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1. Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs

When we sit down to brainstorm a character, we think about possible qualities, flaws, quirks, habits, likes and dislikes that they might have. Then to dig deeper, we assemble their backstory, plotting out who influenced them, what experiences shaped them (both good and bad) and which emotional wounds pulse beneath the surface. All of these things help us gain a clearer sense of who our characters are, what motivates them, and ultimately, how they will behave in the story.

soulBut how often do we think about our protagonist’s morality? It’s easy to just make the assumption that he or she is “good” and leave it at that.

And, for the most part, the protagonist is good–that’s why he or she is the star of the show. The protagonist’s moral code dictates which positive traits are the most prominent (attributes like loyalty, kindness, tolerance, being honorable or honest, to name a few) and how these will in turn influence every action and decision.

In real life, most people want to believe they know right from wrong, and that when push comes to shove, they’ll make the correct (moral) choice. People are generally good, and unless you’re a sociopath, no one wants to go through life hurting people. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but most try to add, not take away, from their interactions and relationships.

To feel fully fleshed, our characters should mimic real life, meaning they too have strong beliefs, and like us, think their moral code is unshakable. But while it might seem it, morality is not black and white. It exists in the mists of grey.

prisonersIn the movie Prisoners, Hugh Jackman’s plays Keller, a law-abiding, respectful man and loving father. But when his daughter is abducted and police are ineffective at questioning the person he believes to be responsible, he is forced into a moral struggle.

Keller needs answers, but to obtain them, he must be willing to do things he never believed himself capable of. Finally, to gain his daughter’s freedom, he kidnaps the suspect and tortures him repeatedly.

In each session, Keller battles with his own humanity, but his belief that this man knows where his daughter is outweighs his disgust for what he must do. It is not only Keller’s actions that makes the movie compelling, it is the constant moral war within the grey that glues us to the screen.

Extreme circumstances can cause morals to shift. What would it take for your “moral” protagonist to make an immoral choice?

Is your character deeply honest? What might push her to lie about something important?

Is your character honorable? What would force him to act dishonorably?

Is your character kind? How could life break her so that she does something maliciously hurtful?

When your protagonist is forced to enter a grey area that causes them to question what is right and wrong…this is where compelling conflict blooms!

YOUR TURN: Have you built in situations that force the hero to evaluate his morality? If not, what can you do within the scope of your story to push him into the grey where he must wrestle with his beliefs? What event might send him to the edge of himself, of who he is, and possibly force him to step across the line dividing right and wrong?

Tools to help you understand your character better:

The Reverse Backstory Tool: Hit all the highlights on your hero’s backstory reel, including his Emotional Wound & The Lie He Believes About Himself

The Character Target Tool: Set the path of your hero’s positive traits, spiraling out from Moral based attributes

The Character Pyramid Tool: Plot your character’s flaws that stem from a Wounding Event &visualize how these flaws present as behaviors & thoughts

(& even more tools HERE)

Originally posted at IWSG
Image #1 Brenkee @ Pixabay

The post Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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2. जरा मुस्कुरा दो – मोदी सरकार के दो साल

  जरा मुस्कुरा दो – मोदी सरकार के दो साल मोदी सरकार की दो साल की उपलब्धियां …. जरा मुस्कुरा दो … ना जाने ये नाम किसने सुझाया होगा .  .. यकीनन भाजपा का तो नही होगा  क्योकि इसका मतलब साफ साफ है कि मुस्कान आ ही नही रही है…जब दो साल कुछ हुआ ही […]

The post जरा मुस्कुरा दो – मोदी सरकार के दो साल appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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3. Plastic Brain

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science By Norman Doidge, M.D. Published by Penguins Group (Canada) 2007 This book is about brain plasticity and the miraculous abilities of our brains to compensate for damage, natural or inflicted, to learn or relearn tasks and actually change themselves to adapt without drugs or operations. Norman Doidge is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and researcher at Columbia University and the University of Toronto. He took the time and made the effort to visit many contemporaries he calls “neuroplasticians “.He outlines the history of neuroplasticity, its proponents and opponents. Neuroplasticity: Neuro is for “neuron”, the nerve cells in our brains and nervous systems. Plastic is for “changeable, malleable, modifiable” A lot of wonderful discoveries took place in the 20th Century, yet Norman Doidge says in his preface that brain plasticity is “one of the most extraordinary discoveries of the 20th Century”. The results of experiments with the human brain which lead him to that conclusion are astonishing. In a futuristic science like neurology one would expect a more progressive attitude in its practitioners, but the same old attitudes appeared there too and every scientist-doctor-researcher who bucked the trend and suggested the possibility of plasticity was attacked because the establishment had concluded that the brain was hardwired to certain functions. The notion of plasticity was so revolutionary that those who believed in it wouldn’t dare to use the term in writing for many years. Those who knew brain plasticity was a reality were vilified, ridiculed and obstructed at each step of the way. Doidge pulls no punches when he describes the difficulties these people went through. As usual, the rebels led the way. One of the biggest misconceptions about this book is that it is written only for the super intelligent. It isn’t really. The stories of experiments with monkeys, rats and mice which make up many of the eleven chapters of this book are told clearly and simply. The extraordinary results in humans as well as animals are described in detail in plain language. There is a section at the end of the book, just before the appendix, called Notes and References, in which Doidge includes verifications and explanations of quotes, ideas and concepts, some requiring whole pages. The Brain That Changes Itself is a hopeful book which is well worth the read. This edition has 427 pages including. eleven chapters, two appendices, Notes and References, a forward, an acknowledgements section and an index.

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4. School Visit Tips

Here are some basic things to keep in mind when you're thinking about doing school visits.

http://www.newmememedia.com/2016/02/23/school-visits-authors/

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5. ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – आम बनाम आम आदमी

क्लिक करें और सुनें  व्यंग्य आम बनाम आम आदमी                            ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – आम बनाम आम आदमी ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – आम बनाम आम आदमी गर्मी का मौसम है और बहार आई हुई है आम की… सोचा आज इस बारे में ही […]

The post ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – आम बनाम आम आदमी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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6. First Chapter Reveal: The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

Read the first chapter of The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda below!     Meet Megan Miranda! Megan Miranda is the acclaimed author of Fracture, Vengeance,Hysteria, and Soulprint. She was inspired to write The Safest Lies after reading a study about the way emotions, like fear, are passed down through genes—and wondering whether our own fears are a result...

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7. Novel Spanning Months???

Question: In the current novel I am writing, (a realistic fiction with a paranormal-ish twist,) the protagonist, in short, is staying away from home, during

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8. Harold Speed Talks Brushes

Welcome to the GJ Book Club. Today we'll cover pages 237-242 of the chapter on "Materials," from Harold Speed's 1924 art instruction book Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.

I'll present Speed's main points in boldface type either verbatim or paraphrased, followed by my comments. If you want to add a comment, please use the numbered points to refer to the relevant section of the chapter.

In this section of the chapter, Speed discusses the brushes for oil painters.

1. You can use cheaper paints when you're a student, but even if you're poor, you shouldn't skimp on brushes.
I totally agree with Speed on this one. He says "A cheap brush is useless from the start and has, luckily, a very short life as they wear very badly. The best brushes last much longer."

2. Cleaning brushes. "Soap and water cleans them most thoroughly and is the best way of cleaning them. But it is a most tedious process after a hard day's work."
Here's a previous post on "How to Clean out a Brush"

3. After washing them out, the brushes "should be lovingly sucked to bring the hairs together." 
Never heard that one before. One would want to make sure to remove all the lead, cobalt, barium, and cadmium first. Or maybe pass on that idea.

4. "When thoroughly dry they have plenty of spring in them, whereas the slightest dampness gives them a flabbiness."
He's talking about bristle brushes here. It's really true. Damp brushes are flabbier.

5. Flats and Rounds: Flats are better for "laying a perfectly even tone, but give a nasty thin sharp edge...For figure work and form expression generally, one wants a brush that will lay the paint in even, flat tones without thin sharp edges." 
He's referring to flat brushes with rounded corners, alternately the modern filbert option, which has a flat cross section but a rounded tip. The image above shows a set of Simmons filberts.

6. Fashion for soft haired brushes used for flowing strokes (in the 1920s).
Speed notes that some of the inspiration came from studying Frans Hals, who apparently used such brushes. Speed generally prefers stiffer hogs' hair bristles.

7. "Always work with the biggest brush that will do what you want."
Then choose the next size bigger. Speed notes that a big flat brush is really several brushes in one, because you can use the corner and the edge for very different strokes.

8. "The brush makers have an absurd habit of making the size of the handle fit the size of the brush, instead of the size of the hand that will have to hold it." 
He continues, "Very small brushes need a very firm grip to control them as they are only used for very delicate work. And yet they are often given a handle no thicker than a match."

I totally agree, and I've always wondered about this, too. Pencils, pens, knives, and golf clubs have constant sized handles. Why don't brushes?

9. Only German brushes have an indented ring round the metal holder (ferrule) to prevent the tip falling off the handle.
Now crimped ferrules are pretty standard even on cheap brushes.

10. Cheap brushes "appear to have been sharpened off to make them a good shape, after being roughly put together; instead of the good shape being the result of a careful placing of the individual hairs."
Here's a video about how they make Escoda brushes


(Link to video)

More on brushes at:
MacPherson Arts / "Brush Basics"

Next week— Painting Grounds
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In its original edition, the book is called "The Science and Practice of Oil Painting." Unfortunately it's not available in a free edition, but there's an inexpensive print edition that Dover publishes under a different title "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials (with a Sargent cover)," and there's also a Kindle edition.
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9. Finally Reading... The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

  


Yet again there's a book which took me ages to get around to reading and now I'm whizzing my way through it. It's The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn, which was an Honour Book, ie runner-up in the CBCA Awards in 2014. I'm sad to say that doesn't necessarily mean that the kids are reading it. Not at my school, anyway. There are usually some overlaps between the CBCA and YABBA short lists. But only some. I think this one might have been on a YABBA short list, must check it out. 

The cover doesn't help; kids rarely pick up books with depressing grey covers. But what else can you expect from a dystopian novel about a nuclear winter? 

Imagine what it might be like to be going to school one day as normal, hearing about some nuclear missile test going on somewhere on the other side of the world and next morning waking up to dirty, almost certainly toxic, snow outside, power, communication and the Internet gone and being unable to even find out what's going on.

 It's all too frighteningly easy to imagine. 

The rest of it so far is about how people treat each other when canned and dried foods and bottled water are gradually running out and still no word of when, or if, this will end. There are decent people helping each other and others who simply go crazy. The hero, Fin, is one of the former, when his parents go missing and he's left with his younger brother to look after. 

I can see why it has been compared to John Marsden's Tomorrow series, except that at least Ellie and her friends had someone/something to fight. How can you fight nuclear winter?

Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing how it all ends! 

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10. Facebook Live meets a manual typewriter

Yesterday Jeanette and I decide to try out an experiment.


It's the day before graduation at Bard College. Students are roaming around campus with their parents. We place the typewriter on a table in the student center, and I arrange the sketch easel.

We hope the typewriter will lure someone to pose for an impromptu portrait. First Cullan, and then his mom, try it out.

We set up the iPad to webcast the action via Facebook Live. The first session has audio issues due to problems with our old iPad (sorry). We switch over to an Android cellphone, and then it works fine. Here's the 16 minute webcast. (Link to video).


I start sketching Jeanette, but abandon the start and turn the page when Kathleen sits down. I lay down a few lines in watercolor pencils, then launch off with brush and watercolor to place the main shapes. With progressively smaller brushes, I place the smaller details.

Kathleen, watercolor and gouache 
Thanks to everyone who joined the webcast and left a comment. Let me know in the comments what you'd like to see on a future webcast. Thanks to Kathleen, Cullan, and Joe for lending a hand and being such good sports.
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My next video tutorial "Portraits in the Wild" comes out June 13. It's full of moments like this.

"Gouache in the Wild" HD MP4 Download at Gumroad

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11. ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – संदेसे आते हैं- मोनिका गुप्ता

Click here .. ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – संदेसे आते हैं- मोनिका गुप्ता मैसेज करना, वटस अप करना आप सब की तरह मुझे भी बहुत पसंद है पर कुछ ऐसा हुआ कि मुझे मैसेज देखते  ही टेंंशन सी शुरु हो जाती है आखिर ऐसा क्या हुआ होगा और  मैसेजिस  मे ऐसा क्या है ?? अगर आप […]

The post ऑडियो – व्यंग्य – संदेसे आते हैं- मोनिका गुप्ता appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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12. मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा

  मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा पहले मैगी फिर ब्रैड और अब मोबाईल … हे भगवान किस किस से बचे और कैसे बचे … थोडी देर पहले मणि मेरे लिए ब्रैड पकौडा बना कर लाई क्योकि मुझे बहुत पसंद है …. या था !!! मैने उसे बडा सा लेक्चर दे दिया कि क्या है […]

The post मोबाईल फोन बनाम कैंसर का खतरा appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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13. Poetry Friday: Just lost when I was saved by Emily Dickinson

Just lost when I was saved!
Just felt the world go by!
Just girt me for the onset with eternity,
When breath blew back,
And on the other side
I heard recede the disappointed tide!

Therefore, as one returned, I feel,
Odd secrets of the line to tell!
Some sailor, skirting foreign shores,
Some pale reporter from the awful doors
Before the seal!

Next time, to stay!
Next time, the things to see
By ear unheard,
Unscrutinized by eye.

Next time, to tarry,
While the ages steal,-
Slow tramp the centuries,
And the cycles wheel.

- Emily Dickinson

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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14. Capital of Texas Triathlon Preview

Monday I'm going to be running in the 25th Capital of Texas Triathlon!  It's my first triathlon (Olympic distance) in twenty years and I'm pretty jazzed.

Steely-eyed determination 20 years ago. :-)

One of the great things about triathlons (and running races in general) is that you get to occupy unusual spaces: the last ones I did were Leon's Triathlon in Hammond, Indiana, a couple of Bud Light triathlons and others in Chicago. Leon's had a swim in Wolf Lake (shudder), followed by a cycle leg on an elevated highway that ran past the old U.S. Steel plant, and a run leg through an industrial downtown.  The Chicago ones were on the lakefront, just north of Navy Pier, with a bike on Lake Shore Drive and a run along the lake.

2013 CapTexTri
The CapTexTri also has a great location in downtown Austin, with a 1.5k swim in Lady Bird Lake; a 40k (24.8 mile) bike on a quadruple loop through downtown Austin, including Congress Avenue and Cesar Chavez; and a 10k (6.2 mile) run through Zilker Park.

The only thing I'm not too keen on is the bike route, since it requires you to do the same loop four times.  I don't like loop routes because I always think of how many more times I have to do the thing...Still, going up and down Congress Avenue without any cars is going to be pretty cool. As long as there are no poles in the middle of the road, I should be okay. :-).

Don't ask.

I feel fairly good about my training.  I've maintained good running mileage after the Austin Marathon and Austin Distance Festival and got some good workouts in even while traveling doing school visits.
On Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis
The swim is probably my weakest event -- I could stand to do more work on technique and probably do more open water swimming, but the distance won't be an issue.  Also, Lady Bird Lake isn't going to have waves (I seem to recall a couple of triathlons in Chicago with 3-4 foot waves on Lake Michigan (and this was on the near side of the breakwater).  Also, I won't have to deal with a wet suit.  My biggest concern is to not get kicked in the face. :-).
Lady Bird Lake during 2013 CapTexTri
The bike I'm feeling good about as well.  I'll be using the bike I used for my triathlons back in the day - a Trek 1000 I bought when I was in grad school for $450 (a guy at one bicycle shop here tried to sell me a new one, asking if I had a "nostalgic attachment" to it.). I do, but I also don't think a new bike is going to drastically transform my performance.  At least not $2000 worth :-). (A guy at another bike shop told me the Trek 1000 was his first road bike and he wished he still had it.  It's possible he was being kind :-)).

Tomorrow is packet picket, bike drop-off, and a chance to scope out the transition area, which I'll need because I can't see without my glasses...:-)

Oh, well.  Onward!












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15. Featured Review: The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

About this book: Kelsey has lived most of her life in a shadow of fear, raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with nothing but her attacker’s baby growing inside her—Kelsey. Kelsey knows she’s supposed...

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16. Author Chat with Rose Mannering (The Tales Trilogy), Plus Giveaway!

Today on the YABC blog we are happy to sit down with author Rose Mannering and talk with her about her about her first two novels in The Tales Trilogy, Roses (Book 1) and Feathers (Book 2), which will be released July 5, 2016!   YABC: What surprised you most while writing your latest book?   Rose...

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17. Game Theory By Barry Jonsberg. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2026.


Jamie is a sixteen-year-old maths whiz. Summerlee, his older sister, is in the grip of a wild phase. Tensions at home run high.

When Summerlee wins a 7.5-million-dollar lottery, she cuts all ties with her family. But money can cause trouble - big trouble. And when Jamie's younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped for a ransom, the family faces a crisis almost too painful to bear.

Jamie thinks he can use game theory - the strategy of predicting an opponent's actions - to get Phoebe back. But can he outfox the kidnapper? Or is he putting his own and his sister's life at risk?


The fascinating thing about this novel is that, like many of Barry Jonsberg's other books, it has an ending you can't quite predict, a little twist that makes you say, "Oh!" It is one I love but can't share because of spoilers. I did suspect who the kidnapper was, then thought, "Well, it can't be, because..." but it was. But that isn't the twist I was thinking of. There is a delicious irony about it. 

Jamie is certain he can work out how to find his sister and her kidnapper through game theory; when his opponent seems to know as much about it as he does, he even rather enjoys the challenge, worried as he is for his beloved little sister. This is his major flaw and makes the book more interesting, even though the reader might, like me, be just a little disappointed that the book isn't actually about that. 

I would have liked a little more detail about the kidnapper before the long, detailed explanation at the end. Although I suspected who it was, the character traits that affected what the villain did were not so evident in the build up. 

Still, it's a good, exciting thriller that should suit boys from about fourteen up. 


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18. More Wisdom from Simply Tuesday

20151015_105726

“May fear, discouragement, doubt, comparison, envy, and failure not have the final say in our homes, our work, our relationships, our souls, or our plans for the future. Instead, may we live into our truest calling as people who give and receive grace, forgiveness, and love in the small moments of our lives.”

The post More Wisdom from Simply Tuesday originally appeared on Caroline Starr Rose

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19. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 160 - 5.27.16


Arctic Blues

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20. WRITER'S RITES: Nobody's got time for that

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21. Wouk and Remembrance

Herman WoukI kicked off 2016 by starting The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk, with the idea of finishing by today, his 101st birthday (which he is alive to celebrate). Alas, I’m only 80-odd hours into the 101 hour audiobook (the numerical coincidence wasn’t lost on me) the two-volume novel comprises. The books are thought provoking and revealing and I’ll have a lot to say about them later, when I’ve actually finished, but I wanted to wish Mr. Wouk a happy birthday.

I’ve been a Wouk fan since high school. My favorite is City Boy, a book I love beyond measure and include in my personal top five. That one and Youngblood Hawke show his bent for humor, but his legacy is his war novels, espcially The Caine Mutiny, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and the two books about the Henry family and World War II. Through Wouk’s novels I’ve gained a lot of appreciation for the men who fought World War II, while also having a much richer and nuanced view of America during the war, which Wouk faithfully records without the “greatest generation” mythmaking.

Byron RobinsonI’ll blog more about the novels later, but a curious coincidence of the books is a major character named Byron Henry. Our own Byron is named for Henry Byron Robinson, his grandfather, who — like Byron in the book — served in the Pacific theater in World War II yesterday. My father in law, like both of my grandparents, never regaled people with war stories, but he was haunted by memories of it for the rest of his life. That is, until yesterday, when he died at the age of 93, taking his secrets with him.

By didn’t define himself by his war experience. He liked reading, music, birdwatching. and big cuddly dogs. Most of all, my wife says, “he enjoyed being a dad.” But she also says “he thought about [the war] every day, even if he never talked about it. It was obvious.” We don’t need myth-making but we do need to respect, as Wouk does, the courage and sacrifice those men made.

 

 


Filed under: Miscellaneous

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22. Bloom: You Were Born to Bloom

Hi, folks! Today is my twenty-eighth wedding anniversary with the sweetest man ever, Tim Blaisdell. He is also a blogger and writes over at THE MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND.  I also am in a entrant in QUERY KOMBAT. Queries are selected by judges and they go head and head in a VOICE-esque contest. Only one query moves to next level. I'm Southern Gothic Secrets and my critique partner Ellen is Mochi Monster!

What do we win? Twenty-eight agents and editor will be looking at the queries with the possibility of landing an agent or even a contract. Did you notice 28 and 28? Feels very portent-y to me!

This week I'm writing about a deep truth. We are all born to bloom. A dear friend facing who suffers from a cancer syndrome hugged me and whispered, "I want to bloom but I feel like I'm falling apart."

I hugged her back because I know what it is like to be broken on a genetic level. Some things don't need words. What we can do is focus on the splendor of now.  Blooming does not come from us but creator of all things.

I grew up with a plant-loving mom, and she surrounded my life with flowers. So this week, I'm going to share about unusual blooms that I have seen in my life. I love flowers and I pay attention. I hope you will take lessons from these blooms and realize that you are stronger that you know.

A half-of a daffodil  bloomed in my mother's yard once. It was the most beautiful thing. A genetic anomaly but more beautiful because of it was unique.

One time there was a sad rhody in my yard that covered with some kind of leaf disease. I had to hack away more than half of the plant. The next year the rhody bloomed with almost a hundred gorgeous blood-red blooms that took my breath away. It had never bloomed before.

Once my mom stopped the car beside the road and made me get out and look at this field of spiky plants with these gorgeous white blooms on tall spears. She told me to soak it in because these were century plants and this might not happen again in my life time.

I planted a cemetery rose in my backyard from a cutting that was about two inches long.  This year rose is the size of a small car and it has hundreds of blooms.

So this week, I was blessed by this: my daylilies bloomed during the 8 inches of rain that fell on my house this week in 24 hours. The splash of color on such a dreary day uplifted my heart. Bloom during the flood!

Maybe one of these blooms speaks to you. Just like you were born to share, to be merciful, to smile, and to love, you were born to bloom. Seize every day.

I will be back next week with a new series about the Monomyth.   I hope you will join me.

Here is a doodle:



Here is a quote for your pocket:

Why should I be unhappy? Every parcel of my being is in full bloom. Rumi

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23. Proof that We Actually Exist

AF and I met up the other day at our grad school alma mater, Mills College, to speak to the graduate and undergraduate writers in Kathryn Reiss's YA writing course. It was a lot of fun, but it was an afternoon class, and it was a fairly warm... Read the rest of this post

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24. Rhyming Mistakes

It's easy to write poorly in rhyme, so make sure to avoid these mistakes.

https://li.st/l/6G5mNeBDX1faUIfJRdIscE

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25. Doing a Demo Now on Facebook Live


I'm about to do an experimental demo on the new platform Facebook Live at 2:55 EST.

It will be a clash of technologies: iPad meets typewriter meets sketchbook. Tell your friends!

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