Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Chronicles of....Me? :)

I have kept a journal for some time. Ever since I was 12 years old, actually. Recently I have not had time to write in it consistently, but I am determined to write when I can, for as Mama said, these are the important years in my life, and how amazing it will be to look back on the journal I kept as a lass of 18. :) I am sure I will appreciate the time I took to write in my journal.
However, I know that journals can get dull. Believe me! I used to keep a log-book style journal that absolutely put me to sleep when I went back to read it. :) Literally, the format was something like this:

Woke up, ate breakfast, had devotion. Did chores, did school. Went for a walk, did school, fixed and ate lunch, had free-time, played outside, made dinner, ate dinner, did chores, watched a movie, went to bed.

Disgusted? I was. I tired so quickly of my journals, versus the ones I had read of people in history. What was it that made their entries so captivating? Here is an excerpt from one book I adore. Sarah Morgan: the Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman.

"A new year has opened up to me while my thoughts are still wrapped up in the last; Heaven send it may be a happier one than 1861. And yet there were many pleasant days in that year, as well as many bitter ones. Remember the bright, sunny days of last winter; the guests at home, the visits abroad; the buggy rides, the walks, the dances every night; the merry, kind voices that came from laughing lips, the bright eyes that then sparkled with pleasure?"

Many other books came to mind. Excerpts from presidents' journals, and letters...all these things were so inspiring. What was wrong with my technique?
And then one day it hit me. I only wrote about schedule. I had no detail. I put none of my own personality and thoughts into my entries. My journal that far was simply a ship's log, chronicling the days of my life...monotonous indeed.

So I made a vow with myself that I would try my hand at writing something worthwhile in my journals. Perhaps that is where my writing began. I would include seemingly insignificant details like the expression on someone's face as I spoke with them, or even what was said in a conversation as best as I could remember it. My journal leaped to life and ever since I have possessed a chronicle that I know I will treasure, and that my children will treasure.
Never mind the fact that some of the entries I would not wish to show anyone until I've died. ;) I make it a point never to write my emotions for idle reasons. But if there is a good reason to write the way I feel about something, so that I may better follow God's gracious hand in my life, I will write it down and capture the moment. Some of those entries, I can tell, will be the most precious. :)
My goal in my journalling has been to write something worth reading. I hope that someday a person will stumble upon my journal and somehow benefit from the reading of it. Whether by amusement or a little wisdom. (I hope. :) Oops! Dinner! ~Rachel

Friday, June 24, 2011

To Read, or Not to Read? That *is* the Question

I have a question to pose to my dear readers. And that is this:
"When it comes to book-to-movie- adaptations, what is your policy?
Watch the movie first, or read the book?"

It is a question that comes up often in our house, since some of the younger girls want to watch movies that they haven't read the book to.
So how would you answer that question? For me, it is an easy answer:

Read the book first.

I think it is important to experience the story the way the author meant it to be experienced. Many movie adaptations, while wonderful, veer a bit away from the original manuscript, and therefore some part of the author's purpose could be damaged. Let me think of a situation where this came in....okay. Well, it's a little thing, but I always thought, per Louisa May Alcott's description, that Meg would look like this:
(This is Polly Milton, but if you gave her a hoopskirt, she'd be a perfect Meg! :)

(Ahh...yes. The one in the red dress is Meg :)

But when I watched the 1992 version of Little Women, I found they had cast the beautiful Trini Alvarado as Meg. She did a great job, and I grew accustomed to her, but I'm not sure she was just what Alcott would have pictured.

The way the characters look per their description in the book (or per their portrayal in the movie) is something that can bother me. :) It's a little thing, but something that I like to be careful with, because I've had it work the opposite way where I watched a movie, loved it, and then came to read the book and felt the whole time that the author had messed the character up, rather than the other way round!

There is one not-so-great thing about reading the book first vs. watching the movie first.
And that is, that often I would finish the moving with a disgruntling feeling that they had not been faithful at all. I begrudgingly admit I liked the movie, and I know I would have loved it, had I not already fallen in love with the original book.

That is the main argument my sisters bring up. "But then you *never* like the movie as well!" But that is not necessarily true. I have some book-to-movie adaptations that I love just as much as the book! :) I just tend to be a little pickier.
It can be hard to keep this standard up, and I *don't* always succeed. But sometimes I have made it a point not to watch the movie till I've read the book, among these, Charles Dickens's Bleak House and Little Dorrit. And I'm glad I disciplined myself to do it this way, because with such long books, once I know the story-line (as in having watched the movie) I'd be less likely to spend 900 pages finding it out. :)

But of course everyone is different. Some people who are not such fast readers, don't like reading especially, etc. might never read a classic book unless they had grown to love the movie. And for them? I say bravo for sticking it through! :)
I am only saying that if you are able to, I feel reading the book first is the superior way. :) Your thoughts? ~Rachel

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"The Wind That Shakes The Barley"

This is such a sad song, but so beautiful! Often song lyrics are some of the most beautiful poetry, and especially the old Irish and Scottish songs! :] ( I would prefer a sweeter, younger, more plaintive voice singing this, but the woman here is pretty good. :)

I sat within the valley green, I sat me with my true love

My sad heart strove the two between, the old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glen and shook the golden barley

'Twas hard the woeful words to frame to break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame of foreign chains around us
And so I said, "The mountain glen I'll seek at morning early
And join the bold united men, while soft winds shake the barley"

While sad I kissed away her tears, my fond arms round her flinging
The foeman's shot burst on our ears from out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love's side in life's young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died while soft winds shook the barley

But blood for blood without remorse I've taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love's clay cold corpse where I full soon may follow
As round her grave I wander drear, noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e'er I hear the wind that shakes the barley

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Inkpen Authoress featured on Perfectly Sensible Nonsense :)

Hello Everyone! :)
Well, a while back I entered Taylor Lynn's Poetry Contest and....won it! :) You can read the announcement post here. :)
As part of the prize I got to do a guest post on her blog, and since I had never had that honor before, I had a bit of a time trying to decide what to write about. In the end, I went with this. What do you think of it? I had to agree with Rabbit from Winnie-the-Pooh, myself.

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit. "No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."
Winnie the Pooh

Everyone else seemed to like it, though! :) And it was fun to be featured on someone else's blog! :) Maybe I'll use that idea for my next contest....(which is in the works!)

Also, I joined up with after I saw that my new Kiwi correspondant, Felicity, was on there. :) *smile* It's a free poetry community where you can post your poetry, as well as read the work of other poets and get feedback. I thought I'd try it out and see what's what. So far I like it pretty well.
I still have not gotten around to writing that brilliant post. It is not good form to make a bunch of excuses for your negligance. However, I must excuse myself this once because we are so terribly busy with our market-gardening business (two markets and one produce co-op a week, plus other garden work) and I had that glorious Civil War ball to go to, and then....well...I must confess. I received my Pride and Prejudice movie in the mail and I have been much occupied in my odd moments with day-dreaming I am Lizzie Bennett and wondering if I'll marry someone like Mr. Darcy... Just kidding. :) But we have been watching it during rest time, and finally finished it last night.
Oh yes! And how could I forget! I have been writing my graduation speech! It is not the speech that makes me nervous, but the thought of the 200 pairs of eyes fixed upon my face while I read it. I think I'll faint. Most probably. But perhaps it'd be best *not* to think about it and pretend I am someone else entirely while I go through it. :[ *Grim smile*

Well, duty calls and I must hie away to fulfill it! I shall quote Pride and Prejudice to satisfy you as I go! ;)
"Let us not say 'Farewell', but as the French have it, 'Au Revoir!'" ~George Wickham

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Inkpen Poetry Day: "Nellie MacGuire"

"Nellie MacGuire"
By Rachel Heffington

Each little room in our house is so nice
But the nicest of all, full of woodsmoke and spice,
Is the kitchen--we almost don't dare to come in
So we walk on our tip-toes and stick out our chins
And peep `round the oven, just hoping to see
That Nellie MacGuire is taking her tea.
Her hair's shiny brown and her cheeks fairly glow
And when she is happy she'll give us some dough.
But if we peep in when her apron is tied
(With a big, fiercesome knot sticking out at the side)
Then she squawks like a hen with a new brood of eggs
And she thumps bread like carpenters thumping in pegs.
And if we are daring and step on the floor
Nell counts up to three and she counts up to four.
Then she purses her lips with a "look at you" face
And sends us off packing right out of the place.
But of course we come back and creep `round by the door
And we see the spice rack full of bakery lore,
The pantry shelves laden with bread light as silk
And the dairy with cheeses and butter and milk.
The fireplace gleaming, the huge iron pot,
And the tea-kettle that sings a song when it's hot.
The cab'net with china-blue flowers and white,
The medicine for when we're sick in the night.
And next to the window with sun streaming through
Holding tea-cup with flowers, some white and some blue,
Sits Nellie MacGuire with apron undone
And we knew now's the time we can start having fun.

This poem was somewhat inspired by my siblings. I'd be Nellie MacGuire, the slightly moody, but good-hearted cook. And the children in the poem would, of course, be the younger three: Benjamin, Abby, and Grace. :) I thought it turned out to be a rather cozy, Christopher Robin-ish poem. What do you think? -Rachel

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"I Could Have Danced All Night!"

I am concocting a brilliant, well-thought-out, amazing post to write sometime, but for now this will be a quilt-ish post- bits and piece stitched together hopefully to end up beautiful. :)

If you are a letter-writer, have you checked out this website? They have the most *beautiful* stationary! :) Also, if you are a letter-writer, do you ever have the maddening occurrence of having had millions of stamps when you *didn't* owe a letter, and then when you have five to send you discover the stamps took their leave and a trip to the P.O. is in order? :P

Do you ever gaze at other writers' blogs and wish yours was so....exciting, literary, inspirational, etc.? I do. *wistful smile*

I am so excited about going to the Civil War ball on Saturday! (Thus the title of this post) Of course I'll be dressing old-fashioned for even the 1860's because I'm going Colonial! :) (Actually, each of us older girls is going in a different era! I'm Colonial, Leah's Regency, Sarah's Civil War, and Anna is later Victorian. :)

My dress is a similar style to this, with the drawn-up overskirt. But what is bright yellow in this photo is a cream colored silky material patterned with pink and crimson flowers, and the underskirt is a dusty-rose pink. It also has a white stomacher down the center of the bodice, and white ruffles on the sleeves. :) It's gorgeous, and my Grandmama made it! :)

I was thinking of doing a hairstyle that was a variation of this:

(no, this is not me. :)

And this. :) (Sorry the pic. is so dark! It's old)

The first is the Authentic 18th Century hairstyle from Rapunzel's Resource. Beautiful!

The second is the Victorian Recamier Coiffure. (Yes, I realize I'm mixing eras)
I was also rather clever, I thought, in my choice of hair doo-dads because I had an old pearl necklace that broke, and so I cut it apart and threaded each pearl on a hairpin, and now I can pin them all in my hair for the ball! It might look a little like Lizzy Bennet's ball hairstyle in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. Only I like my idea way better than how they did her hair. :) I'm glad I'm not blond, since the pearls will show up better in my darker hair. ;)

I have not had much time for writing recently. I find my inspiration fizzles if I have to write in ten-minute jaunts so I've found it more profitable to not write at all and wait for a bigger chunk of time. :) But I miss it! :) Well, have a great day! ~Rachel

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Nameless (but worthwhile) Post :)

It seems every writer has a special place they go to write.

Jo March had her garret...

Beatrix Potter had her farm in the Lake District...

Jane Austen wrote on the tiny desk in her family's sitting room. She chose the spot because the door creaked and she could tell when anyone was coming and whisk her novel away.

But I don't seem to have a particularly "special" spot. When we first moved to this house I thought I'd use the attic for my writing and painting spot, fitting it up into a place like Jo March's garret. That is, until I discovered how brief is the season it's bearable up there. In winter your fingers just about fall off. In summer you could just shrivel up and die or smother from the humidity. But in the spring and fall it's pretty nearly perfect, as long as it's clean. :P

Then I thought, perhaps I'd find a good spot in our woods. But you don't know how many bugs there are upon closer inspection! And in the summertime, ticks and mosquitoes run rampant. Not very conducive to inspiration. ;)

I've been keeping my eye out for a good writing spot, but I seem to write wherever I am. So if dreams *did* come true, then here are some places I could get used to. ;)

Bag End? It would be a rather cozy spot. :)

AH! Miss Potter's studio would be *amazing*!

Do any of you have a particular writing corner? Tell me about it! :) Maybe someday I'll come up with one for myself. :P -Rachel

Monday, June 13, 2011

What I Decided....

So last post I was asking you guys what you thought I ought to read next. My opinion was swayed toward Les Miserables, hoping I would find it less miserable (pardon the bad pun) than the first two times I tried it. :D But there are two problems with my copy of Les Mis.
Number One: It's over 800 pages long. (I've read many a Dickens book longer than that, so that's not the main problem)

Number Two: It's abridged.

And that's where it loses my good opinion. Abridged books are contrary to every fiber in my book-lover's body. Chopping up a perfectly good novel simply because some reader are too lazy to read through it all? It cheapens a story. It *ruins* a story.

A friend told me that she read the abridged version of A Tale of Two Cities. You can read how much I adored that book here. But she told me that in the very end they cut out all of Sydney Carton's conversion! The book only mentioned that he chose the heroic deed out of good moral courage. Please. Spare me the disgust! :P

So back to Les Miserables. I cracked it open, thinking that 800 pages is quite long enough for any book, not to mention an abridged one, and set to reading. But t
hen I received a special blessing. :) An old family friend who cannot make it to my graduation on July 16th sent me a $50 gift card!!!!!!!!!!!!!


So I was delivered from the looming prospect of Les Miserables by ordering Lorna Doone, (which I've read)
The Count of Monte Cristo, (which I haven't read but have heard great reviews on)
the 1995 Pride and Prejudice movie starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, :) and a book on how to achieve over 35 different authentic Victorian hairstyles! *jumps up and down*

I never get any packages, (unless they are parts for Dad or seeds for Mama) and certainly never any packages of such amazing stuff all for myself!

So in short, I have decided to save my loyalty for my new books when they come, and wait till I feel a bit braver to try reading Les Miserables. Think it's the right decision? ;) -Rachel

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Should I Read Next?

I am missing being able to upload pictures on Blogger. It's been sketchy for the past few days and won't let me do anything fancy. Not even italic. (Like I discussed last post :P)So this a lull after the storm of the Thousand Words Story Contest. I can no longer thunder at you about entering or flash warnings like lightening about how long you have left. ;)
I had forgotten how much I love burying my nose in the thick of a book and forgetting about the outside world for an hour or so. Because until recently, the garden has literally kept me so busy I haven't had time for reading! Not a whit! :(
*Lets that thought soak in and is a little astonished, it is so unlike her*
I just finished one of George MacDonald's Scottish novels, The Minister's Restoration, and greatly enjoyed it. I can't say I quite agree on all his theological statements, but then again, I could hardly understand some of them. But all in all it was a great book with a great message about God's redeeming love and power, and how he can restore the worst of sinners.
I know this sounds like an exaggeration, but I have read pretty nearly every book in my house, and my cousin's house, and so to read a book I didn't already know the storyline to was bliss. :) Especially when it turned out well and everyone married who they should and didn't marry who they shouldn't. (And yes, there is a difference. :D)
So I need help deciding something...It's on the topic of what I ought to read next. I have several books, actually, that either need to be read or re-read. Here are the choices! Leave a comment and tell me which to do!
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (tried twice already...third time's the charm?)
Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand (recently finished his "In God's Underground")
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (already have read, but want a refresher course)
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (have read but want to refresh)
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (same story here--hilarious, by the way)

Oh! And have any of you read Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore? I absolutely adored it! It is different than the movie, (meaning way better) because John Ridd was far more a gentleman, and there weren't all those unnecessary kisses. :P I highly, highly recommend the book for guys or girls. My brother, Daniel, read it and loved it as much as I!
Till Next Time, When I Hope Blogger Has Recovered,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Inkpen Poetry Day: "The Front Porch"'s a typical summer evening in the countryside. The farmer is harvesting his wheat across the field and a golden haze hangs above the tree-tops from the chaff. The setting sun drops behind the trees as if to apologize for it's brilliancy during the day and relieves the air with a goodnight kiss of pearly light.
It would seem the perfect time to write something....after all, what is more essentially American than this picture? Isn't it the ideal companion to inspiration? One would think so. And yet I am content to revel in the beauty, the poetry, the gorgeousness of this land without trying to water it down with my fallible words. :)

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end..."
(Psalm 19:1-6a)

That says it all so well that I will not go on about this evening. :) However, I did want to share a poem with you that I wrote, and ask you what you think of it:

"The Front Porch"
Rachel Heffington

Sittin' on the front porch
Swingin', swingin',
Sittin' on the front porch in years gone by.
Sittin' on the front porch
Swingin', swingin',
Till we guess our toes will touch the sky.

Sittin' on the front porch
Singin', singin',
List'nin' to the whippoorwill's lonely cry.
Sittin' on the front porch
Singin', singin'
Weavin' dreams together, just you and I.

Sittin' on the front porch
Bells are ringin',
Weddin' bells ringin' like the swallows fly.
Sittin' on the front porch
Ringin', ringin',
Heart so full that I almost cry.

Sittin' on the front porch
Clingin', clingin',
Clingin' to a mem'ry--our last goodbye.
Sittin' on the front porch
Clingin', clingin'
Clingin' to a love that'll never die.

So what do you think? Is the last verse too melancholy, or is it poignant? I couldn't decide myself, and as I was thinking about sending this poem off to a magazine, I wanted another opinion. :D -Rachel
p.s. Sorry for lack of pretty photos in these past few posts. Blogger won't let me upload pictures, and it won't let me get off italic! *arghhh!* But I guess it's okay. Italic just seems to indicate "This is IMPORTANT!!!" when it isn't really that important! :P

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The "Thousand Words" Winner Announced! :)

I have been waiting for this day for over a month--ever since I announced the "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words" contest! First of all, before I announce the winner, I would like to thank all 6 of the girls who entered this contest! That's a 200% rise in participation from last contest!! :) Each entry was so different and creative--truly, you all have talent in writing!
I don't know about you girls, but this was such a fun contest! It was super hard for me to choose one winner from those submissions. I had to print them off and consult my family! But at last I have chosen the talented young lady who will win the set of three coordinating book-marks. (Still no picture--it's been raining all day and the lighting is terrible for picture-taking. :P)
All ready for the unveiling?
The winner of "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words" contest is......
Miss Elaine Dalton!!!!
For her story, "Blessings", Miss Dalton will receive the hand-made bookmarks. Everyone please congratulate her! The story is printed in full below. :) Enjoy!

Elaine Dalton

“My lord, a great blessing has come upon your home: a child, a daughter has been born this day!”

The lord of the castle ceased staring out over the meadows awash in brilliant color from the sunset and strode quickly to his wife’s chambers where he found a bustle of activity among the serving maids there. Propped up with pillows, his lovely young wife lay, exhausted but joyful, upon the bed with a tiny bundle at her side. Gently peeking around the soft blanket, the man saw the tiny rosy face of his firstborn child, his little daughter. As he watched in silent awe, the babe opened her eyes; dark blue flecked with silver. Just like his.

“What shall we call her, my lord?” His wife asked

He smiled, “We’ll call her Blessing.”

The babe grew into a healthy, happy child. At the age of ten, she began her studies. Sewing, both practical and decorative, embroidery, knitting, reading, writing, and etiquette were her first studies; added to them over the years were cooking, history, astronomy, gardening, horseback riding, fencing, and music. Her book-ish lessons were done in the mornings, her physical lessons in the afternoon; every evening she would sit at her father’s knee and listen as he expounded a lesson from the Bible to her. As the years increased, so did her stature and beauty. She developed a gentle, compassionate nature with a ready smile and a kind word always near at hand for any who had need of them.

Ever willing to help, she was often found following the servants around, assisting them while learning the proper way to do certain practical things and listening to stories of their homes and families. Her name fit her well, for she was truly a blessing to the household.

One day, at the age of twelve, Blessing accompanied two of the scullery maids to purchase some items for the evening meal. Keeping close to the elder of them, Blessing watched attentively till her keen ears caught the sound of crying. Curious and concerned, she looked around till she spotted, huddled in a far corner nearby, a dirty little boy her age dressed in rags. Quickly, Blessing ducked through the crowd and made her way to the boy who looked up in fear at her approach. His tearstained face touched her heart.

“There, there, don’t cry. Everything will be all right,” Blessing said comfortingly.

“Nay, it won’t be!” He disagreed, beginning to cry again.

“Why ever not?” Blessing asked in distress.

“My mother is dead, my father is gone and my brother has sent me away; nothing will ever be right again!”

Blessing’s heart broke at his sorrow and tears rolled down her cheeks. The maids, seeing them both in tears, scooped them up and carried them to Blessing’s father who accessed the situation, reassured the children and sent the boy to his brother and sister-in-law who joyfully took in the lad.

Over the years six more children, two girls and four boys, were born and in addition to her studies and frequent visits to the poor in her father’s district, Blessing’s days were filled with games of various sorts, running errands for her mother, and caring for the children when her ladyship was needed elsewhere or when the nursemaid needed a break. Her bond with the children grew strong; they became Blessing’s best friends and most trusted advisors.

When she was eighteen, Blessing’s father called her into his study. “My daughter, this day your studies are concluded and you are of age to marry. What do you wish to do?”

Blessing thought quietly for a moment. “Father, I wish to remain at home and help the girls with their studies. I should also like to teach Madame Hammond’s daughters how to read and write. Does this please you?”

“Very much so, my meek, beloved Blessing. But what of a husband? Surely you desire to one day marry and have children of your own.”

“I do, but I trust Almighty God and you to provide a good, honest man for me and till the day he is revealed, I shall remain here usefully occupied.”

“An honorable knight perhaps?” Her father smiled.

“Aye, if God wills it.”

Three years passed; Blessing had continued spreading love and kindness to the people and her family, assisting whenever possible in the many duties of the household servants. Her father was in the garden one day when a young man was announced. Curious, he looked up as a tall knight, vaguely familiar, entered behind the servant. “Do I know you?” He finally asked.

“Aye, my lord. Many years ago you did me a great service when I was brought here, dirty and in rags. You showed compassion on me, fed me, clothed me and sent me to live with your brother and his wife who treated me as their own son.”

He interrupted the young man excitedly. “Aha! You were the boy Blessing brought home from the market!”

The knight smiled. “Aye.

“Well lad, what brings you here?”

“I have come to ask for Blessing’s hand.”

“Can you prove yourself worthy of her?”

“That is for you to judge for I have neither wealth nor riches in abundance, I have not slain a dragon nor conquered a country in her honor. But I have studied hard, I have diligently followed my God, I have served the poor and helped the needy, I have had compassion on the sick and aged, I have respected the fair, and honored the grey-haired, I have worked hard and honestly earned my bread.”

“What is your name?”


Blessing’s father sent for her and she came immediately, stopping long enough upon descending the stairs to smell a bowl of roses upon a low ledge, unaware of either the surprise awaiting her in the garden beyond nor of the happy future in store for her with her honorable knight.

Although it was a really hard decision, I chose this story because of the great dialog, the values behind it, and the fact, perhaps, that I love such noble romances. ;) I had such a hard time deciding that I had to sit around the table with my favorites printed off and spread before me, reading and re-reading them. :D Then I consulted my advisors and chose a winner! :) Thank you, Elaine for your wonderful story--your writing has great potential! And thanks to everyone else for your entries too! Maybe I'll have another contest sometime soon! :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Answers to Questions! :)

I am so excited! Tomorrow I get to pick a winner for my "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words" prose contest!!! :) And now to answer questions: All of them are from Carrie this time! :) Thanks for asking them!

Question One: How do you come up with ideas for your stories/where do you get your ideas?
Usually my ideas come to me when I'm doing something terribly mundane- the idea for The Seasonings popped into my head while doing dishes. Puddleby Lane evolved while doing gardening! :) But generally it begins with a rather vague idea. For instance, the Seasonings started when I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny to have a family all named after herbs?" and then it just took off. Sometimes I choose a time period I want to write in, and then look up popular names back then, choose one for my main character, and then brainstorm what sort of a story he/she would be in the middle of. :) I think "Puddleby Lane" came from the word "Cottleston Pie" which was in a riddle in the Winnie-the-Pooh books. I just love that word! But since I didn't want to run into copyright issues, I sought out a name that rolled off the tongue just as well. :) And then of course a name like that has a lot of personality and must be rather quaint, and so on.

Question Two: About critique groups: how do you find one you like, with standards you want, and does it cost anything to join?
My critique group is a Yahoo! group run by author Diana Sharples. You can visit it here: I'm afraid I can't give you a lot of tips on how to find a group, because this group was suggested to me by a friend who knew a girl in the group. I am blessed that this is a group of writers writing Christian fiction for young adults. Of course I don't agree with everything everyone else writes, but the boldly declared purpose of this group is to write to the glory of Christ, and to honor God in all our writing--and since this is Christian fiction, it's cool to see everyone weave their stories to the point that their characters come to Christ, strengthen their relationship with Him, etc. Once accepted, the group does not cost anything to join except time, which dribbles into the next question:

Question Three: Also, does it demand a certain amount of your time, or do you have to commit to anything to join?
The critique group does demand a bit of time. You must critique at least one other person's chapter each week so that you may post one of your own chapters every Monday. Preferably more than one critique so each member gets plenty of help with their stories. Also, you must edit your chapter for spelling, grammar, etc. before posting it on the website. After all, this is not precisely an editing group. It's a group that helps you with those mistakes, but is also there as a sounding board for ideas, to provide advice on pacing, plot, dialog, etc.
It took me a little while to get into the flow of the group, but Diana does a great job of leading it so it's not that confusing. :)
You are expected to be involved in the group, as in critiquing, posting your chapters, etc. But you can also take leave from writing for awhile if need be.
I am not sure how most critique groups work--if we're the norm, or if we're amazingly better than others. ;) It's really impacted my writing, to be involved in this group. And I've met some great people, including Angela! :)
So if you can find a group you like, I'd encourage you to join it and learn what you can. Hope this answered your questions, Carrie! :) -Rachel

Friday, June 3, 2011

Elephants Never Forget! (And Neither Should You! ;)

Everyone remember! The "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words"contest closes on Saturday at midnight, June 4th! (so really the wee hours of Sunday, June Fifth!) Don't forget to enter! And don't forget to go to the post below and leave some questions for me to answer! :) -Rachel
p.s. Isn't this picture beautiful? I wonder how I look when I'm asleep! :P I love the color of her dress! :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ask Me The Questions and I'll Tell You No Lies :)

Only 3 more days to enter the A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words contest! :) Details are here! Thanks to everyone who had entered thus far. I appreciate it more than you know--there's nothing more disappointing than hosting a contest and having no one bother to enter. :)
So I wanted to do a post where anyone and everyone can ask me questions, and I'll answer them in another post. They don't necessarily have to be writing-related questions either, although I'd love some of those too! So please leave a comment with your questions for me! -Rachel