Week In Review: April Showers Are Actually Marvel Fan-Tears

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Next week is the final week of classes before finals officially begin.
I need to get a move-on with a story idea I intend to send to publishing houses this summer.
I just watched Avengers: Infinity War yesterday.
Panic At the Children's Desk  #librarylife
Credit: Pirates of the Caribbean // Pinterest
The culmination of 10 years' worth of movies. I won't say anything more than that, except that if you're a Marvel fan you need to turn off your social media because there are a lot of trolls posting very real spoilers online, and it's a movie well worth watching spoiler-free. And I'm very glad that the next movie is coming out in just a year because...you'll see.  If you aren't a Marvel fan, I apologize--rant over in a second. If you are a Marvel fan, this one's for you guys. You'll need a hug after you see the movie.
Image result for agents of shield fitz screaming gif
Credit: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 //Pinterest

That aside....

Currently reading: Still the Star Wars book--it's not that it isn't interesting, I just haven't had the time to read it.  Ugh! 

Current projects: I'm working on My Compass Home edits and this week I finished the first (horrendously rough) draft of Something New.  ICYMI, this week I also self-published the play I've mentioned a couple of times, "A Town Nativity" and it is now available for purchase.  Finally, I'm working on that manuscript I mentioned above.  I have no clue how many words I wrote this week, but it was a lot and I was actually starting to get a callous on one of my fingers from drawing it back and forth across pages for prolonged periods of time...

Current Bible verse:  "Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.  He calms the storm, so that its waves are still."  (Psalm 107:28-29)  Calm...stillness...sounds like a great idea to me.  Good luck to any college students starting finals -- or high school students heading into the last month of school!

...Frankly, I can't really think of anything else news-worthy that happened this week, so I'm just going to leave it at that.  My brain's zapped from the four-hour-long psychology statistics exam I had yesterday.  Long story short: the coding software hates me and I hate it, so I suppose we're even. 

How did you guys' Camp NaNo goals turn out this month?  What are your plans for the weekend?  Or (spoiler-free, please, for the sake of those who haven't seen it yet) thoughts on the new Avengers film?

The Road to "My Compass Home" : 1 Corinthians 13

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

As you already know, the Faith, Hope, and Love collection is inspired by the Bible chapter 1 Corinthians 13, also known as the "love chapter."  I attempted to  mirror and incorporate the ideals of this chapter in Welcome Home, and My Compass Home will be no different.  Here are some themes that tie the book together:

1. Love is patient. 
Ellie and Levi will have a lot of things to deal with.  I won't go into detail because otherwise, you'd know everything and the surprises in the book wouldn't be surprising anymore.  However, Ellie has a lot of mistakes to deal with from her past, which affects her self-worth and confidence.  Levi has to wait by her side before she's willing to let him in. 

2. Love is kind and not self-seeking. 
The last relationship Levi dealt with before My Compass Home stands as a stark contrast: while his former girlfriend is very selfish and took advantage of him constantly, the relationship between Ellie and Levi is more biblical: neither is selfish and they seek to please one another instead.  The difference should be stark! 

3. Love keeps no record of wrongs. 
While Levi may at one point become frustrated with Ellie's "two steps forward, one step back" tendencies that seem as though she's toying with his emotions like his ex did, he realizes that he's equally wrong in keeping track of her wrongdoings when he doesn't know the full story.

4. Love remains. 
As usual, we'll incorporate...
Faith: Developing a closer relationship with God
Hope: Levi learns to hope for goodness in the world; Ellie, for a life unaffected by her past decisions; Spencer and Lucy, for a family and recovery from worsening PTSD symptoms.
Love: Seeing as it's a romance novel, I doubt I need to explain this one.

However, above all else, love remains, just as the chapter tells us.

"A Town Nativity" Available Now!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

 My Christmas play, "A Town Nativity," is now available to purchase via Amazon for only $4.99!  Much less than the royalties you'll pay from a publishing house for scripts!  I wrote this play in 2016 for my church's youth group and we pulled it off without a hitch.  It was written with the intention of allowing small churches to put on a meaningful Christmas play without needing a large youth group or putting a lot of money into props.  

Please share this with your youth group or with anyone who might be interested in putting on a play, and please feel free to contact me in order to receive a preview of the first scene before purchasing copies for your group! 

Week In Review: Busy as a Bee On a Sugar High

Saturday, April 21, 2018

the rest of this picture said "I wanted to break the awkward silence..."
Olan Rogers / Ghost in the Stalls.  Classic.

Oh, these?  They're how I'm reacting to my schedule for the next few weeks, that's all.

Olan RogersI have a final in Spanish due two weeks before the end of the class, which means I will have three weeks of finals.  Now, that might seem like a good deal because they're spread out, but lemme tell you, studying for finals for almost a month straight while juggling other classes that are cramming their last assignments in before their finals?  It's not fun.  It seems like my college has begun stretching out the "finals week" with each semester I finish.  By the time I graduate next year, I'll probably be starting finals in the middle of the semester.  You never know.  (In other news, this week I just finished a midterm for one class so there's that possibility as well.)

That aside...

Currently reading: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, same as last week because I've been so busy. 

Current projects: Play practice for my church's 150th anniversary have officially begun.  While it's stressful to fit in the practices and I honestly haven't started memorizing my character's lines in my own script that I wrote  it's always really fun to see the others take on their character and bring them to life.  It's just something about seeing your own work come alive--it's pretty cool, folks.  Until play night when I'll be reenacting the above GIFs.  Anyway, as per my new goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, I got some chapters written for Something New this week.  Only the rough "speed-written" draft, though, but at least my base ideas are on paper so I can flesh them out later.  Gotta start with a skeleton, I guess! 

Current Bible verse:  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is --His good, pleasing, and perfect will.  (Romans 12:2, NIV).  In a nutshell, make sure you're following God's path and not the easily-trodden, worldly pathway that so many fall into.  God will always make a way if you're going on the right path! 

I have a couple of announcements as well pertaining to the blog: I'm officially offering editing, proofreading, and beta-reading services.  The information will be on here until I can launch an actual website, which I'm working towards this summer.  The information is in the "Services" tab if you want to check it out!  I've also added the summaries and covers for Something New and My Compass Home to the "My Books" tab as well as Goodreads!

And now for a couple of personal announcements:


I was accepted to Sigma Tau Delta, an English honor society with my college -- above is the program from the induction ceremony, the certificate, and the pin which has been tied onto a spoon that has the honor society's name engraved on it, along with a little note of congratulations from my advisor, which was included because I was unable to attend the induction. 

Also, today I was just awarded with a creative writing scholarship for my senior year at college!  This is the first scholarship I won, so I'm absolutely pumped and really thankful as well.  I frightened my parents, who thought the world had just ended by the way I'd gasped and begun screaming at the letter (which I thought was a bill for my upcoming summer classes).  I suppose you could say..."So I let out the most blood-curdling scream."  That GIF has become extremely relevant in my life this week, apparently! 

 How are you guys doing with Camp NaNo?  Anybody heading towards finals week?  (High school or college!)

The Road to "My Compass Home" : Meet Ellie

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

First off, I want to say something:  what?!  Seventy-five views on my last post and counting?  What happened?!  Either way, thank you so much, guys!  That's awesome.  I'm so pumped.  Anyway--on to the post!

Finding the perfect lady for Levi proved to be a little difficult. He has such a sweet and goofy personality, it was hard to imagine anyone not being interested in him! (At least, once you get to know him.) Ellie, who will be Levi's romantic interest in My Compass Home, had to have something in her past that wasn't so pleasant. Since I try to incorporate themes or current trends that I believe to be important --such as veteran homelessness and mistreatment, as well as issues with getting timely treatment from over-burdened VA hospitals--and the first thing that popped into my head, frankly, was human trafficking. Surely, it's a silent but growing issue in our country, but it's extremely heavy for a lighthearted romance novella. The next thing that came to mind was abuse of some sort -- I know what I'm doing now, but I'm going to leave you with bated breath, for the plot-twisting reveal in the book.  You'll thank me...
Image result for Laura Spencer
Laura Spencer

With that solved, I turned to the next issue: what does she look like? It sometimes helps me to have a reference photo on my computer so that, through the planning and writing process, I can look at it if I need to remember someone's physical features and so forth.
I was surfing Pinterest for funny pins from the TV show "The Big Bang Theory" when I happened across the actress Laura Spencer, who was on the show for a period of time.  This photo seems to be the absolute best reference for Ellie, capturing the spirit that captures Levi's attention.  She's very sarcastic and a former people-person, but the events that occur before the story turn her into a guarded young woman who keeps looking over her shoulder.  Therein is  one of the conflicts she and Levi will  have to overcome together.

A bookworm (or maybe comic enthusiast) and newcomer to Cortland, she'll definitely be spending time at Barnes' Books.  She's very close to her twin sister, who she left behind some states away; and maybe she has a Georgian accent.

What are some characters you've created recently?  Do you ever use reference photos or turn to TV shows, movies, etc. to inspire your own characters? 


Week In Review: From Zero to Sixty

Saturday, April 14, 2018

I wish I would have thought about taking a picture of my class to-do list this week before I started crossing things off, because it totally filled an entire copy page...with small handwriting. But the important thing is that it's done with.  Mostly. For another week.
Image result for Iron Man I think I did okay gif
Credit: Iron Man, 2008


Currently reading: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. comics and Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Michael Reaves.  (Non-canon.) I'm also reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, partly for school and partly out of interest due to the Thor movies by Marvel (although it's Loki I'm reading up on). 

Current projects: My Compass Home, formatting A Town Nativity for publication, and I'm getting ready to start play practices for my church's 150th anniversary play.  I honestly don't know how many words I wrote this week, but between this week and last, I filled half of a composition book and then wrote on the computer some as well, if that counts for anything. 

Current Bible verse: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  (John 14:27, NKJV) Remember to pray for Syria and the protection for our country as well as France and the UK after the air strikes, which were an attempt to disable Syrian leader Assad's chemical warfare against his own, occurred last night. 

Some exciting news:  
A ) I finished the first (very rough) draft of My Compass Home.  That project went from zero to sixty in about ten days.  It only took me a week to write the first draft for Welcome Home, so that's about average for this series.  That's how I roll.  And....(drum roll)

Community Post: 27 Lessons That Everyone Can Learn From "Psych" dorky dancing with your best friend is okay
Credit: Psych from channel USA
B ) I finished up the cover design on CreateSpace. Isn't it pre-e-etty?  (Image by freestocks.org, who I highly recommend contacting if you want to use stock images commercially.  They have gorgeous photos!) 
I'm pretty psyched to finally have another draft for the series finished. It's been, what, almost three years since the first one was published? Oops. But when inspiration does strike, it strikes swiftly and requires the utmost attention. Which is really unfortunate towards the end of a college semester, but eh. It's done now.  But two weeks into Camp NaNo and I'm done with my original goal...so that's good, I suppose. 

How are your Camp NaNo projects coming along?  Anyone anticipating the end of school in favor of spending time in the spring weather?  

The Road to "My Compass Home": The Playlist

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Every time I write a book, I compile a playlist that, for one reason or another, inspires me or puts me in the specific mood needed for scenes in whichever book I'm working on.  I'll share the playlist for My Compass Home with you today, in no specific order:

Times - Tenth Avenue North
Braver Still - JJ Heller
If It's Amazing Grace - Stars Go Dim
All I Have - Stars Go Dim
You Are Loved
Primrose - City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Music from the Hunger Games
Broken Together - Casting Crowns
Just Be Held - Casting Crowns
People Change - For King & Country
It's Not Over Yet - For King & Country
Everything and Nothing - Matt Maher
Write Your Love on My Heart - Matt Maher
Empty My Hands - Tenth Avenue North
Healing Begins - Tenth Avenue North
Kangaroo Cry - Blue October
To Build A Home - Cinematic Orchestra
Joy - Tori Harper
 Reckless Love - Cory Asbury

If you plan on listening to any of these songs, I'd especially recommend Stars Go Dim and For King & Country - two of my favorite bands.

What are your favorite songs to listen to whilst writing?  Do you form a playlist for each book?  

Walt's Wonderings, Part 2

Monday, April 9, 2018

January 30th 

My parents are back from London!  If I didn't know better, I'd think Mom adopted a bit of a British accent.  Either that, or she's just trying to be lighthearted and stand apart from the Kentucky accent everyone has.  Regardless, my father's home and seems to be doing okay for now.  They said that the trial could go either way, either accelerate the degradation in his brain or temporarily improve him.  We'll find out...obviously, it's not a cure.  There is no known cure for CJD (Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease) so we're just hanging on to the hope that he'll stay one more day...one more day.

Or for Lexi's prom.
Or for Lexi's wedding.
Or to see Luka settle down (but who knows?  Maybe my grandkids won't even see that happen!) 
Or for my wedding.

 Let me tell you, telling my parents about Joanna's and my engagement was bittersweet.  Dad doesn't know I'm his son anymore...or anyone except Winston.  I guess that's just as far back as his memory can go right now, but it has improved some, considering that in November, he didn't remember any of us kids.  But anyway, he thinks I'm just a really good friend of Mom or some neighbor kid that eats over here all the time; depends on the day.  He reacted to our engagement thusly.  But Mom?  Well, that's another story.

"Walter, who's at the door?"
I have to admit, my mother's pretty keen on this sixth-sense of hers, knowing something's up.  I was on my way to the door anyway, as soon as I heard Jo's car pull into the driveway, but Mom still caught a glimpse of the car in the drive before I ushered Jo inside.
"Walter, what's going on?  You're acting squirrel-y--what's she doing here?  That's Joanna's car, isn't it?  Isn't she in D.C.?"
(Mind, she didn't know that I intended to find Jo when I dropped them off at the airport Christmas Eve.  I didn't tell her because she was getting a little bit of a sour attitude towards Joanna for choosing a job over me.)

"Um, yeah, ah..." Let me tell you, I've never been more concerned about my mother's upcoming reaction than in that moment.  That time I totaled my dad's car when I was sixteen...that's nothing compared to the uncertainty of whether your mother's about to fly across the room and shake your fiancee's teeth out or if she'll fly into a wedding-crazed tizzy about tulle and satin and flowers.
"Mom, she quit.  She decided--" I broke off and Joanna looked up at me with a grin that told me she was as nervous as I was. 
"I realized that I gave up one of the most precious treasures in this world, all for some stupid plan that wasn't worth the bother.  I hope you can forgive me for how I acted," she added.  I'm pretty sure she was shaking, and not from the winter chill.

Mom's face transformed from confusion, to mild irritation, to wonder. 
"Well, I'm glad to see you're home.  I must admit that I didn't see your departure coming, nor was I entirely pleased with it--"
"And I'm so sorry for it, Mrs. Larkin.  He's...you raised an amazing kid," Jo told her. 
"I know it," she smiled slowly, and just when I was about to tell Jo to leave so we could tell them at a later date, she broke out of whatever facade she'd put up and practically yanked her away from me in this huge bear-hug.  I'm pretty sure Joanna was terrified until she realized what Mom was doing--she'll never admit it, but her eyes were the size of dinner plates.  "And I'm glad you're home.  You're a good kid too, y'know."
"It just took way too long for me to open my eyes," Joanna laughed self-deprecatingly. (I wish she wouldn't do that.  Makes me wish I could show her who she really is...to me, anyway.  Not the image of herself she's got built in her mind.)

"But when she did..." I finally piped up and cleared my throat.  Mom let go of her and she came back over, tucking herself under my arm like a little bird before holding out that glorious left hand of hers.  I'm pretty sure Mom almost passed out, but when she came back to her senses, she was screaming at me and Lexi and everyone within hearing distance, asking why nobody had told her, asking when the wedding was set, exactly how the proposal went down, and then gleefully telling my dad, who was in his bed in another room.  And when the excitement finally died down and Jo left for the night, you know what she told me, at the young age of twenty?
"It's about time, boy."

I  have to agree with her, though.  It's about time...and I still can't get over how happy I am with the prospects of having Jo beside me for the rest of my life.  Every time I see her, I just get this little thrill knowing that someday soon, our goodbyes will turn into simple goodnights.  

Week In Review: April Showers and Student Tears

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Ah, April in college...thou art heartless.  I don't quite understand why professors don't collaborate to stagger the exam schedule, but that's fine.  I'll just be over here...rocking in a corner muttering nonsensically. 

This is the thing that keeps me somewhat sane during college around finals.  I named it Obi-Wan because A) the model is cleverly named Fiddlerman OB-1 and 2)...Well, Star Wars.  I picked up the violin in December 2016 after I fell in love with it as I completed a lot of research into the violin for the creation of Walter Larkin for Beautiful Chaos.  I practice nearly daily, which is surprising because I can't play piano well, nor can I read sheet music.  (I play by ear.)  So there's that! 

Currently reading: Nothing this week, aside from textbooks that I don't really want to read in the first place.  Homer, I get that you were famous and all, but....yeesh.  Although I have a couple of comics and a Star Wars book coming in the mail, so I'm eagerly anticipating them.  In the meantime, this is me throwing myself at the mountain of exams I have to deal with next week:

When Howard tried to break a door down | Community Post: 41 Laughs We Got From "The Big Bang Theory"
Credit: The Big Bang Theory / CBS
 Current projects: I wrote several chapters for My Compass Home this week, so that's going very well.  My goal is to get the first draft written in April, but with so many other things on my plate I'm not sure if I can swing it.  Additionally, I'm working on formatting a Christmas play I wrote in 2016 so I can self-publish it for anyone to use, read, and produce.  If your church does Christmas plays, please spread the word about it!  It's called A Town Nativity. I also wrote some opinion articles ahead of time so I don't have to worry about that for the rest of the semester, so that was a relief.  I probably wrote ~9,000 words this week thus far.

Current Bible verse:  Is anyone among you in trouble?  Let them pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let them sing songs of praise...therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:13, 16 NIV.  As far as leaning on a group or network of others for your worldly troubles, just read on...

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing goes well?  It's not even like the day is totally devastating or has life-changing consequences, but it's more like the universe has decided "Hey, let's throw in as many minor annoyances together on one day as is possible and see if she cracks like a walnut!"

That was Wednesday.  The Mondayest of all Wednesdays I've ever seen.  Crack like a walnut I did.
Between trying to figure out the tiniest of issues preventing me from sending my last quarterly tax report in (seriously, if they truly want my money, why do they make it so hard to send this stuff in?!)  to coding software that refused to work properly for my psychology statistics course, to finding a whole bale of moldy hay (for those who don't have livestock, that involved me shaking each individual section out to see if anything wasn't moldy, choking over the mold spores, fighting with the dismantled 50lb bale and wrestling it back into baling twine so I could throw it out later)...The day was just one big question....
19 Signs Your "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." Withdrawal Is Getting Out Of Hand>>This is the most perfect thing ever. EVER.
Credit: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D / Buzzfeed

Folks, this week I was reminded yet again of the importance of asking for help when you need it.  I'm the type to just push through and figure things out for myself, whether it's ignoring a video game manual and mashing buttons 'til I make it through the level, issues with school assignments, or trying to work on job training, so on and so forth.  I've always been this way.  It's just a lot easier for me to figure it out for myself.  However, sometimes you just can't do that. 
Honest to goodness, Wednesday would have been a bit (only a bit) easier to deal with had I started sending emails and asking questions earlier in the day.  By Thursday, everything was resolved.

Sometimes, I think (and this is just me rambling; I am not a theologian, so take this with a grain of salt) God allows us to encounter little stumbling-blocks so we can build our character and improve who we are as a person.  The Bible tells us on numerous occasions that life is just easier if we lean on others for help and support, and I can't help but wonder if this was a God-thing suggesting that I need to be just a little more trusting of other people to help me out.

(On another note, isn't the stumbling-blocks-to-build-character a great tool that authors use for character arcs in books, movies, etc.?)

Anyway...rant over.  How was your first week in April?  Any plans for Camp NaNoWriMo?  

The Road to "My Compass Home": Meet Levi

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Originally, I considered ditching the idea of writing more books for the "Faith, Hope, and Love" collection if they weren't about Spencer and Lucy.  However, those who have read Welcome Home said they really wanted to learn more about Morgan and Levi.  With some plot work, I've decided to continue the Clarkson's story in the background while expanding Morgan and Levi's characters.

With Levi being a really goofy, lighthearted guy in the first book, I'm anticipating some humorous scenes for My Compass Home and I thought the perfect reference, both in appearance and in character, was Kyle Anderson (actor Christoph Sanders) from the TV show "Last Man Standing"
Christopher Sanders, Kyle (Last Man Standing), born 4/21/1988
Actor: Christoph Sanders 

If you've ever watched the TV show, you know that his character, Kyle, is lighthearted, goofy, lovable--a bit naive--and overall a great guy...perhaps a little too great, because others easily take advantage of him. And if you haven't watched the TV show...what are you waiting for?!

Levi, on the other hand, has a lot of the same personality traits, and maybe even looks a bit like the actor; perhaps just with shorter hair.  When I made that connection, the minor character in Welcome Home intended mostly as a pal and comic relief quickly took the spotlight.  (I have a random note on my Spanish notes saying "LEVI IS KYLE" [underline, underline, underline] so that tells you how much attention I was paying to studying for my Spanish test...)

So that's what you can expect from Levi Barnes in My Compass Home.  We'll also learn about the not-so-great tendencies of being too nice, which includes an aggravating soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend who takes advantage of him big time, thus causing some trust issues in the future.  

Jo's Journey, Part 2

Monday, April 2, 2018

 January 29th Well, today my linguistics mastery caught up with me.  Ended up speaking an entire paragraph in German to one of my Chinese transfer students at the college.  They were as confused as I was.  I  blame it on the headache.  Thankfully, she took it well...but I think she has this idea that I'm part German now.  In short, my brand new job is off to an interesting start.

I'm not sure what I think of this new job yet, but I am using my gifts with languages and I love that, not to mention the interesting stories about cultures that "my" students are already telling me.  (Aside from the one story from Alison, where she recently learned that she was a descendant from a very prominent Celtic warrior--on the Irish side, mind--and now she's parading about, head held high.  Her accent is also a bit thicker today...I can only hope that she doesn't decide to provide a demonstration about what Celtic warriors in the early A.D. centuries did.)

I can only hope and pray that I never slip up and begin talking to Ali in Gaelic, which is a very likely possibility considering how today's going!  She'd never shut up about it, and would probably beg me to teach her the tongue of her ancestors then...or ask me to recite my wedding toast for her and Owen in Gaelic.  Yes, I'm calling it: they're going to get hitched this year.  Owen hasn't gotten up the nerve to ask her the big question yet, but when the four of us met up (Owen, Ali, Walter, and I) for a double-date last week, he kept looking at her like she was his entire universe.  Maybe Walt and I will set a precedent for them...

Speaking of the double-date, it was the first time I got to see Owen and Ali since I got back from D.C. and once she was done hugging me, she faked anger. 
"Ya ran away on the night Walt wanted to propose, cut off all connections to ev'ryone....an' ya still get the guy!  I'll tell ya somethin', I don't know what either of ya see in each other!"
Yeah, the accent was in full-force that evening, too.  Must be correlated to excitement of some sort.  After that, she hugged me again and commenced a high-pitched squeal while taking in my engagement ring.  She's going to be my maid of honor.  I don't know much of anything else about this wedding, but I do know who my groom, maid of honor, and flower girl will be (Abigail).

Meanwhile, Walt's parents are coming back on the 30th--tomorrow--and they aren't sure if the London trial helped his father or not, but our fingers are crossed and we're praying lots!  I wish I could be there for the homecoming, but can't since I have work.  I'll be stopping in when I'm home from work, though, because...well...Walter has quite the surprise for his parents.  Involving their new daughter in law.  Yours truly.  They don't know yet...!  I don't know how Mrs. Larkin will take it, considering the last time she heard anything about me, I was breaking her son's heart.  Yikes.  I guess we'll find out!