Tag Archive: Writing

Reading The Western Canon

_Words are a uniquely portable magic_Oh, words. I love words, all of them. Words truly are some form of magic that can transport you anywhere you could wish to go and paint endless pictures. For as long as I can remember I have loved words; reading words, writing words and Lord knows I could talk the ears off most people. This love has lead me to the life of an author, writing is the world’s best outlet for me. As a writer I am always looking for ways to hone my skills.

With that goal in mind I have decided to undertake a (as close as possible) complete reading of The Western Canon. The Western Canon is a list of 798 books that many scholars agree shaped the development of Western Culture. The Canon list was created by Harold Bloom and is a highly debated list. The canon is often referred to as a list of books by old, white men and a quick scan of the authors included confirms that. If one were to construct a list of great books today there would, for sure, be more diversity. Therefore, as I am reading through the ages I may add books to the list that I feel are necessary. Some of the works included in the Canon are things I have already read, however I want to reread them all within the scope and arc of the history of literature.

Bloom’s Canon

Bloom’s Canon is split into four periods of time; The Theocratic Age (2000 BCE-1321 CE), The Aristocratic Age (1321-1832), The Democratic Age (1832-1900), The Chaotic Age (20th Century). There are twenty-six authors specifically focused on throughout the Canon to include:

  • Shakespeare
  • James Joyce
  • Dante
  • Chaucer
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Cervantes
  • Montaigne
  • Wordsworth
  • Moliere
  • John Milton
  • Samuel Johnson
  • George Eliot
  • Goethe
  • Charles Dickens
  • Franz Kafka
  • Proust
  • Jane Austen
  • Tolstoy
  • Henrik Ibsen
  • Walt Whitman
  • Frenando Pessoa
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Freud
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Pablo Neruda
  • Jorge Luis Borges

So Many Books

 Getting Started

I decided to read through the immense list in chronological order in order to be able to fully appreciate all allusions, references and innuendos. Starting with The Iliad by Homer. I vaguely remember skimming through The Iliad years ago and I do not remember being impressed. I am only a short way in now and HOLY COW. Homer is blowing my literary socks off. The man had an amazing ability to twist words into magical phrases that I find myself rereading over and over again to soak up his creative genius. Here is to a long journey through many literary worlds and to the inspiration provided by the millions of authors that came before me.

“The smooth-tongued chief, from whose persuasive lips

Sweeter than honey flowed the stream of speech.”

~The Iliad


For more information about The Western Cannon please consult

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages By Harold Bloom




Writing a Novel

I want to take a moment to connect the two worlds I am writing for. I write for this amazing blog and I am also currently working on a novel for The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNoWriMo is a creative experiment that challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in one month. My novel is titled “Smoke On The Diamond” and as of yesterday evening I have written 9,064 words. I wanted to share this journey with everyone here. I have included below a synopsis of the novel and a few rough draft excerpts. For more information on NaNoWriMo please visit http://nanowrimo.org

Synopsis: Living in St. Augustine, Florida, Fiona is surprised by her apparent fortune when she learns she has inherited a manor home in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. When she then lands a job as a research assistant at the local college in Chambersburg it appears she is destined to uproot her life and move to this sleepy mountain town. As soon as she arrives Fiona begins to suspect there is more to this old family home than originally meets the eye. Within the walls of Thornapple Manor lie family secrets and the key to Fiona’s future. Finding those secrets will take Fiona down a treacherous path, a path that will reveal to her power she never knew she had, power that has saved her family once before and will be needed now if she hopes to survive this journey.



“The tree looked as twisted as an old woman railing at the Gods. The branches reaching towards the Heavens as though they could pull the clouds down. The shape of the tree was only part of what made it so unusual. The tree appeared to have recently been set ablaze. The bark was black and gnarled. The blaze appeared to have spared only one solitary leaf at the very top of the tree. The leaf was the deep brown of autumn as if nothing was amiss in the world.”


“The attic was remarkable, although “attic” only seemed appropriate because the location of the room was at the very top of the house. She had been prepared for boxes, spiders and lots of dust. Although the rest of the house was covered with a layer of dust and neglect the attic appeared as if someone had just walked from the room. The attic walls were lined with countless books and objects that were foreign to Fiona, pestles, jars of herbs, chalices and candles of every color. The center of the room held a large table covered with more jars and bowls, pendants and open books strewn about as if her Aunt had been in the middle of some bizarre project. Throughout the room were large cushioned chairs that seemed to be begging for someone to curl up on them with one of the many books found around the room.”


“Fiona smiled as she slipped her hand into his. His hand was rougher than she expected for a professor, it felt like the hand of man who worked outside a lot. His hand was large and warm. Fiona had to remind herself she needed to let it go after she held on a moment too long. Jericho smiled and waved as he headed off towards his office.

Well, well, well Fiona thought to herself. There was no one like him back in Florida. Fiona became aware of how warming his presence was as soon as he left, she immediately notice the chill in the fall air and began walking to warm herself up. Jericho McFarland indeed.”


Made For a Reason

I am a writer, not just for the blog, I am also in the process of writing a novel for young adults. As a writer I know how difficult it is to tie all these seemingly small events and decisions to the end path for a character. It can be hard to get a character from where they started to where they are meant to be, doing what they were written for all along. Knowing this small struggle makes me all the more amazed by how God molds us and guides us to finding our path, ensuring we are doing what we were made to do. Often, as humans with a limited view of any situation we are in, we cannot see the connections between events and the end result. Then one day an epiphany hits us and we finally know what we have been headed towards our entire life. I just had such an epiphany the other day and I finally feel as if I know what I was put on this earth to do.

Here are the twists my story has taken, all leading me to this moment:

Growing up all kids have a long list of careers in mind for when they “grow up”. The only thing I have ever consistently wanted to be as an adult was a Mom. I did not know how or when that would happen but I did know that at the end of my life I wanted my greatest accomplishments to be my children.

This next twist is not something I generally discuss because it is in the past and is not something I define my life by, however it has affected my outlook on abused children and therefore bears some importance to this topic. My parents did an amazing job raising and educating me about the possible dangers of the world. When I was ten years old an adult male began having inappropriate conversations with me, conversations that were clearly heading in a traditional sexual predator direction. This predator was very close to me and ensured we spent a lot of time together. In retrospect he had been working things towards his goal for a long time before starting to make his initial move with a conversation. I was raised with a lot of information about what to do in such a situation and I immediately told my parents what had occurred. The police were called, the offender was legal bared from contacting me or being in the same state and my parents ensured I received counseling to deal with any residual issues. This was the best possible outcome for such a situation and has left me with a desire to help anyone impacted by the pain and trauma of sexual abuse in all the various forms it can occur.

As a teenager an amazing person came into my life and changed it forever. That person was my beautiful baby cousin Abby. Abby was born with Trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome), a ventricular septal defect, pulmonary hypertension, swallowing dysfunction, GERD, hypothyroidism, and cerebral palsy. From the moment Abby was born my plans for my life shifted. Abby and I have always shared a very special bond and she opened my eyes to the magical world of children who have disabilities. This began my interest in working with children with disabilities, beginning a close to eight year trek of educating myself (on my own and through college work) about children with special needs of various types.

During my education about Special Education I completed a round of student teaching at a juvenile detention center school. I was not looking forward to this rotation when I heard about it, it seemed like it had no relationship to working with young children with developmental delays, which was my original goal. From the moment I met the first class in the detention center I was enthralled. These kids were such a challenge and so fun to work with. This was a whole new side of working with children with special needs. These student’s needs were wide spread, some were educational, some were physical but all of them had mental and emotional special needs. This spread my interest to children with less obvious special needs, the children who can be missed in the systems of our world and may not receive what they need to succeed in life.

Then comes the time in my life when my husband and I decide to build our family, which was not as easy as we had hoped. We then turned to adoption as a way to build our family. This was wonderful but never left me with a sense of peace. We continued to explore our options and then discovered the foster care/adoption process. The minute we decided to pursue this route to build our family I felt a wave of peace wash over me. We then began our training for the foster care system and began educating ourselves about the very unique needs of children within the foster care system.

I had this feeling I could not put my finger on; it has been building in me since our classes began. There was something going on and I had no idea what that something was. What could be going on exactly? The other day I was meeting a friend from church for coffee and I arrived early. I pulled out my latest book on parenting adopted children to pass the time while I waited. I was reading a chapter devoted to the special needs of older adopted children when I suddenly knew what this new feeling was and exactly what I was meant to do with my life.  The combination of purposes I have felt in life, it all finally fits to me. I am meant to be the mother I always wanted to be and to work with children who have unique or special needs. The amazing children in the foster care system have been through a lot in their short lives and will have completely different emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs than children who have never experienced such traumas. All the education I have been pursuing and the fields that have interested me will tie into the needs our children will have as we welcome them into our hearts, family and home.

Well done God, way to tie a million tiny moments together to lead me to this miraculous way of having my dreams come true. 😉 I am off to run down this path before me with a heart full and aware that this is truly what I was made for.