Wednesday, June 29, 2011
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
Watch the movie first, or read the book?"
So how would you answer that question? For me, it is an easy answer:
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.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
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
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.
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 Poetrysoup.com 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
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.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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. :)
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
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. ;)
Monday, June 13, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
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! :(
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
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. :)
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..."
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"
Sittin' on the front porch
Sittin' on the front porch in years gone by.
Sittin' on the front porch
Till we guess our toes will touch the sky.
Sittin' on the front porch
List'nin' to the whippoorwill's lonely cry.
Sittin' on the front porch
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
Heart so full that I almost cry.
Sittin' on the front porch
Clingin' to a mem'ry--our last goodbye.
Sittin' on the front porch
Clingin' to a love that'll never die.
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
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......
“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
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
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
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