Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Arts and Crafts Anyone?

A couple of months ago three of my siblings re-painted and re-arranged their rooms. Since I have my own room now, the only changes that I have made so far have been to get rid of the bunk bed that was there and replaced it with two single beds, one is for guests or if my sister comes home to visit. I also moved a tall shelf-thing from where it had been at the end of the bunk beds to the corner next to my bed and moving a canvas picture from in between the windows to a different wall.

During all of the re-painting and re-arranging of rooms, I had the idea to get a stencil and paint it in between the windows in my room. It took me a while to figure out what type of stencil I wanted to get and what size. The stencil that I ended up with is a set of 3 small-ish size stencils with an owl and flowers on them. After I had bought the stencils they sat in my room because I didn't know if I wanted to paint them all white and then go over them with another color so that they didn't blend into the grey-blue colors of my walls. A while back I had purchased a pack of two canvases to paint on, even though I am not an artist, as well as some paint. The first canvas I ended up using for abstract painting and the other canvas ended up sitting blankly in my room until recently.

Then the other day I was upstairs in my room doing something else when I had the idea to use some of the owl/flower stencils on the canvas. After grabbing a pencil I used a couple strips of Washi tape to hold down the stencil with the owl on it and started tracing. Once the owl was finished I added some flowers and leaves to the corners and then used a black pen to go over the pencil lines. In typical me fashion I forgot to take a picture of the canvas with just the stencils on it and I only thought of it after I started painting. So here is the finished product as well as an in-progress picture that I took.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Winning NaNo with a Slight Discrepancy

While it took me twenty-eight days to do it, but I won NaNoWriMo this year. But the writing of my novel is far from over because there is still quite a bit that I would like to add to it. Now that NaNo is finished I need to find the motivation to finish it and not let it sit and collect dust on my USB drive.

During the month of November there was one day during the beginning and then two days this past week where I didn't reach the daily word goal of 1,667 words. But I managed to make it up by writing anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 words each day to keep moving forward. Since all writing platforms (eg Google Docs, Microsoft Word, etc.) all have slight variations on what they consider words, like hyphenated words and that sort of thing. According to Word, numbers, when they are written out like 1234, are counted as words, which I thought was interesting but I kept it. And when I went to validate my novel after reaching 50,048 words the website added a few more words making the total 50,088 words. While that may be considered cheating, I went with it and was considered a winner.

Of course, I wasn't sure how much time I would have for writing the last week because I had three late nights for work and I was gone all day Tuesday. But I ended up staying up till 12:30 am Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning and finished then. Which may not have been that smart of an idea because I had to work late Wednesday evening and I had been up since 5:30 Tuesday morning. I survived and reached 50k words on my novel. Now to stay motivated and keep writing.

Anyhow that Is all I have to say at the moment. But I will be back to share other random topics/ideas that come to mind. In the meantime Happy First Sunday of Advent and Happy Liturgical New Year.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving and a NaNo Update!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers and NaNo-ers from the US. I hope everyone enjoyed reading the two articles that I wrote and shared the past two weeks as well as the first NaNo update I shared. Because this can be a busy holiday for people here in the states I know that the word counts won't get added too, but I thought I would share some encouraging words today with a brief update on how I am doing.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
In my last update, I mentioned how I had made a calendar with a personal word goal for each day on it as well as using an outline and doing research on several different topics. Well, I have managed to keep up and still stay on top of my word count even though I started my job at Kohl's last week. Over the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that I tend to write the most at night when my family is starting to either head off to bed or sit in a different room quietly reading. Typically that happens between 9:00 - 10:00 pm, sometimes starting around 8:30, but time doesn't really matter because I tend to put earbuds in and turn on my Spotify playlist and start typing.

As often as I think I need quiet/silence to focus when I write, I often find that I write better when I have background noise going on around me. Which is why I often listen to words with lyrics when I have music on while writing. I also can sit in places like Starbucks or Panera Bread and be able to get words out because it is all background noise and doesn't interrupt very often. When its a movie or a TV show for background noise then it is a bit of a different story because it is more distracting and you end up concentrating on that instead of writing.

Last week while I was working on my story one evening I named a semi-important side character Simon and I had a moment where I almost spell it as Sighmon...but I caught myself in time before I had written it. My first casualty for NaNo was a bug and it wasn't in my novel...It was on my computer screen if that counts at all... And to add to the fun of writing a novel in 30 days nothing shows "I need new ideas to add to my novel" better than a car catching on fire and Sir Lancelot showing up in the living room and eating pineapple while the MC is trying to have a serious conversation with him about something.

Well, that is all I have for today's update! If I don't post an update on the 30th, I will post one sometime in the beginning of December to let you all know how I did. In the meantime here are the links for the two articles that I wrote and shared, in case you missed them before.

Tolkien and Lewis on Fantasy and Magic and Invitation to Murder: Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Invitation to Mystery: Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys

This is another article that I wrote for I&F, which is now called Fellowship and Fairydust. And this article is, as the title says, about Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys books.

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

In 1926, the dearly loved Hardy Boys books were created by Edward Stratemeyer. The year 1930 saw the creation of Nancy Drew, the greatly loved girl detective by Stratemeyer as well. Both series were ghostwritten under the names Franklin W. Dixon and Caroline Keene. Most of The Hardy Boys series was actually written by a gentleman named Leslie McFarlane, and the Nancy Drew series was written by a lady named Mildred Benson.
When Edward Stratemeyer first brought up the idea of the Nancy Drew series to the Grosset and Dunlap publishing company, who were publishing The Hardy Boys series at the time, he suggested that they call the series Stella Strong stories, Diana Drew stories, Diana Dare stories, Nan Nelson stories, Nan Drew stories or Helen Hale stories. After looking at the names that Stratemeyer had given them, the editors decided to use “Nan Drew,” and lengthened Nan to Nancy.
When The Hardy Boys were taken to Grosset & Dunlap, on the other hand, Stratemeyer suggested that the books be called The Keene Boys, The Scott Boys, The Hart Boys, or The Bixby Boys. For unknown reasons, the editors went with The Hardy Boys.
One thing that many people may or may not notice is that both The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books are written as a kind of form novel. All of the books in both series have twenty chapters and are between 170 pages and 180 pages. The series’, however, follow their main character(s) in different ways.
In a Nancy Drew mystery, when Nancy stumbles upon a mystery, it is either connected to something that her father is working on, or someone asks her to solve it. Nancy either works alone or with her friends, Bess and George, their dates, Burt and Dave, and her special friend Ned. Though a lot of her mysteries happen in or around River Heights, Nancy will on occasion travel to different states or out of the country to solve one. Some of the places that she has traveled to are Japan, New York, Turkey, and Illinois. When she is working on a mystery, Nancy does work with her father on occasion. When she does, Nancy enjoys it as well as working with her aunt, who will at times give her a mystery to work on.
Frank and Joe Hardy work on any mystery that comes their way, and they like working together. As in the Nancy Drew series, the Hardys will come across a mystery that is either connected to one that their father is working on, or someone will ask them to work on one for them. At times their friends Chet, Biff, Phil, Jerry, and Tony like to help them work on solving the mysteries. Though she doesn’t really seem interested when she actually is in the mysteries that Frank and Joe do, their Aunt Gertrude likes to visit the Hardy family. Again, like in the Nancy Drew series, the mysteries that Frank and Joe work on will sometimes take them either out of state or out of the country. They also enjoy working closely with their father, a bit more than Nancy Drew, when there is a mystery.

Though they are similar, both the Nancy Drew series and The Hardy Boys have their slight differences. One difference is how closely the Hardy boys work with their father on a mystery, compared to the fact that Nancy and her father don’t often work on mysteries together. Even though there are differences here and there in the books, anyone can and will enjoy a good Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book.

Friday, November 9, 2018

NaNo Update

Originally I wasn't going to share an update. Instead, I was going to do a couple of posts, like I did back in September, where I shared the pictures I am taking during another Instagram photo a day challenge that is NaNo related. But after I thought about it I changed my mind and decided to give you an update instead, because they are fun to write and while it doesn't count towards my 50,000 words I still enjoy writing here and filling you in on most things NaNo related. So here is my update on how things are going!

Normally when I do NaNo I jump right in on the first and just start typing my ideas out without planning or doing research. And about halfway through I end up stopping and giving up because I am out of ideas or I feel like I am just repeating myself. Then last year I tried using an outline that I created and I was able to follow it for the most part before I just gave up and fell behind like I always do. But this year I actually put more effort into it and did a bunch of research on stuff and created an outline that I am following better than the one from last year.

Another thing that is helping me stay on track and keep up is a calendar that I made in Microsoft Word with a personal word count for each day for me to reach. And it has been working well since I have really only fallen behind one day. It has also helped that I am out of school and don't have homework to finish and also because I didn't have a job when I started, though I am looking. But I did find a seasonal position at Kohl's so we will see how everything goes and if I'll be able to keep up with working and writing.

In the meantime, happy writing and I hope you enjoyed the article I wrote and posted the other day and I have another one coming up soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tolkien and Lewis on Fantasy and Magic

This is something that I put together years ago for an online magazine that I used to write for called "Ink and Fairyfust." And I just recently rediscovered it while I was cleaning out a lot of old docs in my Google Docs. Since it is NaNoWriMo now I figured it was a good time to share it.

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned 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

“At all ages, if [fantasy and myth] is used well by the author and meets the right reader, it has the same power: to generalize while remaining concrete, to present in palpable form not concepts or even experiences but whole classes of experience, and to throw off irrelevancies. But at its best it can do more; it can give us experiences we have never had and thus, instead of 'commenting on life,' can add to it.”  C.S. Lewis

In his in-depth analysis of the literary use of magic in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Steven D. Greydanus said “the magic of Tolkien and Lewis in its particulars bears little or no outward resemblance to actual occult practices in the real world, instead consisting of obviously imaginary and fantastic phenomena that offer no appreciable risk of direct imitative behavior.”

Later on in the analysis, Greydanus says, “Lewis, in particular, took pains, as I will show, to avoid even the appearance of condoning any sort of magical study or practice in the real world. His fictional worlds have been consciously and deliberately shaped in such a way as to make quite clear that the pursuit of magic, while it might be imagined to be a safe and lawful occupation for someone like Coriakin in the fairy-land world of Narnia, is, in fact, dangerous and wrong for human beings in and of our world — something attempted by nasty personages like Digory’s Uncle Andrew. Tolkien, too, created his imaginary world in such a way that the imaginative leap from the magic of Middle-earth to real-world occult practices would be difficult if not impossible for readers to make. The whole shape of his worldview as a Catholic Christian and of his imaginative life was antithetical to the “deceits of the enemy”; and the very quality of the magic of his world, as well as of the imaginary situations in which it might be lawfully pursued and exercised, was very much removed from, and opposed to, the forbidden practices of real-world occultists and practitioners of magic, and even from objectionable fantasy magic.”
As you can see from what I have taken from Steven Greydanus’ analysis of the literary use of magic in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, both authors took great pains to not use any sort of occult magic in their writings. In the quotes by Tolkien and Lewis that I have included you can see, in their own words, what they thought about fantasy and magic. And in the 7 points, from Steven Greydanus’ analysis of the literary use of magic in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, you can see more of how Tolkien and Lewis thought of fantasy and magic
“The incalculable winds of fantasy and music and poetry, the mere face of a girl, the song of a bird, or the sight of a horizon, are always blowing evil’s whole structure away.” ― C.S. Lewis

“The Gospels contain a fairy-story or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels- peculiarly artistic, beautiful and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation have been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy.” - J.R.R Tolkien

  1. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to wholly imaginary realms, with place-names like Middle-earth and Narnia — worlds that cannot be located either in time or in space with reference to our own world, and which stand outside Judeo-Christian salvation history and divine revelation.
  2. Reinforcing the above point, in Tolkien’s and Lewis’s fictional worlds where magic is practiced, the existence of magic is an openly known reality of which the inhabitants of those worlds are as aware as we are of rocket science — even if most of them might have as little chance of actually encountering magic as most of us would of riding in the space shuttle.
  3. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to characters who are numbered among the supporting cast, not the protagonists with whom the reader is primarily to identify.
  4. Reinforcing the above point, Tolkien and Lewis include cautionary threads in which exposure to magical forces proves to be a corrupting influence on their protagonists: Frodo is almost consumed by the great Ring; Lucy and Digory succumb to temptation and use magic in ways they shouldn’t.
  5. Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to characters who are not, in fact, human beings (for although Gandalf and Coriakin are human in appearance, we are in fact told that they are, respectively, a semi-incarnate angelic being and an earthbound star.)
  6. Reinforcing the above point, Tolkien and Lewis emphasize the pursuit of magic as the safe and lawful occupation of characters who, in appearance, stature, behavior, and role, embody a certain wizard archetype — white-haired old men with beards and robes and staffs, mysterious, remote, unapproachable, who serve to guide and mentor the heroes.
Finally, Tolkien and Lewis devote no narrative space to the process by which their magical specialists acquire their magical prowess. Although study may be assumed as part of the back story, the wizard appears as a finished product with powers in place and the reader is not in the least encouraged to think about or dwell on the process of acquiring prowess in magic.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

So It Begins...

At 12:00 am this morning, this thing called National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo started. I have mentioned it multiple times before and I will probably continue to mention it multiple times again this month as well as for the next few years. As we begin this month of insane writing here are a few memes and writing prompts that I have found on either Pinterest or Facebook and decided to share here. Enjoy!