• The Writer


    Hello! My name is Laura, welcome to my blog! I write weird stories, collect dragon plushies and stay up too late with my nose in a book. I am a wife, mom and child saved by grace. My hope is that you find encouragement here or at least a smile or too.
    God bless!

  • “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book that it may be for the time to come forever and ever.”
    ~Isaiah 30:8.

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  • Quotes

    We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    "The only just literary critic," he concluded, "is Christ, who admires more than does any man the gifts He Himself has bestowed."
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    "Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures."
    ~Flannery O'Connor

    You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
    ~Arthur Polotnik

    Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
    ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

    "There are forms of insanity that condemn people to hear voices against their will, but as writers we invite ourselves to hear voices without relinquishing our hold on reality or our right to control."
    ~Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway

    Christians have sometimes been suspicious of stories, because they really can influence you. If you read the Twilight novels once a month for a year, I think you'd be a different human afterward—and not a sparkly one.
    ~Nate Wilson

5 Excuses to Stop Making

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As writers we are full of excuses, and I am no exception.  If there is “good reason” for why that draft still sits unfinished, (or why it hasn’t even been started yet…) we will find it.  Here are five excuses to stop making and just write that book!

1. I don’t have time.

We make time for the things that are important to us.  If it’s important to you, make the time.

2. I don’t know if I can write this.

You won’t know unless you try.  If it’s an idea that is close to your heart go for it.  I’ve learned from personal experience that God plants certain ideas into our minds for a reason.  Some stories were meant only for you to write.

3. I’m not done developing.

One of my favorite excuses.  There comes a time when you need to stop researching, stop putting all those minuscule details together and just sit down and write.

4. I’ll start next week.

Code for, “never”.  How any times have you and I made this statement in our heads and then Monday rolls around and we write zilch? Too many times.  Start today.  It doesn’t matter if today is Friday or Thursday, there is no day like today to start.

5. It’s a dumb idea.

The excuse of desperation.  We’ve grown so use to making excuses for why we haven’t started for so long that know the idea has aged.  We’re so familiar with it, it no longer feels appealing.  Now is the time to silence that’s inner voices and remember why you loved the idea in the first place.  Focus on that point and start there.

There you have it.  No more excuses.  Go write something today!

Food and Writing

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A little piece of trivia you probably don’t know about me, I love to cook, and more specifically, I love to experiment with food.  I like to consider myself a hobbyist foodie.  (Foodie by hobby?)   If there is a recipe out there that everyone says is the best, I see it as a challenge to make it better, or just make it my own.

My most recent kitchen challenge has been grain free, sugar free cooking.  Grain free, sugar free living has transformed a lot of lives – one of them being my mother-in-law’s – by changing their health.  One of my baby-prepping goals is to experiment with recipes to replace my favorite grain and sugar loaded foods.  I want my children to grow up with better food choices and a different attitude when it comes to “real” food. It’s a real feel good moment when you find an alternative recipe for things like pancakes or chocolate chip cookies that you make yourself.  It’s like a little personal victory, one with spoils.

So what does food and cooking have to do with writing?  Believe it or not, a lot.  Both take the basic know-how of what you are doing and creativity.  Both can be over done and boring, or original and exciting.  They both take time, patience, practice and even some editing.  With alternative cooking, we are taking something everyone knows and changing it to make it better and surprise people with the results.  In writing, we want to take our favorite genre and turn it into something new with surprises around every corner.  Also, perhaps, we want to leave a better literary option for the next generation.

Cooking is an activity that inspires me.  When I’m stuck in writing, I turn to the kitchen.  Writing makes me want to cook, and cooking makes me want to write.  They both challenge my skills and my creativity.  Like in writing, when I play with a new recipe, I want it to be original, something I can be proud of and something other people will enjoy.  But sometimes I doesn’t turn out the way I want it too.  Sometimes it doesn’t work the first time and I have to go back, change a few things and start again.  Sometimes I think it could be better, improved with this spice or that.  Even though my husband has gone back for thirds, I’m still not satisfied.

It’s the same in writing.  We want to be original, not cliche.  We want to be proud of what we’ve done.  We want readers to be hooked and fall in love with our characters.  But there are those times when it just doesn’t work.  You can’t find the write ingredient to fill that plot whole and it’s just a big non-cohesive mess.  But then there are the times when it is where it needs to be.  Others enjoy it, it works, but we want perfection and to us, it is still lacking.  As writers we need to give ourselves permission to experiment, to write badly and not care.  We need to learn to step back, put aside that critical inner editor and leave things be.  That recipe is fine the way it is, could it be better? Probably, but to change it any further would ruin what it was meant to be in the first place.

So get in the kitchen, roll your sleeves up, make a mess, have fun and see what happens.

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If you’re interesting in my food experimentation, follow me on Instagram!

A sneak peak at some of my creations.

Coconut flour breakfast crepe.

Coconut flour breakfast crepe.

Almond meal/coconut flour chocolate chip cookies!

Almond meal/coconut flour chocolate chip cookies!

Outlines and More Outlines

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I might not always follow them once I’ve made them, but I’d be lost without them.  Outlining is a great way to get your thoughts in order and on paper, from figuring out your characters to mapping out your world.

(Jill Williamson has some great outlines and worksheets on her website.  You can find them HERE.)

Outlines make great road maps when you’re lost or stuck in a plot hole.  You don’t have to follow them to the letter, stories can change and evolve as you write, but they help keep you heading from point A to point B.  Even if you’re a seat of pants writer, on outline would be helpful, especially if you have a complex story.

I’m a spread out writer, I need lots of room on my outlines for notes and lots of details.  I’m also a character first writer, so a novel outlines helps me locate plot holes before I even start writing.

However you use outlines they are a great tool to have in any writer’s tool box.

To Give Up or To Not Give Up

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You have a story that you love, one that’s been around – either on paper or in your head – for a long time.  You’ve pulled it out several times, but each time the plot and character puzzle pieces never really fit together.  So you put it away and work on other projects until one day more of the puzzle falls into place.  Out it comes once more, you think you’ve got it.  Things are finally working and the whole things is outlined and ready to go, but when you sit down and start typing out the fourteenth rough draft the puzzle falls apart.

This is where I am (and have been) with my first novel, Heart of Hope, that I wrote back in 2005.  I worked on editing it on and off for a couple of years before finally putting it aside for I-didn’t-know-how-long.  It sat in my folders for a few years gathering virtual dust until the plot began to reshape itself in my mind.  Everything got a much needed over haul and the story finally began to grow up to a more un-cliched work of fiction.  I was excited to be working on it again.  Even though it had been a headache before, I still loved it and wanted to make it work.  I thought it was finally there, but as I began to construct the new rough draft it just stopped.  I fell once more into a gaping plot hole.  Once I finally crawled out of it I tumbled right into another even larger one.

I had lost count of how many times this had happened, of how many times I had excitedly pulled it out thinking it would finally work to watch it all fall apart over and over again.  When do I just call it quits?

Let it Go and Give it Up?

This story is nearly nine years old, it’s just a first novel, maybe it’s time to just let it go and give it up…but…I don’t want to.  I’ve been going over and over the debate of forgetting about it and moving on or just letting it sit for a while again or working on it anyway.  I know from experience that forcing it will only make things worse, but is it time to say goodbye?

I think we all have a soft spot in our writer’s hearts for our very first completed book.  It was our first baby, our first great accomplishment in our journey to becoming writers.  We love it, we hate it, we want to throw it away, but we stick with it.  We feel this way about most if not all of our stories/novels.  So what do we do when one just doesn’t work even though we’ve sweat blood and spend countless hours perfecting it?

Let Yourself Move On. 

I’ve come to the conclusion with this book that it’s time to just move on.  It’s not like I don’t have an army of other stories waiting to be written.  But part of me doesn’t want to move on because I think by “giving up” that I am failing in some why as a writer.  But that mind set is wrong.  When a story doesn’t work you haven’t failed, it’s just not working and we need to accept the fact that no matter how much we love it, it may never work.

For now Heart of Hope will be the story I may dabble with here and there when I need a break from something else, but I won’t beat myself up if it never fully works or ends up as a paper back in Barns and Nobles.  I’m still learning and I am far from perfect.  We don’t have to “give up” on a story that we love, but there comes a time when we may need to let it go and move on.  Don’t feel like a failure when that happens, even though you don’t have a workable draft you’ve gained that much more experience you can apply to another project.

Writing is hard and ideas don’t always pan out and that’s okay.  As writers we just need to keep trucking ahead one story at a time until something does work and we get to write those two satisfying words – The End.


Have you had any stories that just wouldn’t work no matter what you did?  Let me know in the comments. 

Like what you’ve read?  Check out other posts on writing and subscribe! 

Keeping a Journal

Want to know a great way to write every day?  Keep a journal!

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, I know I have, but it’s a good thing to be reminded of.  I use to keep a journal every year and even if the entries were rather sporadic at points it was a good exercise and it’s fun to look back on who I was that year.  One of my writing goals for this year is to keep a journal again, (or make a really good effort to keep one 😛 ).  I want to remember what my thoughts were as this new little one grows inside me or as we prepare to move into our house once remodeling is finished or what it’s like the moment I hold my child for the first time.

Keeping a journal isn’t just a good writing exercise, it’s a good way to capture memories.  When you write down what your thoughts were on a certain day, during a certain event in your life, then go back and read it months or years later, the memory is fuller, crisper, because there are details written down that you may have forgotten.

Give it a try this year.  Pick out a special looking note book, or type it out on your computer.  You don’t have to write much, you don’t have to write everyday.  You can write in the morning, afternoon, evening, or all of the above.  Just put some thoughts down on paper, even if you think they are silly or embarrassing.

Just go with the flow.

NaNoWriMo September

Who’s up for NaNoWriMo in September?  Well, it’s not exactly NaNoWriMo, there isn’t a set word count, the only “rule” is to have whatever project you’re working on done by the end of September.

I’m doing this for myself as a bit of a kick in the proverbial pants.  I’ve been outlining and developing all year (and procrastinating, lots of that), and I wanted to have at least one draft done before 2015 rolls around.  This is a kick starter.

NaNoWriMo September (my creation of it anyway), is for anyone who has a writing project that needs a little push.  Whether you’re editing, writing or outlining, it’s a motivational spur on along with accountability to meet your goals.

I and  a small handful of friends and fellow writers are doing it together, it’s going to be awesome.

Not to worry, I will finish the fantasy series (and hopefully start working on another soon…), I’m just switching priorities for the moment.  Refocusing goals and what-not.

So what about you?  Do you need a little push to start/finish a project?  Join us!

Coming Back to Reality

Last week my husband and I were in Kansas for the 2014 One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop.  As always it was an inspiring week, (and exhausting 😛 ).  Though rather tired, I feel ready to really jump back into writing and outlining, and blogging too!  There are so many ideas swarming around in my head write now, stories and posts I want to work on.  It’s going to be a challenge just picking where to start!

After spending a week with friends, learning and being challenged as a writer, it’s hard coming back to reality – back to the mundane of everyday life.  But even so, real life is what inspires stories and gives us the tools we need to tell them.  Now to catch up on sleep…

…More thoughts to come…

Here are some snapshots from last week. 🙂

Couples picture!  Daniel and I are the ones dresses as Kirrito and Asuna. ;)

Couples picture! Daniel and I are the ones dressed as Kirito and Asuna. 😉

I got to met and hang out with one of my favorite authors Jill Williamson!  If you haven't read her books you should!

I got to met and hang out with one of my favorite authors Jill Williamson! If you haven’t read her books you should!

The peoples we got to eat lunch and dinner with.  I love this group.

The peoples we got to eat lunch and dinner with. I love this group.

To the Frustrated and Frazzled Writer – It’s Okay to Walk Away

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We’ve all been there.  Your story is just not working, but you’re on a deadline!  You have to get the last 10 chapters done in the next two weeks, you just have to!  But the more you try to force creativity, the worse it gets.  Now all you’re doing is beating against a mental brick wall that refuses to budge.   It’s big, it’s in the way and it’s size mirrors the enormity of your frustration.

Deadlines can be a blessing and a curse.  Some writers flourish under the pressure of deadlines, others crack, while some are 50/50.  Deadlines are good, they help us achieve our goals, but they can also become looming specters casting shadows over our work and peering over our shoulders, striking us with anxiety.  When plot holes begin to swallow you and you’ve run down so many bunny trails you’re head is spinning it may be time to get up, put the story aside and walk away.

Everyone’s creative process is different.  Some can whip out the stories.  It’s as easy has mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Each new batch brings out dozens of new and amazingly satisfying ideas.  Plot holes are foreign to them, woody characters don’t exist and they’ve never head of this mysterious ailment known as “Writer’s Block”.   Others are constantly plagued by creative blockage and instead of delicious chocolate chip cookies, they’re stories look more like old Swiss Cheese.  Then of course we have those who are in between.  They deal with plot holes, but it’s not too difficult for them to full.  They may burn a few batches, but in the end they have a nice gooey batch of chocolate chip goodness.

I’m of the second group.  Writing is my passion, it’s something I feel at home doing, something I was made to do, but it is also the hardest taste I have ever undergone.  I love developing new stories, it’s my favorite part of the creative process and it’s also the most frustrating.  I’m constantly falling into plot holes, frantically looking for new and better ideas to fill them.  When I first started writing I got into the bad habit of blazing ahead and writing rough drafts even thought half my outline was empty.  As a result I created more work for myself later on in the form of a cliched pile of Swiss Cheese instead of a golden chocolate chip cookies.  It frustrated me to no end.  (I’d rather of cookies then cheese any day!)

I blazed ahead because I wanted to have written.  I wanted to be the person who when asked how many books I had finished, I could proudly proclaim “Oh, fifteen or twenty.  I’ve lost count.”  As writers we tend to look at the amount of things we have finished as our status.  As Michael Kanin put it, “I don’t like to write, but I like to have written.”  Walking away is not an option, WE HAVE TO FINISH IT RIGHT NOW.

Walking away may be the best thing you ever do for yourself and for your story.  It was hard for me to finally admit this it and to actually take action on it.  It’s okay if your writing process is slow, if it takes more than a few months or a year for a story to rise to it’s true potential.  It’s okay to walk away from the draft, deadline or not.  In fact, it’s okay to walk away from writing all together for a time if need be.

Whether it’s walking away for a day, a month or a year it’s okay.  Walking away doesn’t make you a failure as a writer, it just means you need a break, a breather, some time to give your imagination a time to recuperate.  Find a good book, spend some time enjoying nature or family.  Ideas come from life and the stories we read.  If you’re lacking ideas, take a break and look around you, the answer may be hidden under an old dusty cover or in a moment with a loved one.  Where ever it is, you’re not going to find it by staring at your computer screen.

Plot Change

I have finally written a synopsis for Heart of Hope’s new plot.  (For some reason writing a synopsis for this book has always been difficult.)

After sitting on the shelf for over two years it’s back out.  I started this book at fifteen and finished it at eighteen and it had a lot of growing up to do.  I fought with it on and off for a year or so until I finally had to shelf it, and honestly, it was the best thing I could do for it.  Now, nine years after it’s creation, Heart of Hope is growing up.   I’ve grown and matured as a writer and as a person.  I have more experience and a bit more practice since then and I’m hoping this rewrite does the trick.

Slowly but surely it’s moving from cliched first book to an adventure fantasy I’d actually want to read.  Hurry for progress!

Anywho…here is the new working synopsis.  Whatchya think?

In a land ruled by humans, elves and dwarves are looked down on as “lesser races”. If you are anything but full human, you are nothing. Avalyn is a half-elf. Her and her mother Rhea struggle to survive in a world that sees them as tainted. When Rhea is arrest and taken as a dept-slave, Avalyn does everything she can to buy her mother’s freedom.

The King of Barita is not content with the human realm, he want’s it all. Allied with an ancient power, he launches a war against the elven and dwarven kingdoms. With the dwarven kingdom crumbling, all he needs is someone of elven blood to bring him the key to the elf’s downfall and Arcana will be his.

Avalyn is given a chance to win her mother’s freedom and pay all depts, but can she betray a people who make up half of what she is? Can she see past a web of lies and see she is not what has been branded on her? Will she discover the truth before it’s too late and if so, will she accept it?

 

P.S.  Posts coming soon!

“It’s Okay to Walk Away”

“Letting Your Story Grow”

No Cheating Allowed: Creating Fulfilling Endings

Ever finish a movie or book and had this weird unfulfilled feeling?  It ended happily-ever-after, the hero’s love died but was miraculously resurrected by a healing potion the secondary character’s third cousin twice removed had in their back pocket.  It was beautiful, you almost cried, but as you closed the cover or watched the credits roll something just wasn’t quite right.  Everyone was fine, the journey over, the villain defeated, so why does it feel like it’s not really over?  Because you were cheated.  

 

The Cost of Freedom

Nothing is free, even for a save-the-day hero.  There is a cost to saving the world or those you love.  The hero can not live through a battle, achieve the story goal, came to the end of their journey or defeat the villain without losing something.  Freedom for the world or even for themselves, is not free.  We all know this, it’s part of the rules of life, which is why at the end of a film or book, if the price for that happily-ever-after has not been paid, we feel cheated.  It always annoyed me when characters would walk through fire and come out unscathed.

The cost for freedom could be a number of things, but if we look carefully in the stories we love and walked away from feeling fulfilled, we will find the price.

In The Lord of the Rings the cost for saving Middle-Earth was high.  The Fellowship lost Boromir, The Hobbit’s lost the Shire and had to fight another war to save it.

How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup loses his leg.

Tangled, even though Rapunzel saved Flynn, she lost the healing power of her hair.

I recently finished a story where the main character lost his love.  I couldn’t believe it when it happened.  Just when you thought the battle had been won and the hero and his love were safe, the villain emerged and the hero had to fight one more time.  The cost of his victory was high, I hated it, but at the same time I knew it had to happen.  The price had been paid.  Through the tears of grief I felt for the hero I was applauding the writer because they had fulfilled that price.

 

No Cheating

I loved the movie How to Train Your Dragon, but it was the ending that really set it in my top five favorite movies.  Hiccup had fought an incredible battle and won, if he had come out of it unscathed, the ending wouldn’t have the home driving punch it has.  Not only was it the price for defeating the Green Death, but it also linked Toothless and Hiccup more closely.

I read a book series several years ago that did not fulfilled the price.  It almost did, but the writer did not follow through.  In the final battle the hero (a girl) was badly burned.  She was healed but the burns left behind hideous scars.  She was distraught because her face was ruined.  I was trying hard to like this series.  I found them cheesy and an example of how not to write several things, but finally, they were about to be redeemed, or so I thought.  Finally the hero was human, someone I could relate to, someone I felt for, then, out of nowhere, her scares were taken away.  Needless to say I felt very cheated.  

(This is why characters brought back to life really bug me.  They died, the hero mourned, the hero grew, the hero moved on.  If you kill a character, please, keep them dead.)

 

What Will be the Price?

The price the hero pays could be physical, or, it could be emotional.  They could lose someone or something.  They could have witnessed something, (maybe innocents paying the price), that has left their heart scared.  The price could even be change.

At the end of The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbits have taken back the Shire and began rebuilding it.  Life is slowly slipping into a new normal for the residents of the Shire, except one, Frodo.  Sam, Marry and Pippin are beginning new lives of their own, settling into things, but Frodo’s shoulder still hurts, his four fingered hand is a constant reminder, too much has changed for him, he can’t go on.  The Ring took something from Frodo, something the peace of a long life in the Shire can’t erase.  The price of being the Ring Bearer took too much of a toll and so he leaves.  He doesn’t just leave the Shire, as Bilbo did years after his adventure, he leaves Middle-Earth.

Sometimes the price is the hero’s old life.  After all they’ve been through, with all the scares they bare, they can not return, they can only move on.

As human beings, we seek fulfillment.  Even though we cry and don’t like it when the hero loses someone, we still walk away feeling fulfilled, (whether we realize it or not).  We can’t have things for free in real life, and even though stories are an illusion of real life, the same rule applies.  You can’t take that dream job without moving and saying goodbye to your family.  You can’t learn that lesson and grow without giving something up.  Sadly, a lot of modern writers don’t want to make their hero’s pay the price.  They don’t want to make people sad, so the cheat, but instead of just not making people sad, they take away something more important.  Stories are meant to be fulfilling in a good way.  Through their illusion of reality, they’re suppose to give us a piece of the fulfillment we seek.  They’re meant to make us wonder why that, even though it broke our hearts, we still loved it.

Whatever the price is, it’s there.  Whether it’s emotional or physical the price must be paid.  It’s a good feeling when you read the words “The End”, close the book and let out a small sigh thinking to yourselves, “That was a good story”.

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