Monday, January 31, 2011

Get Inspired to Write by your Dinnerware!

 I absolutely LOVE a brand-new notebook - all those pages just begging to be filled! I even love the smell (Not quite as much as I love the smell of old books, but it is up there on the list).

So, when I saw these cups and plates advertised in Writer's Digest, I knew I had to blog about them. They are designed to look like notebook paper! How cool is that?

They can be purchased here:,1541.html

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How writing can help you heal

I think most writers are aware of the fact that writing can be cathartic - getting out on paper all the emotions and pain swirling around inside - some of which we can't even tell our closest friend. Here is a good blog post about one writer's healing through writing: How writing about loss helps you heal

Friday, January 28, 2011

Reading about Writing

I've been continuing reading Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting. I'm currently on page 314. There is just so much quality information in that book. I would like to get back to writing, but I don't know when that might happen. There is just so much on my plate right now. Still, it is great to at least be reading about writing, and learning some things in the process.

Monday, January 24, 2011

This Just May Be the Best Book on Creating a Story Ever

A while back, I was lamenting that I didn't know how to revise the story I was working on. It's not that I didn't have the desire, I just truly did not have a clue and the general advice I was receiving simply wasn't helping. I needed specifics and some hand-holding.

A reader commented that I should getStory: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. He said that even though it was about screenwriting, it was the best book on creating a story that he had ever seen. One hundred twenty pages into the book, I'm inclined to agree. I've been taking copious notes. McKee is so step by step in his explanations and they all make perfect sense. I know that the implementation will still be a challenge, but I'm eager to finish reading this book and to dig in to my story with fresh eyes. I may even attempt to turn it into a screenplay! This is the hand-holding I needed. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I, in turn, recommend it to all of you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vote for Your Favorite Faith-Based Fiction in the Grace Awards

What was your favorite faith-based novel of 2010? Vote for it at the Grace Awards

Using Books as a Design Element

People have been using books as decoration as long as there have been books. They automatically add a certain element to a room whether intended or not. This article by Penelope Green shows individuals taking it to a whole other level. Searching and buying books to decorate the shelves? Now that could definitely be a dream career for a book lover. Selling a Book by its Cover

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some Beautiful Journals

In the event my recent posts on The Journal Keeper have you inspired to start journaling (the old-fashioned kind - in books, as opposed to blogging), here is a link to a store with some incredibly beautiful journals. I saw them advertised recently, and they took my breath away:

Of course, one does not need such expensive journals to write in. I've been happy with a variety of blank books over the years. Some were gifts; others were picked up at bookstores; some at a dollar store. All are precious. Other people are perfectly happy writing in spiral bound notebooks or composition books. If you want to journal, you will find a way to do it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Some thoughts from "The Journal Keeper"

I finished reading The Journal Keeper: A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux today. Her life definitely went in some unexpected directions, which just goes to show that no matter how old you are, life is still full of surprises.

As this is a blog (mostly) about writing, I thought I would share some of her thoughts on writing.

Keeping a journal not only saved my life in the record-keeping sense but saved it in a deeper, more mysterious sense as well.

Yesterday went well. I worked on the plot outline for the Christmas book [ Giovanni's Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas ]. No real writing, but I spent several hours working steadily without wanting to be anywhere else. It was exciting. What is happening is that my imagination is engaged; scenes and ideas are filling in the spaces of the story in a satisfying way. I am still not sure of certain things, but I am living with the questions, turning them over in my mind.

There are two ways to look at the act of committing your thoughts and feelings to paper: 1) as a frightening revelatory act that leaves you less in control. or 2) as a way of taking your thoughts and fears and subduing them, like pinning butterflies to a wax tablet, so you can examine them more closely. 
The second is what has always motivated me.

Books need no towels or linen, just an inch on a shelf. And they'll talk to anybody who will listen.

These last two quotes aren't about writing, but they spoke to me just the same.

You can't jerk someone into the sunlight when grief is all they have left. We can see nothing with grief-struck eyes. That is what "blind with grief" means.

"Use your life to illuminate something larger." That's it. That's what we're all called to do.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"The Journal Keeper"

At the library last week, The Journal Keeper: A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux called to me. Despite the fact that I have a pile of books waiting for me to read them, I picked it up. The name itself spoke to me. How could I resist?

I read half of it today. "Savored" would be a more accurate word as I drank it in and enjoyed every moment. The book covers Theroux's life from 2000 - 2005. She's in her sixties, caring for her mother who is in her eighties. Theroux is a woman coming to terms with what it means to live and what it means to die. She deals with questions we all must face.While she and I have very different faith walks, she is a woman longing for a deeper connection to the spiritual .

She is also a writer, and as such, I recognize a kindred spirit. I, too, am a journal-keeper. I've been journaling for over twenty-one years now. So much of my life is in those bound books. I pick them up and read the pages and I am back in that moment of time, simple moments, many of which would be lost forever had I not recorded them, but together, they have all conspired to make me who I am.

Stay tuned - I plan to offer some brief kernels of wisdom from "The Journal Keeper" in the coming days.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January Issue of Writer's Digest

I've been reading the January 2011 issue of Writer's Digest. I'm a big fan of that publication in general, but I think that this particular issue is one of their best in terms of pure practical application. The major theme of the issue is "How to Write Your Novel in 2011." Unfortunately, the articles aren't on-line (one thing I DON'T Like about Writer's Digest), but you can find a list of the articles here: You can also order a copy of the issue.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How writing a novel is like, well, a novel . . .

I came across this great quote by John Dufresne in the January issue of Writer's Digest

Now it dawns on you that writing a novel is itself very much a plot. Novels are about characters who want something. And you want something, too - to understand the lives of your own characters, which means resolving the trouble in your protagonist's life, which means completing the novel - and you want it intensely. If you don't finish, your life will be significantly diminished. And so you pursue your goal and battle every obstacle . . .You sit day after day. You struggle and at last you finish your novel. Plot's resolved.