Category Archives: Musings from the Heart

What is This Blog Thing About, Anyway?

Happy Labor Day, everyone.

My writer friend is getting ready to start his blog. He shared with me that his current holdup is picking a focused theme, which then started a great conversation about different blogs and what they’re all about. There are a variety of blog themes authors use—some focus on the craft or writerly tips; others focus on book reviews, movies, and the craft pieces contained within (point of view, setting, characterization, etc.); and still others follow the author’s journey as he or she progresses from the birth of an idea into the crafting of a full-length piece.

So while we threw around ideas, he asked what my blog was about. It got me thinking about why each of us starts a blog, and though I had an answer in my mind of what my blog was about, I wondered if my purpose or theme was as clear to others as it was to me.

I found my way to this blog because I wanted to finally publicly live my dream of being a writer. No longer would I just talk about it, or write on the occasion I had nothing else to do—it was time to take my writing seriously. I wanted to meet my goals and live my fantasy, and share that journey with those who cared to follow.

To me, living this fantasy is a mix of topics. It’s exploring the fantasy genre, since it’s the one I tend to write in most. It’s discussing the writing process, both successes and roadblocks. It’s examining writing techniques, skills, and strategies. It’s reviewing other great books in order to discover what makes those books so amazing to us as readers.

And sometimes it’s just about sharing life—a place full of passion and dreams waiting to be lived.

When I wrote my tagline, Live your fantasy…, I wanted to keep it broad so that my imagination could soar as widely as my hopes and dreams on this writing expedition of mine. Hopefully, I’ve conveyed that to you too, dear readers!

Writing is a journey. Some writers are further along on the path than others, and some of us are still bumbling our way through, discovering what it feels like to live the passion of putting thoughts to page. No matter what stage we’re at, all of us hold a wonderful connection that truly is a fantasy to live.

So on that note, thanks for sharing it with me. 🙂

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Roller Coasters, School Starts, and Call for Flash Ideas!

They say when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade, but this particular week I’m working on my one-woman ten-lemon juggling act. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me (start of work, blown head gasket on my ten-year-old Honda, gluten allergy testing, apartment hunting madness, insomnia, and terminal illness of a family pet, just to name a portion). As usual, I’m trying to see the bright spots in a bizarrely heavy last three days.

So the good news: work has been a breeze! Even better, I taught English for the first time on Wednesday—three wonderful sections of Freshman English and you know what? It felt completely natural. Hurray! I enjoyed my Math sections, of course, but I have to say I’m pretty excited to continue on this big English teaching journey!

Other fun news—Nathan Payne over at The Writers Codex nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. I’ll share more about it in my next post but in the meantime, thanks so much, Nathan! 🙂

And now…start your engines! There is exactly one week until the second edition of Third Thursday Flash, when I’ll post a 500 to 1,000 word flash fiction piece I’ve written based on your idea! Please pass along whatever idea you like (it can be a theme, a sentence, a prompt, a couple of words you’d like me to incorporate or use as background—your choice). Send your suggestions to me by email at evariederauthor@gmail.com, or you can also use the handy contact form on my website. Submissions will remain open until Monday the 27th at 8 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, when I will pick one of your great ideas and craft a piece! In your email, please let me know if you would prefer I keep your name anonymous should I pick your idea. You can click here to read the first episode of Third Thursday Flash.

Thanks to everyone who participates, and of course, to all for reading!

And don’t forget, when life gives you lemons… _________ (Fill in the blank in the comment section below!)

🙂


Thank You

Today I wanted to take a moment to say thank you.

I have always been an optimist, finding delight in the simplest of things. My thinking is that if one can find joy in these simple things, then it makes the great things that much more amazing. This is why I’ve often said, “Forget glass half-full! I have a glass! Awesome!”

Sometimes, things get complicated. Our day-to-day lives get filled with frustration, illness, difficulties, or even just a plethora of mundane and exhausting things we have to do. Optimism can get lost in the shuffle, leaving us hurt, angry, miserable, or complaining. I’ve been guilty of all of these at one point or another, because sometimes, it’s easy to forget how spectacular life really is.

But somewhere amidst this cloudiness, something happens to make me realize just that: life is good. This weekend was one of those moments for me. I walked around with a smile on my face the whole time. I did things that gave me happiness, talked to people who bring me joy, and enjoyed every little thing that crossed my path. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, wonderful friends and family, and so many things that I get to do that make me happy.

And in the last six months, I’ve been able to add even more to this list of greatness: you.

Starting this blog has been one of the best developments in my life. I’ve connected with many amazing thinkers, and have heard feedback and comments from inspiring, wonderful, and kind people all around the world. I’m delighted with the connections I’ve made with all of you, and I can’t wait to continue this blog so that I can keep enjoying another aspect of my life that puts a smile on my face.

So, for all of you out there reading this now, thank you. You’ve made my day. 🙂

Have a fantastic week, everyone.


Clean Space, Fresh Perspective

It’s been one full week since I last posted, and it turns out, this time away is incredibly helpful! For those of you just tuning in, I called a Blog Time-Out last Sunday. It’s not entirely a hiatus—me not talking is about as likely as pigs flying while it’s raining cats and dogs on a very cold day in hell—but it is a temporary blogging slow-down while I focus on finally turning Kyresa, my “work in progress,” into a “completed work” instead.

So far, so good! I managed to edit for over 30 hours this week, and I’ve virtually reached my next step: entering all 8,000,000* of my changes into the computer for a final reread. I’ve always been partial to editing on paper, both because staring at a computer screen gives me a headache, and because I prefer being as hands-on as literally possible, but I’ll admit it does tend to lengthen the process. Still, I am far closer to “completed” than before. Hurray!

Last night, when I set my binder beside the keyboard to start entering said 8,000,000* changes, I realized that my desk had gotten completely out of control. I’ve always been a pretty neat person, but after spending seven weeks in a cast a couple years ago, I learned to loosen the reins a bit. This was a wonderful thing to learn because (1) I generally find I need to relax far more than I allow myself to do, and (2) writing is just plain more important than the dishes. While I still clean pretty regularly, I’ve definitely fallen into an old habit: in any given room, and on my desk, there are various piles of things I need to reference. Though I know exactly what is in each pile, I have nowhere to put the items in these piles. I’m sure several of you have this little habit; short of causing a tripping hazard in the middle of the night, it doesn’t seem like such a bad one to have.

But add to this that Anna Meade over at Yearning for Wonderland has been showcasing various author and bloggers’ writing spaces, as well as the glass of wine that was in my hand, and I pretty much lost it over the state of my desk. It didn’t matter that the desk—actually table, there are no drawers on this sad piece of furniture—also served as bill station, supply house, project table, bookshelf, computer hub, and writing place anymore…it had to be cleaned!

So naturally I swooped all my paperwork to the floor (just like in the movies) and started reorganizing. I’m not finished yet, but already, seeing the surface of the table without all the clutter is making me feel better. It has also inspired me to continue into the next stage of Kyresa‘s  final edit! Clean space, fresh perspective, finished project, and very soon, a return to my more regular blog schedule.

In the meantime, I’m going to need to figure out what to do with all the papers I dramatically knocked to the floor. My cat—usually a cuddly sweetheart who thinks she’s a dog—made clear in her extraordinarily devilish look that she has her own plan for them:

Sienna the Troublemaker. Sure…she doesn’t have any plans to mess with this paper stack. At all.

Oh dear…

I’ll be back probably next weekend, folks. Thanks for your patience as I finish this edit, and for reading!

(*Special note: I like to exaggerate. Often with the number 8.)


The Inevitable Blog Time-Out!

I woke up this weekend with a blaring realization: I’ve been sitting on the last 140 pages of my book’s final edit for about three weeks now.

Okay, so I wasn’t exactly purposely delaying. The last two weeks of the school year were more akin to a semi-truck smashing into my life than a gentle version of cruise control, and then of course last week I needed to take some “chill time” to transition into summer (see: The Readathon). Then came some serious errand and housecleaning time, and a quality weekend with my adorable niece (you may remember her as the Most Adorable Niecey On the Planet). All of this had to happen, but—yes, there’s a but—a little finger tapped me on the shoulder and drew me back to reality.

“Hey you,” I heard. “Remember me? Your book? The whole reason you started this blog in the first place?”

I tried to ignore it initially, but it just kept tapping—sweet little Kyresa, waiting impatiently for that one last edit to finally be done…

Which leads me directly to the inevitable blog time-out. For now I need to focus on this last edit of Kyresa. I’m simply too close to not put it at the top of the priority list. Don’t worry—my parents assure me I came out of the womb talking, and that I haven’t stopped ever since, so it would be impossible for me to cut out completely! I’ll probably just come a-knockin’ once a week instead of two or three times each week. I also don’t expect this will be for long—it’s only 140 more pages, after all!

In the meantime, my e-newsletter will be launching a little later in the month (after I finish editing); if you haven’t already signed up for it, now’s the time! The e-newsletter will contain updates on news, publications, and in time, appearances, and you will receive it no more than once a month.

To receive the e-newsletter, please send a blank email to: EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.comYou will receive a confirmation email with instructions shortly after. (Be sure to check your spam folder if you don’t see it within a few hours.) If you have a Yahoo account, you can also go directly to the group to join on-site by clicking here. Please join! You can unsubscribe at any time.

All right folks, a giant thank you to all of you for reading and following along. Wish me luck on my final edit, and I’ll be back next week!

🙂


The Readathon

This morning I woke up, rolled out of bed, and finally realized I’m on summer vacation.

Really—it can take that long. And I will probably have this realization every week when I remember I don’t really have to set my alarm clock (which I’ll still do, because I can’t stand wasting the whole day). Fortunately, I’ve done a pretty good job of “chilling out” as I threatened to do in my last post.

To start, I locked myself in my house to do nothing but read for three days! Okay, I did take some breaks—I did the housework, I went to the gym everyday (and worked it so hard I’m still having trouble walking), I ran a couple errands (and by ran, I mean hobbled from my car into each destination because my legs are so sore), I planned with my collaborating teacher about next year, and I also went to a few appointments—but otherwise, I did a darn good job of reading, reading, and more reading. I don’t think I’ve done that much straight reading since my teen years, and I have to tell you, it felt fantastic!

Only eight of twelve…but you’ll want to read them all!

I started by finishing Charlaine Harris’Deadlocked. It’s the twelfth book of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series, the very series on which HBO loosely based their True Blood series (I stress loosely). The books are a real treat, and though I can tell, and understand, that Ms. Harris is winding down the series, I still find the characters and their adventures incredibly entertaining. Sookie is a telepathic waitress in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. With the frustrating ability to read everybody’s mind, she is thrilled to discover she can’t read the minds of vampires—so naturally, she takes up with one. From there she takes up with a whole slew of vampires…and eventually, a whole collection of interesting beings. Also important to note is that vampires are now mainstreamed into society, thanks to the creation of a synthetic called “True Blood” that keeps them from having to feed off humans (except for fun).

Hilarious? It is. The joy of Harris’s series is that she manages to intertwine all sorts of fantastical creatures in a modern setting, mixing race (humans versus supernaturals), southern town culture, love, government (vampire politics), and the dealings of an average southern girl as she handles some not-so-average events. The series is fun, genuine, and clever, and I have delighted in the whole thing. I will admit I had trouble really getting into it until the second book, but since then I’ve been hooked. I also watch the show, but only because I love a good train wreck, and this show is by all means a train wreck that jumped off the book storyline halfway through season one (Why? Why?!). View at your own risk, and know the books are about a hundred times better…eh, the Math teacher in me needs to revise. Make that a million.

After my delightful adventure in Sookieville, I decided to tackle some of the blog posts I’d missed. I’m still catching up, but it was refreshing to have a bounty of posts waiting for me in my inbox from my favorite bloggers. Some of them were funny, some thoughtful, others clever or artistic—at some point in the future, I will showcase all my favorite blogs here. I really love the people whose writing I’m reading, both because they’re amazing and because most of them are some truly fascinating people with the best hearts in the world.

Next up: half of the final reflections I asked my Precalculus students to write at the end of the year (still going through those, too!). This assignment is one I started a couple years ago, and it is the very one that made me want to teach English. The papers are honest, thoughtful, and interesting, and I get a kick out of reading my students’ page-long descriptions of what they learned/hated/mastered, and how they grew (or didn’t grow) as students. In the math classroom, we don’t often get to see this reflective side—and so I suppose now you can see why I figured out English was the way to go. 🙂

Finally, I opted to tackle one of the books from my reading list to prepare for teaching English in the fall. Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons, is one that some close colleagues weren’t sure about because they hadn’t yet had the opportunity to read it. I am so glad I picked it up! Brave, warm, and heart wrenching, the tale is written in Ellen’s 9- to 11-year-old narration as she leads you through her troubled life. The story bounces a bit between her present life and her old life, carrying through the death of her mother, her abusive father, her discovery of a “new mama,” and all the experiences in between. The book also covers issues of race, the culture of the South, and of course, domestic violence. Ellen is definitely an endearing character, and I can’t wait to explore the book more (and again, and again…) in the fall with my students. It’s a fast read, so I encourage you to check it out.

What’s next? I intend to spend a good chunk of tomorrow editing my book, but naturally I’ll need to pick another book to read. My to-read stack is a bit out of control, and I haven’t decided on fantasy or literary just yet…

Only time will tell. If, that is, my muscles will let me get out of this chair.

Ow, ow, ow…

🙂


Sweet Summer Blessings

I’m sitting here with a great big grin on my face—because my summer vacation started about five hours ago. Hurray!

You may know a teacher or two—heck, you may be a teacher yourself—so it probably isn’t much of a surprise that as much as we love our jobs, we also delight in our summers. Teaching is intense, no matter what age or subject, and I’m certain that most of us would lose our minds without the summer break.

Of course, while we love summer, we must first ride the rollercoaster that is the chaos of the end, that final stretch to get our kids as prepared as possible before the screeching brakes of finals, grades, and the inevitable close of shop. Honestly, I have no recollection of where the last two weeks went. I appear to have dropped off Twitter and most of my other social media outlets. My dishes are piled everywhere. My laundry could take days. My poor, poor house could use a heavy-duty cleaning. (Uh, did I pay my bills?)

Fortunately, sweet summer is here! It’s a wonderful job perk for which I am eternally grateful, and one I also don’t like to waste. It’s a time I morph into a completely different being: I stay up late, I socialize more, and my creative output is seemingly endless.

And what will I accomplish this summer? For starters, I have a few shorts whose submission status I’m due to check on. I’m also almost 75% done with my last edit on Kyresa, and I plan to wrap that up by late next week so as to start querying agents. Then there’s another novel and a couple more shorts in the works…nevermind reading about 100 posts by my favorite bloggers that I’ve overlooked in the craze of the last couple weeks. I have some preparation reading to do for my start as an English teacher next year, and of course, there is the very exciting Cascade Writers Conference I’ll be heading to at the end of July. All in all, it should be a fantastic summer!

Now while I’m very excited to do all of that, I will need a transition out of the madness and into the summer. It’s that ever-so-important “chill time” to break down the teacher brain and regrow the full-time summer writer brain…a little bit of relaxation and recuperation to get all the gears aligned and working properly.

So, I guess I should start by tackling those dishes. 🙂


Will ARROW Be Fall’s TV Adventure to Watch?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Caught within the chaos that is the end of the school year, I’m just stopping in with a short one today. My friend passed along a clip that kicked off a great second-to-last day of work, so I wanted to share it with you. It’s a preview for the CW’s new fall show, Arrow, and it looks rather intriguing!

I admit, I loved Smallville. Tom Welling played an entertaining Clark Kent, and Justin Hartley as his Green Arrow sidekick always made me wonder if some sort of spin-off was in order. Based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow series, CW’s Arrow isn’t exactly a spin-off, though it will follow debonair avenger Oliver Queen and his extraordinary arrow skills. I’m not sure where they’ll head on the show…but with Stephen Amell (wow!) playing lead, I hope it lives up to its hype. 🙂

Until next time…to have a sneak peek at the preview, click here.


More Seniors Moving Along…

Just a short one today.

It is 3:30 p.m., and I am on a bus with 52 seniors (of a total of 250+) on our way back from the Senior Trip to Great America. No injuries, no trouble, no drama, and the kids are nice and calm after a fun adventure with their classmates for what will be one of their last times together.

I’m not going to lie–I love a break from campus here and there, but the main reason I asked to chaperone this trip is because this group of seniors has been my favorite, hands down, in ten years of teaching.

Some of them inspired me, others just worked really hard in my classes, and some were truly exceptional kids that I am proud to usher out into the world. Life is a great big opportunity they’re about to embrace, a chance for them to flourish and grow, and to demonstrate how much they’ve learned in their four years here at Tam High.

Awesome work, kiddos. I am so grateful to have met you, honored to have taught you, and delighted to see what you become.

Congratulations, Class of ’12!


Launch Countdown to SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN!

We all grew up with fairy tales, those mesmerizing stories that gripped our imaginations, first read to us by our parents and later, tales we read (and maybe even reread) on our own. Then there were all the movie versions and spin-offs that we probably saw, and of course the figurines, games, coloring books, tea sets, costumes, and pink sparkly bikes with characters on the basket that we no doubt collected. No matter how much we may try to downplay them, fairy tales are a part of our culture—little pieces of magic that live within us even beyond the years we knew them by heart.

That said, I am in full countdown mode for Snow White and the Huntsman!

The dark version of the classic tale is directed by Rupert Sanders and debuts this Friday. Starring Charlize Theron as the malevolent Queen, Kristen Stewart as Snow White, and Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, it promises to be one heck of a show. I will admit, there have been a few movies that I’ve been eagerly anticipating this year—The Hunger Games and The Avengers, to name a couple—but this one is by far the most exciting for me. Take a little girl who loved all fairy tales merged with a grown woman who loves a solid dark fantasy, and there you have it!

Based on the preview, the movie looks like a fantastically decadent new take on an old tale. You can check it out here: Snow White and the Huntsman preview. I’ve actually re-watched this clip about 30 times myself, I am that excited! 🙂 I’ll be back to share my thoughts this weekend, but I don’t expect that many of us will be disappointed.

So the question remains—will you be heading out to see Snow White and the Huntsman?

🙂


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