5 on the 5th: Five Things I’ve Learned in the Past Year

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On the fifth day of each month, 5 on the 5th shares five of something that I like or recommend to readers. Whether it’s five items that share a common theme, or five reasons why I like the topic at hand, this monthly meme gives us an opportunity to talk about other subjects that aren’t normally discussed here at the blog. 

This might sound like a more appropriate post for New Year’s. But when I launched 5 on the 5th earlier this year, I realized what I was setting myself up for in September. And… well, I’m not the kind of person who runs around announcing her birthday to the world. (FYI: I HATE being sung to by a wait staff at a restaurant. It makes me want to curl up and hide.)

Last year’s birthday, however, was a milestone as well as a day of reflection. I thought back on the things I was grateful for, the lessons I’d learned, the goals I’m working towards – and it evoked a sense of wonder, excitement, and bravery for the future. I’d like to do that again this year through this month’s 5 on the 5th. Here are five things I’ve learned in the past year. Continue reading

Another Liebster Award!

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Still combing through the blog tags and awards I was recently nominated for, and today it’s Liebster Award time. Thank you for the nomination, Phoenix Grey! 🙂

Here are the rules for this version of the Liebster Award:

  1. Once you are nominated, make a post that thanks the person who nominated you and links back to their article.
  2. Include the Liebster Award sticker in your post.
  3. Nominate 7 to 10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.
  4. Answer the 10 questions asked to you by the person who nominated you.
  5. Make 10 questions of your own for your nominees.
  6. Lastly, copy these rules in the post.
  7. All of the nominees are free to accept or reject the nomination.

So, Rules #1, 2, and 6 are done already. (I hope it’s OK that I’m skipping around…?) Now let’s go on to Phoenix’s questions!

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#1000Speak: On Tolerance, Diversity, and the Influences on One’s Worldviews

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I don’t consider myself a strong debater, so I tend to avoid politically charged discussions. Even my horror about the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and my admiration for the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same sex marriage wasn’t enough to help me summon enough bravery to share my views about tolerance. That was before a recent conversation angered me, and compelled me to commit.

It was the day after the SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage. My parents had invited me over for dinner, and somehow the topic came up. One of my family members said this in response: Continue reading

#1000Speak: On Writing Poetry From A Place Of Compassion

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Earlier this year, I took part in 1000 Voices for Compassion (a.k.a. #1000Speak) and posted articles about self-compassion and examples of compassionate actions in books I’ve read. It was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding blogging experiences I’ve ever had; and I knew before I had even finished drafting my second #1000Speak post that I wanted to write more in the future whenever my writing schedule allowed. Today happens to be one of those days.

This #1000Speak post is a little different from past ones. It’s a story of sorts, one that balances the personal with the universal. It’s about inspiration, sadness, and healing. It’s a story about the power of compassionate writing, the necessity for it in our world, and the impact it can have you as a writer.

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New at DIY MFA: How Mirror Characters Can Illustrate Literary Themes

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When two characters use similar traits or functions in opposite ways, they’re known as “mirror characters.” These pairs are a great way of creating conflict or relationships – and, oddly enough, a frequent source of literary themes. In the latest Theme: A Story’s Soul article at DIY MFA, we discover how mirror characters can help illustrate theme, using examples from Kristin Cashore’s Fire and Sara Litchfield’s The Night Butterflies. And, if you read closely enough, you’ll see how both examples mirror one another. 😉

Click here to read “How Mirror Characters Can Illustrate Literary Themes.”

Got any questions or suggestions for Theme: A Story’s Soul? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @SaraL_Writer with the hashtag #AStorysSoul.

Time Flies!: February 2015

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

First of all, thanks to all the new visitors who came by this month for the Maria V. Snyder and #1000Speak articles! I hope you enjoyed what you read and will continue to visit as time goes on. And if you haven’t yet, make sure you enter the Shadow Study giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Maria’s new book. The giveaway ends on Wednesday, March 4th at midnight EST, and is international (i.e., open to everyone).

February was much less stressful than the past couple months had been. (*whew*) It was also a super-busy month writing-wise, which is never a bad thing – especially given one of the milestones I reached recently. 😀  Some of you may already know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, no worries. That’s part of this month’s recap.

I’ve tweaked the format for Time Flies this month. If you’ve seen the past monthly updates, let me know you think this one’s an improvement over the last one.

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#1000 Speak: On Self-Compassion

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Today is February 20, 2015, the day when 1000 Voices For Compassion makes its mark. Bloggers all over the globe have committed to posting articles today to celebrate compassion in all its forms and recognize the importance of such acts in our lives and the lives of others. If you’re interested in reading more articles by our movement, I encourage you to visit 1000 Voices of Compassion’s Facebook group or search the hashtag #1000speak on Twitter.

I prefaced my #1000speak lead-in article, “Acts of Compassion in Literature,” by saying I’d been debating two possible ideas before deciding to pursue both. Originally, “Acts of Compassion in Literature” was going to be today’s post. However, as I worked on this second piece, the topic struck a deeper, more resonant chord than I’d expected. Then again, the idea of self-compassion had already been on my mind recently. So, I decided to switch the order of the two articles, and in hindsight I think I made the right decision. Continue reading

Acts of Compassion in Literature – A Special #1000Speak Edition of “Theme: A Story’s Soul”

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On February 20, 2015, 1000 Voices For Compassion will take to the blogosphere and share their thoughts and stories about compassion in all its forms (love, kindness, understanding, empathy, mercy, etc.). Many of these “Voices” are also posting articles on the subject in advance of the big day. Since I’d been debating between two ideas I like equally, I decided, “Why not pursue both, and make one the lead-in article?” 🙂

As an avid reader and a novelist-in-progress, some of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned have come from literature. So, for my lead-in to #1000Speak, I’m doing a literary “exploration” of compassion that aligns with my DIY MFA column “Theme: A Story’s Soul.” Below are some acts of compassion from books I’ve read over the years. As you read the examples, think about what you can learn from each character, as well as the impact their decisions or actions may have on other characters, their world, and the story’s audience. Maybe you’ll want to add some of these books to your wishlist if you haven’t read them yet. Either way, I hope you’ll find this sampling of literary compassion as inspiring as I do.

NOTE: Some of the following examples contain spoilers (either major and minor) that are necessary for discussing the topic at hand. Continue reading

Joining 1000 Voices for Compassion

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A couple weeks ago, I learned about 1000 Voices for Compassion from Sara Litchfield. The main goal of this blog movement was impressive: inspiring 1000 bloggers (or more) to post articles about compassion on a set day in February. The key word for me, however, was “compassion.” It stuck with me for days after I read Sara’s article. I kept thinking not only about the word’s meaning, but also the goodness I’ve witnessed, the kindness I’ve given to others or received from others, the impact such acts have on the world – and, in some ways, how much the world needs them more than ever.

Late last week, I decided to join 1000 Voices for Compassion. I’m still not sure what I’ll focus on for the big day (February 20th). I keep seesawing between ideas; I want to write something meaningful, yet nothing feels quite right yet… What I do know, though, is why I want to participate.

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