Thursday, February 4, 2016

Life Can Change in an Instant

by Kari Diane Pike

One might  think that all the craziness in my house over past four months would have given me enough writing fodder to last the rest of my life. Yet here I sit, typing and deleting sentence after sentence, word after word, character after...well, you get the picture. I skimmed through my journal for ideas, only to discover I'm in danger of becoming that old lady that can't talk about anything except doctors, bills, and health concerns. Ugh.

Quick play October 2015 - January 27, 2016: Due to health problems, the decision was made to move my parents in with us. Both of our houses went on the market. We decided to build a new home. Then we undecided. We took our house off the market. Searching for the root cause of a constant state of reflux, the doctors noticed my rising blood pressure. Which led to more medication. Which led to allergic reactions to said medications. Which got me pondering and praying and throwing all the meds out. Dad fell and hit his head and suffered brain bleeds and seizures. Throw in Thanksgiving, burglary of my parents' house, preparing our missionary to go out the door, Christmas, family pictures with everyone (!), New Year's celebrations, more medical procedures, including a bone marrow biopsy, and then one of those phone calls that no one ever wants to get,  - "I'm sorry. Your bone marrow biopsy indicates that you have multiple myeloma." Then I sent off our missionary with prayers and a promise to be here when he gets back.

Back to real time: January 29th, I sat in my oncologist's office prepared with questions and determined to be proactive in my treatment. And after asking me where I had my labs done and telling me she hadn't seen all of the reports yet, she looked me in the eye and said, "You don't have cancer, you know. You just have monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). All you need to do is come in twice a year and have some blood work done to make sure it hasn't turned into multiple myeloma." In other words, she told me over the phone that I have cancer before she even read the results of all the lab work. Go back in six months? I think not. At least not to her office.

Talk about mixed emotions - elation and relief that I am cancer free, mixed with negative feelings about the way the doctor handled things and anger that she put my family and friends through such an emotional wringer. On the other hand, thoughtful consideration over the past week revealed glorious blessings that have come as a result of this experience. I came across this quote:
Our Heavenly Father is aware of our needs and will help us as we call upon Him for assistance. I believe that no concern of ours is too small or insignificant. The Lord is in the details of our lives. ~Pres. Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, November, 2012
I learned that I am most decidedly not alone. I learned that "little things" can make a significant difference - like a passing smile, a random text just to say "Hi. I'm thinking about you.", a bouquet of daisies, an offer to go for a walk, stupid jokes, and of course a big hug. I learned that Heavenly Father keeps His promises. The reality that life can change in an instant hit me full force. I appreciate my ability to witness sunrises and sunsets, hear my grandchildren laugh, walk a mile with a friend and hold hands with my eternal companion more than ever before. Even bacon never smelled so good!

So there you have it. Every little cell in my body is healthy and happy and well (That's for you Deb!).
Life is magnificent.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Classical Music is All Around Us

by Marsha Ward

Folks who follow me on Facebook know I sometimes have music playing in my head, like the several days last week, when Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" kept up its incessant repetition with the tattoo of snare drums and the whine of saxophones.

It began quite innocently. I clicked on a video link to a piece by The Piano Guys, and I was lost on YouTube for several hours.

I eventually ended up obsessed with the 1984 Winter Olympic Gold Medal Ice Dancing Free Skate performance of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, which has never--in my humble opinion--been surpassed in its beauty and grace (I saw the performance live on television back in the day). The piece was performed to a re-arrangement of "Bolero," which runs for some 15-odd minutes in the original. Since the limit of the ice dancing free skate in the Olympics is four minutes, something had to be done, so the pair had the musical piece re-orchestrated especially for their routine.

Watch the performance here.

I can go on and on, about why Torvill and Dean started out on their knees, swaying to the hypnotic music, and other factoids about that classic performance, but I won't. Suffice it to say that for several days afterward, I couldn't get the music to leave me alone. It played and played and played, like the proverbial broken record (which if you're too young to remember vinyl, you won't understand anyway), but in its entirety each time, not stuck repeating one phrase over and over. You can catch my running commentary about the misery of the music, beginning here on my Facebook Timeline.  (I like the video [shown above] in the comments better than the original one I cited in the post. No commentary, just pure enjoyment of the dance.)

You all realize what a risk I'm running of that music embedding itself for several days again, all so I can share with you, don't you?

Believe it or not, all the above was a prelude to the point I really want to mention today. Yeah. I do get snagged on a theme, don't I.

Have you noticed lately how a lot of ads on television feature classical music as their background?

I have, since I'm such a music nut.

The classical music usage caught my attention with the Infinity commercial showing cars gliding smoothly over the snow through an obstacle course and went on to encompass an ATT ad, a commercial for the Ultra HD Vizio television screen, a Cadillac Escalade ad, an Intel commercial, an Audi automobile ad, and ended up--so far--with the Dyson V6 vacuum cleaner commercial featuring the naughty dog.

And you thought classical music on television was confined to old cartoons!

Nope. It's everywhere. Watch an ad tonight and see if you don't catch one or two of those commercial efforts.

**I do apologize for missing my assigned day for posting, but hope you will forgive my absence with this little offering.**

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Writing with Another Person Part 3? 4? 5:

by Terri Wagner

I am not sure when I last wrote about working with another writer. I think I was more positive about the idea than I am today. What changed? Not sure! However, when I finish a scene and shot it along to this other person, I get a lot of negative feedback. So have I suddenly become a bad writer? Or what I suspect is that my writing is distracted. I know what I want to do with a scene, but while I see the vision and think I am writing it properly, my partner says a reader will get lost. And she's a reader who would know what I was writing and why we needed the scene. It is becoming a problem. She feels she is doing all the writing, and I feel like I'm getting picked on.

I have written 3 scenes all rejected. It involved a date to set up what happens later. First date she said was too much like a first date. Technically it was a first date, not really a date, between friends. So I did a Mormon type "steamy" scene lol, and she said too much. Will make the relationship flounder as a simply physical relationship. So I did another one. Kind of Mormony, cute, fun, and she said we already used an arcade setting. Making me nuts. And that's not all. One day she thinks the steamy scene might serve the ultimate goal better, then chides me for writing it, then again rejects it.

She's not doing this because she crazy but because she wants it all to make sense, flow right, and assist us to the ultimate goal which is sorta romance. Maybe that's the issue. I do not really like writing fiction, and romance in particular. So I am back to trying to figure out what I am doing wrong.

There are a lot of difficult life situations going on for both of us. So it would be easy to say well she's blah blah blah and I'm blah blah blah and leave it there. But that is not going to get the book written. Is she being unreasonable? Am I? Is it simply my vision is different from hers? And if so then how do we marry our visions? Writing with a partner means checking your vision at the door. It means rethinking what your writing. If it does not make sense to her who knows the plot, how will it mean anything to a beta reader? So what do I do about the next thing I wrote she is now questioning everything on? Stay tuned for more writing with a partner.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


by Cassie M. Shiels

Lately I have been doing a lot of editing. Thats what I get for writing I guess. :D We have to go back through and edit. The first thing that I have learned about editing that I wish I had known before was that it is so important to have someone else read through it. So Super important. They see things you don't! I know it is hard to find someone who has both your trust and will be honestly helpful. That is sometimes a hard balance to find, but seek that person out. They are invaluable!

I published my first book very wary of letting others read it and now I am paying that price. I am using beta readers to help me with a grammar edit after the book has been out almost a year, and I am having to go through the process now of fixing it, after going through the embarrassment of being told it was a fun story but full of quite a few errors. I knew grammar has always been my weakness but I let my fears keep me from getting help. Its okay though it will be better this second time around, but I learned that beta readers before a book is published vs. after is a much better idea.

The second thing that I think is so vital, is to put the book away for a while. I used to think this was a silly idea but honestly after it has sat for a week or more, things jump out at you that never would have before. You will read a sentence and think, what was I saying. You will start seeing mistakes that you would have glossed over before because you were so used to seeing those words. Put it away I know it is hard, but do a different project for a week or so and then come back. It is so helpful.

The third thing is to go through the whole thing again, after you think its pretty much at its best, with the sole purpose of taking out unnecessary words. I have started doing this recently and its making a huge difference to my writing. Everything is tighter, the sentences are neater, the story flows better.  You usually don't need  for example the word just, and that can also often be taken out. Cut the fluff, and it will make for a better book for sure.

There is a lot of writing and editing advice out there, but for me, in my writing life right now these are the big ones. The ones that are making a huge difference for me right now. I hope they will help you out with your writing too!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Power of UP

by Marsha Ward

Did you ever stop to think how versatile a word is the simple two-letter "up?"

There is the direction, of course: up and down. We can't do without that. However, the power is in combination, when you put "up" together with another word or two. Here's a list I've come up with (heh heh).

come up (sunrise)
come up (command to ascend--come up here)
come up with (approach something or someone)
come up with (a list or a solution)
come up behind
catch up (to someone)
catch up (an object)
up early (arise in the morning)
bring up
clean up
hurry up
scoop up
get up
look up
pull up (pants)
pull up (a horse)
leap up
pick up
snatch up
stand up
straighten up
hop up
fly up
wake up
pack up
draw up (your knees)
draw up (a contract)
up and take off (leave)
ride up
heal up
mix up
throw up (vomit)
throw up to (confront)
crawl up
make up (compose)
make up (your mind)
make up (time)
hold up
put up (animals)
put up with (endure)
lock up
end up (conclusion of event)
move up
climb up
coop up
keep up (remain together)
keep up (uh, any number of things)
wake up
turn up (appear)
turned up (nose)
flare up (temper or fire)
bunch up
take up (a position)
take up (a collection)
take up with (associate with a person)
hitch up (a team)

Well, you get the idea. Who knew two letters had such versatility and power?

What other words are this well used?

Reprinted from "Writer in the Pines" Blog, August 29, 2008