Saturday Stories 2/27

Hello my friends! Sorry I’ve been so MIA the past two weeks, I seem to have had time getting away from me lately. Though looking back on the month I don’t seem to have really accomplished all that much, but I have been extremely busy. So, let’s figure out how I did and get to the short story reward, like the gooey chocolate at the center of crunchy cake pop :).

To recap my ‘goals’ for the week, you can go watch this video and see what I thought I could do.

Goal Updates:

Writing – 

I was supposed to type up everything I have handwritten and ready to type. Unfortunately my much loved laptop has been a little too loved and my programs are not working as well as they should (and I procrastinated a little) so I only got a few pages of Paulonious Punk taken care of. I did, however, purchase a new laptop so I can move my hundreds of word documents over and get back to writing!

 

Reading –

I completed Truthwitch and gave it a 4 out of 5 stars. The writing is gorgeous and the story is a fast paced thing of beauty. I’ll have a full review up sometime soon(ish).

 

Sewing/Coloring/Exercising – 

I managed to get a princess dress cut out for the little monkey and am going to try to sew it up today around my band practice schedule.

I did not complete the coloring pages, but I did a little more coloring on them and expect to have both completed this weekend.

As for exercising, I was able to go 3 days this week and the other 2 I was very active at home. I also upped my weight training weights to the next level, which made me super excited!

Now on to the good stuff! This week’s story excerpt is from a novel I began several years ago…and then kind of abandoned in pursuit of a different story. Here is the first bit of Sylvester, hopefully there will be more some day.

Sylvester

“I have to.” The words were simple, the gaze steady as Annabelle watched Sylvester pace the clearing. “No, you don’t. Those people don’t even know you, you don’t know them. Why are you so intent on helping those who would cast you aside if they knew who you really were?”

He was irritated, and had a right to be. His girlfriend, the woman who he had been on the brink of proposing to, had just informed him she was going to hop worlds and help people she had never met to defeat some nameless threat. Not only that, but to do what she was planning, she would disappear from their world and become a baby in the other. He might never see her again, all for some people she had only seen in a dream.

“I’m sorry, I have to. I hope you’ll understand someday love. Goodbye.”

Then she was gone. A world away a child screamed into the night. “It’s a girl.”

Chapter One

As a child, Brianna had dreams of another world. One where magic was as natural as air and people watched and waited for her. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, Bri knew these people. Sometimes she could remember their names, and would excitedly turn to them, but she would always wake at this point, dream memories niggling at her brain until she pushed them aside. As she grew the dreams became more in depth, more real. She would wake smelling the scents of otherworldly kitchens, feeling the softness of otherworldly grass.

She began seeing the people from her dreams out of the corner of her eye, in broad daylight. She would sense them watching her, urging her to something she couldn’t understand, or rather, felt as if she couldn’t remember. In defense, she turned to the things all teenage girls find interest in: sports, music, books, friends, and, of course, boys.

If there were those that watched her grow, rejoiced for her achievements, grieved in her failures, that was their business. And if there were those that watched a little more closely than others, whose heart broke a little with each new boyfriend, they did so in silence. All watched with bated breath as she began the path that would lead her to her destiny. Some watched, wishing they could help. Some watched waiting for their chance to foil her fate. None of them, though, could have imagined what would come next.

How Do You Motivate?

Motivation:

Do you have it?

Do you want it?

Do you know where to find it?

 

I answered no to them all. Not that I don’t want to be motivated. Really, i would love the motivation to get up and go and do and finish etc. etc. etc. However, do I want to get motivated and then go crazy trying to do everything at once…like I usually do? NOPE. No thanks.

SO what next? If I don’t have motivation and I don’t want to get motivated and go crazy, what do I do?

I asked a few friends about motivation and how they handle it.

The top responses were:

  1. I just kind of do it when I have to. Having to motivates me.
  2. I want to get things done so I can do fun things. Rewards motivate me.
  3. I’m trying to get my life together and every small finished task motivates me.
  4. I have no motivation. I don’t care. Let me sit here.

Clearly I have a cross section of friends. So I pose the question to you:

How do you get yourself motivated (in general)? Do you have certain goals or activities that push you along? Do you have certain goals or activities that you need more motivation for?

Book Review of Art Students League of New York on Painting

 

Penguin Random House’s Art Students League of New York on Painting page has this to say about the book:

….”This unique book brings you into the studio classrooms of some of the League’s most celebrated painters—including William Scharf, Mary Beth McKenzie, Henry Finkelstein, and Knox Martin—for lessons on a variety of fundamental topics, idiosyncratic approaches, and quirky philosophies. Scanning the table of contents is like flipping through a course catalog: do you want to take Naomi Campbell’s “Working Large in Watercolor,” James McElhinney’s “Journal Painting and Composition,” Sharon Sprung’s “Figure Painting from Life in Oil,” or Ellen Eagle’s “Poetic Realism in Pastel”? Now you can—from the comfort of your own home studio (or living room). ”

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Overview:

The Art Students League of New York On Painting was written by James L. Mcelhinney and the instructors of the Art Students League of New York. With amazingly detailed illustrations, artist biographies and autobiographies, and mini-lessons on art, this book is full of inspiration and new knowledge for its audience.

Character Believability:

This book is based completely on real artists and those artists gave interviews and lessons for us to read, so this should be a no brainer. However, a few of the interviews and auto-biographies felt padded and ‘jazzed’ as though they meant to make themselves come out super-cool, but they only managed to make themselves seem slightly less believable.

Flow and Pace:

A few places were a bit sluggish for me, but the majority of the book had a good pace and flow. The pictures and interviews moved well together.

Reader Engagement:

I was very intrigued by the art pieces and mini-lessons in this book. I didn’t enjoy the interviews as much, but I’m also not the typical ‘art person’ this book was aiming at. The set up of this hard-bound edition is very nice, with gorgeous art and thick pages that pack a vibrant punch and keep the reader flipping pages.

Reader Enrichment: 

I feel like I learned a lot about art and different types of painting in this book. Not only were the mini-lessons very educational, but the other segments were well written and provided a lot of random art facts for even the least artistic of souls.

Character Believability: 4/5
Flow and Pace: 4.5/5

Reader Engagement:4.5/5

Reader Enrichment: 5/5
Reader Enjoyment: 4/5
Overall Rate: 4.4/5

 

Buy The Art Students League of New York on Painting 

*I was sent this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and ratings herein are my own.*

Saturday Stories 2/13/16

Welcome to my weekly goal update! If you missed my weekly goals here is my video from last Sunday!

 

So I know what you’re thinking…You want to know how I did on my goals right? That’s the point of this update each week after all.

  1. Little Monster – I need help. For some reason the last few pages of my daughter’s adorable picture book are not allowing me to put the text boxes on the pictures. Every time I try, the picture disappears, or the words won’t show up, and/or the program crashes. I only have 2 pages left!!! If you have any suggestions please let me know. I’m becoming incredibly frustrated with this!
  2. The Way We Were – I realized this week that while Eliza and Brent have very full sections, the other 5 members of the group  don’t really have that much going on, and neither do the villains. So, I need to work on getting those sections fleshed out and re-organized with new material before the second half of the book can be contemplated. Which is really not a big deal, it just means more short stories AND re-writing everything. Re-writing because the other thing I realized is that most of the characters sound incredibly similar. That’s not necessarily horrible but, I want their personalities to shine and right now they’re more ‘group’ than ‘individual’ so that combination needs work. I think that might be for the next set of revisions though!
  3. Short Story – NOT TYPED…I read over it, I wrote a new one, I haven’t typed either of them.
  4. ReadingCurio by Evangeline Denmark  – I am little over half-way through this book. So far it is a 3.5 – 4 star read and I’m looking forward to finishing that this weekend.
  5. Wellness Center –  I exercised 4 out of 5 days last week. Wednesday I was so sore and generally blah that I only did a set of crunches at home. Friday I went out with my friend for a shopping/birthday expedition and did not do any mindful exercises…but chasing a 3 year old through Cato’s and Hastings probably counts!

So those are the updates on my listed goals. I also colored a few pictures and sewed a couple of baby things (Pictures to come when they’re completely finished! My nephews will be so dapper).

Now for the fun stuff! This week’s short will be an excerpt from My House, a novel I wrote early on in college and which I’m going to re-imagining into a slightly more in-depth and quickly paced story at some point. (and, you know, better written…*sigh* I thought I was so good back then…)

ENJOY!

Chapter Four

I broke the speed limit all the way home, but thankfully no cops stopped to question me. I pulled in the parking lot, slammed the car into park and got out, working very hard to keep from bursting into a run. I got to my apartment door and went to unlock it, but it was already unlocked. Thinking that was strange but that maybe I had forgotten to lock it when I left that morning, I walked in. I was taking a look around, just in case someone had broken in, when I felt an arm go around my waist and a hand cover my mouth. I swallowed a scream and prepared to kick backwards, hoping to injure the man holding me enough so that he would let go. Just as I was bringing my leg up to deliver the kick, Billy walked into view, eating one of my yellow apples.

“I always like this kind best. Thanks kid,” he said as he grinned at me. “So, how ya been sis? You never write, you never call, if you’re not careful I’ll think you hate me. Let her go Bruce, she won’t do anything.”

“Billy Dean McKlain isn’t it just like you to break into your little sister’s house when all you had to do was knock. Oh, and for the record I don’t hate you, I just severely dislike who  you’ve become, old man.” Like I said, I was never good at holding my tongue, especially when my brothers had smirks on their faces like the one Billy was sending my way. “So are you going to tell me what you want or can I go ahead and throw you out?”

“There’s no need to get snippy, I thought we could chat a little before we started in on business. After all, we haven’t seen each other in a very long time.” Billy continued to smirk at me; he threw the apple core out of an open window nearby and motioned to the doorway entering the living room, “After you.”

I paused in the middle of the doorway. Looking back at him I thought of the house I had visited and all of the happy memories our family had made there. I couldn’t help but wonder, and in wondering ask, “Billy, what made us become this way? We used to be so happy living at that old house with momma and daddy. We used to laugh together, not break into our sibling’s houses and threaten each other.”

Billy glared at me, dropping that cool demeanor in front of me for the first time in years, “You want to know what happened? I’ll tell you what happened, Daddy died and left us all. He just left us and we had to live with the facts that he never had the nerve to tell us when he was alive. His own friend shot him for money and left us without a father. Maybe you can overlook our past and the ties that bind us to each other, to him, to momma, but I can’t. That’s what happened Kit, open your eyes and see it. There’s nothing outside for any of us. Not since then anyway. I know you don’t even use Dad’s name at work so you can keep a job and that hurts me. You’re living a life of deceit trying to make it on your own without the family’s help Kitten.”

His use of the old pet name softened my resolve to kick them out and call the cops, now I wasn’t going to call the cops. That monologue of his seemed real enough, but in our family you can never be sure whether someone is acting or telling the truth. The tension in the living room was building up so thick you could have built up muscles just trying to walk through it.

“I’ll think about that later. Right now, why don’t you tell me why you’re here?” Before he could say anything Rollo burst out of a backroom (he knows how to open doors) and headed straight for Bruce, who had been standing in a back corner of the room, watching our discussion. Bruce, being incredibly afraid of dogs, did the one thing any red-blooded American man would have done at that point. He screamed like a little girl, jumped on top of a side table, and huddle all three-hundred pounds of his massive frame into the fetal position while Rollo sat and barked at him.
After finally getting over our laughter, I pulled Rollo back and Billy talked Bruce down from the table. Bruce absolutely refused to stay in my apartment after that (to my delight) despite all of my reassurances that Rollo was perfectly safe. He went out back to wait in Billy’s car and we got back to our conversation. “So why are you really here Billy?” I asked again, somewhat exasperated with the hold in my plans for the night. There was no way I was going to let Billy know about the box I had in my bag.
“Can’t I just come by to visit?” He asked innocently, giving me that little smirk that had had all of the girls in our school and at college chasing after him.
“Cut the crap Billy, I’m tired of your mind games. To answer your question though, you haven’t just dropped by to see me since before you graduated college and took over the family from cousin what’s-his-name.”

 

Motivational Talks

I am extremely proud of myself this morning. It is 8:50 here in the NW Corner of Oklahoma, and I have been up for 2 1/2 hours. I know, there are many of you out there who do that on a daily basis…I do not. I don’t like mornings and mornings seem to return that feeling. If I am not required to get up, I usually don’t. So what prompted my early rise?

Exercising…yup. I woke up this morning because one of my best friends asked me to go to the gym with her when she got off work at 7am. You know she has to be one of my besties because I only laughed for a minute or so before I slowly agreed. And you know what? I got up, I drank a little coffee, I got myself dressed, and I walked on a treadmill for the first time (I think I’ll even go faster next time). I didn’t fall, I didn’t look too funny, and we went swimming in the gym’s pool after 15 minutes on the treadmill. Its been a great morning. I think I know why..it wasn’t my friend, even though she’s great. It wasn’t the endorphin rush from exercising because, let’s face it, I didn’t go that fast. It wasn’t even the boost from swimming, which is one of my favorite things EVER!

The reason this morning feels so great is because I CHOSE to go. I wasn’t forced. No one came in yelling and shaking me until I dragged my behind out of bed and stumbled along with them. No, I CHOSE to get up, I CHOSE to work out, and I CHOOSE to write instead of going back to sleep now. I am CHOOSING a healthier life style because it is time. I am CHOOSING to work on my books instead of mindlessly flip channels because my readers, my friends, you guys…you who I feel so connected to through words on a screen or page…deserve the best and my books deserve that respect and loving attention. I CHOOSE to be more, not a vapid shallow excuse of myself, but a full on no-holds-barred crazy cyclone of Beth.

There were plenty of things holding me back before, and probably plenty that will hold me back again soon, but what are they really? They’re the perceptions I have of what other people may or may not be thinking. They’re societal preconceptions and fading norms that I cling to as excuses. They’re my ‘look’, as in “I’m too fat to go to the gym..” (let me tell you what…I’m a big girl but today there was a woman significantly larger than I..and she was GETTING IT! I was so proud) or “people here don’t really wear those kinds of things…” or…or…or…STOP IT!

Whatever you think is holding you back, is just what you think. It isn’t what the rest of the world thinks, it isn’t even what 90% of the population think about you. Its you and whoever made the snide comment that lives in the back of your mind and gives you an excuse not to. Don’t give excuses, don’t make up reasons, just find a way. Door’s closed? Windows are locked? Check the roof…but don’t actually break in to someone’s home because that is bad juju and you won’t accomplish most of your goals from jail.

Until next time, I hope you have a blessed and phenomenal day! May your motivation and inspiration outweigh your excuses and fear of perspiration.

Self Publishing Talk

I’ve started a short series of videos on my vlog/BookTube channel concerning Self Publishing. I’m trying to split the topics up and keep them fairly short and informative without shoving too much at you at once. I hope it gives a good overview for people looking at working with creating a product!

 

 

Sunday Goals

If you only take one thing from this post, I want you to take the fact that Katie at the BookTube channel “Books and Things” will be spending the next two weeks uploading a video a day discussing the novels of Charles Dickens. I am very much looking forward to her thoughts and insights and hope that you will all go check out a video or fourteen!

My goals for this week have been a little simplified, work on getting Little Monster and The Way We Were completely organized and set up. Type up what I’ve got on Paulonious Punk  and also type up the currently untitled flash fiction I’ve written for contest.

read a book or two.

Color some pictures. Exercise. Celebrate.

I hope everyone has an amazing week! See you soon 😀

 

Saturday Stories – 2/6/16

I had a fairly lengthy list of goals for last week and I believe I did a phenomenal job of not getting them accomplished. Let’s go over them:

Writing:

  1. Completing the final few pages of the original Paulonious Punk notebook so that I have to start writing in the new book this weekend. Ok I actually completed this goal as of a few minutes ago. (word count – approximately 1,000 untyped words)
  2. Completing the organization of The Way We Were – hahahaha I’ve had that on my goals list for a few weeks now and I’ve gotten a little done on it but, on the whole, I’ve been focusing Paulonious and short stories. 
  3. Reading over The Wishbone Tree and working on that story – Ok, I did read it again and make a few notes so I’m going to count that as completed goal!

Reading:

  1. Donna Tart’s The Goldfinch – I decided to give up on reading this book for the moment. I am still incredibly interested in it, but I just haven’t gotten into it this time around.
  2. Sara J. Maas Crown of Midnight – I completed this book yesterday and OH MY GOODNESS! I rated this a 5 star on Goodreads because there aren’t half-star options. In reality, I’ve placed this somewhere around 4.5 stars, there were a few slower places but I’ll discuss that more in the actual book review.

Other Goals: 

1. Coloring – I finished one color sheet last! That’s not much, really, but it made me happy! 

2. Catching up on shows – I got addicted to the Great British Baking Show and somehow have not watched any of my other list! I’ll do better next week 😉

 

Now that you’ve slogged through my weekly wrap up, here is a reward! The following short piece is one I originally wrote in February of 2014 as one of my first Short Story Sunday pieces (I wrote one short story a week for the entire year) and find that I enjoy it more now than I did when I originally posted it. SO…here it is,

The Stream

It was just a stream, really. A sometimes babbling, sometimes rushing section of water that crashed over, around, and between the moss covered stones.

The bank was slippery, treacherous to climb most days that he went, the water much too cold to swim in unless during the height of summer, and the woods surrounding the clearing became terrifyingly spookier as twilight neared.

So why was he drawn here, day after day? He had not played here in his youth. He hadn’t even known of the nearby town’s existence until moving to Maine from New Mexico two years before, armed with a brand new teaching license and an offer to teach eighth grade math.

Quite frankly, the enveloping verdance and frequent rain showers unnerved the poor fellow. Yet day after day her left his classroom, drove to his ‘historical’ farmhouse one town over, grabbed his bag and bottled water, and, occasionally accompanied by the cat, made his way through the field and down the path to a large, almost hollowed out stone. Here he would sit during all but the worst weather, protected by overhanging vegetation as he graded papers, wrote lesson plans, or just sat.

Little thoughts and one liners were jotted down. Characters and plot ideas were placed on note cards, and all of it was unceremoniously shoved into an ever growing binder.  The time passed, though his twilight unease did not, and the young man began to hear the wind’s whispers and see the flitting wings in his surroundings.

Though he was offered better paying jobs elsewhere throughout the years, he would always stay in that same small school, with his ever changing stream.

Years later, with numerous best-sellers under his belt, the now older and much more famous man took the stand as a commencement speaker at that same small school.

“Life,” he said, “Does not always do what you think it should. Do not be afraid to face your fears, to do your best no matter what, and to go where you must. And always remember that sometimes all you have to do is sit down, shut up, and listen.”

He then walked down the silent aisle, drove to his ‘historical’ farmhouse in the next town over, grabbed his notebook and bottle of water, and made his way home.

Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Good February everyone!! Welcome to the first Writer’s Quote and #BeWOW Wednesday of the 2nd month of 2016. For more information on what we do each we, check out Silver Threading and RonovanWrites.

For the shortest month of the year, February sure seems to be packed full of all sorts of amazing things (Not the least of which are my 31st and my mother’s *ahem* day of birth celebrations :O ) So with that in mind, today’s quotes are going to center on something I seem to be having issues with this year…finding time!

As an author, a mother, a daughter, and a friend I often find myself without the ability to even make my own schedule. I run in between the lines, trying to find the time for anything I want to do inside and around the schedules of others. However, I keep trying even when I feel like breaking down and crying…and I keep trying BECAUSE positive-quote-confucius-600x600

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