The Stone of Kings · Writing

Finish What You Start

muse car seatDuring my blogcation, I also gave up writing in general (much to the chagrin of my muse) to focus on Charlie’s neurosurgery. The mother in me shoved Muse to the backseat, buckled it up, and let it listen once more to the audio version of the Harry Potter books just to keep it quiet so I could think more clearly about what was happening to my four-year old.

That worked for a little while.

But if you have kids, and even if you don’t, you’re probably well aware of how deafening the backseat can be. At least they’re strapped in. My ears are still ringing from the scream Charlie produced the other night. Nothing was wrong. He just felt like screaming.

Ow.

Muse did the same thing to me after we had to postpone the initial surgery date because Charlie picked up a cold. In full “Are we there yet?” mode, Muse gave me the desire to write-up a story based on my Grannie’s childhood and centering around the lifting of prohibition.

I wrote about ten pages.

Okay Muse, you need a bit of discipline. I’ve got an unfinished screenplay and the first half of another book in the works. I’ll never finish either of them if I keep starting other things.

Now that Charlie is fully recovered, Muse is brooding in time-out while I continue my screenplay to The Stone of Kings. Meanwhile, Inner Editor is shut in her room because she keeps reminding me that my page count is entirely too high for my characters to still be in Dublin and Kells.

**calls through the door** “I’ll fix it when it’s done!”

On the plus side, working on the screenplay immerses me once again into my story. So, in the spirit of finishing what I start, I’ll be resuming the analysis of characters for The Stone of Kings next Monday. Get ready to meet the fiery red-headed Hannah.

I’m picking up Wednesday Welcomes too! I’ve already got authors lined up for the next three months 😀 starting this week with the lovely Coleen Lahr! You’ll get to read a fun excerpt from her recent release, Accepted – maybe it isn’t where you belong, but who you belong with.

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have trouble finishing what you start? Do you sometimes feel like a jail warden for your inspiration? Does your muse scream louder at you during times of stress?

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Blogging Contest · Books I Love · NaNoWriMo

#20 Words Or Storyline? How Do Books Make Your “Favorites” List?

Image attributed to ALA TechSource from Chicago, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Words certainly count for a lot, but I’d have to say storyline. And even then, if something turns me off I shut the book. Conversely, if I really love the storyline, I’ll read it again and again. So I guess I’ll talk about the repeat favorites.

As a kid, my favorite book was The Secret Garden. I loved how the magic of a simple neglected garden could benefit the lives of two neglected children. Burnett didn’t even have to mention it, but you could feel Lily’s spirit helping her son and niece become happier and healthier children. Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts but it’s fun to dream about them.

A Christmas Carol is another favorite. Another ghost story. Go figure. I suppose it’s nice to think of a spirit giving us a gentle nudge (or in Scrooge’s case not so gentle) in the right direction. But I’ve also favored books such as Pride and Prejudice, where a girl doesn’t give up her values and marry for money just because her family is in a bind. I was going to list Jane Eyre and The Lord of the Rings, separately, but as odd as it is to lump them together they are both classic underdog stories. I’ve always loved the underdog.

Speaking of underdogs, Harry Potter is another favorite, but more so because of the lesson against bigotry that the books teach. A less epic, but more grown up version of this theme can be found in By the Light of the Moon. I love how the course of the story forces the characters to realize just how strongly they detest bigotry. The bonus in BTLOTM, is the words. Koontz is very descriptive, but I especially enjoy how poetic he seems to get during the more intense scenes.

One of the more frustrating books that I shut? Love In the Time of Cholera. I was enjoying the plot of life on a sugar plantation, but then it turned into page after page of details with prostitutes. What? Okay, really, I didn’t need that. Just a small description of how he went philandering, so I can get back to the plot that drew me in. Ugh. Never finished it.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 18,912 lol, don’t think I’m gonna make 50,000 by November 30th, but I’m loving how my plot is going. At least it’s been circumstances that keep me from writing and not writer’s block. 🙂 I’ll keep pushing though, to see how much I can manage this month.

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#14 A Description of Your Dream Blog

Is MY wand in there somewhere? I could really use one! Image attributed to Jeremy Thompson from United States of America via Wikimedia Commons.

The first things I thought about for my dream blog belong in the world of Harry Potter. With a simple flick of my trusty wand, my blog would magically give me compelling topics to write about, load the perfect title automatically, and come up with one-line hooks that gets folks interested in reading what I have to say.

But as Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Not only am I a simple muggle, but all those magical fixes defeat the purpose of why I blog. Unless I can magically make myself a better writer. But if I’m not mistaken, those sort of spells don’t usually work out so well. 😉

So instead, I’ll go the muggle route and talk about what would make my blog even better aside from my skills needing improved upon.

One of the main things that has always bothered me is all the quirky tech issues getting in the way of the how I’d like it to look. So yeah, I’d get all the widgets I want working properly. I could connect my readers to my publisher and eventually to my Facebook fan page (which I’ll probably set up when I get closer to releasing The Stone of Kings). I’d also have a custom-made banner design that encompasses who I am as a writer. It would represent how I try to open reader’s minds with my fiction.

Which brings me to the most important part…

I will have improved my writing so that I can encourage people to change their perceptions for the better. My blog posts (and books) will prompt others to remember to treat those around them for who they are and not what they look like. It will inspire my readers to find common interests with others rather than reasons to argue. It will influence us to learn from mistakes instead of ignore them.

And most of all, it will be fun!

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 12,809. Over 2k written yesterday without even having gone to the Y! That’s more like it! 😀

Books I Love · Writing

First Draft – Check

Yeah, probably won't be in the book, but it feels nostalgic to write it anyway.
Yeah, probably won’t be in the book, but it feels nostalgic to write it anyway.

Last Tuesday, I wrote two bitter-sweet words. The End. I’ve finished the first draft of The Stone of Kings.

On one hand, I’m super excited to be on track to get all the edits done and having people read it. The audience for Harp Lessons was my family. But the audience for The Stone of Kings are the people who enjoy series like Harry Potter or The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. I can’t wait to share it when all the polishing is finished. 😀 Here is the blurb that I have for it so far:

Twelve year old Ardan is hopelessly distracted because he wants to meet a real faerie. But when he gets his hands on a mysterious red book loaded with faerie spells and accidentally sends himself three hundred years into Ireland’s future, he soon learns that there are more important things on which to focus his attention. Throw in some immortal druids, fun storytelling, a touch of forbidden romance, along with the music and antics of the legendary Irish harper, Turlough O’Carolan, and you’ll become swept up in a very real Irish mythological adventure.

So now for the bitter part. The excitement of writing an adventure story is over. Yeah I’ve got other ideas for more books. But this one is finished. It’s strange how as a writer you come to care about your characters as if they were real people. When I wrote ‘the end,’ it was as if I was writing ‘goodbye’ to them. Now I’ll be sending them off into the world to be edited, critiqued, and eventually appreciated post-publication. I hope my audience enjoys reading about them as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

If you are a writer, do you feel the same way getting to the end of a book?

Books I Love · Writing

“I ain’t no Yankee!” – Dealing With Irrational Hatred

Yup, looks like what I did too. This was a line waiting for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Image attributed to Zack Sheppard from San Fransisco, CA via Wikimedia Commons.

In reading Kristen Lamb’s book We Are Not Alone, I’ve learned (so far) that I must define my blog a bit better. Well, I already knew this, but her book has been showing me how. However, it’s difficult to pin point exactly what kind of writer I am because even my book ideas are wildly different. Up to now, I’ve got romance, historical/fantasy, historical/adventure, dystopia, historical/sci-fi, and mystery. Yeah. So I can’t just say, “Shea McIntosh Ford – Regency Romance Novelist.”

But a common theme in all my ideas is learning to be open-minded. Hence this post’s title.

*sigh* I may be from the South, but I would never say “I ain’t no Yankee” in such a manner unless you replaced the word “Yankee” with “hater.” (I’d probably fix the grammar too. 😉 ) Since we’re in the season of ending school, I thought I might post one of my experiences from teaching.

A bit of background: I taught High School English for one semester. When I decided to resign, I thought it was due to burn out. I was frustrated because I loved the job and wanted very much to make a difference. I had no idea at the time what gluten was doing to my body. Once our youngest starts kindergarten, I may give it another try.

Back to the topic.

While reading through the textbook, trying to decide on the next piece of literature to teach, I read two essays that I loved, especially the first which was a light-hearted and witty satire on the difference between Canadians and Americans. (I wish I could remember the name and author, but Google has failed me on this one.) I chuckled through the whole reading and thought, “We could have a lot of fun with this!”

Then my 4th period class gave this idealistic teacher the proverbial kick in the pants.

Being from Canada, the author called Americans, “Yankees.” As a rookie teacher, I was so caught up with lessons plans, and trying to grade for accuracy, that I forgot how many Confederate flag mementos these kids were wearing. They took such offence to being called a Yankee, that all the humor in the essay completely missed them.

How sad!

They were so caught up in their own inherited hate, they couldn’t see something for what it was. The companion essay was worse. It was about growing up in Texas on the border of Mexico and the beauty of blending Mexican and American cultures in the author’s life. During discussion, a student made the statement, “We need to send ALL Mexicans back to Mexico.”

I will never forget the look of horror on his classmate’s face. She was Mexican-American.

Had I been a seasoned teacher, I may have been able to handle such things with more finesse. Perhaps I could have asked to which country that kid’s family should return, as it was obvious that he was not Native American. As it was, being caught off guard, I pushed through the lessons hoping that I’d opened the minds of at least a few in my classes.

A few months later, after my resignation, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released. I cried while reading it. Not so much because the plot moved me to tears. That indeed was part of it. But through the whole reading, I kept thinking, “What I wouldn’t give to be back in that classroom, armed with this book.”

To me, it read like an account of the Holocaust. Voldemort was Hitler and the Death Eaters were his Nazi soldiers. There was no mercy shown to anyone who did not have an approved heritage. Age, skill, intelligence did not matter. How sad to be filled with such hate!

The beauty of Harry Potter? Rowling illustrates the horror and evil of bigotry without “offending” anyone because it happens in the fictitious world she has created. This, in a nutshell, is why I love the Harry Potter series.

If I do get back into teaching, I’ll certainly be assigning certain essay topics from Rowling’s series for extra credit points.

Have you ever suffered from hatred and bigotry? How did you handle it? How would you have handled my racist students?