Category Archives: Writing

Pre-Spring storm & #50 Precious Words

Hey, everyone!  So sorry I’ve been mostly silent. I’ve been having quite a struggle with depression and tiredness and feeling overwhelmed with things going on.

Yesterday was a good day, though. In the morning my husband and I spent 1.5 hours with the man (family business) we’ve hired to build the cabinets for our new kitchen. In the afternoon he paid us a visit at our house to do final measurements and decision-making. It’s been a long complete renovation, started in summer last year, but it’s going to be so nice when completed. My husband did all the work in our remodel to this point, and has done a very fine job. Since November we’ve had our kitchen spread over, and stored in, several rooms in our house, so not an easy way to manage meals. We’re expecting that at the end of April our new cabinets will be installed, then we can get the countertop in place (a separate piece of workmanship to match our new floor – both done by our son-in-law) and have our new appliances delivered. Yes, it’s a major undertaking after 40 years of a tiny kitchen and dining area. Save and plan, plan and save.

This is exciting to me, too:

 

 

 

 

 

Today I want to show you the pretty results of a late winter/pre-spring snow storm that came upon us yesterday and last night. Apparently, many areas – including at my house – lost power and phone lines – but not here at my dad’s. The snow is very wet, so extra heavy, and as you can see in these first photos it weighed trees right down over roads. Some we could drive under but others were so low it meant driving around them and hoping to not meet vehicles coming the other way. Unfortunately, the best shots were blurred since we were moving and swerving (cautiously to get under).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next 4 are of the view out my dad’s windows at 8:00 this morning. Snow is falling off the trees in big whomps! so when out there one does not want to be under the trees!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had barely any snow left anywhere before yesterday. Winter’s last hurrah, we hope.

A final note: There is a writing challenge called #50 Precious Words in its second year and created by Vivian Kirkfield. Entry time is over now and the many brief stories are posted for your enjoyment and are being judged. One of my stories, simplified and changed, is posted near the end of the comments/stories. I expect nothing special to come from it in the form it’s in, but it’s there anyway. You can read all the stories HERE.

What’s going on in your life as we approach a new season? I’d love to hear about it.  ♥

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

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The Valentiny stories are ready for your vote

Hi, Everyone!

Sorry I haven’t posted in over a week. I’ve been swamped.

I’m writing now to let you know the Valentiny stories are ready for your vote – if you are interested in participating in that. It’s very easy.  Susanna Hill has posted the twelve she and her helpers feel are the best ones and she’s made it easy for voting. Just read the twelve little stories, and then select in the poll the one you like best. I’ve voted.  And, no, mine didn’t make the cut.

Thank you so very much for all the kind and encouraging comments about my story.

 

 

 

GO HERE TO VOTE.

I’m still plodding along – reading many books, mostly picture books (as you can see on my books I read this year page), and hoping that I’m learning as I go. I’m behind in the writing class I’m taking (no surprise) but I find that interruptions – frequent interruptions – set me back a lot. It’s frustrating.

So, that’s all for this time.

Have you written anything fun lately? or read a book I might be interested in?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

and blessings on your day.

My entry for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny Contest

It’s that time of year again! Valentine’s Day is coming up and Susanna Leonard Hill has issued her writing challenge. Here’s what she wrote on her blog:

write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is hopeful!  Your someone can hope for something good or something bad.  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone hopeful (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 🙂  You can go under the word count but not over! (Title is not included in the word count.)

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using hopefulness and success in making us feel the hopefulness!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 🙂

If YOU want to enter her contest there is still time if you are reading this before the cut off date. If you don’t want to enter, please go to her blog anyway and read all the stories. I think you’ll even have opportunity to vote.

Here is my attempt in 208 words, I hope you like it:

                                          A Hopeful Valentine

You don't enjoy my sticky hugs, but helped me catch some icky 
bugs,
And when my best cap blew away, you gave me yours to wear
today.

A bully pushed me to the ground, but quickly knew the grief he'd 
found;
Because I'm small you stood for me, you stared him down, he let 
me be.
You held my hand to cross the street, and bought for me an ice-
cream treat.

At home you said to go away, to find some other place to play.
It's not my fault your vase got trashed and all your smelly flowers 
smashed.

You hung a sign upon your door, YOU CAN'T COME IN HERE
ANYMORE!
"Don't touch my stuff! Leave me alone! And NO, you can't play on
my phone!
Don't bother me, you little pest! Stop bugging me, I need a rest!"

I'm sorry! do you want a kiss?, I hope you'll soon get over this, 
Because when I'm afraid at night, you welcome me and hug me 
tight.

When you calm down I have for you a card I made with sparkle 
glue.
It's not a mushy valentine, because you are already mine;
You're my big sis and I love you, and by the way, you need more 
glue.



Thanks for reading, and ... Creative Musings!  :)  

It’s my 8th WordPress Blogiversary!

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 8 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

That’s the message I received from WordPress this morning. Eight years I have been blogging here! 

Looking back at the post I wrote on my 7th anniversary with WordPress, I see my goals haven’t changed much from a year ago. I did make PROGRESS, which was my word for 2017, although it’s not apparent to most people yet.  

THIS IS MY 800TH POST!

As of the time of writing this 800th post, my little blog has received 58,906 hits, up from 50,000 a year ago. Thank you for coming to read what I have to share. My official following has increased to 601 with the addition of two new people just this morning. Welcome! Do remember you can go back through my many posts, and by using the search gadget under which I have the heading FIND A WORD OR TOPIC you can be specific in your search, or you can search by CATEGORY. If you’re a writer, I hope you have taken advantage of bestselling author Sue Harrison‘s writers workshop – Writing the Third Dimension – which she generously posted here on Polilla Writes in monthly segments for three years. For free! You can find it by looking in the top bar under the heading Writers’ quotes, helps & workshops. Excellent teaching!

Over the past year I added more quotes, an author/illustrator interviews drop down menu, another contact number under Suicide Crisis Lines, and a gadget so you can read my posts in other languages for if English is a little difficult for you or maybe you are trying to learn another language. I also keep adding to Books I Read This Year, Book Reviews, Buy the Book – because .. well, I’m pretty much focused on books here. 🙂 Reading them, writing them, sharing them. 

I also have been astonished to see my most viewed post is consistently one from March of 2013, The cut worm forgives the plow.

Thank you for making my blogging life enjoyable. 

Please tell me, what has been your favourite or most helpful post here? 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

My Successes in 2017

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2017.

Since setting goals instead of making resolutions has been my way for many years now, sharing what I see as my successes feels much more positive. So, in 2017 I have surprised myself because I:

1. settled on my word for the year – PROGRESS – and set out to make it happen in my writing as much as I could manage, and grew in confidence as a writer;

2. celebrated my 7th year of blogging here on WordPress on January 9;

3. wrote 144 blog posts, including this one and one scheduled for Dec 31;

4. wrote reviews of 67 books on my blog, 42 of which were written by 12 x 12 members – past and present;

5. interviewed 3 authors here on my blog, and 2 illustrators – my first time to interview illustrators;

6. participated in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm challenge and came up with 30 ideas for stories;

7. entered Susanna Hill’s Valentiny writing contest  (my entry);

8. entered Vivian Kirkfield’s #50 Precious Words challenge (my entry);

9. participated in ReFoReMo (Reading For Research Month) and read over 100 recommended picture books to learn more about writing picture books – and the reading continues;

10. read over 600 books during the year, all but about 60 were picture books;

11. wrote a 500-word story for a writing challenge through InScribe;

12. attended an information session with other local writers, put on by the writers federation of which I’m a member;

13. attended 15 (or more) webinars about different aspects of writing, mostly regarding picture books;

14. attended a full day online Picture Book Summit & won the big prize;

15. participated in all the 12×12 webinars – except for maybe one;

16. gained a picture book writer friend through 12×12 & we share about our writing life nearly every day;

17. earned a place on the 12×12 winners wall because of writing 25 new story drafts, 18 more than in 2016, (12 are required for the win);

18. wrote 6 revisions of stories;

19. got one story polished and submission-ready;

20. submitted story (point #19) to an agent – my first time to approach an agent;

21. received a reply from agent (point #20) with positive comments and helpful advice – a champagne rejection;

22. posted one of my stories in the 12×12 critique forum and received wonderful comments and helpful critiques, one by a critique ninja;

23. was gifted a helpful critique by author Marcie Colleen to further improve my story (point #19);

24. prepared, arranged, and published my dear mother’s children’s story as a photo flip book and had 8 copies printed for family in her honour;

25. believe more deeply I AM A WRITER!

 

 

 

What are YOUR 2017 successes? No matter how small or insignificant they might seem, they add up and fit together somehow. Please share with us in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

 

 

Top 6 comma problems (infographic)

Do you ever find that as you are writing your stories, or even a letter, you get stuck on where to put a comma, or you wonder if you don’t even need one? I know I get tripped up sometimes.

Below is a helpful infographic that might be useful to you. I hope you can see it okay.  If you need to enlarge it, left click on it and a magnifying glass should pop up with a + symbol in it. Click again to enlarge. When you want to get out of it you can simply hit your back arrow to bring you back to this page … where you can leave a comment. 😉  hint hint

Top 6 Common Comma Problems (Infographic)

Top 6 Common Comma Problems (Infographic)

Do you have problems with any of these in your work?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

Interview with Janet Sketchley & a book giveaway!

Today I’m delighted to introduce to you Janet Sketchley, author of the Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series and the devotional collection, A Year of Tenacity. She’s an Atlantic Canadian writer who loves Jesus and her family, and enjoys reading, worship music, and tea. You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca.

Welcome to my interview corner, Janet. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I don’t think I’m very interesting… that’s why I write about my imaginary friends. I like my life, though, and wouldn’t trade it: I’m blessed with a wonderful husband and three adult sons, I get to live in Nova Scotia, and I love the beauty of nature, especially rivers and the ocean.

I fully understand your love of Nova Scotia’s beauty and the ocean never far from us here.  🙂 When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?

I have memories from childhood of writing some spectacularly bad stories, or at least the openings of stories. My earliest inspiration probably came from the Anne of Green Gables and Black Stallion books.

As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books or genres?

I read way too much! I’ve gone through phases of different genres, and now I read fairly widely but most enjoy clean or Christian mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy.

Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?

I’ve quit a few times ** God always nudges me back to it, and when I’m not writing, there’s a part of me that’s miserable. I think the turning point for me was realizing that I need to write, whether I’m published or not. The freedom to embrace the gift and do what makes me feel alive without needing to show proof of “success” was crucial.

I appreciate what you said as I’m still sorting out how it all fits together for me. Do you have a favourite motto or quote or Bible verse that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” That’s my life verse (and it’ll take a lifetime to fully apply it!).

Agreed! What support groups do you have in place that help keep you inspired?

I’m part of a local writers’ group who meet face to face for encouragement and critiquing, plus I’m connected to writers across Canada through The Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. I’m also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, despite being Canadian. Interacting with other writers encourages me, and I learn from those with more experience.

Great reminder. What do you remember about the very first time you were published? How did that come about?

I don’t remember much about my very first time in print, with a short article, but I was always excited to receive a printed copy of my submission. Publication of my first novel was a very surreal feeling. After so many rejections, I didn’t know what to do with a “yes.” It was a thrill to receive a box of my books and to actually be able to hold a copy of what had been a dream for so long.

How exciting! What have you had published thus far, and of those what have you most enjoyed writing?

My Redemption’s Edge series is three novels plus a bonus feature book. Each of the novels had parts I enjoyed – those moments when inspiration flows and I type as fast as I can to keep up. Also, this year I released a non-fiction book, A Year of Tenacity: 365 Daily Devotions

Bravo! I like having a daily inspirational reading, so my copy of Tenacity will be arriving soon from Amazon. What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?

This is still evolving. I’m becoming more of a plotter, more aware of the underlying structure of fiction and how best to build on it. Not that writing should ever be mechanical, but the better foundation I can lay in the planning and early draft, the stronger the final work will be, and the simpler the rewrites. For me, there will always be rewrites…

What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?

I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s OneNote software. It’s like a virtual binder, and it lets me keep track of ideas, links, images… everything that inspires me.

Sounds very convenient. What inspired you to write the Redemption’s Edge novels?

Essentially, I started writing book one, Heaven’s Prey, because it wouldn’t leave me alone and I wanted to get it out of my head. The following books in the series grew from seeds of ideas that stuck with me over the years.

How long did it take you to write each of the three books, approximately? Did you have to do much research for any of them?

From my earliest notes to the actual publication of Heaven’s Prey was almost 20 years. A lot of that was rewriting again and again, plus writing a few drafts of book two, Secrets and Lies. Book three, Without Proof, took about a year, and I would like to have had longer with it. I’m not fast at this. Each one took some research, most of which I was able to do online. Sometimes that had me wondering if I’d trigger some government agency to come check on me! I’d been a Formula One racing fan for years, so I’d already absorbed most of the racing information I needed for Heaven’s Prey.

Wow! Twenty years! It certainly paid off as Heaven’s Prey is a gripping story. I’m glad you still have your freedom after Without Proof. 😉 Did you find any of the stories difficult to write, or more so than the others? If so, how did you stick with it and why?

Heaven’s Prey was definitely the hardest. As I said, this one came to me, I didn’t go looking for it. One of the challenges in each rewrite was to deepen the hard places where I wanted to stay on the surface. I had to be true to the characters and their story without traumatizing the reader. It’s still too much for the most sensitive, although other readers tell me it’s not as dark as I say it is. This sounds crazy, but I stuck with it for the characters. I said as long as I could learn how to make their story better, I’d do it for them. That’s why I kept going back to the story even after taking a break to write the next one. If writing a novel is a form of birth, this one definitely had the longest gestation.

I find it amazing how characters we write seem to take on a life of their own and have to be heard. Heaven’s Prey is the hardest one of the three to read, but it’s worth staying with until the end. How did you go about finding a publisher? an editor? and do you have an agent?

I’ve attended the Write Canada conference for many years, and connected with my agent there. I received a couple of invitations to submit my manuscripts that way, too, although the timing (and quality!) wasn’t right. My agent and I had pretty much lost hope when I heard about a new start-up publisher in the US. I submitted my proposal with my agent’s approval, and was shocked to be accepted. The second shock was working through the editorial process and discovering how much work still needed to be done. The third was my publisher closing its fiction line, and my taking the plunge into indie publishing.

Good for you for your determination and passion! Please tell us, what honours your books have received thus far.

I’m pleased that each of the novels has been short-listed for The Word Awards in the suspense category. They didn’t win, but being a finalist is an affirmation in its own right.

Congratulations for the recognition. How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals .. daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?

This past year, I’ve been terrible at this. I do have writing goals, but have not been meeting them. Consistent, daily writing time with a solid, three-hour chunk of focus is what I need to regain.

What other interests do you have for a change from writing?

I’ve already confessed that I read too much. A special, relaxing treat is to spend time cross-stitching or knitting, often with my favourite music playing. Less relaxing but important to my health is exercise. I run twice a week, and join my husband for a couple of gym classes as well. This is not my idea of fun, but writing is sedentary and I was developing some aches and creaks.

Oh, do I hear ya regarding those aches and creaks! I get so involved in what I’m doing I forget to get up and walk around, and then I pay for it. Do you have other projects in the works? If so, can you give our readers any hints?

Fiction-wise, I’m working on a new series, the Green Dory Inn Mysteries set just outside of Lunenburg, NS. It starts with a novella that will release in the new year, followed by a full-length novel I’m writing now.

Sounds interesting! Is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be?

It’s different than I imagined when I started writing seriously as an adult, but by the time my novels were published, I’d spent enough time around more advanced writers to know they’re still human like the rest of us. It’s not glamorous or exciting, it’s long hours slogging to craft the best story we can, while balancing life’s regular responsibilities. It’s definitely not making me rich. But those moments when I hear from a reader that something has made a difference in her life? Those are priceless.

The balancing act is its own challenge, I think. Do you have any advice for hopefuls?

Involve yourself in a writers’ group with people farther ahead of you on the journey. That can be in person, but it can also be online. Listen to them and learn what to expect. Keep writing, every day if possible. Little bits add up. Give yourself permission to enjoy the process, because it’s a long one. Strive for excellence, but don’t let that paralyze you. If you can, attend a conference. It’s amazing the difference to your mindset, just being around other writers and learning with them. And like any other dream, don’t let it own you. You are more than this one aspect of who you want to be. Don’t miss the rest of life while working toward the dream.

What excellent advice, Janet, and helpful to me. Thank you! This has been a wonderful interview; I’m impressed with your … tenacity.

I’ve enjoyed all the books in your Redemption’s Edge series, and now we get to the fun stuff … the offer of one of your books to one of our readers! 

 

 

 

Readers, and writers who read 🙂 – check out my reviews of the above three books by Janet:  Heaven’s Prey   Secrets & Lies    Without Proof

Janet is giving you the chance to win one of her novels depicted above — winner’s choice. One person will win a print copy if you are within Canada or continental US, or an ebook if you are elsewhere in the world. How cool is that!

If you’d like a chance to win one of the three suspense novels shown above, simply leave a comment about anything that stood out to you in the interview, and also say which book would be your choice should you be the fortunate winner. Using random name picker I’ll be selecting one name at 9:00 PM EST on November 30, so you have a little over a week as of this posting. If your name is chosen you’ll receive an email in which I’ll ask for your information so a book can be sent to you.

And PLEASE … PASS THE WORD ALONG!

Janet’s writing is professional and enjoyable to read. You can go to Amazon (.com or .ca) to find all her books mentioned in this interview. Just type “Janet Sketchley” into their search bar to see them all.

Remember, you only have until November 30 to enter the draw, and please send your friends this way.  🙂 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂