Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Artist's Way

Years ago, my friend and mentor gave me a book to help me through some of the creative self-doubt I'd been struggling with. It is a book that has changed my life and one I have bought and given to friends many times over. The book is called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and it is a 12 step program, a spiritual path to creative self recovery. Who would have thought artists needed creative self recovery? But we do. Artists as a group tend to be very sensitve and doubt themselves and their abilities frequently. Artists are rarely encouraged to pursue their love of the written word, or music, or painting. It's most often supported as a hobby or not at all.

I was blessed to have a mother who encouraged me to write. It was a love we shared. She'd always wanted to be a journalist, but life and family made her put that dream on the back burner for many years. She finally turned that love to writing several family histories, and writing occasional articles for magazines, and gaining a final publication credit of two experiences in a book just a few weeks before she passed. Mom always told me I could do anything I wanted in this life if I wanted it bad enough. She always told me she had confidence in me and my abilities--and yet still this book was needed, though I've never been able to get beyond chapter 4, for some strange reason. Just those first four chapters have given me tools that allow me to be creative and know where that creativity comes from.

Recently, three of my dear friends and I have begun this journey together. They are new to the Artist's Way, but their e-mail to me have been full of excitement and eye opening wonder as they discover the gifts that doing morning pages have given them, or the eye-opening understanding of adding voices to their Monster Hall of Fame. Discovering where those negative critical voices come from has been crucial to their creative self-recovery, just as it has been to mine.

This journey for me is not new, and yet even now, the fifth time I've begun it, I have discovered things about myself and the blocks that have made me what I am. I've added new Monsters and am realizing some of my potential.

But, I think the pinnacle of this week was knowing that I'd made a difference. While doing affirmations two of my three friends told me that they weren't hearing any blurts (the negative self talk that comes when we praise ourselves). And then they told me why. They in essence said that they weren't hearing blurts because when they did the affirmations they heard my voice telling them it was true. One of them listed me in her Hall of Champions. It was an act that was more dear to me than any award I've won, made me feel more value than any money I could gain. It humbled me to the depths.

I was somebody's hero.

Quote of the Day: "Creativity is God energy flowing through us, shaped by us, like light flowing through a crystal prism."
--Julia Cameron, TheArtist's Way

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I googled myself yesterday, wondering if having a contract and publication date gave me more hits than just my blog, facebook, and my one published poem. I found two very surprising things in this search. First:

I'm dead.

Yes, Karen Elizabeth Hoover passed away on August 6, 2009 in Missouri. The eerie thing about it is not just that someone by my exact name passed away, but that she did so exactly one year after my mother passed. It felt very strange seeing my name attached to a memorium. Not liking that one much at all.

Second: Somehow I've been added to a list of LDS authors with books coming out in the near future. My name sits directly below Tracy Hickman's! I'm on the list with people like Shannon Hale, James Dashner, Stephenie Meyer, Brandon Mull, and Orson Scott Card. My head sort of exploded when I found myself on that list.

It made it all real. It's no longer just a dream that I will become an author. Word is already spreading about my book and I find myself both thrilled and terrified to have leapt into this league.

It's funny how we put people on a pedestal, make heroes out of ordinary people who write extraordinary things. I don't know how to be part of that group. I'm awkward, and quiet, and like to do silly things like talk in a silly high pitched "bobby" voice, and play video games. I'm a book worm and movie buff who likes to tell stories. And I'm on the same list with these guys?

And yet, if I am completely honest, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

Hi. My name is Karen Hoover, and I am an author.

. . . But, I'm not dead yet!

Quote of the Day: "Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish."
John Jakes

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Secret to Good Soup

I love soup. I grew up with my mom frequently creating what she called "Garbage Soup," which is actually much better than it sounds. It basically meant pulling whatever was on the shelf and any leftovers or fresh vegies in the fridge and putting it together. It never tasted the same, but one thing I could always count on is that it was going to be good.

So, as I became a mother and wife and started looking for cheap ways to feed my three boys, soup was a natural solution. My first attempts were edible, but not great, until I found a book on making soup. I never liked any of their recipes, but they had some awesome advice that has stuck with me over the years.

The advice was this: Flavor your broth the way you want it before you add any meat or vegetables. That's it. Simple advice, but I've found that when I follow it and make my broth as tasty as I can ahead of time my soup always turns out perfect. When I forget and add the flavoring later, no matter how hard I try I can't make it quite right.

Tonight I made some vegetable soup that totally rocked! I'm not a follow a receipe kind of gal. I'm like my mother in this. I take what I can find and toss it in if I think it will taste good. I know most people aren't like that, so I'll toss out my ingredients here and if anyone wants to attempt my rockin' veggie soup, go ahead, and let me know how it turns out!

beef bullion
chicken bullion
Knorr Vegetable Bouillon (4 cubes)
Knorr Tomato bullion with chicken flavor
Knorr Chipotle seasoning bullion cube
Garlic powder
Onion powder
curry (not too much. Just to taste)
juice of one lime
3-4 sprigs fresh basil

Everything else:
1 can of black beans
1 can of red beans
1 can of RoTel diced tomatoes & Green chilies
1 bag of frozen white corn
3 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 sweet onion
1 large zucchini (=about 4 small)
3 small potatoes
3 fresh roma tomatoes
multigrain noodles

Dice all the vegies to whatever size you like and toss them in. Let it boil until potatoes and noodles are soft enough to eat and veggies are cooked through.

Sorry I don't have specific amounts on the bullion. I'm a shake and taste person. Just remember, you can always add more water if it gets too strong.

One last tip: BE GENEROUS with the garlic and onion powder. They make everything taste better!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Edits, edits, edits . . . .

I haven't forgotten you, my loyal readers. I've been swimming through edits and dealing with crisis after crisis around here. Nothing life threatening, but very time consuming. I should be back by next Wednesday at the latest, and if inspiration strikes before then, I'll post something new.

Until then, adieu.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In the Beginning . . . .

I've been pulling all my old notes and files out on the series I'm writing and sticking them all together in a notebook for easy access. You know, we always think our early writing is crap and are embarrassed to show it to people, but I've discovered something tonight in doing this. I've rediscovered what made me fall in love with writing. It's one thing, plain and simple.

I love playing with words.

The way some kids play with clay and glue, I stretch words and use them to paint pictures on the page, and many of those words never even make it in the books. I wrote a twenty four page paper on the history of my world. It's basically Rasann's creation story, it's mythology, written in a biblical style. And you know what? It's not half bad. It made me fall in love with words all over again. Let me share just a couple of paragraphs:

In the eternal circle of time there are many beginnings and many endings, all of which cycle around the wheel of eternity. But within each cycle, each revolution, each story there is always a starting place, and so we come to this one. The birth of change. The newness of creation. The forming of a world that does not follow the pattern of others. And so that is where I shall start . . . with the beginning of the world known as Rasann--and the end of the Era of the Guardians.

In the beginning there was a man who lived among his brothers and Fathers, and he was a Guardian like unto them. but as with all families, there came a time for him to disperse and create worlds like unto his Father's home and propagate that world as his Fathers before him. The Father of Fathers, The One, spoke unto Lahonra and said unto him, "Go, my son, and create a world like unto my own and give it life and breath, and if I deem it worthy, it shall become a Heaven for thee like unto mine own." And so Lahonra went forth and created light from the darkness and breath from the void and he called it Rasann and did place all kinds of living, breathing, growing things upon the face of it. And his father, The One, did speak unto his son in joy. "My son, you have created a world like unto mine own, with great beauty and life. In thee I am well pleased. Do with this as I would, my son, it is thy home now." And Lahonra was well pleased with his works.

Much time passed and Rasann turned endlessly and Lahonra watched over it alone. He stood in the heavens and walked upon the clouds and watched the creations of his world be born and grow and die. The cycle of life fascinated him, for Lahonra knew not of death, had not tasted its sting, and so in curiosity breathed a piece of himself into the earth to more fully learn of this death through another's fullness. He took some of the earth and spat upon it and formed a ball of living clay. He used his breath to give it life and harden it like a seed, then planted it within Rasann and watched it grow. It grew quickly with the breath of a Guardian breathed upon it each hour, and in a short time there stood a tree with fruit the brightness of the sun hanging from its limbs. Lahonra plucked a fruit from the nearest branch and breathed upon it once more and it sprang to life. A creature the size of an apple was born within his hand. She looked at Lahonra and smiled, with full knowledge, for Lahonra had blessed her with such, and they spoke one to another, and Lahonra was no longer alone.

The creature grew and matured and came to be something never seen in a world before, but something that came from Lahonra himself. She was winged, but with wings the color of the sunset and a head the color of the mid-day sky. Her breath was sweet as nectar, her eyes the color of the sun. Lahonra called her Phoenix, for her flight was as a flaming star and her mind hot as a southern wind. Together they created much beauty upon Rasann. Instead of learning of death as he had intended, Lahonra learned about life, and lived as he never had before. In Phoenix he found a piece of h imself he had not known was needed, and in a short time they were inseparable.

I won't go on with any more, but just reading that little bit made me remember the joy that came when I wrote back then. I didn't worry about show vs. tell. I never thought about run-on sentences. I just poured my heart out on the page and thrilled over each moment of creation.

That's the kind of writer I want to be again. I want to find that joy in the written word and let my heart pour out on the page once more.

I miss the word magic.

Quote of the day: Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.
E.L. Doctorow

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm wearing WHAT???

I lost my sunglasses on the airplane flying into Long Beach so decided to buy a new pair while I was in sunset Beach. I walked down to the 7-11, since it was closest, and found a few sitting on the counter that I kind of liked. One pair in particular caught my eye. They were black with some silver trim and a pretty little plant in silver on the side.

When I got home I was visiting with my brother at his house one day and he kind of stopped and did a double take, and leaned over to look at the silver plant. I, of course, thought he was just admiring my sunglasses until he said, "Is that pot on your sunglasses?"

"Huh?" was my intelligent response.

He looked again. "Is that marijuana on your sunglasses?"

I took them off and looked. "I don't know. I've never seen pot. What does it look like?"

"Like that," he said, pointing, then started to laugh.

Holy crap, I've been a walking advertisement for drugs. In Utah. *shaking head*

I just thought it was a pretty fern.

Quote for the Day: "If you have other things in your life -- family, friends, good productive day work -- these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer."
- David Brin