Monday, August 31, 2015

Quote of the Month ~ August 2015

(click to enlarge)

For more great Quotes of the Month click here.

Heidi Peterson is a lover of wide-spreading land, summer dust, white pounding waterfalls, and mountain tops; also of good dark coffee and rich stories. Most of all she's a lover of the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh. You can visit her additional blog (where she shares more about books, movies, and further marvels of life) at: Along the Brandywine.

Visit and contact at: Sharing the Journey // Along the Brandywine // ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com

Monday, August 24, 2015

An Interview with Elisabeth Grace Foley

Today I'm delighted to be interviewing fellow writer and blogger Elisabeth Grace Foley! 

Elisabeth Grace Foley is a historical fiction author, history buff and insatiable reader. She has been a finalist for the Peacemaker Award for Best Independently-Published Western Novel, for Left-Hand Kelly, and is also the author of short story collections The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories and Wanderlust Creek and Other Stories. Her work has appeared online at Rope and Wire and The Western Online. Her other books include a series of short historical mysteries, the Mrs. Meade Mysteries; and short fiction set during the American Civil War and the Great Depression. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, crocheting, watching old movies, watching football and basketball, and spending time outdoors.

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1. (Heidi) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film? 
(Elisabeth) I’ve always seen music as more of a companion to storytelling—maybe because I enjoy film soundtracks so much. I often put a story to music in my head, but I wonder if it’s influenced by knowing the music was meant to evoke a certain kind of story or setting? In film, a lot is often conveyed by implying or hinting—showing the actions of characters and leaving it to the audience to understand or fill in the blanks themselves. It takes a skilled filmmaker to do that well. But I think literature always has the advantage when it comes to depth, because the author can tell the reader as much as they want to tell—of characters’ thoughts and motivations, or the hidden causes of events.

2. How have you seen those three mesh together in your own creative process? 
Music and film often help inspire the way I picture stories playing out in my head—I do a lot of daydreaming and planning for stories before I ever put them on paper. Letting my ideas get too “cinematic” can be a stumbling-block too, though; if I imagine the visuals of a scene too exactly I sometimes end up struggling to find the words to describe it to my own satisfaction. Striking a comfortable balance is the thing!

3. When and how did you first begin writing? 
I started writing and illustrating my own “books” made of drawing paper almost as soon as I learned how to write. Growing up, I was always scribbling a little and sometimes daydreaming about being a published author; but I really grew serious about writing and began practicing it in earnest in my late teens.

4. What are you currently working on? 
I just finished a complete rewrite of a novel manuscript: a historical/Western novel I first wrote about four years ago. I’m going to let that sit a little while before I dive into editing it, and my immediate project will be doing final edits on and publishing The Silent Hour, the fourth entry in my Mrs. Meade Mysteries series. 

5. Particular author/s who have influenced you? 
Oh, there’s so many. I suppose every author I enjoy has influenced me in some respect—but the most tangible influence has probably come from two that I always put near the head of my favorite-authors list: O. Henry and B.M. Bower.

6. Is there a “non-writing” activity that shapes your writing? 
I like going for walks when I get stuck, or simply when I have an idea brewing in my mind and want to think it out a little further. Walking always seems to clear my head and set all the wheels in my brain turning.

7. Your opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of digital books? 
I’ve had a Kindle for several years, and as a reader, I love it. It’s helped me discover and have easy access to hundreds of books I might never have found otherwise. As a writer, it’s also wonderful to be able to create my own ebooks and launch them to readers almost instantly from the comfort of home. But I do still love physical books—reading nonfiction, for instance, especially for research, doesn’t feel quite as comfortable on an e-reader. And then, I’m always hesitant to place complete trust in technology—I’ve experienced enough crashes and loss of files for that—so I do think any book with hopes of living on for posterity ought to have a print run too!

8. Do you ever do graphic design to help with your writing? 
No, that’s one area in which I am not gifted! That’s why I chose to have my book covers designed by other people with the necessary skills.

9. Do you outline? If so, in a general way or very detailed? 
I outline loosely—I often make a list of scenes as I shuffle the events of the story into the proper order in my head. For a short story or novella it usually falls into place pretty simply, but for a novel I’ll rework the outline as needed if the story changes and develops while I write it.

10. Do you work on multiple projects at once? 
Sometimes. I picked up a helpful tip for beating procrastination once: have two or more projects “open,” so to speak, so if you really get stuck with one or tired of it, you can switch to another for a little while. I find that does work. That way I can still be accomplishing something, and eventually come back to the first project a little fresher. 

11. Do you edit as you write? 
I handwrite my first drafts, and my pages are often pretty chaotic with scrawled margin notes, markings and suggestions for alternate wording or phrases that could be left out, etc. Then when I type the story for the first time, I examine all this and sift out the best phrasing—so that basically becomes my first round of edits.

12. Certain themes you see surfacing and resurfacing in your work? 
Hmmm. Well, one connecting element that I notice is that whatever sort of story I’m writing, it usually deals with relationships between people, whether they’re family, romantic or otherwise.

13. A particular aspect of writing you struggle with or a challenge you’ve overcome? 
In a general sense, I suppose you could say organization. I’ve struggled with sticking to a project till completion and being distracted by attractive new ideas. I think I’m in the process of overcoming this now; I’ve been developing a work routine that seems to serve me well.

14. How do you deal with feedback—particularly negative feedback? 
For negative, the process usually goes something like this: gulp, wince, try not to think about it for a while, and then come back later and try to consider in a reasonable, level-headed manner whether the criticism is just.

15. One thing you’ve learned from other writers? 
I’ve learned (or at least I’m learning) not to worry about whether the stories I write best and enjoy most are “serious” or “meaningful” enough, especially compared to other writers’ work. I’ve seen writers whose work I admire pursuing the path where their own interests and talents lie, and I’ve realized that’s the way to produce your truly best work.

16. A helpful nonfiction book or website? 
One remarkable little book that I found very encouraging and helpful is Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s about creativity in general, but extremely applicable to writing. 

17. What do you consider one of the single most important things to remember (i.e. an attitude or technique)? 
There is one attitude I’ve come to realize the importance of: don’t rush. I’m extremely thankful that I didn’t rush some of my early manuscripts (which I thought were good at the time!) into publication. Sometimes it’s a good thing to let the manuscripts pile up, so you can look at them objectively after you’ve practiced your craft for a while. And even when you’re more experienced, don’t rush a particular project; work at it carefully until you’re sure it’s the very best you know how to make it.

18. A word of encouragement for fellow writers? 
No matter how difficult and exasperating writing can be sometimes—we write because we love it, don’t we? At the heart of it all, it’s just plain fun. Don’t forget about that during the tough times; remember the moments when you laugh out loud at something your own character said, or when you’re walking on air because a scene came out just the way you wanted it to. There’ll always be more of those moments.

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Note from Heidi: Thank you so much for visiting today, Elisabeth! It was such a pleasure having you!
And everyone, be sure to visit Elisabeth Foley's blog at

Monday, August 17, 2015

3 Things I Love in a Good Story // Olivia

from Olivia

1. “My Kind” of Writing Style

I say my kind because what one person may term stupendous writing is not necessarily what “does it” for another. A good example of that would be Jane Austen. I’m not saying the woman wasn’t an excellent author, but I don’t personally care for her books because her writing style, at least that which I’ve so far experienced, doesn’t appeal to me. I like writing that is rich; vibrant with description and insight. I appreciate those “aha” moments in reading when I’ve been plodding steadily along, and bam! The author throws in some unique turn of phrase to express a universal, age-old truth in an empathetic new way. I love the expressions of senses—colorful natural vistas, the connection between music and the soul of the player/hearer, the feel of a blanket, etc. That being said, I do not like three-page-long accounts of either endless walking or of describing a single scene or of soliloquizing a character’s mental processes. Because those can get tedious, dontcha know. ;) 

2. Humor 

This rather ties into the first point, since it’s another thing I look for in writing. I prefer subtle humor, humor that either comes or goes so quickly that it takes you a couple minutes to realize how funny it actually was, or humor that is half-concealed under wry sarcasm or period-appropriate dialect. We all need a laugh now and then, right? :) 

3. Good Relationships 

They can be friend-to-friend, lover-to-lover, parent-to-child, whatever, but relationships are such an important component of a good story; I think everyone would agree. I’d rather read about relationships that are going to end happily for all parties (because Reasons), but a tragic bond, if well-crafted, can also be so compelling and instructive (i.e. Rebecca and Brian de Bois-Guillbert in one of my favorites, Ivanhoe). If an author truly understands human interaction (or animal interaction; not invalidating those stories!), he or she can gain a vast audience because of the natural empathy that their writing evokes—the feeling, as William Goldman put it, that someone else realizes that yeah, life isn’t always fair. “It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.”

Note from Heidi: Thanks so much for sharing today, Olivia! :)

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Would you like to share three of your favorite things in a guest post? You don’t have to be a writer to qualify! This series is by story lovers for story lovers.
For post specifics/guidelines you can see the initial post here, then send Heidi a quick email at ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com. Don’t be shy. I’d love to have you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Inkling Explorations Link-Up // August 2015 & New Must-See Buttons!!!

As this is our fourth Inklings month I decided it’s high time to mix in some new buttons!

How do you all like them? :) Feel free to use anyor all five!

And our topic for this month is: A scene happening on/at/around a train or train station 

July specific notes: Selections can be from either books or films

And you can probably all guess my choice.... ;) Yes, indeed—the ending scene in the '04 North and South! (And a couple notes: while I love both versions of N&S, the following specifically applies to the BBC '04 adaptation with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe. Also, I’m actually lifting this post almost entirely from my review which you can read in full here.)

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And now for our North and South scene in which the themes of the entire wonderful story are captured to brilliant perfection. 

First, the train appears throughout—beginning and ending the film, tying it completely and richly together with its portrayal of continuation and change—and while the ending scene (with its kissing at a public place) may or may not be historically accurate, from a story perspective it’s dazzling. 

In the beginning, while hoping to remain settled, Margaret finds herself uprooted to a new and completely foreign world. And with that catalyst (even as she tries to remain fixed within herself) the ground is pulled from beneath her by the inescapable rushing forward of life. Everything she had deemed simple and immovable—her world, her entire family, even her own mind, opinions, and (at last) emotions—are caught in that great unstoppable impetus. 

From the beginning there’s a ripeness and maturity about her. Yet with that softness there’s also an inflexibility—a resistant immobility—dyed into her very character and desire for a solidity of place, for the clearly delineated safety found in habitual routine and a clearly defined social world. There’s safety in stagnation... while change can involve both danger and heartache. 

But real change generally comes unasked and unlooked for. 

Margaret learns she cannot box herself and she cannot box others in closely defined categories. Yet one of the greatest things I love about the story is that—changing—she doesn’t lose who she is. Lovely and gracious, she’s still Margaret, but—growing in humility—she learns also an active, diligent rest. 

So comes the train station at the end. The station—that stopping place in the forward push of life and progress—that place with the dizzying potential for a full face, 180-degree turn. The stopping place encapsulating those few, tangible, epic—fully historic—moments in life that completely reorient us, changing everything. Yet again. 

And arriving at such a stopping place Margaret reaches forward to the future—finding tried and tested strength to lean onfinding again a field of rich fulfillment and labor.

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As always, entries are open through the end of the month and I can’t wait to see your selections! Remember, you can write as little or as much as you like. And don’t forget to check out and share one of the new buttons!

Naomi @ Wonderland Creek
Inkling Explorations in Gone With the Wind @ a room of one's own
Hamlette @ The Edge of the Precipice
Rose @ An Old Fashioned Girl
Natalie @ Raindrops on Roses & Whiskers on Kittens


1. Post the Inklings button on your sidebar.
2. Do a post on your own blog relating to the month's selection/subject (a literary excerpt as short or as long as you like AND/OR—if specified that month—a screencap from a film with an explanation of how the scene builds/develops the story). Link back here somewhere in your post.
3. Come back here and paste your link in the comments box and I'll add it to the post. Then enjoy visiting and reading everyone else's contributions!

That's all there is to it!

Up next month: A Funny Story Opening in Literature

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