Friday, February 28, 2014

Musical reminder...

Choices by Heather Alexander on Grooveshark A song I always think is intriguing...and a good reminder during these long, lightless days of studying neuro...each choice affects tomorrow, perhaps far more than we realize...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


These days I mostly do Neurology. It's the hardest week of the hardest course at this med school...other than finals week of Neuro, I'm assuming. :)

Going to bed every night at 3am is not my favorite thing to do, but I thought I'd share what I'm learning about today. I admit to finding this video a bit awesome. XD

Monday, February 17, 2014

How to Add Historical Flavor

By Rachel Heffington

As a novelist who has just released an historical romance as her first offering to the world of literature, I find much to ponder and admire in the screen-writing of period-dramas and other historical films. It's not just that I enjoy that sort of film (cough, ahem, cough)– I learn a lot from it. When I think of the historical films/shows and period-dramas I have seen, they seem to sort themselves into either of two categories:

Self-sustaining” or “Death by Syrup”

The BBC, in my experience, falls mainly under the former while many American shows fall under the latter category. Compare Julian Fellowes' Downton Abbey saga to Michael Landon Jr.'s Love Comes Softly purgatory; Fellowes is a proper Brit—meticulous. Just as interested in costuming his characters correctly as he is in killing off the next Crawley. Michael Landon Jr. has seemingly yet to recover from his father's dubious bequest of “Little House on the Prairie” in the 1970's.
Fellowes and Landon are creators of two very different styles of film that label themselves “historical”. Allowing for the differences in goals, there are still lessons to be learned from this Fly or Flop pair: one has been successful in igniting a massive pool of devoted fans on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world; the other has garnered a handful of devoted fourteen-year-old girls and old people. Perhaps a cat or two.
Why? What is the defining attribute that makes me file Downton under “Yes” and Loves Comes Softly under “Heaven help us”? If you are an historical novelist you have the opportunity to learn from pairs like these and come away as a Fellowes...or not.

Attention to Detail:

Historical events and/or figures are vital to the well-crafted novel, but assuming you have been correct in that portrayal, how can you make your historical fiction snap and simmer in readers' minds? One method I like to use is the “truism trick”:
A truism is a statement of the obvious. Wait, you might protest, isn't that a negative? But when I ask you to state the obvious, I request it from the position of one of your characters. Here's what I mean: too often, well-meaning writers of historical fiction get mired in trying to be certain that the reader perfectly understands every aspect of the time period—they feel as if they must teach their audience the setting. The key to good historical fiction is the immerse the reader in the richness of that other world.
The average reader comes to a novel wanting to be taken away from their normal life into a fresh, new world; they are really cleverer than some authors suppose. You want your reader to feel like “Then” has become “Now,” not that they are walking through a Living History exhibit; they can go to a museum for a tour.

To your characters, their historic lifestyle is utterly normal. In fact, the best way to jolt a reader out of the setting is to over-explain. Historical detail frequently becomes unpalatable when delivered on a silver platter. Instead, look for ways to broadcast your details in tiny, accumulating doses. Look for places where you can slip in details; find products used and add vintage brands; if your character must apply lipstick, be specific with the company and color. If she orders a hat, do a quick Google search and find what else might be on display at a milliner's in the 1750's; if the clergyman is getting dressed for his first Sunday, slip in details about his attire; if the French aristocrat is forming a plan over breakfast to flee the country be specific about what he is eating. I had fun playing with this idea in my new novel, Fly Away Home:

Why did Mr. Shores always give me these half-penny jobs—especially the ones that rhymed? Why couldn’t he give me a real break for once? He could have sent me to Helsinki to cover the ’52 summer Olympics.
I’d have gone willingly.
I’d have frozen my tail-bone off.
I’d have lost all my fingers to frost-bite. Was Finland cold in the summer? Much I cared. I was stuck in this office writing obituaries while the rest of the world did pleasant things with pleasant people.

Think about how culture permeates our minds and transfer that back one-hundred, two-hundred years to whenever your story is set. Your job, as a bright novelist, is to invent your character's subconscious and to present it to the reader in such a clever, unobtrusive way that they feel they have lived for the space of a few hours in another realm.
The old adage that “the devil is in the details” is the other side of this Truism Trick: we have decided to be obvious; we must strive to be accurate.
Going back to my example of the film-styles: the thing that made me withhold a good opinion of the Love Comes Softly series (Downton and L. C. S. rely on tragedy for plot-movement) was the director's tendency to throw a modern, made-up, titanium blonde in a corset and hoop-skirt and expect purists to adore her. Not all his leads follow this list—I liked one or two—but I have a crystalline memory of seeing one actress push bottle-blonde bangs out of her eyes, prop a fist on her hip (valley-girl style) and drawl:
“You have a crush on him!”
It was a movie set in the 1800's. I cringed.

The good historic novelist writes his/her characters with a believable hand and doesn't try to “cast” Miley Cyrus as Queen Victoria. Discerning readers will be able to recognize what rings with the sound of steel, and what is just a bright, tinny sword.

I suppose we may close thus: “Self-sustaining” historical fiction bewitches the reader with a hundred quiet truisms, drawing attention to the plot with a web of gentle details. “Death by Syrup” chokes the reader with a morass of facts or a surfeit of modernistic confections. It isn't difficult to determine which direction your novel is headed: take a look and see where you've gone right and wrong. With a clever bit of brewing, your historical fiction will draw a crowd!  


Rachel Heffington is a Christian, a novelist, and a people-lover. Encouraged by her mother to treasure books, Rachel's favorite pastime was (and still is) reading. When her own library and her cousin's ran out of interesting novels, twelve-year old Rachel decided she would write her own; thus began a love-affair with word-crafting that has carried her past her teen years and into adulthood. Outside of the realm of words, Rachel enjoys the Arts, traveling, mucking about in the kitchen, listening for accents, and making people laugh. She dwells in rural Virginia with her boisterous family and her black cat, Cricket. Visit Rachel online at

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On singleness...

Do you ever want to get married and have a family someday? 

Do you have a boyfriend? 

Are you...courting? 

Sooooo...tell me about your love life. 

It does not matter where you are, family gatherings, church, out and about...people question aloneness. Some ask because they care, some because they are simply curious. Some ask sweetly, others with a hint of judgement beneath their words. (Because surely, young lady, if you are entering your mid twenties and you are not yet are doing something wrong. Perhaps even something sinful.) 

My instantaneous reaction is...but I've never thought of myself as alone. Even beyond the amazing family and friends I have been blessed with, there is One who has promised to never leave me nor forsake me...and yet He was the one who said "It is not good for man to be alone. While walking with that man in the Garden of Eden. So...I guess I am alone. Still, I am no man...(sorry, had to say that XD) and regardless of my matrimonial status, I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. If another's story thread crosses mine tomorrow or doesn't really matter.  I'm not the one putting this story together. 

But the questions, and some I asked myself a few years ago, got me thinking recently about single girls, who are the ones the rest of this post is for.

Darling, are you a stay-at-home-daughter? Please, for the love of all you hold dear, go before God and ask Him if that is truly where He wants you. Do not waste precious years. Do not lose the time when you could have been following God into Africa like Mary Slessor, China like Gladys Alyward, India like Amy Carmichael (who began ministry work as a teenager, before leaving for Japan  in her twenties), or ministering somewhere in the US
But...once you have settled it...If He wants you in your parents' all there. Discover why, of all the places in this entire world, God wants you still with your family right now. Do not be jealous of those who God has called away from their homes. 
In the immature moments after I turned 18, as I stumbled along the path God had called me on, I looked longingly at those of my friends still at home. Still safe. With time to play with their younger siblings and to read and to write and do all the things I loved...meanwhile my friends complained over relatives judging them, over people they met looking down on them for not choosing the 'normal' path to adulthood. As if going to college would have made their life simpler, been easier. Don't let yourself think that way.

Darling, if you are leaving home soon, have left home, are living on your own or with someone other than your family, working or going to college...please, please for the love of all you hold dear, go before God and ask Him if that is where He wants you to be. Why has He called you away from your family? What is the reason you have been called to where you are? Do not waste your life running after anything but Him. Does He want you here? Then why?
Please, please, be careful. It is one thing to live as you ought in the company of family and is another to do so when you are apart from them. For myself, I watched as family friends pulled away and people I greatly respected tsked at what I was doing, disapproving of what I and my parents were sure God was directing me to do. I was still myself...but I was being myself in an environment entirely not conducive to myself. 
And if you are anything like not be jealous of those who have been called to stay home. If I've learned anything over the past few's not any easier to stay at home. Next time you are sitting in class or up studying at 2am, wishing you could be home...think of those would find what you are learning fascinating, but who are cleaning up after their fifth sibling who is sick with the flu. They are having entirely different struggles than you, and may be doing something far more difficult than you are dreaming of doing at the moment. There is a reason for them; there is a reason for you. 

What is that reason? What are you spending your money, your time, your life on Wherever you have been led...whatever you have been called to there. Be content - more than that, be living abundantly where you are. No one else can live your, of all the daughters of the King of Kings, have been given this mission. 

Does that mission involve someone else? Does it involve someone else right now? If you are doing what He wants and are exactly where He would have you...does it matter?

I know, sometimes it seems like it must...but I think if you know where and to what you have been matters a whole lot less. 

So enjoy tomorrow. :) Don't survive your 'aloneness' each moment of this time in your life to its full abundance. Take those questions and use the opportunity to tell people what else is going on in your life, and make it so interesting that next time they see you they'll be asking what else God is doing in your life, instead of if you've found your other half.  

**my favorite answer to that question is still Elizabeth Blackwell's, who wrote home that she had not found more than a sixth, which entirely would not do. XD

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

For God so LOVED.... ***GUEST POST***

From our first hours in Sunday school we are taught to utter the words from John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

They become normal—almost parroted words as we grow older, we expect that. Somehow we expect that since God gave us His only begotten Son, so that we can have eternal life, He owes us everything else we want, and He gets to pay the bill, because you know...He is the One that owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
Somehow we expect our lives to be easy cakewalks and beds of flowers, when what we have really discounted is God’s love.

For God so loved.


He loves us so much that He sacrificed His only begotten Son. His Beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased, so He could adopt little guttersnipe children who don’t always accept His help.

So often I see love switched on and off as if it’s a light. Power on. I AM IN LOVE. Power off, You know, I am not really that interested in you. We see love as an option on a long list that we can chose to check or ignore. We forget that love is not an option. It is a choice.


For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.


God so felt like, hey, son why don’t you go down and die for those people. That’d be a cool story, then they can come up here and live with us when they die. How about that, angels? Yeah that would be totally awesome!

Yet so many of us wake up and don’t feel like loving the people that annoy us, the circumstances around us, we decide that people either love or hate us by their actions. Yet, the best things a parent can do to a child not spoil them, not give into their every request, feeding them all the sugar and candy that they want, because it’s bad for them. Just like if we got EVERYTHING we asked for, it might not be the best thing for us either. He gives us what we need and not a drop more, because after all who really likes spoiled children.

God’s love is constant and full, not something most of us understand or experience, because it is so rare. We all want to think that love is a merry-go-round, cotton candy, valentines and sugar hearts. But love is a duty, a choice, and it is the beauty of constant unwavering love that we find joy and fulfillment—even if we know we don’t deserve it.

Love is not an option on a checklist.

It is a choice made day by day, every day.

Jessica Greyson, a homeschool graduate loves words, first as a hungry reader, and now as a passionate writer. She seeks to write for the glory of God, and be the writer He has called her to be. When she is not writing, Jessica is daydreaming, serving coffee and lattes at her job—while people watching, spending time with her wonderful family, taking pictures, listening to music, and trying to keep up with all of her amazing friends.

She's also the awesome person who got this whole Book Lover Giveaway going...make sure you're entered! XD

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Book Lover's Ideal Valentine ***GUEST POST***

First, I want to acknowledge that, as everyone is wonderfully unique, everyone’s ideal Valentine will also be different. I’m thilly, extroverted, a hopeful romantic, and a book lover – and this is mine.

·      No Valentine’s Day is complete without chocolate.

·      A comfortable chair and time to relax.
·      Family and friends all around.
·      A bit of dancing – preferably swing, with a great partner.
·      I’m a bit cliché in my love of red roses…

·      Building a snowman with friends, if there’s snow…spending time outside if there isn’t. I’ve never experienced the latter in February, but I wouldn’t mind it!
·      “Here’s part of why I love you” notes.
·      Hugs.
·      Of course, there must be books.

·      And even more books.

·      I’ll never turn down a notebook or a pen.
·      Finding things to laugh at.
·      Heart-shaped anything.
·      Creating an adventure – literally or figuratively.
·      Handwritten notes.

·      Coffee. Gotta have coffee.
·      Poetry.
·      Doing something unexpected for someone else.
·      Daydreaming about the future.
·      Smiles.

There is more to Valentine’s Day than the gifts. When you’re dating or married, it’s a day to show your sweetheart how much you care by spending time with them and doing thoughtful things.

For those who are single like me, it can be a day to show your family and friends you love them, and it’s always nice to feel loved in return.
Sometimes (almost always) it’s more fun to give. That’s a cliché – because it’s true.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I finished my first short story when I was eight, and my mom had it bound into a book. From that point on, publishing became my dream. I now have three novels and two short stories published – more soon to come!

In 2012, I began my editing and publishing company, Rivershore Books. I now have three secondary proofreaders, a backup graphic artist, and an illustrator working with me, and the business continues to grow.

My goal is to honor God in my writing and encourage other authors to do the same with their own.


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