for the Creatives

We’re all pirate queens

Under-appreciated. Emotional. Irish. I’d like to think I’m two of those things, but the Pirate Queen musical gets all three 😉

So while recommending this soundtrack that I just can’t be rid of, I thought I’d share how we all are basicly pirate queens. Us creative souls, us dreamers, we can relate to the ups and downs of this epic voyage 🙂 I’ll go through the story song by song, so yes, major spoilers all spoilers basicly here. But I’ll be analyzing the theme of dreaming and how it applies to our lives along the way 🙂

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Listen along with the full playlist free on YouTube here.

Prologue (instrumental)

Bagpipes, just to make sure you remember this is an Irish musical.

The Pirate Queen

A new ship is christened The Pirate Queen. Grania (Grace) O’Malley, the daughter of the captain, sneaks aboard with her sailor love Tiernan.

Woman ❤

Shocker? Grania doesn’t get to stay on the ship. Because? She’s a woman.

All of us are at some point denied our dream. All of us have something that disqualifies us from our dream: gender, age, personality, family, income.

“I’m almost your age / I’m your match in size. / I’m your match with swords, / an equal in most eyes. / But when you have a dream, / and you’re caught in its grip, / you can climb aboard a ship, / you can, / you can, / for you’re a man. / You can reach toward that place / where the earth meets the sky, / fight a battle,  be brave, be true, / if you can do it, why not I?”

So what does Grania do when she’s told to stay home and wait for the men to save the day and return? She disguises herself as a cabin boy and becomes a stowaway, of course! Then a storm hits and Grania saves the day, exposing herself.

My Grace

The captain, her father, is in a tight spot, punishing a stowaway or honoring a hero. He finally determines to let her stay through that voyage as a reward for her bravery.

“Who can even imagine the trials you will face / as you strive to live free?”

Keep fighting for that dream. Take whatever opportunities you have to prove your worth. Become a stowaway towards your dream and seize the opportunity!

Here on this Night

Grania and her love Tiernan are super excited (understatement) to get to be together. Their romance is a secret, but they’re together.

The Waking of the Queen

Two queens are revealed in this song.

First our Grania proves her worth yet again. England attacks and injures her father, so she takes charge and sinks the battling warship. Grania’s father recognizes her leadership, and begins to train her to be captain. She is dubbed the Pirate Queen.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth becomes Queen in England. Knowing women aren’t taken seriously as a leader, she decides to hide her femininity.

Noticing a pattern yet? The villainess has a similar storyline to Grania, not being taken seriously in her role because she’s a woman.

Everyone will have something to disqualify working towards a dream. If the Queen of England and the Queen of the Pirates were disqualified, what makes you think you won’t be?

Rah-Rah, Tip-Top

Queen Elizabeth’s court tries to assure her everything is in “tip-top” shape, patronizing her as if she’s a little princess so as not to “bother the royal head.” When she presses, they admit that an Irish pirate ship had attacked. Upon further inquiry, they admit that the ship had a female captain – Grace O’Malley. Queen Elizabeth must show her power and commissions Lord Bingham to “crush” Ireland.

 The Choice is Mine

With England warring against Ireland, the O’Malley clan must unite with rival O’Flaherty clan as one force, suggesting an arranged marriage between O’Malley’s daughter Grania and O’Flaherty’s son Donal.

Grania’s dream was to fight England, but this isn’t the way she planned. She would lose the love of her life, Tiernan, but also she would lose her freedom to be pirate at sea. It’s a time where she has to choose between the means and the end of her dream, and sacrifice.

We all will come across a chance, where what was seen as a detriment to our dream is actually a stepping stone to the cause we fight for. And we may be asked to sacrifice accordingly.

The irony is she is asked to do what only a woman can do, when all this time she’s been fighting to do what only a man is permitted to do. The cause would be won in doing what only a woman can, marrying and bearing a son to create an alliance.

“I fought so hard, / to carve a life that’s mine. / I love my land. / Where do I draw the line? A man cannot, / a woman can. / It’s cruel, the path / we are now forced to choose.”

Boys’ll Be Boys

This song is a fun little ditty that shows just what hubbie Donal is like. Donal and clan are at a tavern the night before the wedding (bachelor party? 🙂 ) and he is being teased about marrying a pirate “queen”. Donal claims he’ll tame her, and the guys are all about that, but the ladies bet on Grania giving him trouble.

Girls: “After the drums, / wedding night comes / who will come out alive? / She’s been captain, leading a crew, / She’s killed people, ran ’em right through. / Sorry, Donal, lad, I’m betting on her.”

Donal: “I’ll be rough when she needs it, / rough as seas ever were. / Up to now she’s been steering. / Now it’s time to steer her. / She’s confused about gender. / She’s been too long at sea. / I may well have to beach her, take her inland and teach her, / what a woman should be.”

In the end, Donal promises “marriage won’t change a thing” and he’ll still party. What a guy :/

The Wedding

And yep, they get married. Celebrate, complete with Irish dancing of course 🙂

I’ll Be There

“Go and marry a man you don’t love if that pleases you. / Throw away for a cause all the joys we have known. / Let his kiss keep you warm, I’ll be fine on my own.”

Tiernan is mad about Grania’s choice. However, his love for her remains, and he decides to stay with the O’Flaherty clan for when she needs him.


The dream does not start easily for these ladies. Your dream won’t come easy for you either. Grania and Elizabeth took a chance, a risk, and made it into their dream “industry” per se.

After all that work to even be considered for their dream, Grania’s marrying a jerk, England is warring. You guys, working toward a dream isn’t pretty from the get-go. You’ll be asked to sacrifice. Steve Kamb says in his book Level Up Your Life: “Great sacrifice is often required of the hero along his/her journey to achieve transformation and reach his or her full potential.”

My next blogposts (part 2 and part 3) show what happens to Grania and Elizabeth next. Until then, comment below how starting toward your dream is going for you.

  • What external obstacles are you facing? (hopefully not an irate queen!)
  • Who are your allies?
  • What’s your dream and what’s an internal obstacle you face?
  • What are you sacrificing?

Musings of a Creative, Showcasing other Creatives

The “Guardian of Ever After” for the Outcasts

I’ve been inducted into the Outcasts Bloghouse and dubbed the Guardian of Ever After.  No cool kids allowed!

Also, I’m pretty sure this is our theme song:

Or is it this one:

We’ll have to create a soundtrack 🙂

Join the adventure and expect crazy mad times in the treehouse…we’ll be Pan & Tink & Swiss Family Robinson & nymphs & woodcreatures & pirates. And now excuse me while I CANNONBALLLLLLLLLLL out of this treehouse into Mermaid Lagoon 😉

(Speaking of pirates, stay tuned:
my next 4 blogposts are about how pirate-y us creatives are.)
for the Writers

13 tools for editing your book

As I began editing my story, I asked a bunch of writers – either that I personally know or through Facebook writers groups – what tools they use when editing their book.

I was shocked that most didn’t have a plan or a tool…they just wing it!

I’m sure most of us would like a plan of attack. And so I give you:

Tools to edit your book

Best part: Most of these are free!

Disclaimer: I have not used most of these. This is what either other authors have recommended to me or I have found through extensive googling.  But they look great! Take what you can use and make your plan of attack. Less willy nilly…but don’t ditch the willy nilly….We all need that too 😉

 

1) Microsoft Word shortcuts – ❤ My favvie!

This writer was thoughtful enough to list out each step of her editing process and all the shortcuts or steps she takes in Word to find and fix these common errors. This is the most practical item I’ve found in my search. Use it!

2) 25 editing tips – checklist

Woohoo, I love checklists. I know where to start, what to do, and when I’m finished 🙂

3 & 4) Developmental edits – list of questions here or here

These are called checklists, but more like a list of questions to ask as you edit. Includes questions on plot, character, dialogue, style, etc. Very thorough, so if you want to catch every nuance, this is the list for you. I think I’d read my manuscript 50 times to catch all these questions haha 🙂

5) Proofreading checklist – PDF

I list editing software below, but you want to check things yourself too. For readability, grammar, punctuation, spelling – here’s that checklist.

6) Natural Reader – text to speech

Does not require download, just copy and paste your words into the website to hear your story read to you – a great way to catch errors you might accidentally gloss over if you read it silently. It’s bold claim is that it reads it in a “natural” voice, hence Natural Reader.

Also available as a free download to read from PDFs, Word, and offline.

Paid version with more features also available.

7) Readable – readability grades

Free, with premium paid version also available. Copy and paste text in, then see various grade levels on the right. Also notes adverbs, passive voice, cliches, and lengthy sentences and words.

8) Hemingway app – readability and editing

Copy and paste into the website to see grade level for readability, adverbs, passive voice, and hard to read passages. Best part: all these are color-coded 🙂 Note: in my brief test-run, spelling errors got the squiggly like Word, but punctuation errors weren’t mentioned.

9) Text Analyzer – see which words you over-use

Do you constantly say everything is “glorious” in your novel? I mean, it’s a glorious word, but you don’t want to over-use it. Copy and paste your text into this website to see which words and phrases are most common in your story. Obviously “the” and “and” and major character names will be prominent, but what else do you say that may be too much?

10) Ginger – editing software & text to speech

Just download it to your device. It’ll check spelling, grammar, and more. As far as I can tell, it’s free.

11) Grammarly – editing software

This is more popular than Ginger, at least in my circle. Whether that means it’s better or not, I can’t say. This is also a free software download.

 



*The below cost money but were recommended to me by other writers. You might want to check them out 🙂 *

12) ProWriting Aid – editing software

Free version for up to 500 words at a time. Annual cost of $40-45 if you want to edit more than that at a time.

13) EDITS System – lecture

Costs $22. Lets you know what you need to edit where.


Have any recommendations of your own? Comment below with what tools, tips, or tricks help you tackle book editing 🙂

 

for the Creatives

Build it before Ellen DeGeneres shows up

You get stuck in an elevator with Ellen DeGeneres. This sounds like one of her pranks waiting to happen, but it’s really not. You’re just stuck there. And you start talking about your dream.

  • the book you have in you
  • the music you’re making
  • the product you present to the world
  • the nonprofit you’re creating
  • the community you’re building
  • the art you create

All of the sudden, she buys in. She’s totally sold on YOUR IDEA! How awesome is that, right?

Then she invites you to talk on her show, give a pitch, sell your idea to the world. But right now, she’s walking on stage as you’re rescued from the elevator, “My audience is your audience. Invite them to your dream.” Except, oops:

  • you haven’t written the book
  • you have no music prepared
  • you don’t have a website to direct traffic to
  • you have only 5 pieces to sell and no pictures to show

You now have millions of people ready to buy into your dream, but you have nothing to show for it. Nothing.


Okay, I have not yet been trapped in an elevator with Ellen, and that’s good because I’m not prepared for that either.

But I can on a very very small scale relate. Very very small.
  • Strangers liking my public Facebook posts, but I hadn’t thought to add the Follow button
  • A blogpost that brought 1k+ viewers, but there was no way for non-WordPress users to stay in the loop
  • A free $30 Facebook coupon, but I didn’t have a product to advertise

Sometimes we buy into the lie that if we just had luck on our side, if we could just get the audience that someone else has, then we’d make it. But we can’t wait for opportunity – we have to prepare for it.

I don’t want you to be like me. I mean, in the above ways at least 🙂 When Ellen buys into your idea, I want you to be ready! And I want to be ready.

Here’s how I prepared and am preparing:

  • You can now follow my Facebook profile AND like my Facebook page AND follow me on Twitter
  • You can follow this blog through email (see the sidebar) as well as through WordPress, and I’m working on an email newsletter (you can pre-join the list now, but have grace for my MailChimp stumblings.)
  • I finished the first draft of my quirky meta murder mystery. In the editing process, then finding a way to get it out to all my lovely readers (YOU!)

To introduce your dream to others, make sure you get working on the following:

  • Something tangible to offer: the product, the idea, the work, whatever they need to buy into, get it out of your head and into the real world.
  • A public place for your dream: whether that’s a Facebook page, website, Etsy, blog, email newsletter – your audience needs a place to go once they buy in.
  • An action for your audience to take: buy the product, donate to a cause, follow your blog, spread word to their community….don’t let them just show up and leave.

I’m still a work in progress. But we all are 🙂 We’ll never be entirely ready for the big moment. But let’s do what we can to get there. Build it before they come. And by “they” I mean your audience in general, but especially Ellen 😉

for the Writers, Musings of a Creative

I murdered for you & I’m not okay

in my book. I should probably clarify that.

But isn’t that a beautiful blogpost title? 😉

I finished the first draft of my quirky meta murder mystery!

Honestly, it happened so fast. I thought I’d be agonizing over the last couple scenes for days. And I just whipped them out and suddenly that was the last sentence and I felt like there should be so much more time in it, but nope, that was definitely my last sentence of the story.

Murder doesn’t take as long as you’d expect.

So I was on a celebratory high. For about 2 hours.

Then came the pits. It wasn’t the murder part. I can kill off characters okay, with maybe a teardrop if I’m super attached. It was the writing part though. Suddenly I wasn’t sure I could ever make my writing what I wanted it to be.

I was worried I would be the writer that wrote but never got good enough to publish.

Or worse, I published and everyone would hate it and I’d regret having that in my publication history.

Or worse, I published and think it’s awesome and people are too nice to tell me that I just added to the public slushpile.

I’m discouraged. Kinda terrified really.

I’m thinking of edits and beta readers and ways to put my story out there in the world for all you lovelies, and it’s like THE REAL DEAL.

So if you could send some encouragement my way, I would be so appreciative.

Now back to editing so you all can enjoy the fruits of murder 😉

for the Bookworms, for the Writers

DNA of a writer: how my reading affects my writing

Last week I shared my top 10 books and their commonalities. Now you get to see the top 3 elements that are in more than half of my favorite books.

*Props to Maggie Schoepke guessing there’s a supernatural element in my fav books.
I don’t specify it that way here, but that’s definitely related to these.*

Are you ready? 🙂

The halfway point: Huge cast of characters forced together towards a common goal

  • 6 instances in 5 books

A slew of characters stories intersecting towards one common goal. Often by force, involuntarily, or unwittingly. Often that means multiple protagonists, multiple storylines (see above), etc. If you like stories that span many different characters and their own stories being intertwined, half of my reading list is for you 🙂

 

Very prevalent: Two different worlds

  • 8 instances in 6 books

This element ties in well with the above one, so it’s no surprise that it pops up again and again. Two different worlds doesn’t necessarily mean fantasy (although there is that in my list.) I have so many different genres in my list of favorites, but this theme came into play in different ways: fantastical world, parallel universe of the real world, psychological world versus real world, dual timelines, two perspectives of the same story, etc. If you want to see things from more than one lens, you might like some of my favorite books 🙂

 

The most common element {brace yourself…}: Blurred line between what is real & what is not

  • 11 instances in 7 books

If you choose to read one of the books from my list, you will statistically speaking likely see this element in play in some way 🙂

 

Though I have so many different genres represented in my favorites, there is a blurred line between real-world and not-real-world in many of these. Sometimes it’s a magical universe or an alternate reality. Sometimes the reader is unsure if it’s all in the character’s head: dream, imagination, or madness. Sometimes the story leaves the reader questioning if something magical is going on or if there’s a logical explanation that’s hidden. Sometimes there’s 2 different realities and no idea as to which one is real. Many of my favorite stories leave the reader unsure – sometimes until the end of the story, and sometimes the question is never even answered. If you want to question reality, my favorite books list might be for you 🙂

 

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This reminds me:

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Did any of the above sound familiar?

Three of my favorite TV shows share the above elements to some degree:

  • LOST
  • Heroes
  • Vampire Diaries

 

 So I think I’m onto something here 🙂 

 

Now that I have my list of all the things that I really love in books (and also apparently TV shows) and how that may affect my writing style…

What I tend to write – #MyWriteDNA if you will:

I write quirks, obsession, madness, misfits, strangers, and unbelonging. I write bigger than life stories….where small nuances change everything. I write community. I write to connect: characters to each other, disparaging ideas, and narrator to reader. I write awe and surprise and emotion and detachment. I write stories of questioning realities. I write lies and truth. I write the horror between the lines. I write unease and tension. I walk the line between reality and enchantment. Magical realism. Hope, crushed and fulfilled.

 

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for the Bookworms, for the Writers

DNA of a writer: My top 10 books

Ahh, the dreaded question: “What’s your favorite book?”

Rachel Giesel was kind enough to expand it to “What’s your top 5 favorite books?”

I’m taking part in a free online course to figure out my writerly DNA – analyzing who I am, what I read, and what I write to come up with who I am as a writer. #MyWriteDNA if you will. And because I have a website for such a time as this, I thought I’d share with you my favorite books and their themes that contribute to my writing style.

Top 5 favorite books:

  1. The Map of Time (sci-fi series by Felix J Palma)
  2. Arena (speculative fiction by Karen Hancock)
  3. Night Garden (magical realism by Lisa Van Allen)
  4. Then and Always (romantic suspense by Dani Atkins)
  5. Inkheart Trilogy (fantasy YA series by Cornelia Funke)

Because I had a top 10 and somewhat-arbitrarily decided on a top 5 from that list, I give you….

The runners-up:

  1. The 13th Tale (gothic suspense by Diane Setterfield)
  2. Sinner (spiritual thriller by Ted Dekker)
  3. Godmother: the Secret Cinderella Story (modern fairytale retelling by Carolyn Turgeon)
  4. The Shadow Children series (dystopian YA series by Margaret Peterson Haddix)
  5. The Book of Lost Things (fantasy quest by John Connolly)

 

After I picked my favorite books, I analyzed them. I wrote down any elements of the story that immediately popped to mind, be it themes, style, characterization, plot points, etc. These are elements so prevalent that I remembered them off the top of my head, so there may be even more commonalities I’ve forgotten 🙂

 (Note in regard to spoilers: To avoid blatant spoilers, this section will not call out specifically which books have which elements. Of course if you read this section, you will know that any of the above books have some of these elements, but you won’t know which ones. None of these elements are along the lines of “The main character dies at the end” or something hugely spoiler-y. If a main character dies at the end of one of these books, well, I won’t be the one to tell you, muahaha.)

 

The small stuff:

Okay, so this isn’t very small. That more than one of my favoritest of favorite books has these elements probably makes it noteworthy, but it’s still less noteable than what you’ll see in my next blogpost. Anyway, here’s a snapshot of some commonalities:

  • 1 book has an investigative reporter. This is just one book, but that’s a key part of my work-in-progress, so I thought I’d include it in this list 🙂
  • 2 books involve a quest
  • 2 books have the theme of the power of words or story
  • 2 books have a small political change that greatly alters everything
  • 2 books are allegorical, but not preachy
  • 3 books have a noteable narrator – unreliable and/or chats directly with the reader
  • 3 books have romance as a prevalent sideplot – not the main deal, but still a deal
  • 4 books break the 4th wall (haha, 4 & 4)
  • 5 books are of epic proportions, involving an entire world
  • 5 books have changing alliances and deal with the question of who to trust

 

So there’s a snapshot of what I like in my reading and my writing. My next blogpost shows the top 3 elements that were in over half of the books on my favorites list, and then I also include what that actually looks like in my writing.

Any guesses as to the top 3 common elements? First to guess correctly in the comments gets major kudos from me and a shout-out in next week’s post 🙂

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