Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Musings of an Overgrown Teenager

by Andilyn Jenkins

This past week, I went to the annual ANWA Writer’s Conference, which brought me to self-evaluate not just my writing, but all my goals and aspirations. Where do I want to be? And what am I doing to get there?

I am twenty-five. Which means I am old enough to have children but young enough to still act like one. I am old enough to balance a checkbook but young enough to still blow spending cash on new clothes. I am old enough to admit my naivety but young enough to be bold regardless. I am old enough to go to bed at 9:00 p.m. but young enough to stay out until 2:00 a.m. with the right group of girls. I am old enough that I see my future in long-term but young enough that I still believe anything is possible. Young enough to dream. Old enough to fight against dreams in the name of comfort and familiarity.

I see that to the world I’m just a baby. But I don’t feel like a baby. I feel like the clock is ticking and the historians are waiting for me to make my mark, and I’ve already waited too long. But I suppose the feeling that mankind is waiting, pen poised for my first step is the epitome of that self-absorbed time we call youth. So, I am a baby? After all, I’m only twenty-five. Right?

Time to go pick out a mountain. #ANWAcon15

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I don't like this

by Terri Wagner

as Dr. Seuss would say. As you all know I've been in the process of moving into a trailer. Well, Elvis has left the building and is not happy about it. My TV no longer has the ability to DVR. Why????? The exclusive Internet provider in this area has to hook up a land line to provide me with at best spotty Internet, why???? The dealer messed up the paperwork so our first date to pay came and went without anyone, including the dealer, knowing who was supposed to pay who, why???? Of my two labs, one has decided she prefers the house and finds it necessary to leave the trailer at 4ish in the am, why???? The guest bathroom has a ton of space, the master ensuite (you cannot call it a master bathroom) has none to speak of, why???? And the small guest bedroom has 6 electrical outlets, why???? Neither bathroom sports a toilet paper holder, why????

Do you find yourself completely floored at the lack of professionalism these days. Was it always around, and I just never noticed? Has it gotten worse? Am I just discovering the woes of mobile home living? I go around the trailer finding things that just astonish me. And I'm a bit disappointed in Kota LOL. I need her company doesn't she know that?!

This rant did not feel good as on top of all, I find living alone as yucky as I found it before. Who wants to listen to the sound of their own voice? Why would I care what I think? I already know. It's a bummer, lending a form of street cred to Heavenly Father's wisdom that it isn't good to be alone.

How can we bring professionalism to our writing? I was thinking of this after reading Christy Monson's blog entry about John Clease's words. Even a comic has to have a certain amount of professionalism. I once read Joan River's autobiography about how she spent hours on her material for The Tonight Show. Like her or not, she took her comedy seriously.

When we pitch our book, do we look desperate or professional? Do we use effective marketing words? Do we come across as knowledgeable about our genre? In short, do we put the time and effort in our writing we need to be treated professionally? I just cannot help but think it will make a difference. Going back to the beginning of my rant, how do I respond to the dealer as a professional? How do I get DirecTV to give me DVR privileges, and shall I consult with Cesar Milan over Kota or just give Daisy extra love for hanging out with me?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Creating Creative Circumstances

John Cleese goes on to describe the circumstances which must exist to be in the 'open' creative mode.
1.                  Space. We must have a quiet undisturbed space where we can be alone and uninterrupted.

2.                  Time. We must carve out a specific amount of time to work. He suggests that an hour and a half is an optimal amount of time. After we've worked that long, we need a break. This time period must have a beginning and an end. We can come back later if we wish.

3.                  Time. We must take time to stick with a problem to get the best results. If we're looking for a quick fix, we don't get the best results. Sometimes we have to put up with a feeling of unrest and agitation—wrestle  with a problem—before the very best ideas come.

4.                  Confidence. We must have confidence in ourselves and our process. Fear is the greatest enemy to the creative process. We cannot be open to new ideas if we are worried or if we doubt our spontaneity. Here I have to put in a plug for a great critique group. My group is wonderful (as I've said before). We are all positive in what we say and do there. It's a synergistic group that is to die for. Hope you all create groups just as wonderful.

5.                  Humor. We will become open more quickly with humor. Laughing relaxes us and puts us in a good mood. Therefore, inviting an open mind. 

These are all good ideas, and I will use them from time to time, maybe even on a regular basis, but I don't believe this is the only formula that works for creativity. We each have our own method. One is not right and the other wrong. We each find the ways that work best for us. 

Happy Creativity!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Made in Heaven

by Kari Diane Pike

A friend on Facebook posted this meme:

On those days when you don't feel like a queen and you don't feel like a masterpiece, just remember...He's not quite finished making you yet. ~Brad Wilcox

Some days I do feel like a queen - like when my seventeen-year-old son takes me on a date and treats me to my favorite Frost dark chocolate gelato. Or when I see my grandchildren's eyes light up when I walk into their home. Other days, I feel like the hairball my cat threw up on my new comforter. The day I read that quote was one of those days. 

But reading Brother Wilcox's words brought a picture to my mind. Do you remember how in Toy Story, Andy wrote his name on the bottom of Woody's boot? That quote brought this picture to my mind:

And you know what? I feel like a queen again. 
Life is magnificent!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Don't sweat the small stuff

by Marsha Ward

Somebody on a Facebook Group for authors recently mentioned how tormented he/she was to see their cover art used on another book. That's the breaks of using stock images.

I've seen the exact image my designer used for Spinster's Folly, maybe on a website, or maybe it was a cover for somebody's Facebook Page. Here's an example I saw this week of someone else manipulating a specific element for cover art. It doesn't bother me. It's a totally different cover/look.


As you can see when you compare the two images, the other designer flipped the image of the girl, changed the skirt, changed the face, moved the arm away from the body and added a hand. Nice work!

One of my mother's favorite sayings was "Don't sweat the small stuff." By that, she meant to say that there are many things in life to deal with, but the "small stuff" is certainly less important to waste brain power on than big things. Another way of putting this would be "Pick your battles."

So what if another author or cover designer also buys the same image that shows up on your cover! Just make sure that each book you write is outstanding!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines Day

by Cindy R. Williams

This year is a different Valentines Day for our family. Usually I think of spending some time with my husband, but for the past eight months we have his mother living with us 24/7 so things have changed drastically. M-I-L has Alzheimer's. Every day is a strange day. You think you have a pattern or things figured out then she acts entirely out of character or better said, she acts like a character which is, in fact, the norm.

We have invited the two siblings that live in town to take a turn on Saturdays and spend some time with their Mom. They didn't sign up to care for her so it isn't their responsibility. They're too busy. She has become nothing but a nuisance to them. Besides, their wives don't even like her, so the sons would get "stuck" with her and they are uncomfortable with how strange she has become.

They don't get that you need a break. They think you're just whining. And besides, they didn't sign up to care for her so it isn't their responsibility. They're too busy. She has become nothing but a nuisance to them. Besides, their wives don't even like her, so the sons would get "stuck" with her and they are uncomfortable with how strange she has become.

Heartbreaking, to say the least for my dear M-I-L. None of them will go with me to any training classes or her doctor appointments. Now, having cried over my milk here, I must add that one brother does visit her twice a month from three to five hours each time. However, according to the wife, M-I-L is not allowed to sleep at their house, so no over-nighters. Good thing my side of the family with no blood relation to my M-I-L is stepping in to give us a little relief. My own father died of Alzheimer's and they understand the importance of family support for the primary care-giver.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sugar Cookies and Lotion

by Andilyn Jenkins

My knuckles are stingling (who loves my hybrid?). I’ve been baking, decorating, and packaging sugar cookies all day long, and because I’m coming down with a cold, I’ve been washing my hands in hot water at least every twenty minutes for most of the day. Finally, at 2:30 a.m., I packaged the last of the cookies, washed my face for bed, and put on two rounds of lotion. And now, as I look into the kitchen and type through my stingly fingers, I revel in my hard work. The kitchen light is reflecting off of the dozens of bags of pink cookies and making my light grey walls blush. And I sit here, blogging, thinking about how much I really love being a mom. Let me explain.

Being a stay-at-home mom means I wake up each morning with a full day to use as I see fit. Of course, I have obligations to meet, like taking the kids to school, or fulfilling community and church roles, but I’m not accountable to anyone about how I choose to spend my day, which gives me a sense of freedom regardless of the many demands I include in my schedule.

Because I am a stay-at-home mom, I can host a bake sale with my daughter for Valentine’s Day to earn money for a family trip to Disneyland. I can train to become a Zumba instructor. I can blog once every-other-week. I can go to the ANWA Writer’s Conference. I can spend the entire day just playing with my kids. I can go for a bike ride to the park. I can have a picnic. I can take my kids and fly to California to visit my dad. I can pick my favorite meal for dinner, whenever I want. I can read books. I can take piano lessons. I can go to the gym. I can be in a play. I can be a youth group leader. Because I am a mom, I can do anything.

Now, none of these things are easy for me to do. And many of them require an extremely supportive husband and family (which I’m very blessed to have). But I feel like Motherhood is the career of endless possibilities. Every day, I wake up and have to organize my own time, set my own deadlines, and create my own objectives. And the harder I work, the more of myself I dish out, the more I see back—whether it be in pink-frosted sugar cookies, a healthy self, or giggly children.

So today? I’m tired. But I really love being me.