It's Not TOO Late - Even Though It’s Quite Late
As you know, we Quills typically post on the first Friday of each month. Unfortunately, as happens with everyone from time to time, things got away from us a bit this month. Still, it’s never too late to talk about, and to do, a bit of giving. Don’t you agree? So today we post our thoughts on gift-giving—and we are including a bit of a gift to you in the form of our Fantasy eBook Giveaway. More on that to follow!
Here are some thoughts about giving from Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies.
I know what I have given you... I do not know what you have received.”
― Antonio Porchia
It has been a strange year, sometimes awful, often amazing. [And] in this time of affliction and adversity, it’s Christmas all the time…
Follow the link for more!
Next up is P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse.
Christmas is coming. It's just around the weekend corner. And I'm finished with wrapping.
I just finished reading Jonathan Stroud's Screaming Staircase, and as usual, Stroud has this incredible knack for creating unique and clever voices in his characters. His descriptions are vivid and often hysterical. (His Bartimaeus trilogy was a good example. So that's what I'm doing. Reading good books, drinking a bit of 'nog, and enjoying the Christmasy lights, music, and raucous excitement from the boys.
That's right, there's more at the link!
Now, for my thoughts ...
This is the season of giving. As I look at the many, many packages I’ve wrapped and put beneath the tree just for those in our little family (there will be six of us for Christmas Eve), I can see that it will take hours for us to go person-by-person, gift-by-gift, as is our tradition, to open them. This way everyone gets to see what everyone else got. And here’s the crazy part: there are sure to be more wrapped gifts to come when my beloved son, darling daughter-in-law, and amazing daughters show up on Christmas Eve.
So why do we give gifts, anyway? I think it's because a gift is a simple but effective way to show someone how much they mean to you, how often you think of them, how you hear them when they say there is something that they would like or could use, or even how you can see inside of them when they don’t voice those things, yet you are able to identify their wishes and desires. A gift can say, “See? I saw that need of yours.” Or perhaps it might say, “I saw this and I thought of you.” In my mind, giftgiving is an art. It is a giving of time, self, thought, and creativity. Some gifts may cost a few dollars, but it is not the cost that is important, it is the message the gift conveys.
And so today, we Quills also have a gift for you—a GIVEAWAY. You’ll notice it is just in time for the holidays. Running until January 1—New Years Day—you’ll want to be sure to enter for your chance to win. If chosen, you will get to start 2019 with a bang!
Wishing you the happiest, healthiest, most rewarding and promising holidays and the absolute best for 2019!
October is upon us and I've found as I often do come autumn, that time is flying by faster all the time. That is so true that for our post this month, we each decided to offer something we'd previously posted here or elsewhere. We're calling it "This and That," which is precisely what you are about to get.
P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse is reposting one of his most-loved prior offerings. Here goes!
As I dug back through my top shared posts, (that is, those collaboratively published with the our Quills writer’s group), I found, surprisingly, that the fan favorite, by a healthy margin, was The Prophet & the Assassin, a Jonah-like short story I published exactly one year ago.
Be sure to follow the link for more!
Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies, has something special for you. Find out more with the link!
Polishing my All Seeing Eye, I carefully scanned all the Quill posts, searching for that one treasure would light up like a beacon. That one post that everyone loved more than all the others. But wait, what’s this? There’s a tie?
That leaves me. For my part, I decided to re-post something I wrote about five years ago and posted elsewhere, entitled ...
The Bookmobile is Here!
What are your earliest memories of reading? Of finding yourself surrounded by the musty smell of books begging you to open their pages, to peruse their inner glories? I know this post will age me, but for me those memories date back to a time when I was growing up in a small rural community.
When I was quite young, we were a single-car family. My father worked elsewhere and “hobby” farmed. My mother was home with us eight—yes, count them—eight children. (Eight “girl” children, to be exact!) As you might expect, this meant that we did not often go places. Entertainment was found in our own backyard. We created stories that we sometimes acted out, encouraging the few other neighborhood children that were around, to engage with us in our make-believe escapades. One of our favorite pastimes was to play “Harriet the Spy,” a game (obviously) named from the book of the same title. With our notebooks in hand, we would try to creep up unaware on one another, taking notes of what they were doing, leaving behind little tidbits for other to find ... Finding someone’s notebook unattended offered a plethora of fascinating information about the antics of others. From whence did ideas of this ilk come? Reading—of course. And, where better to pick up those ideas than from the books we checked out from the bookmobile that made its way to our little community from time to time?
I suppose the bookmobile had a schedule. It must be that it showed up every second Tuesday or Thursday (or whatever) through the summer months. Truth to tell, I don’t remember, although my mother might. I’ll have to ask her one day. I just recall hearing those magic words from time to time: “The Bookmobile is here!” The hunt would begin for all those books we’d taken out the last time, read and then perhaps misplaced in the interim, so that we could return them and select new ones: mysteries, like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys; fantasies, like The Little Witch or Mio My Son; adventures, like The Oregon Trail; animal stories like Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows; and so on. Ahhh yes, those were the days—when the library came to us.
I have not seen a bookmobile for many long years—but I did a little research. They do still exist. It seems the first “taking of collections of books to people” was in 1893. By 1899 there were 2500 “traveling collections.” Apparently, Melvil Dewey was the genius behind the idea. (The information and statistics shared here are found here.
In very early days, some book collections traveled by horseback. By 1900 some libraries sent books by mail to those who could not even reach the traveling collections. Then came the first motorized bookmobile in 1912. In 1929 the term “bookmobile” was coined.
Check out these statistics: in 1950, there were about 600 bookmobiles; by 1956, over 900; by 1970, over 2000. As might be expected, when fuel costs increased, the number of bookmobiles decreased. By 1990 there were only about 1100 remaining, and by 2000, there were fewer than 900—roughly the same number as in 1956.
I think of children today who do not have libraries near them and wonder how many budding geniuses, how many creators of their own stories that could be shared with the world, might be lost with the demise of the bookmobile. For my part, I will always hold dear memories of those sticky hot summer days when my sisters and I would heed the call: “The Bookmobile is Here!”
Thanks for stopping by. Please share your comments. See you next month!
This month we Quills discuss what has been our biggest writing challenge regarding our current work (or works, as there may be more than one) in progress. (Incidentally, you might find this discussion on the difference between the phrases "work in progress" and "work in process," interesting.)
Reasons for delay! Goodness, but there are so many. So, where does one begin?
I thought we might start with comments from P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse. That said, I can't imagine what could possibly stand in Parker's way of getting something, anything, done! It's not like he might be busy at home with his wife and three little boys, or that he spends many hours at his full time job ... Right, Parker?
I am currently working on a distinctly different story than anything I've done before. This new novel is not at all related to The Unseen Chronicles, and while I certainly miss Essie Brightsday and the cast of characters we met in A Hero's Curse and Nightrage Rising, I am loving the new setting. Inter-dimensional travel, a mad scientist, two brothers, a detective, a runaway...There is so much to investigate and explore! So many new characters to interact with!
(Follow the link for more.)
Next is Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies. Now, I happen to know that Robin has got some things happening in her life these days, but I can't imagine they could stand in the way of her writing. Right, Robin?
My experiences in the novel-writing game are relatively few, but so far, every novel has posed at least one challenge. I’m not talking about the Usual Life Challenge that pops up every time you choose a cool project and Things Happen. Like the furnace goes out, or you get the flu, or you remember at the last minute that a Quills Post is due tomorrow… No, I’m talking about novel-specific snags and pitfalls. Like the Beisyth Web in As the Crow Flies, or the (top secret now) timeline issues in Flesh and Bone. This time, right-this-minute, I find myself surrounded by a virtual cloud of delicate perfume as I ...
(Follow the link for more.)
Ahhh ... so now it's my turn. Well, here goes!
There are so many: (1) ways to stumble; (2) reasons to delay; and (3) opportunities to turn one’s attention elsewhere. It seems in one way or another, all of these things have happened to me as I’ve worked on Volume Four of The Oathtaker Series.
As to my “stumbling,” I spent a year on a work that I am very pleased and proud of. Unfortunately, I feel compelled to wait to publish it until someone I know personally is able to come to grips with my doing so. Because the project put me behind on other things—including my writing Volume Four—I realize that in fact, I didn’t just stumble. In fact, I fell ... as in I fell way behind.
But, finally, I’ve managed to get back up and to concentrate on my new work in progress ...
As to my reasons for delay, I’m sure I needn’t dwell on them. I’m still a practicing attorney by day, and as the economy has (finally!) improved after nearly a decade of stagnancy, things have picked up at the office. As a consequence, it is harder to find down time, and harder yet to use it productively—as opposed to using it to rejuvenate. In addition, like everyone I know, there are other things happening in my personal and family life that take time and attention, causing yet more delay ... Still, I want to, I strive to, put my family first, so this is not a complaint, merely a observation ...
As to opportunities to turn my attention elsewhere, I admit that I’ve been having an unexpectedly good time writing some quick flash fiction stories of late. I never considered myself a short-story writer, but the concept of trying to tell a big story with few words has captured my imagination.
I’ve worked on stories for joint blog posts with my fellow Quills (Her Golden Hair, The Resistance, and Signs, Signs, Everywhere There Are Signs!), as well as on another story in the course of my connecting with two young women interested in writing. (Find my story, Throwback Awakening, and the story of one of these young women at the link). When I talked with these two about flash fiction, they were very excited to give it a try. Since then, not only have I spent time writing with them, but also, I’ve taken my hand to editing their materials, pointing out issues they face, researching specifics to help them to find answers, and so forth. It has all been in an effort to try to speak into their lives and their art—and that takes time. That said, I’ve had so much fun doing it, that it has pulled my attention away from Volume Four.
Finally, in truth, I spent some time waiting for inspiration. I believe it is shaping up now, but the subject matter of Volume Four can be a bit difficult at times. Consequently, it urges me to other ventures. Still, it is a subject worth addressing, and so, I go on . . .
So, there you have them—my main obstacles to writing Volume Four. Notwithstanding them all, it is in the works.
What sorts of delays keep you from getting to your projects?
As is typical, the summer months here in the north-country are quickly flying by. With August upon us, we’ve already lost, since the summer solstice, almost a full hour of sunlight per day. (So sad . . .) Still, this is a good time to reflect on the issue we Quills are pondering this month, which is: when we are away from the writing desk, what do we do? What gardening or improvement projects keep us busy? Are they inspirational? Do they help us to focus? Or ... ?
I'll go first, then present posts from my fellow Quills, Robin Lythgoe and P.S. Broaddus.
I used to be quite a gardener. I had a huge plot. I can’t even estimate its size. I grew berries, beans, corn, squash, melons, peas, and on and on. Admittedly, even at the best of times, I tended to lose a fair amount of my crop because I couldn’t eat it in time and wasn’t big on storing methods (although drying herbs or beans was always a hit with me). (That said, I usually had an abundance. Don't believe me? Check the pic here of just one wheelbarrow full of tomatoes from one year.) Also, in truth, I lost some crop to overzealous weeds that would come along about the same time that I threw my hands up and nearly quit, as I was no longer having fun.
But I don’t garden like that anymore ...
Some years ago, I designed a new front to my home with steps down to the lawn and tiers for gardens. From time to time, I revise the space. It is quite lovely. Here are a couple of different looks from over the years:
However, this, too, has become almost too much for me these days. I find with age that I do fine for snippets of time, but I don’t want to spend my days on projects of this nature—like I once did. Notwithstanding my fairly vigorous workout routines, my body just won’t put up with it anymore. I guess it’s time to hire someone. (?)
So that leaves home improvement projects. I’m re-doing a bathroom now. It is a creative outlet, but anyone who has ever engaged in such a project can appreciate the difficulty of being without a bathroom for any length of time. So yeah, that’s ... fun ...
Actually, I’ve a new project of late that I can’t say I find exactly inspirational, but I hope in the end that it will help me to focus.
These days all the rage seems to be about “de-cluttering” and minimalist living. I’ve read about how I should go on a one-year plan to remove everything from my home that I’ve no longer any use for. Well, one year is grossly insufficient for me. I’ve lived here for 30 years (and my generation, it seems, was about acquiring stuff). Also, I have a home that has become the repository for things my children have no room to keep. So when my youngest dropped by recently and left a bag of ... I don’t even know what ... behind, I asked what I was to do with it. “Oh, I’ll get it later,” she said as she ran out the door. That had to have been at least six weeks ago and it still sits here ...
So there is no way I could fully de-clutter in a year—by which I mean go through everything. But I’ve set a goal to go through things one room at a time, starting with the upstairs bedrooms (yes, they are the easiest). I’m finding clothing to give away, throw away, and try to sell at consignment stores; books to go; children’s projects to store for them (yes, I’ll store them for awhile yet); old prescriptions to bring to an acceptable drop-off location; eyeglasses to donate; and so very much more. If I get through a single drawer or cabinet in a day, I feel I’ve accomplished something—which is more than nothing—and so whenever I manage to do that, I’ve had a good day.
In fact, just a week ago, I addressed the issue of the two finches I’ve been keeping for my middle child for the past year. She can’t have them where she lives, so they’ve been here. In truth, I don’t want them, or their mess, or the responsibility of feeding them or of cleaning up after them. I didn’t think she’d let me, but she said I could give them away—cages and toys and all! And better yet—I think I found a taker. So yes, today was a good day (although I still have her former bedroom to go through, the closet of which is full of things she decided it is too early to take with her as yet). Still, with the finches gone (I hope), I'll be one step closer to gaining some focus—and to appreciating the freedom I should (but all too often do not) have at this age to be able to come and go as I please.
How about you? What’s your project de jure (or de l’annee, or even de la decennie, as the case may be)?
Now that I've unloaded, I'm anxious to hear what Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies, has to share with us. Well, Robin? What's your current non-writing artistic (or other) outlet?
My writing desk follows me everywhere. Virtually, anyway. Overheard conversations make good fodder for dialogue. A turn of phrase from a television show or movie often suggests an entire scene or plot point. I realized during a discussion about some people in my life that one of them in particular would make a fantastic model for a character. (No, I will not say whether protagonist or antagonist!)
I try to jot these ideas down on my phone, but sometimes I really have to tell my desk to go to its room and give me a break. Have you ever noticed that not thinking about a thing is like a magic solution for finding an answer to it?
“Whim” has often been the instigator…
And finally, we hear from P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse. What say you, Parker?
I don't often get the question, "What keeps you busy?" That's usually because I have three little boys running around and through my legs. I also work as a full time real estate agent, running my own business and managing property for myself and others. I have a master's degree in film, but I've taken a step back from film production and editing to give more time to my love of writing.
And while I enjoy real estate and homes and remodeling and flipping, that isn't necessarily where I get inspiration or rest. I don't garden - the wonderful wood nymph I married is in charge of that department. Likewise, film and film editing is work - enjoyable work, but work nonetheless.
There are a couple of things I do that fill me up, that aren't work, and sometimes even provide inspiration and encouragement...
July is upon us. Happy 4th everyone! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday. Now I invite you to continue the celebration with we Quills, by taking a look at our latest flash fiction tales.
This time, Parker selected the pic we are using. Here is is:
This and more work by the artist Zhiyong Li, may be found here.
It seems Parker wanted to give us a lot to work with, as this piece is very busy. For my part, I've been challenging myself to keep my flash fiction tales as short as possible, in an effort to try to give the most for the least. Last time, my flash fiction story, title and all, ran exactly 1000 words. The time before that, my piece ran just over 400 words. This time I've found myself in-between, having used, title and all, a mere 800 words. So . . . here goes!
Signs, Signs, Everywhere There Are Signs!