4 Ways to Make Time to Read in Your Day

School, sports practice, cheer, work, church, commitments, writing, blogging—the never-ending vortex of things to do, places to be, and things you want to do spiraling out of control. Sleep? Pffttt. Who needs that? Family? They exist, too. We do want to spend time with them. Speak with them once in a while.

We go from one place to another, never stopping, and at night, drained and worn out, we collapse into bed and attempt to catch forty-winks.

What suffers?

Read the rest at Illuminate YA.com!

Rebecca Morgan

One Small Step: Winter Workshop 2019

It’s been a week since I came home from the OYAN Winter Workshop, a workshop for older students who have taken the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. It was a wonderful week filled with God moments, joy, and memories. This year’s theme was One Small Step.

 

onesmallstep.jpg

“When I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the Moon, I cried.” Alan Shepherd

 

Memory #1 My Critique Group

Guys, I had a fabulous critique group this year with some pretty amazing stories, from a Snow White retelling to werewolves (don’t let that scare you). Every day had us laughing, wiping tears from our eyes and screaming “no” at the top of our lungs. There are pretty amazing writers in the OYAN community and the future of literature looks promising. 😊

My own work has improved in that I was able to deceive them, give them feels, and sink their ship. I feel immensely happy — my writing has improved to be able to lead readers astray down dark forest paths. ** cue evil laughter**

Memory #2 Being with Young Adult Writers

Writing as a young adult is hard with so many responsibilities. At the Winter Workshop, there are other young adult writers in the same boat. There, we come together in solidarity, talk about our stories, and even do some brainstorming.  A bonus at this Winter Workshop was we had an hour of undisturbed writing every day, and it was so nice to be able to get back into my story world.

Memory #3 Sour Patch Kids and Tea

One of my lovely friends brought sour patch kids and tea for us during our writing sessions and it was literally the best thing ever. #writerfuel

 

REBECCA'S WINTER WORKSHOP 2019 PICTURES 444.jpg

Memory #4 The Snow

On the 31st, we had a snow fall.  One minute we were quietly writing, till someone said it was snowing. Then doors were thrown open and we stood outside in the snow, wet, cold, and laughing. This southern girl was happy.

REBECCA'S WINTER WORKSHOP 2019 PICTURES 448.jpg

Memory #5 Friends

This Winter Workshop, I was able to grow closer to old friends, and make some new ones. Friends are precious things. They are there to help you through a rough time, talk with you, lift you up. After going years with not having any, I treasure those that I have made through OYAN.

 

Memory #6 Lack of Sleep

The latest I ever made it was 2:00. Who can go to bed when there is so much to talk about? Tribbles. Star Wars. Star Trek. Home states. Very badly written fan fiction that has you holding your sides aching with laughter. There is no shortage of laughter at the Winter Workshop.

               

Memory #7 My Mentor Session with Stephanie Morrill

I knew I shouldn’t have been terrified, I know Stephanie.

But I was. 

Anytime someone reads my writing I break out in hives. But it was honestly the best 30 minutes ever. She loved my story, and I was able to brainstorm that dreaded ending with her.

 

rebecca's winter workshop 2019 pictures 504Selfie with Stephanie Morrill after many failed attempts.

Memory #8 The Sessions

Not only does Winter Workshop have adventures with friends, but it also has some amazing sessions.

Mr. S talked about story beats, great questions of genre, and who’s telling your story. Jenn Bailey spoke on worldbuilding and magic systems. And Stephanie Morrill taught us about all the little things. I love to color code my notes but it’s very hard when you’re furiously scribbling down all the things.  So many notes.

Memory #9 God Mourns with us, and Wants Us to Invite Him into Our Mourning.

Mrs. S, a member of the OYAN and our beloved matriarch spoke on this. Never have I ever thought of God in this way. 2018 was a year of loss for me.  Of health. Joy. Friendships. And while I knew God was there, and there was a reason for all of this, it never resonated with me that He would be in the same room with me, mourning with me. This may be the lesson that I take and hold the most through 2019.

2019 is a new year. A year of new opportunities. New people to meet. And new challenges. But this year I’m going to take it on one small step at a time. With God. With my friends. My family.

And the new year doesn’t seem so challenging from that point of view.

 

Rebecca Morgan

Armistice Day – Finding William Digby Morgan

Throughout history, we have stories of discovery. I’m not talking about discoveries of the compass, electricity, or new lands, but the moments of epiphany, when men and women had moments of sudden revelation and insight.

I had my own just four weeks ago.

I was at the LSU (Louisiana State University) vs. Georgia game waiting for the game to start, and wanting to stretch my legs a little, I walked outside the Student Union. It’s a shady, cool area, covered with many oak trees. The perfect place to write, study, or enjoy nature.

As I walked around, I started to notice plaques under each oak tree. Plaques with names and dates that ended in 1918.

And it dawned on me. This was a memorial. A memorial to soldiers who had died in World War 1.

 

20181013_115019.jpg

First came a feeling of stillness, what this place was and what it stood for, and how proud I was that LSU had it. Then I was ashamed that in all the years I’d gone to football games, I’d never known this memorial was here — Memorial Oak Grove; thirty-one oak trees. Thirty-one plaques. One of them dedicated to an unknown solider missing in action.

 

20181013_115011

So, I walked through the grove again reading the names more carefully, silently thanking each man for paying the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom that I had that day. And that was when I came across the name of William Digby Morgan.

 

20181013_114943

I had the stray thought that maybe we were related, but that was closely followed by the thought that the chances of relation were slim, Morgan being such a common name. But I took a picture anyway and showed my mom, who is our family’s genealogist.

After a few days of searching my mom hit the gem. We were indeed related. William Digby Morgan is my third cousin four times removed.

 

20181013_115340.jpgWilliam Digby Morgan’s Oak Tree

A second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, William was killed in the Battle of Argonne, France, on November 10, 1918, one day before the Armistice was signed on November 11 ending World War I, a day which we will honor tomorrow.

Today one hundred years ago, my cousin died in France, and I want to pay tribute to him. He has no direct descendants, and no one seems to remember him. But I do, and I won’t forget.

55995243_138106561823

Tomorrow will mark one hundred years since the Armistice was signed, and I want to forever remember all the countless men who decided that that there was some good in this world worth fighting for. And that precious freedom was worth risking all, even for future generations that would never know them. Or may not even care. 

Your sacrifice can never be repaid except for me and those who follow to remember you, honor you, and share your story.

That is what I’m doing tomorrow. 

What I aim to do every day. 

God bless our fighting men and police officers.

God bless America.

 

Rebecca Morgan.png

 

 

What to Do When You Hate Your Story

We all get there at some point. We stare at the computer screen and hate the words on there. It’s horrible. Did we really write this trash? And how can characters on a page with no brain being controlled by us, the writer, suddenly seize control and throw everything into chaos? Seriously?

We used to love it, this story. The setting, the characters (well sometimes), the theme. The passion behind it used to drive us to our desks, eager to continue the story.

What went wrong?

Courage dear heart. You are not alone. Authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A. A. Milne, and Ian Fleming, hated their work. Jane Austen was so depressed that she didn’t write for three years.
So, what can we do when we’ve come to hate the story on our hearts?

1. Take a Break

You are only human. You can only do so much. Take a step back. It’s okay. You’re not a failure when you do so. Take a break for a few days or a week and recharge. Even God rested on the seventh day. Read that new book everyone’s talking about or play a game with siblings. It’s fall, and the trees are in color, and the weather is cool. Use this to your advantage and take a walk to clear your mind.

You’ll come back from break feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and rested, ready to dive back into your story again. And often, you may come back able to see things more clearly.

2. Learn to Not Expect Perfection

Everyone’s first draft has problems. Know that the first draft of your WIP (writing in progress) will have mistakes. There’s no getting around it. My current WIP lacks conflict from one character, and another character mentioned in chapter four is never mentioned again. Whoops. I’ve made notes to correct this in the editing stage, but the farther along in my novel I get, I realize that my previous work has holes that need to be filled, patches that need to be fixed.
My foundation is weak, but that’s okay. The first draft is you getting the story from your heart onto the page, spilling it out in all its messiness. Don’t worry about it being perfect. No one else is going to see it but you. Think of it as you telling yourself the story first, then the editing stage as you getting your facts straight.

 

3. Try Something New

Sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ve found writing in a journal helps me get past my rough patch. There’s just something about returning to the basics of holding a pen in my hand and writing on paper that helps clear my mind. If you type on your computer, try taking a break from the screen for while and write in a journal.

Or if you are a writer who writes in a notebook, try writing on the computer for a while. Feeling something new like computer keys might help spark creativity.

4. Write with God

Philippians 1:6 says, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
God gave you this story and only you can write it, no one else. Isn’t that kind of amazing? He will help you see it to completion – He’s not going to abandon you. God’s the Maker of creativity – He created this world in all its breath-taking beauty. When you feel dried up and empty, enter into your writing with God and ask him to fill you.

 

Question: What do you do when you hate your story? Let me know in the comments.

 

Rebecca Morgan

From the Ashes ~ An OYAN Summer Workshop Reflection Post

I started out writing this post as a summary of what I learned last week at the OYAN workshop. After all this is a writing blog, right? That’s what would make the most sense for me to share.

I had my notes beside me and my fingers on the keys and the words wouldn’t come.

I thought something was wrong with me, but while I stared at my computer screen, God laid on my heart what to blog about this week.

To be honest with you, I didn’t want to share it, because it felt too personal. But God kept pressing on my heart the need to share it with you. So here we are.

Days before I was to leave for workshop I lost a loved one. Someone who ever since I was a young girl would give me a Coke and start spinning a tale and set a spark to that deep thing within me that loved telling stories.

But it was more than his loss that left me aching. Over the past two years I’ve lost other family members and I’ve felt at a loss as to why. I wasn’t angry at God, but I wanted to know why, why couldn’t my family get a break?

I was thrilled when I discovered the theme for the summer workshop was From the Ashes. I have long loved the story of the Phoenix. The idea of a creature rising from the ashes, into something beautiful and new has long held a special place in my heart.

There are countless stories and songs of being reborn from the ashes; the riddle of Strider from The Lord of the Rings, “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North. Doubtless we as a culture are enamored with the story of the Phoenix. I have even heard one pastor say that when we accept Christ as our Savior, we rise from the ashes of our past life into a Phoenix , into something new, beautiful, and pure. 

In the immortal words of Aslan, things never happen the same way twice, and I didn’t go into this workshop expecting to be changed as I was last year, or the year before that. I knew a core-shaking awakening wasn’t what I needed.  All I knew was that I was exhausted, mentally and physically. And that I was hurting. 

Instead I got to campus way too early looking for something to cling to that was beautiful. So I sat there, afraid I was annoying everyone, wondering, waiting, watching, in that calm before the storm, in that silence when everything waits with bated breath to catch a glimpse of what’s about to happen.

And I found wonder and beauty in a sweet girl named Jenna who has become a dear friend. It was Luke, Christina, and Adrienne, who are some of the dearest people I know. 

It was the small everyday moments that were sparks to my ashes, those moments that come and go so fast you almost don’t notice them. 

 

It was the joy in giving away Apple Butter

It was sitting outside on the grass talking with friends.

It was getting notes in my journal.

It was being in a circle of friends.

It was walks to the secret playground and pretending we were ordering burritos.

It was sitting in a hallway reading excerpts, making them sound like a romance read.

It was getting soaked by sprinklers at midnight and the screaming that ensued.

It was Mr. and Mrs. S just being themselves, pouring out the love they have for us.

It was watching a friend lead a class and getting a free book out of it.

It was a gift from a mother who took care of me that week.

 

Since coming home from the workshop with my health seemingly in tatters, those moments are still my sparks to ashes. And with God by my side, maybe I can rise from these ashes of grief and despair into something beautiful.