Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG- Character Depth

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG, is a great place where we can share our fears and insecurities and successes as well.  It's been a wonderful source of support and friends for three years now!  Thanks Alex! To join us sign up here.

I can't believe it's already time for another IWSG post!  Thank you all so much for your encouraging words last month.

I'm excited about the new IWSG Book coming out, I know there will be tons of helpful tips.

For me, some of the most helpful tips that I've been told along this journey are about creating depth in characters.  I never used to do much character mapping.  I just wrote.  But then others, including my daughter Jessica, suggested that I write a backstory for each character and even make complete family trees, going back generations for some and a create a "world building time line".

I wasn't sure it would work for me.  It seemed like way too much work that wasn't actually the "writing".  But once I started, I realized how much each person's history influenced who they were.  By going back in time and uncovering their histories, I was learning what made each character tick, which has made it so much easier for me to write them.  It also brought to the surface webs of interconnectedness between the characters that I hadn't even thought of before.

Some days, especially those days where I barely have time to sit at the computer, I still get frustrated that I'm working through timelines and family trees instead of finishing the manuscript.   In the end, I know all the preparation will make the story stronger and more meaningful for me and everyone who reads it.

The IWSG has my permission to use this in its e-book.
Title: Character Depth
Topic: Writing
Byline: Kathy McKendry
Blog: Imagine Today @

Have a great week!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG- Refuse to Quit

It's already time for another IWSG post. If you haven't heard of it check out Alex J Cavanaugh's site. He's the father of this wonderful group where we writers can talk about our fears and accomplishments and give each other support. It's been a wonderfully helpful group. Sign up for the group here. Thanks so much Alex!

I can't believe that today is the 3rd anniversary of the IWSG! That's amazing! I'm so excited to hear that there will soon be an IWSG book coming out!

Refuse to Quit

So as usual life gets in the way and I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve tried to be consistent but I’m not a strict “schedule” person.  I kind of live by the seat of my pants and I guess it shows.  Part of my problem is that I often second guess myself, wondering whether I’m doing what I really need to do.  I’m passionate about having a positive impact on the world.  But I ask myself whether blogging and getting my novel out will make the world a better place. My writing isn’t amazingly deep and thought provoking and though I hope to be relatively successful I’m realistic in forecasting my sales numbers. Maybe I should be spending my time trying to diminish all the pain in the world.  

There is so much of it. So I decided to dive head first into searching and learning about what impacts I could make.

Then I got sidetracked.  This summer a lot of other things were on my mind.  We spent many stressful hours in doctors’ offices dealing with some health issues of one of my kids.  It sapped my creative energy.  

Then another seemingly huge obstacle popped up which could not be ignored.  My husband convinced me to stand up and fight for what I knew was right and not take “no” for an answer.  I hardened my resolve and dug in for the long haul.  At every turn, I was told “No”.  But for once in my life I kept pushing and refused to quit until the situation was resolved.  And to my relief just last Friday it was.

The whole experience taught me never to settle for “no” again. I still have plenty of insecurities about my writing and life in general but now I look on the future differently.  I will not let go of what I know is important until it is a reality no matter how many people tell me I can’t.  I will finish my novel because it is important to me and I will find ways to make the world a better place.      


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not Enough Time

82 hours of driving.

It sounds like a long time.  Especially when you're confined in an RV with 5 people:  two teen girls, a ten year old boy and two parents.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but like the rest of life, the time together went much too quickly.  

Our first campfire in Laird River Hot Springs, BC Canada
We had never driven an RV before, and that first day driving from Forest City, Iowa to Missoula, MT started off anxiously as my husband learned from experience how to handle a 28 foot vehicle that filled almost the entire lane.  Within an hour he was driving comfortably.  It took me a little longer to feel comfortable driving the behemoth but eventually I did too.

It took us seven full days to drive from Iowa to Alaska, 3575 miles (about 510 mi/day).  Before the trip, we had planned to fill the driving time and the hours in the evening after we stopped with journaling, family video logs, playing card games and guitar, reading, talking and writing a collaborative book which we had brainstormed.  We did do some of that but many nights, by the time we had done some sightseeing and eaten our campsite dinner, we collapsed from exhaustion.

There was a lot of singing while driving.  We blasted all the kids' favorite bands like Pink, Cold Play, My Chemical Romance, and One Direction.  It's one of the best sights of a trip to see your kids singing their hearts out together.

The drive itself was amazing.  Once we got into the Canadian Rockies, around every bend was a breathtaking view.  So I took too many photos that of course could never capture the reality of the immense beauty, but it made me feel better to try.

Our first bear we saw was a huge thrill.  It was a big black bear grazing on the hillside near the road.  We pulled the RV over and watched it until it wandered back into the woods.  He didn't seem to even care we were there.  We saw a total of 16 bears, 3 of which were grizzlies, but all from the safety of our giant vehicle. Interestingly, all but one of those bears we saw in Canada.

 In Alaska, we saw two moose, some Dall sheep, lots of Bald Ealges, seals, and sea otters.  We also had the privilege of witnessing a humpback whale breaching not more than 100 yards from our boat on a wildlife cruise.

View from Homer Spit
I think my favorite Alaskan towns were Homer Spit and Juneau, but I loved everyplace we went, which also included Valdez, Seward, Anchorage and Ketchikan.

We were able to see a number of glaciers whose compacted ice reflected an intense blue color.  Many times I felt like a character in a fantasy world seeing landscapes that my mind did not think possible. Unfortunately, most of the glaciers are retreating rapidly and many had signs marking where the glaciers had been in previous years.  By the time our kids have their own children and journey back to Alaska, there
may not be many glaciers left.  

Aialik Glacier, Kenai Peninsula, AK

At the airport, when the kids figured out we were going on a cruise

Maybe the best part of the trip was the surprise.

We hadn't told the kids that for the last week we were getting on a Princess Cruise ship heading to Vancouver.  We also didn't tell them that their Grandma and Grandpa McKendry were meeting us on the ship.  But Grandma and Grandpa had a surprise of their own for us.  They brought with them my parents as well!  We were all surprised and thrilled!  It was great to end our trip with the whole family together.

Dinner on the cruise together :)

Three weeks have never gone so fast.

I hope you have all had a wonderful summer so far!

Kathy :)

And don't forget to head over to the WRiTE Club at DL Hammons.  The bouts have begun and there have already been some great pieces.

Glacier Bay

Friday, May 30, 2014

WRiTE Club Deadline

I'm still having a great time driving around Alaska with my family, but I wanted to make sure I helped get the word out on WRiTE Club.  The deadline for submission is midnight on May 31st...tomorrow, so get your writing sample in!

 It's a lot of fun, a great way to get your work critiqued, and it's all anonymous so don't be shy!

For all the details head on over to DL Hammons blog, (he's the genius behind WRiTE Club) and check it out.

My two favorite boys on the beach in Homer Spit, AK

Have a great weekend and don't forget to enter WRiTE Club!

Kathy :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We Made It!

We made it to Alaska two days ago!

 It took us a seven full days to drive from the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa to Alaska. It was an amazing drive!

I had no idea how well we would do in a 280 square foot RV with five people, two of which are teenage girls, but I'm happy to report that we are still a family of five.  My husband's limitless humor helped to smooth over the few rough spots we hit.

On the docks in Valdez, AK

Yesterday we enjoyed the sights of Valdez, AK a little town of about 4000 people on Prince William Sound.  It is surrounded by snow capped mountains on one side and the sea on the other.  It's like a tiny cold New England town mixed with Hawaii's mountains and rain forests and is absolutely stunning.

Sunrise on the ferry

Then we took a 5 1/2 hour ferry boat ride through Prince William Sound to Whittier, where we got off and drove to Homer Spit, AK on the Kenai peninsula. :)

We have seen a number of bears, but I'm happy to report that we haven't had to use the bear survival tips yet because we've only seen them from the car, not when we're out walking. I think the kids are so noisy they scare everything away! :)

Here are a couple more pictures:  
Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefield, Canada

First Campfire, Liard River Hot Springs, B.C., Canada 

Hope all is going well with you!  I'll be back intermittently as time and internet permits.  Until then have a great week!

Kathy :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Big Day

Mother's Day weekend was great!

Not because of Mother's Day though.  It was because my son had his first rock gig at a local bar.  He and his band, The Screamin' Demons, played three songs on Saturday and Sunday:  Dirty Deeds by AC/DC, Money Maker by the Black Keys, and Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.  They had such a good time performing and we thoroughly enjoyed watching!  Their band has three guitarists, two singer/keyboard players, and a drummer.  They are all ten and under! I couldn't believe that they could play so well at that age!

This was my son's first time in front of a crowd and he was nervous, but as soon as the music started he just got into the music and loved it.  Here is a short clip of them playing Money Maker.  My son is the one in the orange and black striped shirt, between the two singers.
(The bass player is an assistant teacher.)

What did you get to do this weekend?  I hope you got to enjoy some beautiful weather.

We leave for Alaska in 4 days!!!!  If our internet access is good enough I might blog a little on the way, otherwise I'll be back in June.

Kathy :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I hope you had a wonderful day. You deserve it for all the hard work and love you give to your families. Cherish every moment.

As I thought about all the wonderful moments I’ve had as a mom I tried to pinpoint one that stood out as the most special or heartwarming.  I couldn’t think of one.  There isn’t just one.  Having three kids 17, 15, and 9 has given me a whole life of wonder.  

From the moment Jessica was born 17 years ago, to yesterday watching Ryan at his first guitar concert and everything in between.
Watching each of them take their first steps.
Teaching Alyssa how to bake.
Teaching them all how to read.
Teaching the girls to figure skate.
Having Ryan climb into my lap to show me some new game on the iPad.
Watching them all grow into beautiful, amazing people.

Not everything has been happy.  There have been plenty of roadblocks along the way. Sickness, injury, frustration, and heartbreak are also part of the journey.  Together we forged ahead and grew.

Scary moments, sad moments and joyous moments are all part of my motherhood memories that I cherish.
But maybe the most wonderful moments of all, are those deliciously sweet times when my three children are talking and laughing together totally oblivious of my observations.  When their pure love for each other shines like the brightest of stars, telling me that even when I’m gone they will stick together and make new memories of their own.      

Kathy :)

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mom who taught me everything I know about motherhood and encouraged me to always follow my dreams!

If you want to join in on Dropcam's campaign to share your stories of being a mom contact,  Tiffany at tpham(@)dropcam(.)com.  They will be sharing their favorite MOMeries