Monday, May 24, 2010

Naming Ourselves

When I was in Seattle in March, I found myself in a used bookstore (actually I found myself in several) and this book was on the shelf at the bottom of a stack of other books. Of course, I have a thing for strong women and pirates, so snatched it up for myself.

As I read, I discovered that it was not just a history of Grace O'Malley, the pirate queen, but an amazing mixture of history, mythology and legend, and travel memoir. I now want to research more legends of sea witches who called in the wind for sailors--for a price. I would love to have a supposed sea witch as a character in a novel.

However, the part of the book that I found the most fascinating is that the author decided on her journey to change her name. At the beginning of her trip, she was Barbara Wilson. After her trip, she changed her last name to Sjoholm (sjo-sea; holm-island). Throughout the book, she ponders whether or not to change her name and what she should to change it to if she decided to change her name.

I began to muse about women and our names. There is the name we were given at birth; we weren't really given a choice in this name. We were given little more choice, if and when we got married, and if we chose to take our husbands' last names. We're given the name Mom and, later, Grandma.

We choose our own names when we choose the email addresses for our personal accounts and usernames for websites we use. Those of us who are writers have the chance to decide if we want to use our given names for our writing or if we will use pen names.

But what about other names we give ourselves through our jobs or other activities we take upon ourselves?

Teacher. Writer. Artist. Creative entrepeneur. (I'm putting it out the Universe!)

Then there are the negative names we give ourselves:

Slacker. Packrat. Inadequate mother. Sloppy housekeeper.

I think it's easier to give ourselves negative names, or to accept these names when they're given to us by others, than it is to give ourselves positive names that will help usour growth instead of hindering it.

So, today, I'm going to give myself these names:

Fulfiller of dreams. Believer in opportunities. Lover of all people.

What are some names you would like to give yourself today?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


My friend Amy Jo now has 100+ followers on her blog! To celebrate, she's having a contest with a very nice prize. Check out her contest and comment for a chance to win.

I, too, will soon be having a contest. I'll be celebrating my 200th blog post. Be ready for some pretty amazing stuff!

The "Let's Talk" Blogfest

So, I've decided to jump into the blogfest world with the "Let's Talk" Blogfest. The only requirement was to post a piece of dialogue to my blog. This is super-scary for me as I've only ever shared some of my fiction with the online world, and a bunch of strangers commented on it. But I know you lovely people will be kind, so I'm going to do it.

What I've posted below is the most recent bit of dialogue I've written for my current WIP with the working title of Robinella. (Can I italicize the title of a book if it isn't published yet? I don't know, but I'm going to anyway.) Louise has just been given a pair of fur-lined boots from Philip, the man who has hired her to steal back something that belongs to his lord.

“I’ve never felt anything like it.” She ran her fingers through the fur again. Philip smiled.

“What kind of fur is it?”


Louise gasped and pulled back from Philip as he reached for her foot. “But squirrel…that’s for the nobility to wear, not me.” Philip shook his head.

“You’ve more noble blood in you than Cashil,” he stated, “and look what she was wearing the night of the festival. And you must look the part when you arrive there. Winter will be coming on soon enough; it won’t be odd for you to be wearing boots. Come,” he beckoned for her foot, “let’s see how they fit.” Louise held her foot out to him and he slid the boot on. “Ah, perfect. Like a—”

“Fur-lined glove,” she finished his sentence, turning leg to take in the full effect of the boot. The soft leather was just a shade lighter than Philip’s eyes, and delicate flowers had been embroidered up the side on both boots, which would have required a strong, steady, yet creative hand. Philip was watching Louise, and she looked away. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Philip shook his head. “No, they’re from Nancy. I believe that my—” he paused and looked as if he’d forgotten what he was going to say, “—my lord’s mother gave her the materials to have a pair of boots made for Nancy’s daughter when she married.

“So they belong to Nancy’s daughter.” Louise had a difficult time believe that the harsh woman had ever had children but refrained from sharing that thought with Philip.

Philip spoke again, and Louise was glad she’d held her tongue. “Aye, they did, before she died.”
He looked into Louise’s eyes. “Taking her newborn baby girl with her.” Louise’s heart sunk. The horrid woman had lost her daughter in the same way Louise had lost her mother. The gift of the boots and that bit of knowledge made it harder for Louise to hate her.

Okay, so that's it! 330 words from my WIP Robinella. I hope you enjoyed it!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Page-a-day Challenge

I heard the call and I answered. I'm going to do the Page-a-day Challenge. The rules simply include that I write only one page a day (admittedly, I'll probably write more than that some days, but at least one page a day) and that I keep track of my days here on my blog and/or Twitter.

I missed out yesterday because I was traveling, but I did write two pages on Saturday, May 15, the first day of the challenge. And so, it has begun!

May 15: 2 pages
May 17: 2.5 pages
May 18: 1.5 page
May 19: 1 page
May 20: 1.5 pages
May 22: 3 pages

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stories in my fingers

Last December, when I was finally finishing Noelle Oxenhandler's The Wishing Year (which I L.O.V.E. by the way), I read the following quote and had one of those moments where I felt totally in sync with the author. Kind of a cool "collective unconcious" moment where we shared the same brain.

"...I had the strange sensation of having paintings in my arms--it was a painful feeling, like a kind of racing pulse that wanted to find its way out of my body and into color and shape." (page 12)

I know this feeling! I sometimes feel the same thing, when there is a story that is itching to get out and my fingers kind of tingle because that story wants to get out of me into a world of black and white and words. Those are the times that I can barely focus on anything else; I just want to be writing.

What about you? Do you have these moments of creativity screaming for release? And do you let it out?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tag............You're It!

My good friend Amy Jo tagged me several days ago and it's taken me this long to think of answers for all of these questions. It seems like, towards the end of the school year, my brain turns to mush and I can't think beyond 2 minutes before...anything.

This game requires me to answer these questions 5 times with 5 different answers. Here I go. *deep breath*

Where were you 5 years ago?
1. I lived in Murray with TSH and Daniel and we were waiting for Andrew to be born.
2. I was in the classroom down the hall next to the preschool where I could hear, "Hot potato, hot potato!" sung every day and watch the four year olds playing outside my window.
3. I was in my bazillionth year at Wesminster and just about to start working on my action research project.
4. I was driving my 1999 Ford Escort. I loved that car.
5. I was in a world without writing or art.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
1. I'd like to be a published author.
2. I'd like to be writing and making art full time.
3. I'd like to be just about done with being an Army wife with no more deployments or weekend drills.
4. I'd like to be getting my youngest ready for 1st grade
5. I'd like to be home with my kids more.

What's on your To-Do list today?
1. Work on the WIPs.
2. Get the boys in the bathtub.
3. Clean out the garage.
4. Develop the curriculum for my Art Journaling class that will carry!
5. Get some flowers planted in the front yard.

What snacks do you enjoy?
1. Crackers with hummus.
2. See's chocolates
3. Weight Watchers little chocolate and lemon cakes
4. Lindor truffle balls
5. Potato chips

What would you do with a billion dollars?
1. Pay off my mortgage and remodel my house, adding a writing room.
2. Buy houses for all of my loved ones who don't have a place of their own.
3. Put away enough money for my children to go to any college they want and to go on missions.
4. Buy my Victorian mansion in Port Townsend.
5. Start a community center that focuses on the healing properties of writng and making art for at-risk teens and abused women.

And I'm tagging:
1. Heather at Audrey Eclectic
2. Nicole at The Nicole Show
3. Amy at The Island of Misfit Toys
4. Emily at Orange World
5. Becky at A Berry Good Life

Also, Amy gave me this nifty award!

Woohoo! Two years of blogging and I finally get an award! This is my year, I can feel it!

Now I'm giving this award to these 5 people:

1. Nicole at The Nicole Show

2. Liza at Middle Passages

3. Heidi at Pie Happens

4. Megan at What we call life

5. Amanda at Hidden Art

Enjoy!!! (3 exclamation points...I really want you to enjoy it!)

Washington Trip: Forks

Yes, it's finally here. The Forks edition of my Washington trip.

It's true what they say: it's always raining in Forks. Seriously, as we drove, it was sunny and fairly nice. Port Angeles was fine. But in was raining and cloudy. It really is the pefect place for vampires who sparkle in the sunlight.

Forks: Welcomes You

Well, thank you! I'm excited to be here!

Forks: High School

Gooooooo, Spartans!

Forks: Bella's truck

Why do you think Bella leaves her truck at the visitor's center?

Forks: Bella's House

The Swans' home. I think I see Charlie peaking his head out the window. Oh, no, maybe it's just a shadow.

Forks: Dr. Cullen's parking place

Calling Dr. Cullen! There are some ladies in the parking lot taking pictures of your parking space!

Forks: The Cullens' House

There's Emmett walking into the Cullens' house.

Forks: A note at the Cullens'

I have to wonder how the Cullens feel about having people stay in their house while they're gone. And how people staying in the bed and breakfast feel about staying in the home of vampires.

If you're planning your own trip to Forks, check out Amy's article on Associated Content.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Finding Your Fire, Following Your Bliss

Follow your own star and SHINE!

"Follow your own star and SHINE!" art postcard

I've been reading a novel titled Saving Ceecee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. It reminds me in so many ways of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, almost too much sometimes, but when I read the quotes below, I was so pleased.

"Everyone needs to find the one thing that brings out her passion. It's what we do and share with the world tha tmatters. I believe it's important we leave our communities in better shape than we found them[...]If there's one thing I'd like most for you, it's that you'[ll find your calling in life. That's where true happiness and purpose lies. Whether it's taking care of abandoned animals, saving old houses from the wreckin' ball, or reading to the blind, you've got to find your fire, sugar. You'll never be fulfilled if you don't."

[...]"But how will I know what my fire is?"

[...] "Oh, you'll know. One day you'll do something, see something, or get an idea that seems to pop up from nowhere. And you'll feel a kind of stirring--like a warm flicker inside your chest. When that happens, whatever you do, don't ignore it. Open your mind and explore the idea. Fan your flame. And when you do, you'll have found it."

I love these quotes. When I read them, I wanted to stand up and yell to all of my students, "Go, find your fire!" But I was afraid they would think I was saying, "Go, there is a fire!" and then there would be mass chaos in my classroom...even more than normal that is.

Certainly, Joseph Campbell would have agreed with Aunt Tootie. You've gotta find your fire and then, when you find it, you have to follow your bliss.

There are two things I have in my life that are my "fire." When I'm making art and when I'm writing, I feel like I'm not just living but that I'm alive. Okay, there's one more thing: when I'm teaching creative writing to people who really want to know and who aren't worrying about a grade, I feel like I'm on fire then too.

What about you? Have you found your fire? And if so, what is it?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Things I Learned By Watching Glee

Okay. You were right, Amy Jo; I love Glee! I spent two days this weekend watching it and laughing and almost crying (Have I ever told you how quick to tears I am sometime? I could write an entire post about all of the TV commercials that have made me cry.). I've watched the first three DVD of Season 1 Volume 1 (now I'm waiting for Netflix to send me #4), and I've already learned some important life lessons from it.

#1--Do not watch Glee and think that you'll get any writing done or art finished or floors vacuumed no matter how much you need to do all three.

#2--"You know, it's not a bad thing to want a real life, Bill, and to have a glue gun that works!" This lovely quote is from Will's wife (does she really call him Bill here? And what is her name? And why don't I know her name but I totally know the name of the guidance counselor who has a huge crush on Will? Yes, it's Emma. Yes, when I was pregnant with all three of my boys, before I found out they were going to be boys, their name was Emma.) and it is so true! It isn't a bad thing to want a real life. For me, a real life would be writing full time, making art, singing with the birds in the trees, and having a glue gun that works!

#3--"I don't think any one decision makes your life. Unless you accidentally invent some kind of zombie virus or something." Finn is the genius behind this quote. He's right. One decision doesn't make your life. And sometimes, you can make a decision about your life, and then you can change your mind later on and change your life completely. Unless you do invent some kind of zombie virus; if you do that, you can only hope that you run faster than the zombies do.

#4--I have a new love. Seriously. Move over Hugh Jackman 'cause Matthew Morrison is moving in! I really think TSH would enjoy this show, but I'm afraid to watch it with him because I might be drooling over a singing and dancing Spanish teacher. Madre mia!

Okay, since I don't have any Glee to watch tonight, I am going to write. But please don't blame me if my characters break into song in the middle of a scene.