Monday, August 22, 2011

Majesty

It's August... and that means it's time for another post in the ChristianWriters.com blog chain.

Our theme is August.

From Dictionary.com:

au·gust  [aw-guhst]

–adjective
1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama.
I must admit this theme was a little harder than ones in past months to wrap my mind around.

For me, August has always been a month, and I rarely think of using the other meaning in a sentence.

But, as I've thought about the alternative definition--majesty--I think of my visits to the Rocky Mountains. How august are they, when you're driving across the plains of eastern Colorado, and they finally come into view as you're traveling across I-70, coming into Denver? I have yet to be more taken with a sight, although the Flint Hills of Kansas around sunrise or sunset in fall or mid-spring can take my breath away as well.

The first time I saw the Rockies, I was 20, traveling to Wyoming from Wichita with my new-fiancé who would eventually become TMOTH a few months later. I was awestruck. Especially when days later, we returned to visit first Rocky Mountain National Park, then Colorado Springs' Pike's Peak.

Ever since then, I've been smitten with the Rockies in general, and Colorado in particular. In the next few weeks, we'll travel there for the first time since having children. I can't wait.

When I'm in the Rockies especially, I experience a relaxation I don't get anywhere else--even when on a vacation elsewhere. Perhaps it's the higher altitudes and less oxygen. But, I honestly think it's the august beauty of the countryside.

While there, I get more reflective. Gazing at the beauty, you can't but help but marvel and acknowledge the wonderful craftsmanship of our Creator. Sure, some people subscribe to the notion our world was formed over millions of years.

I usually have a big eye-roll for that one.

You can't look at Creation if you've got any sense in your brain and not see how things had to be formed by a loving and masterful Creator. Sure, changes to occur. But, He was the one who formed the rivers, chose their paths, and made them for us to drink from and enjoy. He's the one who shoved the rock out of the ground to form majestic mountains, covered in aspens, pines, snow, and curious creatures.

His whole Creation is truly august, and worthy of our awe, from the far, far deserts that stretch thousands of square miles, to the tiny forget-me-not you find on a mountainous hike.

Take a minute to look around with wonder next time you're enjoying nature and think of how awesome it is--and how truly awe-inspiring the Master of the Universe is for taking the time to create our world, right down to the ants crawling around in the blades of grass between our toes.

All of today's photo's were taken by either myself or TMOTH during a vacation to Colorado in July 2007, which was the last time we were in my (current) favorite state. Given a detailed map, I can approximate all three locations, and the one with the river I know for a fact was near 11 Mile Reservoir along the S. Platte River. TMOTH is pictured in this WAY down the river if you've got a big enough copy to spot him. :)

Until next time,


P.S. Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary with TMOTH! 9 years together... and we haven't killed each other yet. ;) Seriously, love this guy more each year, and excited to have at least another 59 with him, Lord willing. -- L.S.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It Seems Like It Took Forever To Get To This Point...

You might remember several months ago, I did a blog post about my son's battle with a disease called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. You may also remember the fact that he'd been on a feeding tube since Christmas.

My little boy, hiding
Well, we've had some pretty decent progress in the last couple of months.

My little boy has gone from baby nearly completely dependent on his feeding tube to a toddler who had the gumption to practically insist on having it removed. Permanently.

As of a week ago today, we haven't been using the feeding tube.

This may seem like a strange post to do on a writing blog, but let me tell you--this is something I'm rejoicing about. For 7.5 months he's had this stupid thing. When he first got it just before Christmas last year, they told me it would probably be three, maybe four months.

Before we knew it, spring, then summer was here. Do you realize he's spent more time with it in than out in his short life?? He'll be 13 months old in a week or so, and we'll still have another two months to go before he'll equal out the time!

So, let me finish updating you on his health.

On Friday, we had what we call a combined clinic. Three departments who are following his progress at the hospital we go to all came in for different parts of the same appointment and discussed his health with TMOTH and me. They said he looks good overall, and are so pleased with his progress, they don't want us to come back for 6 months.

6 MONTHS!!!

This is absolutely huge for us, especially since we've gotten used to seeing almost all our doctors once every 4 - 6 weeks. We will, of course, continue to follow up with our personal doctor, and keep one of the doctors updated on illnesses, weight gains/losses, and call with questions. And, when we go back, our little guy will be having his first bone marrow biopsy. That'll be the sucky part, but we'll hope/pray that it'll just be one thing we have to live with and nothing bad will come of it.

For the time being, if you want to pray for our little guy, just pray we can get into and through cold/flu season unscathed. The theory is the fewer times he's sick, the less hits his bone marrow will take, and the less stressed it will be, which may reduce the likelihood he'll develop leukemia in his lifetime. Everyone in our family will be getting a flu shot, and he'll be getting a pneumonia shot as well. If you're family or friends and reading this, we beg you to get a flu shot--not only for your health, but his.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

I usually don't do a two-topic post, but will today, just for the sake of getting it off my chest.

My writing has been coming along beautifully. While I'm still behind on my CCBR reviews (sorry Kristina and Tanya!), I'm attempting to catch up there. Too bad the short books are the easiest to read and review... I've just got the longer, chapter books to work on now!

But, more importantly, I took the plunge and signed up for the Port Yonder Press mentorship program for the 2011-2012 season. So far, I've written my first story (of the four required) and it came out rather well, if I do say so myself. The goal is to get it worked into a publishable/saleable shape. So, right now, my goal is to sit down and figure out who would be the likely takers for this short project (under 1000 words.) Then, I need to work on my next project, which will be longer. My exclusively-novel-trained brain is definitely getting its exercise working on these shorter projects.

And, finally, I have been once again actively working on the 2nd Draft of "Cora's Song." Have I mentioned how much I really love this story? Well, I really love this story. :) I'm nowhere near done, and have already written about 85K (as of Friday last week) on the project. My first draft? 70K. As I said on my author page, I see a lot of editing in my future, since I think this could easily clock in around 110 - maybe even 120K. The really awesome thing is that even though I'm actively outlining, staying about 10 chapters ahead, I'm coming up with some cool ideas to incorporate when I go back to edit further.

Now if I can just get all my notes in one place...


Until next time,

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

An Interview

NOTE: I made an error and sent everyone to the Blogger.com homepage earlier with my link. I have corrected this, and the link is correctly placed for TheWriteChris blog now. Thanks!

Some projects got in the way of me doing a blog post this week, but one of those projects was the interview I did with Christine Henderson over at TheWriteChris. Please head over there and check it out--my first interview!! :D

Plan to be back next week with a post on what's been keeping me busy...

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, August 01, 2011

Writing Lessons from the Movies: "The Band Wagon"

As writers, we all know the kind of story we want to write. As well we should! If we don't know, then what are we doing with an open Word document in front of us, trying to string words together? Having a vision for our story is important.

In the 1950s musical classic The Band Wagon, we get a great lesson about not letting go of that vision, nor allowing someone to so skew your story that it's barely recognizable when they're through with it.

If you're not familiar with the movie, here's a brief run-down. Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) is a washed-up movie actor in the twilight of his career, looking to go back to his Broadway roots and return to the stage. His friends, playwrights Lester and Lily Martin (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray), have what they feel is the perfect vehicle, and persuade him to return to New York City. Upon Tony's arrival, they take him to meet the person who they want to direct their venture, Jeffrey Cordova (James Buchanan).

Fred Astaire & Cyd Charise "Dancing in the Dark"
Picture from Wikipedia
Cordova, however, has a very different plan for Les & Lily's upbeat musical, turning it into a musical drama that doesn't leave the audience with a smile on their face. The show is a flop.

As the cast is commiserating and saying their goodbyes, Tony takes things into his own hands, tells Cordova that they're going to revamp and take things back to the original show the Martin's had planned. When they do this, The Band Wagon becomes a hit.

You can probably tell where I'm headed with this (hey, you're smart!) but the important lesson for us writers is this: don't let others tinker with your story unless you're sure about the changes they're suggesting, if it really, truly improves things. Take everything your crit partners say and look at it thoroughly and with a cautious eye. Don't just take their suggestions as gospel truth.

When you get notes back from critters, agents, or editors (though mostly, the critters), take things in, try to see what they're saying, then let it steep in your brain for a while. I've gotten some of my best ideas when I let things sit rather than making the jump into editing immediately. I'll start thinking about one point, mull over possible changes, then sometimes, particularly if it's major, I'll call up the critter or meet them for coffee and have a brainstorming session. I actually have one critter from my local writer's group that we do this nearly every time I see him. He'll walk me to my car and we'll stand there and talk and brainstorm.

Some of my best ideas come while we're talking. I make a mental note, or, lately, pull up the voice recorder on my phone and make some notes as I'm driving home.

Just remember: keep in mind the vision you've got for your book. Not everyone is going to be pulling for you--or even see what you can see in your book's rough form.

My question for you: Have you ever received constructive criticism from someone where their vision for your book was polar opposite from yours? If so, how did you handle it? Did it end up being helpful?

Until next time,



P.S. My good friend and sometimes guest blogger Linda Yezak's novel is out on Kindle! When I bought it on Thursday, it was $0.99! I don't know if it's still that low, but I'd urge you to go buy Give the Lady a Ride. It would make her happy. -- LS

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