Month: March 2014

On this first layout I used the template Playful Spring #1, a new release from Southern Serenity by Amber Morrison. Her two mini packs are on sale and part of the Company Stash at Pixel & Company. Good news to all my friends hooked on the old Creative Memories Software, all of Amber’s templates are available in PAGE, as well as PSD, PNG, and TIFF. Playful Spring 1 by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison available HERE. The kit I used was free when I subscribed to the Pixel & Company Newsletter. It is the store collab, “In Good Company”.

The next layout I used a template from Playful Spring #2 by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison available at Pixel’s and Company.  The kit I used are all parts of KimB’s line named Time Out: The Prints, The Flutters, The Frames, and The Blooms.  All can be purchased at Pixels & Company.

 

Tami Miller Designs Commercial Use Store HERE, has all of these for 25% off this week.

 

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To pause, is this really a place where nothing is happening when a writer is writing?  For me there is a difference between a pause and a stop.  While my manuscript for my current book is with my beta readers I have chosen not to actively work on it.  My goal is to have a fresh set of eyes when it is time to tackle the edits I get back from my beta readers.  As of now, I have received most of my beta reader’s feedback.  You could say I have a ninety percent solution.

All of the beta reader feedback so far, has pointed out one thing that absolutely needed revision.  After a few days thought I was able to process and draft an idea for the needed change.

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One of my beta reader’s thoughts revealed something important about a character.  There is a characterization choice that could impact the long term, throwing off follow on story lines.  The good news is I don’t need to write new chapters to fix what was pointed out.  The changes required can be subtle or maybe a more dramatic revision of one chapter.  We’ll see, I don’t know yet what the right choice will be.

More pressure to flush this out will arise when my last beta reader’s feedback comes back.  Until then I am in a pause.  I have given my minds focus over to other things.  Actively engaging in other stories.  I don’t like forcing ideas, especially when they involve something this important.  My days have been occupied with everything from the usual mundane housework work, to the tasks I enjoy.  Every once in awhile I hit the play button and I see where my subconscious has gone with my characterization dilemma.  I’ll get a little piece of it, jot it down, and then hit the pause button again.  These pauses work for me, and I revisit the issue at different points in time.  When my emotions are neutral or heightened and I get a glimpse of how they feel at different moments.  These pauses help form the right answer.  I look forward to finding the solution when it is time to hit play again.

Don’t be fooled, just because I am doing a Project Life Page from March 2014 does not mean I’m caught up. Big laugh, “caught up!”

 

My Life Project: February (Basic) by Souther Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison available HERE. The Kit is Bright Side of Life by Anita Designs, and both items can by found at Pixels and Company.

I am really looking forward to spring. Yesterday it snowed here, and the snow came down in big monster flakes. It honestly looked like the start of winter not the end. These are pictures from Mothers Day last year.

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Springtime 6 Pack

Springtime by Tami Miller Designs can be found HERE. I used a Template #4 from Sweet Days by Fiddle Dee-Dee Designs available at The Scrap Orchard.

 

Book Review: Heaven is for Real, by: Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, and Colton Burpo

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I rated this book five out of five stars.

I was moved, provoked, and invigorated reading this book. I am a believer, so for me this just reiterated or provided inspiring proof of my belief system.

What I enjoyed about the book:
1) The miracles. I love hearing a good miracle-and this story is full of them. The tale of the family receiving an unexpected flood of donation money, enough to cover their vast medical bills is a miracle. The father having a prayer answered-even one said through grieving anger-was a miracle. Colton’s story touching his baby sitter-that was a miracle. Colton’s validation of the divinely inspired art of a girl half a world away, that’s a miracle. In my opinion, I think Colton being the child of a minister, and having this experience, is a miracle by itself. If the same child had the same experience with two non-religious parents I don’t think we’d have this book. I don’t think the parents would have known what kind of questions to ask, or would have seen the significance in the answers given.

2) I like that the author stays on track. He doesn’t get lost down dog trails, or bash on those who are not from the same belief system he is. The book is very focused on the relevant events around Colton’s trip to Heaven and what he saw. The religious expositions are there only to help narrate for those less familiar with Christianity.

3) I have a four year old to thank for making me feel better about the book of revelations. I also have a four year old to thank for CREEPING ME OUT, by relaying the truth my mind likes to ignore about the devil not currently residing in hell. I remembered why I don’t like to think about it because it makes me feel like there is a serial killer in my living room. Thank you Colton for the food for thought.

I was intrigued reading the two polar extremes of reviews this book received. There is definitely a trend, the believers love it the non-believers bash it. I was interested to read the book and see where perhaps the author may have lost the “non-believer” audience. That answer was easy: Colton doesn’t mince words when he freaked out at a funeral and demanded to know if the dead man had Jesus in his heart. “Daddy he can’t go to heaven if he doesn’t have Jesus in his heart.” There it is-no doubt that is going to hurt peoples feelings. No surprise there. I also think others were lost to their own ignorance of a faith they might claim in a secular status. I know this, because I was a baby Christian not that long ago. Some of the riveting moments in the book, would not have made much sense or had the same impact to the once baby Christian me. There is a language of intelligibility barrier that sometimes cannot be overcome when you are not a believer. You can see the author do his best to explain the relevance of what Colton revealed. He tied in the scriptural basis, explained the “why” as best he could. But I think many significant points are lost to the baby Christian audience as well as the non-believer audience.

I expected to see opposition; it comes with any religious topic. It was just intriguing for me to see how vehement some of the opposition is. I’ve seen how quickly non-believers get riled over what to me is pretty innocuous stuff. So it was not a shock to see the trend of poor reviews all hovering around one of the following themes. I will list them and then state my point of view.

1) The book is bad/I’m offended, because their boy was saved through prayer implying my loved one could have been if I was a believer.
Here’s my thought: After reading complaint 1, I expected to read several chapters explaining lengthy prayers the family and congregation made. It wasn’t there, and what was I felt was summed up very nicely. If anything what was discussed was an introspection of the father/minster and how he felt guilty for lashing out at God. It was very human-and brave for a minister to admit his weakness in a very dark time. There are numerous books dedicated to prayer, the kinds of prayer, how it can be effective, what you can and can’t pray for, there’s blogs, and websites-and if all else fails the Bible itself (imagine that!). I’m no expert-look it up-I’m not going down the dog trail of why someone’s loved one was saved and others were not. However-I do believe in prayer and I believe in miracles. I loved reading about an answered prayer-and miracle. It’s a beautiful thing to know we are heard even when we are not at our best.

2) The book is bad because of course this kid saw all that stuff, “his dads a minister”.
Here’s my thought: The father did an excellent job of explaining the boys knowledge and exposure to the Bible. I can relate very well to the authors amazement at what Colton told him. I know the cognitive age of a four year old, I have a three and four year old I am raising right now. So I’ll tell you, my secret is out, or maybe not-but for all those who don’t know, my kids are exposed to a very progressive evangelical form of Christianity. I know for a fact they are not taught the kinds of things Colton was talking about. I’d be proud and astonished if they could tell me who Jesus’s cousin is, where Jesus sits, what the Holy Ghost does, where the marks on Jesus are, and like the author points out “Why Jesus died?” For the last question I might get an answer like-to save us, or because he loves us-but NEVER the answer Colton gave. Come on if this is a brain washing Christian household why didn’t the older sister have the same answer Colton gave? For Colton to know Jesus called his father to the ministry, or of a lost pregnancy- for a four year old that’s profound. The author pointed out his own astonishment at Colton knowing these things. I believe the author is being honest when he claims Colton knowledge did not come from his parents or their church’s Sunday school. Christians don’t teach down to the level of detail Colton knew, because kids don’t retain it/understand it. That’s what makes the story remarkable-we get a glimpse of Heaven from a child’s point of view. He used child’s words to provide descriptions of things he had no knowledge of and had never seen before.

3) The book is bad because/I’m offended because it implies if I don’t believe like a Christian I’m not going to heaven.
Here’s my thought on this: Once again it’s a child telling you this, a four year old. Not once does the author lay this on you. If this really bothers you I challenge you to seek out why? If you know why, then does the story really merit the same rating as your opinion of Christianity?
None of the three objections, in my opinion, equal a bad book. I think there could be value in people examining why they have such an emotional response and why they are so quickly offended by a four year olds experience.

I opened Adobe Photoshop last night. It’s been awhile and for a moment I was worried I may have forgotten all of my keyboard shortcuts. Thankfully, I didn’t forget everything. It was a lot like getting on a bike after a long winter.

This was made with the most recent release from Sweet Digi Scraps, Family Fun. It can be found in her Digi Chick store HERE.

Family Fun The Bundle

I really wanted to play with WM(squared) new releases this week, but we ran into a few checkout hurdles. This week, I’ll just show off her new stuff.  Both sets can be purchased in her Scrap Orchard Store HERE.

Tiny Photo Template
State Templates: Delaware

 

I came up with the design for this card a few years ago. It became one of my make and takes during the Stamp and Scrapbooking Expo in St.Paul, MN; Maddison, WI; and Milwaukee, WI. I submitted the design to Club Scrap and was published in their Scrap Rap Magazine.

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You will need the following supplies: (1) 6×6″ Base, (1) 3×12″ Piece of Paper, (2) 3×3″ Panels, (2) 2×2″ Pop Up Panel inserts, (1) 3″ Circle Tag (you can matt this piece or use a 3″ die cut as well), (1) 18″ Ribbon, Adhesive, Ink, Stamps, Corner Rounder, 1″ Circle punch, and a hole punch. On this card I also used flower and pearl embellishments.

PGC11. Stamp and embellish circle. I double matted my circle and added paper flowers over my stamped image. Make sure you hole punch on the right side of the circle. The ribbon will be coming out of this hole.

PGC22. Complete any additional stamping includeing what you want on the two interior panels, the 6×6″ base, or the gift card pocket.

PGC33. Score the 3×12″ Paper Piece at 9″ and 3″. Fold in the sides and make a 1″ score centered at 1/2″ from both sides of the 9″ and 3″ score lines.

PGC44. Fold both sides in.  Cut up to each side of the 1″ score line.

PGC55. Push in on the 1″ scored area until it makes a pop up step on the inside of the card. Do this on both sides. Burnish the folds.

PGC66. Place adhesive only on one side of the pop up step that is closest to the outer edge of the card and place the two panels.

PGC77. In the center top of the 3×12″ paper piece use the 1″ circle punch to cut a half circle where the gift card can be accessed.

PGC88. Place adhesive only on the bottom and outer edges. DO NOT apply adhesive along the top.  Wrap the ribbon around the front of the card and affix each end to the center sides of the back of the card. Mount the 3×12″ piece of paper on the 6×6 card base. Cut the ribbon where there is more ribbon on the left side.

PGC99. Thread the ribbon from the bottom to the top through the circle tag hole. Place adhesive on the half of the circle tag that does not have the hole. Center the circle over the two front pan nets and ensure it is adhered to the left side. Add a gift card, tie the ribbon and your card is complete. Here are two other samples.

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Both of the above samples were made with Club Scrap Paper, stamps, and ink.

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This sample above was made with pattern paper, card stock, and stamps from Close to My Heart. Inks: Denim Adirondack by Ranger,  Bordering Blue classic stamp pad by Stampin’ Up, Tullip exclusive ink pad by Close to My Heart. Gel Ink Pen by Sakura. Ribbon is Ribbon by the Spool sold at Michaels. Paper flowers are from the Painted Desert Kit by Club Scrap, and Prima Flowers. Imaginisce Pearl Embellishments.

 

 

Writers Advice #2: “Just do it.”

Sounds simple, and really it actually kind of is.  When acquaintances find out I am writing a book many blurt out, “Where do you have the time?”  I don’t have a good response to this.  Even with the number of times I have been asked this question, I am still a little thrown off by the question.  I feel the urge to answer their question with another question, “What do you mean how do I have time?”  I learned this is not the best response. It usually gets a rambling response revolving around me having four children, which apparently renders me completely void of any time.  The best answer I have come up with, and one people seem to accept is, “I don’t watch a lot of TV.”  It’s the truth, I don’t.  The older I’ve gotten, the less TV I watch.  Even though I love TV-there’s plenty of excellent stuff on.  I am just not dedicated to watching it.  I have other stuff to do, like writing.  Television is not like when I was growing up where it aired once to never be seen again until the show became syndicated.  We all know the good stuff will be there, ready and waiting for our instant gratification, on DVD or on one of the many streaming medias.

Where does my spare time exist?  It is most often found in the morning.  This crazy thing started to happen to me over this past year, I started waking up at 5am, 4am, and yes even 3am on occasion.  I didn’t set an alarm, I just woke up and could not go back to sleep.  My mind was awake and immediately immersed in the story of my book.  I would drag myself from bed and down to my computer to write.  Many times I wanted to go back to sleep.  I knew I had this thing or other to do and it would benefit me to have more sleep.  However I learned I wasn’t going back to sleep.  I just embraced the opportunity to have some uninterrupted time writing.

I don’t turn the story off.  I don’t think I could if I wanted to.  I find myself out somewhere doing my usual mundane routine and the story is there, characters interacting, action happening.  When a particular piece of the story begins to loop, playing over and over, for me it’s better if I get this written down.  It’s distracting and the sooner it’s down the better.  A little notebook is a purse essential for me.  I know this is not a foreign behavior for writers.  A theatre director, who was friends with August Wilson, told me he once witnessed Wilson ransack his car for something to write on.  He pulled an old discarded envelope from his glove box and proceeded to compose a few lines for a play he was working on.

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As writers we should not chase our story away to occupy our thoughts at a more convenient time.  Don’t feel bad for being a daydreamer.  Get them written down when you can.  Be happy you have the problem of being in the flow and not the problem of lacking it.  Stop in the middle of the grocery store and jot down that repeating scene in your head.  Write that character name on the back of a dry cleaning receipt.  If you wake up spontaneously at 4am-go write.

Sometimes people will confess to me that they always wanted to write a book.  They plan to do it someday.  I say, don’t wait.  There is no perfect time, when the stars are aligned, and your life is settled into what you deem are the proper condition suitable to writing.  One of my best friends said, “I hope George R.R. Martin doesn’t die before he finishes the story Game of Thrones.”  I agree, being a realist any one of us might fall susceptible to an unplanned tragic death, and Martin’s really not in the best shape. He does have a fabulous problem, being distracted with the art direction of his HBO series. I hope he does get an ending written before he departs this life.  But if you are putting off your story, it may never get written.

Stop telling yourself you don’t have free time.  Of course you do. You’re just not spending it on writing.  We make time for those things that truly interest us. Quit stalling-Just do it.

I had a great time Saturday paper scrapbooking with friends at the small group Memory Keepers, at Living Word Christian Center. We surprised Mary with a lunchtime baby shower, the look on her face when she walked in was priceless. I made some nice progress in my trip album from last spring.

This is my favorite layout:

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This layout has an true assortment of paper:  Black matts from Creative memories, Black and Royal Blue card stock from Club Scrap, Pattern Paper from My Minds Eye; Blue fiber from Club Scrap; Paper butterflies from Close to My Heart; buttons from my stash; White Gel ink pen by Sakura; Pop foam dots and Gold ATG tape from 3M.

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Project life Matts from the Kiwi Edition by Lili Niclass, Black Photo matts from Creative memories, Washi Tape from JoAnn’s, Coral pattern paper by My Minds Eye, Camera wood embellishments from Pebbles; ATG gold tape adhesive from 3M.

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Coral pattern paper and card stock from Close to My Heart, all other pattern paper is from Recollections, Library pocket from Pebble’s; Eiffel Tower embellishment sticker from Jolee’s Boutique; Jewel Brad’s from Recollections; Teal Washi Tape from JoAnn’s, Gold Dot Washi tape from Close To My Heart, Luimere stamp from Alluring Impressions; Black India Ink from Club Scrap; ATG Gold adhesive tape from 3M.

 

 

Since I started writing a book, a quote by George Bernard Shaw has lingered in the back of my mind.  I was in a Theatre History lecture, at the University of Minnesota, when I heard this quote attributed to him, “Any idiot can write a book, but it takes talent to write a play.”  I found the quote funny the first time I heard it, because Shaw’s plays are stage direction heavy.  He provides details many in the Theatre world consider excessive.  The non-dramatist doesn’t mind reading his plays because of this fact.  His plays are easier to read because the stage directions read like details in a book.

I also found the quote funny because Shaw’s first works were several books.  These books (Immaturity, written 1879, published 1930; The Irrational Knot, written 1880, published 1885; Love Among the Artists, written 1881, published 1887; Cashel Byron’s Profession; written 1882, published 1885) lingered and remained unpublished until after Shaw received notoriety from his plays.  I guess the better quote would be,  “Any idiot can write a book, but it takes talent to get published.” But I would never accuse Shaw of lacking talent.  However I don’t think, based on Shaw’s own writing (How to write a Play-1909) he would say many playwrights are talented.  “As a matter of fact the majority of those who in France and England make a living by writing plays are unknown and, as to education, illiterate. Their names are not worth putting on the playbill, because their audiences neither know nor care who the author is, and often believe that the actors improvise the whole piece, just as they in fact do sometimes improvise the dialogue.” 

While Shaw’s plays have paragraphs of stage directions, I went in the other direction.  I grew up in improve theatre.  My high school did not have the budget to stage musicals in a proscenium.  The fall performance was collaborative performances created through improve.  Some called our stage black box, or an experimental stage.  It’s a minimalist, low budget, very portable way to stage a performance.  I attempted to write all of my plays for this stage.  None of my early plays had a lot of stage directions.  I was following the advice of my favorite playwright August Wilson, “I think that as a playwright, if I detail that environment, then I’m taking away something from them [designers]. I’m taking away their creativity and their ability to have input themselves, not just to follow what the playwright has written. So I do a minimum set description and let the designers create within that.” (African American Review, Spring 2001)

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As a writer with academic training in writing plays, I’ve had a learning curve taking on a book.  My first struggle writing a book was in composing all those “stage directions” I worked so hard to never write before.  My goal is to achieve a balanced narrative.  One with enough detail to spring board the reader into the environment, but not loose them in lengthy narratives. I try not to get to hung up on this. I’m not attempting fancy prose here.  The priority has been just getting it out of my head and written. I would rather be burdened with ideas than busy composing pretty prose that say nothing. My most recent learning struggle has been writing beats into dialogue. Actors don’t appreciate playwrights telling them when to take a dramatic pause, so I’ve never needed to write this kind of thing before.  I’ll have no complaints as long as my struggle remains writing pauses, and not writing dialogue.

It is always so fun to learn a friend is having her first baby, especially when she has been on a long road of waiting to get pregnant.  I met Mary at Memory Keepers, a small group at my church that meets monthly to paper craft together. We are going to have a surprise baby shower for her today. I love baby stuff, and making a diaper cake is the best excuse in the world to go shopping for baby stuff.

Here’s a list of what you need:

  1. I used 100 size 1 infant Huggies Diapers on Mary’s cake.
  2. At least 3 blankets of some kind. An inexpensive method is to use receiving blankets. In the past I have used a mix of receiving blankets and say one really nice blanket. I now use sleep sacks. On Mary’s Diaper Cake I have two sleep sacks and one Boppy Pillow cover.
  3. A dozen diaper safety pins (maybe a few extra if you need them to pin on toys). I know Babies R’ Us sells these, I’ve also seen them at Walmart.
  4. Baby booties or cute socks
  5. 1-2 small infant toys, preferably ones you can affix to a car seat so it can just clip on the cake.
  6. Small infant toy for the cake topper. I used a snugly blanket buddy. It’s one of those cute, it’s a toy, but it’s a blanket plush things.
  7. Plastic diaper bag dispenser. The more mobile my kids became, the more and more this little diaper bag contraption came in handy. The pack I found came with bonus disposable diaper changing matts. Those were great to have in the diaper bag too. I placed one of these over the top of the bottom layer to hide the exposed diapers at the edge.
  8. Bibb
  9. This one’s optional, I wrap the cake in toile and secure with a ribbon. It helps for transportation of the diaper cake.

* In the past I have also placed pacifiers, infant hats, and other small items that fit within the overall theme of the cake built.

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Here are some samples of other cakes I made for friends.

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