27 April 2010

Buenos Dias de Bolivia!

Super short... sketchy internet and little time.

Writing this from high up in the beautiful Andes Mountains. I love Bolivia!

Here are two images for you to ponder:

1) the (former) World's Most Dangerous Road


2) Bolivian "war paint". :0)

Don't worry--I've been here two days and have already taken over 500 pictures!

Bye for now.... "see" y'all when I get back!


19 April 2010

Unplug Week--and a Winner!

After much deliberation... actually, just tossing the paper salad... :0)

the winner of the 100th Post World Package Giveaway is:



Please email me at kristentorrestoro at gmail dot com with your mailing address! Again, I'm sorry it'll be a while, but I won't actually go to Bolivia until April 25-May 4. So it would be a little hard to send you something awesome when I haven't been there yet. :0)

So, it's unplug week. I'd like to say I'll be writing, but I won't. I'm preparing for Bolivia this week and wrapping things up at work so I can leave. This weekend I leave for South America. I'll return to the States May 4th, which is a Tuesday.

My goal is to be back with a "this is what God did in Bolivia" post either Friday, May 7 or Monday, May 10.

See y'all then! Have a great few weeks. I'll miss y'all! And thanks for praying!

16 April 2010

100 POSTS!!!!!!!!!!

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! I made it! :0)

Happy 100 to me!

It's been such a blessing meeting all of you and getting to know you. You've taught me a lot about writing and encouraged me as well. Thank you so much for your friendship! I look forward to reading all of your books one day. :0)

In honor of this epic event, I have a special giveaway... a gift package from around the world. Contents include:

a bag from Peru,

a necklace from Swaziland,

a pashmina from India,

and something way cool from Bolivia!

Can you tell I've been collecting for this for a while?

To enter is simple: leave a comment with your name below. The contest will close Saturday at midnight. Sunday I'll draw a name out of a hat. (I have to be old school about this, because I am so not a techie)! The winner will be announced on Monday.

Your package will not arrive for a while, since I have not been to Bolivia yet. :) I'll be back May 4, so it'll be sent sometime in the week after that.

See y'all Monday!

14 April 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

So... Monday I woke up, got ready for work, and was happy to notice I was early. But not long after leaving my apartment, I got stuck in a standstill. It was very ironic, because I've thought several times that if there was ever an accident on that very road, I'd be stuck. The only way to get from the office to my apartment involves crossing a very cool bridge using a two lane road. Something happened with a tractor trailer before I reached the bridge- I'm not quite sure what- and instead of directing traffic around it, my lane didn't move at all.

While we watched hundreds of cars drive past.

And of course, I had a major appointment that morning, set for an hour after I was supposed to be in the office.

I sat there for a long time. I called everyone one I knew. We looked at maps, iphone applications, etc. Nothing. I was stuck.

Kind of like where I am in my story.

So, eventually they towed the semi and I was able to move. I arrived at the office at 9:45--just in time to turn on my computer and leave.

But I thought a lot about what happened all day. The entire time I was stuck, my mind raced with possibilities, alternate routes, scenarios. I started thinking about characters and how it's so easy to throw a wrench into their plans. How the simplest thing can create a million possibilities.

I didn't really come to any conclusions. Other than that I really need to learn another way to the office. Either that, or learn how to teleport.

Needless to say, the next time I sit down to write, I'm definitely going to find the wrench for my characters' best laid plans. I think it'll be a lot more fun than being stuck in traffic. :0)

See y'all Friday!

12 April 2010

This One is For Me

I started a new novel last fall and haven't gotten very far on it. One reason is that as a panster, it's intimidating to sit down and try to "squeeze something from nothing"... when you have no clue where this story is going. Or that if you do have an idea, you're not sure how you'll get from Chapter 1 to what you do know, which might be chapter 14 (or thereabouts, because you can't even know the amount of chapters because you don't know anything). Right now I have a lot of conflict and two full chapters, some images, subplots, and characters who will appear in the future but I'm not sure what their roles will be. Despite the little bit I do have, I feel like the majority of it is just one giant hole. And it yawns in front of me, taunting me with the threat of NOTHING EVER HAPPENING--EVER.

Then, there's also the feeling I have that this story is going to go somewhere I don't want it to go emotionally. There, I said it. This story is personal. Not that I've ever written anything that isn't. But it's... how do I say it... current. I have a feeling that writing it is going to be less pleasant than the time I lost my toenail due to the wrath of a heavy door (and my weak, four-year-old arms). Or maybe it won't be current at all. Maybe it's just the threat that it is. I always try to feel what my characters are so that I'm into the story. Maybe I'm just afraid of the depth of that emotion.

But in talking with a friend a few weeks ago, I realized that I was putting unneeded pressure on myself. Because I've been trying to follow the advice out there--that while I'm waiting for something to happen, to keep writing so that you can say you've finished something else, are working on something else, etc. Only I ended up overwhelmed of the huge emotional jungle in from of me that I will have to get lost in as I write this story. But I forgot something important:

There's no one waiting with baited breath for this novel. No, really, this is a good thing. I'm not contracted. I'm not agented. Depending on the outcome of the two contests I entered, I'll know how to proceed with my completed stories. But I have no deadline, no one impatiently waiting for the next book to spill from my heart.

Maybe this one is just for me.

Or maybe it's not. Maybe I'll get to the end and be able to release it. Maybe it'll end up being something worthy of publication. But I'm going to write it because it's a story I need to get out, even if I don't know it all right now. So I'm writing. And while it doesn't make logical sense for me to write a novel that I don't know if I'll even put out there, I need to write this one.

That is, if I ever figure out what's happening.

Is anyone else at the beginning stages and frustrated?

See y'all Wednesday!

07 April 2010

I'm Going to Bolivia!

Hey, Friends! This weekend is Leader Training for my program, meaning I'm working straight through the weekend. It starts on Thursday, but I'll be away from my computer most of Wednesday. Needless to say, I won't have time to blog. I plan to be back next week though!

So, I wanted to let y'all know about this awesome opportunity I have coming up! If you receive my email updates or read my missions blog, then you already know. But I wanted to tell everyone else as well.

I'm going on another trip, much like the one I went on to Peru in February. This one is again to South America, to a country I've never been to. I'm going to Bolivia! WOOHOOOO!!!!!

I don't much much except for the dates (April 25-May 3) and that we'll be staying in the Andes Mountains (which I'm so excited about!). My job is to do what I do best: missions and writing. I'm going to meet people, love on them, and tell them about Jesus, to observe Bolivia, learn about the culture, and bring it back to tell y'all, better help train the Bolvia team this summer, and write about what I experience there. Oh yes--and my "husband" (camera) is coming too. He'll make sure to document the trip for you. :0)


Please be praying for me as I go. There's a lot to do in preparation, travel, etc. I still need financial support--a little over $1000--and can keep raising that after the trip if I need to. (The amount I am raising a month doesn't include overseas missions. Just rent, utilities, gas, food, etc.). For those of you who’ve prayed about/mentioned occasional one time gifts, this is a good time for that. Just go to http://www.adventures.org/give, click on the “AIM Staff” link, and type my name when asked. Or you can snail mail to: Adventures In Missions, Inc., P.O. Box 534470, Atlanta, Ga. 30353-4470. "Kristen Torres-Toro" needs to be on the memo line and all checks need to be made out to Adventures in Missions.

I'll see y'all Monday for my final week of posts before Unplug Week and then Bolivia! Have a great weekend!

05 April 2010

All Hail the Grad

Hey, Friends! How was your Easter? Mine was awesome!

Thanks so much for your help in determining the maker of my favorite shoes last Friday! I'm going to hunt down all the leads y'all gave!

So, besides the beautiful Easter weekend (I'm currently giddy from a condition I call "excessive sunshine"), I have another reason to celebrate today. Guess what? This afternoon is my final session in the 13 week fitness program I've been doing, P90x. Remember when we talked about it last January? Well, after this afternoon it's official--I'm a p90x Grad!

Wow, I feel so good.

I mean, I'm proud of myself. This really pushed me. Not only physically, but in discipline as well. And while I knew I'd finish when I started, the reality of completing this intense workout schedule makes me want to celebrate. I was an athlete a million years ago. I love being outside and doing outside things... and doing fun things like hiking and water sports... but I haven't done anything like this in years. And for those who are wondering about actual results--yes, I can see and feel (and measure) the difference in my body. I don't look like the models in the p90x advertisements or even the chicks in the videos, but I am stronger, more flexible... and possibly in need of new clothes.

I feel confident. I'm not talking so much in my appearance as I am confident in the ability I have now as a P90x Grad (a.k.a my mega muscles) and just the knowledge that I did this thing. I don't look at a box and think, "I hope it's light so I can carry it". Now it's more like, "I can do this. I'm stronger than I've ever been."

Do I have more I want to accomplish? Absolutely.

Are there people out there in better shape than me, more flexible, stronger, and thinner? Definitely.

But you know what? I'm a P90x grad. I accomplished something big. I developed discipline with exercise, discpline I will continue--after I take a week long break. :0) And that's nothing to sneeze at.

I'm just "supposing" here, but maybe confidence is one of the best things discipline can give us. It definitely makes us better writers. It establishes the pattern of writing in our lives, exercises the writing "muscles" and our imaginations, and helps us accomplish a goal of crafting a novel. And I think a side effect of all of those things is a healthy dose of confidence--a sense that while there might be better writers out there and we have a lot to learn, that we did something big. We:

-finished that first draft
-rewrote half a book on the advice of mulitple crit partners
-queried that dream agent despite the fear of rejection
-wrote that synopsis
-started a blog and wondered if anyone would ever care to read it
-wrote multiple queries
-entered a writing contest...

Rinse and repeat--refusing to give up. Vowing to learn, to study the craft, the market, and the reader. Wondering if this next story would get us that agent or complete the contract for a number for a publisher, etc. Doing it over and over again, for as many stories as are ours to tell.

I'm not saying that there aren't moments of despair, when overwhelming discouragement threatens everything. When we wonder if we're that person who everyone says is a brilliant writer, when in fact we're the literary equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. I'm not saying there aren't moments of doom, when we forget to back up our hard drives, see the blue screen of death, and lose everything. I'm not saying we ever need to stop learning.

But you know what? Because of these last three months of p90x, I know my limitations. I also know where I soar. I know what I want to work on, where I've seen a lot of progress, and where I hope to be six months from now. I have confidence, even in my weakness. Because I know where I need to work.

If we're having confession time, I'll say here that I haven't been as discplined in my writing recently. And my confidence has definitely suffered. Sitting here on this Easter night, I'm convinced the two are somehow linked.

What do you think?

See y'all Wednesday!

02 April 2010

Have You Seen Me?

So, a few years ago I was given the most awesome pair of shoes. I was in Africa, just days from flying to India for a Christmas Party, and my last pair of flip flops suffered a fatal blow out. I was also severely lacking in money and didn't want to go to the ATM (and incur another international ATM charge) while I pulled out what I estimated was the cost of shoes.

So a friend came to my rescue. It turns out we had the same size feet, which was weird because we wear odd sizes. She offered me--you guessed it--a pair of flip flops. I was so happy.

These flip flops are incredible. They are a hug for my feet. Two years later, I still have them. They've been torn up and "shoe-gooed" time and again, so I don't wear them as often now. But I love them.

Not too long ago, I looked into replacing them. Only, I can't. They were given to me with the logo half-worn away. So I don't know who made them. I don't know where to order them. When I asked the friend who so graciously gave them to me, she said she bought them in Indiana, but wasn't sure if it was at a national chain store or a local store. So, I'm stuck. Unless you can help.

Have you seen this logo before? If so, please help!

This week we're talking about identity and these shoes kind of remind me of the mascot I mentioned on Wednesday. Once again, they have an unknown identity for me. Except that this time I have a personal relationship with the item. I love it. And it's taken on its own identity to me. I don't know these flip flops as my Old Navy ones or my Walmart ones. They are my "hugs", given to me in Africa, and fellow world travelers.

I'm willing to go to great lengths to find "them" again. Well, I can't spend too much money, but you get the idea. I've literally asked everyone I know. I've searched the web. Now I'm asking y'all for help. Why?

They made an impression on me. These aren't just shoes to me. And I don't want to let them go.

Oh, I hope someone says that about my books one day--that they aren't just books to them. That they are stories they love. And that the covers, once perfect, are tattered and well worn, with my name half-rubbed away. Maybe the reader won't remember my name. I'd be okay with that. I just want them to remember my stories.

Have a great weekend. See y'all Monday!