Friday, August 31, 2012

Poetry Friday: Lucy Maureen Hough

Well, I couldn't think of any enlightening topics on which to post today.
So, I present Lucy's first ever poem (at least that I have been able to jot down before I forgot it). I wish I could tap into the unlimited creativity of my five-year-old...

Did You Ever
by Lucy Maureen Hough

Roar! Roar!
Roar! Roar!
Did you ever ever hear a dinosaur?
Did you ever hear a dinosaur?
And did you hear him say
Crocky crocky, 
Crocky crocky?
And did you wonder why he said it?
Did you wonder why he said it?
It's because he ate a crocky-gator!
Crocky crocky,
Crocky crocky!

As soon as I relayed this poem to Mark, she protested, "No! No! I meant crocodile! I just got confused!" I include her amendment for honesty's sake...but I like it best the original way. 
It makes you wonder...what exactly would a crocky-gator be like?

She does her good thinking at the beach, too...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Allow me to introduce you!

Today I have the pleasure of presenting you with some treasures:
1) A new blog. About writing, reading, and the in-betweens.
2) A new friend. My lovely cousin Anne Marie, author of said blog, and one of the loveliest young women you will ever meet.
I met Anne Marie (or Annie, as we fondly call her) about 14 years ago when I tiptoed into her mother's hospital room and saw a bundle of dark hair and bright eyes tucked into my aunt's arms. I heard some of her first stories when she was about two years old (as I recall, my favorite involved her riding her bike in the street with her imaginary friend--and dying. She was way ahead of that paranormal trend...). So it's been a rather surreal pleasure to get to know her better not just as her older cousin but as a friend and writing buddy. And, yes, it does make me feel old to see a baby I once held, writing a novel. :)
So that you can all get to know her as well, Annie agreed to answer some of my random, wacky interview questions. Without further ado:

List five adjectives you would use to describe yourself.

Silly, dramatic, compassionate,
 emotional (at times), and talkative.
Do you write what you know or what you'd like to know? (And can you tell us a little bit about the story you are working on now?)
I feel like I generally write what I'd like to know, with some exceptions. My YA novel, Falling for Danger, is about a small town hero, nineteen-year-old Kayleigh James. She is sent (as Leigh Anne Jamison) to Hawaii for some undercover work, and, well, things get complicated for her. She can't have anything other than business relationships with these people. She has to hide her emotions, her opinions. Of course, her co-workers can't know she can't be anything more than civil with them, so she has to create more and more lies. . .and then she meets someone who is impossible to lie to. . . .It has been one of my favorite stories to write, I think, so far. =)
After I finished the second draft, I discovered a song that perfectly described Kayleigh and her relationships with all the characters, but one in particular (yes, her love interest=D) Anyway, its called "Through Smoke," by Needtobreathe. 

That sounds thrilling! (I have had the pleasure of reading the first chapter, and it is a lesson in great pacing.)

If you were stuck on a desert island, what fictional character would you want to have along as a companion?

This is incredibly random, but the first character that popped into my mind was Rapunzel, from Tangled.

Yes! She would be incredibly helpful--what can't she do, right?--and the hair! Plus a great personality. Good choice. :)
Who are your favorite authors, and what genres are your favorite to read?

Veronica Roth, Kathryn Stockett, J.K. Rowling, and Lauren Oliver, just to name a few. My top two favorite genres would probably have to be Historical Fiction and Dystopian. 

I saw on your blog that you were a winner in the 2011 NaNoWriMo. Can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like? (And how on earth you managed to reach that word count while you had school to accomplish as well!!)

NaNoWriMo was so amazing! It was totally an adventure. I signed up on the youth website last year, because I wasn't sure if I could make the  word  count (on the youth website, you set your own word count goal, while the adult website is set to 50,000). It was a rollerecoaster for me-one week, I'd be 1,000 words ahead and the next week I'd be like, "Ugh, I'm never going to finish!" 
NaNo actually gave me motivation to get through school. I was homeschooled, which was awesome, so I would be done around one-ish. It left plenty of time for afternoon writing! Enough that I did make the 50,000=) However, I'm actually attending a"brick-and-motor" high school this year, so it will probably be a lot harder.  I'm going to sign up on the adult site, though, and still try to make the 50,000 word count again!

Wow, I feel like I should be working harder...

And finally, of the utmost importance: what's your favorite writing snack?

Haha, you saved the best for last! =) I looooove my Oreos. And this is totally opposite, but I've recently become a fan of snap peas.

Seriously? snap peas are my favorite! Mark actually gave me a container of snap peas instead of candy for St. Valentine's day because I love them so much. True story.

Thank you, Annie! It was so much fun hosting you here today. Everyone, check out her blog! :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Writing doldrums and in-betweens

Having just finished my draft of CIRQUE, I'm awaiting critiques and feedback and doing my best not to touch the blasted thing. I know my perspective is shot when just thinking about the m.s. (this is that beloved story that three months ago was inducing daydreams of movie deals) makes me lose my appetite.
I'm working on some small things in between, trying to decide what to devote all my energy towards next. Revise an old, possibly promising story? Outline the new one that exists only in my mind? Come up with something new altogether?
I've decided I'm in no state of mind to decide one way or another. So this week will be devoted to reading, reading, reading and spending as much time outside as possible. All that fresh air is good for creativity, the beach is lovely this time of year, and my garden has been begging me to give it a little more attention.
Here's a glimpse of what's on my shelf (I always read a few things at a time):

And here's what I've been doing outside:

Digging in the sand
Making gardens for shore fairies!
Oh, and watching Shakespeare! Outdoor Shakespeare at Edgerton Park in New Haven is a yearly tradition; Mark and I have been going together every year, with picnic dinners and plenty of friends, since before we were dating. This year's masterpiece was Macbeth. Sigh. The language is so brilliant, the plotting so perfect, the emotions so strong--and the Elm Shakepeare Company's masterful acting and staging brought the story wonderfully to life. They didn't allow photography, but here is a little preview video of theirs:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Eleven Questions

Marcia Hoehne tagged me for the Eleven Questions game. Here are the rules as she relayed them:

  • Write 11 random things about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions given.
  • Write 11 new questions.
  • Tag someone else. Maybe 11 someone elses, if you can.

Here we go, then:

11 Things You Never Expected about Faith (or maybe you did)!

1) Although I think I always knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted to be a Wife/Mother/Writer, I toyed with the ideas of various careers throughout my youth. Some of the more serious ones were: etymologist (I wanted to work for Merriam-Webster), entomologist, ornithologist (specifically, I wanted to work with raptor rescue groups), astronomist, artist, actress, singer, editor, and nun.

2) I have a passion for homemade things. Especially when I can make them from soft, handspun wool.

3) I love diagramming sentences.

4) I hate having nothing to do with my hands. I knit while I watch movies, cook while I teach my daughters, type while I nurse the baby. The primary exception to this rule is reading, because if there is a book in my hands they are content.

5) I’d love to have ten children or so. I grew up as the third of five and we all envied “the big families.”

6) I re-read Anne of Green Gables every spring.

7) My favorite flowers are forget-me-nots.

8) In college, I performed in and directed a crazy awesome musical version of Beowulf for a final project in our Honors Seminar. (Yeah, we pretty much had the coolest professors ever.) My brilliant, bona fide genius friend Bridget wrote the music, adapted from Gilbert and Sullivan tunes. I opened the play to the showstopper number, “A Meadhouse Minstrel I.” (We all got A’s.)

9) I say “pop,” not “soda.”

10) If I was a boy, I would have been named Tobias.

11) I am really enjoying this post, because making lists made the list of my top ten favorite things to do...

Now here are my answers to Marcia’s questions:

  1. Your house is on fire and you can run out with one thing. (Your family and pets are safe, and you are guaranteed to get out.) What do you grab?

The painting my husband gave me on our first date. It’s a copy of the Madonna and Child from Caravaggio’s
Rest on the Flight to Egypt. While it’s not the best thing he ever painted, it means the most to me.

  1. Health nut or junk foodie?

Somewhere between the two. I like junk food occasionally, but our favorite foods around here are healthy things like fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and chocolate. (Yes, chocolate is definitely a health food.)

  1. What's your favorite form of exercise?

Dancing! Baseball is a close second, but I haven’t had the chance to play in a while. Mostly I get my workouts from chasing toddlers around the house and yard.

  1. What's the worst job you can imagine having?

It’s a tie between leech-catcher and coal miner (I’m a little claustrophobic). Or maybe politician.

  1. Have you ever broken a bone? How?

Yes, once; and like most of my injuries, by being stupid. I was 8 months pregnant with my second daughter and decided to join 2-year-old Lucy on the swing set. The rusted chains broke under my weight, as did my tailbone a split second later. Baby Zoe ended up being fine, but poor Lucy was afraid to go on swings for a long time.

  1. If you could go back to college now, would you change your major? From what to what?

Hmmm....I think so. I double majored in Early Childhood Education and Spanish, which I really enjoyed. But my last semester I decided on a whim to take an acting class which I loved so much that I wished I’d been a theater major all along. I learned more important lessons through acting than in any other class I had taken.

  1. Green thumb? Black thumb? Somewhere in between?

In between. I suspect I may actually have a thumb as green as they come, but it’s been pretty busy helping the rest of my hand hold babies lately, so the only thing completely thriving in my garden right now is the grass that crept in.

  1. What's the best book you've read in the last two months, on any topic?

Oh, hard question. I just told a friend last week that I’ve gotten really lucky in my reading choices these past couple months, as practically everything I pick up seems to be amazing! But I think I have to go with Laura Amy Schlitz’s newest (soon-to-be-released) book Splendors and Glooms. It’s a Victorian Gothic middle grade that was at once wonderfully Dickensian and incredibly fresh--meaningful, beautiful, thrilling--just one of those perfect books.

  1. What's the hugest, gooiest, most fabulous dessert you can remember eating?

Mmmmm....they blend together in my mind. My oldest sister Natalie is the most incredible baker, and she filled my childhood with mounds of sweet goodness. There was this one caramel pecan pie...

  1. What's your favorite writing tip?

I don’t have a direct quote, but it came from Eileen Spinelli. She was answering the question of how she managed to write while raising five children, and she said she wrote “in the cracks of the day.” It works!

  1. What's the stupidest writing tip you've ever heard?

“You have to start with action!” No, you don’t. Please don’t start with action for the sake of action. It never works. Start with tension.

And now for 11 new questions:

1) What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
2) What book do you wish you were a character in?
3) White, dark, or milk chocolate?
4) Would you rather be a coal miner or a skyscraper window washer?
5) If you were an American in the late 1700’s, which side would you have taken in the Revolution?
6) What writing tool would it be hard for you to live without?
7) What song best describes you or the way you see the world?
8) What’s your favorite first sentence from a book?
9) If you could get on a plane for a month long vacation tomorrow, where would you go?
10) Do you outline your stories?
11) Would you rather live in a palace by the sea or a cottage in the woods?

As far as the tagging is concerned, here are a few I don't think I've ever tagged before:

Jennifer Wagner
Anne Marie Schlueter
Heather Day Gilbert
Melissa Sarno

If anyone else wants to be play--please consider yourself tagged. And if you don't feel like playing, that's fine too. :)

Whew, that made for a long post. Thanks for sticking around!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Definition Addiction

All writers have a poison of choice when it comes to distracting ourselves from the real writing.

For some, it’s Facebook, Pinterest or Angry Birds; for others, it’s that bin up in the attic that you haven’t thought of in four years but which suddenly is in desperate need of organizing.

For me, it’s the OED. The Great and Powerful Oxford English Dictionary.

My thought-process goes something like this:

“Hmm. I’ll just take a peek at the R volume.”
“You don’t need to.”
“No, no, there’s a word I’m really curious about....”

“You should be writing.”
“But I need to check if the word was even in use in 18th century England, or my whole book will be ruined. There’s no way I can wait until revision to clear this up.”
“Okay. Just a little peek.” hour later:

“Um...what was your word count goal for the day?”
“Uh...1000 words.”
“And how many did you get done?”
“Now, wait, did I specify writing or reading? I definitely read 1000 words. There are some really cool etymologies in this volume! Did you know that the word ‘recoil’ is derived from the Latin word for ‘buttocks’? Think how useful that knowledge could be!”

You can see I’m trying to beat the addiction by coming clean about it:
Hi, my name is Faith. I haven’t touched a dictionary in about...8 minutes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Getting Ready for WriteOnCon

In only four short days, WriteOnCon--the amazing, free, star-studded online conference for writers--begins. So I’ve been making a to-do list and checking off items one by one:

1. Polish first chapter of ms
2. Perfect query
3. Tweak one-line pitch
4. Print lots of coloring pages for the girls
5. Fill up their sippy cups and snack bowls in advance
6. Stock up on tea and cookies...or maybe something more healthful...for my own sustenance.
7. Prepare and freeze meals for two days that can be dropped into the crockpot
8. Do finger stretching exercises to prepare for critiquing

This is basically what I did last year. :) The coloring pages actually went mostly uncolored as the girls thought watching the video presentations on my laptop a great novelty. If I’m not determined, they’re going to learn all the secrets and have a book published before I do. :)

So what are you doing to get ready?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

You only have to be perfect

I’m on a Madeleine L’Engle kick right now. I’ve decided that if people can pick their own fairy godmothers, she would be mine. I feel that she’s my spiritual writing mentor, and I love getting the chance to know her better the more I read. Knowing her ideas of time, and connectedness, and love, I rather think she’s relishing the role.

One of the many fascinations Madeleine and I share is the etymology of words. So, here’s a Madeleine L’Engle idea that has got me thinking: the word ‘perfect’ comes from the Latin ‘to do thoroughly.’ She speaks of this action as intrinsic to the very nature of humanity: we must constantly seek this perfection--not necessarily to be flawless or ideal, but to be thorough.

I find it interesting, because it implies an action rather than a stagnant state. To be perfect is to be striving. Because we are human, we make mistakes, but we acknowledge them and move forward, keep trying.

Frankly, my head is spinning with Madeleine L’Engle ideas, and I rather wish I had the time and luxury to write about all of them. Of course, she has already written about them, much more eloquently, so I should probably avoid redundancy and let you read her words. For starters, try Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art, one of the most profound books regarding the role and nature and obligations of art that I’ve ever come across.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fairy Tale Love

God Speed, by Edmund Blair Leighton

“My love is like a storybook story...”

--Storybook Love, from The Princess Bride

Six years ago, when I was writing my first manuscript, I read a blog post by a midlist Christian author who asserted that it was dangerous for teenage girls to read romances. She wasn’t talking those cheap paperbacks with the women with low cut dresses and windblown hair; she was referring, specifically, to the works of Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, and others of their ilk. She claimed--and dozens of commenters supported this claim--that when girls read such stories, they will expect the men in their lives to be like the men in the stories.

I cradled my newborn baby girl in my arms and said, “Well, goodness, Lucy, you are going to read ALL those books!”

Because, in fact, the author was right in this point. I’m a perfect example. I grew up on Anne of the Island and Rose in Bloom and Pride & Prejudice, and my standards for a guy were Gilbert Blythe and Mac Campbell and Mr. Darcy. And I found one who lived up to them: someone who loves me for who I am, who puts me before himself, who encourages my dreams. Someone worth bettering myself for, understanding that love requires sacrifice--someone who has that same understanding. Someone who still will do wildly romantic things like randomly bring me flowers or kiss me outside in the pouring rain. I don’t want my daughters to settle for anything less.

I don’t think any girl in the world should settle for less. And that’s where I disagreed with the author. She thought building up wild ideals of perfect men would make women unhappy with the mediocrity of reality. I don’t believe reality should be mediocre. I’ve seen so many women end up in relationships with men who use them, seen girls with boys who treat them like a piece of meat, and seen all of these circumstances end in heartbreak. Would it be so terrible if girls had a little more Anne Shirley or Lizzy Bennett gumption, to reject the losers who don’t love them for the right reasons, and to save them the heartache and pain, to wait for the great guys who really are out there?

So, please, authors: write great romances for my daughters to read. Write about knights in shining armor, even if they walk the hallways of a contemporary high school. Don’t use the shiny polish of your words to glorify lust, as far too many bestselling novels have done. The great thing about true love is you don’t have to glorify it: it will shine on its own.