Courtney S. Barr

Welcome to My Kingdom!
Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Memos: Car Shopping & Writing...

"If you've never bought a car, you don't know anything about maintaining a car. Young buyers don't figure out how much the car is going to cost them the whole year..."
-Jeff Oseroff
Car shopping is a lot of fun...when you can window shop & dream about owning the vehicle or when your funds are unlimited... Not so much fun when you have a budget you must maintain, a teenager who truly is not sure what she wants - and is still developing exactly what style even appeals to her, a husband who just wants to find a good deal and an insurance company to deal with as well. Now, I'm no saint in this equation - I have my own list of requirements and rules for her first vehicle. Overall its just an experience that is exciting, tiring, fun & overwhelming at times. (By the way - thank you mom & dad for a patience that I am now beginning to truly appreciate)

The big details of all of this are no different than any household big purchase but it is the little conversations that appeal to me the most. Discussing the costs that will go into it and informing a 16 year old she will be responsible for gas and that where it goes/who drives it are details that we are seriously discussing at dinner & while running errands. As maintenance & care becomes more & more the subject of the search I realized this is much like writing a manuscript.

You have an idea, a concept of what you want your end result to be. You are not positive that it will be that exact story but you are pointed in a certain direction. The big details: story arc, main character and genre is much like the body, make & model of a vehicle. But it doesn't stop there - interior colors/textures are like setting/time. The miles per gallon/gas prices are much like the relevance of your story/your want for completion: does it get you from A to B at a cost that will allow you to have extra cash - is the story one that you believe in and are ready to put everything you have into it? The engine is your characters. All those parts, those tiny pieces that get the story running & keep the driver going where they need to go...Such details that we sometimes labor over and other times we just dive right in. For us, we are researching, trying to make smart decisions, safe decisions yet also make it something fun. For me, I am still maintaining - working at getting the interior details & maintaining flow. We just don't always realize how much goes into maintenance. The revising, the changes, the aggravation, the excitement, the stress, the lack of sleep, the joy, the tears...the brake pads, the oil, the gas prices, the balance & rotation, the insurance, the cleaning...

The best part about all of this is that with both cars & writing, sometimes all we need to do is trade in or maybe, just maybe, we only need a fresh coat of paint, a weekend joy ride or an appraisal to remind us that we have a classic on our hands.

We need to be patient and enjoy the fact that over time our value will be retained, even if its only by a select few - we can be proud of the end result and enjoy those Sunday afternoon drives...
Hello Monday! How is everyone today?

Do you have to tell yourself to say "no" so that you can focus on writing?Roni Griffin tackles this issue & as a fellow Southern gal, I feel her pain...

So Blaze or Dry Rot? Don't know? well wander over to Book Dreaming..I can promise you Shannon is always blazing!

Frankie met Sara Shepard! Yep - are you a Pretty Little Liars fan? If not, well shame on you - the books rock and the show is fun! Scoot over to her blog and you just might win a signed copy - or don't more chances for me... ;o)

Have a Magical Monday!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday's Written Word: Delivered

He looks at me...knowing it has been too long...
My fingers are ready but scared to dive back in...
The words are so few, such tiny scraps of paper...
So terrifying with their unknown letters...
I inhale and release the breath, accepting I must return to the habit...
to the sanctuary of the words...
This cannot be happening! Air! I need air...p-pllleeease...air!

The whimper escapes before I can stop it. Inhaling burns my lungs and I wait for the pain to ease before running my hands along the rough wall, frantically searching for an opening. I pound against the wood, ignoring the pain, wanting only to be heard by someone. It has been at least four days since I was placed in the first box and hours since the second.

Splinters pull at my skin with every inch I cover. The wood's tiny spikes scratch my bare legs and back. The cold has long since left body, replaced by the warmth of my own blood scattered across my skin. The journey was rough over the last days and the box had been thrown around. But none of the pain of travel compared to before.

My jaw aches from the lashes. Even if I wanted to speak it would be difficult. My teeth chattered for so long when they first loaded my crate that I bit the edges of my tongue, my cheek and my lips.

Wooden walls encase me; walls so tight that I cannot turn around. Every movement has my body aching. It has been hours since I last heard voices and now it seems they have placed me in another box; only this one appears to be airtight.

Please, God, please if you can hear me...please don't let me die...please...I don't understand.

My hands rest on my knees and I feel a splinter dig into my index finger - the pain is dull, no longer so sharp. Breathing hurts. Every inhale is peppered with a quiet rasp that has begun to grow louder with every passing minute.

Tears flow freely down my cheeks. Sweet salty drops fall against my lips and I taste my own fear. Hope is a fickle mystery that lingers in my mind, skirting along a thin line of sanity. My soul seems to remind me to relax, to I sit back against the coarse boards.

Closing my eyes I sit still and listen to the crackling rasp of my own breath.

My thoughts are of before, when once I knew the feeling of the safety. I had not known that things could change so quickly. They had come before I could learn the ways of the lost and taken me, stripped me of my belongings and handed me over... to him.

He hates me. I disgust him.

In my heart I believe he fears me but I do not know why. What could a girl of eighteen do to a man of such power? A man who ruled so many.

I anger him. His power tore at my face and hands but I did not weep. He wanted me to cry out, to beg and my soul would not let me. It told me to be patient and to be strong.

Why did I not cry?

It hurt so badly, yet tears would not come. Now they run freely and there is no one here to see them.

A noise in the distance has me jumping, my shoulder scrapes against the wall. Biting my lip from the pain I listen.

Footsteps. I pull my knees close to my chest, the rasps are faster now and the sound coming from my mouth cannot be silenced.

"Which one is she in?" A voice hard and gritty fills my ears.

"The one with the mark - the mark of the stone." The words are spoken in a whisper with a reverence that startles me. "They said she would arrive within the week."


The odd shaped mark on my ankle has always resembled a jewel. I have no idea if I was born with it, only that it had been of interest to him.

The footsteps are closer now, I can hear their breathing.

Loud creaking fills my ears as they open the outer box. Light peeks through the slats of wood and I fight the urge to weep.

"I can hear her breathing! She's alive. The Gelders will be so happy!"

The words have me cowering. Who are the Gelders? Dear God, please don't let it be like before. Please.

"How has she survived?" The whispering voice speaks so soft that I almost do not hear it.

The wood shakes as they try to open the box that has surrounded me for days. The panel beside me begins to loosen from the corners and I lean away from it.

Light spills over me as it is removed. I duck my head from the stark white brightness.

"Oh my...what did he - " the question dies on his lips as I slowly try to move. My limbs are sore and cut, my skin is covered in patches of blood. At first I do not think that I can even unfold myself, but I look to see his hand outstretched toward me.

Slowly I reach out for the large hand, feeling the callouses on his upturned palm as our skin meets and sensing the strength within it. I should be scared but a feeling of comfort washes over me at the human touch.

I allow them to pull me out and help me to stand. My nakedness has them blushing but I have learned in a short time that modesty is the least of my worries. The two men look me over as I adjust to the air and the light. Their cheeks are pink as their gaze travels my body but I see the light in their eyes when they find the mark on my ankle. The one who held my hand reaches for a cloak and covers me as his companion hits his knees.

Then he also kneels and bows his head.

In unison they speak and I begin to tremble.

"We bow to you, and promise to serve you. You bear the mark and we are blessed to have been chosen to be your guides."


Have a Wacky & Whimsical Wednesday!

To read past Wednesday's Written Words please feel free to use the sidebar menu on the right or visit my Original Works page!
P.S. Scoot over to CJREDWINE's Blog and donate to a worthy cause - one of the most amazing reasons to enter a contest - a family can be made a reality...THE LAST WORD

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Memos....Routine vs Life

The less routine, the more life!
-Amos Bronson Alcott

*** we are again...
that word..
that stinky little 7 letter word that sometimes eclipses the wonders of that 4 letter word.

I don't mean to let it slip in and take over, let it sometimes suck the fun out of a good 4 letter word; but gosh darn it - it can.

It creeps in when I sit down to plan out dinners, when I look at a football schedule and try to decide how to time everything just right; it walks into my bedroom every morning at 7:20 and works diligently to point me in the correct direction...

but alas...those 7 letters are a formidable opponent but the 4 in the opposite corner win out every time:

Routine vs. Life

Who knew that between the little ticks on a daily planner that life can swoop in and create an inky mess or wonderful escape?

Routine can be perfect for one matter and ridiculous for another. We talk of balance, of time management, of school schedules and work shenanigans all the while forgetting that each routine must have life within it...Life wins out, even when the routine seems perfectly patterned for success. That little bump, that hitch in your time management - it isn't exactly a bad thing; actually it is probably just what you needed to remember that Life isn't routine. It is not set in stone within the squares of a DayTimer. It is messy, unforgiving, relentless, exciting, dramatic, tiring, busy, surprising, heroic, fatal, mysterious, romantic, shocking, hilarious, sad and dangerous.

It is all the elements we seek when wandering a bookstore - granted even a book store attempts to control routine, yet we all know that genre divisions can be misleading and often overlap. They segregate the books into genre, theme, author, style - forgetting that if its good, if its worth the time to read it, to enjoy it, to relish it...well, we don't mind which piece of life is in it - so long as the life is there when we turn the page....

So work on your projects, let the hitches come, let the routine slip a little, let the day planner have a blank square...because I promise if you were to flip back through it and think about that day you will remember: not a blank day with no activity but a day full of the routines of life - after all Life always wins... ;o)

For me daily match with Life can be found in these blogs as well...

Tina Lynn asks if you also struggle to find a new VOICE...

Dear Lord! I could pass out - James Dashner graciously gives us an update on book 3 in THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy and lets us see a snippet of the SCORCH TRIALS!! I may faint from excitement...

Lola's preaching to my writing choir today and choir needs to be sure to keep showing me their talent...(though telling me appears to be their favorite method) - oh the agony of realizing I tell too much... ;o)

DL has a wonderful post discussing his 'budget' that can in many ways relate to Routine vs Life - those that's and then's we encounter while writing our beloved manuscripts...

Enjoy your Marvelous Monday...I hope its full of Life... ;o)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Memos!


You can find hundreds of blog posts all over the internet that focus on "hooking" your reader. Books are written about how to pull a reader in by using tone, subject, description or just a few words - oh I'm sorry, the right words.

We all search for the right words. What makes me laugh is that we search not only for the words to draw a reader in, but we must work to discover the ones that keep them in our clutches. ;o)

We want them to turn that first page, stay up late, lose sleep because they cannot put it down and fall in love with our characters. These are demands we make of ourselves as we scurry through a manuscript. What we sometimes forget is that we are also the reader during this process. WE need to want to turn the first page, we need to want to stay up late, lose sleep and fall in love with the villains, the heroes and the supporting characters. But for the writer even if the first attempt does not keep us close, don't lose faith or think it a wasted beginning.

Plato is right the beginning is the most important part, what he leaves open to interpretation is "what is the beginning?". For the reader it's that hook on the first few pages...but for the writer it is whatever point the story appears in our mind then fleshes out on paper. Some write from middle to end and end to beginning. Others are traditional and start from page one, some create an outline and fill in as they go. I am a traditionalist for the most part but have found myself waking up to a scene that is at the end of a story itching to be told....they are all beginnings for the writer. They are all our most important part of the work for that story.

We cannot forget that each story is its own beginning as a whole. It is a step, a platform, a direction that we yearn to explore. It is a part of us that must be nurtured. Yes, I know some stories get shelved, they never get printed out, they are barely even a full MS; but can you not see that they too are beginnings...they are the first step or the turning point or the base for something we will begin again later or that will push us to write the MS that changes it all. Yes, beginnings are the most important work. Life is full of beginnings just waiting for us to discover their hook and keep us up late, working our fingers to the bone and loving every single second...

Where do you begin?

Around the blogs today!!

Um, are you ready for WRITE ON CON? NO? What? You have to be - it begins tomorrow!!!!!

Wendy Ramer has an adorable post about Justin Bieber - yes, you read that right!

The Literary Lab has a very interesting interview with Murray Dunlap, What would you do if you forgot everything you ever wrote?

Oh & The CONTESTS!!!

Okay, Lola's is awesome - go enter now! Click on the pic in the right sidebar -No other words need be said ;o)

Early info on Miss Snark's August Secret Agent contest!

Rebecca & Naomi: 2 sisters, 2 birthdays, 2 contests, 2 AWESOME GIRLS!
Follow both: Rebecca & Naomi

Carol over at Carol's Prints is giving away 7 ARCS! Yep you read it right 7 ARCS!!! click now it ends 8-15-10

Have a Marvelous Monday!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Welcome to the HIGH DRAMA BLOGFEST hosted by the sweet and wonderful DL Hammons... be sure to wander over to his blog Cruising Altitude and wander through the other entries.
I was a bit unclear as to what constituted High if this is not textbook definition I apologize, for me it is dramatic - I hope for you as well ;o)
This is not from a WIP but written specifically for the blogfest...
"What does it mean?"

My eyes followed her nervous fingers as she opened the door; the round edges of her nails a stark white against the dingy brass knob. An urge to stop her slammed into my gut.

"It means that things have changed." The voice that spoke did not sound like my own. Gruff tones, low and sad.

What is wrong with you?

"Why? I thought - I thought you...I mean I thought it was getting better."

Her voice isn't gruff. It is soft and sweet, a sound that could soothe away any pain, make you remember things long buried and not care about the things you had done. I wanted to hear her always.

The large wooden door creaked as she pulled it open. Melodic strains of Rachmaninoff glided out and chills ran down my arms. Her question was simple but now I knew the answer would not be - at least not to her.

"It isn't."

I pushed her through and she stumbled to the floor. Her gasp barely registered when I saw him. He stood. Long, lean limbs unfolded as he straightened; dark black hair curled at the nape of his neck. A gray shirt hung loosely on his gangly frame accentuating the snug jeans. High cheekbones, eerie in their structure sat beneath eyes of night - black and terrifying.

She backed up and pressed against me. The ache grew and forcibly I pushed her forward.

"Wait - please..." No longer sweet and soft, her voice a pleading whisper that was more whine than ever.

He was in front of her before she could finish; his movements barely visible as he crossed the room. Long bony fingers curled around her neck.

Her body shook as she tried to turn back to me.

I started to leave. His head snapped up and I froze. He looked from her to me and smiled.

"I know the rules Evan."

Silently I nodded.

"Good." Gravely tones elongated the word and I knew then that yes, it isn't any better. "I apologize Evan, but I do not sense the gift in her."

Before I could say a word his hand twisted and her head fell to the side unnaturally. He released her and I watched the soft peach skin, dark chesnut hair and the brightest light I had ever known collapse onto the floor.

The ache was gone, replaced by an internal scream that can never be freed. My breathing hitched as I stared at her. He cleared his throat and I looked back at him; my body reeling with a hatred I had never known.

"Do better next time Evan." He began to hum along with music, waving a hand in dismissal.

I glanced at her, seeing her eyes stare blindly towards the wall and felt the scream die down replaced by a burning heat.

"Oh, I will sir, I will." Yes things had definitely changed.

Have fun today on this Sunny Saturday!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Fun: Tag! You Are It!

H-E-L-L-O F-R-I-D-A-Y!!!

(Wacko's Hellllooooo Nurse! is stuck in my head today)
So Shannon over at Book Dreaming decided to pay me a visit this morning. Yep, she popped over to this here lil' Royal setting and told me I was before I hyperventilated with worry as to what on earth she had tagged me for I grinned. Not just any grin, but a big one.
You see I have been a bit chaotic and busy lately. Not able to post as regularly, have missed my Wednesday writings and well am just now beginning to slow down even the tiniest bit. To some it might appear that my slow down and their slow down are TOTALLY different definitions, but I promise it really is beginning to be a little more laid back at the Castle. What had me smiling was the comments from Monday's post. There wasn't just one, but 9. Nine comments. Each one sweet, sincere and genuinely glad to have visited. I had not yet posted my own comment to everyone else and well I just wanted to say Hello & Thank you. You have all been so supportive during these adjustments for our Kingdom and have visited here each time I have posted. For that I am forever grateful. We all go on soapboxes every now and then about the wonderful community of writers, book bloggers & authors that we frequent, I often chime in and this time I just want to express the simple appreciation for y'all letting this Southern Princess prance around & feel so welcome. I hope that I am able to return the love in every way possible.
Now on to the tagging:
This is the one where you have to write the following list of items in your own handwriting and then post a pic of it here. I had to split mine up because my cell phone won't hold the whole thing here goes...The instructions are to write the following items:
1. Name/Blog Name.
2. Right handed, left handed or both?
3. Favorite letters to write?
4. Least favorite letters to write?
5. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
7. Favorite song lyrics?
8. Tag 7 people.
9. Any special note or drawing?
Okay so the ones who are now tagged:
if you cannot decipher on the photo here they lovelies are again...(if you have already done this one, please just divert your post to the link) ;o)

Jemi @ Just Jemi
DL Hammons @ Cruising Altitude
Frankie Mallis @ Frankie Writes
Talli @ Talli Roland
Okay, whew! Well that was fun! I hope you all enjoyed this odd look into my handwriting!
Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to check out DL's Fantabulous HIGH DRAMA BLOGFEST tomorrow..should be a great one!
Also be sure to check out Lola's AWESOME Whatever Lola Wants or her Back from Maine Contest!!!!
*I should add one I change my signature about every 3 months, so the way I write my name can be different at a moment's notice.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Memos...First Focus...

"It's not what's happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it's your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you're going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny."
-Anthony Robbins
Focus is a big word right now in our house. We have come to discover that within those five letters lie a host of directions. By now most of you have seen the post(s) regarding our newest family member Kristin, have seen that we have been vacationing last week and that my blog has been more sporadic than ever before - well it has not been purposeful and I realized that I had let my focus stretch out. There are moments where I focus on one schedule, then another, then another until I am such a mess that you cannot even consider my thoughts to be collective!

We sometimes do this when we are writing. We begin at one point and plot through our story then we find a hole/a change that we jump to examine. We adjust, we make note then shift back to where we were; only to discover something else that might need tweaking. We tell ourselves to wait until it is complete, when revisions should be the focus but it is hard. The characters are everywhere, the details are forming and we feel the draft is beginning to take the shape of a large building. The hardest part is when the draft/building begins to show early wear & tear. The sides are bulging, the floors are becoming dingy, there are way too many pink flamingos on the lawn and the windows are not only open but missing in some rooms. Often we lose hope and the drive to refurbish or sometimes we continue to add elements that truly make an ostentatious, over done, extravagant & cheeky place that really needs to be bulldozed!

That is not the way to utilize focus. Anthony Robbins is right-Its where you place your focus that determines where you will end up. Those decisions to add TOO much or revise TOO soon, well it normally means you will be working on that draft for MUCH longer than you expected; cull the parts that need to go, kill the character that needs to die, change the setting, end the story - all actions that determine your draft's destiny. Yes, yes, there are agents & publishers to woo and seduce but before that, before the great announcement there must be what I now call First Focus.

Don't worry I am in First Focus myself and trying desperately to not have the tackiest house on the block. I have discovered that focus is not always easy, that distractions are not always simple to push aside and that learning from my mistakes is still a work in progress. But no matter what I must remember to Focus. That with the proper First Focus I will hopefully be ready to have that curb appeal we all seek. Though a few flamingos can be cute...can't they?? (just lie and say yes ;o) )

So how are all of you? Are you aware that you need to slow down and maybe refocus in order to find the right direction?

A few announcements...

Rebecca asks if you have a System?

Jamie over at Writer's write, right? is hosting a FIRST GIVEAWAY... - be sure to check in on 8/9 for more details!

Oh yeah...there is a for a prize pack of Harper Lee goodness...


To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill A Mockingbird featuring Gregory Peck DVD
Surprise from the Monroeville, Alabama Heritage Museum



Now Liza did not leave an email in her comment and I laughed out loud when her name popped up especially since her comment was this:

"How did I miss this last of my all time favorite books? So, old follower...6 little points for me. I won't win, but may get out my yellowing, thumb-eared copy and give it another read. Thanks for reminding me that it is time."

So Liza I am going to try to track you down!

If I cannot find you by Wednesday, 8-4-2010 I will have to draw another name, so please if you read this send me an email!

Don't despair, I have another contest coming up...yep a good one since I am dancing around 300 followers... so look out for that post coming up... ;o)

Have a Marvelous Monday!