Repeats

2015 has been a year of edits. Multiple rounds of edits on my first novel, Fortitude, carried me through winter and spring. In between those, I reworked my second novel, Corroded, to be submission ready for my publisher. (I signed the contract for it in April.) Over the summer, I worked on my messy work-in-progress, as well as line edits on Fortitude.

And Fortitude is finally done! The manuscript is with the designer and cover artist. WooHoo!

Teen me.

Teen me.

Now I’m back to edits on Corroded. I’m spending my early morning hours going through life with Mary and Ben, revisiting the angst and thrill of high school. Would I go back in time if I could?

No!

But I’ll take the safe distance of fiction to reassess those emotions, whether through my own storytelling or the art of others. After all, I think we are all still “coming-of-age.” Even if you are happy where you are in life, there is always something you can do to stretch yourself to the next level.

If you could redo a section of your life, would you?

Adventure Ahead!

At the beginning of August, I took a trip with a comrade (both in homeschooling and writing) to North Carolina. Thanks to a visit from Santa in 2014, we had V.I.P. seats for The Piano Guys concert, and enjoyed two nights in downtown Raleigh.

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As many concerts as I’ve attended over the years, this was my first V.I.P. experience. Great, third row seats, as well as a meet-and-greet afterwards. So much fun! Thanks, girlie!

 

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Then, on the way back south (well, home to the DEEP south), we stopped in one of my bucket list locations—Biltmore Estate.

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100_8148Yes, for those keeping track, this is my second “Bucket List” check-off this year, and both involved traveling.

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As if that adventure wasn’t enough, I’m soon to be off on another. Information on that in the days ahead.

Where have your travels taken you lately?

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?

Inspired by Setting

While visiting with family a few weeks ago, I was blessed to experience several days of spring in the Midwest. I’ve been to central Illinois in the summer and winter, but this was our first trip this time of year. Many of the trees that were in full-bloom in the deep-south over a month ago were in their glory up north.
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Farmers and gardeners down south have their crops in the ground, but the Amish farmers were beginning to plow their fields—with horse power, of course.
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Trees that are fully green at home are just coming into their foliage there.
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Beauty can be found wherever you look.
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And so can corrosion.
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When possible, take time to visit new places. If that’s not an option, try viewing your regular piece of the world through new eyes. What details have you never noticed before?

Bibliophile Problems

If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts, I’m a book girl. There are a lot of books in my house. I’m talking more than dozens, more than hundreds, probably a couple thousand. I’ve never counted them all—that would mean math, and me and numbers don’t always get along.

This afternoon, after answering yet another a post on a homeschool page for recommendations for books set in a specific time period (happens regularly, and as a children’s literature connoisseur with a passion for historicals, I have to respond.) This time, it was a call for Civil War books. So, after going to my “favorite author” shelf in the hall, I returned to my desk area to look over my general middle grade collection for more titles. But then I remembered my middle child’s quest for all things military, and that I’ve allowed him to adopt many of my middle grade novels dealing with war, so I had to go check the bookcase in his room.

I circled all around the house to gather information I could have grouped together. What’s a bibliophile to do?

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I’m seriously contemplating putting all my books in chronological order. Even though that would mean splitting up the Katherine Paterson, Avi, Richard Peck, and Laurie Halse Anderson novels, I think at this point in my life (hello, homeschool!) it would be beneficial. But then I’d have to worry about the fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary… where would they all fit? Group the contemporary at the end of the historicals, with books like Bridge to Terabithia (and it’s 1970’s references) toward the beginning of that section. What about classics, like Charlotte’s Web? Do I place it in the era it was written?

The stress!

But it’s a happy, first world problem to deal with. Now I just need to decide if I take the plunge. Photographic journal blog will follow if it comes to pass.

Backyard Musings

Creatively, it’s been a rough month. Literary rejections and a house full of visiting kids are the two biggest factors. Both of these can provide inspiration, but dished out simultaneously over the course of the past few weeks, my soul was beginning to wilt.

What could I do to find peace and inspiration while keeping watch over seven kids? Trek around the backyard, while tuning out the noise of the kickball game for a few minutes.

My goal was twofold: find examples of FORTITUDE in nature as well as the beautiful patina of CORRODED metal.

Mission accomplished, spirits lifted!

With the help of my camera, I recorded these wonders in abundance and will share them over the next few posts. Today, I’m skipping Fernando (though there is good news from his neighborhood) and going straight to the back fence. When my family moved into this house nearly two decades ago, there was a tree growing through the fence, just one or two links worth. We left it alone, and now it looks like this.
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It’s sad, in a way, but a powerful example of growing despite trials and perceived road blocks.
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What could have halted progression became woven into its life, making the core stronger. (It’s survived several hurricanes.)
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Not only is this tree still growing, it’s providing a craggy surface for other living things. Love that moss!
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The textures are amazing.
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Where can you find inspiration today?

Fernando, for the Win!

Nature has a quiet way of speaking to us. A lot of the time, the noise of people and modern life drowns out the sounds of Earth, but we can all seek what we need to hear, no matter where we are.

From top to bottom, the water oak outside my window is a home and refuge to living things. Though the oak is just beginning to bud—and pollenate its surrounding with yellow dust—the uppermost branches support parasitic mistletoe growth. Though wind storms tear the plants from their host, more are there as a patch of green through the winter in an otherwise bare tree.

All the leaves are mistletoe.

All the leaves are mistletoe.

Slightly above mid-level, about three stories off the ground, there’s a red-bellied woodpeckers’ home. Happily, the lovely—and talkative—couple rebuilt a new hole after their original dwelling broke off from the same branch over a year ago.

The hole is in the center of the picture.

The hole is in the center of the picture.


If you look close, you can see the head of the woodpecker looking out. I don't have a fancy long-range lens.

If you look close, you can see the head of the woodpecker looking out. I don’t have a fancy long-range lens.

And, of course, near the base of this impressive ecosystem there grows Fernando.

Fernando in all his glory.

Fernando in all his glory.

Still fresh from a winter’s slumber, the ever industrious fern not only regrows but sets out new runners. There it is: nature telling me to spread—move on to the next branch of creativity.

It’s time to set roots for the next story.

It lives--and grows!

It lives–and grows!