Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene's Messy Scene and Sarah's News



That blustery Irene left us without power for three days, made my computer go wackadoo, and altered my children's start date for school. However, I'm ecstatic to make a mega announcement this Friday (Wendy style).


Have you heard Sarah Forgrave's good news? Check it out!


Meet you back here Friday.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Moving Thoughts 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.















Ch ch ch changes…August is going to be a month about change for your Moving Thoughts Friday questions.


What silence changed you?














*photos by flickr
**Am loving the interaction so far on my
new Facebook writer page. Please come join the conversation!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I’m a Cross Between Skeeter and Celia Foote



On this I 8 Wednesday, I’m exploring how I am like two characters from The Help. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, here’s one more reason why you should! (I’ll try not to include any spoilers.)


My Skeeter Side:



  • Like Skeeter, I want my stories to have impact. And with every story I listen to (I mean really listen to) or read, I feel mentally charged, emotionally engaged, and spiritually motivated. Stories light me up.


  • Skeeter and I are risk takers.


  • I smiled while watching Skeeter’s refusal to go along with the crowd. I’m also unafraid to stand on my own when necessary.


  • I’m all about driving a truck, having messy hair, standing up for a cause, calling a spade a spade, and persevering beyond what others might deem normal. I push past limits.

My Celia Foote Side:


  • I’ve been blatantly rejected from groups. I’ve been caught in the seeking approval net more than once.


  • I’ve experienced similar heart wrenching losses.


  • I’m full of energy and it doesn’t take a lot to excite me. Counting Crows sing lyrics that I’m sure Celia and I could both easily identify with: “She has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous.” And “She knows she’s more than just a little misunderstood.”


  • I love to give back. Once someone climbs in my heart, they stay. If you’ve ever taught me, poured into me, or loved me, I thrive on finding ways to return all that’s been given.

Have you read the book? Seen the movie? The casting for the movie was exceptional and an enormous success because of how relatable the characters were. Do you identify closely with any one character? (If you write Hilly, I’ll quote Tom Petty, “Don’t come around here no more.”)


*photo by flickr


Monday, August 22, 2011

Fool’s Gold for Writers



The Longing

Your stomach grumbles with thunderous intensity. You slip on your good shoes, the rubber boots that will protect your feet from wading in the water for hours. Fully prepared to put in your time, you grab all the necessary sifting supplies, and you prepare yourself by keeping your expectations low and your perception sharp.
~~
Your mind churns for the story. Prepared to put in your time at the computer, you gather coffee, your notebook of character sketches, and Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. You keep your expectations for word count low and your intimacy with your plot and characters strong.


The Hunt
You stand in the sun scanning the shimmery river for that certain glint. Your back aches and you feel as though you could snap in two like flimsy kindling broken for a fire. You select rocks with speckles of shine on them and throw them back, disappointed, but determined to keep looking. The skin on your fingers ripples with water-worn wrinkles as you roll small stones between the pads of your thumb and forefinger.
~~
You invest. You sacrifice. You weed through edits with fierce tenacity, keeping only the shining; only parts that move the plot along fluidly. All else gets thrown back. You rejoice and hurt in response to the highs and lows the industry sends your way. Your hunger remains.


The Find
Dirt crams at the base of your fingernails. You yawn and stretch, ready to stop for the day, perhaps ready to give up altogether. Then your eyes blink double time. They snatch upon a gold-flecked rock beneath the teasing trickling water. You reach down and lift it slowly. At closer glance, you’re sure you’ve found it. No more looking. No more hard work. Toss the boots in the trash. Give away all your sifting supplies. This is it. A fat sun-speckled rock heavy in your hand. It’s what you hunted for. It’s all you thought you wanted. The search is over.
~~
You dream in edits. Worn thin from macro and micro edits, tired from deadlines, the hunt no longer draws you. And then the call. The agent. The publishing house. You see your cover. You hold your book in your hands. This is it, you tell yourself with a twisted feeling nesting in your gut. It’s why you worked so hard. It’s all you thought you wanted. The search is over.

But it’s fool’s gold. In your hand.


Yes, having a novel published is an incredible achievement (I don’t speak from experience on this...yet). Yes, you should celebrate and feel grateful for all you’ve invested and delight at the feel of your book in your hands.


But no, publication will not (not now or ever) define your worth.


The gold, the real gold comes in what you learned while you sifted (and while you keep sifting even after publication). Gold is found in how you choose to dedicate your time putting on those rubber boots wading in the water out of sheer hunger, learning to enjoy your calling. You’re holding onto pure gold when you understand that your worth doesn’t come from being published, but from the process. From getting your hands dirty. Worth isn’t so much about what you might find, but about who you become in the course of that discovery. Your worth was already defined by the living water.


You are more than pyrite, more than a flash in the pan.


All this time you’ve been searching for gold and you, you’re the gold.


*listened to Refiner’s Fire while writing this post
**photos by flickr

Friday, August 19, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday



















Ch ch ch changes...August is going to be a month about change for your Moving Thoughts Friday questions.












I want to know...


What word(s) changed you?


*photos by flickr

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Mom



"My mother...she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her." Jodi Picoult


Meet you back here Friday for one of my favorite Moving Thoughts Friday questions this month!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Moving Thoughts 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.

Ch ch ch changes…August is going to be a month about change for your Moving Thoughts Friday questions.

















Next up…


What decision changed you?



*photos by flickr

*hello to the new readers!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Confessions of a Tent-dweller

Confession time.


I have a hard time asking for or accepting help. The reverse is true, too. When I feel like other people are imposing on or taking advantage of me (or someone I care about), I become inwardly, secretly critical.


Last weekend, our church went to the Flying H Ranch to serve. We painted part of a building and cut firewood, amid the beauty of a brown-and-gold canyon through which the Naches River runs. The Flying H has a wonderful campground. Several families from our church brought RVs. We set up our humble six-person tent, in which we stuff our seven-person family.


At lunchtime, the sandwiches I’d put in the cooler that morning looked rather limp. My older kids wandered away to their friends’ RV, which was spacious and cool and boasted a stove. Their friends’ mom offered them hotdogs. Limp sandwiches or hot dogs? Of course, hot dogs.


After our work was done for the day, my father-in-law had a great idea. Why not drive up the road and see the view of Mt. Rainier? We weren’t far. My husband asked our friends if our three big kids could stay behind and play.

I envisioned us driving up the road twenty minutes to see this view. I gave them a confident, “We won’t be long!” as I climbed in our minivan.


TWO HOURS LATER, when we finally straggled back to the campground, dinner was in full swing. Not only had we not helped prepare it, but our kids had already been fed. #momfail


The next morning, after a hot, lumpy night in the tent, I hauled a Ziploc of blueberry muffins from the cooler only to hear a chorus of “Is this all there is for breakfast?”


My ten-year-old daughter then announced she wanted an RV for Christmas.


One of our RV friends kindly offered to cook pancakes, which of course my children accepted. By this time my pride was mangled. There was no way I could compete with the RV group. I was helplessly accepting assistance right and left.

I kept thinking of how I would judge myself if I were in my friends’ shoes: “Why did she come on this trip if she wasn’t planning to take care of her own family?”


But nobody seemed judgmental. If anyone was critical, it was me of myself.


That’s when it hit me like a baseball to the eye: life is not a level playing field. Some of us have tents, some RVs. This is not competition, this is community.


We had our church service on Sunday at the campsite. My father-in-law – who had slept in his car overnight – summed it up nicely when he prayed, “Thank you for those who came on this trip well-prepared, who graciously shared with those of us who came with empty cups.”


Yep, I was the one with the empty cup. Next time I’ll remember what it’s like to be a tent-dweller, drop the critical attitude, and put on grace instead.

A.L. Sonnichsen enjoys writing YA novels and literary short stories when she's not feeding, clothing and nurturing her five children -- or taking off for the day to gaze at Mt. Rainier. She lives in a small town on the sunny side of Washington State and writes about life, books and avoiding housework on her blog, The Green Bathtub.


*A.L. is one of those women I just click with. I’m so grateful you brought it with this guest post, Amy. Thank you for being such a generous & cool guest!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tying My Own Dang Shoes



Remember how frustrating it was learning to tie your shoelaces? I remember and liken it to learning to write better.


There are those who’ll simply tie your shoes for you. They’ll crunch down until you hear their knees crack and they’ll slip loops together, making it look seamless and easy. We’ll call these people editors.


There are those willing to show you how to tie your shoes even if it takes over a hundred tries. They model the action for you, hands busy with their own shoeslaces, hoping you’ll snag the appropriate steps as you witness. We’ll call this group mentors or authors of excellent books you’ve read.


Then there’s Velcro (or slip on shoes). The cop out. I don’t want to settle for Velcro. I’m not much of the formulaic, do it like she does it kind of writer. We’ll call this becoming an imitation writer.


When it came time for me to learn how to tie my shoes I studied, I concentrated…and I practiced. (And as with tying my shoeslaces, I did (and still do) my share of flubbing. I end up with floppy strings more than I care to admit.)


I’m a hands on learner. I can be reading six books at once, and though I happen to believe reading is an essential tool to help develop stronger writing skills, it’s actually sitting down to write that incites the most improvement. I’m in the 'I want to tie my own dang shoes' camp.


And now I’m all about the double knot.


What shoelace tying camp are you in? Do you see value in studying how others improve while establishing your own shoe tying groove?


*photo by flickr

Friday, August 5, 2011

Moving Thoughts 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.












Ch ch ch changes…August is going to be a month all about change for your Moving Thoughts Friday questions.




Starting with…


What book changed you?










*photos by flickr
**Am loving the dialogue so far on my new
Facebook writer page. Please come join the conversation!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who Are My Characters



On this I 8 Wednesday, I say we have a little fun. Time for fun having.


Every so often I get to wondering where my characters come from. I mean, are they part of me, part of you, or are they strictly figments of my imagination?


Today I’m listing 8 possible explanations for who my characters are (and at the end of this post I’m asking you to play…tell me who you think my characters are and, if you write fiction, who your characters are).


1. My characters are really layers of myself at various ages.
2. They’re you.
3. My characters are strangers I study.
4. My main, secondary, and extra peripheral characters are loved ones.
5. Figments, purely figments of that James and the Giant Peach imagination.
6. Characters = split personalities
(ha!).
7. Real entities in their own right as fiction people (imaginary friends per say).
8. A swell mixture of all of the above (this is like option D on any scantron test in school).


This was a fun post to write. In fact, I’m laughing even as I type. So play. Throw out your guesses. No cheating by looking over a friend’s shoulder. Who are my characters? Any explanations I didn’t mention? Who are your characters?


Your ball…

*photo by flickr

Monday, August 1, 2011

Stranger on a Plane Phenomenon



Who are you online?


I’m beginning to wonder if we all don’t have an online persona, sort of like we have an ‘I’m going to a party’ persona that’s unique from our ‘tucking our kids into bed’ persona.


I’ve thought a lot about Internet accountability lately. It’s so easy for someone to spew a comment resembling cat vomit and decide never return to the blog they commented on again. It reminds me of the whole stranger on a plane phenomenon. You can become anyone for a two hour plane ride. You can invent a dynamo alias. And none would be the wiser.


But is that wise?


Words, no matter where they’re shared, are potent. And there are ways to track comments and the verbal trail. This world can indeed be a small world when it comes to online interactions.

We are more than strangers on a plane. Or another way to put it…the world = one gigantic plane.


I’ve found in some respects I portray my truer feelings online, my layered self.


This makes sense. Writing has always been able to draw me out, tugging me from my introverted (yes, I wrote introverted…go figure) shell.


I’m at home here.


Are you? And do you feel like you online? Have you noticed evidence of the stranger on a plane phenomenon?


*I’m honored the lovely Keli Gwyn chose to feature me on her Writers on the Journey blog today (afternoon). Please swing by to say hello. I’m vulnerable, candid, and the same me you’ve encountered elsewhere online.
**photo by flickr