The Three Steps to Writing Your First Story

Benmo:

I’ve had a few story ideas over the years, but no self-discipline. Sad but true. If I was dedicated to being a writer, I’d follow these tips.

Originally posted on Jon Negroni:

For the first time on this site, I’ve opened up a post to someone else. The following is a guest think piece written by Tim Wilkinson, who was gracious enough to lend some of his advice on writing to you guys.

Tim majored in Screenwriting in college and has taken a variety of creative writing classes on the side. He moved to Hollywood and hung out with other writers while doing freelance work on the side. During his time there, he met a lot of great (and not-so-great) writers who have helped shaped his strategy for making what you make, well, great. Enjoy!

By Tim Wilkinson.

A strange mistake writers make when they decide to write something is when they think they have to start by crafting a novel. If you were just learning how to sew, you wouldn’t start by making a California King-sized quilt, just like if you…

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The Effect of Blessing an Unborn Infant

Benmo:

Simply lovely!

Originally posted on joy of nine9:

I call on all parents to bless and nurture their unborn children and then their infants and children by praying scripture, Catholic blessings, or by speaking words of life right to their spirits. 

Fact: An unborn child hears and reacts emotionally not only to his mother but also to the people and activity around him.

baby

Prenatal babies have personalities before they are born. As any mother can tell you some babies move around energetically both in and out of the womb, while other infants are physically passive. Some infants are night owls both in and out of the womb and others actually sleep well at night.

Nurses will point out to new parents that their newborn quickly turns towards the voices of their mother, father, siblings and even grandparents. So that means that an unborn child hears what is happening and remembers what he has heard while he was still…

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7QT: SOTG, leftover leftovers, ants, sandbox fun, thrifty finds, letting go and knitting

— 1 —

Amazon.com wirelessly delivered Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book, “Something Other Than God,” to my Kindle Fire on Tuesday. By Thursday morning, I’d finished the book. Then I realized I’d forgotten to take a picture of myself reading it in an amazing place! I’ll be re-reading it SOON, so I have time to plan an fun photo in hopes of winning one of Jennifer’s contests.

It was definitely an unusual experience to read a memoir/conversion story of someone I feel I know through her blog writing. To learn intimate details of her life before blogging, especially before she blogged about ‘scorpion infestations,’ kinda threw me off kilter. Jennifer is an amazing woman. Grab her book (hardback or Kindle edition). It’s a great read!

Here’s me posing with my Kindle Fire and my blog post rough draft late at night. Think it’s goofy enough to win a prize?

Au natural

Au natural

— 2 —

This past week was the worst cooking week of my entire married life, I’m sure. How many times can a person eat leftover leftover chicken? Or leftover leftover Sausage, Sauerkraut and Dumplings? And now, leftover leftover Tacos. How can this be? (That’s right… leftover TWICE. I may instigate a new kitchen rule. After ONE leftover opportunity, the food goes in the trash or I schlep it over to my mom’s house. (She’s been schlepping her leftovers to ME–thank you Mom!–for a decade.) Is anyone else experiencing a cooking slump?

— 3 —

There are only two things guaranteed to make me swear. One is when my knitting goes horribly bad, and the other is ANTS in my kitchen. I haven’t knitted for a month, so this pretty much means that I gear up for war upon entering my kitchen. It’s been a week since the damn little piss-ants have been drunkenly carousing all over my counter, back splash and sink, and I’m sick of it. I half-drained a can of RAID around my windowsill (inside AND outside), even sprayed the countertop, and those damn ants just keep marching on, and on, driving me INSANE. Me, a grown woman, will stand at the counter for five or ten minutes staring at the wall, the counter, the windowsill, trying my damnedest to find their starting point. They just APPEAR! How can ants do that??? I think I saw some come out from behind a receptacle cover. Are they inside my WALLS??? Augh! Now I have to scrub and sterilize my sink and counters or risk poisoning my family in my quest to be rid of this scourge. Does anyone have a remedy for/against these teeny tiny itty bitty ants?

— 4 —

My husband is pretty handy and capable with DIY projects. He built a sandbox for our grandson two weeks ago. (He proudly tells me it’s all notch construction–no screws or nails!) It’s huge by anyone’s “sandbox standards.” Our daughter’s first reaction when she brought her son to us for a day of playtime was “Hey! The sandbox you made for Chris and me wasn’t that big!”

Boys and their Toys

Boys and their Toys


Our response: “He’s our Grandson… he deserves a Grand Sandbox!” It’s so big, we need another load of sand to fill it up. The sand is clean Florida sand from a local nursery named “Growing Crazy.” The sand has no rocks, but it does contain clay. It holds moisture really well and is easy to mold and make tunnels that don’t collapse. Now I need to find a laundry detergent capable of removing stains similar to those incurred when a baseball player slides into 2nd base. Any suggestions?

— 5 —

I had a strong urge to visit thrift stores last week. I found great deals on several good quality, gently used, children’s toys and books. For a fraction of retail, I scored some like-new wooden puzzles and some blocks that look like huge Lego’s (no, not Duplo). So far, G-man has ignored the puzzles, but he went nuts for the blocks. Of course, I’d built a castle and he was all about KNOCKING IT DOWN. (He’s not even two years old yet.)

The mother lode of thrift store gems was discovered at Goodwill … a wooden childrens’ easel (chalkboard on one side, wipe-off board on the other) for only $10. An Aurora Hobby Horse (retails for $34) for only $1.99, but the best of the whole lot was the Little Tikes Vacuum Cleaner for only $1.49. For those not in-the-know, G-man is very enamored of my Simplicity upright vacuum, especially the wand with the floor attachment. I taught him to “push and pull” months ago. He’ll use bats, sticks, wooden spoons, etc. as a vacuum at home, at the park, at friends’ homes… so when I found this child-size play vacuum I KNEW it would be a hit. It was and is, despite his obvious distraction by the song “Let It Go” in the movie, FROZEN. (Note: you may want to click this link… it’s the Disney link with lyrics and a bouncing snowflake to follow along. It’s pretty cool.)

Distracted by "Let It Go" song in FROZEN movie.

Distracted by “Let It Go” song in FROZEN movie.

Okay, I forgot to leave room for this gem I found on GodTube, but it’ll fit (for obvious reasons you’ll realize after watching five grown men act out a Bible story as told (literally) by 5 kids. Enjoy!

On a serious note, I respectfully request Little Tikes or the Dustbuster folks get real about making children’s vacuums REAL. G-man play-vacuumed my entire living room, hallway, his bedroom, and half the kitchen. It really stinks that I have to do it AGAIN with the REAL vacuum this weekend.

— 6 —

There’s only 52 weeks in the year, so I suppose it’s inevitable that the week my daughter’s second baby is due is also the week I’m scheduled to teach ten Jazzercise classes because my associate will be enjoying a well-deserved vacation. I’m not worried about teaching ten classes in six days, but the two 5:45 a.m. classes will be a challenge! I trust in God to get me through difficult times as well as little things in life. A Jazzercise instructor for 20 years, I am blessed to have fun and flexibility built in to my daily life and am enthusiastic to share the joy of dance & fitness with others!

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— 7 —

My Jazzercise associate will teach ten classes when I’m on vacation in Daytona Beach. I’ll enjoy quiet time while sitting poolside (or beachside). It’s only an hour from home, but a great way to get a vacation, ya know? I have BIG plans, one of which may include some swearing, if I’m honest. If you read post #3, you may have guessed that it will involve knitting. I’ve got to fix a knitting mistake before the weather cools down. I was doing GREAT with the new baby blanket for grandson #2 until I started a new skein in the MIDDLE OF A ROW near the end of the blanket. What was I thinking??? It’s best to end and begin skeins at the BEGINNING of a row, and weave in the ends. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of yarn! Let me show you what happened when I had a lapse in judgment… uh, I may have a MAJOR PROBLEM… where the hell did I put the new blanket??? All I wanted to do was take a picture to post, but the blanket is not where I thought it was. I haven’t seen the blanket for weeks! Excuse me while I have a minor panic attack…

Okay. That’s done. Now I’ll just say a prayer to St. Anthony…

Hi Saint Anthony! It’s me again. I’d be ever so grateful if you could point me in the right direction to help me find that darling blue baby blanket I’ve spent the last four or five months knitting. It has an adorable “baby block pattern.” I ask for your intercession with love and gratitude! Your sister in Christ, Monica. Amen.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. FOUND IT! YEA!

Potentially catastrophic mid-row weaving mistake.

Potentially catastrophic mid-row weaving mistake.

Hi Saint Anthony! Me again. THANK YOU SO MUCH for planting the idea it could be in my bedroom. I also received the suggestion that I clean my room soon. De-cluttering is an excellent strategy for loss prevention. Your intercessions are never taken for granted, and I know and rejoice that all glory and honor belong to Jesus Christ, our Lord!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Childhood Classics to Re-Read… and Why!

My toddler grandson is a book lover. His little book collection is mostly the “first book” card stock books with touch ‘n feel pictures; some look as if they’ve been run over by a truck a few times. The books with real paper pages are torn from the exuberance of “turning the page.” In other words, his books are well-loved and re-read several times daily, exasperating his mother when she tries to get some housework done.

“How many times a day can I read “Green Eggs and Ham?”

she texted me one day.

He’ll read soon, I’m sure. His mama started reading when she was three. So she’s got another year of reading, and longer, if he’ll let her!

When my daughter was in 4th or 5th grade, she was reprimanded in school for ‘reading too much.’ Yes, her father and I were actually called in for a parent-teacher conference because she would hide her books inside schoolbooks to read when the class assignments were complete. The teacher laughingly confessed that she wished her other students read half as much as our daughter did.

This post by Michelle reminds me of my daughter. She always has a book (or two or three) that she’s reading. She’s kept all her books over the years, and is now a new mom trying to decide where to place her 8 bookshelves crammed with books (in alphabetical order). The spare room that used to be the ‘library’ needs to be converted to a bedroom to accommodate a new addition to the family.  Perhaps she’ll de-clutter her collection, (there’s still books stored in boxes, too). I’ll have to ask her for her “Top 7″ books.

Enjoy Michelle’s list of “7 Childhood Classics to Re-read… and Why”

7 Childhood Classics to Re-Read… and Why!.

 

Death and Taxes

— 1 —

I was deathly ill for 36 hours. I’m still confused about what happened, and why I’m still alive to write this 7QT post. We ate at a local franchise restaurant Wednesday evening that I will not name because despite my initial suspicion of food poisoning, ten hours later I was betting on influenza. Every bone in my body was under fire, and felt as if the bones were flaking apart inside my body as a dry desert wind would blow pain this way, then that way. I was unable to do anything more than sleep, dream, roll over, moan, and sleep, continuously for 30 hours. My husband brought me a cup of chicken broth sometime Thursday night, and I remember trying to take a few sips of water, but sleep is what ruled my world. Thursday, April 10, came and went without me. I woke Friday morning to the realization that I’d missed an important deadline… and it cost me $50. What the heck happened to me Wednesday night?  Was it food poisoning? Was it a 24-hour bug that decided to stay a few extra hours? A “viral syndrome” is what WebMD came up with after I listed my symptoms… in addition to several types of cancers and diseases. I’ll take curtain #1 for Viral Syndrome. It’s Friday night and the pain is nearly gone except for a twinge in my lower back. I wasn’t sleep deprived. I’ve gotten plenty of sleep this week. I was so sick I even prepared myself to die in bed. I prayed the “Act of Contrition” and was ready to leave my aching, pain-wracked body.  I’m still here, thank you, Jesus!  I’ll get to meet my 2nd grandson in two months, God-willing.

— 2 —

Near-death and taxes.  My husband would have been really mad at me if I’d died before getting our taxes done on Saturday.

— 3 —

Easter dinner. I’ve committed myself to having guests for Easter dinner. How much of the house REALLY needs to be clean?  Bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, living room.  Is it okay to keep bedroom doors closed to keep guests out?  Or is that just rude?  How much is expected of someone who knocked on death’s door a week before Easter?

— 4 —

My old XP computer was one of my favorite computers. I pulled the (Internet) plug on it today in an effort to keep it from being attacked by those nameless, faceless, evil hackers who make life hell for normal folks who just want to play a game of solitaire now and then between checking eBay and posting pictures of their food on Facebook.

— 5 —

My 19-month-old grandson’s new favorite movie (after a solid YEAR of watching “Cars” daily) is “Frozen.” At any time of the day you can say “Do you wanna build a SNOWman?” and he’ll smile and his eyes will light up with joy. It’s the darnedest thing to see! Here’s what he looks like while actually watching that scene…

— 6 —

Vice and Virtue. This was the title of one of the nightly presentations given by Fathers of Mercy missionary priest Father Wade Menezes last week at our church’s parish mission “Work Out Your Salvation.” I bring it up now because I still haven’t made a commitment on which to focus my prayer and energy. I’m sure procrastination is on the vice side, so the corresponding virtue would be… what? Punctuality?  After my mysterious illness, I’d better start getting my virtues in tip-top shape!

— 7 —

Look at the time! It’s 3:24 a.m. and I’m late for bed by anyone’s standards. I’ll need to start being punctual tomorrow. But who can blame me?  I slept for over 30 hours yesterday!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes: Sleep, Real Estate and Low Expectations

7 Quick Takes: Sleep, Real Estate and Low Expectations.

It’s been years since I was the mommy to little ones, but this gal just seems to “hit the spot” of what my mothering years were like… minus the twins, of course. And she also writes about things that I imagine my OWN daughter would blog about if she weren’t overwhelmed with being a mama of a toddler with another baby due in two months. Vicarious.  Now I all I need are more photos of what her house looks like on the inside.  Yeah, that DOES sound creepy, doesn’t it?

Not dead. Just busy.

How time flies when you’re busy!  I’m up against a deadline right now otherwise I’d sit and stay awhile.  I got distracted and decided to visit my blog page, as long as I’m here, why not say “hello?”  So here it is… “Hello!” May the peace of Christ be yours as you go from point A to point B today.  Back to work now!

If you’re busy too, what are you doing (or supposed to be doing)? (Other than checking blog posts?)

IMG_5956

7 Quick Takes — Pondering 2014.

— 1 —

Happy New Year!  I know I’m not alone when I wonder just how happy is 2014 going to be when it begins with sneezing, a runny nose, congestion, sore throat, the cough from hell, and cough drop breath?  Those of you who are well and healthy, keep on washing those hands. These germs are EVERYWHERE and they WILL find you and attack when you least expect it.  If you find a sale on NyQuil/DayQuil… buy them. And tissues.

— 2 —

FAMILY. Family is my theme for 2014. Call me crazy, but this is the year I put my family before business. God bless our families and all their little quirks! What theme can you plan to focus your attention in 2014?

— 3 —

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something because there was a “learning curve” involved?  This year I’m going to scale an elusive learning curve — I’m going to seek advice and help from others in order to accomplish this goal. It’s just a computer program for Jazzercise franchisees, but it has kicked my butt for ten years. I’ve taken the first step and downloaded the program onto my laptop and now I’ve put it in writing… I will take my next baby step on Monday when I call a fellow franchisee to hire her for an hour of training. Now it’s your turn. Face a learning curve you’ve been avoiding. Conquer the curve!

— 4 —

Daily prayer in my life comes in bits and bytes during my typical day.  I have books, apps, Kindle books, alarms, sacramentals, CDs, DVDs–sometimes I use them, but mostly I pray constantly in my head and in my heart. Should I have a TIME and a PLACE each day to pray?

My cousin wrote of her mother (my Methodist aunt) reading her Bible each evening in the kitchen while her children watched TV in the living room when they were young.  Several questions popped into my head in no particular order of importance… “Did she read the Bible with her children at a different time of day?”  “Did they learn to read the Bible by her example?”  “I never had a prayer life that my children could think back and say ‘mom read her Bible each night while we watched TV.'”  My maternal grandmother was Catholic and prayed a Rosary each night in bed before going to sleep. I only know this because I lay down with her one night while visiting one summer–I was maybe 18 years old. She gave me that green plastic rosary and I use it over my other fancier Rosaries to this day. 

Gaga's Rosary

Gaga’s Rosary

 

— 5 —

This is the year I will finish painting the second bathroom. At the very least I hope to screw the light fixtures in place. It’s amazing how a project can languish after hitting a snag.  The snag in this case was the paint. It sort of “weeps and bleeds” when the room gets steamy during a shower. Total bummer. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mixed paint colors from two different types of paint?

Light fixture hanging in BR2

Light fixture hanging in BR2

There is no hope of covering the shoddy workmanship of the original owners when they used unskilled labor to hang the sheetrock and finish the walls. Some things just have to be acknowledged and accepted.  Why the wall texturing stopped four inches short of the edge of the wall is a mystery never to be solved.  Weird paint on top of crappy sheetrock finishing is barely noticeable, believe me.

Why does the texture stop 4" from the edge?

Why does the texture stop 4″ from the edge?

— 6 —

My goal of getting to bed at a decent hour each night has been squashed, and it’s only Day 3 of  2014. Did I really expect to get to bed by 11pm? My goal as I finish my 7QT is 2am. If you find errors in this post, please understand my rush to hit the sheets!

— 7 —

May the Lord bless you with faith, hope, and above all, LOVE, in 2014! 
I am joyful to have a wonderful grandson now and another grandchild in June. 

Grammy, G-man, and Grandfather

Grammy, G-man, and Grandfather

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!