Irish Inspiration

For those who didn’t know, since I’ve been so absent in the blogosphere lately, I recently took a trip to Ireland with my sister.

Before you ask, no, I’m not made of money. She and I found a great deal on Groupon and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It was an interesting trip. I had a lot of fun, but so many things went wrong, it bordered on hilarity and insanity. Heh.

So I thought I’d share a few photos that have my imagination whirling and helped fuel some writing while abroad.

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This is Malahide Castle, just north of Dublin. It’s about 1,000 years old and was begun just after the Vikings invaded Ireland.

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Inside of Malahide Castle. I just adore old architecture.

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That orange paint was specifically designed for the ancient family who lived here–the Tablots. Also, as point of reference, Margaret Thatcher sat in one of those chairs when she was PM.

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Glendalough, in County Wicklow.

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Upper Lake in Glendalough. Braveheart was filmed in and around these hills.

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The ruins of an ancient cathedral in a monastic city in Glendalough. Ancient buildings inspire so much in my imagination.

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Smithwick’s. They make whiskey. Basically, they’re the equivalent of Jameson’s in the city of Kilkenny, another super old city in Ireland.

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The Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s western coast. That’s the Atlantic Ocean right there. Anybody remember that cave? Hmm?? It made an appearance in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

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More of the Cliffs. I could easily have used up all 9,000 shots in my camera at this locale.

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The Cliffs of Insanity!!!! Princess Bride was shot here, as well, if anyone remembers those scenes.

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Can you tell I love architecture yet? Especially old churches. This one isn’t that old, actually, but beautiful, nonetheless.

 

None of these photos have filters of any kind, I promise. I took about 700 pictures on this trip. Some are much better than these, others are much worse, but I find myself drawn to these and a few others.

Have you ever been to Ireland? Where/when did you go? What was your favorite area? Do you like these pictures and find them as inspiring as I do?

Happy writing!

 

“The tune was sad, as the best of Ireland was, melancholy and lovely as a lover’s tears.”
― Nora RobertsBorn in Fire

“It is an ancient land, honoured in the archives of civilisation. Every great European race has sent its stream to the river of the Irish mind.”
― Thomas Davis ‘Literary and Historical Essays’

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3 Quotes, 3 Days… Day Three!

For my third and final 3 Quotes, 3 Days challenge, it will take even more thinking and probing the depths of my memory to bring you a quote that I adore from my readings.

I believe I will choose a quote from the author that has most inspired me as a writer. Since I’m choosing quotes from books and since I’m a writer, it seems fitting.

But narrowing down the genius of L.M. Montgomery is a monumental undertaking.

Hmm…

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It was hard to choose, but here it is,

“In imagination she sailed over storied seas that wash the distant shining shores of “faëry lands forlorn,” where lost Atlantis and Elysium lie, with the evening star for pilot, to the land of Heart’s Desire. And she was richer in those dreams than in realities; for things seen pass away, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of the Island

I believe this encompasses my love for all things imagined, and one of the most inspirational books for me as a writer. I adore L.M. Montgomery, and if she were still alive, I’d do almost anything to meet and talk to her.

For my last day, I’m going to tag Herminia Chow over at aspiringwriter22. She posts beautiful poems, thoughtful questions, fun trivia, and generally makes me smile on a daily basis.

There you are! My three quotes in three days. If anyone else wants to participate, feel free!!! Tag yourself and be off! I love to see other peoples’ favorite quotes.

Cheerio!

The “Would You Rather” Book Tag

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Caroline over at carolinepeckham tagged me in the “Would You Rather” book tag post! She’s an amazing blogger and writer (hopefully soon-to-be author). She’s been blogging for just the last couple of months, but has put out some AMAZING posts and we’ve been commenting back and forth for weeks. I always learn something fun and new from her, so GO CHECK HER OUT!

Anywho, this post asks a series of questions as writers/readers, and here are my thoughts! Tagged peeps are at the bottom of the post.

1. Would you rather only read trilogies or only read standalones?

Trilogies, without a doubt. Most of my favorite books are series’ books, though there are a few stand-alones in there, too. But I just love to learn more and more about characters and worlds and backstory, so more is always better for me. As Jane Austen says, “But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”

2. Would you rather only read male or female authors?

I enjoy them both, usually in different genres, but I’d probably go with female authors. My favorite author/most influential in my writing/reading life was female (L.M. Montgomery), and most of my favorite authors now are female. I’d definitely miss my Tolkien, Lewis, and Kipling, though.

3. Would you rather shop at Barnes and Noble or Amazon?

I’d rather shop at independent book stores, but since that’s not an option, I’ll go with Barnes and Noble. I’m one of those people that adores bookstores and is dangerous in them. I love to stroll through the aisles browsing, sitting in a chair to read a page or two while I make up my mind to buy, and immersing myself in the book atmosphere. I feel I don’t get that same experience online, though I am an avid Amazon customer. I’d still prefer a physical bookstore to an online one.

4. Would you rather books were made into TV shows or movies?

TV!!! While I usually prefer movies to TV in general, my real love is TV miniseries. I can’t get enough of them. And they’re generally truer to the story than film because they can take more time and put in more of the plot that is so often missing from movies. And most of us book lovers prefer the book to the movie, so anything that will add more detail and be more comprehensive would be a huge bonus!

5. Would you rather read only 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

Five books per week. And that is actually can be a slow book week for me, depending on how busy I am at work. I’d never get through all the books I want to read with only five pages per day. I’d go batty.

6. Would you rather be a professional author or reviewer?

Author!!! Who would want to be a reviewer over an author? I don’t understand that person. I RARELY do reviews, and I’ve never done one on WP. I also never read others’ reviews because they never change my opinion of the book and everyone has different tastes. Being an author is a lifelong dream that began when I was six. Hopefully it will happen in the next couple of years.

7. Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?

Bookseller. There is so much more to being a librarian than just loaning books. My sister has her Masters Degree in Library Science and while some people might poo-poo that kind of degree, there is a great deal to it. It’s not just reading books and shelving books and such. Bookselling would be more personal for me and I could decide what to sell, where to sell, and could decorate my own store and hold my own events. Man, I’m starting to believe I might actually open a bookstore someday! Yowza!

8. Would you rather read only your favorite genre, or every other genre but your favorite?

Favorite genre. I wouldn’t be able to give it up. I’d miss other genres, but not as much as I’d miss my favorite. Which is middle grade fantasy.

9. Would you rather only read ebooks or physical books?

Physical books. I own a Kindle, but I never use it. I’m old school. I just can’t get into the e-reader craze. Have I read e-books? Sure. I have some on my iPhone, but I don’t enjoy it. Although it makes my library of books enormous and it’s hard to pick which to take with me when I travel, I’d rather have to deal with that burden than give up physical books.

There you are! I hope you learned something or asked yourself some of these questions. In fact, why don’t you, and post some of your answers in the comments? I’d love to hear from you!

Here are the bloggers I’m tagging:

John Guillen

Emily Bates

Rachel Carrera

Herminia Chow

I look forward to your posts!

Happy writing!

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”
― Winston S. Churchill

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos.”
― Mary Shelley

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”
― J.K. Rowling

25 Things Creative People Do Differently

25 Things Creative People Do Differently

You need to go and read this list. Seriously.

How true is this list? For me, it’s hit-or-miss, but I know many other creative people for whom this list is spot-on. (The numbers are based on the list).

The items that are true about me:

2. I don’t have a normal job. Being a physical therapist seems fairly bland to most people, but I do travel PT, which means I get to go anywhere in the country my little heart desires. That is definitely not ‘normal.’ Traveling allows me to explore places I’d never have a chance to with a ‘normal’ job.

3. I see inspiration in everything. This is SO true! I’ve had so many random creative thoughts while driving along the road, or when someone at the coffee shop talks a bit too loud, or just be seeing an interesting turn-of-phrase on a billboard or bumper sticker. And nature?? Oh, yeah, baby! Nature inspires me more than anything.

4. I never stop questioning. Yep. I always have a question in my head and I love to learn, and asking questions is one of the best ways to learn.

6. I am a very independent person. Um… I think this is accurately portrayed in the fact that I travel alone for my job. Yep. Independence and I are close buddies.

8. I use my pain to fuel my passion. Yes. My best writing is almost always when I’m depressed, furious, excited, or shocked. I never limit myself at these times and write anything that comes to mind. It’s almost always my most inspired bits of writing.

9. I practice self-development. Since I’m a lifelong learner at heart, and a gigantic nerd, this is insanely true. I love change and finding out new things about myself. For instance, I just learned how much I dislike baths. I’ve never been a bath-taker, much preferring the shower. I don’t like the idea of soaking in my own dirt, but recently I took a bath that I thought would be glorious because  the tub had jets. But it just ended up being uncomfortable and boring. My brain doesn’t do well with stagnation, so lying around in a tub drove me nuts. I feel the same about laying out at beaches. BORING!

10. I daydream. Far too much, I’m sure. Even when I’m treating patients, my mind will wander. Some of my treatments are incredibly boring or just so easy that I let my mind float around in space and dream up new books and characters and dialogue. I can’t seem to help it. Nor do I want to.

11. I enjoy spending time alone. That is for true! I lived alone for seven years, and now I travel the country alone. While I do appreciate having people to talk to, I treasure my alone time almost more than anything else. I’m such an introvert, if I don’t have alone time, I go nuts.

12. I’m not afraid of being different. I’ve been different my whole life, swimming against the tide of the ‘popular way’ and going my own way. Life is so much more interesting that way.

14. I often act before I think. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth because I didn’t stop to think first. Or, I simply didn’t know the connotations or implications of my words because I’m a bit of an innocent. Even after working in Detroit. I know I’ve accidentally offended a good many people by my impulsive speech. Oops.

15. I do things most people aren’t willing to do. Probably. I remember in school, some of my classmates would be afraid to ask the teacher questions (this was middle school), so they’d have me do it, instead. What did I care if it was a dumb question? Also, traveling all over by myself isn’t probably that high on most peoples’ list of fun things to do.

16. I have a “yes” mentality. I wish this wasn’t true about me, but it is. I really wish I had more of a “no” mentality sometimes, or at least a balance between the two, but I have a tendency to say “yes” to far too many things, especially if it will help someone else out.

17. I have a strong work ethic. Seeing as how I average 50-60 hour work weeks and would work between 2 and 4 jobs at a time, I’d say this is true.

19. I get bored with the same old routine. YES!!! Gah! I think I’m one of the rare people who actually enjoys change. Most people fight it, but I embrace it. Which is probably why I can’t stay in any one job for more than a few years. Traveling negates that now, thankfully, but I have such a low BS tolerance for poor behavior, laziness, disrespect, and futility in my jobs/bosses/management, that I can’t stay if I feel like I’m not making a difference. What’s the point?

20. I move around a lot. Again, already answered above.

21. I am a highly emotional, intuitive person. I’ve never been much of a crier, but I do feel things deeply and can easily dip into despair when something in my life or my friends’ lives go wrong.

22. I have a hard time falling asleep. It takes me at least 30 minutes to fall asleep. I have to try my best to quiet my mind enough to drift off, though it rarely works. I survive on much less sleep than you’d think.

The items I’m on the fence about:

1. I work when the work comes to me. This is both true and false. While I do believe the best work comes when inspired, sometimes inspiration is so rare, if I did nothing in between those periods, I’d never get anything done. Often, when I sit down to write as if sitting down to work, I become inspired and I get more done.

5. I’m not afraid to fail. WRONG-O!!! Failure is one of my biggest fears. I abhor it. In grad school, I had to sit alone and do deep breathing exercises to calm myself before a practical because I’d be so afraid I’d fail.

7.I’m a risk-taker. Not in the conventional sense, no. My biggest risk-taking venture is traveling for my job. Otherwise, I’m not. I won’t skydive, or bungee jump, or even downhill ski. I’m all about safety in that way.

13. I only want friends who uplift and inspire me. While I do wish this, I seem to draw in friends that are conflicted and depressing and who drain my energy. I don’t know why, but I have a fair amount of these people in my life.

18. I am a complex person. I don’t think this is true. I think I’m pretty simple.

23. I take care of myself. Actually… I’m not always the best at this. I *mostly* eat healthy, but my exercise is inconsistent at best. While I do pray frequently (they say meditate here), I have a tendency to work too much, exercise too little, and indulge my sweet tooth too often.

24. Life means nothing to me if I don’t follow my heart. I agree with this in principal, however, I’ve had to make many an ‘adult’ decision that my heart did not like, but that was the best logical option all around. Sometimes being an adult really stinks.

25. I live life on the edge. Um…no. I like change and I love to travel, but I wouldn’t exactly call that the edge, would you?

What about you? Do these items apply to your creative self? Would you add anything to this list?

Happy writing!

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
― Albert Einstein

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
― Walt Disney Company
“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”
― Pablo Picasso

New Year, New Job!

Happy Belated New Year to you all!

Although, really, I’m not the biggest New Year fan. It’s just the passage of time to me, and since I never make resolutions on January 1st, the new year sneaks quietly through my apartment after I’ve gone to bed early.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. First, I was horrendously sick, then the holidays, and now I’ll be starting a new job on Thursday!

It’s exciting, but it also makes my life a bit insane around these parts.

The paper work! Gah! The paper work is killing me! Because I work in the medical field, the amount of crap they make you go through to work is ridiculous.

But I am excited! About seven months ago, I posted this entry about becoming a travel PT. Meaning, I would travel the country every three months to a different state and work covering maternity leaves, short-term disabilities, etc. Grad school cost FAR too much, and although I love to travel, I can’t actually afford to do it that often.

This way, I get PAID to travel! The travel company pays for me to stay in a furnished house or apartment, I get money for food, they pay for my travel expenses, for me to get licensed in another state, for my healthcare, my liability insurance, and SO MANY OTHER THINGS!

Since I’m still single and without kids, this is the best time of my life to do it! I hope to see as much of the country as I can in the next few years. I’m beyond ready for this adventure.

I’m also hoping this will inspire my creative writing. As many of you know, I began a MASSIVE re-write of my first book a couple months ago and it is taking much, much longer than I anticipated. I’m not doing any copying/pasting, but am starting over from page one.

The plot and such is essentially the same, but the tone may be a little different, a few characters added/deleted, some settings changed, etc. But my original manuscript was 120,000 words, which I whittled down to 105,000 before I sent it to agents this past spring.

I’m currently at about 7,000 words. Which equals two chapters. Gah! The first chapter was a beast, and the second one took a while because I was sick most of this month.

Nature and travel and new experiences always helps me to focus and write more, so that’s exactly what I’m hoping for.

Anybody have any new job/travel plans this year? Any locations on your travel wish list?

Happy writing!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

“Travel brings power and love back into your life.”
― Rumi

Bay Cliff – Where Dreams Unfold

Bay Cliff Morning

This lil ol’ picture is not from the interwebs, people. This was taken on an old, crappy digital camera in 2007. The result was stunning, though. 

This is a picture of Bay Cliff Health Camp in Big Bay, Michigan. It’s in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula right on Lake Superior. This was taken at about six in the morning as I was saddened by the fact that I had to leave later that day and wanted to take this slice of beauty with me.

Bay Cliff was, and probably always will be, the best experience of my life. It’s a camp for children with special needs, and they’re there for physical, occupational, speech, and hearing therapy. They’re also there to have fun! Many of the children that attend this camp for seven weeks during the summer are the outcasts in their community and treated differently because they walk, talk, or wheel around unlike other “normal” kids. At Bay Cliff, they make friends, go swimming, camping, have cookouts, and experience things they wouldn’t have a chance to during the rest of the year. While at Bay Cliff, these kids can realize dreams they never thought possible, and Bay Cliff does everything in its power to make those dreams come true. Children have learned to walk over the course of one summer session, after having spent years in a wheelchair or walker or using crutches. It’s amazing what the dedicated staff and environment of Bay Cliff can achieve.

I worked there the summers of 2005-2007, and I’ll never be the same because of it. I was a camp counselor working with 3-5 year olds in wheelchairs, walking with crutches, who were hearing impaired, or had speech deficits. I was basically their mother for the duration of the camp season. And although it was the hardest thing in the world to do, it was also the best.

I’d post pictures of the kids I worked with, but I’m not allowed to per camp regulations. But I can post pictures of the other counselors and I being silly. 

Bay Cliff Arnold Impression

This was in 2006. I’m the one in the padded plaid shirt doing my best cowboy Arnold impression. It’s probably a “you had to be there kind of humor,” but the whole room was busting up laughing at our antics.

Bay Cliff Fun in the Wagon

I’m behind the camera on this one. We never got to ride in the wagons because we used them for the kids, so we thought we’d give it a go! This was taken after the kids had left and we were cleaning up the cabin. Just a small sample of our silliness. 

Bay Cliff Silly Pic

More silliness. These were the wonderful girls I worked with in 2007. Simply amazing women, each one of them. We were being meese in this picture. Moose? Mooses? Meese? Whatever. It’s based on a silly camp song about a moose. 🙂 I love camp songs. If given the opportunity, I’d belt out every single one I know.

And here’s another reason to love Bay Cliff:

Bay Cliff Ives Lake

This is Ives Lake, near Bay Cliff, where the staff go after the kids leave camp. Its beauty is barely glimpsed in this picture. Don’t you love it?

You can visit Bay Cliff’s website here, or like them on FB here and see the amazing kids that come to Bay Cliff and can’t help but put a smile on your face, but I’m not here just to plug this fantastic place. 

My primary objective is to describe how much experiences can impact our writing. Indeed, I think they are what impacts us most of all.

Bay Cliff is the basis of a good portion of my MG fantasy series. The MC, Ava, goes to boot camp, and a majority of the scheduling and organization of the camp is based on the experiences I had at Bay Cliff. Although Bay Cliff is far from a boot camp, it does have a rhythm that helps it flow effortlessly.

Bay Cliff is the most inspirational place I have ever experienced. I’ve been to Paris, which was awesome, but it didn’t compare with the beauty and uniqueness of what Bay Cliff offers. Which is what I hope to explore and share with others through my books. If and when I ever make a decent amount of money from my writing, I’ll donate a good portion of it to Bay Cliff. It’s a plan I’ve had in mind for many years, and I sincerely hope it comes to fruition.

What about you? What life experiences have most impacted your writing or is your inspiration for your writing? Have you ever spent time at a summer camp? Did you love it or hate it?

Happy writing! Bay Cliff in my heart forever!

 

“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” 
― Fred RogersThe World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

“It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me…” 
― Helen KellerThe Open Door

 

Inspire Me, Please!

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All right, peeps. I’m taking a dramatic stance and telling you to inspire me!

Although I have been writing a lot during my free time (which isn’t much right now), I am looking for new and bold inspiration. Primarily in the form of locations in the United States. Sorry other-landers! Please don’t stop reading here!

I may have the possibility in the semi-near future to travel across America and get paid for it. Bonus! Of course, I still have to work, but since I love to travel and can’t afford to do it on what I make since grad school was so freakin’ expensive, I think this is an admirable way to achieve my traveling goals.

What I need from you is an advertisement on different parts of the country that I could possibly go. Each assignment would be about three months long.

I love living in Michigan. There is so much beauty here (despite its downfalls), and I find a ton of inspiration just by visiting cool places here. But I want to see more! I’m greedy. I can’t help it.

So… Inspire me!

Tell me about your part of the country and why I should work there (theoretically in the short term, if it works out). Googling images and facts about different states only goes so far. I want to hear from the natives.

But be warned. I hate being hot. HATE it. Especially if I’m just standing still. So it’s unlikely I’ll go to a southern state unless it’s in the winter. But if it’s only for three months, I’d probably endure, especially if there’s ample inspiration to be had.

And for my non-U.S. blogging buddies, tell me all about your country/county/province/city, etc., and make me WILD with envy. 🙂

Thanks for participating and happy writing!

 

“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘As pretty as an airport.”
― Douglas AdamsThe Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

“I read; I travel; I become.”
― Derek Walcott