Curious? My post is featured today on the Independent Writers of Chicago blog: http://www.iwoc.org/stet-blog/6050924
Come on over . . . I’d value your comments!
I just watched a movie some would call a ‘sleeper.’ To those from this latest generation, that word is outdated. But, I’m sure they could come up with another term to describe Goodbye, Christopher Robin. I would call it a gentle film, one that grows into its own significance. It’s ‘slow’, or maybe even ‘long and drawn out,’ but definitely worth the watching.
Whether most of the details are accurate or not, I do not know. But it is based on the life and inspiration of A. A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh. Milne has come home from the ‘war to end all wars’ with shell-shock, and desperately needs to forget the past. After being left alone for two weeks with his son, Christopher Robin, he finds solace in the country taking walks and watching ‘Billy Moon’ (his son’s nickname during his childhood) play make-believe with his stuffed animals. Soon, Milne’s proverbial writer’s block disappears as he begins to capture this imaginary world on paper.
But, I will stop here, not wanting to spoil the ending for you!
By the end of the movie tears flooded my eyes. So many thoughts began to swirl in my head: Should a writer sacrifice his family for a greater cause? Is it wise to place your child in the limelight? Is it best to ‘write what you know’? Do we ever realize what our actions truly beget until the end? I can’t answer these questions for you. Only one’s conscience and conviction can.
I got to thinking of other stories written for the same reason: to take people’s minds off the horrors of war. Folks needed a place to escape. A place to heal. And a place to grow in understanding God and the world.
So, I looked up the top movies from the post war era (40’s and 50’s). Although many were focused on the war itself, (and surprisingly, mysteries were popular as well), here are three I would say gave hope and an opportunity for escape):
It’s A Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street
Can you think of others?
Then, I turned my thoughts towards children’s books written post-war, and came up with a number to fit the ‘take our minds off the war and it’s effects’ category. Some, of course, were set during the (Second world) war, such as The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, but others brought the reader to a safe place— one that spoke of home, security and simple joys. Or, they carried one away completely with lighthearted humor:
A Bear Called Paddington
Little House on the Prairie
Cat in the Hat
Make Way for Ducklings
The Little Prince
Can you add to this list?
So, as a writer myself, I often ponder the reason I write. Sometimes it’s to inform. Sometimes to teach. Always to inspire. And at times to cause my readers think, Wow! That’s amazing. I didn’t know that!
And just maybe, to smile at the odd and clever things in life. . .
What is your raison d’être?
Hmmmm. He's non-existent in quite a few nativity scenes in my neighborhood. As my imagination ran wild a couple of years ago, I pondered 'what would happen if' . . . and came up with this 349 word story that solved the mystery.
It's a theme that has been on my heart for quite a while . . .
Help! Baby Jesus is Missing!
Molly stood in front of her neighbor's house, looking at a forest of lighted decorations. There was a snowman, a tin soldier, a candy cane, a candle, and of course - Santa and his reindeer.
In the center were Mary and Joseph, bowing low over the manger. But, it was empty! Where is the Christ Child, Molly wondered?
"It's His birthday soon. Jesus can't miss His own party!"
Maybe the tin soldier would know.
"No, Miss," he said, "I'm just keeping the peace. Try the snowman."
The snowman looked strange.
"Have you seen Jesus?" she asked.
"I can't see. They've forgotten my button eyes. Sorry! Maybe the candy cane can help."
She hoped so. But Molly was disappointed.
"I'm too busy straightening my pretty red bow. I haven't seen him."
"We must find him," she said in despair. "Christmas is coming soon!"
"Ask Santa," the candy cane suggested.
"Yes!" Molly said. "Santa would know."
She tugged on the sleeve of his red velvet suit.
"Santa? Santa! Jesus is missing. Can you help?"
"Can't stop now, little girl. It's almost time to deliver my gifts. Ask the candle."
So she did.
"Mr. Candle, can you help the Christ child find his way back to the manger?"
"Not tonight. Ask His parents."
"Mary? Joseph? Where is your Son?"
"He's coming soon, child. Very soon. He will be pleased to know you were waiting for Him," said Mary.
"Those who are wise seek Him," said his father. "Be patient, and He will appear."
Molly waited. Two whole days. On Christmas morning, there in the manger, was Jesus. Hands outstretched. His parents lovingly bowed in reverence.
Molly clapped her hands in joy.
"He's here! Just in time. Happy Birthday, Jesus!"
The lawn decorations joined in.
"To the Prince of Peace!" said the soldier.
"You warm our hearts," said the snowman.
"Our sweet baby Jesus," the candy cane said.
"The greatest gift!" said Santa.
"The light of the world," said the candle.
"Wise men still seek Him," Joseph declared.
"Our waiting is over," said Mary.
"You've finally come!" Molly said. "Welcome to our world!!"
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!
Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their release of their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.
Because Angela and Becca have spent the last year exploring painful human struggles, they wanted to highlight a very important aspect of overcoming difficult circumstances: it can make us stronger. I promised to let Angela hijack my blog today, so please read on!
Hi everyone! When you set out to find examples of inner strength, you don’t have to go very far. Right here in the writing community we see it every day. Writers more than anyone understand the swirl of emotions as we work toward publication. We dream of making it and seeing our books in the hands of readers…yet doubt and frustration can be a constant companion. For us, there is a lot to learn, much to steel our nerves for, and unfortunately, a host of real-world problems that can try to derail us. And, even as we slowly move forward and grow, we can sometimes feel like impostors. This is a tough road.
But the fact that writers face this battle, day after day, and KEEP GOING…this should be celebrated! We need to be reminded that we are much stronger than we sometimes believe. We dream, create, and force ourselves to keep striving. Through the ups and downs, we persevere!
Have you encountered something on the writing road that made you question yourself? Have you faced an obstacle that required a force of will to get past?
If so, we want to hear about it! Join Becca and me at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th, where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell us about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, join this event by writing a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.
We also have a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost, so stop by Writers Helping Writers. I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!
If you struggle, remember to reach out to others. We are in this together, and by supporting one another, we cross the finish line together (and then keep going!).
We pulled into the port of La Coruña around breakfast, had our foreign 'face check' assuring the Spanish government we were indeed who we claimed to be, then disembarked for our city tour.
The shoreline went on for miles, as it snaked around the city. It was difficult to tell what was beach and what was port. No wonder this became the largest port on the Northern Iberian Coast, launching not only commercial ships, but warships (the Spanish Armada) and expeditions—ships exploring new routes and lands.
La Coruña is also known for its 2,000 year old structure, the Tower of Hercules, the oldest functioning Roman lighthouse in the world. Originally it had a ramp oxcarts used to bring wood up to light the warning fires before electricity was invented. Unfortunately it was on the other side of town, and, since we left port later than expected, we never had the chance to see it.
Supposedly, Hercules fought a giant, cut off his head, and buried it with the monster's armor close the shore, and built the lighthouse on top. Which is why, according to myth, Hercules is attributed with the founding of La Coruña. To my best knowledge, it means crown. Whether that means the kingly sort, or the top of the head, I'm unsure.
The first thing we noticed were the apartments lining the shore, having many glass paned windows facing the sea. When Caesar first came to La Coruña, he found a small fishing village, but, due to the rich minerals in the area, it became a thriving commercial port. The fishermen lived in these apartments and would pull their boats up under the arches at night, since the water came up to the building in those days.
Since the area was very humid and rainy, they enclosed the porches, inside and out (beginning in 18th century), where warmth and humidity built up during the day. At night when it was cooler, the inside porch windows were opened to let in the warmed air. Ingenious!
And here is a fancy version in the downtown area of La Coruña. . .isn't it gorgeous??
We visited a church who's bell tower was slightly off kilter. Not because of the architects supposed drunken state, but, to allow the sun in its zenith to enter the tower and reflect down on the alter below. I'd say he had his head on straight!
This statue commemorates Maria Pita, a brave woman who, after losing three husbands in the battle when Francis Drake returned to fight the Spanish, refused to lose the fourth. So, she entered the fight alongside him, found the emblematic flag bearer and speared him to death. Thus, Maria ended the conflict, saving the life of her sweetheart, and all the other Spaniards along with him. Hmmmm. Could be another historical fiction brewing . . .
We stopped in a sausage/ham shop where we were given a taste of the national treat: simply called jambon (ham). Raised in the country, these pigs are slaughtered, the back legs (having more meat) are buried and dried in salt for a year, then hung up for a time to lessen the fat content, then sold in shops as a snack. You see it on the left of this plate, and also hanging from the ceiling in shop in the photo above. . .
Through the years, the church has had a fast or ceremony for women who wished to conceive, since large families were important in this farming community. A few hundred years ago, they found corn to be the best crop for the cool but humid climate. Curiously, still today, engaged couples bring eggs and flour to the nuns so they can make a wedding cake to bring them good luck. Wealthy families years ago would bring their young girls to the nunnery to protect them from unwanted pregnancies before they were of marriageable age.
I was thrilled to visit La Coruña because my MG Historical novel in progress is not only set in this city, but also on a Spanish galleon, similar to the one we were sailing on. Time for research! Via our guide, I discovered there was an orphanage run by nuns that would have been standing in the early 1700’s. Good news! But then, he was told the building no longer existed. I was disappointed to say the least, but decided to visit the neighborhood anyway, to see what would have been standing when my character existed.
I found a street named after the orphanage . . .
A staircase leading up . . .
And down from the street. . .
And it would have been overlooking the bay and beach. That was good enough for me!
All in all, it was a good day . . .
Have you experienced disappointments as a writer?
My last post was a celebration of my SUCCESSES in 2016. This time, I'll share my DISAPPOINTMENTS. But, before you assume this will be a 'downer' post, let me include what I know to be true about my self . . . and ideas for improvement.
Here they are:
1. I had a difficult time focusing on one aspect of my writing. Chapter books? PBs? MG Novels? Revisions? Classes?
I'LL NEVER FIND MY FOCUS. I'M LOST!
What does my
"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself:
Yes, time flies. So, I am making the best of it by getting a clear FOCUS on my goals . . .lasting, God-honoring, inspiring. Have I spent the last year in pursuits that brought joy to my heart? Absolutely! Have I done all I could to further my writing career? Not by long shot. Can I make 2016 a record year? You bet!
I'll be sharing my successes, failures, and plans to change those failures into achievements during the next couple of weeks. Come along! Hopefully, something will inspire you, too.
Here are my successes, as I see them, inspired by Julie Hedlund's "12 Days of Christmas" Challenge:
- Attending Kristen Fulton's Wow Retreat (Week of Writing)
- Wow NonFicPic: completed 7 manuscripts
- 7 days of fiction-writing: 7 rough drafts
- signed up for Alayne's ARC class and was accepted by the Institute of Children's Literature
- Sent out at least four manuscripts
- Set up Author's Blog and planned author's Bullet journal posts.
- Completely rewrote my Peacock story per conversation with a peacock expert at our Local Zoo.
-Participated in two Twitter pitch parties, even though my manuscript wasn't accepted.
- Feeling more confident as a writer to submit manuscripts even if everyone doesn't agree on how I should revise. I'm committing to submitting two or more manuscripts per month in 2016!
- Completed 12 ms this year thanks to 12x12. . .and then some!
- Listened to a number of MG novels, since professional writers are encouraging me to read what I want to write. I fluctuate between PBs, Chapter Books and an MG Novel.
- Feeling the need to 'simplify' and FOCUS on my writing. . .I'm too scattered. Just knowing that is a help!
- I'm reading, reading, reading, and analyzing, analyzing, analyzing. Looking for the hook, the plot, the descriptions.
-More thick skinned with critiques. . .I'm enjoying the challenge of revision.
-Accepted at SCBWI's 'Falling Leaves' conference. I left there knowing I had much work to do, but had great feedback from fellow writers at our Roundtable.
-I'm more knowledgeable about the process of critiquing a manuscript. . .what to look for, and how to express it.
That's it for now. . . More to come! If you like what you see, please feel free to sign up for my mailing list. I promise to have many posts full of writerly inspiration in 2016, including ideas for:
-A writer's bullet journal
-Lists of helpful posts for all stages of your writing life
-Ways to organize your writer's life and help you FOCUS on what is important
P.S. If you wanted to be inspired and challenged in your writing, NOW is the time to sign up with Julie Hedlund's 12x12 group. You'll be glad you did!
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! Above is my list for 2015. . .
Jarm Del Boccio, Author
I love to share the quirky things I see in the world. Sometimes, it's for a laugh; at other times, to teach a lesson. Or, just maybe, it will encourage you!