Friday, May 29, 2015

Writing #littleloves

Hello lovely readers, 
A few weeks ago I posted a #littleloves post to update you all on what's going on in my life.

This is like that but with a twist. In my post "Questions while being stuck" I wrote I was going to take a break from blogging. Well as soon as I got back from my trip to Paris I couldn't wait to sit down and write a blog post. I have done and re-done this post a few times but it didn't feel right... so here I am trying again. 

Working on
Lately I have been feeling stuck in my story. I have introduced two new characters Leopold Brashware and Violet Harper. Leopold is suppose to be a romantic tension for Mattie but eventually he will be useful in helping Mattie discover her true feelings for Kelby. Violet Harper, is Mattie's maid in London. I want to grow her character and eventually I want them to end up like Anna and Lady Mary (Downton Abbey). 
Tobey Regbo who play's Francis on the CW Reign is my inspiration (at least in looks) for Leopold. 
I love Anna Smith, she is full of good advice for Lady Mary.

Thinking About
I am going to make Violet Harper a bigger character and I actually want to have her help Mattie run away to elope with Kelby. So I am going to have to change a few details of the story. 
I have started with a fictitious acknowledgement page...

but maybe I am the only ones who reads those. 
If this story ever gets published perhaps I will have to work with my editors on layout. 

  I feel I have re-written my beginning a thousand times (okay more like five) and its only in it's first draft, but I want it make sense for the story. 
I have usually been the kind of author who gets struck by inspiration and I just go from there... needless to say this path has not lead me to finish any story.
I originally started Mattie's story years ago but then I got distracted by other work "Sisters of Pine Haven" and put Mattie out of my mind. 
But she keeps coming back to I feel determined to finish it. 
My original start was in 2009 (link to that post)   
but it originally started with a free write I did that same year when I first started this blog in order to share my stories
This blog has gone through a lot of transitions since then but at the heart of it is my desire to write. 

 Planning Ahead 
Even though I am still re-writing the beginning of this story I have sketched out the epilogue of my story... is that weird? 
It doesn't feel weird it actually feels good because in knowing the end I know where I want to take this story and it has some direction to it.

Why am I stuck?
I wish I knew. 
One reason I think I am stuck is because as much as I think about my writing... I need to make time and actually write. DUH! 
Also as I said I am the kind of writer who usually gets struck by inspiration and from there I just go. However with this story I have plotted out an outline and actually know what I want to happen but yet I let my characters move in the way they want. Which is good and useful but sometimes it throws new things or people at me... for example Leopold. 

 On a personal note: I also think I am stuck because I don't really know that much about romance. I have dated but mostly mostly what I know about romance comes from movies and books. So I feel I don't know how to move Mattie forward in the romantic plot line and therefore I feel stuck. 
However, I find confidence in thinking about Jane Austen, she never married and yet she wrote some of the most romantic stories (I my biased opinion). 
Pic above is from the movie Miss Austen's Regrets

What to do now?
With all that said and done I think the real challenge will be for me to actually push through and write this story.
Writing will only happen by doing... so I say this ahead of time sorry friends and family if I seem absent to the world, but I am trying to follow my dreams and I hope you will understand. 

All these #little love post have a watching section and I felt I had to share something...
Since getting back from Paris (I will not get tired of saying that) I binged watched on Netflix (maybe another reason I haven't been writing) and I came across the show When The Heart Calls it is a sappy Hallmark Channel original show based off of a Janette Oke book. 
Even though it is sappy and the lines are cheesy I can't help but squeal. It feels like the perfect video escapism. 
 Video above is a fan made video: "Jack and Elizabeth | So Close"
Song: "So Close" by Jon McLaughlin. (Originally from "Enchanted").

Okay that is all for now. 
Hope you guys have a good day.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Back from Paris!

Mom and I on my favorite bridge Pont Neuf.
 Hello Lovely Readers,

I am happy to report my mom and I are back from Paris.* It was a wonderful trip and before I begin this post I have to give a special shout out to a few people: my mom who took me to Paris, my step-dad who financially sponsored this trip (I know you wanted to come but thank you for this once in a life time opportunity with my mom), also thank you to my aunt and grandparents who gave so generously for me to buy supplies for my trip and souvenirs on my trip. Thank you!!!

The trip was wonderful... I hardly knew what to expect... minus a few movies set in Paris and pics on Pinterest I don't think I truly comprehended the beauty of Paris. Fortunately for me my mom had been to Paris a few times so she knew the basic lay out of the city, plus she had done a lot of research before the trip and was taken some french lessons, which really helped! We stayed at a Best Western (a simple hotel) but in a great neighborhood in between the Hotel Invalid and the Eiffel Tower. Needless to say we got lots of shots of the Eiffel Tower...

Also I created a Pinterest board for my mom and I to share ideas on things to do in Paris (I highly recommend this as it helped us know what we wanted to do) Link to Pinterest Board. The board has 500 pics so my mom asked me to narrow it down to the top ten things. My #1 thing I wanted to do was see Versailles and my #2 was eat lots of pastries. Happy to say I got to do both.
After our first dinner we split this huge eclair
The stamp inside my book
On the first day full day in Paris we walked on Rue  Germain heading to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore the walk was wonderful. We saw St. Michel's square, it may not be famous but it really awoke me to the beautiful ornateness of Paris (I took so many photos of just the architecture). Also on this walk I got my first glimpse of Notre Dame. At Shakespeare I bought 2 books and got the stamp of purchase (felt so geekily cool... even if my mom made fun of me for buying the hefty book of Mary Queen of Scots). Then after Shakepeare and Company we went to the Morsee D'orsay and had lunch.

Travel tip: Pack cute scarfs because they will end up in all your pics. 
Collage of highlights of day 1.
Mom and I- selfie in Morsee D'orsay with famous clock in background
The next day we went to the Louvre. I am sorry I cannot boast much about the Louvre... I got so overwhelmed about the amount of people and just how big it was, it shook me up a bit. My mom really wanted to see the Napoleon Apartments so we went to see those but then I had to leave. I am not really good at spaces. Travel tips (for Louvre):Plan out what you are going to see then just go see those. Also check days of holidays and try not to go on those days. Travel tips (for museums): Museum Pass (we bought ours at the Hotel Invalid) this way you can avoid long lines and invest in getting the audio guides because all the signs are in French.

The third full day we went to Versailles... my mom had booked us a small tour group to go there for the day. I had wanted to go to Versailles since I saw the Marie Antoinette movie and read her biography of her (I kind of fan-girled over Marie Antoinette). I loved seeing it up close and personal, also our tour guide was very informative.

Highlights from inside Versailles
Me in Marie Antoinette's bed room...probably favorite moment. 
Versailles is too big for one collage and it was all so awesome I took lots of pics. 
Highlights from Versailles grounds
Travel Tip: Take time to rest, you will want to see everything but you will enjoy it more if you are rested. I think we took a nap everyday. 

Then on Saturday and Sunday mom and I were both so exhausted we decided to take a "hop on and hop off" bus tour of Paris. The bus was great, they had English (and various other language guides) and we got to sit and enjoy the sights of Paris. 

 After the relaxing days on the bus and taking it slow mom and I enjoyed a late night and seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle. Since 2000 the Eiffel tower lights up or sparkles on the hour (after sunset) for 5 minutes.

In May the first hour it sparkles is 10PM... because sun didn't even set till 9:30.

After a relaxing weekend around Paris, mom and I did some shopping to enjoy the "warmest" day we had in Paris. I use air quotes because while the weather said it was suppose to be 70 it didn't feel like 70... I think I broke out my new summer dress a little too soon. (Shout out to friend (you know who you are) who bought me this dress... thank you I look forward to wearing it when its warm enough). Even though it was a little too cold to enjoy window shopping I did enjoy the beautiful room to eat lunch.
Great job to Paris for making your department stores so beautiful

Then on Tuesday (my birthday) mom and I went to see the Palace of Justice, it was originally a palace for the Kings until the Louvre was built and then during the French Revolution it served as a prison... because it is usually every girls dream to spend her birthday at a prison. Well I wanted to see it because it was where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned (like I said.. I kind of Fan-girl over her).
This is from Marie Antoinette's cell, that was turned into a chapel by Louis Phillipe (when the monarchy was briefly restored). I took one French Revolution class in undergrad but it ended at Napoleon so I need to brush up on my French history.

Then on at night my mom surprised me to a dinner river cruise. It was wonderful and a great way to enjoy the city.
In dock awaiting departure
The next day was our last day in Paris ;( we took another bus tour and then we had lunch on the first level of the Eiffel Tower. Though we stayed close to the Eiffel Tower it was awesome to go up. I know some people would have gone all the way up but I felt the first level was good enough... I could see all of Paris and that was Awesome.
Picture of my feet looking down.
Before I wrap up this post I just want to say one thing I was nervous about was that French people would be rude (as I often heard) this was completely untrue. I found when we attempted French by saying "Bonjour" (good day) or "Bonsoir" (good evening) that people were really friendly and understood we didn't speak French and tried to speak to us in English. (Though sometimes my Spanish slipped out when I tried to speak French). So if you go there just try some French and you will notice you get a lot further with people. Also sit back and relax when you are at a cafe, a meal could last an hour to an hour and half (they are not slow it is their culture to enjoy meals)... my mom and I carried books with us to pass the time.

I took so many photos that I didn't even post on Facebook but I felt this post would not be complete without another collage of just special highlights of the trip.
I had a great partner in crime (my mom) on this trip who took lots of pics of me and with me enjoyed the beauty that is Paris. There are so many places I want to see in the world, that I wish I could be a travel blogger. (Mom just a reminder the horse in the background in the picture of me is Henri IV).

*- the pictures are from both my mom and myself.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Guidance Needed

Hello lovely Readers,

I am going through this book challenge... Some books I knew I wanted to read instantly for the topics. Others have come to me over time, but some I just don't know what to read so I am calling on my faithful readers to help me with some suggestions.
1) A book "Everyone" has read but you... I will not read Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey

2) A book with a color in the title...once again I will not read Fifty Shades of Grey

3) A book your friend loves... SUGGESTIONS? ... I will not read Twilight or Fifty Shade of Grey

4) Also it says a book with "a lion, a witch, or a wardrobe" does that mean the Chronicles of Narnia or something else? If it means something else, suggestions please.

To see what I have read just click my Book Challenge page up at the top

Here are some thoughts of mine of what I want to read...

1) A Place I want to go- Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh.

Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men—one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. Only when the rumor of an epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does Frances see her road to happiness. (Amazon)... I have always wanted to go to South Africa.

2) A book with a blue cover- The Luminaries by Eleanor Caton
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand's booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.  (Amazon)

3) A book by an author you liked... After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson.
After four years as a military nurse, Charlotte Brown is ready to leave behind the devastation of the Great War. The daughter of a vicar, she has always been determined to dedicate her life to helping others. Moving to busy Liverpool, she throws herself into her work with those most in need, only tearing herself away for the lively dinners she enjoys with the women at her boarding house.
Just as Charlotte begins to settle into her new circumstances, two messages arrive that will change her life. One, from a radical young newspaper editor, offers her a chance to speak out for those who cannot. The other pulls her back to her past, and to a man she has tried, and failed, to forget.

Last summer I read her book Somewhere in France and really want to get back into reading more WWI books.(Link to my last summer's reading list)

As you can see I like historical fiction.

Thanks for your help and suggestions. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Questions while being stuck

Hello Lovely Readers,

I have been excited to post as much as I have done lately, though I feel they have been kind of frivolous. I am all for frivolity but I need to get something off my chest.

I have been feeling rather distant from God lately, actually I can't remember when I felt close to Him.

I am a weird mix of feeling and wanting formulas. I base a lot of my life how I feel about things and how I want people to feel about me. But when it comes to my faith I would love a formula, like if I did A and B then I get C. And that is not how God works. I also pray frequently "God I just want follow you more, but I am not sure what that looks like." In that I am saying I wish I had a model a list of "to dos" to follow. But that is not what faith is about.

Right now I feel stuck, in wanting to move but not knowing the next step.

I just finished The Chance by Karen Kingsbury, it is a cute story of best friends Nolan and Ellie who on the night before Ellie moves to San Diego they write letters to each other to read 11 years in the future. Over time Nolan gets exactly what he has wanted playing for NBA, but yet he is still full of pain with losing his best friend and his father (shortly after Ellie moves away). At the same time Ellie has stopped believing in God and questions rather He exist and if He does why did He let bad thing happen to her.

I read it because it fulfills my requirement of "reading a book you own but hadn't read." And while reading it I thought it was a cute story with a good message of forgiveness, hope and second chances. It was a quick read which I liked, but nothing really hit me. Until the end.

Through out the book various characters hear God telling them something. I know it is fiction, however I began to wonder does God really speak. If He does, He doesn't speak to me.

I have friends who speak to me and I feel it is God's truth. The best example I can give is I was questioning somethings in my life and I had prayed about them but I hadn't told anyone about my thinking. And then my friend just brought it up in random conversation. I thought that had to be God, there was no other way to explain it. But that hasn't happened in awhile. So I began to blame myself because I know I haven't really been opening myself to God.

I have used my faith like a checklist. I did my bible time, but then I would get out of bed and it was almost as if nothing changed. I feel my heart with mindless things and I sought completeness or an identity in temporal ideas. This is a pattern I have gotten used to. But when I read The Chance I wanted to hear God.

I am not sure how to listen. I am not sure if I want to hear God, just for some reassurance that I am doing okay, or if I want to hear from Him because I want to know what He wants from me. I would love a formula from Him to tell me what do with my life.

Probably not to live life?

After reading The Chance, I thought I should read some more Christian Lit (maybe if I read enough books I will understand what to do). Also reading Searching For God Know What by Donald Miller fulfills the requirement of "reading a book you began but never finished." But this book has hit me more than I thought. I am 4 chapters in and I have underlined so much. I even begun to write some prayers in it. I also know I will be re-reading it because I know my reading on the T I can't get as deep as I like. So far the book talks a lot about how we seek formulas from God, we want the Bible to be a self help book, and how this is not what God intended. God wanted us to be in a relationship with Him, to know Him personally, and to know who we are in Him. To be honest I have been a Christian since I was twelve though probably not following it until after high school (long story). Anyway, I am still not sure what what knowing God personally means. I am hoping Miller will lay it out... but I doubt he will because writes:

I bring this up because life is complex, and the idea that you can break it down or fix it in a dew steps is rather silly. -pg.14

And if he laid out what it meant to know God personally he would be writing a formula. So I am sure I will finish this book with more questions than answers.

I am not looking for to-do list or formulas but if you have any advice and or Bible passages that have helped you please pass them a long.


P.S.- I am going to be taking a little break from blogging as I am going on vacation with my mom... will post pictures later.
My mom in Florence (almost 9 years ago).

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Story time Saturday... "Yours Faithfully"

 Hello lovely readers,

I know I should be nothing but happy with my up coming vacation but I have fallen into a little funk. So I am taking time to do some escapism writing. This is my continuing re-working of Wives and Daughters, hope you enjoy.

The following is letter #6 to read past letters

Dearest Aunt,

I know you cannot hear me now. Oh I wish you were how anxious I am to tell you all my thoughts. Of course if you could hear me, I do not know if I would say a word. You being awake would be enough.  

Before I write another word I must tell you Ozzie is home. I know you so wanted to wanted to see him again. I hope when you wake, for I know you will wake up, he will be by your side. I know how much joy that will give you. He is just as handsome as I remember, he has such kind eyes that make me know he is a truly generous spirit. He has a fine gentle face with graceful features, and when he smiles he reminds me of you. Oh Aunt if only he didn't look so lonely as if he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. No matter what uncle says I know that Ozzie carries the great disappointment of failing this semester. He talks about leaving school all together and going to California. Surely there does not need to be a whole continent between him and uncle, no matter what trouble he is in. If only you were awake I know you would you would not let uncle speak such abuse to Ozzie. I do not blame you. 

The one bright light in this whole house is Hugh, your step-son. Hugh has played a vital role in going between Ozzie and uncle. Ozzie confides in him in everything and uncle enjoys taking long walks with him in the day and enjoying a pipe with him after night. I would never say this to you for I know how much you care for Ozzie, but Hugh truly seems to be the perfect son. He enjoys the countryside a great deal taking great detail in the plants, trees, and animals that roam it and yet he has a kindness towards man kind I have never seen. I am afraid on our first meeting I made a bad impression. Mama made me pack my dress and I wore it to dinner, upon entering the dinning room I could see it was quite a mistake to dress so ostentatiously. He must have thought me quite frivolous to dress in such a manner with your health being as such and then through the night I could not complete a sentence with stumbling over my words. I also could not remember any passages of books I had been reading to you that very day. I felt to be completely ignorant. 

Since then we have gotten to know each other, he said yesterday that I could read such knowledgeable books with out being bored; he has never met a girl who took such interest in history. I must say uncle's library is so well rounded in ancient history. I cannot help but devour the details of the Egyptian Empire. When uncle desires to sit with you, Hugh is good to take me on walks around the garden and point out the different flowers, I never had a thought of botany but with him speaking I feel it is more of a story than just scientific studies. He does not say it but I know he would miss you as much as Ozzie, as you have been his mother for all the life he can remember.

Oh aunt if you could hear me, I would want you to hear how much you are loved and how much we all need you here. 

Please do not leave us.

Yours faithfully,

Friday, May 8, 2015

Remember your character... Part 2

When I wrote "Remember your Character"I did not think that I would be writing a part two... but I have done a lot of thinking about my story.

In reading the book Testament of Youth she writes a great line about how her dream and what she wanted to do with her life, she said everyone that really mattered to her had died in the war and yet she still had her dream of being a writer. I underlined that line and thought what is Mattie's dream? At that point I didn't know, which is sad to admit as her story teller and not to know her dream.

I feel I have cast Mattie a lot like me, she doesn't mind going unnoticed and wants to make people around her happy no matter what it cost her. Through out the story she learns to step out of her comfort zone and wants to make a difference in the world.

I found this picture (on right) on Pinterest and read the article and I was captured by the post, there was a great quote:

It’s crucial for your hero to have a goal. If he doesn’t, you have no story. “Well why not?” you ask?
Because your hero’s goal is what drives the story. It’s the story’s purpose. Like a ripple effect, it influences your entire plot.

And I thought, while I know Mattie intimately and I know what her dreams and goals are (because they are almost the same as mine), but I don't know if I have expressed it. And then I thought, why would someone read my story if they didn't know her dreams. Because her dreams of being of use is what drives her story. But do I have to spell it out or can it just be obvious. The post states:

Be sure to make it clear as soon as possible what your character’s goal is. Of course you’ll spend time in the beginning setting up your characters and plot, but don’t wait until halfway through your story to clue readers in to your hero’s goal.

But I have never read a book where it says... "My goal is this(Fill in the blank)" unless they are trying to escape a situation. So I am wondering how to weave this into my story?--If you have any thoughts let me know.

Mattie {pic}
(To read article Click Here)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Creating a Villain

Last Wednesday I attended a writing workshop and we had to structure a villain and I will admit I will never admit that I have never been good writing a villain, I never really thought about it in my writing only because I think of the super villains like Darth Vader or even Moriarty (from Sherlock).

But the "leader" of the workshop tells us villains for the story are people who see the world similar to the protagonist but slightly different. He also says for villains to be good they need to be
  • Sympathetic
  • Have motivations
  • Needs and Desires
  • Changes over time 
Then we had to construct a villain with one characteristic we chose at random mine was: "Has a crippled sibling".

I am currently reading The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult and I just read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, both of these stories about WWII and both of them have made an impact on my mind. Both these stories have been really intriguing and they have slipped into my head. This kind of slipped into my thinking when I was thinking of a villain.

So here is my villain (at least a bit of his back story):

"Come on Laura," Rudy shook his young sister awake. "Come on time to get up."

In truth Rudy had already been up for hours, checking his traps for any prizes, getting milk and collecting eggs. All resources were drying up it was as if the animals know there was a war going on. He tried to quietly make breakfast as not to disturb father, who had been at work all night. Then helped Laura braid her hair into two pigtails. He had been teased mercilessly when the kids at school know he did his sisters hair, but he had to. Laura could a lot on her own but she couldn't braid her hair with only one arm.

After breakfast they made their long trek to school. Rudy hated school, not just because he was fifteen years old and that what fifteen year old boys did, no he hated school because every day he had to sit next to Alexander, as they had to sit in alphabetical order. Alexander Janson then Rudy Jenkins.

Alexander was tall with muscles that had only appeared recently, but since then Greta Adler only had eyes for him. Everything was perfect for Alexander. His father owned the factory in town that supported most of the town's employment. Most but not Rudy's father who had been let go six months ago and now Rudy's father had to work odd jobs making inconsistent wages, and never enough to pay for rent, food, and doctor's bills.

Rudy knew deep down it wasn't Alexander's fault, but he felt it was. Everyone knew Rudy should have won the race, the only thing Rudy had going for him was his speed, as he had to run away from boys who started fights with him. That day the whole school including Greta Adler, had been out to watch the race. Rudy had a good lead but somehow Alexander caught up and tripped him. The next day Rudy's father announced the factory had to let him go. It could have all be a coincidence but Rudy had a hard time believing in coincidence. 

Another article I found on Villains

Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday #Littleloves

 Hello Lovely Readers,

Through my book challenge and the Twitter #26BookswithBringupBurns I found the blog Typically Ted and found the great badge #LittleLoves

And in the blog it talks about the little loves in your life... so here I go.
It is less than a week from going on my first trip with my mom to Paris. 
My mom and I have been planning this trip for years so I am excited but it seems surreal for it to be coming true. 
Every time I say "surreal" I always think of Noting Hill.

 Book 12 in my challenge The Chance fulfills the requirement of reading a book you own but haven't read. My friend gave it to me for my last birthday but I just got around to reading it. It wasn't very long and the story is cute with a good message about hope, forgiveness and second chances. 
Am I the only one who thinks it is odd that books have trailers that are like movie trailers?

Now that both Park and Rec and Parenthood are over I really only have one TV show that I watch on a usual bases and that is Reign. 

However, I just finished watching the show Turn that was on AMC (through Netflix)

{trailer for season1}
And I am not ashamed admit that I watched it mostly because of JJ Fields 
Who yes is a bad guy (well bad if you are rooting for America) but I love him as Mr. Tilney in Northanger Abbey so it was interesting to see him play a bad guy.
Mr Tilney
Also I have started watching Arrested Development for the first time since I did not watch it when it was on TV but I am only a few episodes in and thus far have not felt the need to binge watch it.
 Breaking in new shoes for Paris

Usually I listen to NPR in the morning while at work and then in the afternoon I turn on my Pandora account. I have a 90's Pop Radio station and I love when an N*SYNC songs come on and I still sing every word.

Besides my trip to ParisI am planning a trip to see my sister and meet my newest nephew. 
From my trip meeting my first niece
Still can't believe that picture was taken more than 5 years ago.
Okay those are my #littleloves for the week.