Friday, September 28, 2012

What Are You Waiting For? Blogfest winners! Woot!

Hi everyone! A big thank you to those of you who participated in my first ever blogfest. That was fun! Your entries were so intriguing and diverse!

I thought it was interesting seeing everyone's different interpretations of the coin toss (what the coin looked like, what heads and tails represented, which side the coin landed on and what that meant for the character...). Great job, all of you!!!

Without further ado, I'd like to announce the winners! Congratulations to Angeline Trevena and Laura E Brown! Loved your entries. You were all amazing, though! It was so hard to pick just 2!

Ok, so... that was so much fun I want to do it again soon... I hope you'll give me any suggestion for making it bigger and better next time!

A big CYBERHUG to you all and thanks again for playing with me this week. You're awesome!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

In Memoriam...

When I first began riding, Trevor was already ancient. 30 years young for an appaloosa is pretty darn impressive. That was five years ago.

Trevor and I had a tenuous relationship at best. He knew what he wanted to do and most of the time it was not at all what I wanted or expected from him. Being bossed around by a mostly blind, mostly white appaloosa is no bowl of cherries, I can tell you that. But I learned a lot from him.

My most memorable moment with Trevor came on a regular old morning as I was tacking him up for a practice ride. Apparently Trevor had other things in mind for his morning. When I turned around with his saddle in hand I found him lying on the ground, his head hanging from the pole where the rope was looped. I panicked (of course). His eyes were rolled back and he was unresponsive. My good buddy, Leslie, bolted off to get our instructor as I desperately tried to get the halter unhooked so that his head would lie on the ground and he wouldn't suffocate.

When Leslie returned with Debbie, we managed to get him unhooked and then tried, repeatedly, to get him to stand up, to no avail. Someone ran to get the vet, also a boarder at our barn. She came and checked his vitals... everything seemed to be fine. Trevor just wouldn't respond to any of us. In the meantime, I was in tears, fearing I'd killed this horse, or that he'd died while under my care at least...

Close to 10 minutes had passed by and Trevor was still on the ground with his eyes rolled back. Then Debbie had an idea. She ran to the tack room and returned with Trevor's favorite cookie. She waved it in front of him and, eyes still closed, Trevor lifted his head and sniffed eagerly. We all jumped back and Debbie lured that crafty horse to his feet with the cookie! The vet looked him over and pronounced him well enough for all that...

Trevor had just decided that he didn't want to go for a ride that day... and that scaring the life out of ME would be more fun. I never forgave him for that, really. And I'm sure he snickered to himself every time he saw me at the barn.

I learned a few days ago that Trevor has finally crossed the river. Wily trickster that he was, I'm sure he's living large on the other side. Hope you find all the green grass you could ever eat, old man.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What Are You Waiting For? Blogfest!!!

**Does a little happy dance** Yay for blogfest day and yay for people participating! I can't wait to read your entries!

If you still want to join, it's not too late!

Here's the idea: I really love flash fiction, so in 300 words or less, tell me about a character you are writing (or make one up) who faces a choice... and have him/her flip a coin to make a decision.

Post your entry on your blog TODAY!!! Wednesday 9/26 and leave a message in the comments so that I don't overlook you and so that the others can see what you've done!

Also, If you don't already know, I'm starting an editing business called Writing Refinery (website coming soon). Two lucky entrants will receive a free critique of the first 30 pages of your manuscript! So write craftily, grasshoppers!

Monday, September 24, 2012

What are you waiting for? Blogfest!

Ok, y'all... I've never done this before, so... we're flying by the seats of our collective pants here :) It's blogfest time!

I wanted to say hi to all my new followers! I'm so happy you are all here! It's because of YOU that we're "festing" at all! I look forward to many chances to dialogue with you all about life, blogging, writing, and more!

I read this quote today:
"When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin.  It works not because it settles the question for you, but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for."
and I was inspired. Deliberation can so often lead to inaction. Sometimes you just need to stop worrying and make a decision!

So without further ado here it is....

I really love flash fiction, so in 300 words or less, tell me about a character you are writing (or make one up) who faces a choice... and have him/her flip a coin to make a decision.

Post your entry on your blog on Wednesday 9/26 and leave me a message in the comments so that I don't overlook you! If you don't already know, I'm starting an editing business called Writing Refinery. Two lucky entrants will receive a free critique of the first 30 pages of your manuscript! So write craftily, grasshoppers!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

100 followers! Let's party!

Yesterday I passed a blogging milestone! I now have 100 followers! Hi guys! Yay! I wanna welcome everyone who is new. I look forward to our future crazy conversations!

In honor of reaching 100 followers, I'm going to throw my very own Blogfest/Giveaway! Next Wednesday, September 26th, please join me here for fun and prizes.

Thanks for being such a great community of encouragement, advice, and inspiration!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest, Woot!

I'm happy to be participating in Alex Cavanaugh's awesome Genre Favorites Blogfest today!

One blogfest, four favorites!
List your favorite genre of:
And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!

Here are my faves.
My Favorite Movie Genre: Fantasy (and yeah, this particular movie would be a guilty pleasure...) I love Fantasy!
I'm very visual and I really enjoy that you can make up the rules for the world (i.e. people can fly and do magic) and that characters and places can be as beautiful or as gruesome as you imagine then to be... that Unicorns and Fairies exist there and that people wear such unusual clothes!

My Favorite Music Genre: Folk and Anti-Folk
I love these two genres and the juxtaposition between them. The lyricism, flow, and social commentary all speak to me deeply... 

My Favorite Book Genre: YA Fantasy
I like this genre for the same reasons I like Fantasy movies... anything is possible! You create the world, you create the rules, you tell us what happens. (It's why I write it, too.) I love diving into other people's worlds and learning how things work.

In YA I feel like the characters, even if they start out jaded and hardened by their pasts, have so much potential for growth... that they don't always have to end up as jaded as they start out... because they're younger, perhaps, I feel like they are more resilient and more likely to experience dramatic change.


My Guilty Pleasure: It's funny because fantasy used to be my guilty pleasure... I was a Lit major and have been known to be very serious with my reading list... I guess my guilty pleasure is reading new books (that have just been published) and best sellers instead of just focusing on the classics.

That's all for today. We're off to the mountains for the end of the week, so I should have some fun photos for you all when we return.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blogging frequency: A guide for blogging introverts

writers' week writing contest A person can only do so much to change their nature. After that, you have to figure out how to be in the world as who you are.

My name is Elisabeth and I am an introvert. Today I want to talk to you for a moment about blogging as an introvert. I often look at my Twitter and Facebook feeds and the frequency of posts by other bloggers and wonder if anyone will even hear me in this tree-filled forest of posting maniacs. Does that happen to you, too?

I have pondered and struggled with this topic ever since I started blogging. How often should I publish new posts on my blog? Inability to keep up with frequency of posting is one of the main reasons that new bloggers drop out of the cyber-community, sadly, usually before they ever begin to discover its real benefits. I've found (and researched to be true) a few points about blogging frequency that I'd like to share, though, that will hopefully encourage those of you other blogging introverts to keep at it.

Firstly, you may be tempted to set yourself a rigid and ambitious goal for posting based on the "Well, everyone else is doing it" principle. If you're a machine of discipline, this can be beneficial, and it's likely how you approach most aspects of your life. Good for you! For the rest of us, let's set a goal of posting at a schedule that is realistic and attainable.

Don't start out at seven posts a week! Even you extroverts may find out that (shockingly) you don't have that much to say after the first week or so! Consistency is important, so shoot for something you can achieve at first (a couple of times a week to start) and then ratchet it up from there based on reader engagement and consistent content creation.

Consistency does not necessarily mean regularity. We writers are artists, after all. We needn't always post at the exact same time on the exact same day every week. Give yourself a break! Blogging should be fun! If it's not, you're missing the point. (Same goes for writing, actually. Huh... that's nice to hear from myself today.)

Now, more posting means more traffic on your blog, and that's a good thing. Search engines love new content and your place in the SEO indexes will rise. But you have to consider your goals. If your goal is for your blog to show up on the first page of a Google search for "zombie apocalypse", then get cracking and make sure you mention the zombie apocalypse no fewer than 2 times and no more than 5 in each post (too many times and your posts will drop off because of key word stuffing... interesting, huh?).

For those of you who are interested in QUALITY of post content... less means more. The better your content, the more likely you are to hook new readership and engage your current readers. This is good news for introverts! We can be thoughtful and move at a slightly more slow pace and still have an active, engaging blog. You'll have slightly less, but infinitely more meaningful, traffic on your posts. Yay!

Thing is, just posting on your blog isn't going to get you the traffic and engagement you want. If you want people to connect with what you're saying in the blogging world you have to engage with them, too. (This is where the introverts out there cringe.)

Here's the good news. Especially in this community of amazing and inspirational fellow writers, everyone is super awesome and supportive! When you see an interesting post, comment on that post. Don't be shy. If your response is thoughtful and polite, the author will be ever so grateful and will likely return the favor! And when you run up against the inevitable trolls (those that are neither thoughtful nor polite), the amazing community that's out there will come to your rescue. I've seen it happen.

Blogging can be an introvert's dream. It's a great way to engage in the dialogue relevant to your interests, and can be as high- or low-impact as you want it to be. So dive in! And don't stress about "doing it right." Just be yourself!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top Ten Books That Make Me Think (About The World, People, Life, etc.)

I'm jumping on the bandwagon this morning and participating in Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish blog with a different top ten, book related list theme every Tuesday (see the full list here).

This week's theme: Top Ten Books that made me THINK. Here they are, in no particular order...

1. Of Mice and Men - I can remember reading this book... I was in middle school. I cried. If I tell you why, though, it'll give away the ending. John Steinbeck really made me think about innocence (and the loss of...) and  responsibility. Haunting.

2. Everything is Illuminated - Profoundly beautiful and devastating, all at once. Jonathan Safran Foer... I am humbled to think that he is the same age as me... his writing, his storytelling, blows me away. The second World War features large in this book, as does the theme of forgiveness.
Front Cover

3. The Wicked Day - This is the 4th book in Mary Stewart's Arthurian series... and she once again worked her magic. Mordred, a classic villain, became a sympathetic character to me. So much so that I had to ask myself questions about fate, unavoidable destiny, and evil.

4. The Longings of Women - I know what you're thinking, but it's not like that. Marge Piercy (my absolute favorite poet) has written a zillion novels too... and this one's affecting characters will make you reconsider the assumptions you make about strangers and near strangers (like the girl who works at the coffee shop, or your housekeeper...).
The Longings of Women

5. My Year of Meats - I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago here. This book, by Ruth Ozeki, isn't designed to convert people to vegetarianism... but that's just what it did for me. A thought provoking look at American culture (as marketed to the rest of the world), the media culture (as part of that marketing machine), the meat industry (doing the marketing), and marketing (as a vehicle for telling the story you want, whether it's true, or applicable, or none of the above)... all wrapped up in an ironic novel full of sarcasm and humor.

6. Wicked - Another book that made me reconsider a classic villain... and how the face of evil, and the face of beauty, sometimes changes with knowledge and perspective. Gregory Maguire... you really know how to mess with the establishment. Thank you.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)

7. The Other End of the Leash - This is a non-fiction entry by Patricial McConnell. Yes, I'm one of those people that spends an inordinate amount of time staring at my dog wondering if he's content, what he's thinking, how to make him understand what I am thinking... and this book really lays it out in detail. It's a beautiful way to open the door of understanding between you and your canine companion.
The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs

8. Of Wolves and Men - Another non-fiction entry by Barry Lopez. This comprehensive look at wolves (biological, historical, mythological, political) really shed some light on the world of wolves... the people who demonize them and the people who romanticize them.
Of Wolves and Men

9. More Ready Than You Realize - Back in 2003, this book by Brian Mclaren pushed me outside of my comfortable little conservative Christian bubble... my life has not been the same since. Non-fiction entry.
More Ready than You Realize: The Power of Everyday Conversations

10. Little House in the Big Woods - yeah, sure, we all read Little House by Laura Ingalls Wilder when we were kids... and we joke about the "purity" and the "simplicity" of it now... but you want a picture of how daily life went for the pioneers? You want to take the time to really think about how harsh that simple life really was? Read it again as an adult... and think about how few generations removed we are from that reality. I tell you, it boggles the mind.
Little House In The Big Woods
So that's all from this kid for today. I hope you'll share some of your own significant reads with me, too. I'm eager to read books that make me THINK.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

IWSG! Self-doubt

I don't think I could be more clear in my choice of topic today for Insecure Writer's Support Group (thanks Alex Cavanaugh for hosting).

Trouble is, expressing it... self-doubt... is not as easy as it sounds. It creeps in for me in more places than just in my writing... I find myself leaving projects undone because I feel that no one will care but me, that my creation is amateur, juvenile, worthless.

And then I remember the Artist's Way, a book given to me by my awesome Uncle Pat (everyone should have an awesome Uncle Pat, by the way... he's an inspiration. Remind me to tell you about him sometime). In the book, Julia Cameron talks about allowing your creations to take form, about not having expectations of yourself that each thing you create (especially the early attempts) be perfect.

It's helpful for me to think that way... that each thing I create (story, painting or stuffed cat) is a step along my journey... and each step is beautiful, even if it seems awkward to me.

Sigh... so I'm here, finishing things that I've started now and being happy that I'm a step closer to where I want to be.

Anyone else feel this way? Just me?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blue Moon rising

The blue moon peeked through the trees out back on Friday night before unfurling its luminescence, washing the landscape in its milky glow. We had a fire in the pit and spent some time basking in the moonlight. I am often surprised at the turn of the season, at how quickly it comes up... it's time for new things now. Hello September... Hello Fall.