My goals for 2018

Hi, all!

Whether you know me from the various writing groups I have been a part of in the Tampa Bay area, from the disability community in this area, or you know me from Facebook or other parts of the net, greetings and Happy (belated) New Year!

Speaking of the New Year, I know most people make goals for the new year. So do I.

So I wanted to write a post directly about my goals for 2018, and get them out there, in the bright sunshine. So here goes:

  1. I will finish writing my book this year. I have been working on a novel for quite some time. In fact, the germ of the idea came to me 10 years ago. January 1st, 2008, to be exact. So, in the interest of wanting to just let go and let myself write it, I’m going to let go of my fears and also not let myself get down if I start to lag behind in this goal. Because I’m going to do it. So, that’s out there now, LOL.
  2. I will get out of my comfort zone and heavily market my editing services this year. Because I need to supplement my family’s income while I am writing my book. So, I plan on writing posts related to editing and writing, that link back to my blog, which for now functions as a website. I also plan on creating a proper website out of my blog, which I already started on late last year.
  3. I will get out of my other comfort zone and make more videos for my YouTube channel. But this comfort zone is even harder for me to get out of. Because it just is. I just need to work on accepting myself for who I am. I’m working on it… I might also consider making videos for Patreon as a source of income.
  4. I will also make art. I have been working on getting out of my “making” comfort zone for a few years now, and have been crafting and pushing the boundaries of what I think I am capable of creatively. So, I not only write creatively, I make art. There, I said it. LOL. Some things I make are art cards, made with stamps and colored with watercolor tube paints, watercolor pencils, and other media. I also sometimes make accessories, like bracelets, from natural fibers like cotton yarn and silver plated charms. This year, I want to push myself a little more, creatively speaking, a little bit at a time, and make some art every day. At least a card or a bracelet a day might do it, as well as doing my art journaling every day.

But that’s the bulk of it. If I think of others, I will edit this post and make any updated links to my other social media.

For now, see you soon!

Heather

 

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No Writer Wednesday video this week

I have been making YouTube videos for a good couple of months now, and I have 5 subscribers. Ok, I’ll take that …  But now, while school is out for the summer, I will have less time for that.

That is, unless I enlist the help of my son. So, while my Writer Wednesday videos may be on hiatus, I have been told that I will have help with my art videos on Fridays … We’ll see how that goes!

Have a great day!

Heather

 

 

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I had filmed a video yesterday morning, one of those “What’s in my Bag?” videos, then finally posted it on my channel this morning.  While I think I did okay on it, in actuality I think I have way too many bags. My husband says I do. While I do tend to overpack for any endeavor, I love bags. Not purses, mind you, but bags that serve a purpose (I hate purses, btw. ).

For instance, there is my little Krafter’s Purse, which is kind of cute by the way, and quite “bright breast cancer pink,” but again, I bought it to serve a purpose: to hold arts and crafts supplies. And it’s small, especially compared to my (quite large in my opinion) standard-size craft bag. And both of these have some great pockets for keeping things organized and easily seen, but out of the way.

Then there’s the tote bags. I have quite a few of those. I have a quite sturdy cotton canvas tote with real wood buttons (well, I lost one button but I don’t care), that work with a loop closure to keep the top closed. Great in case of rain. I like to use this if I’m going somewhere with at least two of my journals. I’ve had this tote bag for about two years. Another reason I like this bag is that I can wash it with the rest of the laundry. When it’s fresh and clean, I even rub clear wax on the bottom and the handles to keep it from getting dirty too soon.

Last year, I found a 100% organic cotton tote bag. It’s smaller and much less sturdy than the above bag, and has long handles ( I can’t use any bags with long handles because I am tempted to hang them on my shoulders. I have been told by my chiropractor not to do this), but for some reason I like it. Right now, I use it for keeping my current crochet projects out of the sun. I think it works well for this.

I also have a cotton canvas briefcase I use for toting my laptop to meetings, if I feel like I need it.

Then, like I mentioned in the video, I had found that little black backpack. I think it will be useful for me. I recently got rid of a bonded leather backpack purse I’d had for years. I loved it. But it was time to let it go. It had gotten worn with time, and there were features it had I never used.

So while I have hemmed and hawed over trying to find a bag that works for me, and what I think I need now, I actually think that what I need is. . . .  what I need that day.

So. Yeah. . . .  I know.

 

 

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Random Thoughts on my Work in Progress

When I started doing research for my novel in 2008, I came across a lot of things… some of which have become a part of every day life for some, now.

I had a character who was into making everything, from the products she cleaned with, to the cloths she used to clean the house, and cooked from scratch every day.

Now, it’s a thing to do all of that.

Plus, she makes her own medicines. Lives off the land. Some people do that.

Was I onto something? I don’t know. But it sometimes makes me think that maybe it’s not as much of an original idea, now.

In early January of 2008 I had an idea for a fantasy novel, several months after the last Harry Potter book came out. Maybe I was bored. Although I don’t know how I could have been: I was an adult Mass Comm student, mom of a soon-to-be four year old, and a freelance writer/editor/photographer.

Anyway, I just loved doing the research involved with the story. I didn’t remember doing research for a fiction story before. Heck, I hadn’t written fiction in ages. I was having fun! Maybe too much fun, though.

After about six months of that, making some notes on plot and writing a few scenes, I realized I may be taking a long time to write it. And a couple months back I realized I couldn’t write the whole story as one book. It would have to be a trilogy. I remember thinking: Uh oh. Now I said to my self, like my son sometimes says: Really uh oh. 

Some other things happened in my personal life that year, which pushed me back some as well, like moving and having some medical issues in my family.

Doubts started to creep in, as well. After all, some writers seemed to be on the same wavelength as me, coming out with stories of young adults having supernatural adventures in strange lands of possibly Celtic origin. Sigh.

I didn’t know what to think. Who to believe, as well. But I did start going to critique groups, which helped me a lot. Even though I found out some don’t think writers should attend critique groups until you have a finished first draft. Sigh again.

I was just trying to get the darn thing done. And trying to see if I was on the right track.

And learning how to be a mom to a kid with special needs.

All in the same year. Or two. Or three.

Sometimes it seemed impossible. At least improbable, anyway, that I would ever finish it. After the five year mark, I just thought it would never get done. So why bother?

However, due to meeting some great people in the occasional critique groups, writers meetings and writers conferences who listened to me talk about my idea, and staying in touch with them online, people would ask me about it. I started feeling encouraged again.

I am grateful to them. Because I have been writing again. Thanks, guys!!

Especially to: Kat Heckenbach (another author with a female character in a foreign land, where there are supernatural goings-on… ),  Kim Kelly Hackett, Miriam Goodspeed, Chris Coad Taylor, etc., etc., etc., also to the FWA (Florida Writers Association), BAPWG (Bay Area Professional Writers Guild), the TWA (Tampa Writers Alliance), etc., etc., etc.

You all rock!!

P.S. I hope to blog weekly now, giving status updates on the progress of my novel, and possibly on other projects. Stay tuned!

 

Posted in Moms Writing, Procrastination in Writing, Special Needs Parenting, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Check out my YouTube channel!

Hello, everyone.

I started a YouTube channel a few years ago but didn’t do much with it, at first. I had a hard time with stage fright. Then about two years ago, I started just posting videos. Just doing it. Like Nike, right? Anyway, after I had several videos posted, about anything from crafty hauls to copyediting, I had some subscribers. Like five.

Even though my numbers aren’t that much more, I have been learning about marketing. And I have been writing, and editing, so I now I realize I have something to say.

So I will be posting videos soon, and linking to them here, as well as on my Facebook pages. Most likely, though, I’ll just post to my professional author page, called Heather Dewey Pettet, Author/Editor/Artist.

I will be basically doing companion videos to blog posts that I write and vice versa. Because I think filming will inspire me to write here, and writing here has been inspiring me to film videos.

Expect to see writing topics like Writing Realistic Dialogue, Common Grammar Mistakes, Working With an Editor, and the like.

I’d also like to talk about creativity, and how to be more creative, and how to get out of creative slumps. Because I’ve been there, myself.

And, yes, I’ll show some of my art processes. I might do some journal flips, or even some “Journal with Me” videos.

Now, I might get off track some. I might even talk a little about my son. But, as Pete the Cat says, “It’s all good.” 🙂

 

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Why Mechanics Matter

This is the post I had intended to write recently, but life got in the way. Personal life, yes, but also getting ready for my conference that was two weekends ago, NecronomiCon Tampa (which is the coolest little writer’s conference I’ve ever attended, by the way).

I spoke on a panel called Why Mechanics Matter, and during the panel, we were all asked why we thought mechanics should matter to writers. My response?

I said that mechanics should matter to writers because if they don’t, they should. Because if even if they don’t matter to you, they probably matter to possible readers.

And, who is going to read a book that’s full of errors? No one.

The thing is, you don’t want to underestimate your potential reader.

If someone starts reading your book and they come upon multiple mistakes, you have the potential to lose that reader. And that reader could potentially stop reading your book. Or your series. That’s not what you want. You want them to continue reading, until “The End.”

This reader could even potentially write a bad review, and of course, that’s definitely not what you want. People buy books that come recommended, that are well-reviewed. Not the other way around.

So, what do you do, if you are a writer? You edit your work. Or, you hire an editor (Luckily, I am a freelance editor, and that is what I offer, my services as a copy editor or proofreader. If you feel you are at the stage where you need one, please contact me at heatherdeweypettet at gmail.com).

And, what you may ask, are mechanics exactly? The mechanics of the English language are the established conventions for using grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other technicalities like the use of numerals. These are the tools you use to put together your thoughts into written form. Mechanics are the framework for hanging your sentences on.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grammar as “the study of the classes of words, their inflections, and their functions and relations in the sentence.”

So, that is the difference between mechanics and grammar, both of which I’d like to write about, here on this blog, in the future.

If you have any questions about mechanics or grammar, or any related subject, please drop me a line at heatherdeweypettet at gmail.com.

Also, if you liked this blog post, please click on “Like” down below, and subscribe for more information on the writing process and editing-related information! Have a great day! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing with The Hero’s Journey

My Experiences with Mythology

To begin with, I have had an interest in mythology from a young age.

Like many people my age (I’m a Generation-X’er), I grew up watching the movie Clash of the Titans (the original one from 1981, that is) and reading The Chronicles of Narnia, which were heavily influenced by classical Greek mythology, among other things. I did research papers in both middle and high school on Greek goddesses. I bought my own copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology at that time. I still own it, more than 30 years later.

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In my opinion, it stands to reason that I would continue to be interested in mythology as I got older.

I continue to be fascinated by it, actually. So, in that spirit, I’d like to talk about mythology, and something called the Hero’s Journey, which happens to be a great tool for writers. This is a subject I’m going to be discussing on a panel with other writers at NecronomiCon in Tampa next weekend.

I first heard about the Hero’s Journey in a college English course.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces 

The Hero’s Journey was first outlined by Joseph Campbell in 1945 in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Called The Structure of the Hero Monomyth, the Hero’s Journey details all of the stages of the classic stories of the world. Campbell showed in his book how all of the stories of myth coincide with one another, and how the telling of the ancient stories of the world help us to discover ourselves. The coincidences are quite remarkable. Take a look below at this visual of the Hero’s Journey, and think about all of the Greek stories you read in high school. Jason, Theseus, Perseus, Hercules, Persephone, and all the rest. They all follow the same pattern, don’t they? Campbell even compares these stories to those of other ancient religions, but I won’t be getting into all of that here.

In regards to storytelling, there have been books written on how to use this structure to help you map out your story. One such book is called The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler, and I read it a few years back as a library book. This book is highly recommended if you need help with story structure.

Other books tackle this subject, but in a different way. Take Tarot for Writers, by Corinne Kenner. This was the first book that I read about writing that mentioned using Tarot cards to help you plot your story (By the way, she also recommends using them to help with all kinds of writing, not just fiction). I bought it last year.

In her book, Kenner compares the Hero’s Journey with the Fool’s Journey, which those who use Tarot may have heard of. In fact, she says that the paths parallel each other almost completely.

Kenner includes in her book lots of pictures of Tarot cards and shows how to lay them out to represent the Hero’s Journey and/or the Fool’s Journey. Her Hero’s Journey Spread, she says, “offers a simplified version of the Hero’s Journey that brings a hero–and a story–full circle.” She uses the 12 main stages of the Hero’s Journey in her spread.

Kenner also shows how to use the Tarot in your writing practice to help with not just story structure, but also with creating characters. Pus, many say that using Tarot cards helps them tap into their creativity, and really connect with the character archetypes (A literary archetype is a stereotypical action, situation or character that could represent universal patterns of human nature.) that the cards can represent for them.

In her book, Kenner says many famous authors have used Tarot to write their books, including Stephen King.

Another book that uses Tarot with the Hero’s Journey to help you with writing is Mapping the Hero’s Journey with Tarot: 33 Days to Finish Your Book, by Arwen Lynch. In this book, written by a longtime professional Tarot reader and author, Lynch has laid out her book in the order of the Hero’s Journey (using the main 12 stages), and the classic Three-Act Structure: Act I: The Ordinary World, The Call to Adventure, The Refusal, The Mentor, Crossing the Threshold; Act II: Tests, Enemies, and Allies, Approach[ing] the Inmost Cave, The Ordeal, The Reward; Act III: The Road Back, Ressurection, Return With the Elixir.

[NOTE: In the interest of transparency, I would like to let you know that I have yet to read Mapping the Hero’s Journey, so in no way is this a review of her book. But if anyone would like me to, I may do that in the near future. Just comment down below.]

Now, The Hero’s Journey as a storytelling structure does relate to the classic Three-Act Structure. I have seen hand-drawn and computer-drawn book outlines that feature both structures at once, and Christopher Vogler apparently saw this similarity as well:

These tools have been used for quite some time. It’s pretty well known that George Lucas used the Hero’s Journey for writing his Star Wars saga, and other famous writers have used it, as well, including J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and many more.

Using the Hero’s Journey for writing my novel has helped me tremendously in terms of story structure, characterization, and inspiring my creativity, and it can help you, too.

By the way, if you want a more in-depth deconstruction of the main 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey, please comment below. I love seeing comments, and I appreciate the feedback.

 

I hope you liked this post. If so, please click “Like” and follow me here on this blog. I can also be found on YouTube, Facebook, and Google+. I will be filming a corresponding YouTube video sometime today, so be sure to check it out! Thanks, and have a great day! 🙂

 

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Writing About People and Characters with Disabilities

Personal Note: To be completely transparent, this is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. Because there are many — including family members — who are a part of my life who have disabilities. But I’ll get on with the blog post now.

 

Many reasons for writing about people with disabilities

Many writers may want to tell a real person’s story in a newspaper or magazine article, or even use a character with a disability in a work of fiction, like the main character of Shaun Murphy in the TV series The Good Doctor, or  Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond in Rain Man, or even Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. How a character with a mental disability interacts with their world makes for good drama.

It’s actually a trend to include characters with autism these days. But, how to do it well? This is definitely not a subject to be taken lightly.

But fear not. There are organizations and websites for writers to consult if they have questions.

According to its website, the National Center on Disability and Journalism was founded in 1998 by freelance photographer Suzanne Levine, to raise awareness of how the news media can better cover people with disabilities. Also, the Conscious Style Guide has a section of its guide that is focused on ability and disability.

I believe these sites are good for any writer to consult, whether they write fiction or nonfiction. Taking a look at these sites is a good way to get started if you want to write about a real person or a character with special needs, especially so if you don’t know anyone you could personally consult, so as to get a good idea of what their world is like.

People-first and identity-first language

The terms stated above can be confusing for writers just starting out writing about disabilities. People-first language basically just means putting the person first, before the disability, showing how much they are like everyone else.

In addition to the wonderful resources above, the CDC has an easy-to-follow guide on people-first language. In this guide, there is a graphic with information on how to use people-first language.

There are many examples the guide uses, and the ones that follow are just a handful mentioned:

When you use people-first language, if you were going to discuss a person or group of people who have a disability, you would say “a person with a disability,” not “the disabled,” or “the handicapped.” This sort of language is outdated and is considered by many to be insulting.

For discussing someone who uses a wheelchair, use those words, not “confined or restricted to a wheelchair,” or “wheelchair-bound.” if you sense a theme here, you’d be right: this kind of language has a negative connotation, and can make it seem like a tragedy that the person has to use a wheelchair. In reality, it’s a tool that gives them freedom.

When you are discussing a person with an intellectual, cognitive, or developmental disability, describe them just like that, and never with the following terms: Retarded, slow, simple, moronic, defective, afflicted, or special person. This type of language is negative, and all of the above words could be considered offensive.

However. Another thing to consider when writing about people with disabilities is that some folks really connect within a community.

In effect, some people really do want to first belong to the group of people that they want to represent. So, some people do want to be called autistic. Or, Downs. Or blind. Because that is their reality, that they have to live with, every day of their lives. Examples include an autistic child, a Downs adult, a blind man, etc.

Others use these terms interchangeably. In essence, it’s all personal preference.

There are some people who do take offense to one or the other side.  So, how do you choose? In essence, use your best judgment.

Also, use proper research methods. When writing about real people, be sure to ask what their preference is. When writing fiction, use the term/s that seem to fit the characters and the people around them.

There is one more resource that I was able to find, for those who write children’s books specifically, called Disability in Kid Lit. On this site is a page called Introduction to Disability Terminology that reiterates some of the information I just mentioned above, but goes more into depth on this subject than I have done here in this post.

Also, this page mentions how to write about a person using functioning labels, which describe the nature of someone’s disability, and are quite common. Here’s a quote from the site on this topic:

“To specifically describe someone’s situation, you can use language like: “Devon lives in a group home and relies on disability benefits for income. He has strong verbal skills, but misses social cues.” It takes more words than “high-functioning” and “low-functioning,” but it also conveys more–and more useful–information. If the character’s situation and skills are genuinely relevant, one might as well be specific and accurate.”

“The above is autism-specific because “low-functioning” and “high-functioning” are commonly used when discussing autistic people, but a lot can be extrapolated to other conditions as well.”

To Sum Up

There is so much to keep in mind when writing about people and/or characters when they have disabilities. People want to be treated fairly, in life and in print.

So in general, when in doubt, use neutral terms.

And, do your research. You can consult someone who knows and/or cares for someone with a specific disability, and you can find information on how to use these terms in the sources mentioned above.

Also, consulting with someone who is well-versed in disability terms, like I am, can help. Please comment below with any questions you may have. Thanks for reading!

Heather

 

 

 

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Blog Renaming/Back to School

via Blog Renaming/Back to School

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Tools for working from home or on the go [With photos of my stuff!]

Edit: I don’t know how I posted this without a title, but I’ve now added one. Oops!

Hi, folks. I was going to write a blog post last night, but instead, I am writing it today. I zonked out last night; school is not in session yet here so I will be able to do more blog writing after the kid goes back to school. Working mom problems…

Anyway, I think I will write about working from home. Keepin’ it real this time.

Working from home has its ups and downs, for sure. Especially when you have a kid or two. Kids get sick, so you have to drop everything and pick them up from school. And doctor’s appointments happen, whether your kid is sick or not.

Other things happen, as well, like the pest control guy has to come, so you have to clean your house/apartment/whatever. The kid’s grandparents come over, so you have to clean even more.

And then there are the phone calls that you either ignore, nor not ignore, because they are from the school, doctors, or your family members.

All of these interruptions cut into working time.

So, what can you do about it? Not much, really. So you fit in work tasks in between other things. It’s just what you have to do.

Personally, I keep my bullet journal, my novel bullet journal, and my idea catcher notebook with me at all times. That way, I have access to my project lists and notes. I also like to have a small pencil case, which houses some basic journaling items: some colored pens,  a mechanical pencil (or a real pencil) or two, and an eraser.

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All of these things don’t take up as much space as you’d think. I even sometimes bring a small art journal.

 

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I guess I like being prepared. When I bring an art journal, I usually add a couple more items to the bag, like my water brush, and I bring a small DIY watercolor palette that’s made out of an Altoids tin. I love them! I usually use watercolor paintbrush sets when I paint at home; one is full-size.

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Sometimes I also bring that small set of brushes seen above.

Anyway, back to the subject of working at home, especially when you have to work intermittently between bouts of parenting. For example, I have worked on this blog post off and on, since noon today.

How do you work, if you’re a parent? Before your kid wakes up in the morning? After they go to bed? In the after-school pickup line? Let me know in the comments.

Also, I might have a companion video available over the weekend, if I can.

Have a great day,

Heather

 

Posted in Art, Copyediting, Moms Writing, Uncategorized, working from home, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A quick blog post tonight. Because I’m tired, I’ve been working today, plus arranging some things for the weekend.

So, just tonight I applied to be a dealer at my favorite con, Necronomicon Tampa.

And now, we wait…

Short and sweet, no? 🙂

TTFN, Heather

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