Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can't decide what triggers more feelings of coziness and delight and sweet memories - the heavenly scent of fresh bread and rolls just out of the oven or the savory aroma of a stuffed turkey roasting in a bed of onions and garlic and all the other stuff that makes it so yummy. Of course, if I were to open a debate, I would feel negligent if I left out the sweet fragrance of cakes and pies and puddings cooling on the counter, tempting fingers young and old to snitch a little taste. What I do know for certain - I am blessed beyond measure.

Last week presented me with a number of challenges - you know, stuff like our cars and appliances joining some kind of "modern conveniences union" and going on strike all at the same time. The week ended with both my husband and son going out of town and leaving me home alone with our psycho cat and a phone that only now and then charged enough to turn on and check for messages. Feeling sorry for myself, I sat in front of my computer - which did work, thank goodness - and consoled myself with a dinner of left over pizza and Lindt chocolate. Scrolling through Facebook, my thoughts turned to friends and how they have blessed my life. My first world problems transformed into opportunities to feel and express gratitude.

When my husband returned home Sunday evening, he gave me a new bag for my scriptures and journal and all the other writing stuff I tend to carry around. As I cleaned out my old bag, I came across several personal notes and cards from friends and family -  sweet words of comfort and thanksgiving that lifted my spirits yet again as I read them and thought about the angels who wrote them. So, here is the purpose of this post today: Never hesitate to say "thank you" or speak or write a kind word. It doesn't take a lot of time, just a moment or two - but the affect can be eternal.

Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for letting me share my little thoughts with you every other Thursday for the past seven (eight?) years. Thank you for always being there when I've needed encouragement and love. I hope this holiday season brings you lots and lots of everything that fills your heart with joy.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Fun Writing Lesson - Deepening Your Character

by Cindy R. Williams

"You must stay drunk on writing so that reality cannot destroy you.  --Ray Bradberry
'riting is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia --I.L. Doctorow

These two quotes have nothing to do with what this post is about other than as a writer, I think they are fun.

In my last ANWA Chapter meeting, Joyce Horstmann, had us fill in a "Deepen Your Character" sheet. Many of us have done numerous character lists in order to flesh out our characters. This list had two questions that I hadn't seen before; What is a "Known secret?" and what is an "Unknown secret?"

Hummmmm . . . interesting. I loved these two questions!

In my case, my dragon's known secret is that he is remarkable because he is the youngest dragon to earn his "Winders Warrant" which is akin to a human getting his drivers license. He is also great ancient dragon magic, something that is no longer common in dragons. This is not generally known, but I do make sure the reader knows this.

The unknown secret is one that I cannot share here. Not that it is racy or anything-- since I choose to write wholesome things--but if I share it, it will be like telling you the end of the movie and ruining it all.

There was a beauty to these two questions.They are not simple. I found that by being asked to think about the answers helped me clarify the entire plot of my book.

Give it a try.

What is your character's known secret?

What is your character's unknown secret?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Wet-Sponge-Headed Marionette Rears Its Ugly Wet Head

by Andilyn Jenkins

Sometimes my brain feels like a saturated sponge. Tasks, conversations, reminders, text messages, ideas pour over it and then pool around it until they start dripping on the floor.

Sometimes my eyes close when I ask them not to, like the mall.

Drip. Drip.

Sometimes I feel like a string connects my jaw, neck, and shoulders and throughout the day, the rope cinches tighter and tighter until I can’t open my mouth and my shoulders are touching my ears.

Sometimes I feel like my hands can handle any abuse. They endure washing, scraping, pulling, tickling, patting, carrying, typing, texting, stirring, drumming, cracking, scratching, cleaning, clapping . . .

Sometimes my knees drip. feel like drop. achy knees.

. . . rubbing, wiping, sealing, folding, zipping, fixing, pushing, holding . . .

Sometimes my feet feel like cold Slinkys—the further I stretched them, the more knotted the muscles became.

* * *

Sometimes I feel like a wet-sponge-headed marionette with diamonds for hands and a wonky spring in my step trying to go shopping at 9:01 p.m. in slippers.

My mom says some days are just like that. Even in Australia.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life can change in an instant

by Terri Wagner

Big changes are in store for my family and me. Not sure just yet how they will affect my blogging time, we will have to see. Over 15 years ago, my father divorced his second wife in what must have been the most amicable divorce of all time excepting Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. We were all a bit sad as we loved her, and felt their divorce was more about stepping up to take care of children/grandchildren than a lessening of affection for one another. They both had children from first marriages that were stumbling into dark places that took their time and efforts away from each other. I was much older when they married, and soon moved off to Virginia. So I really did not know my stepmom as well as my other siblings.

Fast forward 15 years, and you have a great grandchild without a responsible mom or dad, and absentee grandparents. Epitomizing their generation, my father and this wife are stepping up to the plate, remarrying, and adopting this three year old. They will move into the house dad and I have been living in for the past three years. I will be moving out to the trailer on the property. So my Internet access may be limited. We live in a spotty access area, with an only and at best third-rate provider. Getting access through a long-range router from the house to the trailer has never worked well. Suffice it to say, I may only have access when I walk on over to the "big" house, LOL.

It will be a culture shock for me. I've been taking care of dad for so long now, I just assumed it would end when he moved on the "big" house in the sky. I salute this 81 and 78 year old for stepping up to care for this beautiful little girl. I hope she remains a part of my life for many years to come.

I should probably add this is proof no one should give up on marriage. It does mean I will be freer in different ways than before, and limited in other ways. I am grateful we have been frugal (that's thanks to my dad more than me), and can afford to not only provide assistance, but have extra to decorate. Finally, a place of my own that I can decorate totally and only for me. Well not so fast, to make this transition as financially painless as possible, we settled for a small trailer without any custom additions. So I'm kinda stuck with light brown walls, brown fake wood floors, brown/blue countertops made I'm sure out of some sort of plastic. So my cream and blue beachy decor may have to wait until I again take possession of the "big" house.

It hasn't all happened yet, but by next year, I will be in really weird place I never saw coming. Not to mention the dogs. Wonder how they will take to the pack sorta breaking up as it were. Still I am really excited to see my dad happy. Wives provide a companionship a daughter just can't. I'm happy for her because she needed help building a future for her little great granddaughter. And again they are providing a sterling example of what family does and is.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Writing and Beach Trips with Besties

By Claire Enos

The coast from behind the suites we were staying in. Those
buildings are the other buildings at our resort.
Ahhhh the life of a young single adult! This weekend, I got to visit the Oregon Coast with a couple of my best friends. They are writers as well and we got to hang out and write and just be together which rarely happens. We didn't get much actual writing done (which was the whole reason for the weekend at the coast) but we did get to talk about writing, and get inspiration from the ocean, and do some role playing to help us get into writing again.

Top left: Katie, Kiara, and I
Top right: Kiara and I pose on the beach
Bottom left: Kiara and I kissing the whale statue!
Bottom right: Kiara, Katie, and I on the beach
Because of this weekend, I now have a new goal for myself. My goal is to get into the habit of writing every single day no matter what. I read this quote somewhere: "Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until not writing makes you anxious." I plan to use that as my inspiration for writing every day. It doesn't matter if I'm working on a blog or on a manuscript, as long as I write for at least twenty minutes a day.

I am so glad I got to spend this time with my besties and that we were able to have so much fun. And who knows, maybe one day we'll write the story we started together. If you might be interested in reading some awesome blog posts by the three of us, I will hopefully soon be debuting a new blog I call "Operation Tiger Stripes" featuring the creative and awe inspiring writings of Katie, Kiara, and ME!

Love you all!


This is my favorite from the weekend!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

November, My Thankful Month

November has always been a thankful month for me. This year is no different. I have so many things to be grateful for I can't count them. (And I won't bore you with all of them.)

The gratitude feelings I want to share today are for my writer and blogger friends. I remember going to a writing workshop a few years ago and hearing the presenter say she had made so many great friends on line. I thought to myself, that may work for others but not for me. I'm older than most of the writers here, and I'm not very good on my computer. And the younger women will make good friends, but there's no one 'more mature' like me out there.

Well, several years later, I have come to find out I was wrong on both counts. I have gotten a lot better on the computer (because my kids and dear friends teach me how to get around in this electronic world.) But more importantly, I have made some wonderful friends—friends I will have for life. 

Some of them work in the temple just like me.
Some of them get discouraged just like me.
Some of them take a break once in a while just like me.
Some of them change genre's just like me.
Some of them are in my weekly critique group, and we will love each other to the end.
Some of them like to go to lunch just like me.
Some of them enjoy book signings just like me.
Some of them are dedicated wonderful bloggers, and I admire them a lot.
Some of them are just ordinary people like me.

In short, all of them are friends, and I will love them to the end. All of you have opened up a new world of friendship and caring that I never expected to find. Thanks for enriching my life and making it better than I ever dreamed it could be.

Happy Thankful November to each of you. Lots of love, Christy

Friday, November 14, 2014

Downtime Decompression

by Marsha Ward

I recently released a novel, one that took me two years to write and publish. Of course I wasn't writing solidly for two years, but with intensive research and several drafts, not to mention the publishing side of the equation, traveling to conferences and workshops, and life in general, it was a long two years.

Now I'm in a sort of downtime lull before I begin another work of long-form fiction. I need time to decompress from the stress and focus of the completed task before I begin another like process.

I've had people ask me what I do between writing novels. The first thing I do is take a couple of weeks to recover. No writing. Plenty of recreational reading. Sleeping in.

But that can't last forever. When I'm tired of being a lazy lout, what do I do?

I write shorter fiction. Much shorter, like six thousand words or fewer. I have three stories in the works right now.

Or I write poetry. It's a totally different discipline of writing.

Or I think. I collect my thoughts. I let ideas swirl around in my mind, mulling over grand "what if's" for a new work.

Or I analyze and plan. What methods of publicity for my works are best? Should I up my quarterly e-newsletter to six times a year? Should I learn more about using Goodreads? Spend less time on Facebook? More?

Since my books typically come out in the last part of calendar years, a new year is right around the bend, so another thing I do is try to figure out my calendar of projects and travel for the following year: How can I juggle writing and production with traveling to events? What conferences will I attend? Should I make a box set of my novels? What awards will I seek? Will I make the deadlines? How can I make my website more useful? What did I leave undone this year that should be put on next year's list of projects? Do I have enough inventory of books? Too much? Should I consider cutting back on travel and/or memberships in writing associations? What is my most effective time of day to write? Why am I not on Wikipedia?

Whoa! Enough with the questions. They could take over my life. It may be time to start writing a new novel.

What do you do with your downtime?