Acquisitions

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I’m quite excited about some recent acquisitions I’ve made. Check out these additions to my personal library:

Folk and Fairy Tales (Critical Theory)

Myth

Children’s Literature

And More!

Want to know what’s extra exciting for me? I acquired most of these for only $2 or $3 per book (or even less!) at a recent book sale. It was heaven on earth… and I just had to share the good news!

So tell me, which of these books would you start first? What are you reading over the summer?

Good and Terrible: The Rejection Letter

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People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.

Rejection. Writers are warned it’s a common, everyday, even natural part of the submissions process. Expect it. Endure it. Curl up in a ball and curse it, but in the end don’t be daunted, discouraged, or depressed by it.

While it’s easy enough to acknowledge this advice, it’s not always easy to abide by it. Every stepping stone on the pathway to publication can seem to scream a new insult. You’re trying to do too much in this picturebook. // The narrative is a bit shaky. // For such an important plot device, you are distressingly vague about it. Who wants to tread on such treacherous terrain? No doubt, rejection is torturous and terrible.

But it is also, at the same time, good.

Industry experts will tell you to learn from those letters. Grow. Hone. Sharpen your skills. Be bold. Be brave. Be discerning. Incorporate criticism. Ignore criticism. Rewrite, revise, re-submit. And, perhaps most importantly, persist.

But on a more basic level–a level that involves less sweat and toil, less wrestling with dos and don’ts and decisions, on a level that incurs less neuroses–here’s why I view rejection letters as good; why I turn to them from time to time for (yes, I’m actually saying this!) encouragement.

  1. A rejection letter, no matter what it might say, means that my writing is being read. Plain and simple. And that’s a good thing.
  2. A rejection reminds me my work is being considered. Publishing professionals aren’t simply reading the writing, but are evaluating its strength. Insights into the industry come through this process.
  3. My writing is critiqued. For example, an editor at one of the leading publishing houses (normally closed to unsolicited, unagented submissions) sent a full-page response to my manuscript. While it was ultimately a rejection, I’m very aware of the value of her response. People pay plenty of money–at conferences, workshops, blue pencils–for that kind of feedback. While it’s not easy to accept all that she says, her time and attention and expertise given to my manuscript is still nothing short of encouraging.
  4. My writing is complimented.

Clever premise! // I found [your story] really quite great! I wish you the best of luck with it! You are clearly quite a talented writer! // Well done. Your ending is really touching and beautiful. // I like your work. // Both are well written and clearly you have much promising talent as a writer.

It’s easy to let those hard-to-hear critiques overshadow the praise (why do we writers do this?), but if you re-read those rejections they’re likely also laden with positive remarks. It doesn’t hurt to highlight them. Or perhaps cut and paste them all into one place :)

5.  Finally, rejection letters are good for providing perspective.

A Pleasant Rejection Letter

It’s a competitive market. Our work must be ready, it must be excellent. Yet rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not. The right time, the right place, and the right fit are also factors in effect.

You’ve been to Narnia, right? Let us remember that a thing–such as a rejection letter–can be both terrible and good at the same time.

Aslan © 2015 by Kelly Dycavinu

Aslan © 2015 by Kelly Dycavinu An early attempt in the series Story Sustains Us.

How about you? How do you handle rejection letters? Are they mostly terrible? The least bit good? When were you last in Narnia?

P.S. Check out this list of Best-Sellers Initially Rejected. I bet you’ll find it encouraging!

© Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Story Sustains Us

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What Sustains Us? Where do we find nourishment for our bodies, our spirits, our communities, and our land?

As part of a group of artists participating in a community art show I was asked the question above. The following is my answer, out of it Black Beauty is born:

Story. Of all the possible responses to this question, story comes to the forefront of my mind. Stories shape the way we see the world. Stories shape the way we see others. Stories shape the way we see ourselves. Through story—whether sharing our own or listening to the stories of others—we have the ability to foster health and wholeness, connection and community, understanding and awareness, respect and responsibility.

A gentle hand on the forehead of a misused horse, words that would stay a whip, rescue and reunion with a care-filled keeper… these are but a few glimpses into another, even grander, Story—one that unfolds before us and all around us.

Through story we are invited to recognize the world as it is. Through story we are invited to live in the world as it should be.

Black Beauty © 2015 by Kelly Dycavinu

Black Beauty © 2015 by Kelly Dycavinu

***

Novel update:

New grains of sand: 4,208

Current status: 54, 204

© Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On Being Invited

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Do you like receiving invitations? I do!

Isn’t it great to know that you are welcome? That your presence is requested? That you are thought of and sought after?

Yes, being invited is quite a lovely thing. So today I want to share with you some of my favourite invitations.

From my daughter: “Momma, will you come cuddle with me?”

From Isaiah:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.”

                                            –Isaiah 55:1

From Uncle Elephant: “Come out of this dark place!”

From Shel Silverstein:

If you are a dreamer, come in,

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…

If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

Come in!

Come in!

                                                —Where the Sidewalk Ends

The first invitation… well, that one is just for me. I’m my daughter’s only Momma, always and forever so shall it be.

But the others… well, they are addressed to you as much as they are to me. Those invitations I freely extend. So how about it? Shall we pour a glass of wine, light a fire, and start spinning some flax-golden tales?

By the Fire

I’m back full-force to writing and research for my novel. And I’ve done the math:

750 words/day, five days a week, times 12 weeks = 45,000 words

750 words/day, six days a weeks, times 12 weeks = 54,000 words

That’s where I’ll be, come September, when I dive back into coursework. 45,000 – 54,000 words richer… the last half of my first draft complete.

And you? What are your goals over the summer? Will you join me in setting some? Have you been spinning (or reading) any flax-golden tales? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

© Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Uninvited Guests

Kelly Dycavinu:

I’ll admit it… there are some guests I refuse to invite into my home. My OCD personality just can’t handle the mess! But this post from my lovely friend, Esther Hizsa, has me thinking… what (or whom) might I encounter if I welcome these messy ‘guests’?

Originally posted on An Everyday Pilgrim:

Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen--The calling of St John during the marriage at Cana.1530On Christmas we entertained family and friends for most of the day. We enjoyed every guest that came. But visitors are not always easy to have around. They may come late, stay too long, or forget what they promised to bring. Inevitably someone will do something that unsettles another.

Our feelings are like guests. Some are more enjoyable than others. Yet Rumi invites us to welcome them all. Why? Because we can encounter God in them.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful…

View original 117 more words

Seasons Change… and You’ve Been Waiting on Me

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We enjoyed an extended sunny summer here in Vancouver. With the BC teacher’s strike, kids literally did not return to school until the first day of fall. And then, with the turn of a calendar page, along came the rain… pouring and pouring… still pouring… will it ever stop? pouring.

Seasons change.

This fall we moved, I returned fulltime to my masters program, my husband started a new job, and we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, my daughter’s birthday, and my husband’s birthday… ALL within a two-week time period! It’s a ‘new’ season and a ‘happening all at once’ season.

I thought to share with you this song from Future Islands, Seasons (I’ve Been Waiting On You). Watching it, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry… he’s just too intense! A little like life, I guess.

Okay, so I mostly laugh.

***

News and Updates:

My picture book, Oosh Goosh Down in the Woods, was shortlisted in the SiWC writing contest (Writing for Young People Category).

My painting, Oh, Jerusalem!, was selected for inclusion in this year’s Christian Seasons Calendar. You may remember Oh, Jerusalem! from A Little Sheepish… Chalk on Dirt where I shared about a painting created from dirt and egg yolk paint.

This summer I wrote 50,000 words of my current novel-in-progress. While I didn’t make it all the way to my 70,000 word goal, I’m quite content with the accomplishment. Besides, I reached a point where it made sense to return to ‘research mode’. If you’re new to Popcorn with a Spoon, I shared the journey in a series of posts called Novel Ideas: Diarrhea Draft, Doing the Math, Faulty Metaphor and Character Alignment, The Writing Ritual, Research versus Writing (and Pottery in Ancient Palestine), and Positive Affirmation.

***

How about you? Any seasons of change in your life right now? What do you think of this song by Future Islands? Did you attend the SiWC Writers’ Conference? Please share your news and updates.

Make No Mistake: Take the Next Step

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I’m here. Stuck in this place where I’m afraid to make a mistake.

It drives me crazy.

I’m not allowed to touch anything. What if I break it?

I’m not allowed to play. I might make a mess of things.

I’m not allowed to explore. I might get lost and not be able to find my way back.

It’s no fun. There’s nothing to do, but nothing.

Bird's Nest by Kelly Dycavinu

A work in progress

What am I talking about? This painting.

My daughter and I began to work on it during our season of slow. I like what we’ve done so far. And I know what I want to do next. But something always stops me from starting on the next step—the fear of making a mistake, the fear of messing it all up.

Do you ever feel this with your art? Your writing? Your life? Do you ever find yourself stuck in one place, afraid of making a mistake?

The irony is… most of what I love about this painting is the unplanned and unintended parts, the mistakes so to speak. So I guess I should stop stalling, get out the burnt umber, and start defining the twigs and branches of this bird’s nest.

How about you? What’s the next step you’re going to take?

***

Good news! A painting of mine has been selected for use in a calendar. I’ll let you know the details once the contract is finalized :)

Novel update:

New grains of sand: 8,285

Current status: 49,096

I’m going to write this novel. Word by word.

***

© Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon, 2011-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Step by Step: Learning to Enjoy the Journey

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I don’t travel well. It’s getting from point A to point B that derails me. If I could just snap my fingers and arrive in Paris… perfect! Or teleport to Turkey… great! But, no, it’s never that easy, is it? Consider all the cost involved, the expenses incurred. Consider the fears to overcome, the fear of flying, the fear of the unknown, the fear of disappointment. Consider all the delays and detours, the lay-overs and lost luggage, the lack of sleep…

But I’m not just talking about travel, am I?

It’s the same situation with most of life’s worthwhile endeavors. Getting from where you are (point A) to where you want to be (point B) is rarely an easy effort. And this is why I appreciate those who are willing to share their journeys, step by step, with others. It’s one thing to announce to the world when you’ve arrived, and it’s another to assist others along the way so that they may arrive (eventually) as well.

Thank you to all those who have gone before and who have stopped to consider those who follow after.

***

Artist, Sandrine Pelissier, is someone I appreciate. Check out her step by step painting demos and tutorials. There are many inspiring ideas for your painting projects–not to mention gorgeous artwork–over at her site.

Here’s my attempt to follow the trail she’s blazed:

Red Flowers by Kelly Dycavinu

My experiment with zentangles and negative painting (painting the negative space rather than painting the subject directly). My zentangles need some work, but I enjoyed the learning process.

 

Red Flowers Detail by Kelly Dycavinu

***

Marriage, parenting, writing, art, education are a few of my worthwhile endeavors. What are yours?

Novel update:

New grains of sand: 4,221

Current status: 40,811

I’m going to write this novel. Word by word.

My Son Wears His Sister’s Jewelry… and Why I Encourage It

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A Fist Full by Kelly Dycavinu

Don’t be fooled by the grinning green bear’s shiny smile or you’ll be whisked away on wild winds. This ring creates tornados.

The compass maps both time and place. It sends a blast that warps you to whenever or wherever you want. It’s often used to send the enemy to the moment of his/her destruction and demise.

The beaded ring with pink flowers offers the power and ability of every single animal.

The mood ring shoots water, ice and snow. You can freeze things with this ring.

The purple dinosaur harnesses the power of all dinosaurs and can summon them back to life. These prehistoric pets are very loyal and will listen only to you. They can’t be controlled by others.

The blue and silver beaded ring? Well, it gives you the power of all super heroes, even the ones you’ve invented yourself. (If you were forced to choose just one ring to wear, this would be your best bet).

And then there’s the rainbow bracelet. When thrown, it electrocutes what it hits. The four multi-coloured metal bracelets are so sharp and spin so fast they can cut through anything–even a house. But don’t worry, these bracelets only activate when spinning at super speed and there’s only one who can wield them with such strength (that would be my son, my super hero). Rest assured, the bracelets are in good hands.

My son doesn’t need to hear Boy, take off those girl’s things. He doesn’t need to hear that he shouldn’t wear them to the park. He doesn’t need to hear that it’s okay if he wants to explore further the world of women’s dresses and make up. And he doesn’t need to hear that it’s not okay. What he needs to hear is: Awesome, buddy! Tell me what would happen if you activate the electrocution device while time travelling. Can the mood ring shoot water and ice at the same time? What animal’s power would be best to summon if I was trapped in quicksand?

It’s imagination! It’s not always about gender identity.

But I wonder if, in today’s world, we’re too quick to make kids question it.

 

Rings and Things by Kelly Dycavinu

***

Novel Update:

New grains of sand: 5,689

Current status: 36,590

I’m going to write this novel. Word by word.

Novel Ideas: Positive Affirmation

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Belinda WitzenhausenWhen I set out to get serious about writing my novel, I was asked to make a list of all the potential obstacles that would keep me from achieving my goal. Any beliefs, bad habits or barriers were to be written down.

Here are three of my twenty-plus obstacles:

Obstacle: I have young kids who demand my time and attention.

Obstacle: Doubt. Am I a good enough writer?

Obstacle: I get easily side-tracked and caught up in other projects.

Then I was asked to take these obstacles (or negative statements) and write, on a separate sheet of paper, a positive and present-tense statement that would affirm what I want. The following affirmations directly correlate to the obstacles I listed above.

Affirmation: My children inspire me to write. They are so easy-going and wonderful that it’s easy to fit my writing schedule into our day-to-day lives.

Affirmation: I’m capable of writing my novel and of writing it well. I can write a word. I can write a sentence. I can write many words and sentences put together in an intriguing manner. I have poems, short stories, publications, and prize money to prove it.

Affirmation: I’m committed to my writing and especially committed to telling [this] story. For the next six months I’m free to focus on my novel–other non-home based commitments will wait.

I must admit, at first I scoffed at the process. I worried that it would chalk up to nothing but empty and shallow ‘positive thinking’. I was wrong. Here’s what I learned:

  1. I was trying to overcome and break through obstacles that didn’t exist–or ones that I made for myself. You see, my kids do inspire me. Their creative minds amaze me. And they are easy-going. I didn’t have to make that up. It’s not wishful thinking. My kids play well together and they each play well on their own–and for extended periods of time. A box of Lego and a bunch of Strawberry Shortcake dolls and they are occupied for hours. My negative belief was simply wrong. It was false to assume that because I have young kids, I have less time/ability to write. Stopping to consider a positive affirmation to my negative belief helped remove an obstacle that shouldn’t have been there to begin with. (And it improved my attitude and relationship with the kids–of course they are an inspiration and not an obstacle!)
  2. Doubt can be dangerous and it should be subjugated to evidence. We all face doubts. Doubts about ourselves, our abilities, our future, our relationships… the list goes on. Again, to deal with doubts about my capability as a writer, I didn’t need to make up my positive affirmation. I just needed to consider the evidence. And there’s more than enough to commend my capability and support success.
  3. Obstacles will come, be prepared with strategies to overcome.
      1. When I re-encounter doubts about my ability (and I will), I can pull out my favourite short stories or read through certain sections of my novel that demonstrates my capability. This ‘evidence’ is also a tool for future use.
      2. Knowing that I like to get hands-on and involved with a wide variety of projects, and knowing that this behavior of mine will easily side-track me from my novel, my third positive affirmation is backed by a strategy. For the next six months I’m free to focus on my novel–other non-home based commitments will wait. I will not commit to anything new in the next few months. I’ve wrapped up some outside projects and commitments and I’m prepared to say ‘no’ to the many good and wonderful opportunities that will pop up in the meantime. Why? I’m convinced that finishing my novel is an even greater opportunity for me than any of the others combined.

So there you have it. A brief look at how articulating positive affirmations– rather than dwelling on negative beliefs, bad behaviours, and barriers– helped clear the pathway to my goal. Not every obstacle can be removed, but at least I’m better prepared for when I encounter them.

Please join me on the journey. Follow/subscribe to Popcorn with a Spoon for weekly updates. Leave comments. Share your goals and experiences.

***

Credit Where Credit is Due

Two resources shaped my experience above:

  1. A novel writing workshop led by Andrew Jobling. It’s a useful resource to help overcome the obstacles most of us face while writing a novel. It’s not so much about the craft of writing as it is about the internal and external inspiration and motivation to write.
  2. Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger, PhD and Christine A. Padesky. PhD. You don’t need to suffer from a mood disorder to benefit from this book. We all face negative thoughts, emotions, situations, and behaviours. This book equips the reader to deal with them effectively and appropriately.

***

I’m going to write this novel. Word by word.

New grains of sand: 4,652

Current status: 30,901

It all starts here.

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