Our Traditions… What are yours?

Traditions

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Traditions are everywhere during the holidays and we are no exception. Though some may find our traditions silly or unique, they are ours and we will continue them for years to come; passing them to our children and our children’s children.

What Are They?

Well, I’ve touched on this as well as reasons for and the importance of traditions in another post you can find HERE. Today I want to tell you about a few we have in our family and I would love, love, LOVE to hear some of yours so comment below or send me a message!!

Reason For Our Traditions

Honestly, some of our traditions started by accident and continued from there. Perhaps it was a treat and was asked for year after year. Perhaps it was something we just always did naturally as the night wore on…

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Whatever the reason, I’m glad we have traditions to pass down to our children that show compromise, love and a willingness to come together no matter the circumstances. My and my husband’s families are quite different, but we’ve been able to blend them so that each of our traditions are still present for everyone to enjoy.

Importance Of Tradition

I’ve touched on this in a previous post as well, but the importance of tradition for us is massive. We are able to bring things to light that our children may not have known about their families, the differences as well as the similarities. It teaches them that even though we come from different families, we’ve come together as one to share in the events that we believe are special to us. Not just the ones that appear during Christmas or Thanksgiving, but during any time of the year.

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What stories can you tell your children about these traditions that they didn’t know about? Do they know how they started? Who started them and what they stand for? 

Some Of Our Traditions

Here is the part you’ve been dying to know, I’m sure.

Since it is the holidays, I’ll focus on those and perhaps I’ll update this throughout the year with our others as they happen.

Thanksgiving:

Every year on thanksgiving we spend time with our family, usually his side because mine is larger and everyone has their own things going on. We usually host, but this year his little brother hosted and it was wonderful. We had a great time with our nieces and their side of the family.

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When all the eating is done and cleanup is finished, everyone had gone home. We settle down with some hot chocolate (glass bottles of Coca-cola for my husband) and put our Christmas tree up while we listen to Christmas music.

Yes, I know its still Thanksgiving and we are very thankful. Thankful that we have each other present to participate in this tradition that been in my life since before I was born. My children are experiencing something I loved as a child.

Christmas:

Now here is what you’ve all been waiting for, right?

With our two families coming togethers and some other complications, we have 3-4 Christmas celebrations beside our own. We schedule a day to meet with all my sisters for a sister Christmas, which is scheduled whenever we can get six sisters together. We see my parents on Christmas Eve, his family on Christmas day, and my family has an extended family party too.

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But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about. One of our traditions came by accident when our middle sister couldn’t think of what she wanted for Christmas. My parents would ask her and she would say she didn’t know.

So, my dad being him, did something that would create the best tradition we have ever had. That one act had created years of creative enjoyment for all his daughters to enjoy and it will continue for years to come.

What is it, you ask? What did he do that would spiral us into a creative tradition that we all love? Well, he grabbed a large box, some rubber bands, and one of those rectangular fruitcakes. He taped the fruitcake to the rubber bands, stapled the rubber bands to the inside of the box, wrapped it and had fun asking people to guess what was inside it whenever they came over.

To be honest, I thought it was a bunch of small bouncy balls, but the great thing was that we all laughed when we found out what was inside. And don’t worry, that wasn’t the only gift she received that year.

The Christmas Fruitcake:

That was the year of 1998 and every year since it is passed to another sister to disguise and re-gift to another sister for the next year. Yep, it’s the same one from 1998 and yes, it’s been wrapped multiple times in plastic wrap and duct tape.

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It’s one of the things we look forward to every year and gives us another reason to see each other, cause really? Who wouldn’t want to see what you could do with a fruitcake.

If you’re interested in seeing what we’ve done with this fruitcake, you can check out my Patreon Page. I update it every year with the latest disguise. We couldn’t remember all of them when I decided to start keeping track, but will from now on.

To not leave you hanging, I’ll give you a few things we’ve done.

~ It’s been baked into a birthday cake (my and my twins birthday is close to Christmas)

~ It’s been put in a bear you have to squeeze for it to poop it out.

~ It’s been literally mailed to another sister

~ Buried in a box of coal (I was the lucky one to get that one!)

~ Buried in a box of Crackers (They had snacks for a long time!)

What are Your Traditions?

I would love to hear about your family traditions! Do you have something unique that you pass around as we do?

September’s Writing Theme: Favorite Character, Power, Creature, Etc.

Most of us have favorites: Our favorite food, our favorite drink, favorite candy, movie, song, etc. This month’s theme is to write about your favorite. Your favorite character, your favorite power they have, your favorite creature, or anything of that nature. Read my example below and comment!!
Favorite fantasy items

 

Example: This one is actually really hard for me because I don’t have favorites. If you ever asked me my favorite thing, I would tell you I don’t have one. My daughter asks me that all the time. “Mom, what’s your favorite movie.” I’ll say ‘Dragons’ just so she’ll have something. My kids know I LOVE “How to Train Your Dragon”, but then I think about it and I also love LOTR, The Hobbit, Big Hero 6 and I just couldn’t choose one. 

I love the fantasy from LOTR and The Hobbit, the characters and what they bring to the group as a whole, the fight to keep going when all seems lost. It’s inspiring. Big Hero 6… I was so emotional during this one and the fact that Hero comes out to find a way to keep his brother’s memory alive while not only catching the man responsible, but also saving a life in the process is a fantastic story. Dragons, I absolutely love the diversity of the characters personalities. Not to mention that there’s dragons!! 

So, what is your favorite character, power, creature, etc and why?  I’d love to hear about it. Comment below!

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Ways to Plot a Novel

There are plenty of ways to plot a novel and the way each author plots is completely up to them. Every author is different with different thoughts and ways of organizing them.

The way I plot could be, and probably is completely different from the way others plot their novels.

Plotting your novel is unique and special process each author must discover for themselves. This is where one process doesn’t fit all. When deciding how to plot your novel, there are many processes to choose from.

Plot Structures:

Character – Driven

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  • Your characters are the main reason the story moves along. Their motivation and drive to complete their mission, journey or quest is what keeps the story going until the very end.
  • Your characters through decisions, actions, and the journey itself, face their deepest fears and change as a result.

Snowflake Method

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  • This one is a bit more dynamic. You begin with a statement, just one statement
  • Then split that statement into two
  • Then into four statements and so on
    • It’s best to begin with a deep theme/premise
    • Then expand it to 2-3 sentences
    • Then expand that to 4-6 sentences and so on until you get a full plan of action for your book.

The Hero’s Journey

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  • The hero’s journey is a complex set of points along which the hero travels to complete his/her journey
    • They are (but not limited to) as follows
      • The Call to Action (They begin in their know world and receive call for adventure)
      • The Denial of the Quest (They ignore the request for some reason or another)
      • Acceptance After Debate (After inner turmoil and possible debate with mentor, they agree to journey)
      • Enemies and Allies, Who’s who (Journey leads them to many types of trouble as well as friends along the way)
      • Journey to the Beast
      • Facing Demons (hero defeats bad guy but not without consequences that change the character on a deeper level)
      • Reward/Success
      • The Return Journey (They strive to atone for past mistakes)
      • Conclusion
      • Life Continues/Next Journey (Return to live out days/Continue to the next journey of life)

 

The Fichtean Curve

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  • This type of story begins immediately with rising action
  • Framework for the story is scatter throughout the first half of the story with multiple crisis following.
  • Each crisis is followed swiftly by its own mini falling and rising action.
  • At last, the story reaches its climax conflict around two-thirds of the way.
  • Leaving the remaining pages for falling action, loose ends are tied up, and a new normality is established for characters.

In Media Res (thrillers, mysteries, horror)

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  • This type of novel begins in the middle of the story, usually at the 2nd-3rd crisis, though sometimes in-between the action
  • The plot still contains an upward trajectory with storyline sprinkled throughout (The beginning of the story is often told through flashbacks or in character conversations)
  • Several more crises occur to move the story along
  • The protagonist faces the climax
  • Followed by falling action
  • Resolution.

Combinations

You can combine any or all of the above to create your own plot structure that suits your needs. It’s really up to you, how your mind works, and what would be best for you as a person and author.

Snowflake with 3 Arc Structure

  • Snowflake with structure that points to important events while connecting those events to create an amazing story

Emphasis on Inner Plot

  • This contain a list of events containing a variation of the hero’s journey
  • Emphasis is held within the inner and outer plot, relating most outer story points to acts 1&3 leaving 2 as inner plot points

Major Midpoint Change

  • This is a form of the Hero’s Journey where there is a major change at the midpoint of the story. The character faces a shift in viewpoints or active goal.

Writing in Scenes

  • Plan your novel in Scenes, but be sure to include all the major plot points necessary to create a great story with emotion, action, adventure, and more.

Visual Mapping

  • Visual graphing/outlining of plot points, events, characters, emotion, and more. A picture of your character/story’s journey throughout the tale may be exactly what you need.

Things to Keep in Mind

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  • Does the beginning set up the end? Do all parts match up?
  • Think deeper, create a story that if the reader were involved it would feel real no matter the setting or events.
  • Write your ideas down, create an outline even if you don’t follow it completely. This will help you flesh out your plot points, events, crises and more.
  • Keep the reader in mind. Catch them on an emotional level – make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel hurt when a certain event happens. Make them FEEL.

Final Words…

The way you plot your novel is completely up to you as an author. One of these ways may work for you and then again none of them may work. You must travel your own journey to discover what works best for you. 

Me, I’m still on that journey. I’ve combined some of these to suit my creative mind, but there are still tweaks that need to be made. This is my plotting journey. What’s yours?

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August’s Writing Theme: Writing Process

The writing process of an author/writer differs from person to person. Some will plan, outline, plot, and develop their novels down to the last quirk, research piece, aim, goal, setting detail, motivation, conflicting action, etc. Files, folder, documents, mind maps, aesthetic board, Pinterest board, Social Media polls all in place and filled with information for their novels, while others fly by the seat of their pants. Those are the ones who don’t plan, don’t map; they sit down and start writing. Then there is revising, editing, and publishing to worry about.

This month is all about your writing process and sharing what you do with others who are endeavoring to write, but have no idea where to start. Share yours below.
Writing Process

Example: When I first began writing, I would outline my story and then start writing. After taking a course by Nick Stephenson called Story Engines. I’ve found that fleshing out story details have helped me immensely with my writing and my storylines. He and fellow author Joe Nassise take you through their process on creating phases, answering questions,  scene list, and so much more. 

I’ve tweaked it to suit me and I’ve haven’t looked back. It’s a bit pricey, but well worth it. They also have a program called Your First 10K Readers that takes you through getting your first 10,000 readers. Although, I haven’t implemented all of there methods, it may be very helpful to you. 

Here is the basic categories for my process: 

  • Premise Worksheet
  • Final Premise
  • Initial Scene List
  • Single Sentence Summary
  • Scene Questions
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Rough Story ArcPreparation Phase
    • Mini Goal
    • Reactive Phase
    • Mini Goal
    • Proactive Phase
    • Mini Goal
    • Conclusion Phase
  • Synopsis
  • Product Description

I also have a very detailed worksheet I use to flesh out my characters that is three pages long. 

Now, even though I do this, my characters ~ like small children aways seen to veer from the path I choose for them. So, yes there are some things that aren’t in the finished product that are in my plans, but that’s the way writing it. 

Just for fun, let’s add in what changed throughout your story as you wrote it.

Example: I had one of my characters change occupations a quarter of the way through, not like she quit and changed, but out of the blue, one minute she’s a secretary and another she’s a nurse. I’ve also had new characters join the story when I had no intension for another character to enter the book at all. 

What does your writing process look like? What changed throughout your story that wasn’t intended? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below!

What is a Story?

As I sit here typing this, I originally had a different topic to provide, but while reading a few nights ago, this came to mind and stuck so there has been a little change in topic for this post. Let’s get to it.

What Is a Story~

A story is a depiction of a character’s journey as they pursue an object, person, act of revenge, etc. while battling obstacles and challenges along the way.

Stories are here to entertain, educate, inspire and intrigue the masses with their tales of wonder, adventure, creative learning, and more. No matter what type of story created, there is someone out there ready to read it and many more endeavoring to write them.

Where They Come From~

They have been an intricate part of life, of history, and of dreams since we learned how to communicate long ago. It’s how we learned vital information that’s been passed on throughout the ages.

Stories grow from the every day. They are created to make a point, to imagine a possible future, to remind us of our past, the actions we’ve taken (successes or failures) as well as to comfort and entertain. They also have a tendency to blossom from daily lessons, random objects, experiences, and pain/emotions of the creator. Stories grow from everything around us.

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How They Are Created~

Ideas and thoughts are taken from events, activities, actions, objects of things we experience everyday. Stories are told from family member to family member on traditions, proper behavior, cultural history, moral values and more.

They can be told around a campfire to exhilarate, frighten, or enchant the young and the old of legends long past.

Stories spoken of ever day actions of every day folks, whether it be good deeds or bad, an adventure or overcoming of obstacle. Things others can relate to on a physical, emotional, or psychological level.

Others are created from memories of times past. Family vacations, celebrations, tradition, and more. One that goes around our family has to do with a fruitcake from 1998. Yep, that sucker is still being passed around! I’ll be posting on my Patreon page about that each year. Check it out!

Imagination is another source of stories. There are so many stories out there created solely on the writers imagination, their thoughts of how the characters are, how they react to different situations and obstacles they throw them into. It’s amazing what the imagination can create when you really sit down to put it together. While the inspiration can come from those who came before or the things around us. A story can be created from literally anything.

What Makes a Good Story~

Really, this is the opinion of the writer and of the reader. But looking at stories, the all have things that are in common to create fantastic stories.

  • Well-crafted characters
  • Experiences
  • Trials, obstacles, and challenges
  • Goals and motivation
  • Effective narrative
  • Pivotal turning points
  • Resolution
  • Resonating with readers

If you think of tales and stories today, think of what the author created to make the story one you come back to time and time again. Those aspects that make you want to revisit the characters, setting, and to journey once again along the path they choose to reach their destination. That’s what makes not only a good story, but a great one.

There are many types of stories told within fiction, non-fiction, through pictures, movies as well as art. Everything around us tells a story, you just have to look closely enough to find it within the chaos of life.

What is your favorite story and why? What is the best part of it? 

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A Story Grows as a Plant Grows

Spring is upon us and we are beginning to ready our garden for seeds/spuds. Yep, we are adding potatoes to our garden this year!! I can’t wait!

Since my little man loves gardening and all things that breath life, I am dedicating this post to him. Not to mention it’s his birthday today, so Happy birthday buddy! If not for him, my thought process would have skipped over this topic and on to the next.

Anyway, as we are deciding on seeds and what to plant where, my author mind took hold and contemplated as I often do… how a story is similar to a plant and how it grows.

Here is what I’ve noticed:

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The Seed:

The seed in the story is, and you’ve probably guessed this… the spark of inspiration. That first initial thought of “Wow, this could be something great!” or “I’ve got to write this down, this would make such a great story!” And you’re probably right! 😉

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Germination:

This is where your story gets interesting, where it takes root as you write notes, plot, gather ideas for characters, settings, plot, conflict and the journey your characters will explore. The story will stretch it’s roots creating the beginning of something awesome!

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Growth:

As plants need nourishment, so to does the author. As a plant battles nature with weather, animals, and even humans, you to will discover the hardships of writing your story. Doubt, distraction, writer’s block, discouragement are all things we face as writers, but as the plant holds firm, you will too.

Find encouragement in others, inspiration in words and enjoyment in your characters, your setting and your plot twists to keep you motivated. Some plants may take days to flower while other take months or even years, but they WILL flower.

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Polination:

This is the part of your story where you get down to the nitty gritty. As bees pollinate the flowers, you must go from place to place researching your story further with interviews, history, occupations, folklore, or whatever topic is in need of researching for your specific story. Enjoy this journey and have fun with it!

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Reproduction:

Reproduction is the act of bring things together to create a new and exciting being. In the same sense, you bring all the components together from your notes, research, interviews, and more to create a new and fascinating tale. The journey of the characters, the realism of the settings, relationships and conflict as they move along their path create something people are dying to read!

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Spreading the Seeds:

Spread the seeds! Are you ready to enter the realm and start again with a series or did you discover a new tale while writing this one? Keep going with characters your readers love and create their story. Create your tale so that readers are coming back for more and sparking that seed of inspiration in others writers who dream to be where you are.

 

What do you think? Ever sit and think, “This is so much like writing!” What have you noticed around you that you could relate to the writing process? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

 

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Is Your Story Real

Is Your Story Real?

One of the best parts of the weekends is sitting down to spend time with my family and last weekend was no different, except we decide to do a Hobbit/LOTR (extended versions) marathon, which fried my eyes by watching TV for two days straight, but it was totally worth it!

Let me tell you why:

Relaxation:

With the Holidays at an end, we are still feeling the fatigue of the run around. Next week I will be traveling back and fourth to my sisters house which is two hours one way to watch her kids, then back again to watch them again two weeks after.

So, we decided to do something fun and relaxing since my husband will not be accompanying me.We had been discussing that we spend way to much on snacks for game/movie days so I spent a few hours Friday afternoon baking. Yes, I know. I hate baking, but it was worth it and I didn’t burn anything so that’s a plus. (If you know me, I am not a baker, my twin on the other hand is. She had to mark her calendar for this!)

I made four loaves of banana bread (my favorite and my kids apparently, because they ate three of them before I got a slice!), two loaves of white bread, four loaves of garlic bread with pasta sauce, three batches of Peanut Butter balls and three batches of chocolate/peanut/coconut bark. (I have a sweet tooth).

So I made all this from scratch (except the pasta sauce which is still in the works, but that my husband’s project) and set it out to munch while we watched our movies. What is better than watching movies than watching them with your favorite comfort foods?!

Inspiration:

Now we chose The Hobbit and LOTR because they are our favorite, and they provide inspiration to an author when stuck on a scene, or story line, character, or… anything really. There are so many great quotes, ideas, and characters. You really can’t go wrong with this series.

So many fantastic quotes came from these series:

“I miss my books and may armchair, and my garden. That’s home.” ~ Bilbo Baggins

“These are Rosgobel Rabbits. I’d like to see them try.” ~ Radagast the Brown (This is my favorite!)

“Mithrandir… Why the hafling?”

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? I don’t know. Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.” ~ Galadriel and Gandalf the Grey

“I can not do this, Sam.”

“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we should’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, This shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories That stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk In Those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only They didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

“What are we holding on to, Sam?”

“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo … and it’s worth fighting for.” ~Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee

“Are we not a part of this world?” ~ Tauriel

“If the mountain defeats you, will you take a more dangerous road?” ~ Saruman the White.

“I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” ~ Samwise Gamgee (Samwise the Brave)

The Unexpected:

Our daughter loves theater, dancing, singing and anything else drama related. When it’s time to play games or watch movies, she is up in her room acting out her current favorite scene. This weekend, she finally sat with us to watch the whole series. (Though Legolas and Tauriel may have had something to do with it) She likes awesome characters like her mother. 😉

But what got me and the reason for this post was the one sentence my husband said. I got up to switch discs when he said something that nearly stopped me in my tracks. It was so inspiring, I changed my post for this week to this topic. He said,

“I love how Tolkien wrote his books as if they were real.”

That stuck with me because I wanted that experience for my readers. I want them to finish feeling as though the story was real. And yes you are always told to create characters that are believable, but do you create them as if they are real? Real settings (even if they are fantasy/space/other based), real events, real lives, real people. Is your story Real?

If us authors looked at creating our stories as if the events, settings, characters, etc really happened – really existed, would the outcome provide a greater experience for the reader? I gained a new perspective while watching these movies with my family and I’ll be keeping that in mind as I move forward with my writing.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

PS. Incase you are wondering about the recipes I use for my bread and treats they are listed below with links:

Banana Bread

Bread, Rolls, Garlic Bread (I use this same recipe for all my breads – except pumpkin and banana bread, instead of rolling in to rolls, I make loaves and bake them. For garlic bread I make long loaves, bake them, then mix oil, parsley, oregano, and garlic – either minced, powder or freshly chopped, whichever I have on hand and bake for another 10min.)

Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Peanut Coconut Bark (This has walnuts, but we had peanuts, so I substituted)