StoryCrafters Lesson 1

“I promise not to quit until I’ve written THE END.”

The first assignment is to find a Quote or Scripture and write it on the inside cover of my Writer’s Notebook, to share one story idea and to share my writing schedule and goals.

As a collector of quotes I found this very difficult and when things I difficult I look to the Bible. Therefore, I chose a scripture.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give that to receive.’”

Acts 20:35

I chose this one – after changing my mind a couple of times – because it speaks of my desire as a writer and is something to aspire to. I want to make my reader FEEL something, to touch their life in some tiny way…to help them. If the words I string together become a gift of some sort to a reader, even if it’s just one, then I will be a blessed writer indeed.

I also chose it because it speaks of hard work and I struggle with procrastination big time. I’m not going to be able to bless anyone with a written gift if I do not get out of my own way and write it.

Story Idea: The Last See-ya Later. My family has dealt with a lot of grief in the last 3 years and recently my Mom was visiting and something in our conversation on the way to the airport caused this idea to bloom. The assignment here also includes staying up to date on the world. I am working on watching the news/current events for 10 minutes; that’s another struggle. I’ve been a military wife for half my life. My husband is retired now, but I’ve never watched the news. It was a way to safe guard my heart and mind when he would deploy. No sense in scaring myself half to death. Jesus said, ‘Do not fear’ – the news does not help me obey him.

Writing time: Tuesdays/Thursday’s are my completely empty and quiet days in which to write for hours upon hours. Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s I can generally write between 12-3. Sometimes I write on weekends too. I have an insane amount of free time. My children are both in high school and I stay home. I work out and volunteer at my local CrossFit box M/W/F from 8-11 – after that the day is all mine. It’s just a matter of managing all that free time vs mindless scrolling or binge reading.

Writing Goals: To stop being afraid and keeping it all to myself, to put my work out there…to be brave.

Lastly, I’m supposed to find a novel to read over the next 40 weeks to help me develop my voice further. I finish novels in a day or two…so perhaps a novel or three a week will be acceptable.

Assignment one has been sent in! I need a little checkmark icon to add there.


My Book Therapy

Novel Academy. While living in England a few years ago I got involved with My Book Therapy, a program created by author Susan May Warren to coach aspiring authors. I was working on writing a book. I’ve always been working on a book, always. It’s that thing I want to accomplish so much and the same thing procrastinate about over and over. I am constantly in my own way.

Take today for example. I knew I needed to sit down and catch up on some classes through Novel Academy – I try to do several at a time. I also knew I needed to do some of my own writing. What I ended up doing is cleaning the house and going to the movies with my son. I hate vacuuming but I do love going to the movies with my son. Here’s the secret, writing is hard work and sometimes the mood isn’t there. You can’t wait around for the mood to show up either or you’ll never accomplish your goal. Trust me, I know.

I did knock off 2 classes from Novel Academy today and I’m currently awake, planning to knock out a little more tonight while my home is silent. I work best in silence and it drives my family crazy! I’m not one for white noise. If the radio is on, I’m actually listening to it and that is difficult to do if you are writing because then you end up writing the song lyrics! If the T.V. is on, I’m actually watching it. I do not multi-task well.

I have learned so much from My Book Therapy, past and present included. I am LOVING Novel Academy. It is full of helpful information and I find myself thinking of new things for my current wip (work in progress) as I go along. It’s like one massive brainstorming party!

I have some assignments coming up – writing ones of course and it was recommended we keep a notebook/journal for them. I will, but I think I’ll also post each here as well. Perhaps, it will be something you enjoy – at least I hope so.


Book Review: Dianna

Josephine Blake. A relatively new author and one I also met through Facebook. I must say Facebook has opened up a whole new world for authors and readers. I love being able to connect with the authors who have connected with me through their books as well as finding new authors. There are so many books out there, so many new ones being written every day and so many little hidden gemstones that without today’s technology…I believe we might never find. Like diamonds in the rough. I have been lucky enough to find a few of those precious stones and in the process I have found some really fun authors that I adore.

Now, before I get into this review I want to share with you the link to FREEBIE FRIDAY – a list of books that are currently free or will be within this week. Perhaps, you might find a precious stone of your own here. Happy Reading.

Dear Josephine,

Here’s the honesty! At first I was not going to read your book. Why? Because it wasn’t on Kindle Unlimited and I was unsure if I wanted to spend $2.99 on an author I hadn’t heard of. I only knew you a little bit through some Facebook groups. You had left a comment on a post I’d made back in October and offered to discuss self-publishing with me.

So I sent you a message and you actually responded! I was thrilled! I have had some bad experiences with Authors in the past, some can be really hurtful to aspiring Authors. I was also feeling really guilty because I still hadn’t purchased or read your book and you were being so nice to me. Needless to say I purchased Dianna that day in October. However, I was reading several different series at the time and I put Dianna on the back burner. As I weeded through the books I was reading I finally returned to Dianna.

You had me wondering throughout the book what on earth was up with Greyson Crowley (I did not trust him) and even more so, Shiye. I wanted to know their stories and why they were so evasive. I was very intrigued. I was even afraid a few times that perhaps Dianna would not end the way I, as the reader, wanted it to. I am happy to report that you did not disappoint me. It ended just the way I wanted, except now I’m worried about the future of these characters and I need book number 2!

I feel I should say congratulations here…

I believe that Dianna was your debut novel and I believe from my standpoint that it was a success.

My reasons for that are:

  1. You kept me interested enough to get past chapter 3. I have a 3 chapter rule, if I’m not hooked by then chances are I won’t finish it.
  2. If I don’t finish it, I don’t leave a review. I left one and noticed that several others did as well, giving you a 4.5 star rating.
  3. You made me care enough about the characters to purchase Little Rose, the next book in the series. I’d say that’s an accomplishment for an Author, a goal they hope to meet if writing a series.

…so Congratulations! I’m very happy for you and I can not wait to read Little Rose. Thank you for writing and sharing your stories with the world and thank you for being my friend.

Sincerely,

Renea

Now then, I have one more thing I must tell you before I sign off. The third book in Josephine’s series – The Brittler Sisters – is available for preorder HERE. If you preorder Charlotte and send Josephine your confirmation number, as long as you are one of the first 30 to do so, she will send you a FREE copy of  “Two Hearts One Stone“. You can find Josephine on Facebook by clicking on her name within this post. You can also find her in The Rumor Mill, a historical romance Facebook group. I do hope you’ll give her a chance. I know I’m glad I did. She is quite a comical person.

 


Review: Redeeming Reputation

This year. Every year people set goals for themselves, things they would like to accomplish over the next 365 days. Some of us start out great and some of us quit before the first 24 hours is up.

Last year, I set a goal to read 500 books. I had stumbled upon the Goodreads Reading Challenge and thought, “go big, or go home” and I read a lot! My children complain regularly that I have my nose in a book and constantly ask, “why are you reading?” It’s one of the things that really gets under my skin. It makes me want to say, “Well, why are you playing video games or why are you watching t.v. or why are you Face timing again!

Goodreads says that I reached my 2016 goal, but I was actually about 100 books shy of reaching it. Some books I’d completed had not been marked “read” and therefore pushed me over the 500 mark.

One of my goals this year as a reader is to show a little more support to the authors that I read. I have found many new authors via Kindle Unlimited, BookBub, Instafreebie, Inspired Reads, Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook and friend recommendations. If it were not for all these avenues of finding books I would seriously be missing out on some great stories.

One of the ways I plan to further support my fellow writers this year, is by leaving a review with Amazon and Goodreads for every book I read. I already like many of their pages, profiles and follow them, but I haven’t always left reviews. I don’t know how helpful reviews are and I do hope to be finding that out for myself later this year! I also decided to take it one step further and share about each book with you here, perhaps you will find new authors to love as well.

I am a member of a Facebook group called Sweet Wild West Reads. It is a wonderfully active group and in that group I connected with author George H. Mcvey. One particular day the authors from the group were telling a bit about themselves and readers were asking them questions. I always love learning why an author chose to write, that day, I got to ask George.

The response he gave me came in the form of a small story and left me with the desire to read a book of his; Redeeming Reputation. I finished reading it just this evening.

First, let me tell you a little bit about the way I review books. I do not share any details of the story that will give it away or spoil it. I do not critique the author’s writing style – to each their own, as long as it is not distracting or filled chalk full of typo’s. I DO, however warn you if the author uses foul language. I personally believe that takes away from the story as it distracts me. If I find something else within the book that is distracting I will point it out, for example: hard to read fonts, lots of bold lettering and things of that nature.

My purpose for leaving the review is to help the author, however, I will be honest and give the correct amount of stars in regards to my dislike or love of the book. My reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are short and sweet. I tell the author and the reader if I liked the book and I always say thank you, as the author put a lot of time, effort and bravery into writing it and sharing it with the world.

Since I have decided to write reviews here as well, they may be a little more “wordy” but they will not reveal or spoil anything, and they will be written as a letter to the author. I hope you enjoy them.

Dear George,

I finished reading Redeeming Reputation today and wanted to take a moment to share my feelings with you. At first, I honestly did not expect much. I try not to judge a book by it’s cover, but once in awhile I still do. The cover did not say to me; Pick Me! Pick Me! I chose to read Redeeming Reputation because of YOU.

I connected with you via Facebook in the Sweet Wild West Reads group and there you shared with me the story of why you write. It brought tears to my eyes and made me smile. That was the reason I purchased and read your book. Most of your comments within the group cause me to smile or chuckle. Your friendly nature is the reason I visited Amazon the very day you told me the story of why you write. I simply had to know more.

As I began the book, I was still unsure if I was going to finish it. I even stopped reading it and finished reading Josephine Blake’s book Dianna (which I need to write a review on). After finishing Dianna and continuing to connect with you on Facebook I realized I hadn’t been fair to you or your book and it deserved my true attention, but it was hard because you’d hit a nerve with own heart.

I picked it up again last night, as I read before bed, almost always. I was surprised when I glanced up to see my clock telling me it was well after midnight! I knew I should be sleeping, just like now, yet I’m wide awake. I couldn’t believe it! I gave you my full attention and you hooked me.

I did put the book down and go to sleep…sometimes I don’t, then I really struggle the next day. Thursday’s are my full writing days and I could not focus today. I tried over and over, but my mind kept wondering back to that book! Why did it appeal to me so much? It was new and fresh, but it was more than that George.

You see, I know that you are not only an author but a Pastor. My Grandpa was a pastor. In your book, the character is a Preacher and he also finds himself working for the Sheriff. My Grandpa was also a police officer. The character in the book tells us of things his Grandfather taught him, like how to shoot a gun. The relationship between Nathan and his Grandfather is what got me.

It melted my heart and it brought tears to my eyes. Now, I don’t know if the story will do that with each reader, but it did with me because my Grandpa was one of the most important men in my life. He taught me to shoot a gun, drive a car, plant a garden and so many, many things. He was a great storyteller and I loved to listen to him. He was the greatest man I’ve ever known. His home, was like my second home as I was there just as often. I knew someday I would loose him and I knew I’d never be ready for that day.

That day came October 9th, 2013 and I still struggle with it. I miss him so much; his voice, his laughter, his storytelling, his hugs and his belief in me.

Redeeming Reputation connected with my heart on so many levels. I do not want to spoil anything for future readers so let me just say this… Nathan wanted to do something, his goals and motivations were there because of God and his Grandfather.

My Grandpa is the reason I have decided to bring my written works out into the open for the world to see. Many, many years ago when I was but a teenager I wrote a letter to a dying woman, trying in my very small way to encourage and comfort her. I never mailed it. I forgot about it. My Grandpa found it and read it. The letter had touched him so much that he was disappointed it had not reached it’s intended before she passed. He spoke with me at length about my writing and told me then to stop hiding it; that it was a gift God had given me. I regret that I did not listen and I pray that God has given Grandpa a window to see that I am finally following his advice. I know in my heart he is at peace and I am happy for him, but I still miss him so much.

Redeeming Reputation made me feel close to my Grandpa again for just a few hours and for that my heart and I thank you.

Sincerely,

Renea

This wasn’t the writing I had planned to do today, obviously, but it is the writing that occurred and now I must get to bed as I sadly do not get to sleep in on Friday’s. I hope if you have taken the time to read this post, that you will give George’s book a chance. Maybe it will touch your heart too or at the very least leave you with a warm smile. Be Blessed.


Descriptions Part 1

I am currently working on writing better descriptions, showing verses telling, and so I’d like to share a teeny bit with you. I would love to know if reading this small clip evokes any kind of feeling and if so what? What do you feel? What do you think might occur next? If you feel inclined please leave me some feedback. I would greatly appreciate that. Here we go…

Golden rays of sunlight drifted through the sheer white curtains of the bay window filling the room in a blanket of warmth as they gently kissed Aaleahya’s face and teased her eyelids open. Had the spring rains washed away the dismal gray clouds and morphed into summer at long last? Rising from her bed, she rushed to the window, pushing the curtains aside and there high in the sky the sun greeted her like an old friend ready for adventure.

Oh and umm, Happy Valentine’s Day!!! What is your most romantic memory? Love stories are simply the best, don’t you think?


Feel Your Heart

Dirty Dancing. If you have the time take a moment to watch this, skip ahead to 1:26 and watch for a few seconds. That’s the part I want to draw your attention to.

 “It’s a feeling, a heartbeat. Ga Goong. Ga Goong.”

He’s passionate about dancing and the way the music gives a body the feelings to move along with it in time. Think about a song that you find yourself swaying to or tapping your foot, what causes the movement?

A feeling; right? The music and lyrics combined provide a beautiful harmony that effects you in a way that causes a reaction. It’s a powerful combination. I’ve always been drawn to music, especially country music. I love the story within the song; without the lyrics the song wouldn’t be as powerful to me.

Words are a powerful tool we wield daily and some of us are just crazy enough to believe we can wield them into a beautiful song or story. One that will withdraw a feeling causing a reaction. I know that is my goal with the novel I’m writing. I want cause the reader to feel something. Something that might draw a tear, a smile or a laugh. Something that touches their heart and causes it to beat to a happy little tune.

A dear friend of mine was trying to both, give me the third degree and encourage me yesterday. In her own kind of way she was telling me that my vision was out of focus and that I needed to clean it up.

So today, I bit the bullet and wrote a goodbye letter of sorts. It was harder than I expected it to be; I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do. It’s hard to focus on where your heart is leading if it is being torn in too many directions.

I took a moment to really feel my heart verses listen to or follow it. I needed to feel what would make it happy and cause it to dance with joy again; to free it.


The Big Question

Kinda stuck. The empty nest is quickly approaching my home. I feel as if there is a battle raging from within. I am proud of my children and I want to see them succeed in life. I am excited and scared for each of their journeys ahead. I don’t want them to be hurt, or afraid or to never come home again. I want them to be confident and soar, yet, I want to hold them just a little longer.

Their independence is rearing its head in full form and while I know they are simply testing their wings in preparation for flight, I find myself at times lonely and wondering…

What am I going to do now?

Recently, I stumbled upon a quote. Actually, I probably sought it out. I adore quotes and I’m always collecting them. Most of what I personally follow on Instagram and Twitter are quote related. I love to take beautiful photos and put a profound quote upon them. This particular quote packs a pretty big punch during this current season of my life.

All of a sudden, the nest is empty. The birds have gone, and what had been a constant blur of activity is now nothing more than a few discarded feathers. Silence mutes all that was colorful and it is time to reestablish our significant place in an ever-changing world.” -Marci Seither, Empty Nest.

Here is another quote that is spot on:

You want your kids to grow up, and you don’t want your kids to grow up. You want your kids to become independent of you, but it’s also a parent’s worst nightmare: that they won’t need you. It’s like the real tragedy of parenting.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

It is my hope, my prayer; that we have given our children a strong rooting. One, they from time to time might return to. It is also my hope and prayer that we have given them strong wings, ones that will carry them bravely through this ever-changing world. Yet, the big question still remains…

What am I going to do now?

I mentioned something of my wonderings to my son not long ago and he said to me, “What did you want to do before you became a Mom?” From the mouth of babes, correct?  I’ve known the answer to that question before motherhood ever entered the scene.

I want to write. I have always wanted to write.

I have so many pieces of unfinished work, there must be a purpose for it…


It’s Always Tomorrow

Infinitely Better. Now, that’s a thought.

I find that usually one thinks; later or tomorrow. I know I have for most of my life. The timing never seems to be just right. Something is always a little off. I think I need more hours in my day, a little more quiet time, and a whole lot less fear. Truth be told; I need to manage my time better as I do have plenty of quiet time.

And fear, it is a mighty stronghold. One that controls time and energy spent. It is the noose around your neck. It is what holds you back from the longings of your heart. It is an excuse allowing us to justify our unfulfillment to ourselves caused by it’s brother; Doubt.

Perhaps you are familiar with these:

  1. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
  2. I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.
  3. I’ll call her/him tomorrow.
  4. I’ll get groceries tomorrow.
  5. I’ll write it tomorrow.
  6. I’ll have more energy tomorrow.
  7. I’ll do it tomorrow…

I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who once said, “Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do today“. It’s a shame many of us do not heed that advice. Perhaps this next quote will help with a little perspective on tomorrows.

There’s always tomorrow, until there’s not.” – Author Unknown.

I believe half of us are putting off till tomorrow, while the other half is wishing for just one more moment, a second chance or one last kiss.

Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow“. What if life offered you a second chance today and it slipped through your fingers because of Doubt and his brother Fear? Who was it that first said; SEIZE THE DAY!

I am of a mind to believe that tomorrow simply isn’t good enough anymore; at least not for me. Nothing is completely over until you stop trying. Every day is simply the opportunity to do infinitely better than the one before; while each tomorrow is a fresh start.

The page before you is blank; what will you do with it?