The Write Space

As I wrap up a month full of creative writing I am thankful for the writing space I have created for myself. Prior to this month I did a majority of my writing on the couch while my daughter played around me and with the background noise of television as a distraction. As I’ve grew to be a little more serious about writing I became determined to set up a routine that would be more conducive to a creative frame of mind without also robbing my daughter of precious time with her mother.

I created a small and simple office in the corner of the guest bedroom upstairs. It’s a room with natural light and full of possibility. However, instead of wasting my creative energy on making the room a perfect conglomeration of design and decor I opted for a simple space that provided all the necessities for fueling my creativity. Currently this room is fairly un-decorated compared to the  rest of the house and I find that working in an environment of minimalism is best for me. This space is a perfect retreat when I need to think. With the door shut it can be as quiet as I like it to be. And I’m also not distracted by bright colors or loud decorations.

My routine of writing has picked up a bit. As I mentioned in my post, Novel Update, I am stepping up my writing game between now and January 1 so that by the turn of the year my novel is totally drafted (round 1). Although my writing is demanding a little more time I’m also stubborn and refuse to let that time affect my daughter in any way. I am conscientiously choosing writing times that coincide with naps and her sleeping schedule. I am able to be present in the beautiful moments with her while still getting the time I need every day to knock out a couple thousand words of my novel. It’s a perfect setup.

So today I am thankful for a family who supports me in my goals, the opportunity to work on creative projects, and the space I possess for getting lost in my story.

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A Book Review: Eleanor and Park

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, and outside influences.

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Title: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Copyright Date: 2013

Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a YA reading hiatus. Most of the books I’ve been reading have been about writing and novel production. However, over Thanksgiving Break I really wanted to quench my thirst for a good YA novel and I found that in Eleanor and Park.

Rainbow Rowell has recently become a big name in YA fiction. Some of her books like Attachments, Eleanor and Park, and Fan Girl have been chart toppers and favorites among my students so I decided to track down a copy of Eleanor and Park and see what all this Rainbow Rowell hype was all about.

This story of unlikely love was extremely addicting. From the very first chapter I was hooked to the characters, Eleanor and Park. The two lovebirds met on the school bus when Eleanor moved back to Omaha, Nebraska. Park was a Korean kid and although no one really messed with him he was not a popular kid by any definition of the word. On Eleanor’s first day of school the only empty seat on the bus was the one historically available beside Park. And it’s when Park moved over (at first reluctantly) to make room for Eleanor that a friendship began to form.

Eleanor and Park would bond on future bus rides over comics and 80’s rock bands. Park would bring new things to share with Eleanor each day because she was too poor to even own a pair of headphones. They both began to look forward to those bus rides, and one day it became clear that their relationship had moved from bus buddies to romance quickly.

Park lived a privileged life. His father was a war veteran who married a Korean woman and brought her home from war. His family was built around love and affection. Eleanor was one of five children who was forced every night to listen to the violence between her stepdad and mother. She didn’t have two pennies to rub together. But Park gave Eleanor an excuse to wake up every morning and a reason to look forward to school. They begin to spend all day and every evening together as Eleanor used Park as an excuse to avoid the inevitable at home.

As their relationship developed Park began to learn about Eleanor’s home life. He knew someone was bullying her at school, but when he discovered that she was bullied at home as well Park vowed to protect her.

This story is about how far two young lovers will go to protect one another. Full of heavy themes and real language this book was hard to put down. I really enjoyed this read and I look forward to some more Rainbow Rowell reads in the future.

Five Minute Friday: Table

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Table. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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There’s something special about my dining room table. So many memories are made around such a pivotal piece of furniture. A couple of years ago I inherited my beautiful Ethan Allen table from my Great-Grandmother as she was moving into an assisted living community. Before the inheritance of such a treasured heirloom I had already formed fond memories of the piece. As a child I would visit with Grandma and we would share meals and snacks around the table. When I became a devoted coffee-holic in my teenage years we began to enjoy Starbucks Frappucinos and Fudge Doughnuts around that same piece. And now that I possess that legend of a table it’s becoming a permanent fixture in the memories of my household.

It was around this table that we shared our first pizza in the new house. Sitting in the chairs about the table we fed our daughter her first spoonfuls of baby food and before long she would graduate to solids. At this table we have shared many conversations, delicious meals, and made countless family decisions.

Before Thanksgiving with my family my daughter was talking to me while eating her breakfast at the table when she so sweetly said,”Mommy and Daddy, I am thankful for you because I love you.”

Nothing is more important to me than family and we have been blessed to share so many special moments and memories around such a special dining room table.

 

On a sidenotes, this is my 200th post! Yay for milestones 🙂

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you special readers!

Take time today to quiet yourself and reflect on those things for which you are the most thankful. Be present today in your celebrations and savor every moment surrounded by your family.

From my happy little family to yours–Happy Thanksgiving!

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1 Thessolonians 5:18- Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 107:1- Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

97 Degrees and Stranded

Welcome to my very own Creative Writing Month where each day of the month I am focusing on a topic and spending fifteen minutes reflecting and writing as inspired by the topic. For more information about why and how check out my post, Writing Down the Bones.

Today’s topic: Write about the most terrified you have ever been in your life.

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It was an early August afternoon. The sun’s rays were bright and growing brighter as we made our ascent to the top of a Virginian mountain peak on part of the Virginia Turnpike. The thermostat in the car stated the fact that the temperature outside our air conditioned vehicle was 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Sam and I were carelessly singing along to some Top 40 radio station in the middle vehicle of the family caravan home from our vacation. The trip had been our final excursion before the arrival of our beautiful baby girl. I was eight months pregnant and already experiencing Braxton-Hicks. Even our doctor had recommended that we didn’t take this final vacation due to some of the signs of preterm-labor I had shown the day before our departure. However, I was stubborn and wanted this last trip for myself. Who knows when I might get another opportunity to get away like this with my husband? I thought to myself.

We had been on the road for about four hours. We were behind schedule due to my frequent bathroom breaks. And we killed time between my timed Braxton-Hicks contractions by singing and talking about how our life was about to change in the next few weeks.

As we made our way up the middle of an extremely steep mountain an oily liquid sprayed the windshield of our Ford Focus. At first we were unsure about where the liquid had come from, but then the engine began to smoke and it was clear that our vehicle was malfunctioning. (Just to add salt to the wound this was the moment that would cause Sam and I to have to replace our engine of 12,000 miles with a used engine of 90,000 and would set into motion another terrible event a year and a half later…but that’s a story for a different day.)

 

In a moment of panic Sam pulled off to the minimal road shoulder. The car was smoking so we both had to make our way out of the vehicle quickly. We found ourselves in the overgrown grass on the side of a mountain. Not sure if the car was going to catch on fire Sam helped me over the guard rail so we could get a safe distance away from the car. On one side of us sat our overheated car on the other side a cliff off the side of the mountain. It was hard enough to balance myself with all the added baby weight let alone at the steep incline of the mountain. Fear overcame me and I realized the reality of the situation. At this point we had lost vision of the rest of our caravan and it was just Sam, a smoking car, and me in the 97 degree heat stranded on the top of a mountain.

Sam cleared a place for me to sit in the grass while he called for a tow. I tried every method of calming myself that I could think of, but my contractions were picking up and gaining momentum. Each set of contractions made me panic more as I was spiraling into active labor. Sam was a few feet away unable to move because he had finally tapped into cell service. We quickly discovered that we were about fifteen minutes away from any other town and the tow truck wouldn’t be there for about an hour. The best they could do was send a service vehicle to alert traffic that we had broken down so that oncoming traffic would move over to the left lane. That was more for their safety than ours as our car was still smoking.

After he got off of the phone with the towing company Sam called the rest of the family who had gone on ahead of us. They reasoned that there wasn’t much they could do and stopping on the side of a mountain would put the rest of the family in danger so they decided to pull off in the next town and wait for us to get there. (We purposely didn’t mention the contractions in an attempt to keep them calm.)

About fifteen minutes later a vehicle from the local Department of Transportation pulled off to the side of the road with all the blinking lights and alarms they could use to alert the rest of the drivers on the turnpike of our dangerous vehicle and location. It was nice that the cars were no longer in the lane ten feet from me going eighty-five miles per hour. I was as far away from the road as I could be without toppling down the cliff and I could still feel the excessive wind from each passing car. Eventually the man emerged from his alerting vehicle and took one look at me and panicked.

“Um, Sir?” The man spoke to my husband who was once again in the distance trying to get a hold of the insurance company. “I think we better get her to the next town before you have a baby on the side of the road. I’ll leave you here, but she needs to go.”

The man and Sam decided to tell my parents who were waiting in the next town to come and get me. The guy waited with Sam until the tow truck got there an hour later. I know that I would not have lasted that other hour without going into full-blown active labor, so luckily my parents had decided not to continue the rest of the journey without us.

When I was finally in their car they cranked up the air conditioning. They drove me to a Subway in Wytheville, VA and I drank several bottles of water. After a little rest and fluid intake the contractions began to slow down.

Not long after my contractions were under control Sam finally met me in the restaurant. We were both safe and it was such a relief. I went on to carry Arianna for another month. She was born a little over a week before her due date in mid-September.

When I look back on this event in my life I see how God was protecting us. Things could have been so much worse, but God provided for a safe return home for all of us. I’m so grateful that my husband did not have to deliver my baby on the side of a mountain on the Virginia Turnpike.

Novel Update

Hey, guys! I know I’ve been a little short on my posts this week, but I have a lot of things going on to share with you to make up for lost time. I’ve continued to work on my Creative Writing Month posts. Most of my writings have made their way to my blog, but others have taken a temporary place of residence in my Writing Notebook. I still plan to carry out the plan through the remainder of the month so stay tuned for more creative writing posts over the next two weeks.

One reason that I’ve taken a little breather this week from my blog is because I have begun to evaluate some of my writing goals. As I look back to last year’s resolutions I am reminded of my goal to finish a novel in a year. At the time it seemed like a ridiculous goal, but as I’m now 75% done with my novel I see that this is something within my grasp by December 31.

In order for me to meet this goal of mine I will need to be a little more diligent over the next month to make sure that I am carving out the necessary time from my schedule to make it happen. Over the past couple of days I’ve drawn out a plan and as long as I can work up the discipline to see it through I should be finished with draft 1 of my first novel by the end of the year! Amen!

So as I chase down this goal I have a couple of requests for my dedicated readers:

First of all, please be in prayer for me and my family as I put myself into overdrive to see this happen. I plan to do most of my writing when my family is away or asleep, but still it is a huge undertaking on all three of us. I feel very strongly that this novel and its message are from God or else I wouldn’t be pouring the time and effort into it that is required.

Second of all, I ask you, dear readers, to be patient. The content of my blog between now and December 31 may be shorter than normal. I don’t want to simply be posting just to tick something off my to-do list for the day. The plan is to continue routine posts, but the routine may be a little less frequently than it has come to be lately.

Thirdly, After my novel draft 1 is finished I will be looking for some beta readers to help in the editing process. Please pray about whether you would like to be a part of that team to help take my rough draft to the next level. I will be assembling that team in February or March if all goes according to plan.

I have always said that my readers are such a blessing. Blogging has brought so many encouraging people across my path. Also, this blog has opened doors to several opportunities and conversations that may never have happened had I not stepped out in such a public way. I am so grateful and thankful for those who follow and read my blog and I can’t wait to journey into 2016 with you all!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving week-for you I am thankful!

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Dwell

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Dwell. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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In the bustle of the season it is easy to neglect rest. There are so many potlucks, family gatherings, and gifts to be purchased. But in the midst of the busy schedules it is important to take time to dwell in the moment.

This Holiday season I vow to dwell in a place of peace. What does that look like?

To me, to dwell in peace means to not be overcome by the expectations of the season. Rather it means to live fully in each moment and to be present in the day to day interactions with friends and family. It means to not allow my schedule to dictate my life, but to put family as my first priority. Additionally, to dwell in peace means to fix my eyes on God and truly allow Him to lead my life and guide my path.

I have a tendency to stress myself out when there are several items on my priority plate, but this season my goal is to remain calm and trust the Lord to help me through each moment of every day.

After all, the point of the season is to relish time with family and friends and show gratitude for the people in life who mean the most.

Isaiah 26:3- “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”