Monday, June 30, 2014

Places to Visit: Nervous Nellie's

As mentioned last week, yesterday was National Camera Day, so I'm sharing some photos this morning. However, much more important that some amateur photography done by yours truly, I'm sharing a truly awesome place that you should check out if ever you have the chance.

It's called Nervous Nellie's Jams & Jellies.

Recently, I had the chance to visit Deer Isle, Maine, located just off the Blue Hill Peninsula in Penobscot Bay. The weather was absolutely beautiful, making every view look like a postcard. But I'm pretty sure that even in a total downpour it would have been gorgeous.

I was lucky enough to stop by during the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the bridge that connects the island to the mainland. Walking across the bridge was a lot of fun, not to mention getting to dress up like a lobsterman.

But the real awesome began afterward, when my truly spectacular hosts took me away from the bustling crowds for some scones and jam. Really delicious scones and jam (my favorite was the cherry peach). Honestly, if that was all Nervous Nellie's had to offer, the stop still would have been an epic win, but thanks to the artwork of Peter Beerits, this place is definitely being added to my top ten list of favorite travel discoveries.

Beerits has created a sculpture village, Nellieville, through which I found it impossible to walk without being inspired to create stories for the all the different "people" I saw.

Was tempted to ask if they'd deal me in a hand. 
Despite that rather unsavory fellow in the bottom right corner.

Inspired by the Delta and really made me want to dance.

Not only do I think this establishment would always carry the necessities,
I feel confident that it should be the first stop of anyone looking
to get the latest gossip in Nellieville.

Found witches in the neighboring forest 
(not to mention a full medieval court).

The above confirmation that this town accepts the practice
of magic had me asking this lovely couple if I could move in.
Sadly for me, there appears to be quite a waiting list.

So, if you find yourself meandering up and down Maine's coast, make your way here and enjoy the feeling of inspiration. And don't forget to eat some jam. I won't got so far as to try to sway you on which jams. I trust you to make your own jam-based decisions.

But cherry peach was the best.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Creativity Booster: National Camera Day & Festive Frames

This Sunday is National Camera Day. I'm a big fan of photos. Even more than that, I love crafts that can be done with photos. Which is why I still print off hard copy photos and will most likely be found one day living in a house made solely of pictures. It's a lot like a house of cards, only with a larger percentage of my family's smiling faces.

Also, taking craft breaks is fantastic while I'm writing. Let's me stay in a creative mind space when I hit a point in the story that needs a little extra thought. In case you find yourself both in need of a creative boost and wanting to celebrate Camera Day, here's a photo guide to a craft I've been working on:

STEP 1: Get wooden boards/frames/decorations.

 I'm fairly sure I alone could keep craft stores in business. 

STEP 2: Paint base coat. 

 For paints, I like to pick two colors - in this case, teal and orange - 
and use them, plus whatever color they make when mixed. 
Sometimes I throw in a little white paint to create a variety of shades.

STEP 3: Ritz it up.

For the top left, I used a sponge.
Bottom right, 1" painters tape is very helpful. 

STEP 4: Add photos and/or scrapbook paper.

 It's helpful to put a book on top of these as the glue dries. 
It keeps the pictures/paper from getting bubbles. Once it's dry, add a gloss varnish. 
This prevents the photos from being easily scratched or covered in finger smudges. 
I like the gloss aspect as it adds texture and shine to the project.

STEP 5: Glue frames on base boards.

 Again, I'd recommend leaving heavy books on top of these until they're dry. 

STEP 6: Paint decorations.

STEP 7: Glue decorations to frames. Step back. Enjoy.

Once the glue dries, take the books off, kick up your heels 
and read those lovely tomes. Just don't forget to glance over every 
once in awhile and enjoy your festive creations!

BONUS TIP: If you choose to drink a beverage whilst crafting, pay attention when you grab for it. This is especially important if you're daring enough to leave libation next to your paintbrush water.

Pictured: Not delicious

Monday will be a continued celebration of this fun photo day. I'll be back with a showcase of my favorite pictures from this month and I'd love to see yours. Let me know if you're posting any on Twitter!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beneficial Distractions

There are some writing days that are all about complete, focused concentration. Internet bans, snack moratoriums, noise cancelling headphones, padded walls....the whole shebang. Gotta give all the characters their best chance at being heard over the usual noise.

Other days, some distractions are helpful. I'm not talking about the "Oh, look there are two new tweets in my news feed. And now another three. Wow, people are really tweeting right now. I should read them. LOOK AT ALL THE TWEETS," kind of distraction. I've never found that to be a big booster of my writing productivity. Music, on the other, is very helpful.

I frequently think about what my MC is listening to at this point in her life. Why does it mean something to her? How was she introduced to it? This rarely makes it in to the story, but it does inform the tone of my writing. I've always found music to be very influential on my mood. On the days when my brain is feeling a touch sluggish, nothing gets me into my MC's headspace faster than listening to a couple of the songs that I've dubbed "hers."

And on days when I just need to exercise the old mind pan, I take a scene that's been proving stubborn and I set iTunes to shuffle. I rewrite the scene a few times, shifting the tone of it to match each new song, only stopping to skip if a Christmas one pops up (unless it's between Thanksgiving and New Years Day - there are rules, people). After fifteen minutes, I hit pause and check out what I've got. Nine times out of ten, there's something that clicks enough to get me back on track.

So, that's one of my creativity boosters? I'd love to hear some of yours.

While, you're thinking about that, I'm going to leave you with a song that embodies the general mood of a character I'm working on right now:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rectifying Ignorance, One Argopelter at a Time

Benjamin Franklin said, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”

Which, I hope is true, considering I recently realized that there are literally dozens of creatures in American folklore of which I knew nothing until last week. A little embarrassing, really, when I consider that I am both a student of American history and a chronic consumer of folklore.

But I’m definitely willing to learn, so I’m calling it water under the bridge. More than that, it’s water filled with haietlik under the bridge.

The important thing is that thanks to the beauty of WIP research, I now have some new favorite creatures. On the off chance that any of you have the same sad gap in your knowledge that I did, it seems only right to share my findings.

So, let me explain. *pauses* No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Or, at least, just stick to the first five creatures of awesome.


Starting off strong, because this guy may just be my favorite. Part of lumberjack lore, the argopelter is a lightning quick tree dweller with an ape face and super long arms that can snap trees branches right off. Once he does that, though, watch out – because if you’ve annoyed him, he can hurl those branches at you with the force of a bullet leaving a gun. Death by splinters makes an interesting epitaph.


A ghostly sort of fellow who seems to be looking for friends among the Kwakwaka’wakw people of coastal British Columbia. If you’re even stranded in the woods up there, think twice before taking him up on his offer of ghost food. Definitely be ready to be a forever friend, because sharing a snack is going to turn you into a bakwas as well. Here’s hoping he has an extra room in his invisible house.

Cactus Cat

Hailing from the American Southwest, this thorn covered bobcat has a armored tail and spikes coming out of its legs. Which is great, because feral cats weren’t dangerous enough already. Plus side, this cat’s a sloppy drunk – known to drink fermented juice until its all liquored up and then spend the night shrieking. Not the best of neighbors.


Okay, I went to school in Washington, DC. How did I not know about cryptid feud in the Blue Ridge Mountains? On one side, the dwayyo, humanoid wolfmen. On the other, their mortal enemies, the Snallygasters – flying, blood-sucking dragons. Why? I have to assume for reasons of awesomeness.


Once a human, the gentleman fell into the sea after he accepted that due to his status as a slave he would never marry the chief’s daughter. Instead of being the end of his story, it’s instead a very strange beginning. Upon hitting the cold Pacific waters, he turned into a sea creature. Following this, the only people who saw him were those who would one day be chief.

I’ll stop there for today, but definitely expect some more creature convos as I get further into this draft. And if you have a favorite creature of American folklore, let me know! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Character Closets

Well, I am officially knee deep in the drafting process. This means I’ve finally gotten to the point where it’s not pulling teeth to fill up those ominous blank pages. 

*turns cartwheels…remembers I can’t turn cartwheels…falls down…sticks to writing*

Now, I always try to go into writing with as much research done as possible, but I’ve found that there’s really no way to avoid a certain amount of mid-chapter inquiries. The fantasy creatures are the easiest part – mostly because they’re the most interesting. Who doesn’t want to look into the argopelters and their penchant for throwing splinters? Or how about cactus cat’s drunken shrieking? That’s fun for the whole family. And the medicinal purposes of jackalope milk? Life changing.

It’s the non-fantasy aspects that I find myself needing to delve into as I write. Necessary steps for obtaining a food vendor license in Manhattan. State regulations regarding homeschooling. The meaning behind various Hopi names. These are the bits of information that I don’t necessarily realize I’m going to need until I’m in the thick of it.

What I do know that I’m going to need is for all my characters to be wearing clothes. You know, at least until I start writing my series on the haunted nudist colony.

File:Festa Major de Sants 2008 P1200878.JPG
The drum alerts everyone to the sale.
Photo by Pere López (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
But somehow, I have recently found my characters are suddenly all showing up in extremely similar outfits. Sure, a little crossover is fine – after all, I borrow (read: steal) from my friends closets – but I’m talking a Smurf level of similarity. Apparently there was a sale at the white pants and hat store, and all my characters went on a shopping spree.

So, in an effort to keep my world from looking like a larger scale version of Doug Funnie’s closet, I’m making sure that each of the characters has a fully stocked wardrobe of their very own.

And, now, if you have any interest in rifling through the drawers of the characters in my current WIP, you can! Just check out my new Pinterest page and let me know your thoughts!