Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Happenings of the Month: January 2016

Hello, everyone! Can you believe the end of January is nearly here? Crazy! I don’t know what that says about time flying, but it does mean that it’s time for my Happenings of the Month post!

Monthly Happenings Jan 2016

Entertainment of the Month:

  • Movies/TV

Marvel’s Agent Carter (2015-present) – Peggy Carter lost the love of her life when Captain America dove into the ice. But her life is far from over. After the war ended, Peggy (Hayley Atwell) went to work for the Strategic Scientific Reserve, where she fights for one thing: to protect America. Unfortunately, she’s often relegated more to the role of secretary than agent. When Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) asks for her help to clear his name, though, she discovers that she is uniquely gifted for this new era of crime-fighting. The second season just aired and acts as a fill-in betwen the two season halves of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I love it for it’s 40’s flair, loveable characters, and plots that feel very different from the gritty darkness of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Other characters include Stark’s butler, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), Jack Thompson, SSR Agent  (Chad Michael Murray), and Daniel Sousa, another SSR Agent (Enver Gjokaj). The series airs Tuesday nights on ABC.

  • Books

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Cinder would love to be normal. To be respected as a mechanic and loved for who she is. But that’s impossible. Cinder is a cyborg and, as such, she is the property of her stepmother. All her earnings belong to the woman who “graciously” provides her with a home. But Cinder wants to be free of her family, of the fear of the deadly plague letumosis, and of the terrifying Lunars whose threat grows ever stronger. Then she meets Prince Kai, the Commonwealth’s heir, and her life rapidly spins out of control. Can a prince love a cyborg? And, more importantly, can a cyborg be more than a piece of property, maybe even a hero? This is the the first book of the Lunar Chronicles, which I am rapidly devouring. I love the worldbuilding, characters, and stories of these books. Absolutely wonderful.

Outcast by Aaron Allston – In this first book of the Fate of the Jedi series, the Jedi’s relationship with the Galactic Alliance is spinning out of control. Jedi Knights are randomly succumbing to a mysterious madness, and Chief of State Daala is on a hunt to bring the Jedi under her thumb. With the galaxy still reeling from Darth Caedus’ reign of terror only a few years before, the government wants to blame someone, and Daala decides Luke Skywalker, Grand Master of the Jedi Order, is the perfect target. Banished from Coruscant and his position there, Luke sets out to understand Caedus’ descent into darkness on a journey through the galaxy. Meanwhile, those in Coruscant fight to keep civil war at bay. I haven’t finished this series yet, but it’s already ignited a desire to read everything preceding it. I’ve never read much Star Wars fiction other than Timothy Zahn’s novels, but now I am extremely curious.

  • Music

Fight Song/Amazing Grace - The Piano GuysThis is a gorgeous rendition of “Amazing Grace” and Rachel Platten’s “This is Your Fight Song,” complete with Scottish landscape and bagpipes.

"Live on Forever" - The AftersIn Christ, our lives go so far beyond the here and now. Our lives on earth are just a vapor, a fragment. But there’s so much more, because we truly will live on forever.

My Life This Month:

With the start of a new year came my return to school. Strangely enough for me, I’ve struggled to get a handle on my homework. I’ve been staying up too late and goofing off when I have time for homework. So, I’m working on that whole focus/procrastination issue. Anyway, I’ve got a full slate for school, including my second semester of American Sign Language. I love learning ASL, but it sure can be exhausting sometimes. Especially when the teacher conducts the entire class in ASL. Sometimes my brain wants to explode from the effort of concentration. Nonetheless, I’m really excited to be learning more and being better equipped to interact with deaf people.

I read an autobiography this month, which I haven’t done in a very long time. Honestly, I can’t remember the last autobiography I read that wasn’t for school. This story was written by Robert Clary, best known for playing Corporal Lebeau on the 60’s TV show Hogan’s Heroes (which is amazing, by the way; if you’ve never seen it, do). What many don’t know is that he was a teenager during WWII and spent three years in concentration camps. The interesting thing for me with the book was that, though it wasn’t the most amazing writing, it had a distinct impact just because it was real. I want to read more nonfiction this year, and I’ve realized that reading stuff like that will impact me more than fiction. Reading real people’s stories burrows deep inside; I feel that it will benefit both me personally and my writing.

I’m having to come to terms with people’s imperfections and my own expectations. Sometimes we want something so badly, but it seems like it’s never actually realized. I’m experiencing that with some relationships right now, and it’s definitely not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Life is rarely what we expect it to be; it’s important to recognize that. Instead of wallowing in frustration, I’ve got to learn how to be realistic. Not always my strongest suit, unfortunately.

Other Web Happenings:

A Piece of My Heart Linkup | Silver Mess – My friend Rachel over at Silver Mess has started a neat monthly linkup, where you create something (picture, story, etc.) based on her given theme. This month’s theme is “Where It All Began.”

A Thousand Words | Gillian Bronte AdamsWhat happens when you can’t pick just one word for your year? Maybe you just might learn to look for all the blessings God’s bringing your way…

February's Monthly Challenge | Go Teen WritersCan you come up with a new story idea every day for the month of February?

So, how has your January been? Read or watched anything good? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge #4–Let’s Get Started!

Hey, everyone, it’s here! Time to kick-off the first flash fiction challenge of  2016! I’d like to thank each and every one of you who has chosen to participate and who spread the word. Many of you went out of your way to promote this challenge, and I greatly appreciate it!


Image courtesy of Pixabay

So, to review, this challenge includes:

  • A writing prompt someone gives to you
  • A writing prompt you give to someone else
  • Feedback for each of the participants by the various participants

“Flash fiction” is a genre of short fiction, generally around 500 words, but examples can be up to 1000 words. In our challenge, the maximum length will be 1000 words, but each person may assign a shorter length with their prompt. Prompts can be anything from a concept to a sentence starter to a picture, etc. If it can prompt a story, you can use it. Below are your partners. Clicking on the name will lead you to the person’s blog.

No profanity, graphic violence, or sexual scenes in your prompts or stories. Find your partner and give them their prompt, along with a word count of your choice (but no more than 1000 words). Visit your partner’s blog and comment on their most recent post. Assign their prompt before you start work on your own flash fiction. You will have two weeks to write your story. It should be posted on Friday, February 5th, by 3pm Central Time. I will gather the stories and post links to them all as a late post on that Friday. Then you’ll give feedback both to the person who gave you a prompt and the person you gave a prompt to. I’ll remind you about that on the 5th. If you have any questions at all, feel free to comment here or email me at rachelleoneilwriter (at) gmail (dot) com.

Have fun, everyone!

I will give a prompt to Katie Grace

Katie will give a prompt to Faith P.

Faith P. will give a prompt to Jesseca Dawn

Jesseca Dawn  will give a prompt to s.m.b.

s.m.b.  will give a prompt to Emmarayn Redding

Emmarayn will give a prompt to Anna Jolene

Anna will give a prompt to Faith Song

Faith Song will give a prompt to Rebekah

Rebekah will give a prompt to Rachael Steele

Rachael will give a prompt to Evan White

Evan  will give a prompt to Athelas Hale

Athelas will give a prompt to Sarah

Sarah will give a prompt to Sierra Joanne

Sierra will give a prompt to Jessi L. Roberts

Jessi will give a prompt to me

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Month in Proverbs, Part 3

A quick reminder: there’s still a week left to sign up for my flash fiction challenge if you’d like to. You can find the details here.

If you’ve been following along with me the last few weeks, you’ll know I’ve been sharing some of my thoughts from the time I recently spent in the book of Proverbs. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up.
Month in Proverbs Part 3
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Pride stands in direct opposition to God, and when that connection to God is blocked, how can we receive wisdom from Him? We block it out when we choose to be proud, to our own great detriment. Pride is destruction just waiting to happen.
Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” 
I am so quick to speak, often without considering the impact of my words. Angry words can’t be stopped once they’re out. Insults, petty jealousies, mindless chatter. They all leave a mark. Guard my tongue; use it for Your purpose.
Proverbs 13:4 “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
It’s all too easy to sit back and want things without putting any kind of plan in place. I’ve definitely been guilty of this lately. But God wants diligence from us. Instead of mindlessly craving without acting, I need to trust God and take each step faithfully.
Proverbs 14:15 “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.”
The world throws so many thoughts and opinions at us. It would be easy to just take it all in. But that is the way of the simple. We need to apply discretion and prudence to our decisions, and that is found only with the Giver of Wisdom. The easy path is to sit back and let things filter in. It’s much harder to apply wisdom. However, in the end, Wisdom is the path of life, and that’s where I want to be.
Proverbs 15:13 “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”
Heartache can be immensely harmful, to you and others. Letting grief fester closes off your heart and makes you useless in God’s service. Joy is one of the greatest things a Christian can give off to the world; it is an immensely attractive force. Properly process your heartache; don’t let it strangle your joy.
So, what do you think about these verses? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge #4

Well, it’s been a while since we had a flash fiction challenge around here. A few people have asked me about it, though, and I am very excited to announce my fourth challenge! You can see results from previous challenges here and here.

For those of you who haven’t heard about my flash fiction challenges, every so often, I host a challenge that includes three elements:

  • A writing prompt someone gives to you
  • A writing prompt you give to someone else
  • Feedback for each of the participants by the various participants

“Flash fiction” is a genre of short fiction, generally around 500 words, but examples can be up to 1000 words. In our challenge, the maximum length will be 1000 words, but each person may assign a shorter length with their prompt. Prompts can be anything from a concept to a sentence starter to a picture, etc. If it can prompt a story, you can use it.

Flash Fiction #4

Feel free to use this image to promote the challenge. Just don’t change it in any way, please.

If you’d like to participate, comment on this post with the name of the blog you would be posting your story on. If you don’t have a blog, you can still take part! You do, however, need a way to comment. If you do have a Google account or some other way of commenting on blogs, comment here and email me at rachelleoneilwriter [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ll make sure to put you on the list.  On Friday, January 22, two weeks from today, I will pair you each with your partners and give the official rule list. You may sign up anytime between now and then. For now, remember the following:

  1. Your prompt is dependent on someone I assign to you. You do not come up with your own prompt.
  2. No profanity, sexual scenes, or excessive violence.
  3. If you do sign up, do me a favor and spread the word about the challenge via Twitter, Pinterest, your blog, or some other method. You may use the above image to do so.

If you have any questions at all, please comment or email me. These are always a blast, and  I’d love to have you take part!

Friday, January 1, 2016

My Month in Proverbs: Part 2

Continuing with the series I started a few weeks ago, here are a few more verses from my journey through Proverbs.

Month in Proverbs Part 2

Proverbs 6:12-14 “A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet, and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart – he always stirs up conflict.”

These verses may be speaking of a scheming criminal, but it makes me think of a predatory flirt. Some people view dating as a game, and they are very good at it. But I don’t want a guy who’s good at playing the game. I want a guy who says what he means, who isn’t flirting with every girl he sees. Some people successfully mask their intentions with a pretty face and sweet-sounding words. The guy (or girl) who’s always putting people at each other’s throats, though, is nothing but trouble, no matter how charming.

Proverbs 7:22-23 “All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into the noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.”

We so quickly jump into folly, barely even thinking about the consequences. It feels good, so we run full-tilt without thinking. Emotions are wonderful, but they can be immensely misleading. So often they run hand-in-hand with folly, taking us where we shouldn’t go. We can’t let our emotions lead us into destruction.

Proverbs 8:2-3 “At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud.”

Wisdom must be a part of our decision-making. In these verses, Wisdom stands where people make decisions: changing paths, entering contracts. Making choices is a huge part of life. Making those choices in our own strength, though, is pointless; we need God’s strength in order to make the right ones.

Proverbs 9:7-8 “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.”

We have to be aware of who we’re talking to. Good intentions and sound judgment are wasted on fools. In the same way, am I someone who takes criticism in the spirit it’s intended? I know that I struggle here. The wise recognize good advice and learn from criticism instead of being offended.

Proverbs 10:19 “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”

I am not great at holding my tongue. Silences unnerve me. If I think of something, I feel the need to say it. But it’s not important just because I thought of it. There is nothing that says my thoughts are the center of the universe. And I’m pretty sure most of the stuff coming out my mouth is completely unnecessary. I need wisdom to guard my tongue.

What do these verses make you think of? Let me know in the comments!