Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A DAY OF QUIET


John Lubbock once said, "Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time".  

That's exactly what I did on Monday.  I took advantage of a Quiet Day Retreat offered by Mission San Luis Rey.  It started at 9:00 a.m. and ended at 4:00 p.m.  I was assigned a room with a bed and desk (no television) with a window that looked out on some beautiful flowers.

Bed and Desk
View from Window
 
I was free to write, nap, walk around the beautiful grounds, pray in the chapel and, of course, attend Mass at noon before being served lunch. 

My original plan was to start working on my devotional in progress so I put on some music (I did bring my IPad) and got a little done, but nature called.  Wandering through the gardens I realized it had been quite some time since I've taken time in silence ... to just "be".  The weather was gorgeous (of course this is San Diego County) and a light breeze flowed through the rose bushes, sending their sweet aroma swirling.  I walked completely around the mission grounds, taking in all the sights and sounds. 

Mass was held in the main church.  It was nice to see so many in attendance on a Monday afternoon.  I spoke to a woman who was there with her three children.  She told me she was taking them on tours of all the missions in Southern California for their Spring Break. Her ten-year-old daughter told me all about the ones they had seen already and spouted off facts on each one.  What a fun and exciting way to learn more about our faith and its history.  Kudos to that mom!

After Mass and lunch, I returned to my room and laid down.  Listening to the birds chirp outside and enjoying the breeze coming through the window, I centered myself.  I didn’t sleep but kept my eyes closed.  I prayed for the intentions of my family and friends and reflected on all of God’s blessings.  Before I knew it, it was time to leave.  Oh, how I would have loved to stay a while longer, but there are other Days of Quiet scheduled down the road. 

John Lubbock was right -- my quiet day was not a waste of time.  I was able to put life’s worries and stress into proper perspective, thus allowing me to reenter a chaotic world refreshed in mind and spirit.   









Sunday, March 22, 2015

Welcome Grace Yee to "An Author Speaks"!

My name is Grace, lover of books, keeper of secrets, editor and cookie connoisseur. Being the youngest of four children has given me insight and passion for the people and activities which form the pattern of my day-to-day life. Dancing has given me a physical escape while writing allows me to put that passion into words. Being homeschooled, I've had the opportunity to step into a magical wardrobe before breakfast, go on covert missions in Wal-Mart, and chasse' to the Nutcracker. So allow me to share with you the stories and novels which color my dreams, quotes that ricochet in my mind, and characters that I hope you will love just as much as I do.


What five words describe you?

Resourceful. Happy. Strange. Fairy tales. Color. Granted, these are the things that I either am or affect me the most.

What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?

I am working on a fantasy piece right now that I'm truly excited about. It a bit of a mishmash between Cinderella, Ivanhoe, and Robin Hood. The initial goal was to tell the Cinderella story from the prince's point of view, and that's still very much the thought that's moving the story forward. But the story took a different turn very early on. The prince in the story, Sebastian, is framed for a crime he didn't commit, but is banished nonetheless. (That's where the Ivanhoe bit comes in.) He's taken in by a family of... I guess they're nomads. But then Sebastian gets wind that the person who framed him is going to strike again. To prevent the crime from happening, Sebastian and the family he's become close to must infiltrate Sebastian's old home, clear his name, and save someone's life.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

My most recent story was Colony Zero -Series II- New Earth. I'm think it's available on Amazon now. Anyway, I think a good person for Lt. Lisa Clarke is Katheryn Winnick from The History Channel's Vikings. Karen Gillan might make a good Sarah West, since she's got the red hair. Althana would be hard for me to choose for. She has distinct Amazonian features and is described as having these dark, hypnotic eyes that you could just get lost in. I'll leave the other writers of Colony Zero to figure that one out.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it
have been and why?

Difficult, very difficult. Can I redirect that a bit? How about story concept? I would have loved to come up with ABC's Once Upon a Time, at least in book form. I would have tied things together differently, but I love the characters, especially Ruby and Captain Hook. If I could do it without getting sued, I would totally continue the series from season one in my own way.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Probably knowing where you want the story to go but not knowing how to get there.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

I know this has been said by a thousand other authors a thousand different times, but for my last story, outlining really, really helped me. And I hate outlining. I prefer to have the story in my head and then just fly by the seat of my pants, but in this case I had to know exactly where I was going and the significance of everything, so I just hashed out a three-page outline of everything that was going to happen and used it as a map while I was writing. A lot of the sentences I wrote in the outline actually made it into the story itself. So outlining is one way, if you want to try that kind of thing. I've also tried the "quilting method," where you write out different sequences on a bunch of pages, cut the out, and then arrange them into the order you want them. For things like college essays, I've found that just sitting down, taking a breath, and doing it at a natural speed is helpful. Don't psyche yourself out. Pay close attention to the guidelines and format because those points do matter. When I'm having a really hard time, I reward myself with 10 minutes on YouTube for every 5 minutes I spend writing consistently. Not the best method, but it's the college way. Oh, and when you feel like launching your computer at the wall, either go for a walk, bake something, or read something totally unrelated to your topic, like a blog or a book. Sometimes you need to let air out of the vents.
 
Where would your dream location be for writing?

Scotland, England, Ireland, and/or New Zealand. I did say I liked color.

When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?

When creating a character, I can never take a person from real life and decide that they will be the main character in my story, juts with a different name. It doesn't work like that. I can, however, look at a person and think, "I like the way they communicate or the way they think things through." Parts of people's characteristics and personality will go into a character I'm creating, but never the whole real person. I'm always afraid they either wouldn't fit into the story because they're from "my time," would make the other characters seem unrealistic, or be unrealistic themselves.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

From the few reviews I've gotten, I haven't physically responded. It would be a nice habit to respond though, just to say thank you, even if the review was bad, because that would mean someone took the time to read it and took note of what was good or bad, what they liked, didn't like, or would have changed. If someone comments on a post in my blog, I'm absolutely ecstatic. I will respond then, just because a blog feels a lot more immediate and like a conversation than a review on Amazon. I think every writer has had at least two bad reviews, even if they were only oral reviews. I remember the first time my writing group critiqued my first short story, I was devastated. In hindsight, that was stupid, but still, I was, like, fifteen. They gave me great constructive criticism which I at first took as an insult. I thought they weren't "getting" my story. But when I looked at it later and started applying some of the feedback, I realized how much I had missed in my writing that others had seen. Long story short, when you get bad feedback/bad reviews, try and see it through their eyes. If it is something that can be fixed or looked at closer -like a stereotypical character or a slight against the plot- imagine a way that particular thing could have been done better. If it's something like, "I like this but this didn't really work for me," or "The perspective shifted too often," then those I consider critiques. The best thing about critiques is that they are a buffet of opinions: take what you want, leave what you don't. I hope whenever I get a bad review, I'll respond with a little more finesse than I did the first time.

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?

Funny you should ask that. I was thinking about this today. If I wasn't a writer, I would probably be an editor or a professional librarian.

What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in
your writing career?

Don't scoff at social media, even if it makes you look like that one chick from that TV show about social media.
 
Where can we buy your books?

I know they're on Amazon.com and I believe some of them are available for B&N Nook. The majority of my stories are ebooks, but I will be ordering paperbacks from Helping Hands Press, so I'll be able to distribute those as well. Yay!

How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......
My blog is Lost in the Pages by Grace Yee but if you google "Lost in the Pages," it won't come up. It's easier just to type www.graceyee.blogspot.com into the search engine. You can also find me on Pinterest under Gracie Yee, which is where I usually go for a lot of inspiration, and Twitter (@graceyee_123).