Real and Rollicking

Today my post is featured on Breathe Writer’s Conference Blog. http://www.breatheconference.com. I hope it encourages you…

 

I knew it from age nine, the same age when I decided I should have been born an Indian-American. It was probably this instinctual habit of imagination that made my cousins think I was weird and forced my mother to explain by saying, “She’s just analytical.”

They were all right. I am weird. And analytical. And a bit neurotic. But mainly, I’m bent toward creative. My imagination Catie Stories pouredfound its outlet through drawing, poetry, reading and writing stories. Each summer, I loaded up on 18 to 20 books from the library, living vicariously through plots of witty western Belles, rogue cowboys, and shipwrecked sailors.

I wrote as often as I read, but I wasn’t sure if I had much talent.

In sixth grade, I decided to test the tea by entering my short story, By My Turpleplum Tree, into the Young Authors, a book contest comprised of four elementary schools. Among all the contestants, my story took First Place. I was astounded and revved up like my dad’s blue Cutlass.

Stories poured from my mind filling the pages of stapled booklets. After oodles of sketched plots, I settled upon a story that I entitled, JYIA. It was a story of a Navajo chieftain’s daughter. It was also my first time writing historical fiction, another excuse to go to the library and boil over books. From ages fourteen to eighteen, I worked on this novel. I consulted with my English teacher, Mrs. Smith, for three of those years. I gave her my chapters and received her critiques every month.

Upon the completion of the 270-page manuscript, we looked though the 2001 Literary Guide to Agents and selected a few. She helped me compose my first query letter, and we sent them out with hopes flung high. Months later, my hopes tiptoed home holding rejection.

In my senior year, I gave the story to my new English teacher, Mr. Moreau, and he gave me the truth. “Be proud that you accomplished this huge task. It’s a good first draft, but needs work. Also, you might want to reconsider the ending. Girls aren’t going to like that you kill your heroine.”

I took his words to heart and revised until 2008, when I stopped, frustrated and tired. On my living room floor, I pleaded. “Lord what do I do now? I want to write about Indians!”

The Lord calmly replied, “Right now it’s time for something new. Look into the 1920’s.” I obeyed.

I realize now that God not only intended my Roaring Twenties series to stir an audience, but to transform things inside of me. Writing has a way of doing that. The best part is our characters get to suffer the lessons of our personal stupidity.

Today, I stand a writer, not because it was something I had a talent for, but because I had the gumption to keep doing it. It’s not a faint-hearted hobby; it’s my dream and ministry. It’s because I was persistent that I now have an amazing agent who is shopping my trilogy to several publishing houses. It’s because I wasn’t afraid to be real with myself and others that I’m writing the rollicking tales of the 1920’s.

faint hearted hobby Catie

Don’t ever give up. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Use the talent God has put inside of you.

“And by the way, everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

– See more at: http://breatheconference.com

Storybook Village

IMG_1528

As I entered Storybook Village, I shed my adult years and regained the youth of a child. It’s magical.

Each nook is an experience. Winding through a maze of colorful puppets, toys, and trinkets, I met the most beautiful books. I discovered tunnels and castles, secret passages to the theatre, and a sailboat with peeking port holes.

IMG_1524

IMG_1525

And finally I made my way into the Starlight Theatre…a dream made real.

IMG_1527

 

In the story, Starlight Sailor by James Mayhew and Jackie Morris, a little boy travels to a new land of friendly dragons, fanciful friends, and flying fish inside his dreams.

IMG_1537

“Star light, star bright, First star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight. I wish I had a little boat! Far away I drift and float…”

IMG_1538

IMG_1535

 

So where is this enchanting place? Visit 560 S. Hancock St. in Pentwater, Michigan. They have daily storytelling and special productions in the theatre. Storybook Village is not only memorable for children, but also for adults. It was voted the TOP 14 BEST EVER Chidlren’s Book Store in the Nation! And I would definitely agree.

IMG_1523

IMG_1521

 

References:

http://www.astorybookvillage.com

Story Exerpt: “Starlight Sailor” by James Mayhew and Jackie Morris

No! Not Resolutions!

IMG_6671

Resolutions. The word alone can trigger a gag reflex.

Let’s try a different word.

Goals. That word triggers my curiosity.

What can be accomplished? What can be obtained? The answer is: MORE THAN YOU KNOW…if you some move into your groove.

I have many dreams and the only way I can pursue them is to make a plan and develop REAL goals.

Here is my GOAL LIST for YEAR 2014, perhaps my list can trigger thoughts for your own:

1. MENTAL – Read a book a month

2. PHYSICAL – Eat 2 servings of veggies a day, Eat 2 servings of fruits a day, do at least 10-15 minutes of exercise 3X a week (If this seems silly, you don’t know my dread for exercise)

3. SPIRITUAL – Memorize a Bible verse a month (Put in 4 x 6 frame on writing desk), do short devotion daily, and create teaching moments with Bella and Gabe about God.

4. CAREER – Write at least 3 chapters a month.

My 6 Strategies for Successful Writing

IMG_6963

With a preschooler and four-month old baby, I have plenty to occupy my day. So when those blessed moments of writing time arrive, I need to make the most of them.

Here are six strategies that help me and hopefully might help you as well:

#6. Coffee- For me, coffee and writing go hand in hand. Try brewing a cup, maybe two. Double your pleasure, double your fun.

#5. Personal Music Playlist- I like to listen to music that inspires me while I write, which usually boils down to well-written music. Among my iTunes line-up are: Counting Crows, Coldplay, Alison Krauss, Phil Collins, Mumford & Sons and a dash of awesome 80’s hits for kicks!

#4. Character Storyboard- With each novel, I print pictures of people that mirror the characters I envision inside my mind. Then I pin the characters with their name tags on a cork-board beside my computer. It is a constant visual.

#3. Recheck My Chapter Timeline- Before I even begin writing a book, a detailed outline is formed. I design concise chapter by chapter timelines that layout my novels from beginning to end. There is always room for creative tangents and turns, but I prefer to have direction instead of writing blind. Therefore, when I sit down to write, my time is used more efficiently. I know where I left off and where to pick up simply by reviewing the timeline.

#2. Free-write- Get it out, then clean it up. I hate getting hung up on a scene and then forgetting the great idea I had for another. Get your thoughts down first. You can always go back.

#1. Prayer- I’m not so creative that I can do it on my own. My best ideas come from the Lord, every time. He is my faithful writing consultant, editor, inventor, teacher, and motivator.

Happy Writing!

I think I’ll go brew a cup of Meijer Organics Breakfast Blend. It’s sensational.

Sneak Preview From Book One in the Roaring Twenties Series

1920s-train-journey

Excerpt From Chapter Seven…

The door slid open. The beat of shoes and hurried voices passed her lonely cart.

A porter popped his head inside and nodded to her. “Hello ma’am. You have another passenger to keep you company.” He allowed the traveler to board.

The man stepped onto the train with swift nonchalance.

Eliza’s breath caught inside her lungs. He was the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. Tall like a Greek column, his broad shoulders strained against the fabric of his tailored, charcoal gray suit. His chiseled features were bronzed by strokes of the sun and lightly weathered in a rugged, daring way. A striped fedora hat tipped over one eyebrow, partially obstructing one of his extraordinary aquamarine eyes. She swallowed. Heavens, he’s incredible.

His voice came out with smoky ease. “Hope you don’t mind me sharing this compartment with you.”

Her hands choked her gloves. She forced a light smile. “I didn’t pay for a full compartment. Only a seat.”

He pulled off his hat and revealed a perfect head of slick chocolate hair. “I suppose I’ll pick one then.”

“You have a few to choose from.” She motioned to the empty, floral-patterned cushions.

His eyes swept over the small space. With fluid, deliberate steps, he strode to the seat directly across from her.

An alluring scent of spiced musk rolled past her nose. She breathed in the rich cologne. My goodness, he smells delicious.

He paused before sitting and peered at her. A glimmer of mischief crossed his eyes. “I think I like this one. If that’s okay with you?”

Her heart fluttered. “That would be fine.”

“I hoped you’d say that.” He lowered to the seat.

She bowed her head to hide the rosiness surfacing on her cheeks. Is he flirting with me? She stole a glimpse in his direction.

He stared at her.

Her cheeks reddened more. He saw me look. Should I say something? What would I say? I suppose I could introduce myself.  I should probably introduce myself. Or is that too….

He interrupted her thoughts. “Where are you heading today?”

“Eliza Brickman,” she blurted.

“What?”

“New York City! I mean my name is Eliza, and I’m headed to New York.” She could taste her stupidity saturating her tongue.

“I’m pleased to meet you Eliza-headed-for-New-York. I’m Warren Moore-headed-there-too.” His mouth curved into a sultry smile.

She was sure her heart failed to take a beat.  

The train’s whistle howled.

She jumped. Without a second warning, the train lurched forward offsetting her balance. Her face plunged into Warren’s chest as her hands grabbed the top of his thighs.

He grinned with shock and enjoyment. “Most ladies demand a date before embracing, but this works for me.”

She scrambled backward, her eyes bulging in horror.  “I–I–I am so sorry! The train moved so quick that I lost my balance and I—”

He held up his hand. “Don’t apologize. You may sit on my lap for the duration of the trip if you’d like.”

Her mouth dropped open. She knew her eyes looked like saucers.

“I’m only teasing. But I have to say.” He leaned forward. “You are a sweet doll.”

She managed a thank you.

“Any time.” His smile was suggestive.

Her mind muddled beneath the allure of his charm. She fidgeted with the pearl buttons on her gloves. Below her lashes, she saw him tilt to the side. His eyes traveled up her legs, over her hips, and paused above her midriff. Her head snapped upright.

He met her astonished eyes and smiled. “Nice ankles.”

She released a small gasp.

He opened his hands in surrender. “I’d compliment more, but that’s all I can see.”

She gasped again.

“I mean no offense. I simply wanted to appreciate the beauty before me.”

She didn’t know if she should be angry or flattered. His boldness was entirely unsettling and, well, exciting.

He changed the topic. “Do you live in New York City?”

She inhaled. “I’m going there today for the first time. Do you?”

“I do. I was visiting a friend in Jersey.”

Eliza didn’t catch the sarcasm that accentuated the word friend.

“Are you visiting someone in Manhattan?” he asked.

“No. I’m going to pursue a career as a singer. I want to make albums and perform. I want to hear those wonderful rhythms of jazz and see New York City in all its glory.”

A throaty laugh burst from his mouth. “Are you sure? New York City has pretty rough edges. And most debs are lost as to what—”

“I may be a debutante, but I’m not incompetent!”

“I’m not trying to insult you baby, but New York is no playground. Sure it’s a land of opportunity, but you’ve got to know where to go…and where not to. Besides, you’re gonna stand out.”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at you.” He indicated with a wave. “Long dress. Gloves. Hair piled on your head, even though a ringlet has managed to sneak out.”

She brushed the curl behind her ear.

“Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the black curls. But Manhattan girls aren’t like you. They wear short skirts and smoke like chimneys. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure you can handle it.”

His words stirred her insecurity. If he thinks I can’t handle it, maybe it is too dangerous. I don’t know anyone or anything about New York. Why on earth did I let Hugh talk me into this? Her shoulders drooped. She felt defeated once again and turned despondently to the window. Maybe I should go home. Then a new thought occurred to her. If I go home, they win. Again. Her eyes darkened. I won’t let others continue to dictate my life. I can’t retreat at the first sign of opposition. I said I have what it takes. It’s time to prove it.

It didn’t matter what others thought. She wanted to live. Not for her father. Not for her mother. But for herself. She trained a pair of blazing blue eyes upon him. “How dare you judge me? You know nothing except what you see on the outside. I’ll do better than survive in Manhattan; I’ll be great in Manhattan! I will sing and perform. No one and no city can stop me.”

A subtle smirk crept to his lips. He hadn’t expected this feistiness. Maybe there’s more to this girl than meets the eye. “I did judge you, and I apologize. With that attitude, you’ll do fine.”

“I’ll do better than fine.” She crossed her arms.

His eyebrow arched. Spirited little dame. Leaning forward with a hand on his knee, he spoke in a low, husky tone. “You sure will. I think you’re going to like New York City.”

1920-train-interior-post

1910-Old-Penn-Station-Concourse
Penn Station in the 1900’s

SO HOW ABOUT YOU?

Is it time to chase your dreams?

IS IT TIME TO STAND UP AND SAY: “I WILL BE GREAT!”

Tell me your thoughts and what this scene meant to you.

Picture References:

Picture One (Interior of Railway Carriage) – http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=38753&l=en

Picture Two – http://knickerbockervillage.blogspot.com/2009/05/1920-elevated-train-interior.html

Picture Three – http://fineprintnyc.com/blog/evolution-of-new-york-city-part-3-1905-1910

Building Our Home Update

Baby, oh baby. Things are moving along quite fine with our building project!

Since my last blog, the house has taken more shape. The roof is complete, The windows and doors are in, the electric and plumbing has been done, the showers are installed, and the drywall is complete. Tomorrow the drywall finishing begins! Ooo-la-la.

Here are some photos to catch you up:

IMG_0470

IMG_0469

IMG_0476

IMG_0478

IMG_0479

IMG_0480

IMG_0477

IMG_6786
Bella heading into the woods to help her dad put out the deer snacks: beets, corn, and “Lucky Buck”
WGI_0008
The snacks worked!

WGI_0001

When Pigs Fly

Recently, we acquired this picture for our living room. We don’t have a lot of artwork, but this piece, we’ve loved for a long time.

It’s called, “When Pigs Fly” by Michael Sowa.

Each time I look at this little pink pig jumping off the dock, I smile. He’s an adventurous little guy.

Does he know how to swim? I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t either, but he’s sure gonna find out soon. The pond looked refreshing, and he felt like jumping in.  He didn’t tip his little hoofed foot in first, no, instead he flew off the deck at full torque.

A pig jumping into a pond might seem out of place and crazy, but that’s what’s so special about this picture. The little pig doesn’t care what others think he should do or should be, he’s determined to fly.

Dream

It’s good to dream.

It’s good to have something that you’re passionate about, something that you aim for. It’s good to shoot for the moon. Why not take a break in the stars…relish in their beauty for a while.

Think for a moment. Is there something you’ve always desired to achieve? Is there a dream that you’ve stifled within your heart for fear of failure? Is there something you wish you’d have done today, but perpetually postpone for tomorrow?

Go ahead. Dream with me.

Many of Norman Rockwell’s paintings demonstrate this very idea: DREAM…

Body Building. 1922.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/37055549@N00/387735686/
The Music Man. 1966.
www-wikipaintings-orgennorman-rockwellthe-music-man-1966.html
Gramps At the Plate.
http://www.best-norman-rockwell-art.com
Letterman. 1938.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Norman-Rockwell-Football-Hero-Print-LETTERMAN-/360126513117
Top Hat and Tails.
http://www.artbrokerage.com
Dreamboats. 1976.
http://www.artbrokerage.com
Artist’s Daughter.
http://www.artbrokerage.com/artist/Norman-Rockwell/Artist-s-Daughter-21500
Antique Hunter.
www-wikipaintings-orgennorman-rockwellelection-daysupersized-artistpaintings-247793.html
1944-The American Way.
http://www.flickriver.com/photos/x-ray_delta_one/4010505450/
Canine Solo.
http://www.barewalls.com/pv-391834_Canine-Solo.html

Ohhh the possibilities!

Dreaming…

Try it on for size. You might find it fits.