Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How Do You Organize Your Ideas?

When it comes to storage, my ideas go in one of three places:

1.) My Head
PhotoPretty obvious. I like to let new ideas stew for a bit before I decided if they’re worth writing. “A bit” can be anywhere from a couple days to a couple years while I add characters, think about possible plots, and compose playlists. It’s essential that my ideas have a very strong “feel” to them—something that keeps pulling me back.

2.) A notebook
College-ruled and spiral-bound, if you please. Ideas really come alive for me when I've pinned down the central relationship of the story. I usually think in terms of two main characters (even if one is really more of a supporting character) and the dynamic between them. Once I have a good idea of that (and assuming I still think it’s a story worth writing) I move the idea to its own notebook. Not much organization, but plenty of room to make notes and work things out. Nothing’s certain yet, but it’s a bit more permanent than when it was all in my head.

3.) Index Cards
For all the unrelated bits and pieces that don’t have a story yet. Titles, quotes, weird observations, and all other random snippets get noted down on index cards and stuffed into a shoe box on my shelf. Sometimes things resurface, sometimes they don’t, but it’s nice to know there’ll all in one place.

That’s my filing system for ideas, and as you can see, it’s not all that organized. I used to wish it was, but I've decided that I prefer it to be a little chaotic—when everything’s rigidly organized I don’t feel like a creative person anymore. On the other hand, I know a lot of great writers are MUCH more organized than I am…so what do you prefer? Do you like to let ideas stew in your head or keep them all written down in a notebook? What does your storage system look like? Drop me a note in the comments; I’d love to know!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cake Book Tag & Addictive Blog Award

   The only thing that might possibly be better than books is cake. Thanks again to the lovely Alyssa for tagging me; I haven’t blogged about books in a while, so the timing is perfect.


Cake Book Tag:

Flour: A book that started slowly but turned out amazing
It took me quite a while to get past the first page, but once I did I couldn’t stop reading.

Butter: A book that had a thick, rich plot 
Immigration to a foreign country, a manuscript smuggled away in a viola, and not one but two unexpected romances. What more could you ask for?

Eggs: A book you thought would be bad but turned out great
I didn’t think it would be horrible, but I had only average expectations for The Year Money Grew on Trees. And then I actually read it. It makes owning and maintaining an orchard sound like fun, and how can you not love a story where the kids get to drive their own tractor into town? Plus, it ends on a surprising but satisfyingly bittersweet note.

Pumpkin Moonshine

Sugar: A sugary, sweet book
Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor. A simple, old-fashioned story wrapped up in beautiful illustrations.


Icing: A book that covered every single element that you enjoy in a book
I had a tough time picking this one…I’m far from picky when it comes to choosing favorite books, but they’re not many that cover every base. The King of Attolia has fantastically believable world building, sword fights, political intrigue, snarky characters, kind characters, snarky and kind characters, and one of the most twisted yet wonderful romances I have ever read. I also love how transparent the writing is—you almost forget you’re reading and just begin to live the story.

Sprinkles: A book that always cheers you up
This is a bit of a weird example, seeing as the story itself isn’t all that cheerful, but rereading The Outsiders always puts me in a good mood. I read it for the first time three or four years ago, and since then it’s been my book version of comfort food.

The Cherry on Top: The best book of the year so far
I’m going to have to go with Fool’s Assassin. I don’t read much high fantasy, and this one’s a doorstopper. It’s not the most suspenseful read, but I loved the concept and characters and finished it in record time, considering. But be warned: it ends with a horrible cliffhanger.

Image result for it's a good life short story

Cupcakes: An awesome short with the epicness of a book
A boy with god-like powers cuts off his hometown from the rest of the world on the day he’s born. It goes about as well as you’d expect. It’s a Good Life is one of the creepiest stories I’ve ever read (they made three Twilight Zone episodes out of it), what with “snapping” people’s minds and “wishing things to the cornfield”. But the thing is, the boy, Anthony, isn’t evil. At least not exactly. Most of the story takes place when he’s three years old, so he really can’t be expected to act any better—especially since everyone is scared to death of him. Anyway, it’s a great story with a concept that I would love to see in a book.

Addictive Blog Award:

  1. Thank the person awarding you.
  2. Share a little about why you blog and how the journey started.
  3. Paste the blog award on your page.
  4. Nominate 10 other bloggers you feel deserve the award.
Why I blog:
   Because it’s fun and I’m semi-good at it. I’m never 100% satisfied with any of my posts, but I love sharing my opinions and connecting with other bloggers. And I love getting ideas for shiny new posts. That’s it, really.

How I started:
   Third Star to the Right was my fourth(?) blog and the first where I decided to buckle down and stick with it. I blogged about the things that interested me—writing, books, a bit of art—and eventually people started reading (hey, guys!) It’s only been a few months, and I’m still figuring things out, but I’m happy with how it’s coming along.

I’m tagging:
   If you’d like to answer these questions, consider yourself tagged. If you post them, be sure to leave me a link in the comments—I’d love to check it out!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Honor C. Appleton

Honor Charlotte Appleton was born on the 4th of February, 1879 in Brighton, England. She studied art at the Royal Academy and went on to illustrate more than 100 books, including editions of Charles Perrault’s and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. She died in 1951.

…And that’s about all the information I could find online—Honor Appleton doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. I discovered one of her illustrations (the first one below) in Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen, the same book that introduced me to Kay Nielsen. Her paintings have a very delicate style, and to be honest, sometimes it’s a little too sweet for my taste. Still, her Snow Queen will always be my favorite. 

The Snow Queen
Appleton's Princess and the Pea 2
The Princess and the Pea
Illustrations de Honor Charlotte Appleton
Little Red Riding Hood
Honor C. Appleton's Little Mermaid 1
The Little Mermaid

P.S. Gobs and gobs of thanks to everyone who commented on my last post—your tips and encouragement were exactly what I needed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


    So…my blogging juices have been running low for a while now. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas for posts…I just can’t find the energy to write them. It takes me ten minutes to type up a satisfactory sentence, which stays satisfactory for about five seconds before I delete it and start over. Nothing sounds right; I can’t get into the flow at all.

   Slogging through and writing anyway is probably the best cure, and I try to…sort of. I also read, goof around on the internet, switch gears to work on something else, come back, write another draft, listen to music, take breaks on weekends, take breaks on weekdays, make lists, cross things off lists, and try to get through the whole thing as quickly as possible. When it comes to inspiration, I actually have a pretty predictable pattern of highs and lows, and knowing that it will all eventually repeat itself keeps me from going completely insane. Mostly.

   Anyway, I'd love to know how you guys deal with blogger's block. Drop me a note in the comments if you have any tips and/or survival stories. (And despite all this, I've been having a fantastic spring break so far, and I hope you are too!)