Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Writing Life

This involves a lot of procrastination. Excuses about being busy and such.

Also distraction. I should be editing Alden's Story, but (of course) I got distracted writing the opening to its sequel. Heh heh heh.

However, I did write some today, for the first time in a good long while. It felt good. Hopefully it'll stick, and I can get back into a routine. Writing is a part of me and I don't want to bury it under the demands of daily life.

I miss the times when writing was easy. Being realistic, I know that those times were possible because my life was ten times less demanding, even with being the eldest of nine. My responsibilities were far fewer and I didn't have to take life so seriously.

Even still, I know there is that part of me that still loves to write. It just takes a little more effort to convince her to come out, that's all.


Married Life

It involves a lot of housework. A lot.

Not being a super organized -- or super energetic -- person, the amount of housework that I do is probably a little more than it necessarily needs to be if I would simply pick up after myself a little better. Something I'm working on.

Smoky (my man, Dana) and I live in a two bedroom duplex right near the college he is attending. We got a pretty good deal because the landlord liked renting to college students. Woohoo! I have my first kitchen complete with a pantry, even. Something I was informed by both my mother as well as my mother in law that they didn't have in their first home. So maybe I'm a little spoiled?

We got tons and tons of stuff as wedding presents, for which I'm very grateful. I am reminded of exactly how many dishes and appliances we received because most of them are sitting to the right of the sink in the kitchen waiting to be washed. See, I come from a family of nine kids (yeah, I was the oldest), so when there are dishes by the sink, someone does them at some point. But here in this shiny new apartment, the only other person I can look at to do the dishes is my dog. Along with height and hygiene issues, there's that little matter of not having opposable thumbs, so realistically the only person responsible for the dishes is me. If I go down with a cold, the dishes piiiiiiiile up. And no small child hops along to clean it on my behalf.

Granted, Smoky does a wonderful job picking up my slack when I catch a bug. He is very patient with me and helps out where he can, when he's not doing homework, or when he's not knocked out after a really busy day. This I appreciate very much. :)


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Firefly Kisses 2015

We went from sitting together in the backyard watching the fireflies over the soybean field, to driving away from the church with the same last name.
What an adventure.

We had a ridiculously low budget wedding. And a ridiculously short schedule. Neither Dana nor I wanted a long engagement -- we were ready to get married the moment I said 'yes'. So with $2,000 and 6 weeks to plan, we set off in a whirlwind to get everything on track.

So many things fell into place. I found my dress the first time out. Dress shopping was not something I had been looking forward to, simply because I knew I'd get overwhelmed and discouraged, but the last dress I tried on before leaving David's Bridal made me smile when I looked in the mirror. The next day we came back and bought it. The best part? It was on sale. My then future mother in law offered to pay for the alterations when it became evident they would be out of the wedding budget. I can't thank her enough because every time I look at the dress in the wedding pictures, I love it even more.

I had very little idea what I wanted in a wedding. The girls around me grew up with dreams of their wedding day, the perfect dress, location, cake, decorations... I saw a great many pinterest boards, and would non-committally  say, "That would be cool." While this did cause me to stress out trying to decide what I wanted in my wedding earlier on, it did turn out to be an amazing blessing as the planning wore on. At the end of the day, I wanted two things: first, I wanted the wedding to be a celebration with all those dear to me of my and Dana's marriage. I wanted the union before God to be central to the entire day. Union and celebration; togetherness. The other thing was that I wanted my grandmother to come. At that point, my grandmother was in the late stages of Alzheimer's. She wasn't talking or walking, and recognized very few people besides my grandfather. But I wanted her there.

With so few preferences, the wedding planners -- meaning my Mother, one of Dana's cousins, and many other folks who pitched in for various parts of the wedding -- were able to explore many low budget options for decorating, music, and accessories. Despite me being a fairly bubbly, fashion accessory-ish person, the entire wedding theme itself was very simple. Over and above liking to dress fabulously, I love people most of all, and the people were definitely the primary theme. We used mason jars with ribbons, cricut paper cutouts, lots and LOTS of tulle and Christmas lights, a mix of both real flowers and silk flower petals, and a couple well placed archways. (In fact, having flowers as a theme emerged as the planning went along, and turned out perfectly.) All of that, combined with a most amazing cake graciously made by my cousin made for very simple but very cheerful decorations for both the sanctuary and the reception hall.

And there were so many people who blessed Dana and I with gifts that helped the wedding immensely. I mean immensely. One of my cousin made the most delicious cake I have ever tasted in my life -- as well as the most beautiful -- for only the cost of ingredients, while the other came up with the loveliest design for the wedding invitations. A woman who goes to our church had a photography business, and she offered to do the wedding pictures for free. Many of the decorations were loaned to us by some of my cousins' friends, who started a ministry with all the wedding decorations leftover for their several childrens' weddings. Dana's aunt arranged all the flowers. Dana's cousin, Lynnae, was absolutely invaluable in her planning prowess. Without her, I keep telling her, I would not have had a wedding. Neither my Mom nor I are good planners by any stretch. She charged about with her purposeful walk and her trusty clipboard and not only made things happen, but made sure they happened according to plan, and on time. On top of all that, our church had a hall large enough for the reception in the same building as the sanctuary, as well as a kitchen where my cousin could set up and finish the cake.

Everything fell together so Providentially. My wedding day is and will continue to be one of my most cherished memories. Everyone who contributed and everyone who simply offered the gift of their presence and a warm smile blessed my husband and I that day more than I can express.

Thank you.

God has made me a very happy woman.


Friday, May 29, 2015

The Writing Life in the Midst of Wedding Planning

Writing hasn't been going at all since I got engaged. However, I did manage to finish Alden's Story. I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out overall, but there is some issue with the age of Alden. He starts out coming across as a ten year old, and ends up like a seventeen year old. Amusing, to say the least. This most likely happened because my characters grow in my mind as I write them, so they come across as childish initially, then slowly grow as I write the draft. I find this very interesting, but it's only interesting to those who find that sort of authorly thing interesting, and just ruins the story for everyone else. Also the seasons went from end of summer to beginning of winter over the course of the story. I'm not sure if it's because I wrote it by hand in a notebook, and thus it took longer, or if it's something I naturally do.

At any rate. First draft done! Now to move on to illustrations.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Four Weeks Until Forever

As I've announced other places on the interwebz, I'm engaged! Dana proposed to me in the rain under the awning of the picnic area in the forest we take walks through all the time. I said yes several times while he was trying to finish his question, and kissed him the moment the ring was on my finger. Been waiting a long time to be allowed to do that.

So now, for the past several weeks, I have been busy almost every single day with both work, and wedding planning. And I'm not even doing most of the planning. A friend of mine loves organizing, so she's come to stay until the wedding. She carries around the clipboard I got her for her birthday and has endless lists that she won't let me look at because she knows my mind will explode. I am not an organizer, and schedules make me coil up inside. There is a special list -- a very short one -- that she lets me see on an as needed basis.

But we have the dress, and the bridesmaids' dresses, and the invitations, and the venue! For planning a wedding in five weeks flat, we are doing a pretty good job. And by we, I mean Lynnae and my Mother. They're amazing. If it weren't for them, I totally would have eloped by now.



Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Messenger

by Penny Kearney
Illustration by Lynnae Direain

When you open your eyes it doesn’t surprise you that you’re sitting in the interrogation room. What does is that you’re not surprised, considering the last thing you remember is staring up at the hospital ceiling listening to the heart monitor stop beeping.
 It’s bare, like the interrogation rooms you’d seen in television shows. But looking down at your wrists, you see you’re not handcuffed, and the seat of the metal chair pulled up close to the table is cushioned. The light overhead glows with a gentle light and turns what would otherwise feel like quite a harsh atmosphere into something more like the waiting room in an eye clinic rather than the one stop before prison.
 Your inspection is cut short when the door opens and a man in a suit enters.
 A shot of fear skitters down your spine.
 The man holds up a reassuring hand. “Don’t worry. I’m just here to talk.”
 You relax some. Though nondescript, you notice the suit is immaculate. Same for his face. There’s nothing particularly striking or attractive about his features -- except that his hair is long, tied back in a tight ponytail with not a strand loose -- yet he’s probably the handsomest man you’ve ever seen.
 Unbuttoning his jacket, he sits down across from you, and folds his hands. “You’re more tenacious than you think.”
 You don’t know what to say to that, so you just shrug.
 “I’m Gabriel,” He continues. “He sent me to answer whatever questions you might have.”
 Silence. Gabriel waits.That’s when you realize he’s sitting on the wrong side, the side of the one being interrogated.
 You hesitate. “Any question, huh?”
 Gabriel nods.
 “Okay.” Your question comes from some hidden corner of your soul, somehow creeping to your lips and demanding to be spoken like this was your last chance. You look him right in the eye and say,“Is life lie?”
 “Life is full of lies,” Gabriel answers simply.
 Your heartbeat flutters.
 It must have shown in your expression, because Gabriel leans forward, resting his hands on the table. “Life is not always what you see with your eyes, what you feel, what you say or do, or even what you know. Everything can lie. Everyone can lie.”
 “So far this is not very encouraging.” A little flash of frustration makes your skin prickle uncomfortably.
 “Truth is a thing all its own.” Gabriel’s eyes -- an average brown -- seem to spark as he speaks. “It is the loudest yet least heard, the brightest yet least seen, the most certain yet the least known. In all life it is the most sought after, yet least desired. Truth does not bend itself to the will of man. It simply is. It is rightness; order. Lies mix reasoning and desire to convince you that you want the lie more than you want the truth. They make you think you can achieve order another way, that your life will get better, that you can change the world, by building on the sand. The weakness in lies, however, is that no matter who believes them, truth does not change. Truth is not accommodating, it is true. It tears down what is false without quarter. You either accept the truth, or you join the liars.
 You slam your fist on the table and point an accusing finger at the man in the suit. “You can sit there and praise truth all you want, but if I can’t trust my eyes and ears and mind, how am I supposed to know what to believe? This is impossible; it isn’t fair. How do I know you’re not the liar?”
 “I’m just the messenger.” Gabriel stands, buttoning his suit jacket. “So are you.”
 He’s leaving. You stand as well. It wasn’t anger, it was fear. Wait... “Wait.”
 Gabriel pauses.
 “Please, just tell me. I can’t…” The beeps of the heart monitor have become one long drone of sound. You can hear it again faintly in the back of your mind. No. You can’t go back without knowing. You won’t. “How will I know what’s true?” Then your heart sinks. Maybe you weren’t going back.
 Reaching across the table, Gabriel puts a hand on your shoulder, looking right into your eyes. “Faith.”
 “In what?”
 “You already know that.”
 Your stomach quivers. But Gabriel smiles, and steps back. He motions to the side wall.
 “You’re free to go.”
 There’s a door there, now. Whether it had been there before or you simply hadn’t noticed it you aren’t sure, but you find yourself walking towards it. Opening it. And stepping oustide, leaving the messenger in the suit and the interrogation room behind you.
 You’re standing in the midst of oblivion, and there’s something in your hand.
 It’s your Grandmother’s cross pendant.
 The heart monitor starts beeping again, and you open your eyes.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Penny's Poetry Corner -- Today

by John Kendrick Bangs

Today, whatever may annoy,
The word for me is Joy, just simple joy;
The joy of life;
The joy of children and of wife;
The joy of bright blue skies;
The joy of rain; the glad surprise
Of twinkling stars that shine at night;
The joy of winged things upon their flight;
The joy of noonday, and of the tried
True joyousness of eventide;
The joy of labor, and of mirth;
The joy of air, and sea, and earth --
The countless joys that ever flow from Him
Whose vast beneficence doth dim
The lustrous light of day,
And lavish gifts divine along our way.
Whate're there be of sorrow
I'll put it off till tomorrow,
And when tomorrow comes, why then
'Twill be Today and Joy again!



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The World in Words -- Springtime Walk

I came home today ecstatic that the sun was shining and the temperature was above forty degrees. I determined to take a walk. Gypsy, of course, took one look at the leash and almost wiggled out of her skin in excitement. I haven't taken her on a walk all winter, and though she often plays in our back yard, there is nothing that can replace a good walk, in her eyes. So we set out into our neighborhood together. She trotted next to me faithfully. Clouds of every shape and size floated in the sky against an azure backdrop, and they cast shadows that scuttled ahead of us on the street when the wind threw clouds in front of the sun. I'd left my jacket, and the tips of my fingers and nose grew chilly. Winter is reluctant to release the Earth from its grasp. There is no green yet, just brown. But there is no white, either. The birds still sing, confident of the coming season. They do not worry; why should I?


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Adventures in Authorlyness

So I just finished doing a cursory investigation into self publishing a hardcover children's picture book. All I have to say is... dang. That's a lot of money.

I might need to go into resourcefulness mode and see if I can make a paperback from CreateSpace work somehow. Like I did with Aaron's Quest. The dream of a wonderful picture book flourishing with colorful pictures and sturdy hardcover is beginning to croak.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Just Write

Well, I'm sick today. I'm sitting here in bed trying to think of something to write, something people will like, but inside me a little rolls its eyes and says, "Just write."

For once I'm being obedient. Just Write the best and most accurate advice that can be given to any writer, at any time. Just write. Stop thinking, stop reasoning, stop wishing, pick up your pen or keyboard, and start writing. It doesn't even matter what you write, just write something. Now, if you're an author, there's probably something you ought to be working on, but I am of the opinion that writing anything is better than writing nothing, whether it's what you're meant to be working on or not.

(On a completely random side note, my dog is chewing on my favorite pink argyle socks. I've trained her to only chew on socks and dog toys, but somehow she managed to find the ONE pair of socks she's not supposed to have and proceed to tear them apart. I mean, they already had holes in the heels, but still. Pink argyle, dog. Just no.)

I have a hard time finishing things. Anything, but especially stories. Making myself sit down and work on a story gets harder and harder the closer I get to the end of the story. I'm still figuring out why that is -- besides the natural weakness of my personality type rearing its ugly head -- but lately I have been telling myself just to write. I mean, I love writing, and I say the word love with the passionate, devoted connotation implied. There are only three things I love more than writing, and those are my family, my man, and my God. So why should I avoid it? With that in mind, I stop thinking about 'finishing', and think only about writing. It makes it so much easier.

It's especially interesting because I'm writing my latest story in an old mead notebook with a cheap black papermate pen. The tactile sensation, as well as the act of carrying around this notebook and pen around wherever I go, is surprisingly satisfying. I used to work solely on Microsoft Word, but I think I'll be writing more short stories in notebooks from now on. Seeing the scribbles and margin notes, the messy handwriting, page upon page of word worn lined paper; it's like art, to me.  I look at it, and think, "I did this." Not in an arrognt way, but in wonder at the endless magic of creativity. Lines and whirls to make words, words to inspire pictures in the imagination of readers, the journey of a story.

And an excuse to buy more notebooks. Mwuaha.

Now it's your turn. Go write.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

The World In Words -- Spring Has Sprung

What a cliche title. I'm an author, that should bother me.

But it doesn't. So ha.

Spring is here! The skies have happiness in them, caught in the sunlight and warmth. The birds are singing constantly. Joyful songs of coming home. The air smells like life and hope and new beginnings.

All the snow has melted, leaving the world brown and damp, save for the evergreens, who weathered the winter without losing their color. Browns and rusty greens still dominate the colors of nature, but you can feel that the flowers are waiting in quivering anticipation for their time to bloom. The buds are bursting with eagerness to open themselves to the sun, and all around, the wind races and whirls to bring the message, "Wake up, wake up! Spring is here!"