Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Conclusions on Being a Fiction Writer

by Terri Wagner
I have shared my struggles about writing with a partner...an ongoing struggle. Even Marsha jumped in and helped out, thanks!!!!!! However, I have come to an amazing conclusion...I loathe writing fiction. I adore reading fiction, I am constantly astonished at how a writer can weave a good fiction story and leave you breathless. I have too many authors I love but top of the lists would include fantasy writers Dave Eddings and Terry Brooks, and adventures with a history twist such as Clive Clussler and Dan Brown. I do not just apply this to books, the whole Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings universes are wonderful places to to visit again and again.

However, I am ready to throw in the white flag on writing fiction. I am not that imaginative. Don't misunderstand, I can imagine a lot, but I cannot write imagination. I change my characters too often. I do not have to explain this comment...I have rewritten the opening chapter a dozen times from a dozen different POVs. None of them work. I should know since I read enough to know the good from the bad. I cannot follow my own storyline since I have no idea where I am going with it. I could go on, but you get the picture. This is not negativity. This is called facing reality.

Now hand me a dissertation on any subject, and I can disassemble and reassemble in a way that any layman can pick it up and read it. I have edited a ton of highly technical articles, sat in lectures on space elevators, and wrote about what it all means. But do not ask me to wander into the world of make believe as a writer. I am content to enjoy the intrigue of others. I surrender to fiction. My partner will probably laugh and tell me to write it again. I will say one thing about her criticism, it forces me to stretch my writing ability. But as Dr. Seuss might say, I do not like it, I do not want to do it, I think I shall not do this!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Yoga and Writing and Bungee Jumping

by Kari Diane Pike

7:12 a.m.

Text message:

Me to Deb: Ready for some yoga?

Deb: Have you guys started?

Me: I never found anyone. I'm still game.

Deb: Ok. I just need to dress. Where do you wanna meet?

Me: I'll meet you at your door.

Ten minutes later, I knocked on the door of room 214. Our annual Southwest ANWA writers retreat is in full swing. Our traditional location in the Arizona mountain community of Show Low (so named because of the outcome of a game of High/Low during the days of the Wild West) is under pre-evacuation orders due to a horrendous forest fire. So here we are in Chandler, Arizona, at the comfortable Homewood Suites by Hilton. Not a bad gig, all things considered. There's air conditioning and a pool, so we're good. Who cares if it's 115 degrees outside?

I found a wide space in a hallway just off the stairs that fit our yoga needs perfectly. Deb had never done yoga before so I was able to share my limited knowledge and great enthusiasm. I love yoga. Moving through the poses wakes up my mind and releases stress all over my body. But back to my story.

Imagine two 50 something, just-a-little-fluffy grandmas in yoga pants huffing and puffing through sun salutations and warrior poses. Then right when we moved onto our backs, grabbed our toes and start kicking our legs in laughing baby style, a guy on a cell phone opened the door just behind us.

"What the...? There's a couple of ladies doing yoga in the hallway and..." His voice faded as he entered the stairwell and the door slammed shut behind him.

Deb and I looked at each other, our eyes wide, and burst out laughing. We laughed until tears ran down our cheeks. It could have been worse. We could have been doing downward dog.

The timing for this retreat couldn't be better. There's a reason why moving ranks in the top ten of most stressful life events. The physical exertion and monotony of packing and unpacking boxes had driven me beyond cranky and well into full on crazy. I even dreamed about myself as an old woman, well into my ninety's, shuffling between row upon endless row of dusty stacks of unlabeled boxes.

When I'm in that place,  I have to stop and drop. I pray for strength, and assurance. I ask questions and more questions. And right when I get to that point when I feel the ground giving way and there's nothing left to hang on to - when I really let go - thinking this is it, I'm going to die, the Lord sends me exactly what I need to land on my feet and continue moving forward.

I found an analogy of this while reading Alma 57-58 in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Helaman sends a letter to Moroni and tells him about the dire situation of his army. His little band of 2060 stripling warriors, having been called to do things they had never done before, had fought valiantly - "as if with the strength of God." But they found themselves in critical circumstances, trying to provide food and shelter for their men and controlling the prisoners they had taken in battle. They suffered hunger and thirst and every one of them had sustained multiple injuries in battle. This went on for several months -
...even until [they] were about to perish for the want of food...Therefore [they] did pour out [their] souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen and deliver [them] out of the hands of [their] enemies...Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances, that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him. (Alma 58:10-11)
And they were delivered. Not one of those 2060 was lost in those battles.

When I let go and "pour out [my] soul in prayer to God" He sends me assurances. He speaks peace to my mind and grants me great faith and hope that I will pass through my challenge successfully. I can take courage and move forward with determination and conquer the challenge I face. I might experience some bumps and bruises along the way, but with a steadfast hope in Christ and His infinite Atonement, I can do all things knowing that no matter what happens, everything will work out, even when it's something as mundane as unpacking and organizing boxes (paper cuts are a real struggle, by the way).

That said, and since this is technically a blog by writers for writers - even though I rarely post anything about writing - I've decided to take a metaphorical bungee jump (inspired by my daughter who recently bungee jumped over the Nile River). I have the chance to pitch my book to an editor during the ANWA Time Out for Writers Conference in September. I've already started climbing the ladder and I'm not going to look down. I'm going to keep praying and working and moving forward. I am going to fly off that ledge with my eyes wide open. Just watch me!

Life is magnificent.

Hugs~






Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Things That Block Writing

by Marsha Ward @MarshaWard

Lately, it's been very hard for me to write. This state hit about the time June came around, with temperatures shooting through the roof in the first week. Now, of course, massive parts of Arizona are under an excessive heat warning, even in my neck of the woods, so it's even harder to put my mind on business.

I've tried several things to get myself out of the doldrums: changing up my sleep time; napping more frequently, especially when it's so hot; putting several water bottles in the refrigerator to cool them, then actually drinking them; wearing a minimum of clothing; napping in a room that doesn't have the sun beating on it; eating lighter meals; using a spray bottle for frequent drenching; and taking a cool shower whenever I feel like it.

To no avail on the writing-a-book front. It's just too hot to think. I'm not acclimatized to higher temperatures yet.

I've tried to be more accountable for the progress of my writing by signing up for a summer-long writing event, and getting a new critique partner.

Yes, I'm getting work done in other areas: social media, blogging, re-doing a website that needed updating (more to do there), planning publication of other pieces, buying covers, formatting manuscripts for ebooks, and the like.

But Ella Ruth, my main character in the novel, isn't talking to me.

I have finally come to the conclusion that 1) I wrote a scene that Ella Ruth doesn't want in the story, and 2) she is hesitant to move on from the comfortable zone of her pity party.

I know about pity parties. I have massive to minor ones quite often. It's a thing with writers, but fortunately, most of us don't long dwell on the cause. Especially if we have ADD or ADHD. We eventually move on.

Ella Ruth has been in her doldrums since I released Gone for a Soldier two years ago. In her real time, though, it's been less than a year since the close of the American Civil War.

I guess the only thing I can do is keep writing scenes and listen to her. I hope she will approve of the new ones and help me get back on track.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Indie Publishing Experiment - Part 1: Ebook Through Amazon, KDP

by Cindy R. Williams

My writing career is bizarre. Isn't yours?

I have at least 30 WIPS, anywhere from 2,000 words to 65,000 words.

Even better, I have seven books complete and in various stages of making it out to the world. All forward movement and good stuff, but . . . what I want to visit with you about right now is the book I am experimenting with in the Indie Publishing world.

I completed a book I call, WELCOME TO THE MOTHERHOOD. I submitted it to Deseret Book and it made the cut up to the marketing meeting. They didn't know quite how to market it so . . . alas, earwax--back in my hands. I decided to try my hand at Amazon; KDP for ebooks and CreateSpace for the printed version.

What a fun journey it has been. A big help was attending the ANWA Workshop in February. Jennifer Griffin taught about how to do this exact thing. I took copious notes and rolled up my sleeves and gave it a go.

It was quite a learning curve, and took me around 30 hours to get WELCOME TO THE MOTHERHOOD available for sell on Amazon. Don't grown, or shy away from trying it yourself. It really has been worth it.

I jumped through the hoops on formatting and found that it wasn't hard, it just took time to figure it all out, but was doable. About six of those hours was spent on creating my own cover. I experiment with tons of covers and pictures and colors and finally created one that made total sense and popped! I did my own drum roll and pushed the button to upload and voila . . . readers are purchasing it even though I chose not to market it yet, nor do a book launch party for it until it is available in print.

In May, our family made the annual trek to Disneyland. Back at the hotel one evening, my middle son, Hunter, received a text from a former sister-missionary from his mission in Dallas. She asked if the author, Cindy Williams, was his Mom. He texted her back that, "Yes, she is indeed my mother." She then told him that she bought WELCOME TO THE MOTHERHOOD for her mother for Mother's Day, and they read it together. They loved it and wandered when the printed version would be available. They wanted to buy some for other family members and friends.

It has started, Indie publishing is selling books while I sleep.

So, what next? CreateSpace and the printed version of the book.

Stick with me and check my next blog on July 2nd, for what happens next.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Positive Thoughts Beget Positivity

Jeremiah 4:14: "...How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?"

by Susan Allred
 
When I was called into the Relief Society Presidency six months ago, I felt seriously under-qualified for the position.  I remember my first thought being, 'I'd better step it up, if I'm going to accept this calling.'

One of the things I've spent the last several months earnestly working on has been my thoughts.  To me, it's always been easy to do the right thing, basically because I don't want to get caught doing the wrong thing.  But my thoughts are something entirely different because no one holds me accountable for them.  Who is going to say anything if I secretly criticize the speaker in Sacrament, or conjure up fifteen ways to murder my toddler while he's in the middle of a world-class tantrum? Plus, as a writer, I spend an inordinate amount of time lost in my own thoughts.   

As I've earnestly endeavored to improve my thoughts, I've discovered something fascinating: Thoughts not muddled with negativity, create thoughts steeped with positivity and creativity! I get along with my husband better, I don't want to yell at my children as often, and I'm better prepared to handle whatever life throws at me. Plus, I spend less time brooding, and more time plotting out the next scene in my book, or entirely new stories. 

My deeds now reflect my thoughts. And I guess they always have. It's just that my thoughts are now productive, less depressed, and I'm able to hear the Spirit more often.  Do I have a long way to go? Heck yeah! But I've reached a point where I'm beginning to notice those changes, and so has my family. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

BELIEVE

by Cassie Shiels

Believe has become my life mantra. It's simple and easy and can be applied in everything that I do. My sweet husband gave me a pink rubber bracelet that says "believe" on it. It came with a cute card that basically said women are amazing and that he believes I can do anything.

At first I thought it was kinda sweet but then I started applying it. Anything meant suddenly that he believed that I could raise our four little kids, and then I had more faith in myself too. Anything meant he believed in me as a writer and that meant it was possible. I wanted to be a writer, a mom, and teach childbirth classes and I was sorta, halfway being successful at it all, but after I looked at the fact that my husband believed in me, I felt like I could really do it, too.

Being a good mom was and still is priority #1 and teaching childbirth always beat out writing because it helps pay for things Writing always took a back seat. But when it hit me that he believed in me and that I believed in myself, I dedicated more of my time to it and fit it in. Since then, I tried nanowrimo for the first time and I won! I wrote my first two children's books and my second YA.

I want those of you who are struggling to believe in yourself! Just believe, then dream, then write. It can happen. You can find a way to fit it all in.

There is another quote which is quickly becoming my favorite mantra after believe and it really works well, I think, along side of believing. It's "If you really want to do something you'll find a way. If you don't you'll find an excuse." I want to do this. I want to write. So no more excuses, I will find a way, I will believe in myself and I can be a good wife, mother, author and educator.

I wear my pink bracelet often, but especially on days I know are going to be stressful or hard because I want to remember to believe in myself. Its a nice reminder and now I look at that simple gift as a huge blessing. And whatever your situation is, whatever you are trying to balance in your life, know that you can too! Just start with I believe.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Moving Day

By Kari Diane Pike

Moving day. Those two little words have the power to make even the most unflappable person cower in the closet with a year's supply of chocolate, caffeinated drinks, and Cheetos. No matter how happy I am about the circumstances behind relocating, the effort needed to accomplish everything that entails remains the same. That said, some moves are better than others, and certainly when I am happy about moving, there seems to be less pain involved. But still...it's moving day.

Our oldest daughter and her family are also in the process of relocating. I am moving less than 20 or so houses down the street. Our daughter is moving from Wyoming to Anuktuvuk Pass, Alaska. They can't even drive there! So when I catch myself getting whiny about our little hop around the corner, I remember that it could be worse. Then I may or may not open up Facebook and adjust my attitude with my favorite dark chocolate.

The most moves I ever made in one year is five. The longest move I've made was from Kalispell, Montana to Phoenix, Arizona. The fastest move came about the first time we lived in Gilbert, Arizona - the beautiful town in which we now reside. My husband Doug had tried for nearly six months to get a business off the ground, without success. He received a job offer from a company in California and had to decide if he wanted to keep trying to make a go of self-employment or accept the position. While he mulled over the pros and cons we had discussed, I had mom stuff to do. I left to run errands and pick up some much needed groceries to feed the five littles we had at that time.

I lugged a load of groceries in from the garage and Doug called to me from the living room. When I entered the room, I noticed that he had changed out his casual jeans and t-shirt for a pair of dress slacks, white shirt and tie. I also realized that a strange woman sat on a chair across from where Doug sat. Doug stood and walked toward me, gesturing toward the woman and introducing her as a reporter for the Gilbert Independent - the local newspaper.

"Honey, I accepted the job in California. I called and resigned from the Town Council and they sent [the reporter]. The packers will be here tomorrow and the movers will be here the next day."

Yes, we are still married.

I guess the point of sharing these thoughts is to express to you how grateful I am for these experiences. Yes, some moves have been harder than others. I always dread leaving friends and having to find new doctors and someone who can cut my hair (that struggle is real). But every move has given me new friends, new perspectives, and many opportunities for growth.

Kneeling by my bed the other night, I realized that my prayers had become far to focused on me - asking the Lord to help me do this and help me get through that. I stopped mid-thought and I asked,

"Heavenly Father, what can I do for you today?"

A sweet stillness filled the room and the thought came to my mind, "Be kind. Be patient. Love those around you. Be happy. Everything will work out."

So, if you have read this far, thank you. Do you know how wonderful you are? I love you. I believe in you. Life is magnificent.

Squeee~
The realtor just brought us the keys. Moving day just became official!

hugs~