A Drift of Quills: Sometimes we take a break from writing. No, really! Does it inspire new stories or scenes? Help us focus? And what do we DO?

A Drift of Quills: When We’re Gone (Away From the Writing Desk)

Once in a while, the writers that make up A Drift of Quills actually take a break from writing. No, really! Maybe you want to know what do we do when we’re away from the writing desk. Is it gardening or improvement projects? Baking or bull riding? How about dragon-taming? Do these extracurricular activities inspire new stories or scenes? Help us focus? Read on to find out what we do with all of our copious spare time…

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

Let’s Take a Break from Writing…

My writing desk follows me everywhere. Virtually, anyway. Overheard conversations make good fodder for dialogue. A turn of phrase from a television show or movie often suggests an entire scene or plot point. I realized during a discussion about some people in my life that one of them in particular would make a fantastic model for a character. (No, I will not say whether protagonist or antagonist!)

I try to jot these ideas down on my phone, but sometimes I really have to tell my desk to go to its room and let me take a break from writing. Have you ever noticed that not thinking about a thing is like a magic solution for finding an answer to it?

“Whim” has often been the instigator in my break-time activities. When I’m stuck and getting nowhere with my writing, chores are my go-to writer’s block breaker. Weird, right? There’s nothing like the soothing scrub-scrub-scrub of a brush on the shower floor, or the noisy hum of the vacuum cleaner to get the ol’ brain cells dancing.

Filling the Creativity Bucket

Okay, but seriously, though, my creativity bucket needs refreshing now and then. Quite often, I do that by finding another, different creative outlet. I love fooling around in Photoshop, doing digital matte painting and maps. I’ve done some digital scrapbooking as well.

But, Robin! Can you tear yourself away from the computer at all?

Why, yes, I think I can! Sometimes I putter around in the garden. Our newly installed back yard is deliberately low-maintenance. I love looking at it, but I don’t want to have to work all the time to make it pretty. Hubby and I often sit in our (still new) swing and admire last year’s labor. It’s lovely how much the maple tree has grown in just a year, and how well it shades the swing now.

I also like to do—in fits and spurts—family history, baking, quilting, reading, crafts of various and unpredictable sorts, and decorative painting on walls. Much of that has slowed down or stopped this year. I’m spending more of my days with my writer’s hat on and evenings are for Hubby. Usually, he wants to watch television or a movie, but sometimes he feels well enough to take the Jazzy Chair we were loaned out for a spin around the neighborhood. I walk. I hear exercise is supposed to be good for me…

A Drift of Quills: Sometimes we take breaks from writing. No, really! Does it inspire new stories or scenes? Help us focus? And what do we DO? (https://robinlythgoe.com)
One of the quilts I’ve made…
PATRICIA REDING

Patricia RedingAuthor of the Oathtaker Series
Patricia’s website

I used to be quite a gardener. I had a huge plot. I can’t even estimate its size. I grew berries, beans, corn, squash, melons, peas, and on and on. A Drift of Quills: Sometimes we take a break from writing. No, really! Does it inspire new stories or scenes? Help us focus? And what do we DO? (https://robinlythgoe.com)Admittedly, even at the best of times, I tended to lose a fair amount of my crop because I couldn’t eat it in time and wasn’t big on storing methods (although drying herbs or beans was always a hit with me). (That said, I usually had an abundance. Don’t believe me? Check the pic here of just one wheelbarrow full of tomatoes from one year.) Also, in truth, I lost some crop to overzealous weeds that would come along about the same time that I was no longer having fun.

But I don’t garden like that anymore…

READ MORE: Right here!

P.S. BROADDUS

“P.S. Broaddus” width=Author of The Unseen Chronicles
Parker’s website
I don’t often get the question, “What keeps you busy?” That’s usually because I have three little boys running around and through my legs. I also work as a full time real estate agent, running my own business and managing property for myself and others. I have a master’s degree in film, but I’ve taken a step back from film production and editing to give more time to my love of writing.

And while I enjoy real estate and homes and remodeling and flipping, that isn’t necessarily where I get inspiration or rest. I don’t garden – the wonderful wood nymph I married is in charge of that department. Likewise, film and film editing is work – enjoyable work, but work nonetheless.

There are a couple of things I do that fill me up, that aren’t work, and sometimes even provide inspiration and encouragement… (Read more!)

(Photo by Luisa Rusche on Unsplash)

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What do you like to do when you’re not working? How do you find inspiration or focus for what you do? Let us know in the comments below!

A Drift of Quills, Patricia Reding, P.S. Broaddus, writing, short stories, flash fiction

A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots #2 (Little Girl, Big City)

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks
Are you ready for Fiction Shots #2? Giddyup! A Drift of Quills are writing again—It’s a flash of fiction! Three different stories inspired by one picture.

The catalyst for these stories comes from the whimsical “Non Lo So,” by Zhiyong Li on Artstation. It tickled our fancies, for sure!

Non Lo So, by Zhiyong Li (via ArtStation)
Non Lo So, by Zhiyong Li (via ArtStation)

Pour yourselves a nice cool glass of lemonade (or a delightfully warm cup of hot cocoa, depending on the hemisphere), and see where our imaginations have travelled…

Fiction Shots #2

Flash #1: Opposite Tricks

By Robin Lythgoe

A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots #2— It’s flash fiction! Three different stories inspired by one picture. This round: little girl in a big, quirky city.

 

When Toady says they’re to paint the Widow Grayling’s house, Akasha stares along with everyone else. 

“Orange.” Uneven teeth make his smile particularly fiendish. The gang erupts into hoots and shouts of laughter at that. The widow’s a quiet woman of modest means. Her house used to be brown, but most of the color’s chipped off now. It would no more willingly wear orange than would the widow.

“She needs some brightening.” Zekan always backs up Toady. If their illustrious leader decided they should all become acolytes at the local temple, Zekan would hand out the cassocks and thump anyone who questioned the choice. Same if Toady resolved to filch grub down in the Bellows—Royal Ghost territory, where Toady’s Azure Fang Gang would swiftly find their end. Hopefully not a permanent one… Did the Ghosts kill children? Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots #2 (Little Girl, Big City)

A Drift of Quills: Terrible Books—Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

Terrible Books—Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em? A Drift of Quills reads a lot of books. It’s our job. (Stinks, right?) We are bound to come across lemons now and then—and this time we’re talking about what we do with them. Do we keep reading? Throw fits? Recycle them and hurry to the next? Read on to discover our take on Books We Hate…

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks
This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links it won’t cost you a cent, but I’ll get a small affiliate commission, which helps keep my computer running. Thanks!

We’ve all come across them—those books that are so badly written you wonder if the author was even an earthling. Or, assuming that they weren’t hatched on another planet, if they bothered to attend grade school. Or if they live in a sensory deprivation chamber and have no freaking idea what the real world is like. The first pages of such a book are usually painful. Do you risk the agony of finishing the entire book? You want to know my philosophy?

Life is short.

I have been known to read books I don’t like, but there has to be a good reason. Like loads of wildly good reviews. Lots of awards. Inclusion on allegedly important lists. And even then I don’t always finish. Why should I? Life is short. And there are so many other, better books to read!

I used to wonder if I might not learn something from these “good” books.

Terrible Books—Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em? A Drift of Quills reads a lot of books. Do we keep reading when they’re awful? Throw fits? Recycle them and hurry to the next? Read on to discover our take on Books We Hate… http://robinlythgoe.comI did! There’s no accounting for some people’s taste. This world would be a really boring place if we all liked the same things, did the same things, thought the same things. Thank goodness we don’t! And thank goodness there are a meeeellion more books to choose from when I come across drivel labeled as “an enthralling adventure bound to captivate,” “a book that touched me in profound ways,” “heartfelt,” or “unputdownable.”

I can put it down.

I can list it on my Did Not Finish list and withhold any and all fancy-schmancy stars on any review sites.

And sometimes (if the writing really makes my blood boil) I write a passionate review with lots of bolded sections and underlined phrases. Vehement outrage. And flames. I shake my fist, too, but that doesn’t translate well to paper. But I never post it. I tuck it away in a folder, and go find another book to read.

Let me point you to a few good ones right here, just in case you need some salve after writing your own fiery non-review: Flinch-Free Fantasy.

P.S. BROADDUS

“P.S. Broaddus” width=Author of The Unseen Chronicles
Parker’s website

What to do with a book you hate? Or, even worse, a book that was just, ‘meh.’ It doesn’t even warrant the energy of hurling it against the opposite wall. It barely deserves a sigh and a shrug, and certainly won’t get a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Too much effort for a story that simply didn’t captivate.  So what do you do with that story? Are you a finisher? A staller? Or a tosser? 

PATRICIA REDING

Patricia RedingAuthor of the Oathtaker Series
Patricia’s website

Do I finish books that I start, but hate? I can answer this question with a single title: Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. I found Moby Dick to be utterly, incomprehensibly, annoyingly, mind-bogglingly boring—and odd—and downright awful. I hated it. Hated it! Nothing, nothing anyone could say about a color, or its significance, or what Melville may have mean to symbolize through the use of a color, could ever possibly resurrect this title for me. I found a solid 70% of the work to be complete nonsense—a waste of ink and a waste of paper. Lest I be mistaken, let me put it simply: I truly and completely abhor this work. Perhaps more than any other I’ve ever read. So… (Read on. You know you want to!)

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What do you do with the books you hate? We want to know! Tell us in the comments below!

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Here’s How It Is

Here’s how it is: When I think about this blog endeavor, I think about posting something new and awesome—or at least entertaining—for you to read every Friday. Most of the time, I do that. So yay!

Okay *I* think it’s awesome. Your mileage may vary.

I want to keep posting every Friday, but this particular bit of writing has slipped down my list of priorities.

Since December of last year my family has been going through a really difficult challenge, and I’ll be blunt about it, then toddle along. My husband was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There’s no cure. Average life expectancy is 2–4 years, but he appears to be have drawn the short straw,  and things are moving along pretty quickly.

He’s always been an avid and active outdoorsman. This thing is tough on him. Still, he maintains a pretty positive outlook, and he’s managed to keep his awesome sense of humor.

My kids made it possible for us to take a vacation in Florida with them at the beginning of this month. They are amazing. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. They helped at the airport, on the plane, with transportation, food, and paying for stuff. They treated us like royalty. I get sniffly thinking about it.

It was over too soon, and back to the fun-and-games of collecting (more) proper paperwork, combat with internet demons, dealing with insurance, disability, the trick questions served up by myssa-dot-gov. Because this situation isn’t hard enough, right?

After a day in which all e-mail except e-mail from my husband’s employer and the neurological clinic landed in my box with gleeful abandon, I think (tentatively) that things might be progressing. Hopefully. I’m not holding my breath.

So expect random updates here on my blog. I have a book I’m (trying to be) editing, and I’d much rather do that! And there’s a new Crow plot just begging for my attenton. Lemme at it! In the meantime, I absolutely love hearing from you. Shoot me an email, track me down on Facebook, or join my extremely rare newsletter. I read—and answer—all my emails!

Conlang—constructed language—is today’s topic for A Drift of Quills. Do we make up our own languages for our books? How? If not, why not? http://robinlythgoe.com

A Drift of Quills: Conlang (What’s That You Say?)

Conlang—constructed language—is today’s topic for A Drift of Quills. Do we make up our own languages for our books? How? If not, why not?

Pull up a chair, grab yourself a cookie or twenty, and read on to find out how the gang feels about fictional languages!

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

I have a kind of lazy love for language. My copy of the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style makes me crazy, but… I’m one of those readers that will highlight passages in novels that sing to me. Sometimes I copy them into a file to come back to later so I can oo and ah over them. And I did take the equivalent of seven years of foreign language in high school. (I think I learned more about English there than I did in English classes!) Then there was Tolkien. Was my experience a recipe for conlang or what? Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Conlang (What’s That You Say?)

Five Good Things #11 (Amazing People Doing Amazing Things) — Terrible, trying things happen, sure, but among all the tears and terror, there are beautiful things going on. Check out these amazing people using their noggins for good things! http://robinlythgoe.com

Five Good Things #11 (Amazing People Doing Amazing Things)

At a recent family gathering the conversation degenerated into a listing of all the Horrible Things going on in the world—especially in our own area. Shootings, robberies, neglect, abuse. All the typical frightening events of our dystopian society.

“What about some good stories?” I asked, but the discussion was stuck on the general doomsday scenario.

“I read that a cow was rescued from a ditch in our city,” I provided. Happy news, right? No one died, was broken, destroyed, or otherwise doomed. I’ll bet the cow was relieved. The topic got some laughs, but I was left wondering (not for the first time) why people are so determined to dwell on the negative aspects of life.

Terrible, trying things happen, sure. My family is currently facing its toughest trial ever. It’s taking a lot out of me, and it’s going to change my life drastically. But among all the tears and terror, there are beautiful things happening:

• A son-in-law finishing a yard project we had to abandon
• The awesome people at my husband’s company sponsoring two fund-raising events
• Friends and neighbors fixing our broken appliances (Doesn’t it figure they’d go out in the middle of disaster?) and ailing garage door, bringing treats, mowing the lawn, volunteering rides, offering relief
• Our amazing son and daughters mending, researching, fetching, cooking, organizing, supporting, and generally being… well, amazing

And you know what? There are lots of amazing people in the world doing amazing things. I’ve rounded up Five Good Things for you (Don’t worry, no cows in ditches…!)

Amazing People Doing Amazing Things

Biodegradable 6-pack Ring is Edible to Sea Life

https://inhabitat.com/beer-with-biodegradable-six-pack-rings-finally-hits-the-market/
Florida’s Saltwater Brewery has created a six-pack ring that feeds sea animals instead of killing them. They’re made of wheat and barley, biodegradable, and world-friendly. Look at those amazing people using their noggins!

Happiness is the Key to Life

https://inhabitat.com/beer-with-biodegradable-six-pack-rings-finally-hits-the-market/

Six Illogical Genre Aesthetics

https://mythcreants.com/blog/six-illogical-genre-aesthetics/
Besides these examples being completely true, the author wrote about them in a way that made me laugh out loud. I know I’m easily entertained, but Oren Ashkenazi has a way with words that tickles my sense of humor.

Exploring the Brothers Grimm Museum

Exploring the Brothers Grimm Museum
“The parts about the fairy tales and the lives of the Grimms were fascinating, but I think the best thing about the museum, for me, was its celebration of language.” ~Nicola Alter

City of Yphyrion

https://maximeplasse.deviantart.com/art/City-of-Yphyrion-417698341
Since I previously featured a map by Maxime Plasse, I meant to choose another artist. But… well… I really like this one! “This map was intended to show some late 19th century city cartography style, with a fictionnal city.” I don’t know about “late 19th century,” but it’s sure got my wheels turning for doing some city mapping!

City of Yphyrion, by Maxime Plasse-dA (Amazing People)

Want to see more good stuff? I’ve got you covered: All Kinds of Good Things

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Which of these amazing things by amazing people do you like best?
What fantastic things have you seen in the world lately?
Share in the comments!

If you’re looking for another retelling of the Frankenstein novel, this isn’t it—but The Frankenstein Chronicles is a fascinating and creative tale in which the book figures. It’s horror, mystery—and sci-fi. And who *is* the antagonist? http://robinlythgoe.com

Hooked on TV: The Frankenstein Chronicles

So Hubby and I binge-watched the first two seasons of The Frankenstein Chronicles. A horror, mystery, sci-fi series from Rainmark Films in the UK, the show follows the crime-solving John Marlott as he tries to discover whodunnit. While Mary Shelley’s book does indeed figure—and Shelley even appears as one of the cast members—this is certainly not just another interpretation of the original novel.

If you’re looking for another retelling of the Frankenstein novel, this isn’t it—but The Frankenstein Chronicles is a fascinating and creative tale in which the book figures. It’s horror, mystery—and sci-fi. And who *is* the antagonist? http://robinlythgoe.comWhat we’ve got is Continue reading Hooked on TV: The Frankenstein Chronicles

A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots (Department of Stories) — We’re doing it again: one picture, three authors, little bitty writing space.

A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots (Department of Stories)

A Drift of Quills: Writerly thoughts by writerly folks

It’s time for some Fiction Shots — flash fiction, that is! A Drift of Quills are at it again: one picture, three authors, little bitty writing space. The inspiration for our tiny tales comes from an untitled piece by the artist JuYoung Ha on ArtStation. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Fiction Shots Inspiration: "Untitled," by JuYoung HaIt’s always fun for me to see how other authors interpret a picture or invent a story from it. Isn’t it delightful how wonderfully, crazily different we all are? Let’s see how these fiction shots play out…

Continue reading A Drift of Quills: Fiction Shots (Department of Stories)

Brownies are a traditional go-to treat, and why not? One bowl, a few minutes of prep, and then the delicious and mouth-watering scent of chocolatey goodness baking in the oven. Break out the bowl and get your chocolate on with these Oatmeal Brownies!

Chocolate Fix: Oatmeal Brownies

Oatmeal Brownies—because we can’t have too many delicious brownie recipes, right? These came about after a little experimentation with an old recipe that had a good flavor but was a little too dry. And let me tell you, experimenting with brownie recipes is such a trial! (Not!)

Brownies are a traditional go-to treat, and why not? One bowl, a few minutes of prep, and then the delicious and mouth-watering scent of chocolatey goodness baking in the oven.
On movie night when our kids were still home, my husband would team up with one of them in a race to get the brownies into the oven during a commercial break (or two). It was a very popular activity.

Break out the bowl and get your chocolate on! Oatmeal Brownies for the win! Continue reading Chocolate Fix: Oatmeal Brownies

All the Secrets of the World

All the secrets of the world are contained in books.” I love this quote by Lemony Snicket. Books are like treasure chests, full of the most wonderful things. When I first began reading, it was to discover adventures—And those adventures taught me all kinds of things, from moral ideals to exciting new ideas. To my delight, I discovered that the learning never stops. Whether we’re reading fact or fiction, reading helps us understand the world we live in and the people we live with. It introduces us to different ideas and inspires us to think. To make sense of our existence. To indulge in creativity.

There’s no such thing as a passive reader.

All those amazing little squiggly lines on a page require brain activity. Not only are we interpreting them into concepts we are familiar with, but we use them to create.

“The arrival of food interrupted his construction. A thick steak, roasted onions, and a loaf of bread washed down with stale water to fatten up the jansu’s prize.”

Can you read that line (from my forthcoming novel, Flesh and Bone) and not imagine a savory, aromatic meal? Do you not wonder what’s being built? What’s a “jansu”? Why is the prize being fattened up? (And do you envision something like the wicked witch fattening up Hansel and Gretel?)

I challenge you to go forth and exercise your brain. Learn some stuff while you’re taking some virtual adventures.

What things have you learned while you were reading fiction? What novel taught you the most? Share how and why in the comments below!

“All the secrets of the world are contained in books.” I love this quote by Lemony Snicket. Books are like treasure chests, full of the most wonderful things. When I first began reading, it was to discover adventures—And those adventures taught me all kinds of things, from moral ideals to exciting new ideas. To my delight, I discovered that the learning never stops. Whether we’re reading fact or fiction, reading helps us understand the world we live in and the people we live with. It introduces us to different ideas and inspires us to think. To make sense of our existence. To indulge in creativity.  There’s no such thing as a passive reader.

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