Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Murphy's Laws of Writing

a post by Gina Denny 

- Whenever you have lots of time, you will have no ideas. You will stare at a screen forlornly, wishing for something awesome to appear in the bright, blank white space. The blank white space that is mocking you. (don't ever think that it's not mocking you... it is... it totally is)

- Whenever you have lots of ideas, you will have no time. You will generate dozens of word documents with titles like "Dystopian Something Or Other" or "Steampunk Mashup of Cinderella and Othello." These documents will contain random snippets of information regarding plot pieces, scenes, characters or back cover blurbs. There will be a link or a picture of something that inspired the whole thing, but the link will be broken and the picture will look 100% unfamiliar to you.

Of course...

- All these word documents and blog posts will make ZERO sense to you once you do have some time to sit down and actually tackle them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Isaiah 7

by Terri Wagner

What a chapter. I knew I had reached my first I-don't-get-it moment with Isaiah, one of many I can tell you which has lead me on this quest to understand Isaiah better. A world-famous sign, a threatened city, an evil ruler, a prophet and his son! Sounds like a made-for-tv movie. Only when I read through, I was left with a lot of questions. Answers came. And disclaimer here: they are my answers not necessarily the answers.

Brief summary. Judah's King Ahaz was not a righteous man. He didn't bother too much with the God of Judah. He was busily preparing to defend Jerusalem from a most unholy alliance between Pekah, the king of Israel, and Rezin, the king of Aram. At an aqueduct of the Upper Pool, he is confronted by Isaiah, the Lord's prophet, and Isaiah's son Shear-Jashub. Isaiah tells him not to worry about the coming army, He, the Lord, will not let Jerusalem be destroyed by them. But it will fall to another group, and he names names, the Assyrians. Isaiah offers Ahaz a sign and Ahaz declines. Isaish gives it anyway...and it's a world-famous one about the child who will be born of a virgin and be called Immanuel. This child will eat curds and honey because basically that is all that will be left to eat and because of this he will know right from wrong. Isaiah then ends with a tragic description of what happens to Israel, Aram, and Judah.

Left me with a lot of questions. Why the pool? Why his son? Why a sign? Why did Ahaz refuse one? Why a prophecy that is literally centuries ahead of its time? What did curds and honey have to do with choosing the right? So off I went. Research, pondering, and praying brought some answers. Enough that I feel somewhat confident in moving forward to Isaiah 8.

Pekah and Rezin had been fairly successful in the outer lying areas of Judah, enough to prompt Ahaz to prepare defenses. It makes sense that in a desert area, he would be shoring up the water supplies. Perhaps also there would be more people around to hear the prophecy, since a remnant would be still be there in Judah when the prophecy came to pass. Isaiah's son's name means "a remnant will return." Evil men usually tend to demand a sign, and usually get one that they tend to regret. Ahaz wanted none of it. His refusal was not based on a humble I-shall-not-tempt-the-Lord, but more of a if-I-listen-I'll-have-to-acknowlege-god-and-change-my-life. Know anyone like that?

The prophecy was for the remnant although I am still not sure why it was given so many years in advance. On the back side of the prophecy (being centuries in the future from both Isaiah's sign and the actual event), I only know it happened just as Isaiah said it would. Perhaps it was a promise from the Lord that He would never forget Israel, and His arm would always be extended toward them. Now the curds and honey really stumped me for a while until I took in context. According to the rest of Isaiah's words to Ahaz, Judah would eventually be destroyed by the Assyrians. The remnant that would remain would endure very harsh circumstances. They would have no crops, no berries, no vines, just a few animals. Their young would be forced to live on curds and honey. So at a very young age, this child would know how to choose the right. I'm guessing here that in that time children were not considered to be that wise.

Not worthy of a commentary I know, but this is how I'm struggling to understand Isaiah.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Boy Prophets

 By Christy Monson

In Clayton Christensen's book, The Power of Every Day Missionaries, he discusses boy prophets in the scriptures. The idea intrigued me. I have never doubted Joseph Smith. There is too much power in the words of his testimony. It permeates my being whenever I think of it or speak of it. Clayton Christensen talks about the Lord's pattern of choosing boy prophets because they are teachable. The concept makes perfect sense to me. Youth are eager to learn and grow.

So I found scriptural references for as many boy prophets as I could (some references are better than others.) I like doing stuff like this. Here's the list. Let me know if you find more. I'll add them to what I already have. And thanks for indulging me. :}

Enoch: Moses 6:31 Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?

Moses: Exodus 3:2 And the angel of the lord appeared unto him in the flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.

Samuel: Samuel 1:26-28 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him.Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD.  And he worshipped the LORD there.

Saul: 1 Samuel 9:2 And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

David: 1 Samuel 16:11-13 There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep.  And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
12  And he sent, and brought him in.  Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to.  And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
13  Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.  So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

Amos: Amos 7:14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:

Jeremiah: Jeremiah 1:4-5 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
5  Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jonah: Jonah 1:1-2 NOW the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

Nephi:1 Nephi 2:16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

Enos: Enos:1-2 BEHOLD, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah: Mosiah 27:10-13 And as I said unto you, as they were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood; And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth, and understood not the words which he spake unto them. Nevertheless he cried again, saying: Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God?  For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people.

Captain Moroni: Alma 43:17 And Moroni took all the command, and the government of their wars.  And he was only twenty and five years old when he was appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites.

Mormon: Mormon 1:2  And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe.

Maybe the reason this intrigues me so much now is because we are working with these young missionaries. They are so bright and wonderful and faithful and teachable. What a strong force for good they are in the world. What a privilege it is to be among them.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thoughts on Good Friday

by Marsha Ward

I think I've wondered ever since I understood what occurred on Good Friday why it held that name. Explanations on the Internet include both "It's a corruption of God's Friday," and "The word 'good' is sometimes used in the Bible in the sense of 'holy.'"

One article pointed out how much the cross figures into the "Good News" of the Gospel. While I don't believe the cross is to be venerated, certainly on the day that some have calculated fell on approximately April 3, AD33, several world-changing events took place, actually beginning the night before. At the end of these events, Jesus of Nazareth was cruelly nailed to a cross and lifted up to hang until He died.

Perhaps one of the most poignant accounts of Christ's time in the Garden of Gethsemane, His betrayal, arrest, trial, condemnation, and subsequent crucifixion, is found in a classic of LDS literature, Jesus The Christ, by an LDS apostle, James E. Talmage.

I still remember how much reading Talmage's account during my church mission to South America solidified my testimony that Jesus Christ was my Savior and Redeemer. Through the intervening years, I've come to understand that the Great Atonement that came about through His suffering, was on my behalf as well as the behalf of all the world's inhabitants through all the ages of time.

In order to share with you the opportunity to read or listen to Talmage's words, I've linked the Project Gutenberg edition of Jesus The Christ above in the title, and here is the free audio version link

If you haven't the patience or time during this busy week to begin at the beginning of the book, start at about chapter 33, The Last Supper and the Betrayal. I hope you find words that change your life for the better. They did that for me.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thoughts About Squirrels

by Kari Diane Pike

There are way too many squirrels in my life! You know what I mean. I'm not talking about those adorable, intelligent, mischievous, destructive creatures with the beautiful bushy tails. I'm talking about distractions...the "I've set a goal and I'm driving toward it, but wait. Look over there! What's that? I have to check it out. That looks like so much fun"... kind of distractions.

Distractions take my attention away from the road and sometimes that means I miss a curve and go plummeting off the edge of the cliff. Distractions keep me from focusing on the best things and from achieving important goals. Distractions get me lost in uncharted waters without a sail or a paddle. Distractions can kill!

But distractions have a unique ability to become part of the solution. [Stick with me here as I struggle putting my thoughts into words.] As I've approached middle-age (which I consider to be about 60 - because I plan on making it to 120), I've looked back to see all the squirrels I've chased. It wasn't hard. All I had to do was open the closet and see all the unfinished craft projects as the boxes fell out and disgorged their contents across the floor. I felt like a total failure. I was going to accomplish great things! Where did I go wrong?

Days of pondering and praying and studying have given me a new perspective. In the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, we read "O how great is the nothingness of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God" (Helaman 12:7-8). Verses 9- 19 continue on how the hills and mountains, the waters and the very earth itself obey God's every command. Verses 20-26 describe the need for mankind to repent and to "hearken to the voice of the Lord [our] God; for these are they that shall be saved" (Helaman 12:23).

Okay - back to those distractions. Every single one of my experiences has brought me to the place I am today. Did I make mistakes? Absolutely. Would I make them again? Not on purpose. The point is recognizing the lessons I learned along the way. What really counts is my effort to be obedient, to keep my covenants and to love and serve others. That scripture tells me that despite the fact that those rocks in my yard never achieved fame or fortune, they are greater than me because they are more obedient than I am. Fortunately, I have access to the greatest gift ever given - the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, my Savior.

The older I get, the greater appreciation I have for what the Savior did for me. As I walk life's path, He walks with me. When I see a squirrel and want to chase it, He watches over me. The squirrels are there to teach me how to choose. The paths they take me along, aren't always distractions from right or wrong, but experiences to help me grow. Squirrels can bless my life! When I make a poor choice and get lost and call out to the Savior, He guides me back. He allows me to experience the pain of mortality and the beauty of His creations. All He asks in return is that I remember Him and "hearken unto His voice" by keeping His commandments.

The Thursday before the Savior hung on the cross, He washed the feet of His disciples. He served them to the very end. Today is the Thursday before Easter - the day we celebrate His resurrection and life. I think I need to follow His example and go out and find someone to serve today.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Banishing the Dogs

by H. Linn Murphy

What do these items have in common? The book "Pride and Prejudice", Veronica Mars, Tangled, the book "Rosencranz and Gildenstern are Dead", Psyche, Castle, Austenland, Ryan O'Shaughnessy's song "No Name", The Gilmore Girls, Inception, Jason Mraz' song "Won't give up on you", Pitch Perfect, Now You See Me, Jimmy Fallon's nighttime show, and Touch have in common?

In my opinion it's great writing. It's witty, engaging, entertaining, tells a compelling story, and gets to the truth, or the meat of that story. Everyone will have their own favorites which they like for various reasons. Our family quotes favorite movies, plays, songs, shows, and books almost constantly and are getting great at weaving these quotes skillfully into the conversation.

We also have our Dog-of-the-Year offerings. Almost every one of our "dogs" is on the list because of poor writing. They feature unbelievable situations, lame premises, cheesy, tired or trite lines, vacuous lyrics or wording, and plots which aren't.

Personally I don't understand these ventures which allow scripts or books to sneak through into the public eye badly done. We've all experienced those publishers who go through exhaustive measures to see that the books they put out are well written and grammatically sound. Why are movies, which cost their companies millions of dollars to make, so much more willing to accept a sub par screenplay?

I don't know about you, but when I see one of these dog-of-the-year movies or books, I re-write it in my head. I often do that with books. Sometimes the book has been fantastic right up until then end, when the writer seems to have come up against a deadline or run out of gas in some other way. I feel robbed in that circumstance. Then I go in mentally and re-tell the ending so it makes more sense.

It seems to me that often finesse and a well-written script go out the window in the interest of money and time. It also occurs to me that the rising generation of children are far less worried about perfection and doing a day's work for a day's pay and more inclined to do something fast and easy.

I'd like to suggest that we all lose with such attitudes. For us, the idea is to plunk our buns in the chair, crack our knuckles and get down to hard work. Don't put out less-than-perfect material. Polish until your face shines in your manuscript. Cut what needs to be cut.

When you are unable to find another thing wrong with it, when you can't re-tell the story in any better-distilled way, send it off in all of its resplendent, well-honed glory.

Monday, April 14, 2014

National Poetry Month

By Stacy Johnson

Warning: Picture Overload
This month has been full of new writing adventures for me. I've been trying my hand at poetry thanks to National Poetry Month and our sweet ANWA sister Stephanie Abney. She has been posting on her personal blog a different style of poetry everyday to celebrate the month. Go check her out at and see what all my excitement is about. Each day includes instructions on how to write a different type of poem. My daily poems are on my Facebook page for the most part.

My oldest daughter was competing in her last cheer competition as an athlete over the weekend. She's been cheering since she was about six or seven years old and it has been a big part of her life doing Pop Warner cheer, Combs Varsity cheer and recently at AZ Fusion competitive cheer. She spent this year not only as an athlete but as a coach to a performing team. She is excited to start this new phase in her life coaching a competitive team next year.

We took five of our kids and went to Anaheim to watch her compete. We spent the morning on the beach with the kids before heading over to the competition. That will give you some background on the inspiration for my poems. For my two youngest, it was their first time on the beach.

Rhyming Poem

The look of joy on their faces
Makes me glad we took the time
To pack up a couple suitcases
And make a quick trip to Anaheim.

First visit to the ocean
What happy looks like
Making Memories
Laughing, playing, together
Always worth the cost

5 W Poem
Fourth oldest named Skylar
Takes good care of his brother.
Walking on Seal Beach
Last Saturday
 Derek said he was freezing.

5 W Poem
My adult Daughter
competed for the last time
At Nationals in Anaheim
over the weekend.
Now she's too old...

Closing of a door
Did what you love, now you coach
Opened a new door.