Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Creative Writing

This summer it's been hard to find the time to write with the kids home, vacations and all the summer activities. So, for critique group only one person had new material to share. As a fun way to get our creativity flowing, I printed a variety of artwork to use as inspiration. Each person chose a picture and had ten minutes to write a scene about what was happening in the picture. I think we all came up with some awesome starts. I couldn't get Heidi or Jenny to send me theirs to put on here, but here's the results of mine and Tawnni's:

The feel of the grass tickling her nose made her want to sneeze and laugh, but she knew if she made any unnecessary noise, Madame would give her that look. She had already been silenced by her piercing gaze twice. Once for tripping on an unseen stone in the grass and again when she had dared to ask where they were going. Madame always walked with a steady, rigid grace and this time was no exception, even with the deep furrows and the tall grass grabbing at their skirts. - Mary

He sat there, just sat. And smiled, but no one knew why. Leaning against the sun warmed stone of the old inn, Lionus watched the townsfolk pass, chatting and laughing. He smiled at the local farmers, sometimes waving to old friends, and tipped his cap to the ladies. No one knew why he smiled as he sat there, sometimes Lionus didn't even know why he smiled either. He never really seemed to notice he was smiling; all he knew was that he was thinking of Julia. - Tawnni

These two pictures are what Heidi and Jenny chose. If anyone wants to come up with their own scene to fit these pictures please do so in the comments. It's a fun creative writing experiment and you just might be surprised by what you were able to create.

Friday, August 14, 2009

DREAMDARK - An Evening With Faeries


"It is the faeries' doom to forget what ought never be forgotten. Their wars have faded to legend. Their foes are naught but nursery tales. After thousands of years of peace the name Blackbringer inspires no fear. But it should. The Blackbringer is no nursery tale. He's the dark come to life. And he's back."

This month, book club was at my house and I chose the Young Adult novel "Blackbringer" from the Faeries of Dreamdark Series - written by Laini Taylor. Before I became a fan of this series - I first became a fan of Laini Taylor. I enjoy reading her blog. She is so interesting, personable and fun. She and her husband are both artists and their life is very appealing. I also think it is way cool that she has pink hair. Her husband Jim created the artwork for this book and for her books that will be debuting soon. You can find her blog here. So, to get into the wild spirit of the book I had a theme party. We invite all of you to share in our fun.

All of these wonderful photos were taken by Anna Hale of Boololo Photography, located in Salt Lake City, Utah - check out her blog here.

Here There Be Faeries

Standing: Mary, Heidi, Wendy, Sue, Sue, Paige and Kristy
Kneeling: Jade and Jill
Missing: Kelli, Natalie, Corinne, Catherine and Tauna
All of these lovely ladies are apart of my wonderful neighborhood.

"Be willing to rewrite a scene a dozen times or more -- as many as it takes. Go above and beyond the call of duty. You’re striving for your best -- never be content with a scene or even a single line until you love it." - Laini Taylor from her blog - Not For Robots

There is a paragraph on page 145 where Laini uses the word "surreptitiously." I wasn't sure what that word meant so I looked up it's meaning. After that I reread the paragraph and it changed what I had envisioned was happening in the scene. As far as I'm concerned it was the perfect word. At that moment I realized how important it is to make sure we find the perfect word or sentence when writing. One word can make all the difference. Laini has a blog called "Not For Robots" where she shares the knowledge she has gleaned from writing novels. It has been extremely helpful to me. You can find that blog here.

Our Thoughts:

Heidi - "I picked up the book and couldn't put it down. Loved it!"
Paige - "Really fun, very engaging. I loved the world so much. It was beautiful and I wanted to live there or visit."
Wendy - "I enjoyed it - faerie stories are lovely and this one kept me turning the pages. I didn't like the name Magpie though. When I think of a magpie I think of a big noisy bird - thought she needed a more feminine name."
Kristy - "I liked the imagery. Her writing made it easy to visualize the world. Thought the pictures were to harsh - pictured Magpie and Poppy differently."
Sue - "I enjoyed how she changed Point of View throughout the book."

Of course I loved this book or I wouldn't have chosen it. I enjoyed the amazing world and the endearing, tough characters. I don't think that I have ever read a book about faeries in my life before reading this one. But now I have read a few others - so far this has been the best. It even inspired me to get crafty and I am not a crafty person. The only problem that I have with the book is that it implied that humans are a scourge on the earth and I don't care for that kind of thing - since I believe the earth was created for our use. I believe we are stewards of the earth and we definitely need to take care of it, but I dislike the idea that we shouldn't be here at all. But the imagery is fantastic and the prose is literary and lovely.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pollywog Creek

I can't find any pictures of pollywog creek in my limited stash of childhood pictures, but here is a picture of me and my Grandpa Roy. My grandpa's brother, Gene had a home in Springfield, Missouri and we spent time their in the summers when I was a kid. We loved it and memories of being there are mixed in with my memories of grandpa so I want to share the memory with you. I wrote this for a writing class I took last February. I gave it to my grandpa before he died, but I don't think he read it. He was having trouble seeing towards the end.

I haven’t seen old Uncle Gene and Aunt Violets place since I was young. I long to see it again, but sadly it now only exists in memory and imagination. Even though we only stayed there for a few weeks out of the year, I always felt as if I was coming home. My anticipation and excitement grew as we turned down the narrow unmarked country road and crossed the rusted metal bridge that overlooked pollywog creek.

As Uncle Gene's small white house came into view my heart surged with joy. The house was not fancy and the pretty, tree shadowed yard was not large, but to me it was one of the dearest places in the world. There was a gravel driveway where visitors parked. A cobblestone path surrounded by green grass led to the front door. Yellow rose bushes, fragrant from the heat, rested under the large windows that sat on each side of the door.

When I first entered the living room through the old screen door, I was always struck with the feeling that I was not merely visiting a place, but a time. The furniture was old fashioned and draped with homemade quilts. The lack of air conditioning was accented by the portable fan that did nothing but move the warm air around. There was a television, but no cable; only an antenna that allowed a few channels to come through. The floors were made of rough wood planks that were covered in colorful braided rugs. Faded pink flowers papered the walls where black and white photos of family and friends were sprawled. Two couches were separated by a worn brown-leather recliner that was reserved for Uncle Gene when he was in the house.

The sunny kitchen sloped slightly downward from the living room. A large round table, where many crowded, but pleasant meals had been enjoyed, took up most of the room. It was strategically placed near the large front and side windows so that both the rising sun and anyone popping over for a visit could clearly be seen. The painted white walls had faded to a cheerful yellow. The windows were framed by Aunt Violet’s home-spun light blue curtains. Just off the kitchen was a back door that led out to a small porch. Only five steps brought us down to where large hickory trees shaded the yard. A hand-made wooden swing hung by thin chain from a thick branch of one of the towering trees. A well tended vegetable garden that we often invaded in search of berries and tomatoes was in the corner of the yard. On the south side of the house sat a water-well veiled in white by a flowering vine. Half of the yard near the house was kept clear; the rest of the yard was bordered by tall grasses and sun flowers waving in the wind. A well worn rocky path led down to pollywog creek.

How the creek was going to look from year to year was a surprise. Winter flooding often changed the face of it. One year rocks and sand had been pushed clear up to the lawn. The creek was bordered by short bushes with a sprinkling of pale pink and purple wild flowers. Oak trees with large trunks and great boughs spread clear out over the water. Some of the branches were very close to the ground. Often we would sit out on one of these branches and dangle our feet in the water, riveted by the different ripples that were created. The part of the creek that we loved to play in most was shallow and about twenty feet across. Further down, it meandered around the back of Uncle Gene’s property and became narrower. Here the creek was deeper and dark from the canopy of trees. The catfish that Grandpa Roy loved to catch hid at the bottom of this gloomy area. Further down stream, there were wide deep pools that were good for swimming.

In the shallow areas of the creek we would catch pollywogs, crawdads and tiny fish. Sometimes a rare turtle or two could be found. Once in a while, reddish brown snakes would be seen taking a ride down the creek with their heads raised above the water like a periscope. The sounds of the babbling creek and the rippling laughter of children splashing in the water still echoes in my mind. I remember putting my feet in the cool water and waiting for the disturbed sediment to clear. Minnows would curiously kiss my legs. Other aquatic creatures came close and then would sense that I was foreign to their world and would quickly swim away. The crawdads swam backwards. The pollywogs were fat and slow. Vibrant life is what we found in that creek behind old Uncle Gene’s house and with that life, freedom.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Shepherd of the Hills

My Grandfather, Roy Douglas Pogue, passed away recently. In honor of him, I'm sharing one of his favorite books, "The Shepherd of the Hills" by Harold Bell Wright.

Grandpa was born and raised in the Ozarks of Missouri and the kind, hardworking people of this book are so like him.

Quote from the book:

"This, my story, is a very old story.

In the hills of life there are two trails. One lies on the lower sunlit hills where those who journey see afar, and the light lingers even when the sun is down; and one leads to the lower ground, where those who travel, as they go, look over their shoulder with eyes of dread, and gloomy shadows gather long before the day is done. "


Based on actual people and events during the end of the 1800's, this brilliant tale tells of the complicated lives of the Ozark pioneers. The story vividly portrays the account of the stranger people called Dad Howitt. Having a mysterious past, his life was bound up in theirs more than they knew. The story also tells of a father, bitter over the loss of his only daughter and seeking revenge; of magnificent, untutored Sammy Lane who wanted to become a lady so she wouldn't embarrass her fiancé, Ollie Stewart; of Young Matt who loved her in silence; of Little Pete, the strange boy that no one understood; and of the Baldknobber gang on their quest to control the region.

The Beginning of a Legend:

The Shepherd of the Hills was first published in 1907. It became an immediate best-seller and one of the first million-selling books by an American author. The book was acclaimed novelist Harold Bell Wrights second publication and certainly his most famous. It was translated into seven different languages and made into four movies, one starring John Wayne in his first Technicolor film. The book sparked the beginning of tourism in Branson, Missouri, and in the Ozark mountain region of Missouri.

My Thoughts:

This book is full of beautifully written descriptions of the Ozark hills and of the simple folk who struggled to live there. The characters are quirky and endearing. It is a lovely story of redemption with a very satisfying romance.