Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gathered Together - Word Fun With Animals

Some fun names for animal groups.

A congregation of alligators.
A shrewdness/troop of apes.
A troop/flange/congress/rumpus of baboons.
A cete of badgers.
A sloth/sleuth of bears (general.)
A litter of cubs (bears.)
A colony/family of beavers.
A sute of bloodhounds.
A herd/troop/gang/obstinancy of buffalo.
A clutter/clowder/pounce/dout/nuisance/glorying/glare of cats (general.)
A kindle/litter/intrigue of kittens.
A destruction of cats (wild.)
A coalition of cheetahs.
A kine of cows.
A flink of cows (12+.)
A band of coyotes.
A bask/float of crocodiles.
A herd/leash/gang of deer (general.)
A brace/clash of bucks (deer.)
A kennel of dogs (general.)
A cowardice of curs (dogs.)
A cry/mute/pack of hounds (dogs.)
A drove/pace/herd of donkeys.
A herd/memory/parade of elephants.
A gang/herd of elk.
A business/cast/fesnying of ferrets.
A leash/skulk/earth/lead/troop of foxes.
A tower of giraffes.
An implausibility of gnus.
A tribe/trip/drove/herd/flock of goats.
A band/troop of gorillas.
An array of hedgehogs.
A bloat/thunder of hippos.
A rag/rake of colts (horses.)
A string of ponies (horses.)
A cackle of hyenas.
A troop/mob of kangaroos.
A leap of leopards.
A pride/sault/troop of lions.
A mischief of mice.
A labor/company/movement of moles.
A troop/barrel/carload/cartload/tribe of monkeys.
A pack/span/barren/rake of mules.
A romp of otters.
A pomp of pekingese.
A colony/rookery/huddle of penguins (general.)
A creche of penguins (nursery.)
A drift/drove of pigs (general.)
A singular/sounder of boars (pigs.)
A team/passel/drift/parcel of hogs (pigs.)
A litter/farrow of piglets.
A prickle of porcupines.
A coterie of prairie dogs.
A colony/warren/bury/trace/trip of rabbits (general.)
A herd of rabbits (domestic.)
A down/husk of hares (rabbits.)
A gaze/mask of raccoons.
A colony/pack/plague/swarm of rats.
A crash/stubbornness of rhinoceroses.
A pod/bob/harem/herd/rookery of seals.
A dray/scurry of squirrels.
A stench of skunks.
A streak/ambush/swift of tigers.
A pack/route of wolves.
A crossing/zeal/cohorts/herd of zebras.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, April 22, 2010

So Long. Good-bye. Farewell

Last week Bonnie Gray invited me in a blog comment on Beholding God (Messy Monday) to take a "What If" challenge.

Brainstorm five "what if" questions, she said. Fast. Choose one. And then let's jam about it.

Like today. A week later.

Say what?

I took the challenge and posted my response over there, although it fits here, too. Maybe better.

Anyway, follow me and check it out.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gathered Together - Word Fun with Birds

I wrote about some turkeys the other day on Beholding God. And I wondered, "What do you call a bunch of turkeys anyway?"

And then I stumbled on some way cool words to describe them. And other birds.

For instance, here are some of my favorites. In no particular order.

A rafter/posse/gang of turkeys.
A pandemonium/prattle of parrots.
A pitying of turtledoves.
A flock of ducks (flight).
A badling/brace of ducks (ground).
A raft/team/paddlling of ducks (water).
An ostentation/muster/pride of peacocks.
A lamentation/ballet of swans.
A host of sparrows.
An ascension/exaltation of larks.
A clutter/murmuration of starlings.
A conspiracy of ravens.
A descent/gatling of woodpeckers.
A dissimulation/flock of ground birds.
A volary/brace/plump/knob of game birds.
A wreck of sea birds.
A chattering/clutch of chickens.
A mustering of storks.
A mutation/hermitage of thrushes.
A party/scold of jays.
A dole of doves.
A dropping of pigeons!
A gaggle of geese.
A sedge of cranes.
A squabble of seagulls.
A stand/flamboyance of flamingoes.
A wake of buzzards.
A watch of nightingales.
A wisdom/parliament of owls.
A colony/cloud of bats
A convocation/aerie of eagles.
A cast of hawks (general).
A kettle of hawks (flying).
A boil of hawks (spiraling).
A tiding/gulp/murder/charm of magpies.
A pod of pelicans.
A bouquet of pheasants (takeoff).
A congregation of plovers.
A venue of vultures.

There are some colorful animal groups, too. Next time.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

K.M. Weiland: One-Word/One-Line Interview

I’ve been stalking K.M. Weiland for some time. Hanging out at her website. Dogging her around the blogs. Soaking in life advice and writing wisdom. Admiring her gifts of detail and discipline. Immersing myself in the middle ages in her new book, Behold the Dawn. And she has such a sweet spirit. I want to be like her when I grow up.

So since I wanted to get to know her even better, I asked if she could stop by my blog and answer a few brief questions.  And she agreed!
Since Katie's novel is set in the set in the 12th century, I decided to ask her 12 questions in 2 categories.
K.M. Weiland in One Word
1.  Where would you go on the ideal vacation? 
2.  What was your first paid job?
3.  Would you prefer to swim or ice skate?
4.  What is your greatest weakness? 
5.  When it comes to "stuff," are you a keeper or a tosser?
6.  What musical instrument are you?
7.  What would Marcus Annan say is your greatest strength?
8.  At a theme park, do you head for the roller coasters or the shows?
9.  Who was your childhood hero/heroine?
10. Where do you behold God?
11. Would you prefer to eat (peasant) bread or (elderflower) cheesecake?
12. What one-word message did you take away for yourself from Behold the Dawn?
K.M. Weiland in One Line
1.  What is one of your favorite quotes from Behold the Dawn?
     "In the corner, flint struck against steel, sparks danced airborne for a moment, and then the expected flame burnt a golden hole in the darkness."
2.  Would you prefer to travel by car or plane and why?
     I much prefer car travel; airports are exhausting.
3.  What do you battle?
     Myself; impatience and tactlessness are two of my banes.
4.  When you are feeling down, what lifts you up?
     A bouncy song, a good movie, sunshine, chocolate, and above all, the knowledge that God is in control of the little things and the big things alike.
5.  When you've been away, what do you like best about coming home?
     My own bed!
6.  If you were to die today, what song would you like sung at your funeral and why?
     Nicole Nordeman's "Legacy" comes to mind: "I want to leave a legacy / How will they remember me? / Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough / To make a mark on things?"
7.  If you could live in any period of history, when would it be and why?
     Probably the 1940s, though I may be a bit prejudiced right now, since I'm working with a new story idea set in that period.
8.  What was a good word of advice someone gave to you?
     What people think of you isn't as important as what God thinks of you.
9.  How would Lady Mairead complete this sentence for you? I wish . . .
     . . . she wasn't so mean to her characters!
10. When did you know you were a writer?
     It was a gradual awakening, I guess, since I've always told stories; probably the "official" realization was when I was about twelve.
11. What has your past taught you?
     To look outside the box, keep an open mind, and never settle for an easy answer.
12. What is your favorite writing outfit and why?
     Jeans, sweatshirt, and fuzzy blue slippers--because I gotta be warm to write! 
What one thing would you like to say to your readers or future readers?

Thanks for being there! In the cutthroat world of publishing and marketing it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of why I'm doing this. But whenever someone tells me they loved one of my books or that they were encouraged by a blog post--that makes my day. That's what it's all about. Being able to touch the life of someone else, even if for only a moment, means I've accomplished something worthwhile.

What one thing would you like to say to your fellow writers or aspiring writers?

Don't give up, and don't sell yourself short. Writing, first and foremost, is a mode of self-expression, of reaching out and connecting with the world around us. Being published, being read, making the NYT best-seller list, that stuff is just icing on the cake. You're a writer even if you never accomplish that. But, at the same time, don't allow yourself to settle for less than the best. Discipline yourself, drive yourself to become a little bit better every time you sit down at the keyboard. Success only visits the dedicated.

Synopsis: Marcus Annan, a tourneyer famed for his prowess on the battlefield, thought he could keep the secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him find justice for the transgressions of sixteen years ago, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade.

Wounded in battle and hunted by enemies on every side, he rescues an English noblewoman from an infidel prison camp and flees to Constantinople. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.
The sins of a bishop.
The vengeance of a monk.
The secrets of a knight.

About the Author: K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She is the author of the historical western A Man Called Outlaw and the recently released medieval epic Behold the Dawn. She blogs at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors  and AuthorCulture.

Reposted from Beholding God--11/18/09

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Writers in the Spirit

Writers in the Spirit: Inspiration for Christian Writers
by Carol J. Rottman, Ph.D.
FaithWalk Publishing 2004

I brought this book home from the local library. But my left arm had to hold my right arm down to keep from writing in it.

So I  bought my own copy.

Eleven chapters burst with inspiration in the form of essays, meditations, scripture references, quotes, tips, writing challenges and prayers. Designed to provide motivation and encouragement.

Some quotes from Carol:

"'Incarnate' is a better word for what artists do than 'create.' They make something out of other somethings; they are the great recyclers of this world."

"Two things help me get unstuck when the writing stalls: Taking a power nap (putting my head on my folded arms at the desk until they tingle) or taking a walk . . . Two things don't help: eating and fretting."

Note: That's the only way I can nap. Else I'm done for. And I guess I need to take the M&M's off the desk.

"More of us are writing, but most are not writing very well."

"Dear God, I praise you for putting desire in my heart to try what seems impossible. When I am weary and faint--inspire me again. Amen."

"The task of a writer is to soak up dibs and dabs of this and that, swish them around in the mind, and slowly release words or marks in a thin stream across a page."

"The breakthrough came when I finally moved aside and asked God to break into every part of my life and work."

"There are days when I seriously wonder if I should be a writer."

"I will starve if reading, writing, and prayer are not everyday meals."

"Really, Lindsey Jo, I'm sixty years old and have just begun to express myself through writing."

"Throw yourself into writing about something you love, or fear, or loathe--and feel the fervor."

"As with blood delivered right into the vein, words can fix a system gone awry. Words beget thoughts like plasma generates new blood cells."

"Merely thinking about writing will not produce a single word. Endless speculation may actually block writing instead of promoting."

"Perhaps a great, great grandchild will, someday, find my words and know me."

"Recently I was reminded that St. Paul would never have written the letters to the churches if he had not bee incarcerated and unable to preach."

" . . . circle all words that pad or puff up your writing and delete them."

"A writer must work out of what is--not from ideal circumstances."

Some quotes from others:

" . . . I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him." ~Frederick Buechner

"You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads." ~Ray Bradbury

"This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." 1 Corinthians 2:13

Yep. Some good stuff in here.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Four Pitfalls of Christian Writing

I dig Philip Yancey. Anything he writes. I even got to meet him in person once. He's not afraid to tackle hard stuff, and his writing inspires me to pursue excellence.

And so I often pull his books off my shelf. Like Open Windows, a book he wrote over 20 years ago in which he addressed the importance of writing with art and excellence. I think it's still relevant today.

He says that Christian writers must strive for high literary standards in order to be taken seriously.

I believe that. We should stretch high and higher in our art because we represent The Highest Master of art and creativity and excellence.

Yancy describes four pitfalls of Christian writing.

1. Thought Without Art. 

He urges us to not write stuff that sounds like a sermon. Writers "must take readers on an emotional journey to hold their attention." He reminds speakers they can't necessarily captivate an audience with the written word like they can in person. As authors, they have to get more creative.

Examples to study: Frederick Buechner, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton.

2. Supernature Without Nature.

Yancy says we should explore the magnificence of God's natural creation, affirm it and "plumb its meaning" before leading people on to a supernatural world. He believes readers hunger for this and says we need "a more supernatural awareness of the natural world and a deeper natural sensitivity to the supernatural world. In our art the two must come together, and fuse."

Examples to study: Annie Dillard, Tolstoy, Lewis Thomas, Pablo Neruda.

3. Action Without Tension.

He says that sometimes when he reads Christian books, especially fiction and biography, he feels like the characters are "strangely lobotomized." Read Jeremiah and Hosea and see how graphically the prophets described Israel as a harlot. Old Testament Jews felt words like atonement and forgiveness because they watched a priest swipe a knife "across the spurting artery of a fear-stiffened lamb." We have to infuse emotion and word pictures in our writing.

Examples to study: James Dickey, John Updike, William Faulkner, Frederick Buechner (Leo Bebb).

4. Light Without Darkness.

We can't forget that many readers are traveling in the dark, so we can't turn on the floodlights without blinding them. We have to bring them gradually through the tunnel. "We have to allow the reader to understand lack of faith as well as faith . . . Insanity must sound like insanity. Doubt must sound like true doubt."

Examples to study: William Faulker (The Sound and the Fury), Ken Kelsey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), Dostoyevsky (Brothers Karamazov).

Yancey  reminds us that the Bible is filled with "rollicking" love stories, drama, history, poetry, and parables.

And he ends the chapter by stating that C.S. Lewis once likened his role as a Christian writer to an adjective humbly striving to point others to the Noun of truth.

"For people to believe that Noun," Yancy says, "we Christian writers must improve our adjectives."

Excuse me.

I have some reading to do and some adjectives to work on.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, April 5, 2010

Why Write?

To discover One Life
To find one's own life
To enter other lives
To change many lives.
The end.
The beginning . . .

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Habits: Breaking Old, Making New - Part 2

I have to adjust the plan. 

Because a timer is not going to work for these morning pages. 

And no, I did not eat those M&M's early in the morning. I just sat them on the notebook for your enjoyment. I ate them later. After breakfast.

Anyway, when the timer went off, I did not want to stop. I kept going. Even though my hand and arm periodically cramped. And I felt like I could scribble more drivel, but I had to get to the next thing on my list. 


I felt guilty putting the writing before Him. 

Except I never really sensed a separation.

It was like dusting the corners, sweeping under the bed, shaking the rugs, dumping the garbage, cleaning the cup, opening the drapes. Making room for fresh words from the Word. Feeling the Spirit's breath. Turning on the creative faucet. Like filling an empty grocery cart with all manner of new gourmet foods. Organizing them and planning the next meal to share with company.

It. Was. Yummy.

An early morning habit to cultivate in solitude and silence. Jesus AND my journal. No timer. At least three pages filled. Time for the Word. Time to sit and listen. 

Away from the computer. Away from the television.

Quiet time.

I can't wait until morning.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King