Monday, November 29, 2010

Spun Thoughts

Remember when Prince changed his name and everyone fumbled when they called him the artist formerly known as Prince? He used that ankh symbol. Well, that’s not how I play. Yes, I changed my blog title—thanks to your thoughtful responses to my last post. Yes, I’ve changed my look—thanks to Melanie from Elegant Custom Blogs. (I love it Melanie. Thank you!)

But you’re still here at the same place.

You’ll still get my thoughts spun from the cobwebs in my brain. Was it Rumpelstiltskin who spun straw into gold? I like the sound of that better. Or maybe not. Isn’t that the dark Grimm story about a miller’s daughter, a dwarf and a baby up for grabs? (Yep, I’ll still come at you with random remarks like this one.)

I’ll keep throwing out thoughts as though we’re chatting. Or as though we’re walking together in the bonsai tree mazes inside my mind.

I’m so pumped about the new look around here. Melanie was so attentive to specifics. She was excellent with asking key questions and with follow through. Right now she’s offering FREE blog backgrounds. I highly recommend her work.

Of course I won’t end this post without a question.

How have your thoughts moved lately?

*photo by flickr

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Need Your Advice

I’m considering changing the header of my blog—titling it something else.


Heaven in a Wild Flower (this is from a line of one of my favorite William Blake poems so it has special significance to me)

Wendy Paine Miller (I’m sure you can figure out why I’d choose this one)


All in a Day’s Thought (leave it as is)

I’m drawn to each option for different reasons. I don’t want to mess with name recognition or confuse readers, but I’m wondering if it is time for a change.

What are your thoughts?

I’m taking a turkey hiatus next week. Stuffing myself full of stuffing and whatnot. So there’s plenty of time to think about it and get back with me on your thoughts. Oh, and just like with One Question Fridays, please explain your answer. Thanks!

*photos by flickr
**for now the URL will remain

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Little Star—A Beautiful Christmas Tale

When Anthony DeStefano contacted me asking if I wanted to take a look at his second children’s book titled Little Star, I enthusiastically replied I would.

Not only does Little Star creatively depict a profound and tender message about the first Christmas, but the captivating illustrations invite readers to linger on each page. The book evokes deeper reflection about the One who came into the world in the form of a little baby. A King here to save.

In this sweet book only one little star recognizes the arrival of a true King. Only one little star understands this king’s message of love. What does this little star do in light of understanding? He does what stars do best—he shines with everything he’s got.

I appreciate how Little Star points to the integrity of humility—how God uses the weak and lowly to radiate His light.

This wonderfully woven story encourages little ones and adults alike to consider the beauty of our Savior’s birth.

Little Star—a worthwhile read this holiday season.
Any moving Christmas books you'd like to share?

*I was given this book without anything asked of me. I wanted to write this review.

Monday, November 15, 2010

So You Want Your Novels to Change the World?

*Guest post by Rosslyn Elliot*

So do I. Which is a pretty ambitious statement for a writer of historical romance, so I’d better explain before I sound like a total fool.

Novels may help fight huge social evils like human trafficking, abuse of women, genocide, and racism. Or, they may fight little social evils like cattiness, covetousness, and cold hearts. Well-written novels can be part of our encouragement toward righteousness. They sow seeds of compassion for others.

Novels speak in private, in the quiet of a reader’s bedroom. They can start inner dialogue that opens hearts and minds. But they are not sermons. Little is more irritating to a reader than finding the novel she just purchased is actually a tract in disguise. It’s my story readers want, not my longwinded opinion.

Christian writers inherit a rich tradition of world-changing novels. In 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Stowe’s story affirmed the human dignity of African-Americans held in slavery in the United States, and exposed the cruelty of their enslavement. One novel changed this country forever.

Before Stowe changed America, Charles Dickens changed England. Writing at the height of the Industrial Revolution, he depicted the awful predicament of the poor and orphaned with such power that we still use the adjective Dickensian to mean a scene of abject urban poverty, often involving children. He was the most popular writer of his time.

There is not the remotest chance that my novels will have the impact of the novels of Stowe or Dickens. But by showing courageous characters in difficult circumstances, I hope I may help at least a few readers feel more courageous and capable of making the world around them better in some small way. Even a love story can be about something bigger than two people.

So, if I want my novels to make the world a better place, even in a tiny way, I have to tell a story, not lecture or moralize. Here are the most important things I’ve learned:

Avoid as much as possible any overt discussion of religion or politics.
An instant turn-off for a reader is characters who ‘teach’ one another or debate a controversial issue in order to make an author’s point. Is this really necessary? Is there no possible way this could be shown through story rather than told in dialogue? And if not, is this really novel-worthy material?

Don’t use stereotypes.
I once read a novel in which a Republican man was completely villainous, and a Democrat completely virtuous. That single authorial choice made me want to slam the book shut, and I would have felt the same if the political roles were reversed. I don’t appreciate it when an author’s biases show through that clearly. That’s a medieval morality play, not a novel. I think it’s better to avoid identifying one’s characters with political terms or buzzwords, if at all possible. Let them appeal as human beings first.

Show both examples and counter-examples.
Harriet Beecher Stowe shows slaveholders who are cruel tyrants, and also slaveholders who are benevolent and loving toward their slaves. It makes her story deeper and more powerful when she acknowledges through her narrative that moral, kind persons owned slaves, but their noble intentions did not make slavery itself acceptable.

How about you? Do you hope your novels change the world in some way? Or do you just want to provide a few hours of relaxation and pleasure to readers?

Rosslyn Elliott grew up in a military family and relocated frequently, attending nine schools before her high school graduation. She attended Yale University, where she earned a BA in English and Theater. She worked in business and as a high school teacher before returning to study at Emory University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English in 2006. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She lives in the Southwest, where she homeschools her daughter and works in children’s ministry.
Visit Rosslyn's Website
Visit Rosslyn's Blog
Thank you for your words of wisdom, Rosslyn!

Friday, November 12, 2010

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It's my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Limited imagination or Dull intellect?

*photos by flickr
**Switching things up next week. Monday you’ll get to read a guest post from a brilliant author and Wednesday I’m posting a book review. See you then.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Moment

My old (he’d get a kick out of the strategic placement of that word)
Young Life leader
posted this recently.
It made me think.
Have a look.

Moments from Everynone on Vimeo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Characters Caught in the Fibers

“Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes—characters even—caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.”
—Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

I know the feeling. As a writer and a reader. As both, I’ve enabled myself to become enraptured by story, allowing the plot and characters to wind around me, to become part of who I am.

And then it ends. I write (and edit) the last word.

I turn the book over, satiated, pleasantly reflecting on the characters. I wonder about Swede and Reuben (Peace Like a River). About Minny (The Help). Whatever happened to Holden (The Catcher in the Rye)?

Of course my own characters stay with me as well. They are part of me now. Permanently caught in the fibers of my being. Like tendons, ligaments—blood and bone.

The question I’m naturally led to is how do you transition? Do you have a routine you partake in when you finish one book, before you become engulfed in another? Do you attend a book club? Discuss the book and its characters with a best friend? Do you journal about the book or wait a specific amount of time between books?

Or are you content with how books bleed into you? Is establishing a transition unnecessary because you’ve discovered good books burrow inside you no matter what you do?

*photos by flickr

Friday, November 5, 2010

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It's my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

What makes you feel most like you?
*photos by flickr

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nesting for Your Novel

You nest before you have a baby, right? Isn’t it only logical you’d do the same for your novel baby?

8 Ways I nest for My Novels

Dream of the Future
I let my characters marinate on my brain matter for at least three months. It’s a great test to see whether they keep my interest, whether I find myself more and more excited about them coming into the world. I delight in imagining their futures.

Clean Cluttered Space
Prior to writing a novel I make sure I’m straight on the characters and the plot of the hour. If I’m dealing with residual anger from a fight, I pray it up and let it go. That way my own stuff doesn’t get too tangled in the new baby.

Set Up Treasured Area
There’s a sweet endearing feeling that settles deep when you decorate a nursery. Same goes for grabbing my pens, journals, notes, and tea. I’m readying myself to step inside the pretend world of my characters. There’s an antic space associated with where I write—I get swallowed up in the couch or loveseat and slip into another realm.

Name Selection
Ever flipped through one of those almanac-sized books to find a name for your child? I’ve spent hours playing with words and their meanings in the selection process for my characters. In my third novel I named one man Dreg, and gave his sister the name Simple. They were raised by neglectful parents.

Decide on a Feeding Plan
The big debate—breastfeed or bottle feed. Translated for your novel this is the debate of when you’ll write, how much time you’ll devote to it, and how much research you’ll do in preparation.

Prepare a Trusty Bag of Goods
You buy a special book or magazine for the hospital visit. And unlike an actual birth experience, you’ll have time to polish up on books on the craft while you write. These books serve as wonderful educators about how to birth a novel. Think What to Expect When Expecting—What to Expect When Writing (now if that isn’t a great name for a book!).

Decide Who You Want to Help
Will it be Aunty Sue? Grandma Jean? A novel nanny? Once your novel is written, you’ll need to evaluate who will provide the most insightful feedback. Critique partners and editors are excellent choices at this stage.

Imagine Holding Your Baby for the First Time
This aspect of nesting occurs from conception until the second contractions start. (Contractions = edits, no?) It’s that ultimate dream of what it will feel like to have your novel baby turn into an actual book. To have and to hold. Born. Published. Out there for the entire world to read (and critique—unsolicited advice isn’t just unloaded on newbie moms of babies, but on novel moms as well).

Sweet Dreams, Novel Baby.
See you soon.

Have an example of nesting for a novel?

*In case you missed it, my critique partner, Jill Kemerer signed with Books & Such. Go congratulate her!
my article for Sage this month
***photo by flickr

Monday, November 1, 2010

You Know You’re Getting Old When…

My birthday was yesterday. I’m practically Yoda.

Having a little fun with you today. I imagine most All in a Day’s Thought readers can relate to the following:

You Know You’re Getting Old When…

  • Your knees and ankles crack so loudly when you get out of bed it sounds like a tree is about to come down in the forest

  • You get up to go pee three times within the first ten minutes of tucking yourself in because you don’t want to wake up to go in the middle of the night

  • You put peanut butter in the fridge on a regular basis

  • Acidophilus is more than a memory from CATS

  • You finish statements with, “Kids today”

  • Smurfs and Hello Kitty were popular when you were a kid. And now they’re making a comeback

  • Either your underwear is shrinking or your backside isn’t

  • It was on the tip of my tongue, what was I saying and where was I are common phrases you use during conversations

  • Your child worries your wrinkles are scrapes

  • Crowns, canals and bridges aren’t things associated with London anymore

  • You incorporate oatmeal into your diet to improve health and bowel function

  • Naps go from being a luxury to a necessity

Wanna play? You know you’re getting old when…

*photo by flickr

Taking Time

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