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JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

DSC_6334_smallWelcome to my writing pages. This is a new adventure for me as I delve into the realm of the World Wide Web!    The main focus of this page is to explore ways beginning writers can find inspiration.  You’ll also find information on the novels I am working on.  My schedule for posting is:

Monday Sparks: Writing ideas to fan your creative flame

Tuesdays and Thursdays – Writing Tips

Occasional Wednesdays – Facts about West Virginia, the setting of my books

Occasional Saturdays – My faith walk as a Christian

You may also find me on Facebook at JPC Allen Writes.

Featured post

Scripture Saturdays

bible-450298_1280I’m sorry it’s been so long since I posted in this category. My time got away from me this summer and I have just now found it. Since Easter, I’ve been reading the Psalms and Proverbs.  I like the structure of the Psalms. The verses are usually a kind of couplet in which the same thing is described two different ways.

Psalm 37:1-2:

“Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon whither, like green plants they will soon die.”

I’m not sure where I read it, but a writer pointed out that because of this structure, the Psalms translate into any language. Its poetry isn’t dependent on rhyme.

Proverbs also uses this dual structure. Sometimes it does it the same way as the Psalms, such as in Chapter 17:17:

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

But many of the Proverbs are couplets that demonstrate an opposite.

Proverbs 14:23-24:

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

“The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yield folly.”

My favorite chapter in Proverbs is Chapter 30, “the Sayings of Agur”. It uses a structure only found in this chapter.

Proverbs 30:15-16:

“There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!'”

Proverbs 30:24:

“There are three thing that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats from nothing,; a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and king secure against revolt.”

I like how these list are constructed and would love to be able to write some with modern meanings. Now that I’ve found my time, maybe I will do that.

Here are some of my favorite verses from the Psalms:

Psalm 24:1:

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.

Psalm 24:7

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, your ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”  I like this verse because it is the first line of a hymn I grew up with.

Psalm 133:1, 3:

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” “It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion, for there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”

Psalm 121:1:

“I lift my eyes to the hill — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” I like this verse because I love mountains.

Writing Tip — Researching History

library-1697314_1280Although I am a history major, I have never felt inspired to write historical fiction. If you are interested in that kind of fiction, learning how to conduct research is critical. I know several authors who write historical fiction and their sites have many articles giving advice on research.

Cindy Thomson writes books the Ellis Island series and two books set in ancient Ireland. She is also a professional genealogist.

Sandra Merville Hart has written two books set during the battle of Gettysburg.

Tamera Lynn Kraft had set Resurrection of Hope in 1920 America, Alice’s Notion’s during World War II, and A Christmas Promise in a Moravian settlement in Ohio, 1773.

At writer’s meeting I went to, Sandra gave advice on how to kickstart your novel if it stalls in the middle. One idea was to go back to your research notes. Whether you have researched languages, locations, or legends for your writing, keeping your notes organized and available will help you find your creative spark when you need it.

West Virginia Wednesdays — Blackwater Falls State Park

IMG_8546I wanted to share some of the experiences I had on my research trip to West Virginia.

My family and I stayed in a cabin at Blackwater Falls State Park. The average elevation is 3200 feet, and that height allows eastern hemlock and red spruce to dominate with a few birch and striped and red maples thrown in. It covers 2,358 acres with miles of hiking and many gorgeous views. Along with 39 cabins, the park has a lodge with a restaurant, gift shop, and pool. We also took advantage of the nature center near our cabin. By the nature center is a small lake with boats, a playground, and two tether balls. My kids became addicted to tether ball. The park is part of the huge Monogahela National Forest.

IMG_8508I wished we had arrived two weeks earlier. The rhododendrons had just finished their blooms. They start the first week of July. It would have been wonderful to see the forest glowing with these white flowers because rhododendrons grow just about everywhere in the park.

 

Another type of plant I liked were the ferns. The park boasts many different kinds, and I love their feathery, primeval look.

Of course the major feature of the park is the falls. Blackwater Falls is one of the most photographed natural features in the state. It get its name from the needles of the hemlock and spruce which turn the water the color of tea.

IMG_8437We were fortunate to come when a lot of rain had fallen. The water poured magnificently over its 62-foot drop.  We went to see them around 7 p.m., which proved to be an excellent time. There were hardly any people around, and my husband and our oldest could experiment with different camer set-ups. During the rest of our stay, we drove by the parking area many times, and it was usually parked full.

Writing Tip — Digging into Research

IMG_8547I recently returned from a trip to Tucker County, West Virginia. My novel is set in a fictional county of West Virginia, but shares many characteristics with Tucker and neighboring Grant County.

Because my novel is set in current times, I have a much easier time doing my research than if I was using a historical context.

Here are three rules to follow if you are fortunate enough to be able to live in the setting your characters occupy:

1. Walk the walk. Or drive the drive. However you need to move around to familiarize yourself with a location, do it. We hiked through the mountains. I drove through three local towns and the twisty, heart-stopping roads between them. Such on-the-spot research reveals aspects I couldn’t learn from just reading books. For example, I went on a night walk because this is something my characters do. Apart from just feeling what the night is like in the mountains, I learned when it’s too dark to see my feet, I get a feeling of vertigo, like every step drops into a bottomless pit.

IMG_85262. Talk to the locals. Nothing beats learning from the people who live in a location. We stayed at Blackwater Falls State Park. While one of my kids made a craft at a program in the nature center, I talked to the assistant naturalist and found out all kind of interesting facts about the area. Such as how the beautiful eastern hemlocks are under attack from an invasive insect.

3. Visit a local library if there is one. Since I am a former librarian, it’s not surprising I like to do my research in libraries. Often, libraries have resources on the local area you can’t find online. I went to the library in Parsons, the county seat of Tucker County, and read through some old newspapers on microfilm (haven’t used that in a while), researching an idea I have for a mystery novel. It was difficult to print off the microfilm machine, so I asked if any of these old newspapers were online. The librarian told me they weren’t, so visiting the local library was my only option.

If your story isn’t set where you live, and it isn’t on the third planet from Altair, do your best to visit your setting. What you learn will surprise you.

Monday Sparks — Writing prompts

willow-2568232_1280Describe the idea summer evening.

Last year, I described a spiritual experience I had on a summer evening. You can read about it hear. Just recently, I had another wonderful evening in August.

We live on a river, and my husband kayaks. The whole family waded into the river and all the kids took a turn at paddling a small kayak. The weather was perfect, not humid, no bugs taking bites out of us. The sun gilded the water, and my kids’ happy voices floated over the quiet river. I felt a wonderful peace and thought as long as people can still appreciate simple pleasures like this, we aren’t that different from all our ancestors. Moments like that summer evening feels timeless.

 

 

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