Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Value Of Life

Let’s assume that you’re in perfect health (no physical imitations, no terminal illnesses, and have the prospect of living another very full 50 years. If someone offered to pay you for those 50 years, would you take the money?

It sounds crazy, and yet many of us are doing this without the knowledge that we’re doing it. Pause for a moment and think about how you make decisions. What criteria do you use?

More of us have shifted to an economic evaluation of most things. We decide how much something is worth based on the monetary consequences. For example, many of us decide which job to take based on the salary or $ per hour we’ll be paid. Some of us even choose careers based on how much money we can earn in a given field. We may even decide how to use our free time based on financial ROI (where to volunteer, what social activities to engage in, etc).

The fact is that most of us make life decisions based on how the outcome will benefit us economically.  Yes, it may be a valid criteria for making a decision but it’s not the only one and certainly not the most important one. But what else is there?

Money is easy to quantify, but that doesn’t make it more valuable. For example, what’s the cost of a sunrise? Seeing your child smile for the first time? The sound of a loved one’s laughter? The peace you get from knowing you did the right thing? Learning you’re stronger than you thought you were? Cuddling up with a pet? Experiencing a work of art? The thrill of accomplishment? There's a lot of value in building relationships, developing character, finding understanding, and connecting with the world around us (just to name a few things). These things are more difficult to quantify, but that doesn't make them less important.

Life is too valuable to be quantified with money. Your legacy is not how much you were worth financially in this life, but what you did with your friends and relationships, your time, and yourself.
“Those who know the exact price of things, as Judas did, often don’t know the true cost or value of anything.” ~ Kathleen Norris

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Girl And Her Gargoyle In Seattle

I've been a little busy in the past few months, so I haven't been posting on my blog as often. Mostly my time has been spent writing for other publications and working on my books, but I also recently took a trip to Seattle with my favorite gargoyle. Here are some of our highlights:

The Underground tour.
If you're not claustrophobic and can stay on your feet for about 90 minutes, this is a fun way to learn about Seattle's history and hear a few stories. The tour goes through some underground spaces to where the sidewalks were located before the great fire that burned the city down. He's a picture of Newton in the underground at the end of the tour:

The Chihuly Garden and Museum is not to be missed. The sculptures are incredible and walking through the garden is like being in wonderland. This was one of my favorite things in Seattle. Note: Gargoyles get in free.

Jimi Hendrix's grave is nearby, so Newton and I stopped there to pay our respects:

The wall of gum (near Pike Place) is one of those strange oddities that make you both want to look and also look away at the same time. Gross, but fascinating. Check out all the colors:

And let's not forget a Seattle classic: The Space Needle.
Newton may be the first gargoyle to visit it in person!

Newton refers to the Space Needle as a "Top Perch" and gives it 2 talons up!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tips of Writing a Good Fantasy Story

In order for a fantasy world to be believable and accepted by the audience, there are a few things an author should keep in mind when writing in this genre. I’ve compiled these into two short lists of what to do (DO) and what not to do (DON’T).

Use the characters to move the story forward. You can add situations that force them to grow or change or show their true colors, but don’t rely on things outside of the story to move it forward. Situations are generally boring to readers - but how someone reacts in a situation is infinitely more interesting.

Put characters in situations that challenge them. I paired Kelsey with Silence in the Orphanage of Miracles because she lacked patience. Putting her with a mute also helped her to learn more about herself as she watched him interact successfully with others.

Look to everyday life to inspire you and then imagine the same situations and experiences in another world. You may be writing in a fantasy world, but there are elements of the human experience that don’t change - such as the concepts of love, friendship, family, revenge, and war. These elements that are common to our world connect the reader to your story.

Make characters say or do anything that goes against who they are. Your characters have identities of their own outside of you. You can control them no more than you can control your own children. Sure, you can provide them guidance and put them in situations that bring out the good or bad in them, but you can not suddenly make a coward have confidence or turn a basically good person evil without a strong motivation to do so (and that motivation needs to be built carefully).

Don’t rely on magic to move the story forward. The story should still be character driven, because this is how your audience connects to your world. See point number 3 above under “DO” for more information.

Don’t make objects or animals talk just for fun. If you anthropomorphize something, it needs a reason and should be part of the overall story plot and structure. Objects generally serve a purpose and animals have specific characteristics that should be included in the story line. For example, I made death a fox in my books because death is cunning and often sneaks up on people. A fox also shares those qualities.

These aren’t hard and fast rules, and no one likes to break rules more than I do. So feel free to break them, but to do so successfully you’ll need to always keep the reader in mind. The reader is, after all, your primary reason for publishing. So make sure that elements of the story don’t cause them to suddenly ask, “Where did that come from?” Our job as writers is to guide the reader safely through our realms without questioning whether or not it could actually exist. We help them to believe in it.