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The Art of Letter Writing

April 15, 2010

I’m blessed to have two good friends who are also amazing snail mail pen pals.  We have fun keeping in touch through cards and letters.  It’s astounding how much more personal a letter feels than an e-mail.  Quite refreshing, actually.

A few months back I stumbled across the Letter Writers Alliance and thought it was a fantastic idea so I passed along word to my two friends.  After all, we’re already writing letters to one another, why not be a card-carrying member of some fun group too?! 

So, today I signed up to become a member and perhaps it’s silly but I’m quite excited.  I tend to type my letters on my lovely typewriters and maybe someday I’ll do a few by hand (hoping to improve my horrid penmanship).  And now that I mention it, I really need to write letters back to my two friends as soon as possible.

It is a sincere hope of mine that there will always be people in the world that read real books and write real letters.  I will be one, and perhaps others will join me.  How about you?

Alice in Wonderland

March 12, 2010

I’m aware that I may be committing sacrilege to some, but quite honestly, I have never liked the story of “Alice in Wonderland.”  My uninformed opinion, though, has been based solely on half-viewings of the Disney cartoon movie.  The plot always seemed too confusing, and the overall tone a smidge harsh.  (The “Off with their heads!” line was what stuck out the most, I suppose.)

Then, I stumbled upon the blog “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast” (which I have posted about before) and started becoming more aware of how highly esteemed the books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are.  And then, of course, enters the new “Alice in Wonderland” movie with Johnny Depp in it, which has created renewed interest in everything Wonderland the nation over.

A couple of evenings ago, my husband and I went to see “Alice in Wonderland” in 3D.  We liked the movie and found it rather enjoyable.  Besides the attractively rich colors, I mainly enjoyed the characters, the theme, and a few choice quotes.  The Mad Hatter was endearing, and Alice was fun to watch as she found her courage and in the end, herself.  Here are the quotes that stuck out to me:

“You used to be much more…’muchier.’  You’ve lost your muchness.”
~The Mad Hatter to Alice

“Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?”
~The Mad Hatter

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
~Alice

“I’m investigating things that begin with the letter M.”
~The Mad Hatter

The Mad Hatter:  “Have I gone mad? ”
[Alice checks Hatter’s temperature]
Alice:  “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

The movie made me curious about the original books, so I did a bit of research.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the books are full of more rhyme and reason (and even philosophical thought) than the surface “nonsense” leads you to believe.  Now, that I can dig!

Richard Bach Quote

March 4, 2010

“A professional writer is an amateur who won’t quit.”
~Richard Bach  (1936 –  )

I’m to the point in the writing of my story that I am really very proud of how the beginning has turned out.  This is dangerous.  It is dangerous because it has made me afraid to proceed in the story and perhaps make everything aimless, or too obvious, or just plain awful.  Quitting would be easy, I guess that’s why so many people do indeed quit.

But, my characters are just waiting to be heard (read) and I think this is a story that kids need.  And, truthfully, I love it so far.  So I must press on and take chances.  If the plot becomes confusing, the characters too canned, or a variety of other things, that just means the story is in progress, that it’s growing.  Quitting is not an option, for me or for the story.  Therefore, today, I will keep writing.

The Tale of a Floating Princess

February 7, 2010

A month or two ago I stumbled across a unique book while in the Children’s department of our local Barnes and Noble.  It was called Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated).  I read through it and the story really stuck with me.  It impressed me because it was a successful, different take on a princess story.  So, when I returned to B&N recently, I happily purchased the book.

The illustrations have a flat, chess piece like quality to them, and the language of the story is simple and endearing.  Compromise, friendship, and freedom are the themes that are emphasized.

Though it is not quite an earth-shattering book, I do believe it is a sweet one.  And one that can be enjoyed and visited again and again.

Website: Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

January 28, 2010

This weekend I stumbled upon the blog “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast” which is also lovingly known as “7-Imp”.  It’s a blog about books (primarily Children and Young Adult), writing, illustration, and the industry.

Packed with interviews and features on a variety of people (emphasis on illustrators), it seems like a good introduction to some of the roles in the children’s literature world.  After scanning through a few posts I can tell that I’m going to become an avid reader and eventually commenter to the blog.  It definitely looks like an excellent place for inspiration and ideas.

*Image is the header for the “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast” blog.  Found here.

Edward Albee Quote

January 20, 2010

The act of writing is an act of optimism.  You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn’t matter.
~Edward Albee (1928-  )

Trying to take great strides in the optimism department these days.  Focusing on the negative does not seem like the best mode of operation.

Hope, dreams, ideas…..those are the things that breed great writing.  Optimism is starting to look like an invaluable tool.

Making Time to Write

January 12, 2010

Over the past week I’ve pounded the keys on my typewriter and computer fleshing out the beginning of a story.  It’s very exciting to get this far in the process, it is a place I have never ventured.  I’ve brainstormed, talked, and jotted down story ideas, but this is the first time I’ve found characters and a plot that I love.  Love enough to engulf myself in the writing of it.

Finding the time to write has been, is, and I believe always will be my greatest challenge.  But here is the truth of the matter: If you love something you will make time for it.  That’s true for anything.  For some people it is cars, shopping, sports, crafting, or even blogging.  Though I have other activities I make time for (and a few I’d still like to), I am making an effort to put writing near the top of the list.  As I said before, I believe I have finally found a story I love and that has made all the difference in how much time and effort I’m willing to invest.

Also, I have a standing appointment at the close of each week with a great friend who is also a brilliant artist.  Her name is Amanda Dockery (and you can find a link to her work on the side of this blog).  We are collaborating on ideas for the story and she will sketch out ideas and ultimately be the illustrator for the book.  Having a standing appointment with her gives me added motivation throughout the week and also provides an excellent sounding board for ideas.  By the close of each meeting we are always excited about where the story is heading.  That encouragement is invaluable.

So let me just encourage you to make time for whatever it is that you love but might also be a challenge.  It will most likely push you to grow in unexpected but astounding ways.