News And Class Awards!

Time for some fun updates before we launch into summer. And I mean launch! I’m working with the technical experts to assemble the last pieces for the new website. I’ll be sure to post about the transition as we get closer to launch.

Awards announcement for my favorite classroom!

I’ve been helping to teach a unit about the elements of fiction and got to work with wonderful tweens on their first stories. It’s been so rewarding and I love their enthusiasm and creativity! I especially loved seeing their progression to finish. Their teacher, Mrs. Root, is amazing too for taking this on at a young age. But her kids were ready and here’s the results:

Best Drawing  – TIE – Chloe for Shrinkey and Terrina for War

Best Title – TIE – Logan for The Spider Apocalypse and Akashi for Dancing Hamsters

Best Progression from Draft to Final Version – Brayden for The Story of the Hidden Treasure

Best Story About Kindness – Tristan for The Braces

Best Portal – Joey for An Unforgettable Trip

Best Humor – George for Cap Turad

Best Twist at the End – Ellie for Three Days Left

Best Improved Descriptions – Will for The Pirate Invasion

Best Detail With Story – David for The Outbreak

Giveaways coming!

I could use your feedback on my first ever giveaway. You can choose between:

  • Cool gem crafts for summer fun
  • A wonderful jewelry box to hide your treasures
  • A quote-filled umbrella (with book quotes on the outside) for the book-lover in your life (or yourself!)

What would you like to see? I’d love your feedback here in the comments below, or on my social media links.

 

Wandering in Tomorrowland

 

IMG_6540.jpg

David Drake and Katherine Morse in darling costumes. Everywhere they went people were smiling and waving at them.

We were walking through Disneyland and began to notice ladies and gentlemen dressed in period clothing. They looked very nice. Suddenly, I glanced all around and it was like being on the movie set for Tomorrowland with lots of hats, heels, and poofy skirts, too. We had inadvertently visited during Dapper Days and it was like taking a time-warp back to the 1950s or 60s.

Here’s some of the best photos!

76D29614-0E35-4FA9-8B15-F69E92336096

I loved her book backpack! Source: thinkgeek.com.

IMG_6527

By now we really felt immersed in a story, a new one melding Disney and a snapshot of time. It was beautiful! Now, there was a dark side.

IMG_6541

A Goth bride with a casket purse!

Some people dressed Goth and flaunted very dark, zombie-like costumes.

But the special part, for me, was seeing whole families dressed in hats and striped suits, enjoying rides and laughing together. I love the power of a good story!

 


Contest Updates

Some very nice things have happened recently with my manuscript. Awards!

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 5.10.16 AM.png

I took second place in a regional ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) contest called the Keystone Great Beginnings Contest. Thank you to everyone involved in the contest and congrats to the other winners!

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 5.13.22 AM

I just discovered I’m also a semi-finalist in a national competition called the ACFW Genesis Contest. My hands are shaking a bit as I’m typing! Thank you to everyone involved with this contest and I’m so happy for the other semi-finalists, too! I find out what happens in June so stay tuned!

Writing Insights from The Oscars – Makeup and Hair

Oscars

Part Two of Writing Insights from two pre-Oscar symposiums.

I once heard a speaker say that artists have a unique skill for interpreting their world through the visual medium. It’s how they take in the moments of life. I think the same is true for writers, who need that touch and feel to interpret what’s forming. It’s a screen through which they see life’s trials and challenges and dreams.

At a recent pre-Oscars event discussing Makeup and Hairstyling, I found some similar aspects for the very talented people that are responsible for the physical look and feel of actors. From the type of hair materials used, to how prosthetics transform a person into a 100 year old or a terrible monster, I found it fascinating. I was in a room full of a few hundred people, many with very colorful outfits and inventive hairstyles to begin to picture how their creative efforts begin when a movie is in the planning stages.

From The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window, I learned just what the technicians see in a challenge to age and reverse-age a character. The subtle proportions needed to make someone not just seem older in a static environment but also in eating, sleeping, walking, moving with prosthetics on was fascinating. From understanding how small, delicate facial features bring character insights, to seeing photos of how prosthetics can execute small, subtle transformations was kind of thrilling.

Then I jumped into the terrifying and scary world of Mad Max: Fury Road. The sheer commitment and excellent skills of the technicians who worked on the characters was overwhelming. Considering how they did this in the midst of a desert for over seven months was a bit adventurous and certainly on the edge, just like the film. Understanding how to use products and colors to manipulate an instant reaction from the audience was amazing, as well.

These photos are of a character on whose body was written the history of the civilization, literally! It was fascinating to see her come to life in front of our eyes! From Mad Max: Fury Road.

The details in capturing Leonardo DiCaprio’s lip scars in The Revenant and other body mutilation from the bear was terribly severe and fascinating at the same time. I was deeply impressed with the expert mechanical details of building prosthetics and using products to craft the feeling and emotions in a scene. Powdered sugar on eyebrows looks like snow? Scratches in a shoulder with a plastic prosthetic? I know that none of it’s real. Yet when he breaks out of the dead horse, it FEELS very real and ugly and crunching and vital survival.

IMG_4954

Leonardo Di Caprio’s scars from the bear attach in The Revenant look so real I cringe. But his eyebrows are fringed with white sugar and paraffin wax adorns his beard to make it look like snow. Fascinating process for hair and makeup design!

Takeaways:

Those little tics you give your characters emerge as major important factors on the screen and someone may be set as advisor on the details you conceive. The art and science behind evoking a response to the character, whether gross, severe, or thoughtful will stay with me in developing my characters as well.

In my book, I gave careful thought to my characters’ wardrobe, featuring certain pieces to evoke emotion. This symposium really made me think about facial tics, scars, mannerisms, and more subtle details that I’ll enjoy story boarding for the next book I write, too. It was amazing seeing the challenge first, then their response, their adaptability in different circumstances such as an actor eating pizza with prosthetics on his face, or a windstorm and fight scenes. They were filming in constant sandstorms, or ensuring makeup wouldn’t freeze and just fall off in winter circumstances.

I’ve included additional insights in this YouTube video here:

More Oscar writing insights from the Foreign Language and Director’s Symposium here: https://elizabethvantassel.wordpress.com/blog/.

The pre-events are now up on the Oscar website here:

http://www.oscars.org/events/oscar-week-makeup-and-hairstyling-symposium-0.

 

 

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

 

I've been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

I’ve been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

I’ve been nominated for the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award by a writing friend, Jodie Wolfe. Jodie and I met through the Craftsman’s courses with the Christian Writer’s Guild. I was pleasantly surprised to find an email in my inbox this morning saying she had nominated me.

I love the way Jodie encourages readers with her true-life stories and book reviews. You should check out her blog at Digging For Pearls (http://diggingforpearls.blogspot.com/) and her updates and features here (http://www.jodiewolfe.com/).

 There are some rules with this nomination. The Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Nominate five blogs.

Thank you for nominating me, Jodie. I’m honored and very humbled. Here are Jodie’s questions, along with my thoughts.

1. What do you find most challenging about your day?

As a parent and writer, it’s all about juggling. The hardest part is planning for life’s unexpected u-turns once in a while, or making sure I can be there fully for my energetic boys after a long day stacking up words in creative ways to help kids and moms find a touch of beauty in their lives.

2. What is one thing you love about yourself?

I love that I’ve become more resilient and less fearful as time has gone by. The trials we’ve had as a family have really shaped me and helped me to become closer to God rather than further away. I love that our family sticks together through thick and thin. But I love having fun, too, and part of being resilient is finding ways to have joy on good and bad days.

3. What is one thing you wish you could change about yourself?

I would like to be more of a night person. I write in the early hours of the day, and my husband is a night-owl so sometimes meeting up can be tricky. But every time I try to convert, it wipes me out. Guess I’m just meant for the sunshine!

4. What would a ‘dream day’ look like?

I’ve had tasters of dream days already so I’d love to expand them. I’d love for my book(s) to be popular with kids and resonate not only as great adventures but also with deeper characters that help them face into, rather than run from, life’s challenges. So hearing from readers that they faced a bully or peer pressure and walked away would bring a smile to my heart. I’ve also had interest from prominent people with my books so having one turned into a movie or something amazing would be very dreamy. Most of all, ten years from now, I’d love for them to help kids and encourage them to reach for the stars in their own lives, too. Getting to watch that happen would be pretty incredible. Right now I get to do this with my coaching and speaking, too. It’s wonderful to have your difficulties transformed into writing or encouragement to help someone else, wherever that happens.

5. Name five praises from the past week. (I know, it’s not exactly a question) 🙂

Five praises would include gratitude for my family and faith, amazement watching doors open already for the manuscript, thankfulness for great reviews from my kid readers, happiness with people in media giving strong positive feedback and recommending I cast a wide net with the novels. It’s almost knocked me off my chair a few times in amazement to see what possibilities lay ahead if we just keep moving forward in faith. Oh, and having kids run up to me and hug me, saying they loved my book is pretty awesome too!

6. What is your current writing project?

Here’s a one sentence description of my upcoming middle-grade novel, a fractured-fairytale/fantasy that’s just finished and off soon to agents for placement:

When a deaf twelve-year-old girl hears strange voices from another realm in her hearing aids, she gets entangled in a jewel mystery that threatens all. It’s Narnia meets Frozen with a gem twist.

As a wildfire survivor, I also blog regularly about living a resilient life and coach others in their difficulties to find shortcuts through challenging times.

7. What is your favorite aspect of writing?

Sharing Aha’s! Aha’s are those moments when a big truth in life fits into a small word-picture, like an image online or the perfect poem. Capturing a description perfectly or sharing an idea or phrase that impacts someone in a lasting way is a pretty terrific secret weapon to have. I think of an archer, ready to load their arrow at a moment’s notice. The more you write, the better you are at hitting the target. And there’s always room to learn more and improve.

8. How many years have you been writing?

My first poem was called My Skylight and was published in grade-school, discussing magical things the stars did when I looked through it at night. I had great teachers in high school and pursued my degree in journalism/public relations from Baylor University in large part due to the English classes I had early on. I was in corporate writing with Ernst and Young and other companies for six years, where I managed large writing and publicity projects, wrote proposals, edited and authored fifteen monthly newsletters, and wrote advertisements and copy for corporate videos. Then I became a graduate gemologist and a mother.  After I had “the big idea” for these novels, I’ve studied and taken classes to polish my skills writing for children for the last seven years. All together, that’s about seventeen years of experience.

9. How long have you been blogging?

I’m relatively new to blogging, as I started last October, 2014.  But I love connecting with people online and sharing snapshots of insight that they connect with. I can’t wait to launch my kids website later this year and connect more with teens and tweens there, too.

10. What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

I’d like to share gifts that were given to me by C.S. Lewis and Corrie Ten Boom and others—the ability to touch the intangible understandings in life and find courage from others’ struggles. When I studied C.S. Lewis’ work in England for several months, it was life-changing. The way he described big subjects with words lit a fuse of creativity inside that’s never really been quenched by life’s circumstances. I’d love to give practical lessons for conquering fears and help tweens, teens, and their parents reach their potential in life. Whether it comes from my fiction, inspirational, or nonfiction work, just giving nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gained through trials by fire, literally, I hope to bring others a smile and point them to the true Creator that can bind any wound and heal with eternal hope.

 I’m nominating:

Tricia Goyer (http://www.triciagoyer.com/blog/) for her incredibly inspirational posts, that help me be a better parent, wife, writer, blogger, and person.

Tina Russo Radcliffe of Seekerville (http://seekerville.blogspot.com/). After I met Tina on an airplane returning from American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference last year, I also got to meet everyone on Seekerville, a wonderful place to be encouraged as a writer. I also was on the blog in January, and recommend it highly for any writer.

Marcia Ramsland of The Organizing Pro (http://organizingpro.com/). Marcia has done everything from helping me with transitions after the fires, to organizing my office life, and encouraging me to constantly improve as a writer, speaker, blogger, and life coach. Her regular tips on organizing actually change lives for the better.

Edie Melson of The Write Conversation (http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/). Edie’s publishing tips have been invaluable to me in writing my proposal and launching my website. I also met her through ACFW and anything she does online is always of value to her readers, helping them to press on.

Ellie Kay of Living Rich For Less (http://elliekay.com/wpress/). Ellie helps military families and inspires everyone to live frugally and reach their potential with any opportunity. Her encouragement to me at the San Diego Christian Writer’s Conference last fall helped me press on and reach out to others needing hope.

Here’s my questions for you all:

1. What first inspired you to write, and what keeps you writing on the tough days?

2. Each of you is a visionary in your own right. What breathes new life into your work and helps you create innovative ways to inspire others?

3. How do you hope to grow in the next five years? What new direction do you see your work and writing taking?

4. What piece of advice was the most helpful for you early in your career? How has it been a linchpin, or key area of focus, for you and helped you stay true to yourself or your calling?

5. What advice should you have never listened to early on? How did you grow from the experience?

6. If you could spend a day with a character from any novel or biography you’ve read, who would it be and what would you do together?

7. Name five things in your writing “bucket” list that you hope to accomplish some day.

8. If you could write fiction, what five locations would you put in your books and why?

9. Who are the people in your life that keep you going and encourage you to press on?

10. How has writing changed your life?