Wednesday, November 7, 2018

MBI Blog Tour, Stop #11: Feeding our Creative Side

Welcome to Mountain Brook Ink's 2018 Holiday Blog Tour! We're so excited you've decided to join us on this journey of family, friends, traditions, and memories over the next month. You as our reader have done so much to pour into our lives, and this season we want to give back to you with insights into our lives and some giveaways. The more days you follow, share, comment, and engage with us, the more entries you'll have toward a Kindle Fire Grand Prize or one of three Amazon Gift Cards! (See below for the giveaway link!)

Annette crafting
Today, it’s my turn. Welcome to Net's Book Notes! My name is Annette M. Irby. I'm a writer, editor, and book reviewer. I'm also a creative. Let's get to it!

I don’t know about you, but the holiday season inspires me. I can still remember finger painting a harvest pumpkin during a fall elementary school class. I might have been in kindergarten. What fun to be covered in a smock while I dipped my fingers in the orange paint and spread the goopy color on the page. I can still feel it. Crafting is a tactile experience. It’s also a spiritual experience for me. 

Long ago, as I was pushing my daughter’s stroller home from the library, I found a flower petal next to the sidewalk. I wasn’t too familiar with pansies yet, but I knew I liked the colors on that petal. I saved it and during my daughter’s nap or playtime, I pressed the petal to a sheet of linen paper and inscribed a Scripture to the page to make a bookmark. I used laminating paper to hold it in place. I still have that bookmark somewhere. The petal never faded! 

Pansies on fall leaves
One of my Facebook friends, who is also a fellow writer, has written a book called Soul Care.* It’s non-fiction and addresses how we can become burned out in life from working hard without resting enough. She includes devotionals and craft ideas for letting ourselves relax and enjoy creating art. I’d lost touch with that part of myself. Lately, as I’ve been working through the book, and watching her online class, God’s been reminding me of that creative side.

I’m a journaler, and I created a journal just for this class. I can record what I’m thinking, what I’m creating, answers to her book’s prompts, and lists of ideas. 

Are you a creative person? 

One of the tabs in my journal is a list of Personal Permissions. On that page I list the areas that need to be addressed so I can give myself permission to be creative. Let’s say one of them might be: It’s okay to take time for creativity. Later, as I walk to the bus there are fall leaves on the ground. In my rush to get to the work I must accomplish, I could scurry right past. But in this season, I’ve been giving myself permission to slow down, notice the colors. Even—gasp!—pick up a leaf and bring it home. Once there, I take pictures of it, or lay it under paper, use a chunk of chalk and do a rubbing, or trace it. I wasn’t giving myself permission for those “silly” activities until lately, and you know what? It’s so exciting! There’s nothing silly or wasteful about it. I’m finally feeding, again, that part of myself that feeds the rest of myself.

Now, I take pictures or create art without (as much) guilt. ;)

Do you give yourself permission to tend to your soul?

Feeding our souls is not a silly endeavor. It’s not nonsense or childish. It’s necessary. And you can gather supplies at the dollar store, so it’s doesn’t even have to be expensive. Our local dollar store carries pads of paper, stickers, markers, glitter, paints, party favors (for decorating the page), etc. They even have frames so you can mount your work and enjoy it later. I like creating bookmarks, because I’m surrounded in books. But our finished creative projects don’t have to be usable to be useful. Creating is uplifting because it’s the process that matters, as well as enjoying the finished work.

I even found some $1.00 coasters that inspire me as I work. If you look closely, you might spy one of these in the photo of me above.

$1 coasters from the dollar store--artsy

Perhaps crafting isn’t your “thing,” but I’m guessing there is something in your life, something creative, that you’re passionate about. Something that, when you indulge your creative side, you might feel peace, joy, the fun of creating. You might even sense God’s presence while you are engaged in that activity. A sense of His smile. I’m also guessing that over time that creative pursuit began to feel less and less necessary and more and more secondary. That perhaps you excused yourself from doing that creative activity—it’s too expensive, it’s too time consuming, what good does it bring to the world, etc. So, you set it aside and worked harder on the hard work of life. And when you did, your soul started to go hungry. Maybe it’s time for a permission sheet in your own life—a list of quotes that let you know that creative activities can be a beautiful way of resting and feeding your soul. It’s time to pick it up again. 

How about it? Do you feel creative this time of year? The days are shorter. We spend more time indoors. Why not set aside some unhurried time and feed your soul through creativity? Cut out a pumpkin shape and smear some orange paint around? Fill in a cornucopia coloring page. Decorate a Christmas tree for your table or desk? 

Feed that part of you that feeds the rest of you. 

Happy creating, friends! 

Giveaway Information

A note: Kindle Fire can only be shipped within the US. Amazon gift cards can be won by anyone who can use an online gift card.Click the link below to enter!

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Up Next

Tomorrow's blogger is the owner and founder of Mountain Brook Ink: Miralee Ferrell! Check out her post on November 8th here:

Read on for more information about my books: 

The Washington Island Romance series is a part of Mountain Brook Ink's Finding Love In/On line. Here is more information about the latest book:

Finding Love on Bainbridge Island, Washington (book 2)

Finding Love on Bainbridge Island
Neither of them is ready for a relationship, but love may not give them an out.

Jenna-Shea Brown considers herself a broken therapist. Years ago, she witnessed something that caused PTSD. She can’t let her boss or her patients know about her battle. Who would want to trust her to help them, when she can’t help herself? She’s finally able to find a fresh start in her family’s beach cabin, but the renovations aren’t complete. Her parents have hired her ex-boyfriend to finalize them, but his negligence led to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time all those years ago.

Liam Barrett is trying to prove he’s nothing like his deadbeat dad. He’s working hard, yet still failing. Adrenaline and adventure offer him a diversion, but maybe he can’t escape his genes. He’d like to make things right with Shea, but he’s unsure if she’ll forgive him. Meanwhile, he’s challenged to forgive his father. He’s also worried about Shea and all these episodes she won’t explain. Now that they’re back in close proximity, he’s falling for her again. But can anything heal the past? 

You'll find humor and hope in this story of second chances.

Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington (book 1)

Finding Love in Friday Harbor
Will keeping his promise lead to another broken heart—or help them find love again?

Professor Mikaela Rhoades has a plan: she’ll encourage her students’ marine biology research through an exclusive program while helping an old family friend’s whale touring business stay afloat. The challenge is the tour captain is her first love and ex-fiancĂ©. Mikaela longs to help his family in the wake of his father’s death, but she’s keeping secrets. She’ll have to face her past and overcome her concerns about the future to make it through the summer.

Captain Hunter Cahill has taken over the family touring business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, he’s drowning in grief and debt. He’s hoping the incoming stodgy professor will help resurrect the failing business, but he’s not prepared when that professor turns out to be Mikaela, his former fiancĂ©e. To make matters more difficult, he’d promised his father to pursue her if she ever returned to the island single. The more time they spend together, the easier it is to keep that promise, though she still plans to leave at the end of the season. How much will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela?

Sail to the San Juan Islands for a summertime getaway in this story of healing and hope.

Please join my reader group on Facebook to keep up with the latest information. 

Book three (Finding Love on Whidbey Island, Washington) will be out next spring. 

Twitter: @AnnetteMIrby
Facebook Reader Group:
Amazon's Author Central:

* (Edie Melson is the author of Soul Care. Learn more here and here.)

All photos (except book cover images and the top banner) copyright Annette M. Irby 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How to Plan, Outline, and Write Your Novel in Thirty Days by Amy Deardon

How to Plan, Outline, and Write Your Novel in 30 Days

Hey writers and fellow NaNo-ins (National Novel Writing Month participants) I’ve got a great how-to book for you today. 

Writing craft coach Amy Deardon has written another how-to book, published just in time for NaNo.

Let’s begin with the summary outline:

Can you really plan, outline, and write your novel in thirty days?

It may sound unlikely, but if you are determined, can commit two to three hours a day, and follow a structured plan -- yes you can!
This book uses a streamlined process to efficiently guide you in quickly creating the first draft of your novel. It includes how to:

* Create a doable schedule with a weekly day off to complete your novel in as little as one month.

* Copy sample forms to record your progress and keep you on track.* Find an intriguing story idea.

* Include fast tricks to develop your characters.

* Follow easy steps using the Story Template to structure your story.

* Plan for the "secret ingredient" that can make or break your story.

* Plan each scene with a five-minute no-fail trick that *always builds tension.

* Learn fast writing tools, tricks, and techniques that will have you writing 1000 or more words per hour -- really!

* Self-edit without stress.

* Move ahead to finish your book and publish.

Whether you want to participate in the National Novel Writing Month challenge ( or simply accomplish your long-standing desire to create a novel, you've come to the right place. This book shows you exactly how to get your novel written fast and well. Get this book today and start writing tomorrow!

And now, my review:

As with other craft books, I recommend picking up the paperback version of this non-fiction guide. That way you can easily refer to the pages/charts/information you may need. I noticed in my Kindle (.mobi) version that the charts were a little challenging to read. The paperback price is very reasonable on this book too, as is the ebook price. 

The advice will likely work best for beginners, especially those who haven’t participated in NaNo multiple times, since the author begins at the beginning. But I think even NaNo veterans will find useful information here. 

Amy writes in an encouraging, cheerleader style that will have writer-readers believing they can absolutely write 50K in 30 days. That’s the promise. The book offers two styles from which to choose. The first is a guide for how to plan and then write a novel in 30 days, for those who start this whole process on November 1st. The second is a guide for those who have planned ahead and are ready to begin writing.

As a NaNo participant of almost a decade, I love that she advises days of rest during the month so writers can disconnect, get refreshed, come back rejuvenated. When we rest, our minds problem-solve and our souls find new strength. 

Her advice centers on how preparation enables words to flow, which is imperative during a short time span—like NaNoWriMo (30 days).  She gives secret and effective tricks for getting words down fast. 

I liked how left-brained the approach is. Very much about outlining and planning and a logical approach. I liked the author’s encouraging voice, telling readers we can do this! And I liked that she gives two options—one for those who haven’t had a chance to plan before the 30 days begins, and a different approach for folks who have been able to prepare ahead. 

For the story prep, she includes prompts to help writers brainstorm. Then, she covers an approach to story structure in an easy-to-follow way, along with characterization, your log line, and then the story’s outline, breaking it down by acts. She covers story boarding, and gives tips for editing, and some info on publishing as well. You can use the story structure and characterization methods you prefer if you already have some in place.

SOTP (seat-of-the-pants) writers may not benefit as much from this approach. One of the best ways to know if you could benefit from this book is to check out the Table of Contents through a sample on Amazon.

I recommend this book to writers, whether you’re participating in NaNo or not. Again, it’s for beginning to intermediate, so writers who already have an established process may not benefit as much.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The opinions here are my own.