Thursday, January 29, 2015

These Things I Know

by Andilyn Jenkins

My message will be short today, partly because my brain has been drained of all its natural resources. But mostly because I have about six different op-ed pieces I’ve started writing and/or brainstorming and not enough time and direction to finish them off. But they all stem from this core. And it is the core I want to emphasize today.

This core supports my life. This core begins my mornings and finishes my thoughts. This core shapes how I read, think, watch, listen, converse, teach, question, and work. My core is a fundamental part of who I am.

I know Jesus Christ. Though I have never seen Him, I know He lives and is my Savior. I know that He atoned for my sins, and by His grace, I can be redeemed from the fall of Adam and from my own mistakes. He hears me and answers my fervent and constant prayers through manifestations from the Holy Ghost, the bearer of truth, who is my constant and most loving companion.

I also know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded this testimony in me. Because of my parents’ diligence, my leaders’ examples, and my own personal experimentation on the Church’s doctrine, I testify Christ’s church has been restored to the earth today through modern prophets who work tirelessly to represent Christ’s will to the world at large. I know that when I obey those teachings, which are Christ’s will, I physically feel stronger, more capable, and happier.

This unyielding testimony makes up my core and allows me to bring tough questions (both spiritual and secular) to the Lord, recognizing that He doesn’t always answer them quickly or clearly, but answer them He will. And whether those answers come today, in twenty years, or in the next life, the timing has no effect on these things I know.

May my testimony be a slice of truth for you, and may you listen to the subtle whispering of the Holy Ghost is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

John Cleese on Creativity

I just finished watching a segment by John Cleese (Fawlty Towers) on Creativity (You Tube.) These short video clips have helped me put my creative process in perspective. I decided to take notes when I watched these segments. And in order to make myself really put the information together. I pared it with this blog. Hopefully it will be helpful to all of us—at least it will be for me, and that's my objective.

John suggests that your unconscious or subconscious mind helps you create. He defines ways to foster that connection. Think about this general principle and come up with own your personal list. Here is his:

*Sleep on it. If you get stuck on a problem, sleep on it; and ideas will come to help your resolve the dilemma.

*Rewrite from memory. He found that if he rewrote a scene from memory, it was stronger than the original one because his subconscious mind had continued to work on it even after he quit writing.

*Avoid interruptions. If you are interrupted when you are writing, you are pulled out of the creative process, and it's difficult to pick up your train of thought again. Try to stay focused.

*Create boundaries of space. Find a place to write where you will have no interruptions. He suggests an office or a quiet park bench. (Lots of luck with little children around.) You know your own schedule best. Orchestrate an optimal place for your situation.

*Create boundaries of time. Set a specific time to work each day where you can define a starting moment and an ending period. To me that means my writing has to be near the top of my priority list for the day. After scripture reading, nothing happens before I get some writing done.

Hope this is as helpful for you as it has been for me. I'll post about the other short videos in the next weeks. Share your ideas. Let us all benefit from them.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What I Learned While Deboning a Chicken

by Kari Diane Pike

Life offers very few guarantees. I can guarantee you, however, that the moment I get elbow deep in bread dough, my phone will ring or someone will knock on my door. Every single time. Oh, and something else. I can usually count on having a brilliant epiphany - the exact key I need to write the next great novel - while standing at the kitchen counter prepping raw chicken for the evening meal. By the time I wash my hands and run upstairs to my computer or notebook, the thought has disappeared. It's kind of like trying to get out the door for an important meeting and you know you just had your keys in your hand, but you can't find them anywhere. My daughter would say they have "invisiblated" (and you have her permission to use that word as often as you like - her goal is to get it put in the dictionary).

That happened to me last night. The thought came. It blew my mind. I oohed and awed at the fireworks going off in my head. But the sparks faded fast and I rushed to the sink repeating the key phrase in my head. I rushed up the stairs and flipped on my computer. The screen lit up. My mind went totally and completely blank. Nada. Nothing. *insert face palm here*

When I remembered that today is every other Thursday, I still came up with nothing. I flipped through my journal to look for inspiration. I dug through my closet and looked for past journals. I discovered that I am missing at least five of them. Ugh. What I did find - several old notebooks filled with random notes from past ANWA meetings and events. Now there's a treasure.

I came across notations I made the first time I met Tristi Pinkston. She taught a class on "Writer's Voice" at the ANWA writer's conference on March 12th of (year unknown). I'll share a highlight from my notes:

  • Be HONEST when you write. 
  • Don't pollute your pen. Recall the purpose for which [your] gift was given. The Spirit gives you inspiration - listen to it. HONOR it. The honesty you project will attract the reader. Identify with your own writing before you send it out for others to see and read. 
  • Pray to speak [write] with the tongue of angels - with the purpose of building the kingdom and honoring your gifts by being yourself. Only the Spirit can speak to other's hearts. 
  • PRAY. Tell Heavenly Father you want to be an instrument in His hands.
Another treasure I discovered - a mess of writing prompts and the scribbling I wrote in response. And you know what? Some of it is pretty good!

I'm still a bit disturbed that some of my journals came up missing. I know I had them when we moved in a year ago.  And even though the epiphany I experienced last night continues to evade my conscious thought (and to be totally honest here, yes, I did have to double check how to spell conscious), at least I'm headed in a better direction. 

So, what have I learned through this experience? I think I need to start wearing gloves when I work in the kitchen and keep my notebook and pen close to me at all times. That way I can tear the gloves off and throw them down - just like the hockey players do when they start a fight (I dated a hockey player once upon a time).  Then I can grab those slippery thoughts  before they skate away and hide. Plus, going through these piles of notes reminded me that I have the best support group and resources imaginable - first and foremost being my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because without His influence, without His guidance through the gift of the Holy Spirit, I couldn't do this. Because of Him, I can do hard things. And one of these days, when the time is right, He will bring all things to my remembrance.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pain and Patience

by Marsha Ward

For several months, I've gone through a journey with pain, caused by an injury to my left arm. Medical advice is to rest the arm, ice it, avoid certain movements, and when the pain is gone, do a specific exercise.

Pain is a harsh task master. Although I have tried to follow the regimen, hoping to build up strength in the arm, achieve a cessation of pain, and the ability to function normally, I am not patient. I gnash my teeth at the slowness of the process.

Yes, I did the damage (albeit unknowingly), and have been well repaid in pain. Whenever I think I have achieved a good level of healing, I attempt to do too much. Then I pay the price. This happens over and over again. Can I not learn to be patient?

It appears that I am not a good student. Yesterday was a day of appointments and errands, and today, it appears that I did too much. I am back to icing the arm and refraining from typing.

The characters in my head are beginning to protest that I have left them alone too long. I'm sorry, guys. I'm stuck in a learning curve. Learning, once again, to build patience.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


by Cindy R. Williams

Bestest? Yup, I better go to conference and learn proper English.

Hurry up and register while there is still an early bird discount. The ANWA Conference is one of the lowest cost writing conferences for the value. Top notch faculty.

ANWA's Annual Writers Conference
    Time Out For Writers

February 19-21, 2015 at the Hilton Hotel in Mesa, Arizona.

Here is the link to sign up:

Here is the scoop about the conference:

General Public Invited: This means men too!  Attendees don't have to be members of ANWA.

New York Times Best Selling: Brandon Mull and Regina Sirois are keynotes. 

John Rudolph with Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency 
Pam Van Hylckama Klieg with D4EO Literary Agency 
Lisa Magnum with Shadow Mountain Publishing 
McKenna Gardner with Xchyler Publishing 
Heather Moore with Precision Edition Group 

Other wonderful authors and faculty:
Janette Rallison 
Julie Wright 
Kelly Oram 
Liz Adair 
Penny Freeman 
Sarah M. Eden 
Tanya Parker Mills 
Dave Eaton 
John Wincek 
Joshua Oram 
Angela Morrison 
Betty Webb 
Dr. Christina G. Hibbert, PSY. D. 

Something I really love about this conference is there will be classes on INDIE writing and publishing.

The world is at our fingertips!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Skating My Dog

by Andilyn Jenkins

In 1998, I skated my Yellow Labrador, Ginger, to the park around the corner from my house. At eight years old, I discovered my own version of “walking the dog.” I had tried running with her to the park, but she was too fast and too strong for me. And “walking” was not a word in her limited vocabulary. So in a risk-taking mood, I strapped on my roller blades; wrapped her once-blue, sun-bleached leash three times around my right hand; held her warm, slimy tennis ball in my left hand; and unlatched our back gate while she danced for freedom and nosed her way around me, bolting for the park as though she wouldn’t know fresh air until her paws hit the Bermuda grass. My blonde hair danced behind me as the hot wind blushed my cheeks, and I consciously remember thinking that if my in-line skates hit a rock, I might die. Of course, I never thought to wear knee pads or a helmet. Ginger raced, her neck bearing my 54 pounds seemingly effortlessly. And yet, her pink tongue with that one black spot dangled from her smiling mouth as she huffed heavily from the sprint.

The “park,” in this case, is a euphemistic way of saying retention basin with a yellow slide and a wooden picnic table carved and graffitied with names, hearts, and countless expletives. But for a blonde girl and her yellow lab, this park was everything we needed. Valencia orange trees made up the perimeter of the retention basin free for the picking. And Ginger spent the first fifteen minutes sniffing various patches of grass, apparently catching up with old friends and leaving notes of her own. Then the retriever in Ginger came alive as I sat on the top of the hill digging the pointed end of my CTR ring into the orange peel to get it started. And as I peeled the sticky orange, Ginger trotted up the grass and dropped her slobbery ball in my lap. Then she stood back and hopped around, while I teased with puckered lips, “Who-wants-za-ball? You-gonna-get-it? Get-za-ball,” and pitifully chucked it through the air with all my 54 pounds. She was back in seconds. And so we played. I wiped slobber on my jeans and popped orange wedges into my mouth only to spit out the seeds and sometimes the whole wedge altogether after sucking all the juice from it. Ginger dashed back and forth from me to the bottom of the hill, pausing occasionally when she caught an intriguing scent on the breeze.

And as the time went on, I noticed her trudging up the hill to bring me the ball. Then she’d set it down and plop onto the grass next to me. I’d scooch in close and rub her ears and back, loosening her thick coat and letting it go in clumps across the field. And she’d relax and lean into my pampering, while keeping her head up, scanning the surroundings, looking out for me while I saw nothing but her.

In loving memory of a great dog, and an even better friend.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Among the Sweetest Gifts of All

by Terri Wagner

As the years go by, I find myself changing my opinions based on experiences that I have. Just this weekend, I had another such change. For years, I more or less supported limited abortion. I still do. However, lately, I am thinking of even more limits to that option. A family member made a decision to pursue a relationship with a man who well let's just say isn't a man and leave it at that. The unfortunate usual happened. She did not want to abort, a decision I wholeheartedly supported.

A friend of mine who lives in another state knew an LDS couple who could not have children. Due to the now messed up situation with same-sex adoptions, the church opted out of the adoption process. So I put my friend in touch with my family member and prayed the right thing would happen.

I personally wanted the child but felt so strongly he/she needed a mom and a dad. After months of communication and heartache and searching for the Spirit's guidance, a precious little boy came to earth last Friday. His birth mother adored him. She loves him, and that will not change. But his new mom and dad adore him as well. The minute they walked into the hospital room, I knew they were his parents.

While there have been hard feelings in the extended family, I have no doubts William is right where he wanted to be. I know my family member prayed constantly over the decision. I hope she knows just how right that decision was. The adopted parents are sensitive to her feelings, and have handled all of this more that well. It's been a happy ending for everyone, although a lingering sadness will continue.

What I guess I failed to consider in my support of limited abortion is the heartache of those who want a child so desperately and simply cannot have one. What a win win in so many ways. I'm revising my support for limited abortion for even more limited abortion. There are times it is a necessary evil. Here's William Isaiah Alexander Tucker. Welcome to earth!