Badge of honor

I recently did my last school presentation of the year at Whitworth Elementary here in Oregon. I love their mascot, their school spirit, and their school wolf “HOWL”:

Whitworth

Excellent words to live by.

It was a fabulous day, with loads of great questions for me from the smart and lively students (and all the students were definitely smart and lively!). School visits are so energizing for us writers, who spend most of our time alone, spinning words into what we hope is gold for our readers…

Speaking of spinning words, Whitworth’s delightful librarian Deanne Harms prodded me to share a picture of my keyboard. “That’s the keyboard of a working writer,” she said when she spotted it, and it’s true. I wear out keyboards faster than I wear out computers. Check it out:

HVF Laptop

This is my MacBook Air. I have the 11″ model and I am truly, madly, deeply in love with it. It’s embarrassing how much I adore this amazing little machine! It’s light as a feather, slips neatly into my purse/backpack/carry-on, is able to leap tall buildings at a single bound–no wait, it can’t do that. But I bet it could if it tried! Best of all, it’s still going strong at nearly four years old.

Back to the keyboard. I think you need a closer look. Click on the picture below to enlarge it:

HVF Keyboard

Funny, huh? Good thing I know how to touch type! When you spend all day every day writing — which for me means typing on my laptop — this is what happens. It’s just a hazard of the job. And a badge of honor as well. Wearing out the keys on my keyboard means I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing: writing books for YOU!

And sometimes it means goofing off writing a blog post…  😉

 

Saturday Story Starter

Welcome back to the Saturday Story Starter!

Thank you all for the stories you’ve shared so far (click here and here in the comments field to check them out) — I just love the hum and buzz of collective creativity!

As you know, the Saturday Story Starter is purely for fun, just as a way to exercise those writing muscles (think of it as Heather’s Literary Gym). There are no prizes, only the simple joy of putting words on paper (well, OK, computer screen). Also, I won’t be offering critiques, just brief words of encouragement, but I will read all your entries, that I can promise!

Here’s this week’s photo:

Strawberries
Strawberries happen to be my favorite fruit. These are Hood Strawberries, which are native to Oregon, where I live. They are UNBELIEVABLY delicious! They rarely make it over the border because they’re too delicate to travel, and they’re best eaten within 24 hours of picking. (Ours barely make it home from the farm stand before we’ve already started digging in.) They make the world’s best jam, too. Ooo, and homemade strawberry ice cream? There’s nothing better in the world….

STORY STARTER:  Write about your favorite fruit. Be sure and tap into the five senses as you write, as this really helps breathe life into words on a page (or a computer screen!). In fact, using the five senses should be a primary tool in every writer’s toolbox. The more you as a writer engage your reader’s senses, the more present your reader will be in your story, and the more alive and real it will be to him or her. So now, with this story starter, help us vividly SEE the fruit, SMELL it, FEEL it, TASTE it.  (We may or may not HEAR it, depending on whether it’s crunchy or soft.)

You can simply describe your favorite fruit for us, or, if you’d like, you can turn it into a story. It’s up to you.

Ready, set, write!

 

 

Little snow, big snow

Have you ever had one of those writing days (weeks, months) where it seems it’s all you can do to eke out a paltry handful of words worth keeping?

The muse is napping, perhaps, or has skived off to go bowling with friends, leaving you to sit and stare at an (almost) blank page. Frustrating, isn’t it?

When this happens to me, I always think of my Nova Scotia grandmother.  Her name was Eva MacDougall, but we called her Nana Mac.  Nana Mac was full of sayings–some salty, some hilarious, some wise.  One of her wisest was “little snow, big snow,” which she attributed to the Mi’kmaq, a First Nations people from her region of Canada.

“Do you see that snow?” she’d say, looking out our window.  (I grew up in New England, and Nana Mac often came down to “the Boston States,” as she called New Hampshire and Massachusetts.)  I’d squint, because the stuff sifting down from the sky hardly qualified as snow.  A flurry at best, maybe.

“Little snow, big snow,” she’d tell me, nodding sagely.  “It adds up, you’ll see.”  She’d go on to explain that the biggest snowfall accumulations often came as a result of the smallest, finest flakes piling up gradually over time, while the big, fat flakes that arrived with such pomp and circumstance — look! snow! — often petered out quickly and melted away.

Nana Mac was usually right.

So I keep this in mind when I’m writing, and the going is slow.  Word by word, snowflake by snowflake, a story is built.  Stay the course; just keep writing.

Little snow, big snow.

 

Happy Father’s Day!

This is my father and me, circa about — well, let’s just say a long time ago.  Love that skinny tie, Dad!

Heather Vogel Frederick & Stefan Vogel

 

My father’s always been my champion and hero.  He’s directly responsible for me growing up to be a writer, thanks to the hours of bedtime stories he read to me and my sisters,  reams of paper with which he provided me, endless patience he displayed in cheering on my fledgling efforts (which he always took seriously), and of course the copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style that he tucked into my Christmas stocking when I was 12.

Thanks for everything, Dad.  I love you!

 

 

New year, new page

I love New Year’s Day.

There’s something so hopeful about it, isn’t there?  It’s a clean slate.  A fresh start.  A new beginning.  Days and days stretch out ahead of us like the blank pages of a brand-new book, just waiting to be written on.

And what could make the prospect of all those blank pages even more delicious than having something fabulous to write with?   Which I do, thanks to my darling husband.  Take a look:

My Christmas pen

He had this pen MADE for me!  I didn’t even know that artisan penmakers existed, but they do, and my sweetie found one and commissioned this one-of-a-kind treasure for me.  It’s hand-crafted from maple, which means that as I write, the barrel warms to the touch.  The graceful whorls and lines of the wood grain are gorgeous, as is the sparkling crystal in the pocket clip.  I can’t keep my eyes — or hands — off of it.  Which is, of course, the whole idea…

Writers can be fanatics when it comes to the tools of our trade, particularly pens.  I have special ones just for book signings, and others for journaling and letter writing, and still others for humbler tasks like to-do lists and keeping the household accounts.  The very best ones are reserved for writing stories, though.

I can tell that my new pen is a winner already.  A thoroughbred, champing at the bit to be off and running across a blank page.  The two of us will launch our maiden voyage together come Monday, when we start my next book.

I can hardly wait.