Friday, September 12, 2014

Question to Ponder

I'm looking for some thoughts because I like to hear other people's opinions about things. What does it mean to "Reclaim the Arts"? How would we go about doing so? Is it needed?

Post your comments here, or over on my Facebook page (here)

I've been hearing this term "Reclaiming the Arts for Christ" a lot lately, and wanted to know what others thought about it. While it primarily seems to be a Christian thing, hence the "for Christ" part, how do people perceive the statement? Can something like art be reclaimed?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hints about Azure and Orfhlait

It's September, and I have taken most of the summer off from writing, but it's time to begin writing again. Besides, I have Orfhlait captured, and Azure with a seriously injured brother.

Time to take care of those situations, I suppose.

For those of you anxiously awaiting news of Brun, rest assured, as Azure Maris often reminds herself, "The priesthood of Deep Waters cannot die."

The bad news for Azure fans is during September I will focus on Orfhlait's situation (good news for Orfhlait fans, though).

So what are some of things to expect in the upcoming books? Orfhlait ends up far from home, in a land she does not know, and must reconcile her Christian faith in this new world. For her, freedom begins to take on new meanings. While she is free from the convent's regulations and expectations, she is no longer free. To her mind, she has traded one slavery for another. Just how free will she ever be?

For Azure, things begin to heat up even more in Book 3 (Azure Depths). Mano Leo-mana's true self reveals himself in a way that Azure never expected. For her, she still must reconcile her need to fight Mano Leo-mana with what appears to be the Lord's will for her life. The question, Azure asks: is it ever wiser to defy God's path for one's life?

So there are some hints about what's coming up in Book 2 of Orfhlait's adventures (tentatively titled, Shamrocks in Wool) and Book 3 of Azure's adventures, (Azure Depths).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First of the Month Review - September

Back to the reviews, and I realize that today is Tuesday, but yesterday was Labor Day in the United States, so I finished up my writing vacation.

For those of you who don't know about my other site focusing on the weaving/fiber arts, Bryony Studios is the site. If you're interested in fiber arts both history and patterns, make certain to check out the Bryony Studio blog.

Also, by clicking on the book cover, it will take you directly to Amazon where you can purchase the book. Just to let you know, by clicking on the book, I receive money based upon clicks. The same is true for the other book covers as well.

How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries by Kathy Lynn Emerson is one of my to-go to books both for ideas as well as information. Quite honestly, it's pack full of interesting tidbits that help guide the new writer. Added to the notes Emerson has, she's interviewed many of the big names in historical murder mystery including one of my favorites, Elizabeth Peters, author of the Amelia Peabody series.

The book divides itself up into chapters focusing the writer's attention to details needed to create novels. Details, I might add, most of us might not consider such as love life and occupation. Now, granted, we do consider those elements: is a character married, single, widowed or separated? What is the main character's occupation? For us, these are simple answers depending upon the character development.

Yet, we must remember that cops, detectives and many other careers didn't exist. Some, as the book points out, can be manipulated. For example, a private investigator might work directly for nobleman and become a solver of riddles. In many time periods, the military acted as a police force.

For me, one of the best sections focused upon women, and some of the occupations they could have practiced. For most of human history, women have not had the freedoms men have enjoyed. In fact, in some cases, women are confined to small areas. It is often the case that the wealthier one was the more restrictions applied. Unless one had a liberal husband or father, women could find themselves in uncomfortable limitations.

The book provides you with a good overview for writing mysteries. The insights from other writers, and their suggestions help guide you through the development process. All in all, I recommend this book for anyone wanting to write an historical mystery novel or series.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Getting back into the Swing of Things

So I have a fair in a week. I've been off fairs for almost three weeks which hasn't been bad, because I've been weaving.  I'm still a writer, and balancing the writer and the weaver has proven harder than I thought it would. Not terrible, just different. I tend to focus on a job, finish it then focus on the next job. That, I might add is a wonderful excuse (though it is true) because I've also been putting off writing.

Abandoned Building in Ireland, 2007

Because I'm still navigating how the next books in Azure's and Orfhlait's series are going to progress. Granted, for Orfhlait, there is a great deal of research needed, but there are also other elements that I'm not certain how they'll play.

Also, I have other books that are finished, but just need some editing for me to submit. I would like to expand a little bit out of the Christian fiction market and into a more mainstream market. It's not unlike the photo above: lots of muck and work, but great potential. The question becomes where do I focus the energy, and how do I make a choice?

Much of it is, like the title of this post, just getting back into the swing of things. It takes discipline to set aside one project to work on another project. I've found that working a schedule set in two to four hour blocks seems to work best for me. The time limits provide enough time to get into a project, but also limits me so I don't waste time. Four hours seems to be the maximum time I can spend focused on one project, and by focused, I mean working on it steadily no matter what the elements include. It doesn't always mean weaving or writing, but sometimes includes elements around those two items.

Other things work best if I have less time allotted to it. Things like cleaning or dishes tend to take less time if I turn them into a challenge: how much can I finish in this amount of time?

The object is just to start. I had a conversation with a couple of friends last week about writing. They asked what it takes to be a writer, and I answered: "If you're waiting for inspiration, you'll never be a writer." It's a true statement. Great art involves talent, yes; but it also requires a great deal of hard work. You have to put in the time to be great at whatever it is you do.

As we transition from one season into another, take the time to incorporate your writing or art into your daily life. You might find that you have more time or less time depending on your schedule, but even putting fifteen to twenty minutes into your craft will help you improve.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crazy Busy Summer

So I mentioned last week, that yes, I'm still around, but it's been a busy summer. Now, with summer winding down, I'm looking to get back into my fairly normal routine which means that more entries will be added to the blog.

Unfortunately, September remains on my near horizon, and I have fairs basically every weekend. Yeah!

Normally, I'm not all the thrilled for busy days. I'm more of a serendipity sort of person. I like having items on my to-do list, but less then ten. Granted, when it sometimes take me a day to write a chapter in a book, having less than ten of those sorts of items to do is very practical.

My normal day would include weaving and writing and breaks. Both weaving and writing have their long stretches of work. Once I'm finished writing a novel, it needs to be edited by me, someone else (usually Mom) and lastly the editor. The editing stage can take upwards of six to eight months depending how quickly it goes.

Weaving often takes less time only because I weave a smaller amount of warp. To finish the poncho below it takes me about two days.

River Moss Poncho
Granted, the weaving is the longest portion, taking most of a day and a half to do. Putting the poncho together takes about two hours ... ish. By the way, said poncho is for sale over at my Etsy store (here).

Yet, busy days are also good days. Fair days are always busy, as are the days preceding the fair, but it's a good sort of busy. So, what about you? Do you prefer your days full of activity or do you prefer a slower day?

Monday, August 11, 2014


Just letting you all know that I haven't fallen off the edge of the world. It's been a busy summer (thankfully), and I haven't had time to slow down to post recently. Things will still be a bit hit and miss until September rolls around.

Also, by the way, look what I got in the mail finally:

Below is a photo of what I've been doing this summer. I took this photo two weeks ago at the Saturday Artisan Market at Canalside in Buffalo NY; that's my mom sitting inside my tent. If you're up in Buffalo area the first and third Saturdays of September and October 2014, this is where I'll be. Come visit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stone Walls

How are you with rejection?

Inside of an Irish church
For many of us it depends on the rejection we receive. I applied for a job recently, and while I would have liked the position, I knew it was something of a long-shot. I qualified, and would have done well, but I lived far away (the job was in England, and I live in America). The rejection was expected, though it was still disappointing.

Rejection of my books hurts a bit more, but once again sometimes you know someone won't like the story. Recently, one of my extended family members purchased two of my books to support me. She told me later she didn't really like the storyline, but I was thrilled she read Azure Maris.

When you put your heart out on the line, there is always the possibility it will be stomped upon, kicked or shot. We take that risk simply by living. Though we can protect ourselves, we often realize that in protecting ourselves, we leave important parts of our life underdeveloped like love, empathy and trust.

We like to think of ourselves as unbreakable, but we can be broken easily.

For me, it depends on the situation. If the rejection is from a distance (manuscript submission for example), I can handle it fairly well. It's the continual rejections that hurt. Not the in-your-face rejection, but the subtle disinterest. It is very much like running into a stone wall repeatedly, even though you keep hoping to find the door.

When the wall arises do you stop and turn a different path, or do you keep running into it for either a door or to break it down? I don't know. I wish I did.

For now, I keep walking, and maybe climb over the wall. It's a momentary block on my path, I just have to figure out where the path is leading.