Thursday, September 30, 2010

St Michael the Archangel

St. Michael is one of my favourite saints. He's a fighter, a warrior, the field commander of God's Army.

St. Michael is amazing, because he was just an archangel. He was one of the lower ranking angels in the nine angelic choirs. Lucifer, ever after known as Satan, or the devil, was a Seraphim, the highest ranking angel in all of God's legions. Yet, it was the highest, purest, most perfect angel in the whole heavenly host that fell, and it was the archangel that obeyed God's laws and brought about his downfall. It is a great symbol of humility, that one so low should be brought so high.

Even though he is an archangel, the Greek fathers and many others place him over all the other angels, naming him as "the Prince of the Seraphim."

The name Michael means "Who is like God?" It illuminates his humility, that he refers all his glory, accomplishments, and honour back to God.

He is invoked as the patron and protector of the Catholic Church. He is the Patron saint of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, and police.

Other sites to read about St. Michael:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Finished Manuscript... or so you THOUGHT

Once you get to the end of that manuscript, what's the first thing you do?

Me, I gloat.

Oh," I say, flashing a bright and beaming smile around at my family. "Look at this paper. Isn't it amazing? That's a whole story here. Did you hear me? I wrote a whole story. Hey, look at this, I actually finished. Isn't that awesome? Isn't that great? What a good feeling! That's a lot of work, you know. I finished! I finished!"

(In less polite words, people may say I'm going "Neener neener." I'm really not. I'm just so jazzed with completing a story I have to strut my stuff a little bit.)

However, once that rough first draft (yup, it's not an actual ready-for-submission manuscript quite yet, peeps) is completed, praised, and flashed around, next comes the second step, often dreaded. Revision.

Revision isn't so bad. I like to drink a pot of coffee while I'm doing it. The worst part, for me, is the red-eyed look I develop. (Just kidding.) No, I actually get just a wee bit daunted by the sheer amount of words I have to go through. I think to myself, "Golly, Cat, did you have to be so eloquent?" It's a lot of cutting, cutting, switching around, erasing, deleting...erm, yeah, cutting. But at the same time, it's kind of fun. It's like taking a beautiful red apple, and paring, and paring, and paring, until you've got a lovely mound of white clean apple meat, cored and seeded, and sweetened in a bath of sugar and cinnamon, placed in a bed of beautiful crust, and baked until the most gorgeous apple pie emerges.

I'm probably the first person to compare revision to making apple pie, but think about it. If you didn't go through all the work of making that apple perfect for a pie, how good would your pie be?

When I revise, I like to go through it once, twice, three times, four times....until someone clicks their fingers under my nose and says, "Come in, Katrina." Sometimes I start back to front, with my last chapter first and my first chapter last, just to see how that view looks. Sometimes I'll try switching the point of view, to see how the character comes through best. But at the end of the day, I always find out one more thing.

Revision can be fun, and it will never be done.

Especially if you're a perfectionist.

So tell. What do you like about revising? I like the coffee that goes with it, and the journey of rediscovering my character all over again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Right On Target

Writing is like a game of darts.

Okay, I can see you all going, "What? Has Katrina LOST it?"

Well, I admit. My family were playing darts outside, and each game reminded me of a writer's perseverance.

Think about it. You've got the bulls-eye, which is your primary goal, an acceptance for publication. Then you've got the plain little targets which are like your multiple submissions with either personal or form rejections. Then there's the doubles, and triples, which are like your royalties or advances.

So, then there are the darts themselves. A dart is an idea. Each idea you aim at your board either lands on an acceptance or rejection. If you land on a rejection, you need to other words, you get to aim again. If it lands on an acceptance, bulls-eye!

But sometimes a dart pops out. That's usually an idea that fizzles. You can either try to revise it, or just choose a new dart. I usually try to revise my darts. I can't stand seeing a dart go to waste. Most of the time, when I aim again, I manage to get the dart to stick. Not all fizzles are failures.

Would anyone like to join me? The board is new, and the darts are fantastic.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

God and Man: a poem


A derelict stable, quite forgotten,
A Godly Baby born within,
Sinless love come down from heaven,
Selfless, saving us from sin.

Pure, unwritten paradise,
Born into the world’s great dark.
In His Hand remark the imprint
Of a shadow-nail’s mark

A mess of hate, a multitude,
Delivering God to human power,
To put Him through an awful Passion,
Delivering Him to His fateful hour.

A bridge of mercy spans His lifetime,
A shaming tattoo scars our hearts,
This Hero goes to die for us;
Language of His love He imparts.

A rust of sin upon us stains
As God in torment, hanging, dies,
The darkness comes, devouring,
In that moment men realize,

"Truly, He was Son of God.
Truly, this was God most High.”
Through the darkness there’s a calling,
God was born so God could die.

Monday, September 13, 2010


When I get home from work, anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30, sometimes I am so tired all I do is read a book and vegetate for the rest of the night.

But, in the back of my head, there's this nagging little voice whispering, "Don't read. You've got to write at least 250 words of your story tonight, and you've got to peruse the magazine markets and pitch your stories out for submissions and examine the book market and target houses for your novels and write that MWO idea that is floating through your head before you forget it, and critique that paper for your friends at Critique Cafe and...and...and..."

After a while, you either have to give in to the guilt or drown that voice in a cup of coffee and more persistent reading!!

What do you do, when you just don't feel like writing? I figure, it's a job. True, it's a job that you love, passionately. But still, it's a job. Even at a job, you get weekends. Once in while, I can take a night.

But tomorrow, boy, better get those 250 words written!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Character Journal

I am in the process of reading Alice Orr's book "No More Rejections: 50 Secrets To Writing A Manuscript That Sells". It is fabulous, by the way, and I am positive I shall eventually own the book, instead of having it on loan forever from the library.

Anyway, one of the things that really struck me about the chapter I was reading was the way Alice Orr encouraged writers to "go deep" into their characters. One way she hinted to go about doing this was to keep a "Character Journal." I'm sure we've all heard of writer's journals, where you just write about your day so as to get a feel for sensory details. Well, this is the same, except you take on the persona of the character whose story you are in the process of writing, and keep her journal.

For example, I am writing "The Key Keeper", and my character's name is Bonnie Ward. She is about twelve. She has short, dark brown hair, brown eyes, a slight anger problem, and a sarcastic, spunky wit. But that doesn't reveal the full Bonnie Ward. So, as Bonnie Ward, I keep her journal. I write her thoughts as though I am her. I become Bonnie, and everything I write or say is written purely as her, not as me at all.

The best part about it is that you can find one great huge journal, divide it into sections, and keep several character journals in one. So I can write a journal for Bonnie Ward, my MC for "The Key Keeper," a journal for Alandra Rood, my MC for "Whisper Mansion," a journal for Anair, my MC for "Beyond Boundary," and a journal for Paul Ryan, my MC for my WIP temporarily titled (for lack of anything better) "Badger," in one place.

Isn't that the neatest idea? I'm so excited to share it! I hope you find it very useful.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Howl's Moving Castle: A Tribute Poem

This is a poem that I wrote, based on a book that I love. This is a tribute poem to Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl's Moving Castle. I hope anyone who reads this, if they haven't read the book yet, shall be so inspired to do so. Enjoy!

Howl's Moving Castle
A Poem Told In 458 Words.

Sophie was the eldest.
Sophie was depressed.
While Sophie Hatter talked to hats her
mettle was suppressed.

A Witch lived in the Waste, and
this Witch came in to buy.
Her rudeness woke up Sophie’s tongue,
and caused her to reply.

Sophie lost her temper.
Sophie got a curse.
From young to old she swiftly went,
and life got quickly worse.

Sophie sought her fortune,
Talking as she went.
She found a stick and made it live
by saying what she meant.

Sophie found a scarecrow,
Brought it quite to life,
Freed a dog and fled the scene,
complaining ‘bout her strife.

Sophie sought a castle
Coal-black as a frown,
Owned by Wizard Howl, and
allowed to roam the town.

Sophie took up residence,
Brandishing a towel.
She found a star named Calcifer was
bound to Wizard Howl.

Sophie met young Michael.
Earnestly, he charmed.
Sophie met the Wizard Howl and
Promptly was alarmed.

Sophie made a bargain,
Calcifer, a clue,
Sophie tried to clean Howl’s room but
didn’t manage to.

Sophie scrubbed the bathroom,
Sophie washed the sink.
Sophie mixed up Howl’s fine soaps, and
turned his hair quite pink.

Howl had quite a tantrum,
and Howl sank in gloom,
Then Howl’s dreadful tantrum oozed green
slime throughout the room.

Sophie cleaned the tantrum.
She tried then to depart.
But Scarecrow had been following, and
startled Sophie’s heart.

Howl shook off the scarecrow,
Mended Sophie’s scare.
Sophie stole his seven-league boots and
went to take the air.

Michael mixed a spell up,
didn’t get too far,
Went out roaming on the moors, and
tried to catch a star.

Waste Witch reappeared then,
to make threats on the King.
Howl was called upon to help, but
Howl, well, had this thing…

Howl, he made a perfect plan,
because he had an aim,
Sophie played his Mother, for to
blacken Howl’s name.

Sophie made a blunder,
and Howl’s aid seemed fated…
Howl went out to get a drink, and
got inebriated.

Howl caught a head cold;
complained quite shockingly.
The Witch killed Mrs. Pentsemmon and
Howl, he went to see.

Howl, he fought a battle
Of witchery and wit,
The Witch was made to run away: It
Mattered not a bit.

For Howl, he was in danger,
But Howl just wouldn’t say.
The Witch’s demon sought his heart, so
Howl moved quite away.

Scarecrow made reentry,
A skull’s head clamor caused.
The Witch’s demon tricked them all,
But Sophie hardly paused!

Sophie lost her temper,
The demon kept its head,
Howl’s heart was in its hand, but
Sophie, she saw red.

The Witch was blown to powder,
The demon fell apart.
And Sophie freed up Calcifer,
And mended Howl’s heart.

All went back to normal,
Sophie wasn’t old.
Howl’s heart was back in place:
This story’s finally told.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Finding Words In Woodstacks

So, my family and I spent an hour of the morning stacking wood. It's not my idea of the best time I could ever have, but it's vigourous and splintery, and a good workout.

As I was tossing pieces of wood to my younger sister (not really tossing, just occasionally chucking a piece to check her reflexes), I thought that writing was rather similar to harvesting wood for the winter.

See, you start with a tree, which is like a wonderful glorious story idea in your mind. Then you cut the tree down, to see how it looks from a different angle, much as you plot up different story scenarios to figure how best the story would flow. Then you cut the tree into lengths, like you cut up the storyline into different chapters, to get an idea as to how much story is hiding in those lengths.

Next, once you've loaded the "chapters" onto your truck and brought them home, you split them into logs, opening them up to see how fruitful the ideas are. Then, you throw all the wood into a pile and let it age, like a good idea has to be mulled over a little bit in order for it to work.

Then comes the stacking. You go through the pile of wood, your ideas, good and bad, that are all thrown together. Gnarly, knotty pieces of wood, or splinters, or bark bits, all the pieces of wood that are impossible to stack, you lay aside for later. Smooth, square bits, perfect stacking wood, you lay neatly in rows on the deck. The neat rows are your sentences. The occasional odd piece of wood that is perhaps slightly too long or slightly too short are your plot changes. The odd gnarled bits that you plop on top of all the good rows are your climaxes and twists of plot.

In the end, they all create one thing: a wonderful roaring fire of a story that you can enjoy every evening during winter...and hopefully with a story, every evening of the summer, as well.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Give Yourself Permission

This was a brilliant post, simply because I have a hard time really giving myself the permission I know I need as a writer.

Associate Editor Molly O'Neil, funny, witty, and concise blogger at WriteOnCon, had this to say on the subject.

First, being a writer is a solitary act of the will. Where your writing goes, or doesn't go, depends solely on you. If you become a writer, a really fabulous selling author, it's because you willed yourself to keep going on the journey even when the journey felt impossible. If you are a writer who has remained in the same rut year after year after year with no intention of ever struggling free, it's because you allowed yourself to give up, to stop running after that dream of really becoming the writer that's sleeping inside you.

There are a list of permissions that Molly O'Neil gave us. I encourage all serious writers to take this list and pin it somewhere in your home, or in your head, or on your desktop. It's gold.

Permission to call yourself a writer. (I do)
Permission to collect sparks of inspiration from even the unlikeliest of encounters. (Definitely do!)
Permission to wander your way into telling stories completely unlike those you perhaps once thought you would write. (All the time!)
Permission to start writing something new—totally, gloriously new—even if the thought terrifies you. Especially if the thought terrifies you. (I'm still scared.)
Permission to admit that a story you’ve been trying to write isn’t working, or isn’t actually something that you love writing anymore, and to liberate yourself from it. And then, to start something new. (See above!)
Permission to stray from your outline. (ALL the time.)
Permission to keep writing, even if it feels like you may never “get there.”(**sigh** I do. It's hard.)
Permission to steal the parts of a story that ARE working out of a story that mostly isn’t, and to use those parts to make something fresh. (Working on this one.)
Permission to change your manuscript from first-person to third (and possibly back again). Or to change tenses, or settings, or main characters, or any other part of your story, once you see a way to make it better.
Permission to let a character become someone totally different than you originally expected him/her to be. (Characters have a disconcerting habit to become real people, and abandoning the characters I've written for them.)
Permission to kill a character. (And to cry a little when you do so.) (I've killed them. I've cried.)
Permission to hire a babysitter, or to blow off some homework, or to order dinner in, or whatever it takes, to give yourself a little more space in your life for writing.
Permission to write a scene or story that might make certain people who love you shocked and surprised. (Still scared about this one. :-)
Permission to submit something. (Done. But ooh, it's scary!)
Permission to fail, maybe more than once. (Because you can’t fail unless you’ve tried.) (Feels like I fail all the time. **sigh** I give myself permission to accept it.)
Permission to feel things deeply as a writer—disappointment, grief, doubt, jealousy. But then to balance those negative emotions with more positive ones: ambition, determination, persistence, hope. (WIP)
Permission to be where you are in your path as a writer. Right now. Even if you think you should be farther along.
Permission to write in the oddest of places—on the back of kleenex boxes and receipts; at ballet lessons or soccer practice or with a car full of groceries going warm; on napkins in restaurants; in the bathroom of a friend or relative’s house when you’ve gone to visit—in order to capture an idea, or images, or words that flash into your mind, already strung perfectly together. (On a post-it in between visual fields. :-)
Permission to ignore all the conflicting pieces of advice, and simply to write the story within you that wants to be told. (Yay!)
Permission to step away from measuring yourself against other writers.
Permission to be inspired by EVERYTHING. (Always!)
Permission to be uninspired…but to try to write through it anyway. (SO HARD!)
Permission to mess up. Possibly many times. Every day. (Thank you. I have.)
Permission to do what you need to protect yourself as a writer—to turn off the internet, or to stop reading blogs for awhile, or to avoid Twitter—and enable yourself to do that thing which writers must do—TO WRITE. (Yes. Very hard to do, too.)
Permission to think of your characters as real people (and to perhaps actually like them better than some real-life people you know). (You mean they're NOT real? Confession: I really do like most of them better than real people, too.)
Permission to delete. (Hard, hard, hard. But I do.)
Permission to write things that perhaps no one but you will ever see. (All the time.)
Permission to write things that perhaps many people will see. (Scary.)
Permission to…Write On! (Insert cheer.)

Molly O’Neill is an Associate Editor at Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsChildren’s Books
Read her blog at:, and follow her on Twitter @molly_oneill.
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