Thursday, October 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo Here I Come

I've done it and I'm so excited… and nervous. I've registered for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)!

Like last year, I don't have the time. And believe me, I've debated as to whether I should do this or not. But unlike last year, no more excuses! I feel like if I don't do this now, I just may never write a novel.

Last year's decision not to do NaNoWriMo was tough. And yes, while my month of November was certainly easier as a result, I did have regrets. So I'm going to bite the bullet this year, and just do it. Anyone else who is participating or wants to participate, please be my writing buddy. Look for sheryltut in the Authors section.

In my final few days before NaNoWriMo kicks off, I'm looking for tips and tricks for success. Here is a blog posting that I found helpful and wanted to share.

Paperback Writer: Pro-to-NaNo: "Pro-to-NaNo
Twenty Bits of Advice from a Pro for the New NaNo'er"

My blog posts may fall off in frequency this coming month, but I will get back to blogging as fast as I can. Do stop by the blog anyway, as I plan to add a word count widget. I appreciate everyone's support (and thank you Chrissa for the "Go Sheryl Go, You Can NaNo!" cheerleading card)!

Good luck to everyone participating. Please remember to add me as a writing buddy. Experienced NaNo'er's? Please put your words of wisdom in comments!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Love Traditions

I love traditions. For Halloween, besides carving a pumpkin and baking seeds, one of our newer customs is to make a scarecrow with the kids. We stuff an old pair of pants and shirt with leaves, pine needles, or whatever else we might rake up from the yard, and plant the ole geezer in a comfy lawn chair in front of the house. There he sits to welcome Trick or Treaters on Halloween night.

Perhaps you know this year's scarecrow?

By the way, early voting in Texas ends October 31. Be sure to get out if you can and avoid the Election Day crowds. Tell them Joe the Plumber sent ya!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fun at The Texas Renaissance Festival

In celebration of my husband's birthday, we recently visited the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF). What a wonderful time! A Renaissance themed event, it takes place for eight weekends in October and November and is one of the largest of its kind. Actors and spectators alike dress in period costume and partake in 16th century repartee, food, and festivities.

Here are a few pictures.

Standing in the archway of the arena awaiting the Joust competition, older daughter is dressed as a fairy (note the wings).

Viva la France! We sat in the section that cheered for France in the Joust.

The gallant French Knight, Philip put on quite the performance but alas, did not emerge as victor in the Joust.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The New (and Improved?) WordProverb

Announcing the long overdue update to WordProverb (drum roll please)…

Perusing templates galore, I have finally settled on a new look for my blog. I've removed some links, added a few widgets, and have hopefully made it more reader friendly and contemporized. If you are reading this post through an email subscription or feed reader, I invite you to visit the actual site to see the new look.

Well, what do you think please?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Review – Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Walk Two Moons (Summer Reading Edition) Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
My daughter loved this book and recommended that I read it also. It's a touching story of a thirteen year old girl, Salamanca (Sal) Hiddle, who embarks on a long car ride with her grandparents to go see Sal's mother. Sal's mother had left Sal and her father only to never return. During the car trip, Sal tells her grandparents the outrageous story of her friend, Phoebe Winterbottom, whose own mother also disappeared. The author, Sharon Creech, has done an outstanding job of intertwining the two tales. A truly enjoyable read, particularly appropriate and entertaining for middle-schoolers.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Fun Meme

My friend and fellow blogger, Theresa at T.C. and the Muse, tagged me in a meme. I'm supposed to list six unspectacular things about myself, so here goes.

1) I don't get near enough exercise. For someone who taught aerobics in her twenties and knows the value of exercise, I sure do sit on the "fanny" an awful lot in front of the computer.

2) My husband and I married at Sandals in Ocho Rios, Jamaica (yeah mon)! It was a choice between a traditional wedding and reception OR a nice honeymoon – we chose the honeymoon.

3) My first concert was Billy Joel in St. Louis, MO.

4) I'm accused of having a cast-iron stomach and I didn't experience morning sickness with either pregnancy!

5) I am a huge worry-wort.

6) I hate to be told what to do.

My instructions are to tag six more bloggers, so here they are without further ado.

Dave at Link'n Log,

Joy at Moving Right Along,

Sue at Stay at Home Mom,

Linda at Just Out of Sight,

Oops – that's only four; oh well, I'm tagging in order to keep the meme going.

Be sure to visit Theresa's blog at T.C. and the Muse where you can find all kinds of interesting and useful writing tips.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Writer Blogs

I enjoy blogging. As a writer, it's only natural that blogging would easily become one of my favorite pastimes. It's an opportunity to practice the art of creative writing – and in my opinion, all writing is creative – in a quick, digestible format for my blogger readers. But, is a blog necessary for a writer?

The viewpoints certainly vary. On the one camp, writers are encouraged to maintain a blog and build a reader base. The theory is that for each new book the writer authors, they will have an immediate fan base of people that will rush out to buy the new book. Sounds logical.

But what constitutes a "good" blog for a writer?

The blogs I most enjoy seem to have a theme, i.e. they are about something. Take for instance Supernatural Fairy Tales, the blog of Humble Fiction Café member Dorlana Vann. In her blog, Dorlana posts a monthly short story of a modernized fairy tale with an added supernatural element. She also posts articles about mythical creatures, such as elves, fairies and mermaids. In addition to her own stories and articles, Dorlana features guest bloggers. But in the end, everything relates back to fairy tales with a paranormal twist.

Another example of a writer blog with a clear topic is Eavesdrop Writer Blog. Read What I Hear. by Vivienne. This creative blog describes situations and conversations overheard by the author. They are entertaining observations of true life that spark the imagination.

Having a theme works especially well for non-fiction writers who typically have a specialty or particular subject matter about which they write. These authors' blogs capture readers with similar interests and enable the author to position themselves as experts.

For writers such as myself, who haven't quite yet found their writing niche, it isn't so easy. Many writers blog about writing. Interesting, yes, but the problem … and this leads to the opposing viewpoint of whether or not all writers should have blogs… is that there are so many. With hundreds, probably thousands, of writer blogs out there, what can you possibly do to make yours stand out?

A central idea is good, but equally important is that the blogger writes about what most interests him or her. This gives the blog a more personal feel. Regular updates are also vital, but daily are much too frequent. Once or twice a week seems to work well. Finally, unless it is a subject near and dear, and the author has done an outstanding job writing about it, I personally prefer shorter posts. Ones that don't take too much time to read.

My own blog contains book reviews, viewpoints of current events, and snippets of what's happening in my writer life. While I love my blog WordProverb, I'm not so sure it has mass appeal.

What's your opinion? For the blogs you frequent and read, do they have a theme? How often are they updated and what is it that draws you back?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Book Review – The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield

The Faith of Barack Obama is not about "converting" anyone from one political party to another. It's more a biography of Barack Obama and an interesting read. Dispelling some of the myths surrounding Barack Obama, it replaces those myths with actuality. It provides background as to who Obama is, his values and beliefs, how he might be as a leader, and what has actually come into making him who he is today.

I have read elsewhere that the author, Stephen Mansfield, is not an Obama supporter, and his preference for a more conservative viewpoint comes through in some instances. However, he has done a good job overall in remaining objective, and I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about this potential President.

The book describes the various non-Christian and Christian influences on Barack, including the known controversial influences of his atheist mother, Muslim stepfather, and the black liberation theologian Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr of the Trinity United Church of Christ. But it goes further to explain how these influences have contributed to Barack's ideology. At one point, the author describes Barack as "unapologetically Christian" as well as "unapologetically liberal," and much of the text describes these two characteristics coming together in an historic American movement of faith-based politics to the Religious Left.

In the chapter entitled "Four Faces of Faith," Stephen Mansfield contends that the 2008 political arena is dominated with religious forces, including in addition to Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and George W. Bush. The chapter offers a brief background of the faith of each of these political personalities and helps the reader to understand their driving forces. While I felt this chapter long and questioned the reason for devoting that much of the book to discussion other than Barack, I quickly saw the value in that it gives the reader a basis on which to compare the various individuals.

To me, The Faith of Barack Obama describes Barack as a Presidential candidate that offers hope and sincerity. Hope for a unified nation, an end to racism and poverty, and ethical and accountable leadership.