Sheila's Motto

"Endeavor to enhance the lives of others through education and encouragement."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Writing Techniques ~~ "The Writing Bug Bites"

Writers are often asked who, when, where, how and why did we start writing. Some of us, like me, remember when the bug first bit. I was in the third grade, and my teacher loved to have us students write book reports. She indicated that we should complete the task on one page, write neatly (we were also practicing our cursive) and be prepared to read our creations to the class. I loved horses, and at the time, a popular author of children’s books was C.W. Anderson, who was writing a series about a boy and his horse, the Billy and Blaze stories.

I wrote my first book report on “Blaze and the Forest Fire,” telling how the boy and his horse saved the day by riding fast to report the fire. My teacher liked the book report, and my enthusiasm about it.

I was disappointed to learn that “Blaze and the Forest Fire,” was the only one of the series available at our school library. For the rest of the year, whenever I needed a book report, I wrote one about a Billy and Blaze adventure that existed only in my imagination and on my notepaper. I recall there were three of them, one about a race Blaze won at the county fair. I always received a good grade on my book reports, and later I wondered if I fooled the teacher, or if she was rewarding creativity.

As I sat down to write this blog, I became curious as to whether Billy and Blaze had survived all these decades. I went to Amazon.com and found there were several books in that series still available for purchase. The next time I visit the Twin Falls, Idaho Library I intend to search for Billy and Blaze.

References about writing are everywhere. I Googled Bible references to writing and on one site I found 63 citations.  The first reference to catch my interest was when the Lord got into the writing business, writing the ten commandments with his finger on the tablets of stone for Moses (Exodus 31:18). In Joshua 30:2, the Lord commands Joshua to “write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.”

In Proverbs 3:3 we are encouraged to “let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck and write them on the tablet of your heart.”  Good advice then, good advice now.  The Psalmist, in Psalm 102:18 looks to those who will follow him when he writes “let this be written for a future generation that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”

For those of you who are considering picking up a pen/pencil or turning on your computer to write and not sure where you’ll get your ideas, one of the suggestions I offer is that you think about writing a continuation of a story you’ve recently read or a TV series you’ve enjoyed. What is happening next to the characters?  With this thought, I find the Greatest Book Ever Written a source for someone looking for something to write.  The Bible, as we know, is filled with stories and story possibilities. This source of story ideas offers you an opportunity to not only consider “what happened then?” but may even inspire you to study more of the Bible and related sources. For instance, what happened to the donkey on which Jesus rode on Palm Sunday? Was the innkeeper’s life changed after the birth of Jesus in his stable?

Some individuals I know were bitten by the writing bug as they listened to stories told by older family members and realized those stories should be saved for other family members and future generations. Write them down. Since I am not really “electronically literate”, I carry a small notebook and pen in my purse to catch possible story prompts.

I find that cell phones with cameras offer another way to get started writing. So many photos of people, events, scenery, etc. almost cry out for something to be written about them. Perhaps choosing one photo a week or a month to write something about will trigger your writing desire.

Reminiscing about the lives of your parents or older relatives may also bring stories to mind. I remember working in the fields as a young girl, beside my mother and sister. Potato harvesting has changed drastically through the decades. Workers would pick potatoes from the field and place them in wire baskets and sacks for transport to the cellars for processing.  I remember my mother shedding her clothes in the middle of a potato field when a mouse ran up her pant leg. My mother was a shy woman, but she didn’t hesitate to separate herself from the mouse. It could have been a funny story.

Another prompt for deciding to start writing can be an urgent desire on your part to express your opinion about what you read in a newspaper or heard on TV. Letters to the editorial staff of newspapers and magazines are opportunities to write and share your thoughts. I am always thrilled to see my name in print, wherever it is. I remember one time my letter to the editor was published in a local paper and a member of our church read it to friends gathered around him after the service. He had read the letter several times and didn’t connect that I was the person who had written it until his wife carefully pointed out that the “Ruth” was a woman he knew.

Pets can inspire you to write. I’ve enjoyed the company of dogs for most of my life; however, in recent years a stray cat and her kitten have joined my household, and storytelling about their antics fills many of my conversations. I should write these experiences, at least in a journal.

I recently retired (again) as a substitute teacher and found that having students keep a journal is an amazing way to encourage them to think, speak and write. Parents who read their children’s journals may find a rich source of ideas in their kids’ homework.

I’ve retired for the umpteenth time, and I find that I’ve actually “refired”, spending much of my time writing and loving it (most of the time).  I’ve self-published two books through Create Space during the past two years, “My Border Collie World”, and “Civilian Women’s Quarters”, and hope to publish “We Gather Together” in the next month.

      


May the writing bug also bite you and cause you to itch to put your words on paper.
             ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I want to extend a BIG "Thank You" to my guest blogger, Ruth Simerly, for her encouraging, instructive, and sage words. I met Ruth years ago in a small writing group in the valley. Her smile radiates kindness and her eyes twinkle like Christmas tree lights.  I love the happy smile on her border collie's face featured in the above book cover.  

Please share this guest blog post to those who desire to write or need ideas to jump start or complete their current project.

Happy Reading, & Write on!

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Poetry & Prose ~~ "Spring Sonnets, Sports, & Symposiums"


Now that spring is in full swing, it's a great time to head outdoors to do some reading and writing.  I suppose you could even do some 'rithmetic if that's on your schedule.



                                                                         Sonnets

For my April issue of Writers' T. & T. (Writers' Tips & Techniques), I invite you to try your hand at writing a sonnet of which there are basically six different styles and types.  The word sonnet is derived from the Italian word "sonnetto," which means a "little song" or small lyric.  For more details, please scoop this:  https://literarydevices.net/sonnet/



                         

Of Farms & Frames

Down through the family trees they descended,
Some with brown eyes, others with blue, one with green.
All were created so lovingly by God,
Implementing His masterful right hand.
A lively clan as one could easily hear.
The patriarch was quite a character,
To which the neighbors would gladly attest.
The little farm provided years of quick learning,
Lessons required to be remembered.
Time flees so quickly; capture it right now,
Chances abound for precious memories.
Print them to place inside a pretty frame,
To continue your family legacy,
For the generations which will follow you.



GRANDKIDDOS' SPRING SPORTS 

                                      

Granddaughter, Ali ,with a fabulous serve during her first spring volleyball game.

                                         

Grandson, T. J., executing the perfect hike during his Friday Night Flag Football game.

                                     

Since brother's team was winning by a wide margin, sister reads on.  She's never without a book. Speaking of readers and writers, one doesn't need to look very far back in the family trees to find many of the same bent.

 Spring Writers' Symposium 

Those of you who attended the Spring Writers' Symposium on St. Patrick's Day in Parma, Idaho were treated to a little humor when I commenced my workshop on Creative Writing. I wanted to celebrate my new found ancestry with a stylish pair of glasses. What do you think?

                                                                   
Speaking of creative writing, enter to win your choice of one of my books featured on my blog page ~~ www.sheilassagaciousstirrings.blogspot.com or the creative writing exercise and instructions I presented during the recent symposium.  This creative writing packet will include three creative writing prompts.

How to enter:

1.  Follow me on Facebook or Twitter@SheilaEismann (if you are not already doing so) and mention the title of this newsletter, "Spring Sonnets, Sports and Symposiums."

2.  Visit my blog post, "Spring Sonnets, Sports and Symposiums." and leave a comment.

3.  Share the blog post on Facebook or Twitter.  (Don't forget to tag me and comment "Spring Sonnets, Sports and Symposiums" when you share, so I will know you entered.)

4.  For those of you who are not social media subscribers, please send an email to:  sheila@desertsagepress.com and indicate that you'd like to have your name entered in the giveaway.

The giveaway will run from now until April 30th.  The winner will be announced Monday, April 30th at noon MDT via Facebook, Twitter, and email.  Must be 18 years old to enter.  Winner's choice of one of my books or creative writing materials ships only to mainland United States.

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."  [John Burrough]

In the interim, Happy Reading & Write On!

Sheila Fabulous

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Poetry & Prose ~~ "Thank You, Lord"




"Thank You"
(A Prayer)

Lord,
Your grace so freely given
Your fruit so generously shared
The best wine poured daily
Your living water forever pure—
Suitable only for the purest—
You, your heavenly hosts—
But not for me.

Still
YOU struck the Rock
That I might drink freely.
Some days sipping
Some days thirstily, greedily.
Never offended
You are always eager to share and to bless.

Tonight
In this wee morning hour
My lips moistened with Your sweetness
I thank You.

You love me
And I love You.
YOU love me, MORE
And I love you more.

Thank You.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Contributed by Terry Finnerty who believes that God has created each of us for a personal, intimate relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ; and He communicates with us, now, through His Word and Holy Spirit, through nature, and through His inspiration of others; and that we respond to Him, if we choose, literally, through the medium that is unique to each of us-- written words, prayers, music, art, silence, and sometimes, tears. I wholeheartedly agree with Terry's belief and statement in this regard.

For this guest blog, Terry shares a prayer in the form of a poem that he wrote late one night or early morning almost two years ago.  He hopes God likes it, and that you do, too!  

Terry lives with his wife of 37 years, Terri Anne.  He's journaled for years with the intention of sharing thoughts with their two sons and daughter-in-law, surviving siblings, and friends.  Much of what he's written lately has been conversations with God from devotional periods of Bible study and other inspirational reading, prayer walks, and photography sessions.  Writing helps to deepen his awareness of his life and his relationship with Jesus Christ. Pens and pencils -- Michelangelo's chisels that reveal the Davids (or Davidas) that God has created all of us to be.

Happy Reading in Poetry's Presence.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Answers in Faith ~~ "A Grandmother's Double Delight"


To my delight and unspeakable joy, I became a grandmother several years ago.  When the first was born, the miracle of birth, of two people becoming three, amazed me even more than when it happened to me.  As I held that tiny boy, my heart swelled with so much love that tears leaked out of my eyes.  It happened again when the second boy was born.

We live in another state from our grandsons, so our trips to see them are far between. I send cards, but preschool kids don’t appreciate them like they will when they learn to read. When we visit, I always take gifts for both boys so now they expect it. I usually take them books, but from the looks of their two full bookcases, it may be time to expand my selection of gifts.

Watching these boys grow up and learn new things is rejuvenating for me. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child makes me feel young, although it’s exhausting to keep up with them. They can play and run for hours, but I cannot. I do the best I can before resting and telling them to continue their play.

We spent two weeks helping our son with our two grandsons while our daughter-in-law was on an overseas business trip. During those two weeks, we played on the floor, read books, drew pictures, ran races, played outside, went to the park, went to stores, went to McDonalds, and in general, did everything they wanted to do. We even did a few things they didn’t want to do, like picking up toys and being quiet while their dad worked in his office. We ate together, watched TV together, played games together, and lived together for two weeks.

At the end of our time there, I was packing my bag when the oldest grandson came in to watch. “I’m going home tomorrow,” I told him.

He gave me a very puzzled look and said, “But I was just beginning to like you.”

I hope someday my grandsons will appreciate the time I spent with them. I hope they never forget me. I hope they pass on my songs and lessons I’ve tried to teach them. I hope they grow up into responsible, caring, Christian men. It’s my prayer.

II Timothy 1:5 “…when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is also in you.” I hope I’m like the grandmother Lois, and I will establish the faith of Christ in my grandsons so that they know it from childhood (II Tim. 3:15).

“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them” (Psalms 103:17-18 NKJV).

I want to thank my guest blogger and fellow author, Carol Kjar, for this uplifting and instructive writing.  My favorite line from the blog is when her grandson looked at her and said, "But I was just beginning to like you."  I'm confident that's a precious memory that will stay in the Kjar family for quite some time. 

As Carol mentioned in her blog, long-distance grandparenting can be a challenge. The Lord will give us wisdom how to accomplish this in a memorable way as our legacies continue.



Carol C.S. Kjar, (pronounced "care") lives with her long-time first husband in their empty nest in Boise. She spent her life doing many different things. She’s been a stay-at-home mom, a teacher, a secretary, a statistician, a literacy tutor, a newsletter editor, a timber sale accountant, an archeological technician, and best and longest of all, a technical writer/editor.  

After retiring, Carol focused on writing fiction. Her novels are sweet and wholesome, suspenseful with a touch of romance. She has also written children's, middle age books, and one non-fiction book about quilting. When not writing or traveling with her husband, she loves to quilt, sew, read, draw, paint, and read to her grandsons.

Here's Carol's contact information where you can read her blogs, take a look at the books she's published, etc.

My blog is found at www.cskjar.com/blog

I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cskjar/

I’m on Twitter at @cskjar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For those of you who are already grandparents or about to become ones, celebrate and enjoy your gifts from God as your legacies live on!  

Happy grandparenting!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Writing Techniques ~~ Writing a Successful Book Series


According to a poll conducted by Goodreads in 2015, more readers liked reading books that were part of a series than stand-alone books, although it was close. Knowing this, many writers embark on the road to writing a series.

The key to writing a successful book series is creating a believable world and lovable characters. Book series are popular IF readers fall in love with the characters. If readers love the characters, they will want to know more about them and their journeys in life.

Preplanning for a series is imperative. Before writing a series, a writer needs to do a lot of prework and answer a series of questions:

(1) Will the series be about the world where the characters live or about the characters and what happens to them? A writer should determine what the focus of the series will be. Consider the novels of James Michener that were long and could have been broken individual series. He wrote about places and the people who lived there. The characters came, changed the place, then died or moved on. The next characters in time came and picked up the story of the place. His focus was the world of his novels. The most successful series ever written was about the characters of Harry Potter and his friends. The wizarding world was an important element of the series, but the characters were the focus of the series.

(2) What is at the core of the series? An overarching antagonist or evil to be overcome should weave its way through the whole series. Harry Potter didn’t kill Voldemort in the first book; it took the whole series to bring him down. Smaller enemies and problems (subplots to the whole story) were resolved by the end of each book in the quest to take out Voldemort. The same can be said of the original Star Wars movies. The characters resolved battles by the end of each movie, but the overarching nemesis of the Empire wasn’t destroyed until the final movie.

(3) How does each book end? Don’t end the first or second book with a cliffhanger or end a book mid-scene. Each book should have its problems or issues (subplots) that are resolved by the final page, but leave the reader wondering if the final victory will be won. That’s what draws them into the next book.

(4) Where does the story take place? The writer must create the world where the characters live; not only create it but describe it in great detail. 

(a) Draw a map on paper. Find pictures of what the imagined world looks like and keep them close. 

(b) What does this world physically look like? 

(c) What kinds of people are in it, and how do they dress? 

(d) What are the ethics and beliefs of society? 

(e) What issues are facing the population? 

(f) Do they have enemies and allies?

(g) Who are the characters? All the characters must be defined before writing. What do they look like and how to they act? Who are their immediate family members, and how were they brought up? What notable physical traits and what special powers or skills do they have? What morals do they hold, and what would it take to push them outside of their beliefs?

(5) Whose point of view (POV) will be used? Most series are written in third-person limited to one or two characters’ POV unless the focus is on the place.

(6) When will the story end? Through the course of the series, the characters should move from their faulty beginnings to their new and improved selves. The best series have happily-ever-after endings. The reader can hope for the same.

Readers who like series generally waited until all the books in the series were out before starting the first one. Writing, then releasing two, three, or more books at once may seem intimidating. Releasing them one at a time may result in more sales after the last one comes out.

Please check out these helpful resources:



I invite you to visit my website which has all my books and their links  www.cskjar.com 

                           

My blog is found at www.cskjar.com/blog

I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cskjar/

I’m on Twitter at @cskjar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you, Carol, for this well-crafted guest blog to assist writers who desire to author a series of books.

My friend and fellow author, C.S. Kjar, (pronounced "care") lives with her long-time first husband in their empty nest in Boise. She spent her life doing many different things. She’s been a stay-at-home mom, a teacher, a secretary, a statistician, a literacy tutor, a newsletter editor, a timber sale accountant, an archeological technician, and best and longest of all, a technical writer/editor.  

After retiring, Carol focused on writing fiction. Her novels are sweet and wholesome, suspenseful with a touch of romance. She has also written children's, middle age books, and one non-fiction book about quilting. When not writing or traveling with her husband, she loves to quilt, sew, read, draw, paint, and read to her grandsons.

For those of you so inclined, pick up your pen or sit down at your computer, and write on. Get that book series published!

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sweet & Savory ~~ Painted Desert Chili




Painted Desert Chili will not disappoint even if you don't live in the desert!  It makes enough to almost feed Coxey's Army, so this is the perfect recipe for Sunday Dinner or your upcoming Super Bowl Party. Serve it with green-chile cornbread and butter. Double yummy!


QUART JAR INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 cup dried pinto beans
  • 1/4 cup small dried white beans
  • 1/2 cup small dried black beans
  • 1 cup dried kidney beans

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:

  • 16-20 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 - 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 - 12 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 48 oz. tomato juice or V-8
  • 2  lbs. ground beef

DIRECTIONS:

  • Brown ground beef with diced onion in skillet.  Drain and add to 12 quart stock pot along with all other ingredients.
  • Bring to a boil; simmer for 3-5 hours or until beans are fully cooked.
  • You may need to experiment with the total amount of water you add to the recipe.  Some folks prefer a chili that sticks to the wall while others desire it with much more broth.  I happen to fall into the second camp.  In addition, if you have extra liquid, the cornbread can be added to the bowl of chili.
  • The beans do not need to be soaked prior to cooking; however, it's a good idea to rinse them in a colander before adding to your stock pot.

Happy Dining, stay warm, & enjoy your chili!

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Poetry & Prose ~~ 'Tis The Reason For The Season



In the hustle and bustle of the season,
             have you stopped to consider the reason?

Why do we toil so everything will be first rate,
             waiting until December 25th just to celebrate?

Is your heart stirred by the good food,
             tree or gifts,
The music, cards, and parties,
             or the opening of ski-lifts?

Do you long to meet with family and friends
            that you all love so dearly,
To reminisce of times long ago
            that you still remember clearly?

Perhaps the passing of loved ones
             makes you feel lonely and sad,
It’s hard to get through this time
            because you’re just not very glad.

Millenniums ago, the prophet Isaiah foretold,
            that the virgin would bear a son,
Born in Bethlehem, and called Immanuel,
            His advent was a most humble one.












This baby boy, better known as Jesus,
            came to die on the cross for our sin.
Until we repent and accept Him as Savior,
            there’s no way we will ever win.

Is Jesus knocking on the door of your heart,
            or have you already let Him in?
Are you wearing your robe of righteousness,
            or are you still living in your sin?

So take a moment, amidst your frantic pace
            to commune with the King of Kings.
For no one else can deliver joy and peace;
            none other gives the life He brings!


This poem is featured along with twenty-nine others in Volume One of Poetry Time which is available on Amazon or in my Etsy shop, BooksbySheilaEismann.

Happy Reading in Poetry's Presence, & Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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