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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Breaking News - Announcing the ANWA Southwest Writers Retreat - June 25-28, 2014

by Cindy R. Williams
 ANWA Southwest Retreat Chair

Theme:  Follow Your Yellow Brick Road!

This is the incredible ANWA Retreat Cabin in 
Show Low/Lakeside/Pinetop, Arizona

Take a look at the back!

The inside fire pit seating/writing area.

The back yard writing gazebo with electricity.

A closer look at the back yard writing gazebo.

ANWA Members, sign up now!

Click on this link: ANWA RETREAT Registration

If you have never been to an ANWA Retreat, you are in for a super treat. 

The first day is a quiet/write day with NO distractions!
The 2nd day is another write day with a great writing class!
The 3rd day is a write day with another super writing class!
The 4th day we eat, pack and tidy up then sadly return to the outside world.

Evening critique groups and games - (only cool games, no lame games allowed.) 

Food and housing is included. Tons of water bottles on ice. Everyone is invited to bring a favorite treat to share . . .  and these treats are to die for each year!  Meet other writers, create new friends.

~ A special surprise this year ~
We will be visiting author James Owen's writing studio in Taylor one evening with all the fairy lights shining.  

All this for only $95

June 25-28, 2014  

Wednesday - Saturday

If you have any questions, message me on FaceBook at Cindy R Williams. 

(Please note; there are only 35 spaces available and registration has opened at 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Plain Sight

By Susan Knight

He's only good when he's asleep.

The still, small voice didn’t seem to be in panic mode as I was. “Where could it be?” I asked myself, searching frantically around the house for my company ID badge. “I can’t blame the dog for this one,” I told myself, then countered, “Oh, yes, I can.”

I mentally compiled a list of things to blame on the dog:

·       I have to come right home after work to let him out, instead of going to the store.

·       I could have more of a social life if I didn’t have to come home right after work to let him out.

·       I could walk around my house without fearing I’ll trip over dog toys.

·       My home would be immaculate like it was before the dog.

·       I’d have nice grass outside again.

·       Now I have to replace the rugs—if he ever gets potty trained.

Two weeks ago he chewed up my company ID badge—ten dollars to replace. Last week he ate my dumb phone. I was thinking about trying out a smart phone, but had to figure how I could rob Peter to pay Paul to be able to afford it. No excuse now. I need a phone. . . do I really need a dog?

Now, my ID badge was missing again. I remembered taking it off and thinking I can’t just leave it on the table next to my bed again. I can’t leave it but somewhere up high so the dog can’t get it. But where did I actually leave it? It’s not in my backpack because I didn’t bring that in from the car because we were going to obedience school. I took my blouse off it was attached to and. . .where did I put it?

Praying all over my house, “Lord, where’s my ID badge?” I kept getting the message, “It’s in plain sight.” The voice inside my head kept saying “It’s in plain sight” so much I started repeating it out loud.

Plain sight? Plain sight? Where?

I scoured the kitchen, retracing every step, even to the point where I went to the garbage can in the garage and took out the bag I just put in there thinking it fell off my shirt into the bag.

Nope. Not there.

I looked on the book shelf, in my closet, in the bathroom, in the kitchen again, in the car. I checked both pocket of my backpack—twice!

“Plain sight. Plain sight. Where is plain sight?” I wondered out loud again. “Lord, if it’s in plain sight, you’re going to have to give me more of a hint. I’m looking everywhere in plain sight.”

I decided it was time to kneel down and pray. I cleared my mind and asked, “Lord, where is my ID badge?” I calmed my body and my mind, waiting for an answer. “In plain sight.”

“Lord, if it’s in plain sight, will you please let me find it before I have to leave for work tomorrow?”

I decided I just couldn’t worry about it anymore. I had wasted enough time. I would just rely on the Spirit. “Oh, well, what’s ten more dollars? If I find it eventually, it will be a spare.” I thought maybe it fell off on the sidewalk while I walked the dog and I’d see it in the morning as I drove past it. Or. . . I didn’t know what.

“Is this how dementia begins?” I wondered, thinking of all the dear residents at Clare Bridge where I used to work, talking to themselves, wandering around as if looking for something, determined, urgent. I shuddered. “Please, Lord, not early onset.”

I got in bed, hoping to have a dream to help me discover where I may have misplaced my ID badge. The dog snuggled up against my back. “I’m giving it up to you, Lord.”

“In plain sight.”

“Plain sight. Plain sight.”

In the morning he snuggled again as the alarm went off and licked my face. I pet him and got out of bed, not even thinking about the ID. I got dressed and ready to go to work, my ID badge still not found. Leaving, I pet the dog, told him I'd be home later, and closed the door to my large, master bathroom where he happily stays during the day—his den.
I picked up my backpack from the chair in my dining room—and there was my ID badge! I had attached it to the loop on the top of my backpack, right in plain sight. I must have done that in the car, not knowing where to put it in the house so the dog wouldn’t get it. I had checked inside the backpack, but the top of it had drooped in the chair as I did. I had no recollection of putting the badge there.

“Plain sight.” I shook my head slowly, then looked upward and chuckled. “Okay. I get it. I get it. You are there for me no matter what. You didn’t panic. I should have picked up on that.”

I smiled, closed my eyes and said, “Thank you, Father. I love you, too.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Been Pondering the Series Issue

by Terri Wager

Has anyone had the same impression I have had regarding popular series lately? Let me explain. At the behest of a good friend, I started reading the Divergent series. Much as Hunger Games I found myself both enthralled and repulsed by the first book of each series. I struggled to get through the whole concept of children beating each other to death. (BTW, the movies thankfully left out a great of the more horrific violence.) Both books are an apocalyptic Amercia. In each, a single group has managed to separate individuals, and family is the less important aspect of life. It's a gruesome future...I personally to continue to hold out hope for a Star Trek future.

When I can get beyond the violence, the disturbing society, and the coming of age of the two female heroines, I like the first books. Both Katness and Tris have admirable qualities. They stand out, and find in them real courage. I like the way the two young women are challenged on many levels as they work through a process defined by others. I love the way they question what they have been taught, and then discern between the good and bad, and choose the better part. Neither by circumstances is an awesome choice. For a person who related better to Star Wars, I have to admit liking my bad guys bad, and my good guys good. In Divergent and Hunger Games, there is more gray than black and white. In this, I find myself understanding my dad's preference for shoot'em up cowboys.

Perhaps these books are a necessary blend of gray in a society that appears to be hurtling down a slide of relative morality, if there is any morality to even be found. I particularly find it abhorrent that in both series, the real enemy are the adults who have created the circumstances these young women live in.

Unfortunately I have digressed. What really astounded me was my reaction to the second book in each series. They were awful, more (read that worse) of the same. In Divergent, we are confronted by much the same storyline. Tris runs around with a broken body, doing incredible (read that unbelievable) things while figuring out the why, well that sorta gets hint at. In Hunger Games, we have...well, more games. I'm not sure if the success of the first book was the catalyst for the second books, or the authors' intended a series from the beginning. Either way, it was blown. I dragged through the last book of the Hunger Games, and just started the last of Divergent. My real thoughts at this point are how do I get this time back?

So my question here is what is the secret to a terrific series? My personal favorites (because when it comes to books, I never have just one) are Dave Eddings' Belgarid series and Terry Brooks' Shannara series. What was their secret to keep me coming back year after year book after book?1

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Wisdom of a 22 Year-Old

By Claire Enos

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have the unique privilege of knowing how things end up. We know that we will be happy, whatever that means. We know we will be satisfied with where we end up. That we will see God and he will love us, no matter what happened in this life. Everything we've been through will be worth it, in the end.

The unknown part, is what happens between now and then. It's being happy now that is the hard part. Being satisfied with our lives and what we are doing with it. At least, that's how I see things, I know I will be happy in the end. The ending doesn't matter so much as how I get there. Will I learn to be happy through every trial? Will I learn my lessons and become a better person? Will I meet my eternal companion? It's the uncertainties that plague me.

A couple months I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I would get married, have a few kids and raise them while my husband worked to provide for us. I know, it's old-fashioned, but it's the way I was raised. Things changed when I was a teenager, but I've always held onto that idea of life as an adult. I've always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I never wanted anything more. I'm still not sure I want anything more than that simple dream. However, I now know myself just a little bit better. I have hopes and dreams beyond a family.

I want to serve the people in Mexico.
I want to learn Spanish and learn to speak it fluently.
I want to learn Portuguese and speak and read it well enough to do some family history research in Portugal.
I want to travel! Travel to foreign countries, travel across the United States to Florida and New York City!
I want to serve a mission for God.
I want to prove to myself that I can be happy in a relationship, and that I won't be trapped in marriage.
I want to get a Bachelor's degree in English (Creative Writing), and a Master's degree in Cultural and Religious Anthropology.
I want to still be friends with my college and high school friends when we're all old and gray.
I want to fall in love, and to stay in love, for the rest of Eternity!

These are the hopes and dreams of my 22 year old self. I'm sure they'll change in the coming years, as I grow in wisdom and age, as I cross things off my list, as I add more to my list. Life is about living! Life is about learning! Life is about everything that we learn, everything that happens. Life is the good and the bad! Always work toward a life you will be proud of. Don't let the unimportant things get in the way. Love it with all your heart, and it will love you back.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Senior Missionary Couple

By Christy Monson

My husband Bob and I are serving in the Little Rock Arkansas Mission, and for those of you who are nearing retirement age, I thought I'd share just a little about the pros and cons of adjusting to the mission field.
We are having a wonderful time and love being together with no distractions
First, it was off to the MTC with a little fear the trepidation. What a great spirit there is at the MTC being around all those celestial couples. Some of them in our group had served multiple missions—seven being the greatest number. Faithful, faithful saints of God.
Our two returned-missionary grandsons put us in the MTC
However, the knee-shaking part of the MTC experience came when we had to give the first discussion on the second day there. Fantastic volunteers from the area show up at the MTC to play the role of investigators. Some of them act nice and others give you a hard time. We did survive, but only to give the second discussion the following day—a trial by fire! It was an eye-opening experience as a couple to have to work together as companions, each giving a short portion of the lesson and the other following with a testimony of the concept presented.
After five days, we were off to the field. We drove from Utah to Mississippi to begin our labors. The trip was great. We read, discussed future plans, and studied about missionary work. It was like a mini vacation—just the two of us.

We stopped overnight in Kansas where Bob served his first mission. He has kept in touch with some of his converts. One sweet lady he baptized in Kansas has about 100 members of the Church in her family now. Her great grandson will be ordained a deacon in two weeks. Many have served missions from that family. One baptism can bless an entire extended family and many others.

We love the Mississippi/Tennessee/Memphis area with its devoted Saints. Faithful people hold two and three jobs in a ward to keep all the programs functioning. (We couldn't survive without map quest on the phone. But we can now drive to the church and home again without help.)
Sharing the gospel concepts with members, inactives, and investigators brings the joy that Alma talks about. "O, that I were an angel . . ." I love that scripture. (Alma 29:1)

So, if you're thinking of serving a mission, it's a must for the Lord and for you as a couple. Great blessing will come as a result. My recommendation is to go as soon as you can, and ENJOY!