Advice from Elphaba

This morning, I woke up with this sentence on repeat in my mind:

“Don’t lose sight of who you are.”

That line is from the song “I’m Not That Girl” from the musical Wicked. It’s taken entirely out of context here, but that message was one I needed today.

For the last several weeks I have been bogged down, trudging through the unusual monotonies of life. I have kept up with the demands of eight schedules, school assignments for seven, and various other church and community-related activities. But, I have not been myself.

I know, because last fall, I was not myself. And I have felt that lost feeling again.

At one point this week, I decided I was finished with feeling that way. I broke out my toolbox of coping skills: more diligent scripture study, reaching out to friends, more fervent prayer, yoga, Temple attendance, running, and embracing my love of music (thus the song running through my head this morning). In all these moments, I felt like I was cracking open a window, allowing just a bit of fresh air and sunlight into the tired room of my soul.

But I had practically given up something that is an integral part of who I am. I almost stopped writing.

This morning, as I pondered that singular line from a most-beloved musical, I felt the message resounding in my brain.

“Don’t lose sight of who you are.”

I have to write. It is healing. Supporting. It is my sanity.

I created a poem once that begins with these words, “I was born to write a song.” Not just any song–but a song of words, woven with care. A musical.

So, I’m back to my desktop today, trying to remember, recall, reenvision through my own revisions the novel that is part of who I am.

And I am singing.

Pre-writing Activities

Before you write (or do anything creative), do you have a go-to activity to invite your muse?

My pre-writing activities vary, but here are a few that work for me:

1. Sleep. Sleep may sound counter productive to creating, but it clears my brain of prior activities, and those vague moments when my brain begins to wake up lend themselves to great thoughts and problem-solving.

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2. Read. Read. And Read. Reading the works of others helps ideas that might be buried deep inside of me find air and life and voice. The written word is amazing, so read it. Now.


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3. Take a brain break. If I’ve been sitting in front of a screen–feet tucked close and legs under my chin–sometimes I need to move. I will turn on something from Spotify or a Just Dance YouTube song and get moving for about five minutes. Then, I’m back in my chair with my feet tucked again, typing away in the world of fiction.


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4. Eat. Yes, I still remember my junior high teacher who bemoaned our B lunch right in the middle of the period. She said that the second half of the period after our necessary class interruption of lunch was pointless because eating sent all the energy from our brains to our stomachs to digest the peanut butter sandwiches and Little Debbie cakes we had just eaten. Well, that may be true, but I find sending a continuous stream of something to munch on can keep me interested in my project. My snacks of choice aren’t always the healthiest, but they keep me writing. 🙂


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5. Feed my spirit. Activities like visiting a museum, scripture study, yoga/chakra work, journal writing, chatting with a friend, taking a walk/run, writing a gratitude list or thank you card ground me and help me remember my higher purpose is to connect and share love, and that purpose is a main reason why I write.


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So, sleep a little, read stacks of books, take a brain break (or two), eat something yummy, feed your spirit and write a bunch. I’ll be here with you…ready to connect.

Much love!

Kate Sparkes – Bound

I met Kate last year while tweeting about NaNoWriMo. I’ve been following her blog since, and I enjoy her wit and writing. She wrote a blogpost about 2014 being her year for book releases, and it certainly is! A few weeks ago, she offered an opportunity to share some news and the gorgeous cover for her book release, Book 1 in her Bound trilogy, and I am elated to be a small part of her success.

Here is the amazing cover (designed by Ravven. Contact: http://www.ravven.com):

Bound by Kate Sparkes

And here is a brief synopsis of Bound:

Welcome to Darmid, where magic is a sin, fairy tales are contraband, and the people live in fear of the Sorcerers on the other side of the mountains.

Rowan Greenwood has everything she’s supposed to want from life—a good family, a bright future, and a proposal from a handsome and wealthy magic hunter. She knows she should be content with what she has. If only she could banish the idea that there’s more to life than marriage and children, or let go of the fascination with magic she’s been forced to suppress since childhood.

When Rowan unknowingly saves the life of one of her people’s most feared enemies, a simple act of compassion rips her from her sheltered life and throws her into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

Now Rowan might just get everything she ever dreamed of—that is, if the one thing she’s always wanted doesn’t kill her first.

If you’d like to know more about the amazing Kate, here you go:

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jekyll and Hyde, three cats with more personality than most people she meets, and the saddest-looking dog on the planet. Her first novel, Bound, will be released in June 2014, assuming the dragons don’t eat her first.

blog: Disregard the Prologue (http://disregardtheprologue.com)
Twitter: @kate_sparkes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katesparkesauthor

And here is her fabulous photo:

The Triumphant Kate Sparkes

If this title sounds like something you would like, please support Kate in her writing efforts through purchase and reviewing her book! (You can review Bound on Goodreads!)

Much love and light! –Karin 🙂

Matching

She was taller than most of the girls her age. She stood, looking much like an elongated version of Cupid, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt of soft crimson paired with pale, pink shorts. She had rifled through the laundry basket earlier that morning in search of clean clothes and had emerged with these items–the only two clean articles of clothing her size in the house. (Though her germaphobe mother wouldn’t let her wear clothing more than once without washing, the mother did not have an affinity for household tasks such as laundry.)

The girl walked into her sixth grade open-concept classroom, where her eyes met with a fellow student and neighbor, *Kara. Kara was dressed in Guess jean shorts, with the trademark inverted triangle on the back pocket and a matching logo shirt in teal. Her eyes scanned the girl’s outfit and whispered something to their mutual friend, Sophia, who was the most popular person in sixth grade.

The girl didn’t know what to think, but she preceded to pull her social studies homework from her yellow Esprit bag and place it in the box on Mrs. Grammer’s desk.

The girl passed through her morning math (they were studying exponents) and language arts (where they were reading a short story by some old French author whose name she couldn’t pronounce). She even made her usual way through lunch, trading a Swiss Cake Roll for a Nutter Bar with her friend Melanie.

On the way back from lunch, the students had a few minutes before settling into their afternoon studies. The girl prepared her mind for work after the sleepiness that was beginning to take hold from digesting carbs and simple sugars, when Kara approached.

“Hey!”

The girl turned around, and her eyes met with Kara again.

“Don’t you know your clothes don’t match?”

The girl just shook her head slowly but moved her gaze over the crimson shirt and pale pink shorts. She shrugged. “I thought it looked okay.”

“Well, everyone knows that red and pink don’t match,” Kara responded, her voice filled with contempt at such a fashion faux pas.

The other students who surrounded them followed Kara into social studies, leaving the girl alone in the center of the four open-concept classrooms. She wished she could hide under a table, or better yet go home and change her clothing. She worked each day to find articles that could mix and match in an attempt to fit in with her other “cool” friends.

That day, she had failed.

Fear from that moment still covers her from time to time, like this morning when her nine-year-old descended the stairs pairing a yellow-and-green-striped sock with an orange zebra one. She feels it when her older daughter, an echo of herself (though with much more wisdom and much less boy-craziness) stands with the trendy half-tuck in a monochrome blue ensemble. She wishes she did not carry the weight of that burden, one she has yet to share with the world.

Maybe one day she will learn.

*Names have been changed.

After All

Street lamps burn white holes into
The darkest of night’s skies.
People still walk
Along the paved grey concrete stripes
Past shops that closed hours (or days) ago
Past squares of green and colors
Past homeless artists up past their bedtimes
They are singing songs that were popular decades ago….
Young couples share their first kisses, while
More seasoned couples smile to remember, and
Musicians wander the streets
Along with starving writers
Searching for inspiration, for a voice
One decides that we are all searching for
Something–for meaning
In a senseless world
–for beauty
Where aesthetics are lost
–for emotion
In a land of stoicism
A poet weeps
Barely standing in the shadow
Of a street light
Yet he emits his own light
Through his learning and observations

And so the evening isn’t a loss after all.

–Karin Salisbury


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Writing With Perspective

My favorite aspect of writing (at least at this moment) is the ability to explore perspective. In most of the novels I have written, I find myself attracted to writing with multiple viewpoints, and I enjoy the exploration I find as a writer through the eyes of varied perspectives.

In fact, the novel I began earlier this year is my first experience writing from one perspective (in first-person). I’m learning to appreciate the mystery of knowing events through writing with one solitary set of eyes. An intimacy occurs there that I’m not sure I nurture as much when I am bouncing back and forth between character perspectives. I’m waiting to see if I will need to write from another perspective at some point for background or research purposes. Currently, though, I’m quite enamored of exploring life through the eyes of my main character.

I continue to find the study of perspective helpful beyond the work of writing, though. I try to see various events from differing vantage points. I delve into several sides of a debate or issue. I naturally find myself seeing value within multiple (and, at times, seemingly contradictory) philosophies.

I recall a drafting class I took in high school where I was required to draw a four-point perspective elevation of a house I designed. I loved the depth and energy and life the elevation took on through multiple perspectives.

While reading, I adored the journey and exploration through books like The House Girl, The Help, and even the final volume of the Divergent series Allegiant for the opportunity to read about events through the eyes of more than one character.

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What do you think about multiple perspectives in writing? In reading? In life? Do you prefer one viewpoint or to experience through varied perspectives? Why?

Power of Positivity

If I ever become a super hero, I want my super power to be positivity! 🙂

I have been working on changing my mindset lately to focus on what is happy, upbeat, and awesome. It’s not my default, by any means. In fact, negativity has been my theme song for many years. I had the non-talent for being in a beautiful situation with amazing people–and I could still find something about which to complain.

WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!

I have asked myself that question for many years…but without much resolve to change it.

Well, I have a new theme song–and it goes more like this:

Here are a few practices that have helped me lately that I would love to share with you:

1. Exercise. Daily. Seriously. Exercise boosts endorphins (happy chemicals). Even a twenty-minute walk has shown to increase brain activity, too…and nothing beats the uplifting feeling of accomplishment that follows a good work-out (and a delicious protein shake). 🙂

2. Smile. It relaxes facial muscles (that I wrinkle when I worry or am negative). It also boosts endorphins. 🙂 And, smiling people look better, nicer, and more approachable!

3. Check in with happy thoughts on an app called “happier.” IT. IS. A. SERIOUSLY. HAPPY. PLACE. 🙂 I have loved reading about the happy moments of others–and reading positive messages helps me reset my brain from a negative station to a positive one. I also feel happier and encouraged when I post my own happy moments!

4. Balance/stimulate chakras. Chakras are energy centers in the body according to ancient traditions. I have been using yoga to work on mine, and I have felt happier and more positive. 🙂

Well, that’s all I have for now, other than to let you know that I have been blogging less now because I have been writing more. My characters on my latest novel are taking shape–and I couldn’t be happier.

See? I am becoming more positive!

I Found It

I only had to write 200 posts…and travel this journey of self-reflection and facing fear and coming to know and like myself to do it.

If I’d known the process would be so simple and so freeing, I would’ve started years ago.

In the midst of a world clamoring for attention, with everyone shouting here and there, I lived in more of a state of absorption, uncomfortable putting myself out there.

I used to be okay with who I was. Now and then, I get a glimpse of that girl–poised and powerful. She existed in a world all her own, able to make up the stories as she went, experiencing every dewdrop of life.

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Then, something happened. Several things, actually.

Instead of letting them go, I internalized the trauma. I let the words of others drown me. I gave up my power. I became a mirror of the words and actions of others. My words became silent, poured only into volumes and volumes of journals and diaries–my personal sanity. Some days, I couldn’t even share myself within the confines of those pages for the fear that someone may someday discover me.

But, at some point, I decided to follow Kelly Clarkson’s advice belting through my earbuds when I ran around mountains and hills for the second time in my adult life. “Out of the darkness and into the sun….

I began a blog. It wasn’t my first, but it was my own. I participated in NaNoWriMo for two years. I did hard things. I faced my fears. I climbed higher and sailed longer and swam deeper and prayed harder than I ever have. And I started singing again.

The need for silence was so heavy at times, pressing upon me. Other times, I wanted to scream from the rooftops (& I tend to have height issues). People around me fought against changes. I even yelled for about a week, needing to get words out of my body and into the warming air. (I have since stopped yelling, thankfully.)

But, I found it. I hope it’s here to stay.

I’m writing consistently.

I’m singing daily. I even auditioned for a solo (& got it)!

I’m happy.

I have found my voice.
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Name Hijacking

Courtesy of www.mysoulpurpose.org
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So, I’m working on this piece of writing–a novel excerpt–and I’ve been really struggling with naming one of the main characters.

He’s not someone I ever want to know in reality. I don’t like him. And, occasionally, I get a little creeped out editing chapters about him. (Hopefully, that occurrence means that I’ve written him affectively.)

Still, I’ve had a most difficult time naming him.

Now, I take naming real lives quite seriously. When each of our children entered our arms, we spent a minimum of a day reflecting on what to name them, knowing well that a name can have influence on your life in an almost tangible way.

I may be just slightly less serious about naming my characters.

(And this guy isn’t a great guy–so, of course, I don’t want to name him after anyone that I like….)

The only problem there is that I’ve known lots of people, and I like most of them. 🙂

We (the character and I) went through a transition from a name that started with a G (that was a real name, though it kinda sounded like I made it up) to a name that began with a C (but had a pretty obvious Biblical allusion…anyone care to guess?) to a name that began with an E (what he is named currently). The E name is not a name of anyone I know personally, and it is also the name of a fairly malicious character in a book series I read recently. I was okay with using the E name…at least for now.

While we are talking about names, I found a name that I loved but my husband wasn’t too fond of–and one that was in my ancestry. I didn’t have another daughter after I discovered it (which was probably a blessing since I don’t like to argue with my husband–& I just might’ve been willing to fight for that one). I was excited last month when I remembered the name while I started working on a new novel (I’ve been dying to try something dystopian). Hooray! I can name a character after one of my ancestors.

And, I actually like this character.

🙂

How do you name your characters? Do you try to make connections or simply find a name you like? Do your characters show up in your brain with or without names? Do you use online resources to do name research?

Deadlines…

So, I’ve been working on a project that entails several components…and the process has been a bit slow at times and brilliantly filled with energy at others. (Such is the creative process, eh?)

Well, I’m on the last leg of this…and the most-involved…and could use a little positive energy to send me whirling through this last step before I say goodbye to this part of my journey. 🙂

While I’m here, though, let me share a few points I’ve learned through the process:

1. Feedback is not only appropriate, it is beyond necessary and extremely important.

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2. Friendship and family support are invaluable.

Friendship Day
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3. Inquire. Ask questions. Ponder. Think. Ask again. Find the clarity you seek. Then, move forward with your goals.


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4. We each have individual roads to walk. Don’t judge others on their paths and don’t seek their approval for your journey. It’s yours. Own it.


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5. Feed your body (with good food, fresh air, and exercise) and your spirit (though connection, meditation, prayer, and study).

6. Let go of your past. Conquer your fear. Live in the moment.

7. You can do this.

leap of faith

8. Be happy. 🙂


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9. Enlist the help of others. They have skills. So do you. Share the love.

How To Love
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10. Keep a positive energy flow. When you start to feel down, pull yourself back up to a place of positivity. Post affirmations; create a mantra–whatever works.


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***Above all, have FUN! Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured! Find your happy place and roll!!!!!***


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Well, I’m gonna get back to work. I have a deadline, you know?

🙂