September 1, 2007

Suspense Technique #4: Frustration

Wayne Thomas Batson has posted the winner for the fourth of his Suspense Techniques Contest: Frustration. While I didn't win the prize, I'm honored to have received an Honorable Mention. Here's what he had to say about mine:

Amy: Brilliant stuff. He was trying so hard to get out of the kingdom and then to run into the boy with the mysterious past...awesome

Check it all out at Wayne's site: Enter the Door Within.

Here are my entries for Suspense Technique #4 - Frustration:

#1:


“Are you aware, Master Kalon, that you will need far more supplies than this house contains during such a long journey?”

“Yes, Bastion, I’m aware. I don’t have the option of waiting for the market to open. I must leave now. They are coming for me,” Kalon replied urgently.

Kalon quickly gathered the rest of the dried meat, a loaf of bread and filled his wineskin. Panic began to grip his insides; he knew he had very little time to spend on preparations, a fact that would make his difficult journey nearly impossible. There was no choice; he had to leave before the soldiers discovered what he’d done.

As he reached to grab his long bow, he realized that he’d used most of his arrows hunting the day before and hadn’t had time to make more. He’d have to rely on his broadsword for protection. As he strapped the sword to his waist, he simultaneously slung the bow and quiver across his back, and hastily snatched his full pack from Bastion. Rushing out the door, Kalon caught his arm on the iron hinge, a gash several inches long began to bleed freely. If he didn’t stem the flow, the soldiers’ predatory beasts would surely catch his scent far sooner than Kalon could afford. He tore a strip of cloth from his own shirt and carelessly bandaged his aching arm.

With a brief nod of his head, he bid Bastion farewell and rounded the house to the stable. His steed had been saddled and readied for the flight from danger. Finally, a bit of hope crept into Kalon’s heart. He knew once he passed the main watch tower at the end of town, he would gain distance between himself and the pursuing soldiers. He drove the horse hard and was passing the watch tower, just as a familiar form stepped into his path. Not that boy, not now! I cannot stay idle for long; his interference could cost me my lead, but I cannot leave him without a proper explanation. The boy deserves at least that much.


#2:

Selinium knew that the secrets to her parentage lay inside the sage sitting before her. The ancient man sat gazing into her pleading eyes, while his remained inscrutable. She searched his face for some sign of an impending response or greeting. It never came.

“Sir Ezreal, do you know who I am?” asked Selinium.

Ezreal silently nodded his head. She’d been searching for someone who could tell her who her parents were and the man who could tell her refused to speak. Maintaining her patient tone she spoke again.

“Sir Ezreal, do you know who my parents were?”

Yet again, her inquiry was met with nothing but a nod. The days of traveling began to weigh on Selinium; her body ached, her feet were blistered, and her head felt dizzy with hunger. Yet, she could not leave the company of the only one with the knowledge she sought. Her tactic changed in hopes of eliciting an explanatory response.

“Sir Ezreal, I beg you. I have traveled far and survived many dangers to come to you. Please, tell me of my parents, of the land they came from, or any way I can find the answers I seek. I beg you.”

The aged wise man tilted his head and looked puzzled, as though he were examining a rare species of insect. Selinium felt as though the man knew much more than she had even expected. She saw a glimmer of familiarity in his gaze. Yet the man continued to sit and stare.

Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes; her throat felt constricted. Why was he just sitting there? Why didn’t he answer? Was her entire quest for naught? Was her only hope of knowing the truth lost?

Ezreal straightened his back in a bird-like posture. “You are not ready,” he said in a tone of finality. He closed his eyes and began to meditate, clearly the conversation was over.


Well - there they are. I'll be putting up my entries for #5 soon. I welcome any feedback. Thanks.

Don't forget to check out the weekly polls.

August 30, 2007

Laptops, and Puppies, and Surgery, Oh My!

What a week! As the title implies, at least three major events have, will, or may happen within the next couple of days.

For our 10th wedding anniversary, Jeff surprised the socks off of me: a brand new laptop!!! Wow! This is the most unexpected surprise ever. Our anniversary isn't until September 13th, so it was early, and I also never would've guessed that I'd get my very own laptop. I've only ever had a family computer in my life, never my very own. I was so blown away that I could barely speak. I just kept looking at it in disbelief and smiling until me cheeks hurt.

I didn't even know we could afford it. Jeff's been doing tons of sidework lately and he's been skimming off of each job and hiding the money. I had no clue. Jeff's not really a planned surprise kind of guy. I'm the one always planning surprise parties and holiday stuff. He wins. I can't top that.

So - it's an Acer Aspire 5570Z. It has a dvd burner, a 5 in one memory stick port, and every kind of flash drive and USB thing a girl could need, it also has an Intel dual core processor, and tons of movie-making media stuff. I'll be able to do EVERYHING and more with this thing.

I feel so blessed! It's not the thing, it's all the stuff that the thing represents. As some of you know, I've had my share of health issues. With a laptop, I can write, blog, and chat from my recliner or bed if need be. Even when I'm healthy, I'll be able to take it to the park, coffee shop, or on road trips. To me, the laptop will provide freedom that I will use and enjoy greatly. Jeff knows this. He gets it. He knows exactly what this little piece of technology really means to me. That is the reason I feel blessed - I feel blessed to be married to a man that will do his best to provide for me in any way he can.

Big event #2: The Puppy!

It's not official yet. We will find out on Saturday whether or not the puppy still needs a home, but we may have a new addition to our family. We've been praying our hearts out about this. We only want to make this kind of committment if it's what God wants for our family. We're not rushing into anything - we're taking our time. I guess I shoud start at the beginning.

I called Jeff at work Monday morning, just to say hi. He absolutely gushed about a little dog that his buddy from work had with him. It turns out that this guy's puppy has a sister that looks just like him and needs a home, possibly. As far as this guy knows, the friend he got his puppy from has a little girl and will give it to us for free. He won't know until Saturday because he can't see his friend until then. He's going to call us Sat. morning.

The puppy is a dark golden color with a white patch on its chest. It has a short smooth coat and a straight tail. The breed sounds like it wouldn't be that cute, but then I saw a picture on the web and was shocked. It's a Chihuahua and Jack Russell Terrier mix. The fact that it's a mutt is great; they have better tempermants and are friendlier toward people. The puppy has folded over ears and a kind of rounded muzzle (very un-Chihuahua-ish). I'm really not usually into smaller dogs, but if this is what we're supposed to have, then I can handle it. Plus, our yard isn't super big and we already have three cats.

I've been trying all week to not get too excited. I don't want us to make any decisions based on emotion. I know that any puppy will be loved by me, I just want to make sure we don't just go crazy for it because it's cute. We've actually been talking about getting a dog for almost a year now. No doors have opened in that direction, so we've just been holding out. Now though, there's potentially a puppy that needs a home, we've got the room, we've got the desire, we're ready for the responsibility, and if it's still available, it will be ours.

Okay - surgery. Jeff is getting a certain procedure done tomorrow afternoon. It's, shall we say, personal and involves us not wanting any more children. :)

Well - my battery is running low now. I'm sure I'll be updating about the puppy on Saturday. Until then - have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend.

August 28, 2007

Weekly Poll

I've decided to post a weekly poll that will ask questions about life in general, movies, writing, reading, parenting, and anything else I may think of. Check it out in my sidebar. I'll also be adding a post to correspond to the poll question. That way we can share our anwers and have a place to discuss it further. Hopefully, this will end up being a fun little extra for all my blog friends.

Weekly Poll #1: What inspires your story ideas most?

August 27, 2007

Books on Writing

I'm so excited! I've just recieved and begun reading 3 new books on the craft of writing. I really want to learn the craft and turn whatever natural ability, or lack there of, into a deep and meaningful endeavor.

On the advice of those authors much wiser than myself, I've headed over to Where the Map Ends. This site is amazing! I highly recommend checking it out. Especially for an unpublished author, this site explains the ins and outs of the publishing world. The creator of the site, Jeff Gerke, has filled the site with everything Specualtive Fiction. He's a fan, an author, an editor, an acquisitioner, a Christian, and full of incredible information.

I digress. The Tools for Writers section is chalk full of resources and information. I particularly zeroed in on the first link on the list Books and Conferences for Improving Your Writing. Here I found several book recommendations, but the number one was a book called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

My brother gave to me a gift card for an online book-seller and I purchased that title as well as Fiction Writer's Workshop by Josip Novakovich and Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. All 3 books were recommended by Jeff Gerke and all three have now arrived at my doorstep.

I've begun to read Fiction Writer's Workshop and couldn't be more pleased. I was looking for a book that would challenge me like Wayne Thomas Batson's Suspense Techniques. I wrote well when challenged and was eager for more. This book has provided just such an outlet. It's set up like an actual workshop; each chapter explains and illustrates a concept and is then followed by writing exercises. I've only gotten through the first chapter, and I've already been stretched in my writing. There are twelve exercises at the end of chapter one, and I've finished about half.

I really believe that being a writer means that you write. Just like a brick-layer lays bricks. So if I want to grow as a writer, I need to pursue a better understanding of the craft and my own abilities. God keeps opening the doors toward writing and I keep stepping forward in faith. His plan is the only thing that matters. I hope to honor God and speak to those who need to hear His words through my writing, like so many gifted authors have done before me.

The New School Year

One week and one day left...

Preparations have been a slow and steady process, rather than a quick rushed gathering of books and such. It's actually been quite a smooth process. I haven't been writing as much as I'd like to, but a little prep now will afford me lots of free time later.

I thought I'd put up a few of the homeschooling resources I've found helpful. So without further ado:
  • HomeschoolReviews.com - Parents review curriculum and programs that they've actually tried. This is a great way to get info on which books would work best for your child.
  • ColoringBookFun.com - Free printable pages with every imaginable characters/subjects you can imagine; from Hello Kitty to Bible stories.
  • Used Curriculum Forum at About.com - A new forum and a great ebay substitute.
  • Multiplication.com - Games, flash cards, printables, and more.
  • Family Learning Organization (FLO) - This site will send standardized tests and supplies, score the results electronically, and get you the results in great time. You choose when to test and you are the "Proctor" while the FLO is the "Administrator." We used this last year - highly recommended!

Well -those are the only national sites I could really post, they're in my sidebar too. I've just joined a co-op in my area that does field trips, events, and something called Friday School. It's a parent taught program that meets every Friday. The kids can enroll in 3 classes, one hour each, for each session. The whole thing begins with chapel, which includes worship and a brief message. Then - off to class. The classes themselves range from horseback riding to horticulture. I think it'll be a really fun program for my daughter.

I also found a Yahoo group for homeschoolers in my area. I highly recommend trying to find an online group for your own area. It's great! Parents post events they hear of and provide helpful hints and tips, as well as giving you a safe place to ask those questions we all have rattling around in our brains.

This year will definitely be full of new adventures!