Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z is for Zero

It seems I made it. This is the last post in the April A-Z bogging challenge. I should probably revisit my goals - but I chose not to. This month has been a struggle in more ways than I expected, and many of the goals I set a month ago have been abandoned.
I will take them up again, certainly. Camp NaNo isn't finished (yet), I still have some 600 words to reach my goal - but I've got half a day to do it so I'll probably make it.

So here's to Zero days left of April. In Sweden, this is the day to celebrate that spring has arrived. We light fires, sing traditional songs and make speaches about how nice it is to be rid of winter, how nice it is that spring has arrived, and how nice it is that summer ison the way. (Yeah, we're just a tad obsessed by warmth here…) We do this even when it's freezing cold and we'd rather be inside snuggling under a blanket, watching TV. Because it's tradition.

Here's the first verse of the old traditional song for today (translated by me…) It should be sung by a choir of men :)

Winter's stormed out among our mountains,
snowdrift's flowers melt down and die.
Heaven smiles in the spring's light evenings,
the sun kisses life into forest and lake.
Soon is summer here in purpur waves;
Golden coated and azur-shimmering
lies meadows in the day's flames,
and in the groves wells are dancing.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Y is for Young

Lately I've seen the same picture shared on Pinterest and Facebook (but of course I didn't save it and now I can'd find it…) It's done like texting messages between two people - might be a real one, might not - questioning why protagonists in Fantasy literature tend to be pretty young. Other genres share this to a point, but Fantasy is one of the few genres that doesn't have to feature the protagonist as a young person. (Frodo might seem young, but he's 50.)

The point of the converstation in the picture I metioned is that it would be awesome to have an old lady, complete with a magical handbag and a kitten sidekick, who went about righting things in the world since she finally had no one to care about but herself (no, that wasn't the exact text, just the idea).

Every time I've seen that appear in a writing group on FB, the post gets a lot of likes. One threads went wild, people starting to post all kinds of version on the theme "old fantasy heroes" and what adventures they would have.

It was hilarious. It was fun.

And then most of us go back to write about fantasy heroes in the upper teenages. I'm no exception. I'd love to some day make a story about a 40-something mother who has to leave husband, kids and work to go on a mission to save the world. Or a 60-something man with a grandkid in tow because he needs help to read the instructions on the magic scrolls. Or a 90-something on the run from the rest-home because she's the only one immune to the new virus (but the 'on the run' thing has already been done - The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of A Window And Disappeared). Still, my protagonist tend to be around 20.

I think the many young protagonists of Fantasy can be traced to the time when Fantasy was seen as merely 'fairytales', but for a slightly older audience. Firmly rooted as Young Adult, they needed heroes in the same age as the potential readers. Same reason that the vast majority of heroes were male, but that has changed. Perhaps, as the genre is walking into the New Adult - and Adult - shelves, we'll see more protagonists who are slightly older.

Of course, there are other reasons for fantasy heroes to be young - the same reasons as YA. These people are often at a crossroads in their life, need to start stand on their own, making their own way in the world and decide what's good and what's evil. Older people tend to have done that journey already (and is in our mind less likely to be tempted by the wrong side), and to make the experience more powerful we choose the teen who is on the verge of taking adult shape.

Even if it still will be easier to juggle a sleugh-job and family, or only work as a superhero on weekends, it would be awesome to see an ordinary family man or woman pulled into a fantasy adventure (and if we go Narnia style, the time spent adventuring won't matter).

And if you make up your own fantasy world, all you need to do is use a social system that allow adults to have as much fun and growing to do as teens.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

X is for Ex-

Anyone else feel like the hardest letters come last? Maybe there's a reason why thery're last in the alphabet (even though there are other letters, but you Enlish people ignore them).

So, what to do about X? Maybe do a "top 10 list", write about some "unknown, unspecified, or variable factor, number, person, or thing" as a dictionary suggests?

As I tried to come up with something, I went about thinking about the letter, sounding it in my head - and there it was. The sound. Ex.

There's a long list of "ex" in my life. Things, places, people, relationships, dreams, projects, feelings, knowledge… the list of what have once been more or less important to me but now is past is longer than I care to think about.

So for today I'll limit myself to consider some of the writing projects I have abandoned. Or shall I be nice and label them "not finished" instead? A few of them might still be dug out and finished, or fixed, or revised, or completely rewritten, but let's be honest here… They were abandoned for a reason. Most often it was not because I lost interest in it, or that a new idea lured me away from it.

The ex-projects simply wasn't good enough. The idea never took shape, didn't evolve into a premise that had a fighting chance to became a whole story arch. Sometimes they weren't even given an outline (Camp Nano 2013, for example, when I tried total pantsing). The thing collapsed somewhere in the swampy middle when I couldn't keep characters or plot straight. Sometimes I outlined too much and it wasn't much to add after that (but it might work as a short story if I get back to it?).

There are a few gold nuggets in that ex-projects lists. Of course. One day I'll go through it, pick the hearts out and see if I can merge two or three of them together to make something new. Something totally genre-bending and unheard of.

It will be amazing.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W is for What if...

There are few things that can get a writer light up more than the simple question: "What if…?" If you're the least inclined to make up stories, those simple words opens a wormhole of possibilities.

It can be fashinating. If I'm in plotting phase, I can't get enough of those words. I imagine all twists and turns my idea can take, explore any crazy opportunity my mind creates.

It can be overwhelming. When I start outlining I need some way to grab all of these stray thoughts and compile them to a semblance of order. That's the point when I start to ignore new things worming their way in.

It can get annoying. While writing the first draft, I still allow new and previously not imagined things to occur. But I keep them sparse, and evaluate them before incorporate them. Otherwise I would never finish anything.

It can get dangerous. When the first draft is complete I don't want any new things to seep in, but sometimes they still do. That's the point when I have to make a concious choice: go with the new one (which likely means I have to write a major part of the draft all over again) or firmly put the new one away in another file (to use in another story).

The first one can be OH, so tempting. Sometimes I've done it and the new story is better. Sometimes I've done it and it was just a waste of time and effort (and maybe a sign that I was more interested in not finishing than rewriting).

The second one is easier, but will carry with it an eternal worry that the story would have been better if I had changed it.

When this happen, I pause. I make an outline for the new version. Then I leave it for a few weeks (trying to not even think about it). When I come back and analyze the two versions… Compare plot points, stakes, character development.

After that I can usually decide which one I want, and go on writing it without regrets.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

V is for Virtual

Some of my very best friends I have never met face to face. Most of them I only know through text. A few pictures, but mostly letters.

I'm referring to books, of course. Fitional characters coming alive. Having adventures I couldn't even dream of, seeing places not of this world, facing situtations and choices I fervently hope I will never have to. They allow me to hijack their life for a while. See through their eyes, walk in their shoes, listening in to their thoughts.

Reading made me want to create stories. I thought that would be easy, after reading so much. I had people visulized in my head, places and plans for them to visit and make their own.

It was not that easy. I started to write, and what I could see so vividly in my head became dull and flat on the paper. I started reading books on the craft of writing. Plotting, character making, suspense, magical artifacts… The information was endless, not the least after I turned to the internet.

Slowly I was able to sift through it all. Started to find a way that suits me. I found NaNoWriMo and their forums. I joined writing groups on Facebook, and other sites. 

Some of my very best friends I have never met face to face. Most of them I only know through text. A few pictures, but mostly letters. Not only fictional characters anymore. Through 'social media' I have found real people behind letters and pictures. People who live a whole (or half) world away. People who don't speak the same native languge that I do. People who have a very different view on everything religious and political. People who share my dream of writing stories that touch others, about characters who feel real.

Virtual friends. Real friends.

Monday, 25 April 2016

U is for Unintended

How many of us can truthfully say that we planned each step along our often pretty up-and-down and slippery-sloping and hither-thither way through this life?

I sure didn't. I've had hopes, I've had dreams, and yes - I've had plans. Some came true, most did not. My fault? My accomplishment? Sometimes.

Mostly, though, life tend to take the unintended path. Things happen, I react, plans meet with consequences. Things do not end up the way I thought they would. For good or bad, for better or worse, we live the life of unintended chain-reactions. We can only plan so much. We have to leave room for the unforseen, the random, the not-quite. For what we can't see.

If we do, we risk bad things will happen.

But if we don't, there's no chance for blessings to enter.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

T is for Thankful

What are you thankful for? Close your eyes for just a moment, and consider the question.

Did you come up with anything? Maybe something special has happened recently, maybe you got lucky, maybe something made you happy. That's great!

Most things we take for granted is truly things we should be grateful for. I've got a home. Clean water. A job. A husband. Two healthy kids. Money to buy what I need (even a laptop). Am I grateful for all of this, or am I just too used to it to not even consider it a blessing? What I mentioned is only the top of the iceberg, really.

Things got in perspective last week, when we lost my mother-in-law. Eight years ago my father had just gotten the diagnosis of his brain tumor, which took his life in August the same year. Me and my husband now has one parent each left in this life.

Am I thankful that I still have the opportunity to talk to my mother each day? Did I appreciate the time when I still had my father within reach? I wish I could tell you a certain 'yes' - but it's never that easy, is it?

Our kids were 3 and 5 when my father died, now they're almost 11 and 13. They hardly remember my father, I hope they will remember my mother-in-law better. I should be thankful that they got more time with her, but still there's that small thorn saying it's unfair that my father didn't get the chance to get to know them…

Thankfulness is not an easy thing. And it's not something you can force into being. It's simply something we have to train ourselves to be. Every moment.

Friday, 22 April 2016

S is for Songs

I listened to far more music when I was younger. Nowadays I prefer quiet when possible (probably because I'm surrounded by kids during work and have husband and sons who are … loud… in the music area).

Sometimes, though, I can't help but get stuck in a song. Sometimes it helps in my writing. Some song comes along and the lyrics are perfect for a character, for a situation, for a relationship.

Of course I save it when that happnes. It's just like the quotes I wrote about (for Q).

One such song is Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill. It's kind of perfect for the romance pair I wrote about yesterday. (Except that none of them is a writer.)

You ask me if I love you, and I choke on my reply
I'd rather hurt you honestly than mislead you with a lie
And who am I to judge you, on what you say or do?
I'm only just beginning to see the real you

Romance and all its strategy leaves me battling with my pride
But through the insecurity some tenderness survives
I'm just another writer still trapped within my truth
A hesitant prize fighter still trapped within my youth

At times I'd like to break you and drive you to your knees
At times I'd like to break through and hold you endlessly

At times I understand you, and I know how hard you've tried
I've watched while love commands you, and I've watched love pass you by
At times I think we're drifters still searching for a friend
A brother or a sister ... But then the passion flares again

And sometimes when we touch, the honesty's too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you til I die, til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

Thursday, 21 April 2016

R is for Romance

I'll admit it right from the start: I'm not a fan of the genre 'Romance'. I've nothing against it per se, it's just that I want more in a story. To me the ideal romance plot is when it's a subplot - not one hundred procent necessary for the story but adds some tension to it.

That's the kind I need in my current (read: forever ongoing) work-in-progress. I've got a woman. She's becoming interested in a man. She's not sure why, hardly even realizes it because she's not the kind of girl falling in love at first sight and he's not the kind of man she should be falling for. He's very much not interested, doesn't really see her, don't understand it at all first - and when he does he's totally surprised, again because they're not the pair anyone would expect. Both are broken, ragged in different ways. Together they may have a chance at healing.

This will be a subplot for the whole trilogy. Yes, they will 'get each other' in the end, but there won't be a 'happy ever after' thing. With their background, it can't be. I'll just tone out with the feeling that things will work out for them, and they'll be together.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Q is for Quotes

I - like may other writers - keep a Pinterest board for my writing projects. I come across a picture that fit a chracter, a setting, some clothing, or a fact that I might need to research deeper as the story goes.

I also collect quotes. Yes, I have a separate board for general quotes, but I'm thrilled each time I find an actual quote that fit a character. I might not use it, but some times it feels like it could have come right out of his or her mouth.

This quote is so spot on. Akir has a tendency to never make excuses, never admit that he's take on to much or that he's been beaten down. He'll always get himself together and push on, refusing to believe that anything can stop him.


Mateo, on the other hand, is a bit more on the realistic side. The one to the right could be an answer to the way Akir behaves, again and again, in the story.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

P is for Pearls of Life

The Pearls of Life is a wreath of beads, made to be used like a rosary (but for Lutherans). Each bead has a special meaning, and the wreath is often worn as a bracelet. In Swedish they're called "Frälsarkransen" - translated as "Saviour's wreath" - but I've seen it called "Wreath of Christ" as well.

I've had one with me, almost daily, for many years now. I still have the original with glass beads I once bought, but for everyday use I prefer one I've made myself with wooden and slightly smaller beads.

They sit on my wrist, always at hand, reminding me that prayer is only one thought away. And when the words are few and my thoughts are scattered, I take hold of one of the beads of silence and just relax. 
The Pearls of Life

If you see them like this, the pearls are in order:
(starting at the top and going down to the left, omitting the oblong ones  - they are all for silence)

Gold - for God
White (small) - for myself
White - for Baptism
Sand - for the Desert, trials and emptiness
Blue - for Carefree moments and happiness
Red - for Love, one to give it and one to recieve it
3 small ones - for Secrets, what your heart is full of right now
Black - for the Night, death and loss
White - for Resurrection and Life eternal

O is for Orgainzation

I guess it's time to confess. Organization for me is a mess. I know I can keep things straight, it works pretty fine at work (at least we manage to kind of remember in which of the three locations we have the things we need. And usually get them where they need to be).

Home is another matter, obviously. I've never been the orderly one. Through childhood my room was a mess. Clothes, things, books - everywhere. I very seldom had any problem to find what I looked for, but it sure didn't look like it.

What I remember most is the cleanup frenzy whenever someone was coming to visit. As if I didn't want to show the real me. Even then, I knew I was supposed to be organized.

I wish I could say it's become better. My husband is an orderly person. Want to put things back at once, while I still would stockpile things (like books) on the living room table. It's a wonder he puts up with me.

My laptop is… only marginally better, and that's out of necessity. I have to have some order on my writing folders (thank yoi Scrivener) or I'd never get anywhere.

I think the most strange thing is that I do want to keep order and be organized. It shouldn't be that hard. I just don't know how.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

N is for Never ending

I once found a book called The Neverending Story. For a bookworm like me that title was as good as heaven - a story that never ended? Give it to me…

Then I read the back, realized that of course the story did have an ending (after all it wasn't even a series) but the premise was the next best thing: a story world becoming real to the reader. The reader interacting with the story, living inside the story. Ever since reading Narnia, or Brothers Lionheart, I had desperately longed for something like that. 

I followed Bastian with an almost desperate need to be him. And, of course, the story ended. As they all do. But that story woke something inside me. I have never forgotten it.

Since then, I've wanted to create my own stories. I started writing, a neverending endevour all by itself. There are stories within me, stories that I'm not sure I can ever do justice. But I know I have to keep on trying to pull them out of my imagination and into words and onto paper.

Because I simply can't stop doing it.

Friday, 15 April 2016

M is for Midpoint

So this is the middle of the month of challenges. I should probably revisit my goals again… but I chose not to.

I'm behind in almost all of it, this blogging thing is the only one up to date and that's only because I've made a habit of writing these posts in advance. (Reason for the chaos in my life is in yesterday's post.)

Midpoint in a story is a point of change. A mirror-moment, I've learned, where the Main Character often have a moment of reflection, gains new insights about the story problem (of course) - but more importantly about him- or herself. No one is born a Hero, not even the Main Character. He or she needs to grow, to change, to become a Hero who can face the ultimate challenges in the story's end - and overcome it.

The Midpoint is often where that journey starts. The Main Character realizes that change is needed and starts working not only to reach the outer goal but to make the personal changes that will make it possible to 'win'.

I'm not sure I've come that far yet. But I'm starting to close in.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

L is for Laugh

I decided on the heading word for each day before April begun. As I'm writing this, it's Wednesday 13th (yes, I like to get a little ahead when I can) and my first thought when seeing "laugh" was to change it. It's not like anyone would know, anyway.

Everyone need to laugh now and then. There's a saying - "a good laughter prolongs life", and I think it's true in many ways. To laugh is good for both body and mind, and it's contagious in the way that if one or two is laughing it's hard to not join them.

Today is no day for laughs, most would say. My mother-in-law died yesterday (read: Tuesday). It did not come totally unecpected. She's been ill for a long time, better for a time then worse again. Not that that matters. She will still be missed, probably more than she ever could have imagined.

I stuck to the theme of laughter, because we need it. Now, in times of sorrow and mourning, we need it more than ever. We will not give in, will not give up, will not stop laughing.

She would not want us to.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

K is for Knowledge

Can you get too much knowledge? After all, humans has seeked greater knowledge all the way from the tree in the Garden of Eden (which was a mistake, we're told, but probably necessary nontheless). How much can we grasp, how much of our surroundings have we the potential to understand and describe?

We've certainly reached a point where experts have trouble explaining their recent findings in a way others can understand. 

I'm no exception. When I find something that interests me, I want to know everything about it. In these times it's not hard to find any information you want, it's just a few clicks away. Internet is at your fingertips and you only need a few seconds to have a long list of links to search.

The problem isn't finding knowledge. The problem is to sift through it, decide what's trustworthy and what's not. What's good to know, and what only harms me. In that respect we haven't moved far from Adam and Eve. They too had to chooce whom to trust to speak the truth.

Or, as a friend of mine said not too long ago: "April 1 is the only day people use source criticism online."

When it comes to writing, knowledge seeking is called research. It's necessary to get the facts right, whatever you are writing about. Even in my made-up fantasy world, I have to get the basics right (everything from realistic travel-time on foot to where you aquire new shoes or how you wear a sword without tripping).

The problem is the same here. Sift through, deciding which "expert" to trust. And then comes the real thing: knowing when you've had enough. Research is fun. Too fun. It easily becomes the worst procrastination tool ever. Because as long as I'm researching things for my novel I can fool myself into thinking I'm working on my novel, even if I don't write a word.

I've been there far too many times.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

J is for "Just right"

In Swedish we have a word, a very special one. Lagom. It's a word hard to translate in a way that makes good sense. "Just right" comes close, but can't (in my opinion) capture it wholly.

Lagom means to not stand out. Not eat too much, but not to little. Not being too tall, but not too short. Not wear strange clothing but still not copy everyone else. And so on. Just enough different to be a bit personal, but not different enough to make people turn their heads.

Swedes are supposed to be lagom. At least that was the norm when I grew up. It has changed a bit, now we also want to be best, first, biggest and loudest. Everyone think they can be the new Zlatan or the next winner of Idol, and no one bothers to dream about having an ordinary job.

I admit I'm ambivalent to this. Of course we should let the children dream, tell them that everything is possible, that they can be whatever they want when they grow up. But that has shaped almost a full generation with unrealistic plans for the future. There's not enough students who want to become teachers, nurses or cooks. They want to be moviestars, professional athletes and famous. With no thought of that a society can't function without all those doing the work that's unseen and unthought of.

Maybe that's the idea about lagom. Not to crush dreams, but temper them with realism.

Monday, 11 April 2016

I is for Impossible


Taste the word.

We all encounter it, more or less, sooner or later. We're told it, we feel it, we live it. So many things are impossible. So many things that we often get caught in it, can't get past it, can't think around it. Because we're taught that it's impossible.

But what if it's not? Do I even dare to think it, much less consider it? Life is full of surprises. Even sience is full of surprises, things that were impossible or not true yesterday are being reevaluated today. The word "atom" means something that's impossible to split - it was when discovered - but today we're spitting atoms and kids know what they consist of.

Not so long ago we celebrated Easter. As a Christian, it can't get bigger than that. God made the impossible happen. Christ died, and by that opened the way to reconciliation with God. Then he rose again, defying death - the ultimate impossible.

He told us nothing is impossible, if we only have faith in him. With God, the word is changed. Not Impossible, but I'm possible.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

H is for Happiness

Are you happy?

Do you ever get that question? Hopefully you do. Hopefully it comes from someone who cares about you - or at least cares about the answer.

Your answer is important. But if you're like me, your answer depends very much on who's asking, where you are and if there's others around who might hear you.

Most often I give a smile, a small shrug and say "of course" with a voice that's appropriately bland. After that I usually try to avoid the person, or at least the subject… because how often can I truly say that I'm happy?

Can you? Can anyone?

Sometimes I am. Happiness bubbles through me and I almost skip along the street like a little girl because simply walking is too dreary to fit the occasion - but when that happens it's pretty clear and no one need to ask. They can see it.

When I'm not, I often do not want to talk about it. Not with just anyone at least, and definetly not as an answer to a random question when the asker probably doesn't expect me to pour out all my sorrows for everyone to see.

Most often I'm somewhere in between, and cue in the bland answer. The expected answer. The answer that doesn't demand anything from the asker.

Because it's easier that way.

Friday, 8 April 2016

G is for Goal

I'll state it right from the beginning: I'm lousy at setting goals. I'm so bad at setting goals that I'm not ever sure whether I'm good at keeping them or not… since I almost never set any.

Sure, I keep up with things anyway. My weekly calendar is frequently referenced to make sure I don't forget things, and to track any progress I make. The problem is that because my avoidance about setting goals makes it hard to figure out if I actually make much progress. I can see if I've lost some weight, if I've been to the gym or taken a walk but I miss the possibility to say "YES, I met my goal!"

Of course, I'd probably need an accountability partner to make it work. Or at least make the goals official enough so I can't back out or pretend that I haven't made any.

That's why I'm taking this opportunity. In my "A" post i made the following statements about the goals of April:
  1. Writing: Finish A2Z and Camp NaNo
  2. Health: Start over on 5:2 and find a workout timeplan that works
  3. Job: See the positive in every child and plan forward to summer daycamp.
  4. Faith: Set aside 10 minutes each day for personal growth (Bible reading, prayer, whatever). 

Ah. Official enough, I should think. Since that was a week ago, let's see where I am now:.
  1. Is going pretty well, thanks. I'm on par both with this blogging thing and Camp NaNo. No problems there.
  2. Not so good. 5:2 is going fairly well (though I've started experimenting with 16:8 instead) but no workout plan is developed yet. However, I have been to the gym twice this week and taken one 5 kilometer walk.
  3. Summer day camp planning is almost fully planned, we can't to much more until we know how many kids will participate (and we won't know that until end of May). See the positive in each child is a challenge, as I knew it would be, since a few of them are the kind that really push my patience. I'm working on it.
  4. Yes, I can say I've managed to do this during the week. So far, so good.
There. You've seen my list. Anyone want to share theirs?

Thursday, 7 April 2016

F is for Faith

Time to get personal…

To officially announce that you're a Christian is not always easy. People have so many opinions on that, even if they haven't the faintest clue what you're talking about, and they somehow feel that they're entitled - or even obliged - to tell you about it. That's no less true in Sweden, the land of the "you should never stand out" -population. Especially if you admit you're dedicated to the Swedish Church, the former state church. I can't shake the feeling that members of my church (in other's eyes) are supposed to be as lukewarm as its spokesmen often seems.

Enough of that. This post is supposed to be about faith. See how easy it was for me to avoid it? An obvious sign of how touchy it is even for me - and I work for the Swedish Church. I'm a children's teacher, telling the gospel in words and deeds every day to kids aged 3-12… and still I get uncomfortable when asked directly, or when I have to get personal?

Sure, I don't like to answer any kind of personal questions. Maybe that's part of being an introvert. It's much easier for me to talk about general things, like what the Church believes, than when it gets personal. And by far easier to write about it than to talk about it.

As a kid it was easier to say "I believe in Jesus". I guess people thought it cute, or it was something I would grow out of. As a teen I proudly wore a cross around my neck, and since I had friends who was either in church with me or knew me well enough to not care that was no problem. I can't really say I've ever denied being a Christian, but for some (stupid) reason it's always been hard to say it out loud.

I've grown bolder with age. My faith still isn't something I shout out to everyone I casually meet but I still often wear a cross around my neck or in my pierced ears, or a wreath of "Pearls of Life" around my wrist. For every time someone asks it's getting easier to nod and look them in the eyes and tell them that, yes, I believe in God, in Christ, in the Bible's teachings.

And it feels good inside every time I say it.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

E is for English

I write my Fantasy stories in English, and I write this blog in English. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing strange, right?
Except that I'm Swedish. English is my second language. I don't speak it half as well as I write it, and probably not one tenth as good as I read it.

So why write in English? People often ask that, and so far I've used one of two answers, depending on who's asking and the context of the question.

One: It's easier to reach out to people all over the world if you do it in English. There's many more who understand English than understand Swedish, especially on social networks where I tend to connect with other writers. So that's the main reason why this blog is in English - many of my online friends wouldn't understand it otherwise.

Two: Why I write my stories / novels in English is a bit more tricky to answer. After all, I can spell and do grammar much better in Swedish and even if the market is smaller that's no reason to try to get published internationally, especially considering the editing process will be much harder in a second language. First time I got the question I had no idea why I rather write in English. Now, I think I maybe have an answer.

I came late into reading 'fantasy'. Of course, I've read The Wizard of Oz, Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and such, but I wasn't aware of the genre as such until some 20 years ago. That was when I found authors like David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Raymond E Feist and Janny Wurts. I started reading these series of books in Swedish, and then realized the end was several books away, but they were not translated yet. The decision between waiting for a Swedish version and finding the English original was not hard, and since then I've read the originals when I can.

I believe that formed my way of 'thinking' fantasy. In my mind, fantasy is in English (even though I've read amazingly Swedish original fantasy by now). That's probably why it feels more right to me to write fantasy in Engish than doing so in Swedish.

The strange thing? When I realized this was the (most likely) reason, it suddenly became easier to write in Swedish. Now I write in both, using different languages for different stories, sometimes mixing and experimenting with scenes and point of views to see what works best.

Writing is truly a wandering journey…

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

D is for Discipline

Uh-oh. That's a word I bet most of us has ambivalent feelings about. In Swedish I'd say the word is "charged" or "loaded" (not sure there's an English equivalent), meaning it evokes something in people. Feelings.

Negative feelings, positive feelings.
All depending on what the word means for you.

To me it's been mostly negative.
I often go around thinking: I have no discipline, and that translates into a number of things like I can't keep my things in order, I can't keep a diet and loose weight, I can't keep a training schedule, I can't… I can't… And I fall into the trap of negative thinking, again and again.

All of the things listed is what I want to do, that's not the problem. The probem is that I'm focusing on that I suck at doing them.

What if I tured that around? Instead of berating myself when I can't reach my own (too high) standards, why not praise myself when I've managed a step in the right direction? I put the sewing basket back where it belongs, good! I ate only one biscuit, great! I took a walk today without needing to, wow!

That's a difference. One I'm determined to made. Now, if I only have the discipline to do it…

Monday, 4 April 2016

C is for Camp NaNo

I couldn't resist. Participating in both this month, I almost had to bring this up, no?

First things first. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) isn't so much 'national' as 'international' now, as I'm a proof of. After all I'm a Swede, not an American, and have participated in that several years now. That's all held in November, with a goal of writing a novel in at least 50.000 words.

Camp NaNo is a little different. You get assigned to a cabin (meaning you'll meet some as-crazy bunk-friends) and you can set a personal wordcount goal. This year I aim for 20.000. Much less stress, just as fun.

This would be day 4 (no Sundays off here, but of course you can write as much or as little any day). To add to the low goal, I've also decided to simply continue on a project I started last year - totally ok when you're camping, but considered 'rebelling' if you do it in November - so this story is well on its way. Shouldn't be a problem to get that to 20.000 more before April ends.

The story follows three youths: Filip, Nora and Josef. Genre is grounded in fantasy - I can't seem to write anything that doesn't end up fantasy - but it's the first time I've tried a 'portal fantasy', meaning that the three start in out own world but have their adventures in a made-up one. Like Narnia.

My made-up world will follow some ancient Greek myths, and I'm having real fun writing it. The only problem is that I (obviously) started this in July. I'll need some good re-writing of what I did then to not make it cross the line into erotica… I blame summer nights and nice wine for that.

Otherwise I'm good.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

B is for Boys

Being a single female in a family of four is fun in the best of times. In the worst of times… Let's just not go there.

My three boys are a wonderful bunch, and I love them s much it hurts.

One is big, bigger than me, though slightly younger (all of nine months younger - that counts). That is my husband.

Then there are two really younger ones, somewhat wilder, who I've carried inside me. That would be our sons. They've calmed down a bit now as the older one is closing in on teenage, but they're certainly more intense than I was at that age. I blame my husband for this (who else?).

The youngest boy is diagnosed with ADHD and mild Autismsyndrome, which constantly makes life more interesting. The husband thinks he's got something like that too - and I'm not arguing against it. Truth is, I think the older boy has 'something' too. Maybe that goes for me as well. I guess self-diagnoses are hard, and it doesn't relly matter so long as life works. And it does.

It's just me going crazy sometimes, when my introvert brain wants to be alone and my three boys just can't seem to leave me be. Because for some reason I'm the one who always knows where stuff are or what they're supposed to be doing or when to leave in time.

But we have a life, a wonderful life. Mostly.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Plot Bunny

So, the best writing group on Facebook, the 10 Minute Novelists, host a weekly competition for the ones parcipitating in the 365k Club Challenge. This last week was about 'plot bunnies' - or more specifically plots that run amok and refuse to following the nice outlined plan we've laid down.

This challenge went like this: Sometimes our plots get away from us and our characters take us on their own adventure. Describe one such bunny trail that your characters insisted you go down.
I must admit: that happens. Even to an obsessed plotter / outliner like me. This time I was reminded of Filip, who suddenly showed talents I had not forseen. My answer went like this:  

My three MC's (Filip, Nora, Josef) happened to find themselves in a maze. They're supposed to get lost and away from each other and .... plot-things. Then Filip looks up at the 10 meters high walls and says "I bet I could climb it." Turns out he's a rock climber, so he sets off up ... *groans* That was NOT in the plot and I don't know ANYTHING about rock climbing.
Seems like that was a problem big enough to award me with a winner's badge. I'll wear it with pride!

A is for Activate

Well, Hello April!
Hello my somewhat crazy indea of participating in both this A to Z challenge and Camp NaNoWriMo!

Serioulsy, what was I thinking?

Camp NaNo will solve itself, it usually does, and I never set a very high wordcount for that - but this? Hmm.

Today's goal is to Activate. This blog needs to get active, I need to get active on so many levels. As stated in my very first post I have so much I want to do, and for that I need to activate myself. At least, that's what I've always thought. Do as much as possible in as little time as possible. But where did that land me?

Stressed out, that's what. And I sure didn't get as much done as I wanted, which led to more stress as I tried to not only get ahead with new projects but also needed to catch up with those I hadn't finished.
This is the start of the new Active me. The one who will teach herself to plan ahead, to focus on a few things at a time, the one who will not berate herself for not getting as much done as she believes others do.

This month of April has the goals of....
  • Writing: Finish A2Z and Camp NaNo
  • Health: Start over on 5:2 and find a workout timeplan that works
  • Job: See the positive in every child and plan forward to summer daycamp.
  • Faith: Set aside 10 minutes each day for personal growth (Bible reading, prayer, whatever). 
Sounds doable goals? Reasonably achievable? (Except for the writing stuff. That's still crazy.)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

A to Z

So I've heard about this challenge a few years now, but never been inclined to participate. After all, I before now I haven't been able to write consistently (as in more or less every day) - and never mnaged to come up with things to blog about either.

Then I happened upon a Facebook group called "10 minute Novelists" - more on that in another post another time - and realized it was ok to only write a few words a day, a few minutes a day. It changed my way of thinking.

Along came 2015 and that group started a "365k" challenge - to write 365.000 words in a year, or 1000 words a day. I signed up with no belief that I would make it. And I didn't. But I built a habit of writing almost every day during a whole year. This year I'm in it again, but with a lower wordcount goal, and so far well on the way of reaching it.

So ... when this A2Z blogging challenge popped up this year, I was tempted. I want to keep a blog, I just need to get into habit, get something to write about. I signed up. It's the reason I decided to start this blog (hadn't updated the old one in two years so it felt better with a new one). I may not make it, and that will be okay. But if I do... I just might have worked up a habit that will make me continue.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Starting off

Well, here I am. Again.

I'm trying so many things at the same time.

I want to write, finish that novel, that short story, that trilogy...
I want to keep a blog, and update it regularely (I've tried before. Not easy, for me).
I want to make my family happy (one kid with diagnosis, probably the other as well).
I want to be my best at work.
I want to live and breathe the Gospel of Christ.
I want to loose weight (yes, for looks, but also to keep diabetes away and general health improvement)
I want to....
I want....

This time, I'll use my blog to write off whatever I feel the need for. It will probably be related to all of the above, and some more. No limits. No musts. Just ... me, and my random thoughts.

And I promise myself that I will not care if anyone else but me reads it.
That is not the most important thing..