Stepping Stones Blog

Sunday Salon: October 5, 2014

Fall weather in the Midwest is a free-for-all.  We began the week with temperatures in the 90s and our lows this weekend are in the upper 30s.  They should moderate by early next week, but I must confess, I love the variation and can hardly wait for the leaves to change color 🙂

I always loved youReading:  This week’s reading focused on novels that relate to my NaNoWriMo piece.  I read Lubovic Harvey’s, The Cardinal Family (circa 1897) in a single day.  Lubovic was a good friend of Degas, and this work is a humorous commentary on the comings and goings behind-the-scenes of the Paris Ballet.  It gave me great insight and will prove useful, should I modify the story to a YA audience.

I am nearly finished with the 2014 release of I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira.  This historical fiction novel focuses on the relationship between Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas.  While there is no evidence that points to a romance, the author investigates that possibility.

The author has obviously done her research, but I must confess that I find some of the historical data to be a bit too much which distracts from the narrative.  I have enjoyed the storyline, however, and her attention to detail that bring Cassatt and Degas to life.

nano 2014Writing:  I have had the most productive writing week … without writing a single word.

As the above reading indicates, I am getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2014.  I plan to revise last year’s piece and at this point, I wonder if I might pursue three different directions.  Originally I wrote this story as a Middle Grade novel, that is, grades 5-8.  After meeting with one of my beta readers, I felt compelled to challenge myself to write a YA novel that delves more into the seedier side of the ballerinas and their patrons.  But recently, I have also wondered if perhaps my audience is really upper elementary – to pick up where The Magic Tree House books leave off.

To be honest, I am excited about all three possibilities and rather than pick and choose, I think I might try them all.  At this point in my “career” (in reality I would say I am “pre-career”) I think I can afford to experiment rather than pigeon-hole myself.

In addition, I feel led to write my memoir.  It is not that I feel I have a compelling story; I have no other explanation but to say that I feel called to start.   But it is not just my memoir.  Every time I sit down to write, I am drawn to begin with the stories of my parents.  The memoir will be an attempt to tell their story and weave mine within that structure.

So this week… I plan to start writing:  two completely different projects – both true passions.

Blogging:  I have continued my series on Finding Your Soul’s Agenda.  The first week I wrote the introduction; the second week focused on the Passions of Your Heart; the third week identified Core Values and Beliefs; and this week I discussed assessing Skills and Talents.

This week I will delve into our personal Stepping Stones (experiences) that have brought us to the present day.  The series will conclude in two weeks when I will share my Writer’s Manifesto.

Other events of the week:  I thoroughly enjoyed the three day celebration of journal writing.  I attended a number of teleconference phone calls with such notable professionals as Natalie Goldberg, Mark Matousek, Louise DeSalvo and Christina Baldwin.  I took many pages of notes that I plan to incorporate in my own writing, as well as a course curriculum which I can (hopefully) use to teach others the healing power of journaling.

To that end, I recently came across this Udemy class, Life Coaching to Discover Your Purpose.  I was initially taken aback.  Not only is this the subject of my recent blog posts, but the stepping stone graphic is the platform I have chosen for this blog.  But I have come to realize that this is not a deterrent for my business but rather a confirmation that I am on the right track.

Gilmore_Girls_season_1_box_setFor those who are fans of the show, Gilmore Girls began to stream on Netflix this week.  There are a total of seven seasons – 100 episodes – and I have watched fourteen of them so far.  I have always enjoyed the fast-paced banter between Loralie and her daughter Rory, and the small-town Connecticut setting has a nostalgia quality for me.  Bibliophiles tend to enjoy the show because Rory is always reading or talking about reading with the same level of excitement that most teenagers reserve for the latest movie or CD release.  There is even a  Gilmore Girls reading list that chronicles all 300+ books mentioned on the show.

Since watching the show, however, I am discovering it is also an excellent resource to learn how to write.  I analyze what draws me into the narrative (highly character driven) and why am I compelled to continue to watch (relationship tension).  I am also interested in analyzing the “beats” of each episode… how the story moves forward, conflict is introduced, and suspense builds to ultimately a satisfying conclusion.

The only other time that I have “binge-watched” a television show was when I discovered Mad Men.  I have been afraid of wasting my time with mind-numbing activity.  I am learning, however, that story is everywhere and I can hone my craft in different ways, using a variety of resources.



  1. I heard from an editor at a conference once that watching Gilmore Girls is a great thing to do if writing for YA. Voice will just fall into place. It’ll be whatever is easiest and feels and sounds most natural. That’s one of several reasons why I stopped writing for teens. My voice just naturally sounds more formal and older, which works well for historical works. Even at that, I have to work hard to reduce the reading level. My natural voice uses long meandering sentences that bump up the reading level beyond grade 12. I work to bring the overall average down to about grade six. Plus, my mind has an inspirational and philosophical bent that is better suited to writing inspirational novels for adults.

    Your NaNo goals will reveal a lot to you about your fiction voice. Have fun with it!

  2. readerbuzz

    I vote for early chapter book. But that’s just me. I’m always looking for compelling early chapter books for those transitioning readers.

    Here’s my Week in Books.

  3. joyweesemoll

    Sounds like lots of exciting stuff you’re coming up with for NaNo. Binge-watching television has helped me in the past with fiction work. It’s a fast way to get myself into story-telling mode.

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