header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); Kids Archives – Kristen Koster
Jul 032016
A widow's dress with shawl and mobcap for a Colonial Days presentation in 5th grade.

That was 8 years ago?!?

Once again, I’ve been scrambling to finish a dress and it managed to pull me away from both writing and social media for a while. Long-time readers of the blog may recall the purple widow’s dress I made for a 5th grade presentation… good gracious that was 8 years ago!

Anyway, this year, we needed a dress in time for Anime Expo in LA for a cosplay of Eliza Hamilton from the Broadway musical. Over the last few months, the cast album plays here non-stop.
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Nov 052013

In Britain, today is Guy Fawkes Day. You might recognize him better as the face of Anonymous or that fellow in V for Vendetta. There’s a reason for that.

This post was originally published here on 11/5/2010, but I think it bears repeating in the current political and economic climates. People are unhappy and they’re always looking for someone to blame. Most will not take it upon themselves to act for the better of all, but some will take it into their heads that Fate has tapped them on the shoulder and they must act. Unfortunately, these aren’t the type of actions that will help. Many of us enjoy the right to vote. Some harder fought to gain than others. If you’ve got an upcoming election, exercise your right. If you don’t, take advantage of the opportunities to contact your elected officials and let them know how they’re doing and what needs doing in their area.

Guy Fawkes Day: Conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot: November 5, 1605
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!

I’d never heard of Guy Fawkes’ Day/Night while I was growing up in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. And, Bonfire Night was the night before Homecoming when an effigy of the other team was offered up as a ritual sacrifice to the almighty football gods. I do remember my mother often saying “Remember, remember, the 5th of November” on that day and seeing references to it in the Regency and Victorian romance novels I read over the years, so I was curious to what this holiday was all about since it’s cropped up in pop culture recently with movies like V for Vendetta and thanks to 4-Chan many different groups of protesters have adopted the traditional Guy mask as a show of solidarity and a way to preserve their anonymity.

So when I asked my 13 year old daughter, if she knew what today was, I got a blank look. So, in explaining how Guy Fawkes was the fellow who was caught in connection with the Gunpowder Plot, she was highly amused by some of the traditions the British have kept in celebrating this holiday.

“So, that was around the time of the Declaration of Independence?” She’s studying the American Revolution and Constitution currently, so she tries to relate everything to that. Nearly two hundred years earlier, the Gunpowder Plot planned to blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605 in an effort to not just protest his stance on Catholicism but to assassinate King James I. November 5th was chosen because it was the day Parliament was scheduled to reopen and the King would be present.

“People celebrate this? Why? How?” The idea was that they were happy to have avoided the disaster and also serves as a warning to Parliament to keep the desires of the people in mind as they make their decisions and laws. In England and several former British colonies, like Australia, the night is marked by bonfires, burning effigies of Guy Fawkes or other current political villains, and fireworks.

“What?! Fireworks? Really? Silly Brits.” Remember, it was also to serve as a warning of what could have happened had it not been uncovered. She was unconvinced, claiming it was rather ironic to celebrate preventing a catastrophic explosion and fire by setting off intentional ones. And then I mentioned that in one town, Ottery St. Mary in Devon, they celebrate by carrying flaming barrels of tar through the streets and how the people carrying the barrels had passed the tradition down through their families. Such a stretch for her modern imagination.

“Don’t they celebrate Halloween?” These days, it’s becoming more popular to celebrate with trick or treating, American-style, but in the mid-1600s, Oliver Cromwell’s puritanical rule abolished All Hallow’s Eve and many other traditional celebrations and feasts that he associated with pagan ways. Many of the traditions such as the bonfire on November 1st was simply shifted to November 5th and stayed there. Despite the fascination of the occult, paranormal and gothic romances, the people of the extended Regency period, which gave birth to some of our most familiar Halloween icons: Frankenstein and the headless horsemen, would have been more familiar with bonfires celebrating Guy Fawkes Night and burning a “Guy”.

Guy, guy, guy
Poke him in the eye,
Put him on the bonfire,
And there let him die

“A guy? A real one?” No, not a real person! Sort of like a scarecrow dressed up to look like Guy Fawkes. Kids would make these, and in the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night, they’d sit out with them by the side of the street begging, “A penny for the Guy?” so they could defray their expenses in making this annual effigy. The practice eventually evolved into asking for money to be spent on fireworks, but modern sensibilities worry that the money will be misspent on more dangerous things and sales of fireworks to children have been limited.

So, I’m not sure I explained it well for my daughter, but she did get a taste of a different culture than the one she’s used to and I’ve been thinking about ways to incorporate it into a plot. But then I wonder if I could do it justice, not having experienced the tradition firsthand. Some day, maybe.

Weekly Photo 23 & 24 / 52 for 2013: Anigozanthos & Photo Bomb

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Jun 192013

Weekly Photo 23/52 for 2013: Anigozanthos or Bush Nugget Kangaroo Paw by Kristen Koster on FlickrMy posts might not look like I’m keeping up with my weekly photo project, but I have been taking the pictures. Our daughter has been borrowing my camera and I’m often left with a dead battery when I want to upload my photos for the week and then I forget to go back and get the charged battery until I want to take more pictures the next week. This photo is of the plant right beneath my kitchen window. The Bush Nugget Kangaroo Paw sounds so exotic, doesn’t it? I also just found out besides the lavender and rosemary we have growing in the yard, we also have a bed of chamomile right there at the base of this plant too.

Weekly Photo 24/52 for 2013: Photo Bomb! by Kristen Koster on FlickrAs I said, our daughter has been on a photo shooting kick. This includes both taking them and posing for them in her various cosplay outfits. The last day of school she came up with an idea for a project she wanted to do this summer, and tried to fit it all in that afternoon. Well, at least the photo portion of it. The dog was quite amused by this and wondered why SHE wasn’t the star of the show as usual. Nothing like having the dog pull off a photo bomb, complete with the self-satisfied grin. She knew EXACTLY what she was doing.

Weekly Photo 13/52 for 2013

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Apr 022013

Weekly Photo 13/52 for 2013: Easter 2013 by Kristen Koster on FlickrI missed posting Sunday’s weekly photo, but I did take pictures last week! I didn’t like the way most of the ones of the white flowers came out, too over-exposed. I’ll have to find a better time of day for those. I’m still not happy with my candid shots of people.

Anyway, I hope everyone that celebrates had a great Easter Weekend. If you don’t celebrate, then I hope your weekend was fantastic too!

I couldn’t decide which Easter bunny I liked better, so you get both! The dog definitely found the “SPROING” noise that the ears made when squeezed on that red dot very interesting. That’s why she’s jumping up to grab the ears from off my daughter’s head. Olivia did sit still to pose with them for a bit, but only if someone sat with her to distract her from trying to paw that thing off her head.

Settings: Sony A33-SLT • Oops, I don’t have this handy since I combined the two into one.

Kissing Games at LuvYA Today!

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Aug 282012

A Guest Post on Kissing Games

I’m talking about the history of Kissing Games on Bria’s LuvYA blog today. This is part of the celebration of Bria Quinlan and Valerie Cole‘s Month of Kisses and Kiss-Offs.

A Contest to Enter

Bria and Valerie have planned a whole bunch of fun ways to lead up to their KISS / KISS-OFF CONTEST and I’m tickled pink to be asked to join in! I hope you’ll stop by and check out the contest too, which opens on August 31st!

2012 Photo Challenge: Week 25

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Jun 242012

Week 25 of our 365 Photo Challenge.

Weekend pictures bracket this set with photos of Olivia. She should get to come home the 14th of July. Maybe sooner, but more likely that weekend. We’ve been going up to the breeder’s to visit with her I think we miss her more than she misses us right now.

For the weekday pictures, I tried something a little different. I tried to go out about the same time each day so I had consistent lighting and then found different subjects to play with. I really liked how the bird of paradise came out with the back lighting where you can see the individual plant cells if you view it in the large size on flickr. Definitely a very forgiving time of day, right around 6pm.

What you see below are links to my flickr set for the photos I’m posting for this challenge. Click on any photo below to go to flickr and then you can navigate through the set with the “Previous” and “Next” arrows at the top.

169/366 Happy Father's Day!
Sun: Jun 17, 2012
  170/366 Snail Shell
Mon: Jun 18, 2012
171/366 Watermelon
Tue: Jun 19, 2012
172/366 Plant Cells
Wed: Jun 20, 2012
173/366 Hydrangea
Thu: Jun 21, 2012
174/366 Lobelia erinus
Fri: Jun 22, 2012
  175/366 Olivia
Sat: Jun 23, 2012

2012 Photo Challenge: Week 24

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Jun 172012

Week 24 of our 365 Photo Challenge.

We bought a puppy last weekend. She’s a 4 month old golden retriever named Olivia. Yes, this makes her initials, “OK”. She’s very sweet, but staying at the breeder’s for a few more weeks to get in some basic training skills before we bring her home. She’s likely to only show up in weekend pictures until she’s home. For example, you’ll see in next week’s set, where I remembered to take my camera, we had a play date with her for Father’s Day! Our next visit will be to sit in on one of her training sessions so we can learn the commands too.

Picture-wise, with school being out, I can feel my discipline slipping a bit. I thought with school being out my week was supposed to be easier! I’m a bit more willing to let taking photos go until later in the day and have had to scramble a few times. I know I’m also not being very creative with the subject matter. Can you believe those two hydrangea flowers are from the same bush? It’s kinda awesome how undecided it is. And no, no one ate a whole lobster last night at dinner. Just a tail, but those don’t come from the tank!

What you see below are links to my flickr set for the photos I’m posting for this challenge. Click on any photo below to go to flickr and then you can navigate through the set with the “Previous” and “Next” arrows at the top.

162/366 Olivia
Sun: Jun 10, 2012
163/366 Baby Summer Squash
Mon: Jun 11, 2012
164/366 Bird(s?) of Paradise
Tue: Jun 12, 2012
165/366 Hydrangea
Wed: Jun 13, 2012
166/366 Hydrangea
Thu: Jun 14, 2012
167/366 Grapes
Fri: Jun 15, 2012
168/366 Red Lobster
Sat: Jun 16, 2012

2012 Photo Challenge: Week 23

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Jun 092012

Week 23 of our 365 Photo Challenge. Yay! School is now officially done for the summer!

I thought last week was crazy. but this week was worse. I got clipped by another parent while I was parked waiting to pick up the kids from school on Monday. The High School had finals so only a half day for the last three days and our son had a promotion ceremony on Thursday for the last day of school. Then Friday and Saturday we had a mix up on the party invite so we stretched it for two days with Friday’s party turning into an impromptu slumber party as well. I am so looking forward to something relaxing next week.

What you see below are links to my flickr set for the photos I’m posting for this photo challenge. Click on any photo below to go to flickr and then you can navigate through the set with the “Previous” and “Next” arrows at the top.

Photo Challenge: 155/366 Lacy Summer Squash
Sun: Jun 03, 2012
  Photo Challenge: 156/366 $688.21
Mon: Jun 04, 2012
Photo Challenge: 157/366 Moonrise 6/5
Tue: Jun 05, 2012
Photo Challenge: 158/366 Blueberries
Wed: Jun 06, 2012
Photo Challenge: 159/366 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony
Thu: Jun 07, 2012
Photo Challenge: 160/366 Wheeeee!
Fri: Jun 08, 2012
  Photo Challenge: 161/366 Pool Party Crasher
Sat: Jun 09, 2012

Jun 022012

Writing Plan: Summer Edition -- Photo of someone coming down the pool slide.

Will you make a splash this summer?

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group’s topic is Summer Writing Plan. We were asked, “What adjustments will you make to get through the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer?”

We have 4 more days of school this year. Our son will be moving up from middle school to high school. It doesn’t seem possible we’ll have two in high school next year. But that also means for the next 9 weeks or so, I’ll have them underfoot for more of the day than I’m currently used to. They LOVE to sleep in. And by that I mean until noon or so. Then they wake up ravening beasts who want fed and entertained (which now usually means driven around to either be dropped off at a friends or to pick up said friends who are likewise transportationally challenged.

Luckily our schedules shouldn’t change too much except to open up more free time for everyone, both over the summer and next school year as I’ll only have 1 drop-off/pick-up time instead of two.

Writing Plan: My Big To Dos


  • Add 8,210 words to BHT to bring it up to 90k by July 1 — 328 words/day
  • Halfway point for Jack of Hearts (Stop laughing! it’s only ~2,300 words per day to get to 35k by mid June.)
  • Outline JoH using 9 sentences for structure and fine tuning.
  • Pitch Workshop, online
  • Get business cards reprinted with current info


  • Continue working on JoH
  • Attend National RWA Conference in Anaheim toward the end of the month
  • Take lessons learned from pitch class & combine with story bones for sequels to BHT


  • Continue working on JoH — need 70-75k by end of Sept
  • Analyze scenes for Revealed, Sweet Temptation and Flower Queen’s Daughter to see where to improve or rewrite

Writing Plan: My Big How Tos

  • Get Up Early and get working by 7am to take advantage of a quiet house
  • Focus on priority goals first: BHT & JoH before everything else
  • Track time spent writing in spreadsheet
  • Take advantage of other writers doing sprints via twitter or chat rooms
  • Limit Facebook Games until after lunch

YOUR TURN:How does summer affect your creative schedule? Does it enhance or impede it?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

May 252012

This week for our How I Write series, my accountability group asked, “How do you develop your characters? Do you have a favourite kind/archetype?”

We covered part of the idea of character development before and my general method is in the post, Building Characters where I likened it to my daughter’s cosplay outfits. I skimmed the highlights, but that post has more info.

Michael Hauge‘s Establishing Connections – likeability, skill.expertise, sympathetic, funny, jeopardy
Strengths/Weaknesses —
At Least 5 Whys —
Biggest Fear & how you will make them face it
Jodi Henley‘s idea of a Core Event

Tics, expressions, rituals, habits
Friends, possessions & pets

That all still holds true. Now, moving on to the section where I listed What I didn’t use.

Character Sheets — You’ve seen the ones: star sign, height, weight, occupation, model of car driven, all full of useless trivia that probably won’t make a difference in how your character will react to the things you need them to. Oh, and I always read them with much amusement considering I write historical fiction. I don’t think I’d find them very useful even if I wrote contemporaries.

Stereotypes/Archetypes — Ok, I TRY not to use stereotypes and I was re-introduced to the notion of using archetypes again this summer, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever dig too deeply in that direction as something to build a foundation on. Some people may find them useful, but I also think the temptation to slide back into stereotype is too strong for me.

Character sheets filled with useless trivia are still a no go for me. Most of it just isn’t relevant for the historical setting and I don’t feel like making one. I have been using Scrivener, which has character templates that are more flexible and include general information.

Role in Story: Hero
Occupation: Card Sharp
Physical Description:
Personality: Jack is a bad boy, appearing unreliable and capricious at first impression.
Background: Jack is a card sharp with the longest running winning streak at the game of Whist at the Stratford Club in London. He wants to make a name for himself.
Internal Conflicts: Jack is motivated by resentment and rebellion which keeps him from finding love and keeping it. He’s a bachelor who refuses to marry and keeps being left by his mistresses.
External Conflicts: Jack is driven by the thrill of winning and beating the odds. He wants to win back his brother’s losing for the week and keep his reputation because Amanda’s protector has accused him of cheating and offers a stacked deck.
Notes: Jack is used to playing Whist with his brother as his partner. He’s also distracted by the heroine’s beauty. He may lose his reputation and the girl. Jack realizes he’s always help part of himself back. He puts that on the table with Amanda as well, hoping to win her love.

Photo of a kid catching a frisbee. He's putting everything he's got into it.And in looking back at my stories after taking Tami Cowden’s workshop on archetypes for writers, I realized I do use them as a very rough base for personality and building conflicts, but it hadn’t been a conscious part of my character development process.

I think if I had to name a favorite hero archetype, it’d be the bad boy — or maybe the nice guy who’s been pushed to live up to his bad boy reputation. My heroine’s have also been stronger than they appear or are assumed to be by others, but other than that, they seem to be all over the map in terms of which archetype you’d label them as.

Another thing I’ve realized through photography and pushing my comfort zone there, is character matters so much when photographing people. Capturing it and using it to tell a story was a big part of what I was missing when I took pictures of people. For some reason, this seems easier with people I don’t know. Maybe because I’m freer to make things up? Anyway… this kid with the frisbee has a ton of character, doesn’t he?

YOUR TURN:How do you go about building the foundation of your creative projects?

And if you’d like to read about how the rest of my accountability group answered, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris *
* Angeleque Ford * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney

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