Tuesday, May 31, 2011


A day filled with misconceptions
A hour I dare not remember
So much I do not know
and so much I care not to know
foolishness is beginning to become me
will I ever feel competence?


I love that tale that sounds the best
I like the optomistic
I'm friend to the early bird
and my affection is with the robin red breast
I do not listen to the pessimist
nor the man who frowns
who tells me things that make me sad
and spoils all that is glad.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Truth comes from the messy bits

One of the most heart-wrenching parts of my writing is discovering just how much my characters are apart of me. Every time I read back through a manuscript, I manage to find that one of my character's biggest struggles was mine... at some time or another.

Astrid (Into Astrid's Heart) struggles with rejection and acceptance. Astrid has this terrible blemish and she makes more of it than it is. She believes deep down that no one can accept her because of it. This fear worms its way into her personality. She becomes haughty and rude. She puts others up on a pedestal - holds them to higher standards - because supposedly, they can reach the heights that she believes she can't. It ruins many of her relationships. It takes the love of Gabriel to prove to her that God loves her the way she is, and others too.

Lucia (Lucia's Story) too struggles with rejection - but in a different form. Lucia fears that she'll say the wrong thing when she's around others, and that fear haunts her. It becomes so terrifying for her that she clams up and fears to speak a word to anyone - in a sense, she is mute. Her first love, Wynn proves that he wants to hear whatever she has to say, but when he's gone, and as Christopher Brandin finds a place in her heart, she faces the fear once more. She fears that she'll offend someone who isn't alive to be offended. It takes Chris's persistence and God's work on her heart to show her that she is loved and accepted - not necessarily by everyone, but by those who really matter in her life.

Vilmar Hansson (His Sweet Christin), whom I have yet to introduce, struggles with anger. He puts his faith in Christin to help him control his temper. When Christin leaves Spring Valley, Vilmar finds anger ragging within him, and he gives in to it, letting it take control of him. When Christin returns to Spring Valley, he finds himself calming, but he refuses to consult God concerning everything in his life - even his courtship. His anger has to destroy everything he's tried to attain on his own to show him that God has a part in his life that he never wanted to acknowledge. It takes Christin to show him that a perfect life is one founded in a relationship with Christ, who can defeat even the worst of habits.

Rebecka (Rebecka's Fragile Heart), you might have met her in Into Astrid's Heart, has been named "the Spring Valley Princess." She's the goody two shoes of her cousins. But as people began to point out what a good girl she is, and what a role model she is, the rebellion in Rebecka's heart begins to grow. She wants to defy everything that people expect of her. But her heart is put to the test when her rebellion gets her in trouble. Rebecka has to realize that who she is is who God made her to be, and the only way to find contentment is to thrive where God has put her, instead of trying to change.

I have to laugh, my newest character, Allison (Beyond the Water's Flow - working title) also struggles with rejection and acceptance. Allison left he home in Boston because of rumors that caused her disgrace. Now in North Bloomfield, California, she tries to make a fresh start and become a new person. In Bloomfield, she has no past that others can hold against her - she is new, whole and pure in reputation. It's not an easy task however, to keep who she was out of the new image. It keeps coming back to bite her. Allison has to learn that who she is in God's eyes is all that matters. If she keeps his commandments, then whatever others think of her doesn't matter, because God approves.

Maybe writing is how I deal with the issues in my life. Maybe as the characters, work throught their dilemnas, I find healing as well - I'm not sure. All I know, is that I have a BIG God, and he uses all different kinds of methods to teach me the things he has in store for me. Sometimes I have to learn the hard way... the messy bits of my life rising to the surface for all to see. Other times, he gently guides me to the truth.

But from what I've been told... the best writing, with the best emotions explained, comes from personal experience.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I've been working on developing Ian's character over the past week, and I think I want to give him a horse. All western doctors need a horse with a personality - at least, that's my opinion.

This is my horse... Flea

She's got more personality than any other horse I know, and I think I'm gonna model Ian's horse after her. Flea is an extremely spirited Arab, and put simply, you just have to love her for who she is. If she doesn't like something, she tosses her head and puts up a fight, and she loved to have her shoulders, neck and chest itched. If you're not itching the right spot, she sways back and forth. It's a rather funny sight.

It'll be interesting to see how Ian's horse turns out. Throw some horse names my way that I can use!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Put some meat on it!

A story isn't a story without some fleshing out. Allison's story is about a fourth of the way done, but I'm finding it's getting harder and harder to write. The ideas for scenes simply aren't coming to me. I have a skeletal structure for the story, but now it needs some meat on it. I can't simply outline what happens for my readers, I have to describe it for my readers and tell them exactly how it happens.

Now for a question....

If I post a sample chapter from Allison's story that gives you an idea of what's going on in her story, will you, my followers, search your minds for some scene ideas? Scenes between Allison and Evelyn, Allison and Abbie (you haven't met her yet), Allison and Ian, Evelyn and Ian, Allison and Sam, Sam and Ian, etc. I cannot promise that your ideas will be used, but they might get my creativity flowing again.

I think I just might have to dedicate this book to the people who help me out with this =)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A scene that isn't working

I am working on a scene is Allison's story. But the creative flow just isn't happening. Have you ever had the desire to write, but whatever you write just doesn't sound right?

At the moment, I'm working on a scene that takes place after an argument. The scene is awkward in itself.

While sitting down for "dinner" - meaning lunch - Evelyn asks Ian to ask the blessing over the meal. For reasons that would give away the story, I cannot explain why Ian is reluctant to do as she asks. Evelyn blows up at Ian over the issue. As the room grows deadly quiet, Ian is called away to attend to a drunk who has tipped his buggy and the lady with him. Evelyn and Allison, who sat quiet and uncomfortable throughout the entire exchange, finished their dinner in silence.

The following scene is the one that bothers me. The purpose of the scene is for Evelyn to give hint at Ian's sorry past. At the moment, I have them washing the dishes, making small talk as Evelyn sweeps the arguement under the rug. Allison is extremely uncomfortable with the way Evelyn and Ian don't resolve their arguement.

If you have any ideas for this scene, let me know =)

Friday, May 20, 2011

The littlest things

Writer's block gets me stuck often enough... and right in the middle of a manuscript too! It drives me absolutely crazy and sometimes, it seems as if there's nothing I can do about it. But after facing this problem time and again, I've begun to notice a trend.

Every time I get writer's block, I pick up a side story that has been sitting on my flash drive forgotten. After working on that side story for a week or so, something always happens to get me back on the original story, newly inspired.

Sometimes the inspiration comes from a scene in that side story, or something that happened during my day. Most often, the inpsiration hits me when I'm doing mundane things... like watering the lawn, or cleaning the bathroom, or picking up after the dogs.

Those little mundane jobs get the creative parts of my head going like nothing else. Entire scenes will play through my mind till I just can't wait to get back to the computer to write it all down. The characters speak to me during those times, exposing the things that make them tick.

Don't let writer's block get you down. Let "the boys/girls in the basement" do some work, as James Scott Bell says.

Happy Writing!

"Humbug Day" at North Bloomfield

Humbug day is exactly a month from today!

On June 11th, North Bloomfield of Malakoff Diggins State park is hosting "Humbug Day" to celebrate the town's history. they are promising food, refreshments, games, tours and of course, the blast from on of the hydraulic monitors! See one of my previous post for a video I found of this special event.

Now, don't go asking one of the park rangers about Allison while you're there (if you do attend) - they won't know what you're talking about. You can tell them that a new and aspiring author is working on a story set in North Bloomfield. But don't go asking about Allie!

It would be an event worth attending whether you're interested in learning more about this "north bloomfield" I've told you so much about, or if you just love the Gold Rush or California History.

Happy writing/reading/traveling =)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

promo cover!

At least... you can call it that. I've been playing around on GIMP for a few days, and I've come up with two possibilities for a promotional cover/poster/whatever for Allison's book.

And then there's this one. I prefer this one myself =)
Post your opinions below. If you have any ideas for something different, let me know.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

As time goes by...

I started writing when I was in eight grade and it seems like such a long time ago now. My first story ever took its shape inside a half-used English notebook. The cover was purple and the pages were falling out, but it was completely filled once the story began to really get going. I never finished The Story of Cassandra Brookins, and so it remains in that tattered old notebook, but it really doesn't matter, because I started other writing projects that carried me on to where I am today.

In the eighth grade, I felt like I was an outsider in this group of people who accepted me. So I started writing to feel my miserable hours in class and during recess. Cassandra was a funny thirteen year old girl who played pranks on her older sister and laughed with her twin brother. She carried me to a place where I didn't feel so alone. Writing had caught me by the throat and wasn't about to let go.

Looking back on that first story, I see it for what I wanted it to be when I was thirteen, but I also see the horrible writing mistakes. I used the same words and adjectives over and over again. I see spelling errors and punctuation errors. The mistakes are numerous. But that's were I began.

The next school year, the feeling of being alone in a group of people lingered, and so, I sat down at my computer and tried to write other stories that could take me away. I'd start one and it wouldn't grab me the same way The Story of Cassandra Brookins had, so I'd start another. Then, Into Astrid's Heart began to formulate in my head.

I had just finished reading Lauraine Snelling's A Touch of Grace. She wrote about a Norwegian family making their home in America in a town called Blessing. I was inspired.

You see, my family has a Swedish heritage that has always held interest for me. So I began to plot out the Hansson family tree (forgive me, in Astrid's story, I spelled it Hansen, which is not the Swedish spelling of the surname). I created Great-grandparents, and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.

Then I saw Astrid's name, right in the middle of the family tree and I smiled. I really liked Astrid Dahlquist. Something about her intrigued me - she seemed to embody so much of me. I could see her fear of rejection and the haughty wall she built up around herself and I saw how much she acted like me.

So I gave Astrid a reason to be that way - I gave her a limp. Then I made her bossy and all these other magnified traits I had at the time. Then I began to write.

It just flowed out of my head, and as Astrid began to solve her problems, I found God working in an incredible way in my life, solving the same issues in me.

... And my writing wasn't all that bad! I had told the story of Astrid in a way I could be proud of. During the time when I kept starting all those new stories that just couldn't grab me, I had learned a lot about how to describe a scene and create dialogue between people. I also had learned about conflict and how to resolve it. Astrid's story really benefited from all the flukes I had written before.

I self-published Into Astrid's Heart in the summer of 2010, and so far, I've sold 13 copies. I know very well that the writing isn't as good as some more professional pieces of fiction, but it holds a special place in my heart, even as my talent grows, ans I look back on it and cringe at all the "was's" "had's" and "ly adverbs," it still reminds me of how far I've come and what writing has taught me and helped me deal with... as time goes by.
After Into Astrid's Heart, I began working on a story about her cousin, Lucia Hansson. Lucia's Story will undergo some editing during this summer, and should be available on Amazon.com by August of 2011 or sooner. the sequel to Lucia's Story, His Sweet Christin, is undergoing some major revsion as well. I cannot say when it will be available. Currently, I am working on His Sweet Christin's sequel, Rebecka's Fragile Heart as well as Allison's Tisdale's story. 

Don't be afraid when you look at your first manuscript and gasp in horror. Writing is a craft, and must be learned through practice. The more you write the better you will become. So set aside your first manuscript (don't throw it away!!!) and start working on another story. Then, after a few months... or years... pull your first manuscript out again and laugh as you compare it to what you're writing now. You'll be surprised at what you've learned. 

Happy Writing!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Editing Process

Allison's story is coming along, but for this story (unlike Into Astrid's Heart) I'm doing my editing a little differently. There are two primary ways of editing a manuscript.
  • editing as you go. i.e. pausing every twenty pages or so and looking for typos and inconsistencies.
  • editing once the rough draft is fully done
Normally, I edit a manuscript once it's complete, but this time, I'm editing as I go. Both techniques have their ups and downs. Editing once it's complete, can be difficult if the story has a major plot problem and may require a lot of revision. Editing as you go can feel, not necessarily be, very time consuming.

For Seat of the Pants writers like me, editing once the manuscript is complete may seem more reasonable. We tend to write as the inspiration hits us, and we don't like stopping in the middle of a scene to go back and look for errors. But Seat of the Pants writers also have a very hard time writing good plots. If you write when the inspiration hits you, try some self discipline and edit as you go, it may be easier to correct plot problems.

For Plotters (writers who spend much of their time planning incredible, layered plots, with well developed characters) editing once you finish a manuscript may be easier, especially if the writing of the story doesn't come as easily to you.

So persevere in the editing process! Both ways can prove difficult. It's hard to take a knife to your creation. And don't be afraid to find someone who you can critique with - someone who really knows what to look for and what editors will look for. My critique partner, Esther, is simply amazing at finding the flaws in my work. It hurts at first, but their advice can be extremely helpful if you take it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Evelyn Davis

North Bloomfield, California
April 23, 1874
Dear Charles,

It took some doing, but I got my Ian over fer supper tonite. He had all these excuses bottled up in him, but none of them put me off. Felt real good to have him sitting across the table from me - like he used to when he was little. Don't ya miss having Maggie and her kids around?

Fer a while, all he could talk about was my foot. Kept asking if it was healing all right. I had to coax a bit, but I got him talking about how he was doing. I got him to talk about his health, and iffen he was lonely. But when I asked about Alistair,  Ian just frowned at me and ranted on and on about being abandoned when he needed him. His face always gits that real funny look when I talk about Alistair. His mouth turns straight as a line and his eyes git real hard. 

He don't like to believe thet God kin give free will and allow bad things to happen. 'Member how we were talking about thet afore ya left? He likes to know thet God won't force him to trust his saving grace, but he don't git how God couldn't have forced his pa to stay. He's real confused. Sometimes I wonder where my little Ian went.

He let me hug him before he trudged back over to thet combination of a clinic and a house he calls "home." Ian stood stiff in my arms, but after a while, he loosened up and hugged me back. Thet boy is so bitter he makes hisself lonely. I think he liked being hugged. I wish his ma were here. He needs her real bad.  

I cain't wait till ya git yerself back here. I miss ya, Charlie. So ya better finish up whatever ya got to finish and come on home to me. Besides, Ian needs ya too. Between you and Rory, thet boy always has a reason to keep going. But now thet Rory's gone, he needs ya.
All my love,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Allison Tisdale

April 23, 1874

Dearest Diary,

I cannot recall a time when I have gone so long without changing my clothes or a decent bath! My traveling frock is brown! (It was sage green) My cheeks are stiff and stained with dirt and tears. The others on the train don't seem to mind the soot at all, but I am not a seasoned traveler, and have yet to become used to the grime. 

I've reread Mr. Hancock's letter over and over again, hoping to see a bit more of his character in his letters. He seems to be very modest and gentlemanly. He keeps catching me off guard, however, every time I read his inquiry as to my being an eastern lady. Are the western raised women not of the same standards as those of us raised int he east?

To pass the time, I "people watch." Mamma always told me that staring is impolite, but on a train, it is almost impossible! There are such interesting characters! Only yesterday, the was a round, balding man that boarded the train. He is sleeping just now, slouched over in his seat just across the isle from me. His cheeks are as pink as I could ever have imagined on a man, and his mustache is long and untrimmed. Every time he breathes, it floats up and then back down to rest against the corners of his mouth! 

There was another lady who boarded yesterday - she's sitting in the seat behind me.She has the most ridiculous hat I have ever laid eyes on. Large plumbs of ostrich feathers cover the crown and dangle down into her face. She keeps blowing on them to get them away from her nose. I suppose they must tickle.

A young girl, about my age actually, sits in the seat across from me. She appeared to be rather normal when I first spotted her and patted the seat across from me so that she would sit - we're both traveling alone. But when she began to speak, I had to school my features. She asks the most outrageous questions!

"Do you like cats with long hair? My cat had long hair. She died shortly before I had to leave. So sad."

"Are you much older than you look? I'm told that I look much too serious for eighteen. you look like you could be twenty-five at least!"

"Do you like blue or black ink? I stained my other traveling costume with blue ink while I was in the carriage. It's useless now. I shan't be able to change clothes at all!"

I have no idea what to think of her. I don't even know if I answered any of her questions. She just rattled on and on about her own answer to the proposed question. When she finally tired of talking incessantly, her head fell back against the seat cushion and she began to snore rather loudly. I could only sigh with relief. I can only hope that my Mr. Hancock is normal enough. But then again, what is normal? I'm sure I'm not.

Till I write again,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Opinions requested

If you've been reading along, following Allison's story, you've probably been tossing ideas around in your head about where her story will go, where it will end. Will she escape her sister's hurtful actions by going to California?

By commenting on this post, I'd like to know what your ideas are. I want to to know what you think will happen to Allison and Ian - hopefully you've met Ian through some of the excerpts from his journal. Obviously, I hope that you haven't formulated some happy ending, problem solved solution for Allie. Something has to go wrong for her when she gets to North Bloomfield =)

Have fun!

List of Characters introduced thus far:
  • Allison Emilia Tisdale
  • Marilyn Tisdale 
  • Caitlyn Tisdale
  • "Papa" Tisdale
  • Ian Alistair McConnell
  • Evelyn Davis
  • Samuel Hancock

Ian McConnell

April 16, 1872

I went to check Sam's sprain today. Turns out he didn't follow my instructions and went to work the following day regardless. It's now twice the size it was when he first came in. I really had to work hard not to pull out my hair. The man is as dense as can be!

While I unbound the ankle and checked it, Sam when on and on about his bet. His friends had been jesting with him earlier in the week about eastern women. Somehow they came to the conclusion that Sam could never land one if he tried and they made a bet of it. Sam must have gained an eastern bride if he won the bet. He kept using the name Allison. That must be the poor lady's name.

Sam's ankle should be fine if he stays off it now - he can't exactly stand on it anyhow - it should be fully healed given a week. If Sam can't stay off it, I'd expect no less than two weeks recovery.