Thursday, September 30, 2010

Inspired by.... voice

I love an author who "gets" the concept of "voice." A teacher friend calls voice "your talk written down." A writer's voice is sometimes the very thing that draws you in to a piece - you connect to it.

I recently finished a mystery by a new author (at least, new to me) - The Quick and the Thread by Amanda Lee, an embroidery mystery. I will review the book itself on my book blog, but here I want to share a few examples of the author's great voice.

At one point in the story, the main character, Marcy, asks herself what the famous TV detectives would do in her shoes. She covers Kojak, Columbo, Remington Steele, and a few others and then says, "... I'd decided to turn this case over to Psych, Monk, or the Dukes of Hazzard. The first two because I love the shows..." (you'll have to read the book to find out why she throws in Dukes!) I love that the author appeals to a contemporary mystery-loving TV audience - and such a fun and clever idea. Sure, TV shows go off the air over time, but these are classics! (and I love seeing Psych get some "love.")

There's another section where Marcy is thinking about the mystery and making jokes to herself about the mannequin in her shop. I swear, I could hear the character talking in my head, and her sarcasm came out in a voice that sounded like my own. This was a character I would spend a day with and I certainly look forward to spending more hours with her in the books yet to come in the series (like Stitch Me Deadly: An Embroidery Mystery due out February 1, 2011).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Inspired by.... books for children

If you've ever ready my other blog, you will know that I like books for children - picture books and books for middle grade readers are my favorites. 

This year I am coordinating our school's Scholastic Book Fair and I couldn't be more excited (or inspired)! The theme this year is Superheros. I can't wait to connect children (and families) to books and through their purchases build classroom libraries and the school's.

I know what an impact a good book can make - I talk to adults who remember their own book fair experiences, or who remember certain books fondly. I talk to kids whose eyes light up when get them talking about a book series they love. Those sorts of moments and conversations inspire me to keep reading and keep sharing about books.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Inspired by ... harmony

I am inspired by harmony. I could listen to four-part harmonies all day long. While not a country music fan, I do enjoy some southern gospel because of its quartets and harmonies. When I hear a good trio or quartet, I just want to drop everything and soak in the parts. It's like listening to a puzzle. Each part contributes to a more beautiful whole.

This is one of my favorite examples.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inspired by.... volunteering

Last weekend I had to speak at church about a ministry I co-lead with a friend. In my announcement, I was asking for additional volunteers for our ministry - Angel Food Ministries. We had 6 people express interest in joining us, and I was so thankful for their willingness to volunteer.

In the church bulletin, the church food pantry was asking for additional volunteers because the need for their services has grown.

Our church has opened a Community Center this week. They are also looking for volunteers to mentor children on a weekly basis. They have used a large number of volunteers over the past couple months just to get the building ready for this week. And our use of the Center is going to continue to grow in the coming months.

I was also approached by a group called In2Books. This group links adults to elementary school students. The mentor and the student read 5 books together through the course of the year and share emails about the books. I am signing up this week to be a mentor with them.

I am encouraged and challenged and stretched by my volunteer activities at church, home, and school. I am inspired by others who volunteer along side me and those who volunteer for things that don't fit my gifts and interests. We all have something to share - something to give. Where can you volunteer today?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inspired by... silence

Church this past week was focused on "peace." One portion of the service was a video about noise - how much constant noise there is around us vs. the still small "voice" of God.

I was pleased to note that I enjoy a little more silence than some - I rarely listen to the radio in the car or in the office. And I am really okay with the idea of less TV in my life. There are days when I avoid my email (it builds up, which means more hassle later, but there are times when I am okay with NOT being available). I try to keep the computer/internet in its proper place - remembering it is a tool and not a vital appendage.

There are still very few moments, though, when I acknowledge the silence - where I let it fill me and feed my spirit. This week I hope to embrace more silence in my life.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Inspired by .... free

I wasn't looking for new business cards. I had made a number of cards for my blogs several months ago, and still had plenty. But then I saw the word "free." Vista Print had sent me an email offering free business cards. I started poking around the site and discovered that they will give you a lot of free items - usually just one item, and then you pay for the rest. I couldn't resist. I let them print up some business cards and post-its for my book blog. I love how they turned out - so fun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspired by.... cute and creative

One of my favorite websites right now is Lettering Delights. It is a great resource for fonts and graphics with different themes and styles. Everything on this display board - except the 6 Traits Posters on the two sides - was made with products from Creative Delights. I have also used their products in scrapbooks, newsletters, and things for my Creative Writing Club like these:
The products are strictly for personal use (unless you buy one with a commercial license), but I have not had any trouble getting my money's worth out of the things I have found there! Their products inspire me to create.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Inspired by.... Organization

When things are organized, I am inspired. I am either inspired to work, because my space is organized, or I am inspired to organize my space because of the organizational work of others. My son's teacher has inspired me to organization by providing her students with this (included as part of our school supplies for the year). This book includes his take home papers, spelling lists, memory verse for the week, assignment book, and other things he will need on a weekly basis in class. For second graders, I think this is BRILLIANT!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Inspired by... Choice

One of the things I like about cross stitch is that it is pretty easy to pick up and put down. Once you have the pattern and the thread, you can do it almost anywhere, do it for hours, or not do it for weeks. It is right there waiting for you whenever you get back to it. Because of this, I have lots of choices of what to stitch. I have taken to stitching one pattern for a week and then putting it away to work on something else. This way, I don't get bored with the same thing over time. Each of these is a week's worth of work on a particular pattern. The one on the left has large sections in one color, which can get pretty old (although it is perfect to do while on the phone or watching tv). I can slug through the monotonous parts, though, because I know that next week I can work on something else. I can keep myself inspired to stitch by giving myself choices and options.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Inspired by .... cross stitch magazines

British cross stitch magazines are fantastic! My favorite magazines right now - and I like a lot of magazines. They are expensive, since you have to pay the cost of getting them here, but the inspiration they provide me has been worth it. They make me want to stitch. They give me ideas of things to stitch and gifts to make. They are the cost of two regular patters, but I get so much more out of them than that.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inspired by .... cross stitch

Lately I have been on a cross stitching kick. This is a new company I have discovered that I really like - Alessandra Adelaide Needleworks. They have a "less is more" philosophy. The shapes are outlined, or hinted at, but not over done. I love it! Reminds me some of the work of Brittercup Designs which does the same sort of thing with animals - cats, rabbits, dogs. These are designers I would like to try sometime. They inspire me to stitch.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Inspired by... birds

I am on an owl kick these days, and I have always had a thing for peacocks. I don't know what it is. It isn't the flying thing. I just like the lines of birds - the swoop of the beak or the feathers. Love them. I like paper products with birds, I like taking pictures of birds, I like watching birds. I even bought a little tote bag with owls on it! (owls and purple on the same bag!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Inspired by .... Harry

Creative Writing Club has started this week for me and my students which has reminded me how much JK Rowling's Harry Potter series inspires me as a reader and a writer. 

Rowling, in my opinion, is a MASTER of plotting. The way a seemingly insignificant moment in book 1 becomes the key to book 4, for example, never ceases to amaze me. She does a fantastic job of including details that build her world, or add to the layers of her characters without boring the reader into wanting to skip ahead. And she uses great phrases like "he wished he had about eight more eyes...." I love that!

This series makes me want to write - and to write well. Inspiration.