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Courage Is…

Time for another member of this series. I did one on love, which started it, and then two weeks ago I did one on hope, and they’re linked there if you’d like to go find them. This one is obviously about courage.

Courage is standing up to a bully, even though your heart is pounding in terror.

Courage is withstanding the jeers of those against your beliefs with your head up, even though your heart is breaking.

Courage is dashing into a fight to save your friends, forgetting your fear in the heat of the moment.

Courage is owning up to a mistake even though you know it’ll get you in trouble.

“Courage is living up to your destiny, even if it means fighting dragons.” (This was one my sister suggested and it made me laugh so I decided to share it.)

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt.

And lastly, “Without fear, there cannot be courage.” ~ Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

Character Interview: Livi Brooklyn

I’m sure many of you know Livi since she’s from my short story series Memories & Photographs, but in case you don’t: She’s a peppy high-schooler who loves bright colors, sunshine, rainbows, unicorns, and yellow Converse.

Livi: *heads into the interview room and sits down, bouncing one knee, a broad grin on her face* Hello.

Interviewer: Hello. How are you today?

Livi: I’m excellent! How are you?

Interviewer: I’m fine. *smiles a little* Shall we get started?

Livi: *nods vigorously*

Interviewer: What is your name?

Livi: Livi Marie Brooklyn.

Interviewer: How old are you?

Livi: I’m sixteen.

Interviewer: Do you have any siblings?

Livi: No, but Keslie and Dominic might as well be my brother and sister. *grins*

Interviewer: Do you have a job?

Livi: Nope. Not yet. I’d like to be a ballet instructor someday.

Interviewer: Next question, though I already know the answer: Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Livi: *laughs* Extrovert, of course!

Interviewer: What is your favorite food?

Livi: Ooh! That’s a tough one. Um… Lollipops.

Interviewer: Favorite color?

Livi: All of them! But if I absolutely have to pick, either hot pink or bright yellow.

Interviewer: Do you prefer movies or books?

Livi: All these hard questions! *laughs* Probably movies, but it’s close.

Interviewer: What is your favorite of each?

Livi: My favorite movie is probably Spiderman: Homecoming. Favorite book… Probably Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson.

Interviewer: What is your favorite animal?

Livi: Unicorns.

Interviewer: What are your hobbies?

Livi: Dancing, reading, watching movies, and – most important – listening to music. You should see my collection.

Interviewer: Do you have any favorite artists?

Livi: Elvis and Imagine Dragons. And Britt Nicole, and tobyMac, and Owl City, and Taylor Swift. Sheesh! There’s no way I could lower it down. *laughs*

Interviewer: Which of these is most important to you: Kindness, intelligence, or bravery?

Livi: Kindness.

Interviewer: And honesty or selflessness?

Livi: Hon- Hmm… Selflessness, I think. But it’s so close!

Interviewer: What is something you can never leave the house without?

Livi: My MP3 player, fully charged, and a pair of headphones. I generally don’t care which one.

Interviewer: How many do you have?

Livi: Just one MP3 player, but at least a dozen pairs of headphones.

Interviewer: *nods* That was the last question. Thank you for your time.

Livi: Certainly! I’d love to talk again anytime. *grins and bounces out of her chair, skipping out*

Lullaby

Sleep my child, be at peace.

Sleep my child, dream sweet dreams.

Dream of snow and happy faces.

Dream of love and fireplaces.

Sleep my child, deeply dream.

Sleep my child, don’t you scream.

Dream of mangers and of babes.

Dream of One who came to save.

Sleep my child, sleep in peace.

Sleep my child, dream sweet dreams.

My Writing Toolbox

My writing toolbox holds a variety of things, all for different reasons. Some I use more often than others, some I use quite rarely, but I use them all and I find them all useful. (All prices are marked, and all logos belong to their respective companies.)

Scrivener*

Scrivener is $50, but it’s an extremely useful tool and you only have to pay once. And you’re allowed to use the same license on multiple computers which you own and are the primary user of, as well as the computers of family members who live with you.

I’ve found this very useful in that it keeps all of your documents (story, character profiles, setting descriptions, research, etc.) in one file so that you can easily access them all from the same interface.

Another aspect I’ve found super useful is that it allows you to see two documents side-by-side. This has been helpful for me in rewriting, because I can see the original as I’m writing the new one so I know what I want to keep and what I want to change as I’m writing.

There are also features like the distraction-free mode, you can easily export your book to a word document no matter how small the sections are that you wrote it in, and you can design templates so that – for instance – all of your character profiles look the same.

Fighter’s Block

This is a free online word sprinting app set up like an RPG game battle. You set a word goal, and that’s the monster’s HP (health points, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term). As you write, the monster’s HP decreases and yours replenishes. The monster attacks you whenever you’re not writing, and you can customize how quickly and how much he hurts you. It’s great for getting your writing speed up.

Microsoft Word

This is included in most Windows computers, I believe, and it’s just a really simple word processor. I like it for writing when I’m not using one of my other tools (Scrivener, Google Docs, 4thewords, etc.). I have copies of most of my stories in Word documents so that I can store them in my usual writing folders on my computer. I also use Word to format my stories for conversion to PDF when I’m preparing to publish them through CreateSpace.

4thewords*

This is another online program. This one is a paid thing, but it’s only $4/month, and you can buy up to 20 months at a time. (It gets cheaper the more you buy at a time. 20 months, for instance, is only $60 instead of $80 if you buy the largest pack.)

This is another RPG-based tool. It’s set up like a full RPG, with zones, quests, wardrobe items, weapons, etc., but most of them are earned by writing. You battle monsters with time limits and specified word counts that are their HP, and they give drops that count toward quests or serve as crafting materials, depending on the monster and quests. It’s a really cool tool, and I’ve been using it for about a year now.

It also records your daily streak, which keeps me, at least, motivated to write every day. The minimum to reach a streak for the day is 444 words.

Story Binder

How this will work exactly depends on the person making it, but my story binder has character profiles, world information, and the first 49-ish pages of The Last Assassin. I like it because it’s something I can reference while I’m writing without switching programs or minimizing my story or anything (something you can also do with Scrivener using their two-pane view option). Plus it also makes me feel like I have some artistic talent to decorate it with fancy fonts and washi tape and stuff like that.

Cost: Depends on the cost of the binder, paper, and whatever you use to decorate it.

See more of my story binder at the above link.

Bullet Journal

Which should maybe be called my goal journal, because that’s the thing I use it for most. I use it to set and keep track of monthly and daily goals, as well as whatever writing-related things I happen to need written down while it’s around. I.e. Several characters’ MBTI types, a list of authors I’d like to interview here on the blog, future blog post ideas, etc.

Cost: Depends on the cost of the journal and whatever you use to decorate it.

See more of my bullet journal at the above link.

Storyworld First by Jill Williamson

This is an amazing book and an amazing worldbuilding reference. It’s a fairly small book, but there are so many worldbuilding ideas in here! You could spend weeks working straight through this thing. It’s incredible.

Cost: $13

 

 

 

 

What’s in your writing toolbox? Do you use some of these, too?

The Gift

To: The first child you see.

From: A friend.

Marianna looked down at the package she held, reading the tag, and stepped inside the orphanage. She looked up and saw a group of kids run out of the library, no doubt playing hide-and-seek. Marianna smiled as they passed, and looked back down at the package in her arms. The first child you see. She was fairly sure she’d seen Terrence first.

“Terrence!”

The whole group halted and looked at Marianna.

“Yes?” Terrence said, brushing a mop of brown curls out of his face.

“This is for you.” She held out the large box and Terrence looked between it and her for a moment in confusion.

“For me?”

Marianna nodded.

Terrence reached out slowly and took it, setting it down on the floor and pulling off the masking tape that held it shut. The other children oohed and ahhed as he pulled out its contents. Two teddy bears, several candy canes, and a miniature Christmas tree. He looked up at Marianna, eyes wide. “I don’t need all this!”

“It was sent to you.”

“Then…” He looked down at the open box. “I’ll share it.” He looked at the kids behind him and smiled. “I don’t need all this, but I’m not the only kid here.” He handed candy canes to each of the kids, and it came out to perfectly the right number. The two teddy bears went to the twins Marcel and Maisley.

Someone else crept out of the library, leaning against the wall with her hands clasped behind her. Talia.

Terrence only took a moment to notice her and looked in the box for another candy cane, but there wasn’t one. Without a pause, he walked over and offered her his. “Here.”

She stared at the candy cane. “But it’s yours.”

“I want you to have it. I’ll be all right.”

She slowly unclasped her hands and reached out for it, her fingers resting on it gently for a moment, looking at Terrence as if for permission, before curling around the cane. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“You’re welcome.” Terrence smiled.

Marianna smiled as Terrence took out the Christmas tree, figuring out where to put it. “How about right here?” he said. “On the desk where everyone will see it every day.” He set it down and turned back, grinning at everyone. “Thank you, Marianna.”

“It’s not from me.” She picked up the box and took it out to the recycling bin. She spotted a little girl standing outside in a coat and mittens, her arms wrapped around her.

“Are you all right?” Marianna asked.

The girl nodded, looking over at her with earnest eyes. “Did they get my package?”

Marianna nodded, smiling. “They loved it.”

“May I… meet them?”

Marianna nodded again before looking around the parking lot. “Where’s your mother?”

“She’s in the car. I can go get her.” The little girl darted off, perfect black ringlets bouncing against her maroon coat. She came back holding her mother’s hand, and she made a beeline for the door.

Marianna held the door for the two of them and they stepped inside. When the little girl saw the tiny Christmas tree set up, she beamed. “It looks beautiful!” She turned her attention to the children, still smiling. “Hello. I’m Samantha.”

“I’m Terrence.” He held out a hand and she shook it.

“You got my package. I’m so glad. I wanted to give you something because I know you probably don’t get much for Christmas.” She looked over at Marcel and Maisley as they hugged their teddy bears. “Those two were my favorite. That one’s Lilac and that one’s George. I hope you like them as much as I do.”

The twins nodded, grinning.

“And candy canes are my favorite Christmas candy. I love peppermint. I hope you enjoy them.”

“Would you like to play hide-and-seek with us?” Terrence asked.

“Lilac and George can come along!” Marcel said.

Terrence beckoned for Talia to come along before the group rushed off to play.

Marianna smiled. This would be a Christmas to remember.

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