Tis the Season

The light of the season is upon us and the books are under the tree.

 

xmas-2016-tree
xmas-2016-books

My children are enjoying the magic of the holidays, though most days they chose These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder as their read aloud as opposed to the traditional picking of Christmas books from under the tree each day. (We’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie series out loud for over a year and they all love it.)

bellingrath-2016
I was silly enough to begin a new project last week. I’m thirty-five pages in and trying to moderate myself so I don’t completely disappear into the story during this family-centered time of year. I’m trying for a thousand words a day, but yesterday I did double that. Oops. A good “mistake.”

What are you up to this month?

 

Fueled by Live Music

Last week I sent out my newsletter, so for those who get that you’ll already know I completed the first few drafts of my Gothic Horror work-in-progress. It’s currently out with some beta readers and I’m trying to patiently await feedback. Trying.

First draft

First draft

 

The other highlight this month—besides finishing that behemoth draft of 882 pages—was attending a Boston concert with the whole family. It was my oldest and youngest kids’ first rock concert and I’m happy to say all enjoyed it and there were no sensory meltdowns.

Boston concert, August 4, 2016

Boston concert, August 4, 2016

 

I played it safe and did back row, but with Boston their sound guys are constantly checking things and the audio is excellent, as is their visual. Awesome show, every time! (It was my fifth Boston concert in twenty-one years.)

Me, rocking my word count.

Me, rocking my word count.

 

Now, I’m balancing to keep my work-in-progress fresh in my mind and playing with the possibility of returning to a different project I wrote two years ago (middle grade contemporary) and tinkering with a few new ideas. In other words, I’m on the verge of creative insanity. What are you up to?

Scents of Wonder

I’ve been thinking about smells lately. Not necessarily bad odors (though with three kids in the house, there are plenty of those), just the power of memory in regards to one of the main senses.

Childhood, in a jar.

Childhood, in a jar.

To me, a fresh box of Crayola crayons or a container of Play-Doh is childhood.

Camel cigarettes smell like corruption.

The scent of brush fire is fear.

And this…

The battlefield of clear skin.

The battlefield of clear skin.

…is high school.
Open a bottle of Sea Breeze and all the insecurities of my teen years rush back to me. Or did they ever leave?

What smells trigger your memories, for good or ill?

Bucket List, Check!

My number one bucket list item is officially checked off: I attended my first Europe concert this past weekend. It only took twenty-five years and nearly a thousand miles of driving, but people have always told me I’m patient.

Photo by my husband.

Photo by my husband.

Yes, Europe is in America, at least for a few more days. My family and I made a road trip to the in-laws in Illinois (post about that soon) and after a few days of visiting, my husband and I left the kids with the grandparents and drove two and a half hours over to Indianapolis to catch Europe’s show at The Vogue. The venue’s neighborhood is an awesome mix of restaurants, local shops, and good vibes along the river—a great place to walk around and people watch.
100_7325
We got there early and I had fun talking (well, mostly listening) to the other diehard fans that were lined up. Listening to the stories of the blue collar Mid-west rock fans was great, and there was even a guy from down under in the group. The experience reminded me that I need to get out of my usual circle of book nerds, homeschooling moms, and church friends and expose myself to a wider variety of people more often. It’s good for the soul.
100_7326
And so was the music!
100_7335
Being third in line landed me a center stage spot when the doors opened. Before hand, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be stage right, near John Norum and his guitar skills, or stage left, next to the bass (John Levén) and keys (Mic Michaeli), but since the stage was small, I opted for center. That put me first row, in front of Ian Haugland’s drum kit and Joey Tempest’s microphone, when he wasn’t moving around with it.
100_7333
Plus, I was in the middle of the vertically challenged. But when you wait twenty-five years to see your favorite band in concert, you don’t feel bad about blocking people’s view. The show was fabulous! I’ve never gotten front row before, so that was a bonus, but I also got my first guitar pick—the leader singer/guitarist pressed into right into my hand. Thanks, Joey!
100_7343
Great sound.
100_7339
Seventeen song set list.
100_7336
Awesome band!

People need to put down their phones and watch concerts live, not through a screen. (I took less than two dozen pictures during the whole show--too busy enjoying the moment.)

People need to put down their phones and watch concerts live, not through a screen. (I took less than two dozen pictures during the whole show–too busy enjoying the moment.)

Expand Your Horizons

Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month is past the halfway mark. Have you seen an increase of understanding around you? My blue hair has provided more opportunities to discuss autism with others, so I’m glad I was brave enough to try it this time.

Me, on World Autism Day.

Me, on World Autism Day.

I scrolled through some old posts and came across this one from two years ago—the then nameless Fernando has been making an appearance on the blog for that long. This is a timely find, because it talks about my two manuscripts that are now under contract for publishing in 2016, and it explains where I got my line, “Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.” It doesn’t seem like Fernando has grown much, but it’s more than doubled in size.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando today, April 2015.

Fernando today, April 2015.


Seeing these photos today reminded me of my teen on the spectrum. Just like my son, Fernando is always responding to his environment. Outside stresses, like weather, can cause disturbances to growth and adaptability, while appropriate nutrients and habitat can promote expansion. Sometimes, the rate of my son’s maturing seems laboriously slow, but if I think back to how he was two (or more) years ago, I can see how far he’s come.

Fernando can be used as a personification of my writing, as well as a symbol of human needs and growth. What can your fern do?

If you don’t have a Fernando of your own, go find one and nurture your creativity.

Read Aloud

100_7028It’s World Read Aloud Day and we’re celebrating here by taking extra time to read from our bedtime tome, The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. We’re currently in The Silver Chair, the next to the last book in the series. The kids have enjoyed the stories as much as I do—and as much (or more than) the movies—which is awesome. 100_7029

I remember the best part of school was listening to my fourth grade teacher read Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary to the class every day after lunch. That was where my fascination with Newbery award winning books began—listening to Ms. Sawyer’s raspy voice read those letters from Leigh to his favorite author.

Which books do you recall from your childhood, or do you currently share with loved ones, in the read aloud tradition?

The Chill in the Air

Christmas is about stories. The stories you make into memories with friends and family, those you read in scriptures to highlight the reason for the season, and the sometimes funny or heartwarming tales of winter that can be found in books of all sizes.

Rather than focusing on presents, for the weeks leading up to the special day my kids look forward to reading and hearing their beloved holiday books that we keep displayed under our tree. Each year they rediscover their favorites and enjoy new books in the collection.

100_6710

What is one of your special Christmas traditions?