Friday, December 31, 2010

The Seventh Day of Christmas

Happy (almost) New Year, to all my family, friends, and members! I hope you have a very safe, very nice New Year's Eve celebration. I plan to spend mine at home. If I can keep my eyes open, I'll even toast in the New Year with a shot of brandy.

On this Seventh Day of Christmas, we celebrate the gifts of the Seven Sacraments that our Good God gave to us. These are: Baptism, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction, and Matrimony.

Baptism is like New Year's. At the end of a year, as we face off into the next year and wonder what it will bring, it's like a renewing of life, of living. New Year's Eve is the advent of what will be in the coming year. It's a rekindling of hope, of anticipation, of renewal.

Baptism is the Sacrament by which we are washed clean from the stain of Original Sin, made children of God and heirs of heaven. Baptism is a renewal of life spiritually, a kindling of hope for our salvation, of anticipation for our future in heaven. There is the same pattern of expectation, of hope that this new year, or this new life, will bring peace and happiness to us.

God bless and keep you all. Happy New Year, my dears!

On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Love (God) gave to me,
Seven Swans a-Swimming, (the Seven Sacraments)
Six Geese a-Laying, (the Six Days of Creation)
Five Gold Rings, (the Pentateuch)
Four Calling Birds, (the Four Evangelists, or the Gospels)
Three French Hens, (the Theological Virtues)
Two Turtledoves, (the Old and New Testament)
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (Our Sweet Jesus Christ)

We're nearly at the end, aren't we? It's almost Little Christmas! Too bad I have to work on that day. Oh well. I'll celebrate anyway.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Halfway To Epiphany

On this Sixth Day of Christmas, I do hope you all take a small moment and just thank God for giving us this Day. After all, this Sixth Day commemorates the Six Days of Creation, when God created all the world for us.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas my True Love (God) gave to me,
Six Geese a-Laying, (the Six Days of Creation)
Five Gold Rings, (the Pentateuch)
Four Calling Birds, (the Four Evangelists, or the Gospels)
Three French Hens, (the Theological Virtues)
Two Turtledoves, (the Old and New Testaments)
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (Our Little Jesus Christ)

Sixth Day of Christmas

On this Sixth Day of Christmas, I do hope you all take a small moment and just thank God for giving us this Day. After all, this Sixth Day commemorates the Six Days of Creation, when God created all the world for us.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas my True Love (God) gave to me,
Six Geese a-Laying, (the Six Days of Creation)
Five Gold Rings, (the Pentateuch)
Four Calling Birds, (the Four Evangelists, or the Gospels)
Three French Hens, (the Theological Virtues)
Two Turtledoves, (the Old and New Testaments)
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (Our Little Jesus Christ)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Point of View

So, I sit and look out the window, and all I see is snow, snow, snow piled up in mounds. From my point of view, it's very lovely, because it's the afternoon and it's not really snowing seriously any more, so I don't have to go out and shovel the driveway. I can just enjoy it.

From my point of view this morning, though, it was the most horrible stuff in the world, because I had to get to work, and the plows hadn't come by to clear the roads yet. Also, it was still dusky outside so it wasn't safe for me to walk to work, which is what I normally do. Instead, since it was snowing pretty hard, I had to go outside with the rest of my family and clear out the driveway so my Dad could drive me to work. It was like shoveling oatmeal mixed with watery milk. It was terrible, and it was HEAVY!

From the tourist's point of view, I'm sure this snow is a dream. Tahoe snow really is quite lovely, especially after a storm when the skies clear and the sun comes out. For the ski resorts, though it may not be beneficial yet, in the days to come it will be a skiier's dream. From a skiier's, or snowboarder's point of view, I'm sure this snow is pure heaven.

From the local's point of view, the snow is just another ordeal to get through. It may mean getting out the chains, or making sure your four-wheel-drive is working, and dealing with tourists who aren't quite sure what they're supposed to do in snow, but it's life. It's nothing new.

Point of view is so variable, but so important. Everyone's point of view is different. In a book, you have to make sure your point of view remains consistent, whether your sticking yourself in your MC's head alone, or being the all-seeing-eye and looking through all of your characters POV in turn. How do you choose a view, and stick to it?

For me, I find it easiest to remain in my MC's POV if I'm in the first person. When I'm in third person, I find I jump slightly from my MC's POV to my secondary character's POV, to my antagonist's POV. It helps me see the full picture that way. How about you? What do you do?

On this Fifth Day of Christmas, when we receive the Five Golden Rings (the first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace), I'd love to hear your thoughts on Point Of View. Come on down, pull up a chair, grab some cocoa, and let's chat.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas my True Love (God) gave to me,
Five Gold Rings, (the Pentateuch)
Four Calling Birds, (The Four Evangelists)
Three French Hens, (The Three Theological Virtues)
Two Turtledoves, (The Old and New Testament)
and a Patridge in a Pear Tree. (Jesus Christ)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Writing is like Christmas, you know? There's the beginning of the season (the first idea), the growing anticipation (a gathering of inspiration), the celebration of the day (the conclusion of the story). The parallels are beautiful.

Writing gives me the same joy and peace that the season of Christmas gives me. When I go to write, my heart feels at peace, as though I'm listening to the beat of God's heart, and what I write are the whisperings of God's voice.

What I love the best about writing is that I learn so much. For instance, did you know that the first Christmas Card was drawn by John Calcott Horsley in 1843? I thought it was really interesting, and thanks to the Monthly Write Off's we have at our Writer's Retreat, I think I may endeavour to try an Historical Fiction on this. That's the other thing I love about writing. I enjoy the challenge of stepping out of my fantasy comfort zone and trying something I'd never thought I'd try.

Today is the Feast of The Holy Innocents, little helpless babes that died after Christ's birth, when Herod commanded them all to be killed in an attempt to slay little Baby Jesus. It is also the Fourth Day of Christmas.

"On the Fourth Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle doves,
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree."

The Four Calling Birds represent the four Gospels, and the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, authors of the Gospels.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, God gives us the Four Gospels, the Three Theological Virtues, The Old and New Testaments, and His own Jesus Christ.

It's only nine days until Epiphany! Merry Christmas to you all, and soon to be Happy New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas...

... my True Love gave to me,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtledoves,
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
This is the next stanza in the Twelve Days of Christmas song. The Three French Hens refers to the three Theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. On the third day of Christmas, God has given us Faith, Hope, and Charity, the Old and New Testaments, and Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This song was written by a man named Drennon. He helped prevent young Catholics from being punished for reading religious books by giving them the tenets of their Faith in song, rather than by the written word.

Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge. A mother partridge will fake injury in order to lure predators from her helpless nestlings. So did Christ for us, though He faked no suffering. He was born to us, that He might die for us.

In this Christmas season, I marvel at God's love for us. He has been especially good to me. I may not be the happiest person, content with my lot in life right now, but He was given me such an overflow of love in my writing craft, and the desire to succeed with it, that I can do no more than say, "Deo Gratias." I mean, over Christmas I came up with ideas for two articles and two more stories in a steampunk genre. I NEVER do articles. How can I think about doing TWO? Neither have I been a huge steampunk fan, but all of a sudden I can't think of a better genre to write. How is that possible?

I've decided that God is showing me new facets to writing that I never would dared have explored without His aid.

Merry Third Day of Christmas, everyone! Keep Writing, Keep Inspiring, Keep Loving It!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

We are now celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas. The first day of Christmas was actually yesterday, December twenty-fifth, on the day of Christ's birth. We will count down the rest of the twelve days from now until January fifth, the Eve of the Epiphany.

On the First Day of Christmas, we receive the Partridge in the Pear Tree. This song is actually not just a nonsense rhyme. In England, between the years 1558 to 1829, Roman Catholics were prohibited from practicing their religion. In order to help young Catholics secretly learn their faith, The Twelve Days Of Christmas was written as a Catechism Song.

The "True Love" refers to God, the "me" refers to all baptized persons, and the "Partridge in a Pear Tree" refers to Jesus Christ.

Today, on the Second Day of Christmas, we receive Two Turtledoves. The Turtledoves represent the Old and New Testaments.

"On the First Day of Christmas, my True Love (God) sent to me (baptized person),
a Partridge in a Pear Tree (Jesus Christ).
On the Second Day of Christmas, my True Love sent to me,
Two Turtledoves (the Old and New Testament),
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree."
Doesn't that rather make you think? It suddenly becomes a much more meaningful song, doesn't it? I think I shall view it with less distaste, now.

Merry Christmas, and Goodnight.

The First Day of Christmas

The Second Day of Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010

No One Will Be Sleeping On the Night Of Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve to you all! I hope you all have a blessed Christmas day, and a wonderful Merry Christmas. I hope you receive the one true gift you wanted this year. For me, I pray I receive my gift too.

Isn't that line above so true? I remember lying in bed on Christmas Eve, unable to fall asleep, so excited and filled with anticipation that my insides shivered. I remember being able to hear the Christmas music playing on the radio in the living room, and when I lay very still in bed, I thought I could hear Santa on the roof. It took me forever to fall asleep, and I remember waking up, feeling a tingle in my toes, and know that it was Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve has always been one of my most favourite days. On Christmas Eve, we finish wrapping the presents, and bake ourselves into a super frenzy. As of 6:45pm tonight, we have finished making batches of pizzelles, biscotti, truffles, snowballs, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, chocolate-dipped pretzels, and chocolate chip cookies.

Because it's Christmas Eve, I'm going to share another Christmas poem with you. I hope you like it. It was inspired by the picture posted below.


The Babe lay on the Mother's knee,
the Angels gathered 'round.
On bended knee adored Him:
their wingtips brushed the ground.

The faint, sweet smell of heaven,
mixed with the fiddle's tune
rose like a fragrant incense
up to the sickle moon.

"Hosanna!" crooned the angels,
their joyous sigh of love
rising to God's throne on high,
and echoing above.

"Hosanna!" sang the angels,
The stars returned the same.
And all the silence in the night
Called out His holy name.

The Babe lay on the Mother's knee,
the fairest Christmas Rose.
The angels bent to kiss His face,
and guard His sweet repose.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Nativity: A Poem

This is my simple little Christmas poem. I hope it does as much homage to God as I pray it does.

When all the stars cried out, "Rejoice!"
and flowers bloomed 'neath winter snow,
then, in that silver, silent night,
God's Child came to us below.
He came to us through Mary pure,
and she sang in that holy night.
The angels bent to hear her song:
their perfect hearts beat with delight.

"Gloria, my holy Treasure,
Gloria, my goodly Pleasure.
Gloria, mine own, my being.
Gloria, Creator King!"

When all the heavens rang with joy,
and untouched snow lay glimmering,
when in that diamond, velvet sky,
the diamond stars danced, shimmering:
when Joseph and the shepherds sang,
and Mary sang, o wondrous thing!
then through the angels' jubilee
came Jesus Christ, our God and King.

"Gloria, my holy Treasure,
Gloria, my goodly Pleasure.
Gloria, mine own, my being.
Gloria, Creator King!
My Sweet, my soul, my every grace,
my Saviour of our sinful race.
My Hope, my Joy, my Baby King,
my God, my Life, my Everything!"

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Back to Front

Most people begin celebrating Christmas right after, or around the same time as, Thanksgiving. The tree goes up, the houses are decorated, lights, Santas, reindeer decorate houses and yards, and generic Christmas songs blare in the stores.

What a lot of people don't realise is that Christmas doesn't begin until... Christmas. The days before it are all days of preparation, the season of Advent. Christmas, and the season of Christmas, begins ON Christmas.
In my family, we celebrate Advent. We prepare for the coming of Christ, and we listen to the traditional Christmas songs, like O Holy Night, Silent Night, Adeste Fidelis, The Wexford Carol, What Child is This?, and others of a similar nature. It's about Christ. It's not about what presents we're going to receive, or what sort of deserts and cookies we're going to make for Christmas.

That doesn't mean we DON'T look forward to all that. We are human, and God wants us to enjoy life. But the real focus is on our little baby God, born of a virgin and laid in a manger. Our twelve days of Christmas doesn't start on thirteenth of December and end on Christmas. Our twelve days start on Christmas, and end on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men brought their gifts and humbly offered them to our God.

In my family, it is traditional to save one present we receive on Christmas day, and leave it under the tree until the Epiphany, when we celebrate "Little Christmas." Then, the Wise Men come and bring one gift, and we celebrate another Christmas, on the twelfth day of Christmas.

How do you celebrate Christmas? Is it back to front, like ours, in the traditional Christmas way?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Hero Of My Own Story

I kept thinking about that line all evening. It's from Nim's Island, when Nim tells Alex Rover, the writer, that "I can't be the hero of my own story."

I know how she feels.

It's so easy to make the character of the story you write be extra-super heroic, because you, from your creator throne, KNOW that everything is going to turn out well. You know your hero/heroine is going to go through this rough time, and that he (or she) is going to have to be incredibly courageous and sacrificial, but you know that the happy ending is coming. They may not know, but you know.

You can have your character face certain death, because you know it's actually NOT certain death, but a really cool fight scene. You can have your character suffer misunderstanding and a broken heart because you know the resolution is just beyond the next chapter. You can have your heroine muddle through, day after day, lonely, sad, trying to be content in her niche in life, because you know that her hero is coming soon. You just have to turn the page, and the happy ending is there.

In this story of mine, my own, non-fiction, real-life story, I DON'T know the ending. I don't know if the happy ending that I want is coming. All I know is, right now, I can't be the hero of my own story. I need a hero.

Now that I've had my pity party, I wanted to share that today is St. Lucy's feast day. Her name means "light". According to the Julian calendar, the winter solstice fell on December 13th. Under the Gregorian calendar, the solstice now falls on December 21st. However, her name is still associated with the winter solstice, when the days grow brighter and longer after it.

She is the patron saint of those that suffer from eye diseases, or eye issues.

St. Lucy
Catholic Online

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Magic Thief: Sarah Phineas

What do a thief and a wizard have in common?

They are both trying to discover why the magic in their city of Wellmet is disappearing.

When Connwaer, a young thief, picks the pocket of the wizard Nevery and steals the wizards locus magicalicus (a stone that helps a wizard focus his magic), the wizard can only wonder that the locus didn't kill the boy.

Nevery takes the boy home, curious about his affinity to magic. Conn will be Nevery's apprentice, on the condition that he find a locus magicalicus of his own. Conn has only a month to do this, and it becomes a near impossible task as he also spends his time trying to discover who... or what... is stealing Wellmet's magic.

This is a romping good story, the first in a trilogy. Conn was a good character, personable, likable, with a distinctive voice.

My Rating:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dream in Life

Everyone has a dream, something they want the most out of life.

For me, my first dream has been to get married, to be a mother like my own wonderful Mom. I want to have my own little kids, little children that have a little piece of me in their faces, in the way they talk, in the way they move. Those little souls, that my husband (to be) and I can teach to love God. That is my first dream.

My second dream is to a writer, someone who reaches out with a pen and touches the hearts of people, all across the world. How fantastic is that? To know the words you say will resound in someone's mind. What a gift! What a frighteningly powerful gift!

If I could be a singer too, and touch people with my music, that would be a powerful thing too, but I'm trying not to be TOO greedy, here. ;-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remember Them

Today was a lovely day for me, not too busy, not too slow, but with enough time for me to come up with more developments to my new novel idea. But sixty-nine years ago, it was probably the worst day in the lives of many, many people.

Can you imagine what it was like sixty-nine years ago, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor? Can you imagine being a little girl in Pearl Harbor, waking up to the sound of a Japanese attack squad? Wouldn't that be the worst experience in the world? There was nothing lovely about that day. There was only death, fear, and shock.

The first detection of the raid that two Army operators in Oahu had was at 7:15am that day. Their report was disregarded, because the officer in charge thought the planes were American B-17 planes, expected in from the U.S. west coast. At 7:53, the first Japanese assault wave commenced their attack. The raid lasted about two hours, ending around 9:45am.

Eight battleships were damaged, and five were sunk. America lost three light cruisers, three destroyers, and three smaller vessels. 188 aircraft were shot down. In very little time, America lost 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians, and 1,178 of her people were left wounded.

This attack led America into World War II. I wonder what would have happened if we'd stayed out of the war? Isn't it amazing to think about what could have been? It's almost frightening, isn't it? It would make an interesting Parallel Universe story.

Just take a moment, and remember all the young men, the old men, the children, women, and sons, the mothers, husbands, aunts and uncles, cousins, sisters, friends, that lost their lives sixty-nine years ago.

For just a moment, remember them.

For more information on Pearl Harbor, here are some rather neat links. Thanks for reading!

History Matters
The History Place
Eyewitness History
Naval History and Heritage
Oread Daily

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dreaming Up A Story

I'm not one to put all my faith in dreams. However, I will put my faith into the dream that inspires a new story.

I dreamed about this character, who named himself Hero. Ironically, he really did just stroll through my dream, completely fleshed out and fantastic. He's on par with Badger, my NaNo MC. He's this Slovakian boy, newly arrived in America after the death of his parents. As time goes by, it becomes apparent that Hero is not just a boy. He's the person destined to save the world.

I've written out an outline, and an idea of the story I dreamed. I just love it when the story appears in my head like this, with a character that totally excites me and is so completely real. I love it when a story materializes without a struggle. Instead of peeling the story out of my bones, it oozes out of my pores and dances in my fingertips, singing, "Write me, write me!"

How often do you dream a story? This is the second time it's happened to me. My advice, for certain sure, is this: Keep a notebook with you at all times, writers! Inspiration strikes at all times, and sometimes the best things happen when you just wake up.
Also, today is St. Nicholas day. We put out our shoes last night, and this morning St. Nicholas came and put candy and chocolate in our shoes, and one little gift. I got lovely little hair diamonds in my shoe. It was a most welcome gift. I had decided I was going to buy them for myself for Midnight Mass, but St. Nicholas anticipated me, and bought them for me instead. I'm going to wear them for Christmas.
Merry Christmas, writer friends! God bless, and Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Working With Wonder

Work is work is work, right?

Not always. I have a job I love. Not many people can boast of that. But I do. I have a job that MAKES you dream, imagine, pretend, and act like a kid all the time. It's the best. I get to work with wonder, and inspire others with wonder.

One of the things that's so funny about what I do, is that I can never give myself too long a break. For instance, I finished my NaNo novel, and I felt... hollow. It was almost as though I'd carved out my heart and soul and left myself completely drained. In order to fill myself back up again, I started on other projects. I'm working on my two other novels, The Key Keeper, and Whisper Mansion, and several short stories that I'm writing for submissions. I just love it.

The thing about being a writer is that you are basically your own boss. It's good, and at the same time, it's bad. I mean, you have to make sure you schedule yourself. You can't take off time all the time, because you'll never get anything done. You can't just say, "I'll write an hour each week, and that's all," because, unless you are a genius, you'll never perfect your skill, and you won't get much done, anyway. You have to schedule yourself. This is a part of the business I'm still trying to perfect, myself.

You have to be dedicated. It does absolutely no good to say, "I'm a writer," and then do nothing but research, research, research, without any pen-to-papering going on. Research is important, but you can't let yourself stray into the realms on internetism. You have to keep your focus.

You have to love it. If you're writing purely from intent to become rich and famous, you're not going to make it. Your writing is going to be shallow and quick, with no time taken to the ebb and flow of cadence, and no care taken to revise and edit repetitive words. Writing comes from the heart. Write the absolute best you can, and you'll be a success.
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