On support groups

I’m not a ‘social’ kind of girl. I used to be, back when I was 19, 20. But I haven’t been for quite some time now. Rather, I’m the stereotypical introvert – happiest in my own company, without the pressures of expectations, protocols, and others’ opinions weighing on me.

So as you can imagine, I’m not big on ‘support groups’. Meeting regularly with people is not something I particularly enjoy dong it. Church on a weekly basis fills my quota more than sufficiently.

And I’m also a member of my local Writer’s Group, and have blogged about them before.

But in the last several months, I’ve also found myself a couple of online places where writers meet over a virtual water-cooler. And I must admit, I’m surprising myself with how much I am enjoying the online support of people I’ve never met in real life but with whom, online, I frequently converse!

One of these places is lovingly referred to as ‘The Reef’. We follow the blog of Literary Guru and Agent Extraordinaire, Janet Reid of Fine Print Literary Management. [Edit: as of August 14, 2016, Her Sharkliness is now Agent-Wrangler Extraordinaire at New Leaf Literary.] We comment on her topics – or also on our own; we enter her Flash Fiction contests, some of us are exiled to Carkoon for misbehaviour: it’s a truly exceptional group of people and I’m incredibly inspired by their talents and honoured to be considered one of them.

A second, slightly more local group, is the friends who I race with every Wednesday evening, Brisbane time. The Writing Races are hosted by Australian Writers Marketplace Online and are run through Facebook. One captain helps racers keep track of time, but we race against ourselves. Whether its word count increases on current works in progress, or decreases through revision, editing or re-writing stages, it’s great fun to have the company for an hour, knowing that people all around the country are doing exactly what you’re doing at that point in time. The sense of camaraderie is palpable. And I love that.

There’s also my wonderful family, colleagues at work, the Celtic group that the three cherubs and I are part of – all in all, I’m glad God designed us to share our lives with each other. Community sure is one magnificent idea. And that from the introvert sitting in front of her computer right now, enjoying the opportunities that present right from this little blog of mine.

Because you, dear blog reader, are the ‘support group’ Iย get to thank right now. Here, in this space that WordPress kindly allowed me to create, I want to thank you for taking the time to read. To lurk. To comment. To think of me, and honour me with your presence, and your willingness to spend your time reading the externalisation of my thoughts. I appreciate it more than you know.

Thank you, dear reader. And have a marvellous day today!

— KRidwyn

And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Wow! What a month it’s been, huh?

FullSizeRenderTwenty-six posts, for the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Originally, I’d planned a 26-instalment story. But the draft version ended up far too violent to publish here, so at the last minute, I changed to ’26 metaphors for God’, inspired by a cross-stitch Mum made for me. Praise God for Mums, and for friends who make suggestions like “why don’t you use your Mum’s cross-stitch?”

But that being said, it was a huge month. And although I participated, I’m glad it’s over. It took a lot of time away from my ‘normal’ writing, so I’m quite a bit further behind than I wanted to be. And as for my Goodreads challenge, that’s looking like a TKO at this point. Because although I *have* been reading, it’s been on blogs, not books!

My favourite blogs this past month have been:

https://kdjames.com/ (A fascinating story over the month of April)

https://johndavisfrain.com/blog/ (26 stories, each 6 sentences long. Chilling stories.)

http://julieweathers.com/blog/ (American history? READ THIS!)

http://www.colindsmith.com/blog/ (100 word stories inspired by the songs of Paul McCartney. So clever!)

http://denapawling.blogspot.com.au/ (Military definitions from A to Z; enlightening to say the least)

https://alleysiande.com/ (stories, and beer. And dragons…)

https://wordwacker.me/ (clues in haiku for the word of the day)

http://katelarkindale.blogspot.com.au/ (New Zealand movies from A to Z with gorgeously written reviews)

and

http://romancespinners.blogspot.com.au/ (on writing, and writer’s life)

I thoroughly recommend, if you have the time, drop by and have a read.

And for any A to Z challenge participants stopping by, THANK YOU for your encouragement and support, and YAY!!! We did it!!!

(Heading off for a well-earned nap now…)

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #6

Luke 7:34 says, “The Son of Man [Jesus] came eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”

I’ve read that verse dozens of times. But this is the first time that the word ‘friend’ has stuck out for me.

FullSizeRender (2)This post, number 6 in the series of posts in my current #AtoZchallenge, has the letter ‘F’ as it’s topic. And in the A to Z cross-stitch that sits on the console table in the centre of my house, the letter ‘F’ shows ‘Friend’ and the Bible verse quoted above.

I tend to not think of Jesus as my ‘friend’. I guess there’s too much reverence there, or something. My mental pedestal is too high.

When I think of my ‘friends’, I think of laughter. Of the sheer joy in being together, of spending time delighting in each other’s company.

And I guess, when I stop and reflect on it, that *is* how I feel about God. I *do* find joy in his company; in reading His words to me and in speaking to Him (praying). [I bought myself a new Bible for Christmas and have read around 4 chapters per day since January 1st. If I continue, I’ll have read it through in a year. Cool challenge, hey! I’m up to 2 Kings at the moment. And LOVING it ๐Ÿ˜€ ]

And that’s what friendship is about, isn’t it? ‘To have a friend, be a friend,’ they say. Well, that verse above says that Jesus was ‘a friend to tax collectors and sinners’. I’m both. (For more on my tax-collecting propensities, you might like to read here.) And the sinner part? That’s pretty obvious. I stuff up ALL the time!

Jesus was quoting others’ words when he called himself ‘a friend to tax collectors and sinners’. So He must have been seen – by them – as one. And if He could be a friend then, when He was in the physical world, there’s no reason why He can’t be one now, to me… or you!

‘To have a friend, be a friend.’ I’m going to use that as a challenge to view Jesus as my friend. A friend that I still revere, and worship, but a friend nonetheless. I already delight in His company, after all!

So that’s my takeaway lesson for Day 6 of this A to Z blogging challenge: thatย Jesus is my friend. Well, He can be, because that’s what He’s offering. I’m accepting the offer ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great day, dear reader!
— KRidwyn

 

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #4

By day, I teach classroom music in a primary school. By night, I’m a shy, retiring woodland creature who swims on the reef presided over by Her Sharkliness herself, also known as the Queen Of The Known Universe [QOTKU]. And for those of you saying, “Huh? What’s a woodland creature doing on a reef?” I’m referring to the website that WritersDigest listed as ‘Best of the Best’ just last week, the blog run by New York literary guru Janet Reid. (Hi, any visiting Reiders who were also convinced by Colin to do this #AtoZchallenge!)

The Reef is her blog. And the majority of the people who follow are writers. Most of us are shy and retiring. Woodland creatures.

You see, entering the world of writing and publishing is nerve-wracking. I’m the first to admit that I’m a writhing bundle of nerves when I hit ‘send’ on an email query to a prospective agent. Even clicking ‘publish’ on a comment on her blog has my heart racing, for fear I’ll show the world what a complete and utter fraud I am; and how exceptionally laughable it is that I’m aspiring to be a published writer.

But Janet gets that. She understands us. And the Reiders who swim her Reef are honestly the most supportive group of online people you could find anywhere. Bar none.

“So how does that relate to God’s metaphor?” I hear you thinking.

Well, the QOTKU delivers writers from the depths of despair on a daily basis. Needing advice on querying? How about contracts? Pen-name conundrums? Thoughts on self-publishing? We Reiders are treated to fascinating insight into the publishing industry; we absorb the latest in relevant information; AND we get to derive comfort from companionship with other reef dwellers. Because of her, we have a better chance of negotiating the tricky waters of the writing industry.

And that’s what God does. He’s our Deliverer, too.

Psalm 18 verse 2 starts: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer…”

We don’t need to worry about any fearful situations we get ourselves into; God can deliver us. He already has.

When He died on the cross almost 2,000 years ago, he delivered us from the consequences of our sinful lives. He gave us the opportunity to come back into relationship with God again. He paid the penalty for us, so that we might be delivered. We can stand strong; Jesus has done the work for us.

FullSizeRenderAnd that’s my takeaway lesson for Day 4 of this A to Z blogging challenge. God is our Deliverer. Which – for me – means I can hold my head high; because Jesus Himself paid the price for me! And you know what? He paid the price for you, too! ๐Ÿ˜€

Have a great day, dear reader!
— KRidwyn

Over for another year..

Hello again, dear reader.

This marks the final post for my 2015 #blogjune journey. It’s been different to what I had expected. I had *hoped* that I’d be able to post every day. But, just as in the last five years, that never happened. I still managed 30 posts – but because several days had two or more posts in them. And this post marks the 112th post in the #blogjune category – and that sounds pretty impressive to me ๐Ÿ™‚

So, to recap for 2015:

1. On the relationship between libraries, teaching and vocal nodules I lamented my not-going-to-Library-volunteering-due-to-laryngitis day

2. Keeping it at bay – the laryngitis, that is – related my happiness at getting so much editing done the day before, and also re-discovering the five (count them! 5!) folders of research that I’d done for a historical novel ten years ago, before Miss10 came along

3. Looking backwards, looking forwards referred to my experiences with #blogjune (cherubs traditionally picking up vomiting bugs during the first week of June) and my excitement about the #WritingRace I attend every Wednesday evening.

4. So I succumbed – Laryngitis got me, finally. It was the choir rehearsals that did it, I tell you!

5. Ask me why I’m happy – Hubby finished his CPA studies!

6.ย So it happened again – I was *so* hoping to get away with a vomit-free first week of #blogjune. But Miss7 changed that. Sigh.

7. Smiling – while sick : my 41st birthday!

8. Grateful was a post thanking my peeps for all the birthday love – and I finished reading Stephen King’sย On Writing ๐Ÿ™‚

9 – 14. The next few posts were a series on how I parent. I regularly get comments on the good behaviour of my kids, so I thought I’d blog about why. Things like Rewards First, Stuff Costs Money (understanding the value of things), Set Expectations, Consistency is Key, Make Milestones Memorableย and finished it with a post on Mummy: my kids’ perspective

15. This Saturday looked ahead to the Krav Maga grading I was to sit that weekend

16. whoops – where I realised that I’d missed a day of blogging. My first for the month. So I’d made it through to day 15 before misisng a day! Happy with that ๐Ÿ™‚

17. Predicting the game – the State of Origin rugby league match, that’s pretty big on the east coast of Australia during June. And I got it right ๐Ÿ™‚

18. Training – Miss10 had been giving me back massages all week, possibly in response to the hard training I was doing preparing for my grading. Which was absolutely beautiful!

19. On dreams – I wonder what “being suffocated by render” means?

20. I passed!!! (Still shaking my head in disbelief, actually…)

21. Sabriel – my thoughts on the Garth Nix novel of the same name, which I’d read that afternoon. Being unable to do much else but lie prone, of course!

22. Conversations with my younger children – in which both Miss7 and Mr6 surprised me.

23. Hat-less: a selfie. These are rare. But I felt that my first day without-a-hat since shaving my head for #WorldsGreatestShave back in March was reason enough to grin and bear that rear-facing camera…

24. four days behindย  because I was! And my reason why…

25. On socks and sewing – in which I recounted hopeful improvements in my ‘school socks’ system, and also my woeful sewing skills

26. sore – Some furniture was moved in preparation for the laying of tiles which had been delivered – which we had just discovered were the wrong tiles! (Am still seething over this one…)

27. Feedback from beta-readers – my take on the feedback I’ve received on my book to date

28.ย Tiles – part 2 : situation resolved (we can but hope) where the correct tiles will apparently be delivered next week…

29. Reading time – where I got to the bottom of why Mr6 refuses to read certain words

30. Over for another year – this one that’s you’re reading right now, the recap post where I’ve reminisced on the events of the past month.

Thanks for reading, and here’s wishing you a lovely day, as always!

— KRidwyn

Feedback from beta-readers

So I wrote a book, edited it, and gave it to some people to read. This was both exciting and scary! It was just over 25,000 words; an adventure story aimed at children aged 7 – 10. I’ve since had feedback from some of my beta-readers. One member of my writing group gave the manuscript to her two nieces. The seven-year-old wandered off after a few chapters, but the ten-year-old loved it, took some of it to school and showed her teacher – who also really liked it. I like that sort of feedback! Another member of the group gave me really detailed feedback on multiple aspects. This was more than I had expected, and incredibly helpful. He also made me laugh with this comment: “You write short sentences. My average sentence has 25 words. Yours has eight.” Another group member asked if he’d counted them; apparently he’d run the manuscript through a computer program. I didn’t even know that these existed!

Then again this morning,ย I spent a few hours with another of my beta-readers. A retired lecturer in Creative Writing, who gave me some intensive feedback. As in, two hours on just a couple of chapters. Which was brilliant! Mentally exhausting, but fantastic nonetheless. ย And this afternoon, a lady who I aspire to be just like, is planning to spend the next three hours curled up on her couch with my manuscript. She was looking forward to it, and had set aside the time – this time, this afternoon – weeks ago, because she knew she could have some interrupted time to herself, and that’s what she wanted to spend it doing.

I’m really very blessed to have people in my life who are so supportive! I just hope that my little story is worthy of their time! ๐Ÿ™‚

And to you, dear reader, I wish for you a lovely, lovely day.

Thanks for stopping by!

— KRidwyn

Just one day left…

So today is the last day of May. Which means that #blogJune starts tomorrow! Hooray!

I love challenges. I get all determined and use my serious face a lot. Maybe I’m competitive by nature or something? I’m not really sure. 

But challenging myself? That’s something I seriously love doing. (Actually, maybe it’s not so much ‘competitive’ but ‘gets bored easily’. Yeh, that sounds more like me.)

Anyway, #blogJune starts tomorrow. That’s where me and heaps of other people will be blogging every day and tweeting our posts with the hashtag #blogJune. Anyone can join in, so this is an invitation to anyone who stumbles across this blogpost, to join us. You just need a blog. And a Twitter account. And the determination to press ‘publish’ on a blogpost every single day. So join us!

Me? I’m excited today because not only is my blog working again after significant time spent updating it, but for some happy reason, the WordPress iPhone app also seems to be able to link to it… meaning that, right at this very moment in time, in lying on my bed and writing this post on my phone. Yippee! Not sure how the linking or image functions will work yet, but I’m liking this so far!!!

Anyway, we are at 18 hours and counting, people. It’s almost #blogJune time. Will you be joining us? Are you in?

See you tomorrow, dear reader!

countdown to #blogJune

So some of the major problems with this blog were fixed yesterday. Problems like ‘pages aren’t showing’. ‘Links aren’t working’. ‘Comments aren’t appearing’. But as far as I can tell, all of these have now been fixed. Yippee! And hooray! And “fire the cupcake cannons!” (all credit for this quote to Delilah S.Dawson, whose blogposts I’m rapidly falling in love with.) Now it’s the minor issues left to attend to; widgets not appearing so they can’t be edited, categories and tags needing major editing, permalink setting tweaking without the entire site breaking, you know. That sort of thing.

But this site of mine is now publishing the stuff I write, and it’s appearing, and now people can comment on this stuff too. Which is awesome!

And just in time. #BlogJune starts the day after tomorrow!

Ahhh. #BlogJune. My favourite time of the year for blogging. Because I actually make a concerted effort to blog daily, and to read the daily blogposts of friends (mainly Library friends) both near and far. We comment. We re-connect. Make new friends. You know how it goes. I love it. I feel like I’m keeping in touch with all things ‘Library’ – which, now I’ve graduated but am not yet working in a Library, is happy-making for me.

Posts by peeps doing #blogJune will not all be ‘Library’ ones. In fact, not all bloggers doing #blogJune will be peeps in the LIS space. That’s where it started, back when it was #blogeverydayofJune, but it’s grown into more than that. So, dear reader, if you have your own blog and want to challenge yourself to blog daily, then join us! Just blog daily – whatever topic you like – and tweet your post with the tag #blogJune. We’d love to have you aboard!

On the benefits of membership in a local writers group

Writing is a solo sport. “Sport?” I hear you laugh. Yes, I argue. It requires discipline. Improvement of skills. Goal setting and achievement reaching. And, let’s face it, the noun ‘sport’ is just so much stronger than the noun ‘activity’. And it’s my blog, so I get to say what nouns get used. And today, I want to use the noun ‘sport’. So there.

But that’s not the point. The point is, that it’s a SOLO sport. One done by individuals, not teams. And as such, this sport that writers practice, is – by its very nature – a lonely one. And that’s okay. We understand that.

But it’s not good to be alone. To grow, to develop, to improve, we need community. Others. To help us, to hone our skills, to give us instantaneous feedback, constructive criticism, to inspire and encourage and tell us straight when we’ve completely screwed something up and need to give up and start over.

And that’s where a local writers group comes in. For me, at least.

There are a dozen regular members in the group I’m a member of. Writers of fantasy, of bush ballads and other poetry, of romance. writers of biographies and autobiographies. Writers of history. Radio script writers. And me.

This morning, our challenge was to rewrite a short event (read ‘news clip’) into a much longer, more sensational piece (read ‘feature article’). This was fun. The 34 year old Berlin-born burglar of guitars, amps and other music equipment from a Philadelphian storage locker back in March, became a far more sinister figure in my retelling of the news event. He morphed into a Nazi-background, revenge-seeking criminal mastermind, intent on world domination through his dealings in Weapons of Mass Destruction. And that was just mine! Others’ entries ranged from watermelon-wielding elephants to boganvillea intent on injuring their owners. What lively discussions ensued!

And that’s my point. Writing is lonely. And I find it essential, if I’m aiming to improve in this sport that I’ve chosen, to un-loneli-fy myself. To be a part of a vibrant writing community which so inspires me every fortnight.

I love it. Am I the only one, I wonder?

Anyway, have a great day, dear reader! ๐Ÿ™‚

— KRidwyn