Friday, September 8, 2017

It’s Friday in Kennett Square

Well, it’s Friday in Kennett and that means it ‘s my favorite day of week here in the magical kingdom called Pennsylvania.  What makes Friday so special?  Well, today is the day a street market comes to town. Vendors line up along the main street and sell their wares. Because Kennett is a cultural melting pot, the market has a wide mixture of things to tempt your wallet. 

Due to the high population of migrant workers, Kennett has some of the best Mexican Food I have ever had… and that’s coming from an Arizona girl.  My absolute favorite things to buy at the market are fresh tortilla chips and salsa verde, which I happen to be sampling while I type.  

The Amish also come to town on Fridays, bringing fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers for your garden. My yard thanks our Amish neighbors! I had no idea what healthy plants looked like until I stepped foot in my first Amish greenhouse. Never will I shop for flowers at a chain store again.

So this is just your average day here in my little paradise. Now its time to put the salsa away before I eat the entire container.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

How this girl found herself in Oz

Well, it has been a while, like two years since I have written on my blog. So much has happened… my life has been turned upside-down several times, and blogging has been the last thing on mind. 

First off, we moved! Across the country! Yep, this Arizona girl is now residing in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania. I love it here. It feels like I have been picked up by a tornado and dropped down in the Emerald City. Literally! It’s so green here.  I don’t think two states could be more geographically different.  I love the beauty of the desert, but I am taking full advantage of the beauty of the North East. 

It’s not just the green that is eye candy here. The history of this place is so cool, and you can see it everywhere, from the taverns and shops lining the main streets to the stone houses surrounded by horse pastures.  It is easy to picture carriages lumbering down the narrow roads. I live in this quant little town called Kennett Square… and it’s a dream come true for this history lover.

Kennett Square! Isn't it dreamy
Still, relocating a family of six, three being teenagers, was not an easy thing.  Shockingly, everyone has tried to embrace the change. With open minds we moved and made the best of it. My kids are THRIVING, thanks to the incredible friends they have made, and their determination to be make it work. I still catch myself worrying too much. Are they happy?  Do they resent us for moving them? Do they feel like they are missing out living away from family? Surprisingly, its my kids that are constantly telling me not to worry.  Man, I am so proud of all of them.

Also, I graduated from Arizona State University! Man, school just about killed me! I had no idea when I started this journey that going back to school was going to be as hard as it was.  That juggling family life, writing, moving, and school would push me to the brink of total shut down. Still, I pushed through, one day at a time, and finished.  I want to go back for my masters but not until we have a better idea of where we will be for the next few years. And not until I forget how hard college life is.  

I also lost both my parents within a year of moving. I am still trying to wrap my mind around them being gone. Most of the time I am good, at peace with their being together in a better place. Sometimes I am not at peace with it and am unbelievably sad to not be able to talk to them, especially now when I would really like the advice of a parent as I prepare my teenagers for adulthood.  But, life really bites sometimes and I am on my own here. I have to rely on my own instincts and Travis’ and hope we are doing the right thing.

I have sat down to write a few times over this last year, but found myself too overwhelmed with life to put words on a page. With school and the loss of my parents I had nothing left in me, making mustering up the creativity needed to write impossible.  I have wondered a few times if I would ever write again. Being someone that loves to write the thought put me into a bit of a funk. I have spent way too much time feeling sorry for myself.

Thankfully my daughter will not have any of it. She has been lecturing me on not giving up on what I love. She can be pretty persistent. Have no idea where she gets it from Plus, she is an avid reader like myself and wants to read more of my stories.   So, I am writing again. AND I LOVE IT. Going through what I have the last few years has been extremely hard, but I also see that I have a much deeper view of life and relationships. I am so much more AWARE. I can’t wait to express those feelings.

So, here I am, staring a new phase of my life, at the age of FOURTY! One would think I would be settled into myself by now. But nope, life is constantly changing, and I do love an adventure.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Applied Project: where I reminisce on what I have learned as an English major at ASU and dissect my current work in progress


            ENG 498, Degree Capstone is a required class for my degree program at Arizona State University. For this class we were asked to showcase what we have learned as we worked toward graduation. Since my focus has always been my writing, I have chosen to gear this project towards the process of revising a novel. 
            Towards the end of my first semester as a returning college student I began writing my current work in progress. To help with the creation of this novel I register for CRW 170, Intro to Writing Fiction.  In this class I began the revision process. Over the next three years I continued this process. For my applied project I will be chronicling this process, focusing primarily on the first chapter. 

The idea

Before words are ever put to page all novels start with an idea. I have always taken an interest in different Asian cultures.  For my husbands work he travels back and forth to both Japan and South Korea, bringing home stories and souvenirs. One day in late fall 2012 I sat brainstorming story ideas. My mind kept wandering to the east and a dragon bell my husband had brought back from Seoul. This is when I began thinking of how dragons were depicted in different cultures. Specifically, I thought about how European tales depicted dragons as beast that burned villages, yet in Chinese fables they were revered.  I asked myself what would happen if these two ideologies clashed as cultures so often do.  Quickly a story formed. Two months later I had completed a rough draft of Empire of Ash and Bone, the story of an unwanted daughter of the emperor, who finds herself accompanied by a dragon on a journey to the land of dragon hunters.

First Draft, you have to start somewhere

Because I write quickly my first drafts are always rough. Unlike many authors I do not edit as I write. This frees me to live only in my head, to pour out the story without worrying about mechanics or form.  Putting to paper that first draft is my favorite part of writing.  There is an adrenalin rush that comes with writing that can’t compare with anything else I have experienced. By the end of my writing sessions I am half filled with this natural high, and half exhausted. It’s exhilarating.
            As I began this novel, my focus was more on the feel of Lan and her world than on catching the reader’s attention. To me this version is written more like a song, or a poem than a modern novel.


They were not to be seen by others, prisoners behind silk-screened walls. Only in the middle of the night when only the stars could witness did their jailer let Fen and her daughter Lan out of her their assigned rooms. At the youthful age of nine, Lan’s need for constant motion, kept her no closer than a dozen steps ahead of her mother’s slow hard fought stride. Dressed always in white, Lan scaled hedges, squeezed silky pedals between fingertips, and danced around fountains in Emperor Qiang’s gardens.  She touched everything within reach of her slight searching hands.

Second Draft

During this semester the class workshoped my novel.  I learned the value of fresh eyes. It is impossible to read your own work and get a sense of what the reader sees. We as authors know our characters motivation, even if that motivation is not clearly stated on the page.  As author Robert Stone once said, “Revising is like cutting your own hair." You don’t do yourself or your work any justice if it is only your critique of your novel that is taken into account during the revision process.
From this workshop I came away with a new understanding of what I had written. I realized that though I loved the lyrical feel to my prologue, it was not the best introduction to my story. The goal of those first few pages is to grip the reader, pull them into the story and keep them turning the page. What I had written was beautiful but had an outsider’s feel. I wanted the reader to feel as if they were right there in the mythical land of Tulea with Lan. So, I pulled back and began the novel at the moment Lan’s world changed, propelling her to action.

Chapter One
This is not supposed to happen, Lan thought.
She willed her mother to take a breath, but no amount of strength on Lan’s part made a difference. Her mother decided her own fate, and she had never been a fighter.

Lan calculated everything to the smallest of details, and this. . . this was never part of the plan.