New Baby, Life, More Life

Big Brother and Little Sister at the Pumpkin Patch
Big Brother and Little Sister at the Pumpkin Patch

We have a new baby! She’s absolutely adorable. She was born shortly before my birthday on September 21st, 2011, at 1:25pm (she should’ve been born at 1:20pm but they made me wait before I could push. Don’t get me started on birthing stories — us moms have too many!). She was 7lbs 7oz, the same size as her brother was when he was born, and 22in, also the same as her brother. We named her Deia Georgia. Deia has a variety of meanings in other languages. Georgia means Farmer, which we hope keeps her down to earth. Her Maternal Gramma swears Deia means Goddess (Deity), but it actually means Expensive, Milkmaid, and a Small Coastal Village. Well really, there is a village on the coast of an island named Deiá (the village, not the island). We figure when she grows up she’ll be a well-paid Horticulturist of some sort in a village on a coast xD

Deia’s brother is absolutely fanatical over his little sister and is always trying to help with taking care of her. He’s slowly mastering the snap-buttons on her sleepers and onesies, and from time to time we let him “help” put a diaper on. His favorite thing is to talk to her and tell her all about the video game he’s playing. She stares, coos and smiles at him.

We’re slowly adjusting to having a baby in the house again. It seems that Mother Nature makes us forget how hard it was with our previous children so you have more children. Honestly, it does seem harder than I remember, but it’s so completely worth it for new baby snuggles and smells (NO, they don’t smell like dirty diapers).

In other news, I’m slowly making progress on a few projects for family while finding time to write. The oldest kiddo is turning out to be quite a story-teller himself, along with a knack for drawing. Part of his Christmas present included a drawing tablet for the Wii, which he loves playing. He’s finally getting upgraded to a Grown Up desk which will allow him to have his own computer (in a few years), as well as do homework somewhere other than where he eats.

Happily Holidays everyone, and have a wonderful and safe New Year! What are some of your resolutions? I’m contemplating actually having resolutions — there’s always a first time for everything, right?

September’s Short Story

I’ve learned a lot from the first short story I wrote, including some stuff from the feedback I’ve gotten from everyone. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Other writers have their own style. Take style advice sparingly.
  • If a kid is narrating, make them sound like a kid.
  • Don’t read your own story for at least two days so you have a chance to forget what you wrote
  • Double-check for similar-sounding names from other books/authors
  • Even a short story has a beginning, middle and ending.
  • Avoid repetitiveness, particularly in a short story where it’s far more obvious.
  • Your spouse can be your worst critic and your biggest fan simultaneously. Remember: They know you better than most people, so they know when you’re putting your all into something and when you’re just being lazy.

One thing I’ve decided I enjoy immensely is bouncing ideas around with someone like my husband. He’s one of those people who nit-picks everything, uses yes-or-no answers, and doesn’t confine his feelings to gray areas. If he likes it he’ll say so, and if he doesn’t he’ll call it crap. While his taste in books and movies may leave the majority of people scratching their heads (I know it often leaves me confused!), it helps to have someone give advice and insight instead of sugar-coating everything.

The next short story I’m working on is almost done churning in my mind. It’s a combination of Fantasy and Society, almost an intellectual piece. My favorite stories are ones that make a person think beyond themselves. It’s the Libra in me that wants to show the world “LOOK! There are at least five thousands sides to every story! Stop thinking you’re the only person with eyes!”

The other year-long story I’m working on is actually loosely based on my best friend/sister-type Sara. I’ve even gone so far as to name the main character Sara 😀 It’s coming along a lot more happily than the past books I’ve tried to write, mainly because it’s actually really interesting and there’s always something going on. The main character does seem to have an internal battle with depression and connecting to people, but the hope is she’ll blossom and take on the world with the internal strength she will discover. She’s got unique abilities that make the story a Fantasy-style book, and it’s written in a vaguely Young Adult manner.

A lot of the inspiration for my stories comes from dreams. The dream I had last night brought out a lot of ideas, most of which must be written down ASAP before more dreams take up all those creative nooks and crannies.

Trying out this short story stuff

Over the years I’ve been told by countless friends and family that my inability to complete an actual story may be directly related to a number of factors. They’re listed here in the order of what I believe to be most likely to least likely:

  1. Easy to Distract
  2. Boredom
  3. Laziness (OK nobody actually said this, but I KNOW they thought it!! I could see it in their eyes, I swear!)

The suggestions for working around those factors have been more numerous. The most repeated one was actually something I kept intending to try, but never got around to it. Keep in mind, my imagination has a constant reel of what-ifs throwing story ideas into the whirlwind of my brain even while trying to finish the story I’m currently working on. It makes it difficult to concentrate long enough to complete a story from start to finish, and when I do manage to get past chapter 7 (my current highest-reached chapter for my stories), by then the story has fragmented into so many bazillion other stories I have forgotten the exact reason for this specific title. Thankfully I’ve found re-reading the last few chapters helps keep me focused, while allowing me to do on-the-job editing to make the finished-product editing a bit easier. In all honesty, I love writing and filling pages with stories and words, but my absolute favorite part of the whole process is going back and re-writing, refining, and smashing my head into a wall for misspelling. OK the last part there isn’t nearly as fun as re-writing 😛

So, in keeping with my tendency to get side-tracked, the “Write a Short Story!” phrase finally penetrated my (rather thick) skull and I set about trying to figure out how to get an entire story into a “smattering” of words. The first step (for me) was to conjure an entirely new character, new world, new set of circumstances. My other characters and worlds were already built up to such complexity that even thinking up a new story to fit into them would eat up an easy 3,000 words. Add to that the actual story, from beginning to end, and it may as well be a novel.

The world that was revealed was actually more characteristic of those Goosebumps-type stories, complete with target audience: 10 year old boys. The proceeding story was a total of 1,178 words. The nice thing about the story is that it actually left a nice arched doorway, sans door, waiting for another short story to continue the trend.

The not-so-nice thing about the story is I kinda…well, let’s just say, Katy Perry’s “I kissed a girl” is going through my head but with “killed” instead of “kissed.” Sigh!! The only reason I “liked” it is because I FINALLY FINISHED A STORY!!!

Welcome!

Welcome to the blog of writer Jean Hopkins! There are a number of books I’ve got in the works at the moment, which I hope to be sharing with you all in time. My muses are Dreams, People-Watching (why yes, I do have a staring problem!), and Family. Throw in a dash of imagination and what-if and you’ve got a plot! I’m often accused of being a Grammar Cop, but you’ll find within this blog the truth of the matter is I’m merely sensitive to misspellings and extreme grammatical discord. Years of blogging, IMing, txting and chat-rooms has deadened me to most Internet colloquialisms TYVM. I do get severely disjointed when someone misuses Your, You’re, its and it’s, along with a vast number of other common abused words. Thankfully the fellow at http://www.theoatmeal.com has them covered in “10 Words You Need To Stop Misspelling.”

I love reading as well as writing, drawing, and chasing my son around. At the moment I’m “about to pop” with a second child, which means the walls may well soon be covered with claw marks. Hopefully I’ll channel the coming boredom with more writing!

My favorite books, authors, etc are all listed under About Me as well as the types of books I write and where you can find me in the social haven we call the Internet.