on that while I'm in Colorado.  I'm come back with pictures form the trip.

Until then, Live, Laugh, Love... WRITE!

I'll see you all later.


Friday, July 23, 2010

It is Finally Finished

At the beginning of the fall semester last year, as I was just finishing Song of the Daystar and getting close to test time, I suddenly discovered the wonders of Adobe Photoshop.  Now, I know that Photoshop is ideal for editing and fixing photographs, but in the art world, it is also a major step towards digital painting.  I have recently been experimenting with digital painting.  It's not nearly as easy as most artists make it look.  But after a while I got the hang of it and started working on a project called "The 100 Theme Challenge".  (No, this was not my original idea.  I found it on Deviantart.)  The challenge is to create 100 pictures in any media that you want, in any order that you want to create them, based on the themes given to you.  Since I had been wanting to explore the world of digital painting, I decided to try and do most of my pictures in the computer.

Unfortunately, about half way through painting the picture, my computer did a nose dive and I had to replace it.  When I went to install Adobe to finish the painting, for some strange reason the software wouldn't install.

But this didn't deter me.  I had been hearing some good things about a freeware art program called "GIMP" that could be downloaded straight off the Internet.  I ran it through my school's security software before installing it on my computer.  To my great and ecstatic surprise, GIMP is actually a decent art program.  The majority of the picture was done in GIMP.

The first theme I decided to do was #92, "All I Have".  I apologize now that the colors seem a bit light.  After I finished the picture, I went to print it off at Wal-Mart and discovered that my new computer's Gamma must not be set correctly.  I'll have to go back in, re-set the gamma, and eventually adjust the color.  But until then, here it is.  If you click the image below, a bigger version will appear, and if you double click that version, an even bigger version will appear.  I strongly suggest looking at the biggest version.  I put a lot of work into this painting, but it's hard to see when the picture is so small.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Writing Backwards is Bad for your Novel.

A while back I wrote a post on perfectionist writers.  I am one of them.  And one of the things I struggle with the most in my writing is... just writing.

As writers, we all have some vague idea of where we want our poem or novel or memoir or biography to go, but getting it there is a completely different story.  We may have a great idea, get excited, sit down and write a few chapters... but then we pause and, instead of continuing on as we should, we make the one fatal mistake that has often kept many amazing story ideas from becoming amazing published books:

We go back, re-read, and edit.

I like to call this "Writing Backwards" because I'm going back and writing over again, when I should be working on moving the novel forward and finally reaching its end.  I catch myself doing it all the time.  In my mind, I know what I want that scene to look like; I know what I want that character to do and how he should do it; I know what that artifact looks like and I want the reader to see it that way.  If a writer could just go back and do a quick edit, and then continue writing from where they left off, that's great.  I wish I could be like that.  But so often I find myself stuck on trying to figure out just the right combination of words to make the scene perfect.  And usually, while it seems like the editing is helping to perfect my story and make it the best that it possibly can be, it is actually hindering real progress.

So this post is basically to help me realize that I have to stop being so darn picky.  Especially with November looming closer and closer. (Because, for those of you who don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or Nanowrimo.)  When November hits, I don't want to be a picky writer... I want to just write.  That's what Nanowrimo is for; for writers to type out the rough draft of a novel in 30 days and get it all out on paper before the idea is lost.  It goes against every perfectionist grain in my body, but perhaps that is good for me.  I can always go back and edit later.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Review: Auralia's Colors

Books are very special things. There are thousands upon millions of them, yet each person has their own preference and each book has a different meaning for different people. Books draw us in with their titles, lure us to their shelves with intriguing cover art, and pique our interest with the exciting promise of a new adventure. Once opened, books can take us anywhere, wrapping us up in their enthralling pages, weaving us into the tapestry of their stories.

As an avid reader, I’m always looking for an exciting story that is well written and that draws me in from the beginning. Usually I can tell whether a book will be good (or bad) after I’m finished with the first chapter (which is why it is so important for writers to make absolutely sure that the first few chapters of their books are written well. :D)

In this case, “Aralia’s Colors” truly exceeded my expectations: I could hardly put it down. (And that is really saying something!) Rarely does a book weave a tapestry so vibrant and intriguing as in Jeffrey Overstreet’s “Auralia strand”, the title of his first fantasy series.

I was introduced to the book via reviews on the internet.  Intrigued by the discription of the book, I decided to find the book and read it for myself.  I was not disapointed.

From the very first page I was immediately transported into a world so vivid that I hardly wanted to return to my own.  Overstreet uses Third person Omnicient POV, but he also has a destinctive narrative voice.  This isn't a bad thing.  If there is one thing I've learned from writing, it's that as much as a writer wants to show the reader everything that happens in a scene, the writer still considers themself a story teller.  There is nothing wrong with this, and if a writer is good at thier craft, a certain essence of narration often adds a valuable element to the story rather than taking away from it.

After reading this book, I am willing to admit that I will probably never look at this world the same way again.  I'm not exagerating when I say that something about how this story is worded opened my eyes to a world of wonder; I will always be searching for the colors that Auralia was so adept at finding, even in the simplest things.

In the story, Auralia was found as a baby by two old men, supposed criminals cast out of House Abascar’s walls to be Gatherers. They discovered her by a river and inside a giant footprint. As a little girl, Auralia proved to be very different from the other orphans issued to the Gatherer’s for care; she was very secretive and didn’t seem to mind being along. But perhaps the most intriguing thing about her was her fascination with colors. She could find them anywhere: in the glint of the sun on a raven’s black wing, in the fur of a viscrocat, even in the rain, or in the stones on the ground. And each color she found made her want to find more. She started making things with the vibrant colors she’d come across, little trinkets and pieces of clothing to show her thanks to the gatherers who took care of her. However, in House Abascar, colors are a forbidden privilege saved only for honors and royalty. Auralia laughes at such a thought as forbidden colors, for who can forbid what the whole world flashes for its people to admire? She keeps on with her weavings, watching for the footprints on the Keeper, a creature said to be only in children’s nightmares, but whom she knows is meant to protect them.

Auralia’s gift with colors opens many eyes to the wonders around them including the eyes of a prince, a magician, and a hard-hearted king. But colors like these are a danger in themselves, and Auralia’s gift may bring about the restoration of the sad House Abascar… or the ruin of it.

Jeffrey Overstreet, the author of “Auralia’s Colors” is (in my opinion) a master in the craft of storytelling. I wouldn’t call what he does “Writing” so much as I would call it “Painting with words”. It’s difficult to describe the book otherwise. His prose are like poetry, and his use of metaphors and similies make Auralia’s world seem absolutely magical.

One of the aspects of this book that I find most intriguing and surprisingly refreshing is the easy shift from one person’s POV to the next, which is not to be mistaken for the use of the all omniscient point of view. Overstreet uses Third Person Omniscient POV consistently throughout the entire book while also telling the stories of several different characters simultaneously.

To be honest, I could not decide on which character was the most important after I had finished reading the book. I also debated with myself as to whether or not Auralia's Colors were a character unto themselves. The story in itself is more prominantly about how Auralia’s gift with colors affects everything and everyone around her, than it is about letting the reader really get to know her and get inside her head.   In fact, she remains a kind of “special mystery” throughout the entire book.

Because of Overstreet’s unique choice of style and voice, we get to read into the lives of several significant characters, including the Prince of Abascar, an Ale Boy with a secret past that he can’t remember, a guard’s daughter, and the King of Abascar himself, while we follow the lives of Auralia and her guardians at the same time. Each life we read into seems to have an equal amount of weight and importance that it adds to the story. One might even say that the book has three main characters instead of one, because the story is as much about Prince Cal-Raven and the Ale Boy, as it is about Auralia and her Colors.

I give this book five stars out of five, and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tagged! A day in the life of my room and Other Ramblings

Well, I had meant for this post to be a good one so I will try to be as posotive as I can be.  That said, today has turned out to be a real let down... and it's only 12:00 pm!

Why, do you ask, am I feeling so down in the dumps?  The answer is quite simple: I was fired this morning.

Yep, the ever dreaded "F" word of the Work Force woke me up this morning with a phone call, dragged me into work, and dropped that horrible, awful, hateful bomb.


But this was not supposed to be a post filled with melancholy and woe, and I can only hope that loosing this job means that God is opening another door for me... preferably one in a business that deals with publishing, books, and the wonderful world of the written word.

So, to comfort myself (and for your visual amusement) I have decided to post pictures of my bedroom.  Thankfully my room was clean (for once) when Jake tagged his followers to post candid pictures of their rooms.  I guess I was one of the lucky ones. :D

This first one is my bed, and the entrance to my bedroom.  Yes, that is a curtain over the door: my room is actually a converted attic and though the pictures make it look bigger, it is really, very small because the ceiling slants all the way down to the floor.  You might also be interested to know that I seem to have a love for Lions and Dragons.  The big stuffed lion was a gift for my birthday several years back: he was deemed "Aslan" soon after.  The little lion sitting next to him is "Little Aslan".  :)    The pillow on the floor is for my cat: he likes to come up and sleep on it.  I usually put the book I just finished reading on that pillow: this time it was "Auralia's Colors".  Oh, and that paper bag by the head of the bed in the first picture?  Books. :D

There's "Little Aslan" again.  And a Picture.  I have three pictures like this placed randomly throughout my bedroom.  This one says "Love" and the other two say "Peace" and "Faith".  My mom says she has another one that says "Hope" somewhere, but she would have to find it before I could use it in my decor.  And yes, those things around the pictures are just pillows.  I had no where else to put them because my bed is rather small.

This is my doll corner.  My mom collects China Dolls and my love of them stems from hers.  Some of the dolls were hers at one time, but she knew that I loved them so she gave them to me.  Others are dolls I fell in love with but didn't have money to buy and that people later bequeathed me as gifts.  I'm too old to play with them, but I love to display them.

There you are, the first real look at my room as a whole.  Now you can see what I mean when I say it is small.  As you can see, I love books.  Those too random wall piles are actually two book shelves filled to bursting.  There are also three more piles of books under my bed hidden under the comforter.  The big black thing in the front of the picture is my guitar case: my guitar isn't in it at the moment.  The other stringed instrument is an alpine dulcimer.  I can play it a little, but I prefer my guitar.  My desk was a Goodwill Find.  We call it my "Waltons' Desk" because in the old TV series, John boy had a desk like that.  (John boy was an aspiring author looking for publication too! :) ) 

Here's another look at it, only this time from the floor.  You can see yet another random pile of books in the lower right had corner.  You probably can't tell by now, but I LOVE to read!

There's my desk top.  The book in the lower right corner is "No Plot, No Problem".  I found it to be a major help.  Can you see my two daggers?  Maybe not.  They're kind of hard to pick out.  One is laying in front of the picture, the other is just above the leaf mat.  The picture has a saying on it that says "She watched a leaf fall from the sky and slowly felt her life falling into place... at last."  It touched me so I put it above my desk to continue inspiring me.  I think my aunt gave it to me.  She gave me the mug in the corner too: it was a souvenir from a renessance faire.

These two pictures are the tops of my bookshelf.  As you have probably noticed, I like the colors Red and Gold, and I also like leaves.  The picture behind the giant leaf bowl on my Bookshelf says "Reach for the Stars" and it has that saying also written in Chinese.  Leaning up against one of my lamps is a book that shows how to write Chinese words, and a bamboo paintbrush.  I made the runner.  You might not be able to tell, but it is Crazy Patch and it was made out of purple, crimson, black, and gold velvet.  It was no easy task to piece it together straight, let me tell you!

My smaller bookshelf.  As you can see, it's so full that the shelves are starting to bend.  I really need to fix that, but I'm not sure how. 

Another picture of my big bookshelf and my desk.

My bed buddies: a red bear that my mom found at a second hand shop, and my stuffed dragon named Torch.  As you can see, I'm reading Cynder's Midnight by Jeffery Overstreet.  I've read Auralia's colors too and will be posting a review on it soon.  The pillow is a Crazy Patch piece I was working on for my mom.  It's not quite done as I hadn't finished the beaded fringe around the edges, which explains the white string draping across the pillow.  lol*  I didn't see the string when I was taking the picture.  The folded blanket has more leaves on it.  :)

That's the wall hanging that hangs above my bed, yet another Crazy Patch piece that I worked on.  The "N's" stand for Nichole.  My Grandma taught me and my siblings how to make them.  Her own Crazy Patch works are just absolutely amazing!  And, of course, her stitching is much neater than mine.  I love my Grandma so much!!!

Another Lion.  When I saw this plaque, I was reminded of the scene in  "The Voyage on the Dawn Treader" where Caspian is telling Lucy and Edmund how the Lion Plaque above his door came to life and spoke with him.  That's why I hung it above my bed.

 My night stand, with my alarm clock, my reading lamp, and my three guardian angels standing in the background. 

Yet another pile of random books.

There's my Guitar.  I had it out of its case and on my bed because I was working on a song when I decided to drop everything and take these pictures.  :D

And last but not least, a final look at my room.  It's small, but I do love it.

And now I'm glad I decided to post these pictures.  It has made me feel much better about the nasty morning I had.  I hope the rest of the day goes well. 

I'll be posting a review on "Auralia's Colors" soon, so keep checking in.  In the meantime, I'm going to follow Jake's example and Tag all of my followers!  This should be interesting... very interesting indeed!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

When Inspiration Comes A-Knocking, the Best Thing to do is Open the Door

Last night was just an ordinary night when I sat down at my keyboard. The hard copy of “Song of the Daystar” sat beside me on the desk in its neat red folder, my purple editing pen and idea-ballpoint lying on top. I glanced at it, turned back to my blank screen, opened my documents and scrolled through my options. Did I want to start something new, or work on something old? I was growing tired of editing, re-editing, questioning myself, going back and editing yet again. I wanted to write. Several documents flickered up in front of my face, each with potential but each one denied. I wanted to work on something I’d started before, something that I could get excited about… but I just couldn’t decide what.

Then it happened.

The folder was several years old, covered with several layers of digital dust from not being opened in so long. The labeled documents inside promised glimpses at old ideas, excerpts that were cut, snatches of song lyrics and poetry for the book, a half-composed attempt at a language, and other such creations expelled from a young writer’s mind.

But halfway down the folder, it was there, staring me in the face, beckoning me with the promise of adventure. I hadn’t opened it in so long, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect; four years ago I’d only managed a few chapters worth of revision before I stopped to pour all my writing efforts into “Song of the Daystar”.

I clicked the document open, scrolled down to the last scene I’d revised and…

Started to type!

I couldn’t believe it; four years on the shelf, and then quite suddenly and unexpectedly the story that had begun my love of writing had drawn me back in again. I swear my keyboard smoked as my fingers flew over its keys. It was all coming back to me: the characters’ personalities, their problems, their world. I could see the map in my mind's eye, could hear the trees whispering to the shadows that haunted their woods, the mountains’ rumbling song, the vast ocean’s quiet lullaby as the rivers rolled down to meet it on the shore.

I was back.

I never imagined it to happen that way. After I finished the revision of “Song of the Daystar” I’d thought I might go back and give one or two of my stories a once-over, see if any of them were calling my name. None of them seemed to be. I thought about this project – the one I’d titled “Eldrie” so long ago – but at the time the long and tedious hours of revising held no appeal; Eldrie’s rough draft was long and complicated, and, true to a first draft’s nature, very, very rough.

But now…

I can’t help but get excited over it. It’s like I’m stepping back into myself all over again (not that SOTD wasn’t a part of me too.) And its good to have something I can get excited over while I try to pen-in my frustrations with the cruel publishing world. When I told my mother of my unexpected joy, she just smiled and said, “Then you must know it’s time to start working on it again.” She’s been telling me to finish the revision for years.

And all of this just goes to show that when inspiration comes knocking, you’d better not let it stand out in the cold; hurry up and open that door!

The Winners!!!

July first is finally here, and that means the C.S. Lewis Short Story Contest is over.  The poll is in.  And the winning story is (drumroll please)... "I Promise".  

I will be creating a page for this story on my blog within the next few days.  (who knows, it may even show up later this evening. :D )  Be sure to check it out. 

I would also like to congradulate all of the other contestants.  With two of the stories, it was a pretty close call.  However, as one honored to be able to read the stories before they were even posted, I know that they all had the potential to win.

They are listed as follows below.

"I promise"  recieved 7 votes

"The Heartsmith" recieved 6 votes

"The Cornerstone" recieved 6 votes

"Darkest Hour" recieved 5 votes

"The Prophesy" recieved 4 votes

"Kelsy" recieved 4 votes

"Holding on" recieved 2 votes

The six remaining stories will be left up on the contest page for 1 month, for any curious passerbys to read and enjoy.  The Winning Story, "I Promise" will go up on its own individual page with the author's profile (if desired) and web address.

Thanks to all who participated!