Here’s my Blog Battle entry for this week, in the genre of fantasy, with the theme word of “selfie.”
I especially enjoyed writing something placed in my own fantasy setting from my novel Diffraction.
I hear their voices long before I see them. Footfalls echo in the
halls. Laughter and commentary resounds off the palace’s high ceiling and polished marble floors.
“Look at this piece,” the man says. “Astounding… like what a falcon
in flight must see from on high over the City’s towers.” He sounds
refined, educated, a man of wealth and relative ease. Probably one of the City’s many so-called Ministers–men and women whose title implies service, something of which they are invariably found only on the receiving end.
“So real,” his companion replies, her soft voice hushed in awe. “I
feel almost faint, as if I might fall through and plummet to my
death.” Too chipper for my taste, too airy. I imagine she’s the upper
class equivalent of dancing girls in the Outskirts–there for show,
not insight. Her voice calls to mind a songbird displayed in a cage,
able to delight for short durations, but insufferable if permitted to
make constant noise.
“Still better to you than the portraits?”
“Much,” she says. “I don’t like the faces. The landscapes at least are
“Reminiscent of Serathil’s work,” the man says. “I know that’s what
they all say of Marwen’s paintings, but I had no idea the similarities
would be so striking.”
“Perhaps Marwen leanred some of the same techniques… or more likely stole them.”
Or perhaps I fought for years to master my craft, you coddled child.
What do you have that wasn’t given to you for no other reason than the fortune of your birth or the depth of your bosom?
And then I remember the Visitor years ago–his unhinged personality, inhuman predatory eyes, and alluring offer.
Why did I ever agree?
(continued in the original post)
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Early this year, a click-bait style post came across one of the writing groups I follow. “This one notepad will get rid of all your productivity apps!” or something like that.
For whatever reason, I clicked and watched the introduction to the Bullet Journal (a.k.a. BuJo).
The system is intended to be minimalist: fast, easy, helpful for tracking what you’ve done, focusing your efforts now, and planning your future.
“Interesting,” I thought, and moved on with my mindless Facebook browsing. But then the concept kept bouncing around in my head. Soon I found myself looking at ideas in their blog posts, discovering co-workers who already follow the system, then looking through piles of new ideas posted to Facebook groups. The artistic versions caught my eye.
Also a set of colored pencils and pens appeared randomly, demanding use. (And I learned to make an origami bookmark, because reasons.)
One of the spreads I’ve seen in numerous Bullet Journals is the “word of the year,” something that captures a person’s intended focus area for attention or improvement. I liked the concept, but there are so many words! Who could choose just one to capture everything they really want for 2017?
I chose intentionalas my word of the year, because of how often I find myself wasting time and energy on superficial garbage through lack of decisions or purposeful effort. For example: “I never have time to write, I’m sooo busy. I think I’ll take this hour to play phone games and scroll through Facebook some more.”
Googling images others have used to capture the idea of “intentional” resulted in two personal faves: a brick wall being built out of Lego, and a direction sign shaped with a pointed end. The bricks convey the idea of step-by-step effort toward any goal. Results don’t appear out of thin air, but usually out of doing the same, simple task over and over until it becomes easy. I liked the sign as a way of capturing motion in a chosen direction instead of flailing around aimlessly through life.
To incorporate both, I drew a brick wall with the pointed sign hanging on it. Over the year (or however long my journal lasts) I can incorporate new words that strike my fancy or contribute to a fuller picture of what I mean by intentional living.
All of it goes back to my favorite verse right now: 1st Corinthians 9:26 (ESV) – “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.” The Chinese translation puts it, “So I run not as one without a destination.”
I’m still digging into what works for me and what doesn’t. I’ll do a full intro / personal take on the process once I get my new journal set up and going. (The Leuchtturm 1917 A5 dot grid seems to be the most popular option.)
Anyone else BuJo? What spreads work for you? Let me know in a comment.
I’ll be honest. At first, I was put off by grammar errors and amateur mistakes. Even more, the commenters who gush over the simplest sentences with “I so get u” and “omg this ^^^ right here” and other such text-style feedback.
Then my wife kindly reminded me that everyone’s on a journey to being a better writer, and any mistakes I see now are only because I’ve had quality writer friends supporting and educating me along the way. I’m guilty of some of the same–if not right now, then certainly in the past.
And let’s face it. Feedback is feedback. If a character, quip, or interaction resonates with a reader, I am happy, whether they tell me, “Poignant and touching; Splendid work” or “oh wow sooooo many feels.” Any connection with a reader is a good thing, and the teen fangirl who says “omg” today is the young adult who clicks “buy” on Amazon tomorrow.
The short stories I’ll be posting in “Pieces” aren’t all new. Many appear somewhere on this blog. But I figure WattPad is another avenue to gain a following, and a fun way of doing so. My “Echoes” story (mentioned in a few previous blogs) will be posted entirely to WattPad.
Plus, my wife’s comment reminded me of the point of all this. WattPad is full of unique content and interesting takes on existing material. It’s a bunch of people who are expressing their passion for good characters and stories. Is that what I find valuable? Is that what excites me? Or is it grammatically correct, properly formatted, everything-just-so writing?
No, the point is to have fun and share the experience with others.
So I went ahead and drew an amateur cover for my project, incorporating scenes of most of the various stories into sections of different puzzles. No, it’s not professional quality. No, it’s not what will garner attention.
But I loved the process of expressing myself through a different medium, and I’m having fun with my own amateur mistake.
Here’s the cover to Pieces:
I hope you’ll visit me on WattPad, especially if you have an account and post your own work.
In the aftermath of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s offices, social media filled up with images and hashtags proclaiming solidarity with the victims and the importance of free speech. Yes, perhaps the act of drawing a caricature of the Prophet of Islam might be offensive to many, but that offense did not justify brazen violence and murder in retribution.
The countries of the West always love to proclaim the value of freedom, especially freedom of speech. Yet the conversation changes more and more toward: “Freedom of speech is an essential foundation to civilized society, but…”
That “but” is the problem.
Garland, Texas is fresh on my mind even if most of America has moved on to the new royal baby or whether or not Tom Brady and the Patriots were punished enough for Deflategate.
It’s on my mind because of news reports that cast the failed attackers as the victims and the event organizer as the true villain. It’s on my mind because of opinion pieces that question whether this sort of free speech is really an American value. It’s on my mind because the reaction–not to the violence but to the expression that supposedly instigated it–flies in the face of my experience of what it means to live in a pluralistic and tolerant society.
Tolerance and pluralism do not excuse blaming and shaming the targets of attempted murder.
But victim-blaming works for news stories, like the headline: “Pam Geller won’t apologize for event that ended in 2 dead.” As though their decision to attack and attempt murder was completely taken out of their hands the moment the event was announced. Maybe she should apologize for failing to die in a hail of gunfire along with several cartoonists and the Dutch politician that also attended?
And it works for op-eds that argue “that’s not the kind of American values we want to encourage.” Yes, free speech and all, we’re told… but not THAT sort of free speech, because it offends sensibilities. (Forget that plenty of other free speech offends plenty of other people’s sensibilities, but it’s still protected because that’s how this works.)
We even have world leaders like the President and the Pope giving this argument some weight.
When the President says “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam” then it makes one wonder. Who does the future belong to? What level of critique or even satire is acceptable? What other religious figures are equally off-limits?
Yet the name of the Christian savior is most commonly heard as a form of profanity. “Jesus Christ, did you see what that other driver did?” The figures of Christianity are regularly made into caricatures believers rightly call blasphemous. No one’s name-dropping Buddha or Mohammed as a swear word.
I see multiple episodes of South Park with a soft-spoken Jesus Christ running a public access show to announce his return. A quick Google search gave me pages of image results from the show as well as links to the wiki describing Jesus as a regular guest apperance.
But the show’s creators made one episode with one segment several years ago depicting Mohammed and giving him a taste of the same biting wit they regularly employ against everyone and everything else. And that show has been removed from Comedy Central’s archives and blocked from (easy) access online because… why?
Surely it’s not out of respect or concern that “these aren’t the sort of American values we should encourage.” Otherwise, all those Jesus episodes should likewise vanish. So… what’s the difference between the two circumstances?
When the Pope responds with (and I paraphrase) “if you make disparaging remarks about my mother, you’re gonna get punched in the face,” he admits that sometimes violence is an acceptable response to words we don’t like. Then it’s hard to deny that there must be some cases where this logic justifies taking action. Maybe it’s in response to words we don’t like. Or drawings, or belief systems, or lifestyles, or being female.
This line of thinking matches well with a different (arguably) religious figure: ISIS propagandist Junaid Hussein. His statement in response to the attempted attack in Garland was, “If there is no check on the freedom of your speech, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions.”
It echoes Muhammed Atta’s false promise to the passengers on the hijacked plane: Just stay quiet, and you will be okay.
I’m not okay with that. We’re finally growing past excusing violence based on the victim’s behavior and characteristics in many segments of American society. And by growing past, I mean more of us are more vocal about calling out and condemning that sort of misplaced shame.
We’re not there yet. But fewer people buy lines like, “Look at her short skirt–she wanted it” as an excuse. We won’t let a husband claim, “she made me hit her because she burned dinner again.” We don’t accept “I thought he might come onto me and it creeped me out” as a justification for bullying homosexual kids. We question the narratives we’re given when use of police force seems unjustly applied.
And yet, when statements or drawings are deemed offensive by the strictest interpretations of one religion, we fold like paper and shrug. “Yeah, I mean, why would someone do that? They knew it would set those guys off. It’s pretty rude. In fact, it’s downright un-American. I mean, violence is wrong, and everything. But if they wouldn’t do stupid things like that, then it wouldn’t be a problem.”
Does that sound like someone roaring “I am Charlie” in defiance against unjust aggression and attempts to instill fear? No. Is that a valiant defender of free speech standing up in solidarity with those who have died for expressing their views? No.
“Just don’t do what we don’t like, and we won’t hurt you” — terms of surrender, not peace, whether the threat comes from Muslims or Christian fundamentalists, liberals or conservatives, whites or blacks, heterosexual or homosexual.
We can post a je suis comfy hashtag, and call it American values if that makes it more palatable.
This marks 300 posts on this blog, so here’s a bit of a celebration:
Last night after work, I spent my entire evening working on an art project.
Like many writers, I have a world in my head, full of people that seem (to me) to take on a life of their own. Voices that want to be heard, dreams that want to be fulfilled, destinies awaiting their moment to shape history. It only happens when fingers go to keyboard and words become sentences, then paragraphs, then chapters.
And so many other distractions vie for those moments I want to spend tapping keys, documenting the history of other worlds and their people.
It’s easy to get off focus.
My teenage daughter never seems to have that problem with what she loves. “Can I watch Merlin? What about watching Merlin, can I do that now? How about we watch an episode of Merlin together? Here’s this picture of Morgana I drew. She’s in Merlin. You should watch it.”
She has become the dreaded Rabid Fangirl, who speaks in Meme and consumes all things Hiddleston, Sherlock, Divergent, Potter, Fault in Our Stars, Cumberbatch, and Capaldi.
(ok, maybe not ALL things Capaldi – the “definitive Malcolm Tucker” on YouTube is a 14-minute art exhibition of what my Scottish friend called being “sweary.”)
I looked at some of what the fans produce, the stories they tell that go beyond the bounds of the “canon” the authors actually write. Characters take on an enduring quality in the hearts of these fans, who come up with some quite touching and poignant wordplay and imagery to capture the power of relationships between fictitious people.
Elsa reaching over to touch her fingers to the sleeping Anna’s wrist, only content once she feels a pulse proving a heart is still beating.
George Weasley, who lost his twin Fred at Hogwarts, coloring his hair in some outlandish manner, then whispering, “It’s because every time I looked in the mirror, I kept seeing him…”
Scenes from Freeman and Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, with grieving John being given medicine to help his nightmares since Sherlock’s demise. And he answers that the reason he won’t take the medicine is because the nightmares are the only time he can see the face of his friend.
It struck me that I should “fangirl” as much about my own characters as my daughter does about these others. If I don’t care about my characters so much that they take on a life of their own, why should a reader? If I don’t believe it is worth reading, why should anyone else?
I decided to do some “fanboy” art of my own, focused on the central relationship of the novel I’m writing.
Lyllithe is the adopted daughter of the Eldest in the Abbey, the friar who runs the village church. Lyllithe is being groomed to fill a role as a servant of the Light, but the lure of a shadowy form of magic has drawn her away from her father’s intended path. And Josephine is a Soulforged, a warrior imbued with divine power, capable of searching out evil, delivering swift justice, and defeating creatures of darkness.
Lyllithe is darkness; Josephine is light. In many ways, through a number of growing conflicts, they’ll clash and debate. But the bond of loyalty and love may prove stronger than their differences.
Here’s the as-yet-uncolored “Sisters” image.
Happy 300th post, me.
But thanks go to you, my readers. Thanks for the views along the way, and for sharing this blogging journey with me.
This post is already longer than I intended. But I’ve included an excerpt of Chapter 10 that captures a bit of Josephine and Lyllithe’s relationship:
Lyllithe sat in her favorite tree perch near the Woodwall but far from the gate. Fresh air blew through the tree, rustling leaves and rocking her branch. Wet soot covered her pale arms and stained her shirt. I stink of smoke and sweat. And I don’t even care.
Even obscured by the ash, her Gracemark glowed enough to cast a hue over her. She studied its shape, tracing it with a finger.
So do I lose you now? Does it hurt to become Scarred?
Words resounded in her mind like punches in the stomach. Light-veiled. Once-devoted. Cut off. She felt like crying but ran out of tears an hour ago.
Lyllithe of Northridge. Who did that name belong to? What sort of woman had no family name, no ties, no bonds, no Order?
The Gracemark’s glow tugged at her attention. And why do I still have this thing? Can I be Marked and declared Light-veiled at the same time?
An old question from her studies came to mind. “How far must one turn away from their Aspect in order to become Scarred?” Seems like the answer depended on whichever Devoted was teaching at the time.
I still believe. More than ever, I believe in the Light. Lyllithe looked up to the stars, half praying, half persuading herself. I believe it has the power to change the world. And I believe we can’t keep that to ourselves.
She looked back at the town. Lanterns in homes lit windows with an inviting glow. Yes, the Light can draw those in darkness to itself. But we also bring lanterns with us to shine in places where no light reaches.
She contemplated her arguments with Marten about the Order over the years. Or at least we should.
Another gust stung Lyllithe’s nose with her own odor. She considered heading home, and paused.
Do I still have a home?
Lyllithe glanced about, using her innate connection to the elements. With each rush of wind, poofy tangles of aera fluttered past. She Bound a large mass and twisted it into aqua, Loosing it before any discomfort.
Refocused water pattered on the tree leaves like fresh rain. The drops swept away the soot, ash and sweat. Though the water had no scent, Lyllithe breathed deep and sighed with contentment.
At least I have this.
Master Hachi’s words from the night of the Calling echoed in Lyllithe’s mind. I said I am not an Arcanist, and he answered ‘not yet.’
Perhaps the Hall is my best option now.
She sat in silence and watched puffs of aera float on the winds. In that distant corner of her awareness, she felt the other-ness once again.
Lyllithe explored the sensation. I can’t focus on it directly, or I lose ‘sight’ of it. But I can look at where it’s not, to guess at where it is.
Elements flowed and swirled all around her–terros in the ground and even the tree, aera on the breeze, aqua dripping off leaves and soaking the earth below where Lyllithe Refocused earlier. Even weak glimmers of lux streamed through the moonlit night.
No flagros around, but after the fires in town, I’m alright with that.
Lyllithe sat in awe of the sensation. I’m connected to everything. Energy everywhere, stirring and shifting in rhythms and patterns, a tapestry of life.
The picture of fabric hanging beyond sight over the visible world sparked an idea. Lyllithe reached out figurative fingers and drew the curtain of reality wide.
There you are.
Her grip on the visible world lurched and her insides churned as if an Arcanist tried to twist her lunch into acid.
I won’t come too close, she told the stagnant mass, backing away in her mind. I just want to watch you for a while.
Despite all that happened earlier, Lyllithe found a place of peace near the unknown power. She leaned back against the tree trunk and clasped her hands in her lap.
And she smiled.
* * * * *
“Should’ve known,” Josephine muttered. She started across the field, heading for Lyllithe’s tree.
What do I say to her? A smart fighter knew both her strengths and weaknesses. Compassion’s not really my thing.
A Glimpse of sorts came unbidden. Josephine shivered, but dismissed the thought. Of course something feels wrong. She just got kicked out of her family and her Order.
Josephine grinned. Maybe I’m not as bad at empathy as I thought.
“Lyl? Want to talk?”
Josephine took out her hammer and rapped the tree twice. “You awake?”
Up in the branches, hidden in the darkness, someone gasped like waking from slumber.
“Yeah, it’s me. Come down, let’s chat.”
Josephine talked while Lyllithe picked her way through the branches. “I’m leaving Northridge tomorrow. Yesterday, before the bandits attacked, I spoke with Master Falsted. He wants to hire on a Soulforged for his caravans. Too many lost to Deviols lately,” she said, then added, “and other dangers out beyond the Wall.”
Lyllithe dropped to the ground. “So this is goodbye?”
“Actually quite the opposite.” Josephine smiled. “There’s a job he wants done first.”
Lyllithe shrugged. “And?”
“And I thought you could be really useful.” Josephine sat down in the damp grass, and Lyllithe followed suit. “I saw what you did in town, Lyl.”
“I had to do something,” Lyllithe said. She bowed her head and the white points of her ears poked up through her drooping black hair. “It was all my fault.”
Lyllithe shot Josephine a glare. “Thanks.”
“You can’t change that. But you were awesome back there, putting out fires, putting down bandits. It was like we really had an Arcanist in our town.”
“So,” Josephine said, “come with me.”
Lyllithe looked away.
“What do you have here? I heard what your dad said, Lyl. Everyone heard. There’s nothing left for you in Northridge, a life of isolation as ‘the Ghostskin.’ Come with me.”
Lyllithe turned red eyes back to face Josephine. “And what will I be then?”
Josephine clasped a hand on Lyllithe’s shoulder. “My friend.” She pulled Lyllithe into a tight embrace. “My sister.”
They sat in silence until a streak of orange kissed the horizon.
Lyllithe giggled. “When do we leave, little sister?”
“What?” Josephine sputtered. “I’m clearly the big sister here.”
“I’ve been Marked for years! You only got yours last Markday.”
Lyllithe shook her head. “Nuh-uh, that doesn’t matter.” She held up her hand. “I win, ’cause I’ve got two.”
Josephine shifted to a crouch. “I win ’cause I can pound you!” She pounced, tackling Lyllithe, who screamed in delighted terror.
After a few minutes of wrestling with no clear victor, they lay in the long grass panting, staring up at the sky.
“Yup.” Josephine gave her a solemn nod. “So it’s perfect.”
Lyllithe let out a long breath and gazed at the sunrise.
Josephine watched and smiled. Good to see you laugh, my friend. She rose to her feet and extended Lyllithe a hand.
“Joram’s associates should be arriving before noon. We’re to set out tonight, so we should head back and get ready.”
“You still haven’t told me what this job we’re on is about.”
“You’ll like it,” Josephine said. They started back toward the village, which seemed far too peaceful given the night’s events. “Kal is running a huge organization across the Bordermarches. Those men who attacked us are connected to other bandits and highwaymen who steal Joram’s goods and take hostages of his workers. They took a few last week, on the road to Aulivar.”
Two days ago I posted about some outrage from religious groups toward the movie Frozen. They claim the story pushes a “homosexual agenda” on children, and their proof, among other things, is that Queen Elsa never goes after any of the men in the film.
But the fact this is even up for discussion leads me to a question, one borne out of purely selfish motives. In order to tell a story that is both compelling and marketable, in light of this sort of debate, I have to ask:
Does the heroine need a hero? Does the female lead require a love interest?
The “compelling” part is easily dealt with. A story needs whatever makes it work, whatever gives it power. Effort spent jamming a hackneyed romance into a story will be obvious, through a hollow feeling, a lack of resonation with the audience, or an eye-rolling “This character is stupid” reaction from a reader.
The wise editor and skillful writer can look at parts of a work-in-progress critically, seeing when some subplot does too little to advance the overall narrative. Every word counts, and must earn its keep. Maybe the part that gets cut is a romance, maybe it’s a really cool action sequence, maybe it’s entire characters getting merged into one. There’s only so much time in a movie, so many pages in a book.
The more difficult question is how a work will be received by the market. Disney’s princess movies are known for a formula. The princess meets a prince. With his help, she overcomes her internal conflict, resolves the external problem, and they live happily ever after. Now, they’ve stepped away from the formula a bit with Brave and Tangled. But apparently Frozen went too far, despite the romance between Princess Anna and Kristof. After all, Queen Elsa never shows interest in any man…
Because the story isn’t about her falling in love.
Consider some of other movies (and books) with a female lead: Hunger Games and Divergent.
Even though both leads fall in love over the course of their respective trilogies, Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior give the distinct impression that they can handle things without Peeta or Four, thank you very much. Both are concerned with staying alive in an unfamiliar situation. Neither goes into their adventure searching for a man, because that’s not the theme of the story. Instead, they meet and bond with allies, who through shared adversity become something more.
The authors fit romances in, and that weaves nicely into the plot, giving added conflict and tension as characters’ goals diverge (hehe). The stories aren’t dependent on their romantic arcs. They can be just as compelling without that element.
But the romance boosts the books’ marketability. Some readers might not care about a dystopian setting, but they’ll look past that to read a coming-of-age story they can relate to. Some readers might not care for either of those all that much, but they’ll take it alongside a plot of budding romance. And some readers might just be catching up on the books in order to understand the movie – or better yet, to avoid a years-long wait to find out what happens next.
I said I had a selfish motive. When this controversy about Frozen first “came out,” one of my first thoughts was my current writing projects. One book series has two female leads. Another has a female lead. None of the three have love interests (at this moment in writing drafts and planning).
Is that wrong? I don’t think so.
In fact, the thought of conjuring up a lovely face to accompany them, stuffing scenes and chapters in to create romantic tension and bonding… that feels wrong.
None of those characters are interested in romance during the timeframe of the story. When your world is falling apart, love isn’t always your first thought.
That’s not saying it can’t happen. Certainly it can, and it works in a lot of stories as one element, perhaps even the main theme.
But that leads right back to the original question: What’s the point of the story?
Once I know that, I write what fits and cut the rest. (ideally)
Back to Frozen, can you imagine fitting a romance for Elsa into that plot line without taking away from the impact of the sisterly bond at the center of the story?
One of the bloggers at the center of this controversy responded to some of her critics. And she quoted a friend, Jonathan Wilson, who took a reasonable stance:
“Frozen can certainly be successfully applied as an allegory for homosexual struggle. The authors may or may not have had that in mind when they wrote it. But Frozen is good enough art to rise above a specific allegorical meaning. It demonstrates broad applicability to many different human experiences. That is why it appeals to so many people.”
Remember, entertainment has to be marketable. A wide variety of stuff can be covered by this blanket.
Art is compelling. That means the field narrows significantly, and the artist keeps only what fits.
I hadn’t, but I volunteered to be the creative guinea pig.
Storybird is a site full of artwork meant to inspire creative writing, both poems and prose. The idea is that you find a piece or series of art that spurs your imagination, and then you write or “unlock” the story contained within the pictures.
It’s meant to reverse the usual process, where a writer has a story to tell and then scrounges around for the right picture to match it.
I tried to do all this on my iPad since my laptop hard drive perished. That decision led to some frustration.
First I explored the site a bit. They have some highlighted submissions from their users, akin to WordPress with the Freshly Pressed. Everything is broken up into genres and categories, and almost everything is tagged for searching.
When you pick a story, you get a flipbook on iPad with pages that turn with a swipe of the finger. On my wife’s PC, she got arrows to turn pages.
When you pick a piece of art, you can learn about the artist and see the rest of their portfolio on the site. This becomes useful when looking for a consistent style of art for a project.
I admit, the grammar nazi in me rose up at the spelling errors and bad grammar in some of the “new and noted” highlighted pieces. But I realize the point is creativity and free expression, not necessarily perfection.
I also found it interesting that everything is moderated. When you publish a story or poem, it gets reviewed before being submitted into the public library. This helps ensure a certain level of propriety and minimizes mean content. Or at least that’s the stated reason behind it.
Signing up is easy and free. There are various accounts based on how you’d like to use the site. Teachers and students can use it for assignments. There are options for professional writers and artists. There’s a “parent” option as well, though I didn’t search to find out exactly what that does.
I chose “regular” as a safe starting point.
I was quickly hit with prompts to upgrade to a premium membership. If you want options for themes and layouts, if you want faster moderation, if you want varied options for responding to people’s projects, then you’ll need an upgrade. It’s $3.99 a month, or $2.99 a month if you pay for a full year.
I held firm to my free membership, and started searching through art. Once I found a picture I wanted, I hit the “Use This Art” button, selected story instead of poem, and found myself at the creative desktop.
I got the picture I wanted, and a set of other pictures by the same artist in the same theme. Then it got difficult.
I had an idea for where I wanted to go, but I was limited by the pictures I started with. Once you choose a set of art, you can’t go back and search for more. The stated reason is this will help you focus on writing the story you unlocked in the picture, instead of looking for just-right pictures to match your already-written story.
Well that didn’t work for me!
I backed up and searched for art in some themes, but it took a while to find a set that had all the pieces I wanted. I ended up with a set of 302 pictures to wade through in order to find perhaps 20 that matched my intent.
They warn users that if you do it the way I did, you will probably be frustrated. They were right.
Now I had the set I wanted… all 300+ pictures loaded into the workspace. I shifted some around, sorted through all of them, and set aside the ones I planned to use.
Then I had to hit refresh, and I lost all that sorting effort.
I had to refresh because my browser became another source of frustration. I used Safari on the iPad at first… but the menu in the workspace kept disappearing. I would have to update a bit, then refresh after waiting around long enough for the project to autosave.
Unsatisfied with that, I tried Chrome. Same result at first, but then I saw the option under Chrome’s menu to “request desktop site.” That made the workspace function properly, and I was able to complete my project.
With all the lost effort due to browser issues and the process of figuring out how to get a selection of artwork that I wanted, not to mention the actual writing, it took me about three or four hours to produce my first effort.
Was it worth the effort? Sure. Storybird seems like an interesting way to get creative, something nice to take a break from my usual projects. For someone who writes children’s books, it might be very useful. And it seems like a fun community of people, although I think they’re a little too flattering with their comments on silly or sub-standard work.
At the free price, it’s worth a try.
But a monthly subscription? That remains to be seen.
Give it a shot. If you create a project, post it in a comment. I’d love to see how others use the site. And let me know what you think of “Not In A Nice Way” too.
Friday night, I got to spend a little time banging on the keys, playing and singing songs to worship. Some were to prepare for Sunday, and some were simply because I enjoy them.
I found a few chord progressions I liked, and started putting some lyrics together for a melody that formed in my head. Then I realized I could combine these lyrics and the music with the words of the old hymn, “How Great Thou Art.”
That hymn is a favorite for my Dad, who is 100% Swedish. A young Swedish pastor penned the lyrics after a stroll through the woods experiencing the glory of God revealed in nature. Like many hymns, it quickly turns attention to Christ’s sacrifice and atonement for our sin on the Cross, followed by a reminder of the glorious hope of eternity with God.
The bridge I added, the part with “Sing my soul how great this God,” was meant to be the crescendo of praise in the song. I wanted the music and the words to be something that builds up to a point where I throw everything I have into worship, into the music, into my relationship with God, into living for Him. After all, what good is a song that sounds great right now as I sing it but does not remind me or challenge me to continue living out its message?
Verse 1 O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder Thy pow’r throughout the universe displayed
Then sings my soul My Savior God to Thee
How great You are
God, how great You are to me
Praises bring to the matchless King
God how great You are
How great You are
And when I think that God His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
Sing my soul how great this God Everlasting Ever loving
Sing my soul how great this God Never ending Never failing
God how great You are God how great You are
Verse 3 When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation
and take me home what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
and then proclaim “My God how great Thou art!”
Now sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee