Dec 31, 2009

Looking Forward

by Kari Diane Pike

Thinking about all the events of the past year boggles my mind! I don't know anyone who has escaped 2009 unscathed. I don't mean to sound morbid or despairing, I'm just acknowledging that we have all experienced a challenging year. In fact, I am looking forward to celebrating not only our survival, but our growth.

Feelings of despair sent me to bed early a few nights ago. All throughout the day I gave in to thoughts of "If Only...", "I should have...", "What if I had...", "Why didn't I...". I crawled into bed and opened up the January 2010 Ensign, hoping to read an uplifting story that would relax my mind and allow me to sleep. I barely began to read Elder Holland's article, "The Best Is Yet To Be," when the still small voice reminded me I had not yet said my evening prayers. I figured I would finish reading the article and then I would get out of my warm, comfy bed and say prayers before I went to sleep. I started reading the article again, from the beginning, but I didn't get past the second paragraph before the voice came back, only this time with greater force. Experience has taught me to heed these kind of promptings, although why it mattered when I said my prayers escaped my understanding. I knelt beside the bed with feelings of curiosity mixed with a bit of anticipation and fear. By the time I slipped back under the covers, my heart overflowed with peace and gratitude. I dried my tears and commenced reading Elder Holland's words.

The article begins by referencing Genesis 19:26 where Lot's wife is turned to a pillar of salt. Lot had been commanded to flee and "Look not behind thee...lest thou be consumed." Elder Holland points out that it wasn't just that Lot's wife looked back, but that we can infer that she looked back "longingly." I searched the references to these scriptures and found a message that hit me between the eyes with such force--a force that didn't create pain, but took my pain away--as I realized I had been doing just that, looking back and blaming myself for "everything." I recognized that Heavenly Father guided and blessed us all along the way. Did I make mistakes? uh...yeah. But I also tried hard to make the right choices--to comply with the Lord's will--and things just turned out differently than I had envisioned.

Luke 14:16-24 tells the parable of the great supper. "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." The master became angry and commanded his servant to go out and invite the poor and the needy to his home. Verse 24 ends with, "For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."

I find it interesting that those friends invited to the supper felt they had very legitimate reasons for not accepting the invitation. I wonder how many times I have been invited by the Lord to receive blessings at His hand, yet I declined because I kept looking back at what I would be leaving behind, instead of what the Lord wanted to set in front of me. Now, through Elder Holland's teaching, and the sweet power of prayer, I can see the need to look forward and have faith that there are even greater blessings in the future, should I choose to accept the invitation.

I am currently taking a class from BYU on the Proclamation. Here is a thought from the textbook Strengthening our Families : "[We] become more like Him [Father in Heaven] as [we] learn to love as He loves. [We] love--not as [others] become more lovable, but as [we] are increasingly filled with His love." (pg.116) I am grateful for His love--that He loves me enough to have the Spirit bring me to my knees in humble prayer and open my eyes and understanding to the messages sent through His prophets and apostles, both ancient and living.

In the words of a famous writer--God bless us every one!

a very happy and blessed new year to all of you!

Dec 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today is my 29th wedding anniversary. Having an anniversary in late December has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it's a good time to reflect, while we never go away for our anniversary because our kids are home for Christmas break.

So, in reflection, it's been a good year for our family. Especially when contrasted with last year, when I was dealing with a new job that required at least 60 hours per week dealing with difficult people, teaching early morning seminary, and having an employed husband for three months. Early into my new job,  I missed 6 weeks because I nearly died. Twice.

Looking back can be detrimental, especially if you become stuck in the past. But if you focus on the victories (survival was one last year), it provides strength for all the challenges of the future.

While I hope to never face a year like 2008, it prepared me to better face the blessings of 2009, and look forwards to 2010.

I wish for all of you the same, with a peaceful, happy, and blessed new year.

Dec 28, 2009

It's a Boy!

Stacy Johnson's baby has arrived. Derek William Johnson was born December 26. 9lbs 15 ounces. 21 1/4 inches long. Mom and baby are doing fine. Congratulations from all your ANWA sisters!

Dec 27, 2009

Happy New Year! ?

by Marsha Ward

It's too early to say that, I know, but I thought I'd try. :-)

I can't believe we've been blogging here for three years now. That's pretty neat, and I'd like to shout out a big Thank You to all the blog team members we've had over the span of those years. We're still one member down, but I hope we can fill the vacancy soon.

I'm never sure what to say for my turn. It occurs on Sunday, so I don't want to appear too worldly, but this isn't a religious blog, so I try to be balanced. Sometimes, my posts are very brief. Sometimes they're a bit longer. Today I just want to wish everyone hope and peace of mind in the coming year, success in all you really strive for, and love from family and friends.

I also want to wish America well, as so many are trying to tear it apart from within, as well as outside her gates. Can I just say, "Throw the bums out!"?

Addendum: Welcome to our four new bloggers: Sarah Hinze, Lynn Parsons, Rebecca Irvine (all of whom have already introduced themselves), and Krista Darrach, who will be here next week.

Dec 26, 2009

Things I Learned This Christmas

By Cindy R. Williams

I hope each of you had the wonderful Christmas you hoped and planned for. Ours was lovely --though different. It was a Christmas of finally understanding some things, including what many of my friends have been saying, because this year I walked in some of their high heels, pumps, loafers, boots, sandles, flip flops, slip-ons, keds and slippers.

This was my first year with a child on a mission. My son left on October 14th--and yes, I know exactly how many days he has been gone. The Brazilian Missionaries visas took about 18 weeks from day of application, so they studied in the Provo MTC instead of the MTC in Brazil. They finally flew to Brazil on December 22. I now understand the excitement about "waiting for the Missionary phone call on Christmas." I also understand how much I love this brave young man who will always be my baby boy. Good thing he can't read this or I would get the "Oh, Mom, do you have to call me that" lecture.

One of my daughters got married in the Mesa Temple this past May. This was the first time she wasn't here all night, and up and ready to go in the early morning. I now understand what it is to begin the empty nest sydrome. I say begin, because I'm happy there are still three more at home.

My husband's engineering firm took a nose dive along with the economy. I know I can do hard things and have a sense of humor. You laugh or you cry. I choose to laugh. I now understand what my husband has been saying all these years when he told me we should cut back and enjoy what Christmas is really about. He was right. This Christmas was full of the real Christmas Spirit, our Lord Jesus Christ.

My Christmas tree did not get decorated until Christmas Eve Day. It's usually twinklefied by Thanksgiving. I now understand that it's okay to not be the first one on the block with all things Christmas.

I didn't finish making my annual to-die-for Christmas Fudge to hand out until two days before Christmas. I now understand it's okay to be a bit slow. It all gets done, and there really is no need to rush --less stressful too.

I sent some Christmas Cards out this year via email. I guess you could say I went green this year. I understand that may be the way of the future, but I really do like a card, a picture and even the update letters, some clever, some hoky. They are really quite heart warming.

I understand that it's okay to give yourself a nap for Christmas. I loved it.

I understnad how lucky I am to have so many good friends as examples and for paving the way.

The thing I understand best is that my Father in Heaven knows my name and loves me. This knowledge brings me peace. I have a Savior who loves me too, and it is wonderful to celebrate his birth, even though I understand he was really born in April. ;o)

Dec 25, 2009

Where Meek Souls Will Receive Him Still

by Sarah Albrecht

This Christmas season, the lyrics to the third verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” have replayed through my mind: “No ear may hear His coming/ But in this world of sin/ Where meek souls will receive him still/ The dear Christ enters in." The words have made me think not just about being a good giver, but a good receiver.

I suppose good receiving is gratitude, but as the carol lyrics indicate, a meek soul must be a prerequisite to good receiving.

If meekness is being “humble in spirit or manner” (, am I a meek soul? Am I humble enough in spirit or manner to recognize and let in the gifts of the Savior and of those around me? Giving enriches the giver, but so does recognizing the good gifts, often unwrapped and intangible, enrich the receiver: gifts of the Spirit, a hug from a child, the effort from a husband to find just the right new computer for the family (there's a story about this one that prompted this post).

Oddly enough, being hurried seems a prime way to temper my humility or meekness of soul because I'm focused on myself and what I need to be doing. Rushing to get my family dinner or to prepare for the holidays--acts of service, in their own way, if kept in proper perspective--can stop me from receiving quiet gifts from those I love most.

The desire to be a good receiver has enriched my contemplation of Christmas this year and is so far my one formulated resolution for the coming year. For me, it's a good place to start.

Merry Christmas!

Dec 23, 2009

Home for the Holidays

by Marielle Carlisle

This is the 7th year that we've lived in AZ. Of the seven years here, we've traveled to be with family four times for the holidays. I usually have to work Christmas or Christmas Eve, which makes it difficult to get time off.

I love my family, and I love spending the holidays with my family. Growing up, from Easter all the way to the New Year was an explosion of cousins and food. It was like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" LDS style.

I remember my first Memorial Day we lived here. I was terribly homesick, and longed to be with my family out in the backyard, BBQ'ing and enjoying the lively conversations. Instead, I had to work. (Are you noticing a trend with my work schedule? It is an evening, weekend, holiday kind of job.) I called home that evening and heard everyone in the background, happy and boisterous. I cried.

Since then it has gotten better. I have my own little family now, with our own little traditions. And now I understand it's better to visit Utah during the summer when the weather here is unpleasant, instead of freezing my buns off in the cold Rocky Mountain winter.

What I miss most during Christmas is singing with my family. Both my parents and 3 of my 4 siblings would gather round the piano to sing carols, with the 4th sibling tickling the ivories. We would even attempt Handel's Messiah, and sing until our voices were hoarse. I miss that.

This last Sunday I was sitting at our piano, plunking out some Christmas songs, when suddenly my 3 year old starts singing along. She didn't know all the words, and was mostly off key, but we were singing together. I was so happy. Really, really happy. The memories that I had been longing for, to sing with family, was being filled with new traditions and voices. I don't worry anymore about singing carols with loved ones.

I loved reading President Eyring's message in the December Ensign titled "Home for the Holidays." It made me think of those rings given out to missionaries before they embark on their missions that read Return with Honor. Not only do missionaries strive to return home after their missions with honor, but to also return to our Heavenly Father with honor. Being home for the holidays means so much more then being family. It means making room for the Savior, and striving to return home to Him once again.

I can't wait to live with my Savior and Heavenly Father again. To live with my family for all eternity. To be home.

May the Spirit of Christ be with you this Christmas.

Dec 22, 2009

Merry Christmas A Few Days Early

by Terri Wagner

If I did this right, it should post in the morning for my turn. However, I don't trust computers so I'll try to check later in the day to see if it did. Unfortunately I'm at the annual OBGYN appt. The one I dread, want to put off and generally hate. When will those Star Trek scanners come online? I've heard Japan has them just troublesome in that the finer details are still not visible onscreen. Ok, maybe next year.

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year a bit early. To thank you all again for brightening my day by posting about life, writing and yourself. It's always the first blog I check every morning. I especially want to thank Marsha for getting us all together and my new online group the ANWA East/West.

Sunday for Gospel Doctrine since I ran out of manual lessons, I had everyone read the BOM Christmas story which leaves me breathless when in despair and disbelief about being put to death, Nephi hears the comforting words that the Savior will come to earth that night and not to worry or fear. And the sign Samuel the Lammanite gave comes to pass. In just five years!

I can't wait for the other Christmas stories to be revealed to us. We know Heavenly Father loves all His children and He wouldn't leave them in the dark. I am grateful to have the BOM to treasure.

Dec 21, 2009

Nice to Meet You

This is my first blog post for ANWA Founder & Friends, so I thought I would introduce myself and share a little about my writing background. Here are my important stats:

Name: Rebecca Spiers Irvine (most close friends and family call me Becky)

Family Situation: Married, three kids, three turtles

Home: Mesa, AZ

Education: MA from BYU

Employment: Market Research Analyst, author/illustrator

Most of my writing skills are steeped in writing questionnaires and analyzing data collected for surveys (i.e., those annoying people who call your home during dinner). I spend my days writing such sentences as, "Three in five residents (60%) of the Southwestern United States mistakenly identify market research calls as telemarketing calls." Over the years I have analyzed data and written reports for numerous nationally known businesses, although a majority of my work now is for one specific Arizona utility.

As an author I have published two non-fiction books, Adventures with the Word of God (a family scripture study aid book) and Family Home Evening Adventures (a book of FHE lessons). To be honest, I did not start out to become an author or publish a book; I was just trying to find a way to more fully engage my children in family scripture study. After some time experimenting with various strategies, and having some success, I decided to see if what I had developed might be worthy of being published. My manuscript was picked up by Horizon, an imprint of Cedar Fort. A year later they also accepted a second manuscript of a similar nature.

I joined ANWA earlier this year in an effort to get support in working on a third manuscript. My new book is much more challenging for me. It is not a set of lessons like my first two books were, although it is still a non-fiction book for the LDS market. My writing skills (as well as my artistic abilities) are being stretched.

I have to admit I often doubt myself as a writer--there are many others out there more talented. But I am diligent and determined to finish what I have started. The challenge of writing well brings too great a blessing to let fall by the wayside.

Feel free to visit my personal blog:

Dec 17, 2009

Checked Your Listening Device Lately?

by Kari Diane Pike

In all the excitement of children and grandchildren arriving in our home last night, I nearly forgot about posting today! Fortunately, five-year-old Wesly said something that made me laugh and ponder...and want to share with all of you...which led to realizing today was my day! You've heard from Wesly before. He's the one that saw the Wise man in the nativity and wanted to know where the foolish man was. Well, Wesly's mom wanted to give him some instructions and she said, "Wesly, did you check your listening devices?" as she snapped her fingers next to each of her ears. She wanted to make certain Wesly was paying attention. Wesly looked at his mom and said, "My batteries are dead." Of course later, he told his mom that he had lots of extra batteries and that his younger brother Travis was welcome to use them any time he needed them.

After I stopped laughing, I started wondering about my own listening devices. When's the last time I checked to see how carefully I listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit? With the New Year quickly approaching, we find ourselves taking inventory and setting goals, but is a once-a-year tune-up really enough? I don't think so. Like the ten virgins, we need to be constantly checking to see if we are prepared not only to experience trials, but to receive the wonderful blessings waiting for us.

One of the treasure troves of blessings I have come to love is my scriptures. But I can only find the treasures there if I check my listening devices first. By opening my study time with prayer, I find that I hear and feel the words more clearly. Today, as I read 3 Nephi, 23 and 24, I felt the words become more real to me than ever before. What is the difference this time? I couldn't help but wonder what it must have been like to be in Christ's presence, to hear his voice, to look into his eyes as he spoke. I love the example set for us as Christ commands his disciples to write down the words of Samuel the Lamanite and then in 3 Ne 23:14,

"And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them."

I thought about the meaning of "expounded all the scriptures in one." The reference in the footnotes took me to Luke 24:27,44--where Christ expounds "unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Christ taught and showed how all the scriptures testify of him. Verse 45 says,"Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures."

I love Christ's example of learning, then teaching. In order to learn, however, we must be able to hear the message. And we need patience. Lately, that is the message I keep hearing over and over. Be patient. Be patient. Remember President Hinckley teaching us that? I'll bet I've read my patriarchal blessings hundreds of times and the other day I read the words, "be patient..." I never really noticed them before. I hear them loud and clear now. I wonder what blessings are waiting around the corner. Guess I better check my listening devices so that I don't miss them!

Dec 16, 2009

What's Your Fortune, Cookie?

By Lynn Parsons

As we come to this time of year, thoughts begin to turn towards resolutions. We make our plans to lose weight, accomplish more, and improve our lives. Everyone wonders what will happen in the new year. What is coming?

Mankind has searched for centuries for a reliable predictor of the future. I suggest that you use that combination of food and entertainment, the fortune cookie.

Even the origins of this low-calorie dessert are interesting. Some say that during the 13th or 14th century, Chu Yuan Chang, a patriotic revolutionary disguised as a priest, hid secret notes inside lotus nut paste moon cakes. The occupying Mongols didn’t like these treats, so these secrets led to an uprising and the foundation of the Ming Dynasty.

Others believe they originated in 1914 with Makoto Hagiwara, designer of Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco. He was let go from his gardening position by an anti-Japanese mayor. After his reinstatement, Makoto baked confections with thank you notes inside for his loyal friends.

Another story set in 1918 is that David Jung, founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company, invented the cookie with inspirational messages from a Presbyterian minister. He gave these to the poor near his store.

This historical controversy grew so great that there was a mock trial held in 1983 to determine the origin. The California Court of Legal Review determined it was San Francisco.

Wherever and whenever they first appeared, fortune cookies are an important part of our culture. It doesn’t matter if you get a wise saying, hackneyed advice, or useless lottery numbers. Reading the fortunes is fun, exciting, and reinforces hope for the future.

Dec 15, 2009

A Heavenly Spark

by Valerie Ipson

Many of the sisters in our midst have endured trials this past year. Some heart-wrenching, some less so. We have sorrowed with you and prayed for you and learned from your steady examples of faith. To you I give this quote from Washington Irving. I read that it is the quote taped to Stephanie Nielson's refrigerator to give her strength through her dark days of recovery. (She is the fellow Arizonan who was badly burned over most of her body in a plane crash over a year ago. Read her inspiring blog here.)

"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."

Dec 13, 2009

Waiting for Another Storm

by Marsha Ward

It looks like another big storm will hit the High Country of Arizona this weekend. That could be bad news for me, so I'm going to schedule this blog post early, in case my electricity goes off again.

I'll take the opportunity to welcome a new blogger to our team. Rebecca Irvine will begin posting on Monday, December 21. Rebecca has published a couple of books, but I'll let her tell all that.

I've been working on web pages again this week, hoping to get a few Internet-based things out of the way before the big storm. That means, of course, that I haven't been writing. I'm going to have a couple of pads of paper at hand if I lose power again. I have flashlights and candles ready, so I can write if that happens.

Wish me luck!

Dec 12, 2009

My New Years Resolutions

by Cindy R. Williams

My New Year's Resolutions, illustrated by cats and a dragon.

The look on this red tabby's face and tilt of its' head hit home to how I feel about my New Years Resolutions. That is; curious, ready to take on what ever comes my way, and looking at things from a different angle.

My #1 Goal is Writing. Here's my plan.

1. Write at least one hour a day, but shoot for three. (I hate guilt, and am tired of being a master guilter. No, make that the Queen of the Master's of Guilt. I can usually squeeze in at least an hour. If not, then I don't have my priorities straight.)

2. Make an agenda of WIP including which is first in line, and attainable deadlines.
3. Get my middle grade novel about a boy and a dragon edited, research agents, send queries to said agents, and give some publishing houses a go.

4. Create my ebook with one of my WIP's.
5. Have the courage to let my work go and put it on the line.

6. Continue to support my fellow writers.
7. Continue to be active and supportive in ANWA.

8. Change my answering machine message to something creative about writing like, "Sorry, work in progress, or creativity is happening, or, we are visiting another reality, so no one is available. You are welcome to leave a message. Calls will be returned in late afternoon if possible the residents of this home return to this realm." Then turn off the ringer until I complete my writing for the day.

9. Leave all email, etc. until after my writing is done.
10. New Years Goals for me must include the old standby to lose a few pounds along the way. I hope to be so involved in my writing world, that I will lose my sweet tooth, hunger, and even fasination with food, and chocolate in general. Who knows. It's a new year afterall, and good things are going to happen. Hummm, hang on, chocolate is a good thing too. I hear dark chocolate is actually good for you. Anyone out there heard a rumor about icecream being good for you too? Even just a hint of a rumor? If so, I will take your word for it ;o). Yummy food is really one of the great Wonders of the World.

Dec 11, 2009

Thoughts on Semester's End

by Sarah Albrecht

It's the end of the semester, and my house is messy, my kids are cooking dinner, and my blog isn't written. Neither are my Christmas cards.

That's okay, though. The house will get cleaned, the kids know a little more about cooking sausages (breakfast for dinner, you know), the blog's getting done now, short, and I just may resort to e-mailing Christmas greetings this year. I like getting things done in a more orderly manner, but sometimes it doesn't work that way. Adaptability doesn't always seem like the fit I want, but it's a lot easier than to struggle with what isn't working.

And I have to say I loved what I've learned in school. It's a Master's in Secondary Ed., just two classes so far, but it's so exciting; as a bonus, everything applies to where I am in my family life right now. With regret I've put my non-school writing projects on hold in exchange for a different type of learning. Adaptability doesn't always seem like the fit I want, but it's a lot easier than to struggle with what isn't working.

Just one more paper to submit, after posting this blog--then I can face holiday preparation. I might not get all the cookies baked, but...we'll adapt.

Dec 9, 2009

Don't Apologize

by Marielle Carlisle

I just received two rejection letters from publishers this week, and was feeling a bit down, when suddenly in my inbox I got my weekly letter from Hope Clark. She provides free emails with quotes and info on the Writing and Publishing world. Her words of inspiration touched me so much that I knew I had to spread them to my ANWA ladies.


Do you catch yourself apologizing for being a writer?
Ever downplayed what you do, where you've published,
what you've written?

"I just write for a few small magazines, nothing big."

"I write a little, nothing special."

That lack of self-respect does nothing for your writing.
It can impact it, frankly. If you tell yourself you're
not much you become just that.

Besides, you've invested in your writing. You've penned
stories, whether they were published or not. Consider
the time spent struggling with flow and active voice,
finding markets or the right character name. There was
that time you spend half the night fixing a scene, or
excused yourself from a social event to stay home and
struggle with your plot.

Did all that go to waste? Never apologize for all the
tears you've cried, time you've spent, or passion you've
poured into your work. Don't apologize for being
dedicated, smart, creative, expressive. Don't apologize
for wanting to be alone with your words.

Be assertive, comfortable, and positive about being a
writer. I'm not a big one to brag about being a writer.
However, I'll tell someone in a heartbeat that I have
to go home and work on the novel. It's more exact, more
sure, more assertive. It commands more respect than
simply saying "I'm a writer" which only leads to more
questions you don't care to answer like "what have you
written" and "where have you published?"

Don't be proud of the writer label. Many people profess
to be a writer who aren't. Be proud of your duties,
your deadlines, your responsibilities as a writer.
Not only will your career choice sound more tangible,
but you'll feel obligated to work.

Hope Clark

Included in her email was this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:

"No one can make you feel inferior without your

There, self-pity party over. Thanks Hope.

Dec 8, 2009

How Brutal Can You Be?

by Terri Wagner

Lately, I've noticed several people pleading for brutality when it comes to critiquing. No offense to anyone, but have you determined beforehand just how brutal you want someone to be? One of the destroying facets of my local writers' group in Baldwin County is that people weren't specific on their concept of brutality.

For example, I-don't-like-it doesn't really help and adds to a sense of despair. If you say, well this part seemed a bit confusing to me, and I didn't quite grasp your meaning at this paragraph, you're being brutal but helpful.

Another example is when someone says well I don't like poetry (fill in the blank) so I just won't bother with it. That hurts, because poetry is not just for fellow poets. I couldn't write a poem if I tried, but I love the classics like Sir Alexander Pope, Alfred Lord Tennyson and my personal American favorite Robert Frost, not to mention Edgar Allen Poe. So even though I can't write poetry, I can certainly give a few helpful pieces of advice.

Now let's all hmmm a chorus from "Turn it Around" from "My Turn on Earth." As a critiquier, don't be hurt if your advice isn't taken. Especially when you know you're not an expert. When I was in this writers' club. I gave advice to a poet who got purple in the face and stuttered something about wanting rhyme and rhythm advice. Fair enough. Not my skill level. Another one was a fantasy writer, I edited her entire 3-book series. It was terrific. I only helped with odd places, odd phrases and odd small plot lines. We worked well together. She was grateful. So was I. I got an advance copy so to speak.

When you want a critique, tell me what you want. It helps. And I promise not to be offended if you don't take my advice. After all, I'm not the writer here.

Dec 7, 2009

Christmas games and trivia

By Joyce DiPastena

Did you know that Good King Wenceslas, of the Christmas carol, is the patron saint of the Czech Republic? That Away In a Manger is the first Christmas carol usually taught to children? That Mozart used the tune to Deck the Halls for a violin and piano duet?

Well, you would if you knew about this cool website, called simply, Christmas Carols. Check it out for some fun Christmas carol trivia to share with your families.

And here’s a fun Christmas quiz you and your family can play, too.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

(If you get an annoying voice telling you you’ve won a Walmart gift card, just ignore it.)

Dec 6, 2009

ANWA Has Been a Great Support to Me

This is the first appearance of a new member of our blog team, charter ANWA member Sarah Hinze.

by Sarah Hinze

I am a charter member of ANWA—in fact, I would like to think that because of one phone call, Marsha was impressed, I will say inspired, to start ANWA. But had it not been me, it would have been someone else because I believe that ANWA is one of Marsha’s callings on this earth.

Our family, consisting of my husband Brent and our seven children (two more daughters were born in Mesa, making that nine) moved here from Washington D.C. 22 years ago. I was being bombarded with strong impressions to write and I needed an LDS female author to talk to. One evening while our family was visiting the Mesa Temple Visitor’s Center, I saw my first Beehive Magazine, our LDS newspaper here in Arizona. On the front cover was a by-line of an author, Marsha Ward. I contacted Marsha and shared my story. She told me that she had felt impressed to start a group for LDS women writers. A few months later we had our first meeting. Of course, need I say—the rest is history!

ANWA was a major positive catalyst for me after that. One evening dear Gayla Wise challenged me to bring an outline of my book to the next meeting. In those days our meetings were somewhat like the old Relief Society meetings with Eliza R. Snow and her friends. We would often go into the wee hours of the evening--the clock was not our guide. We stayed and shared ideas of the heart as the spirit impressed us to do.

I left that meeting literally crying with fear and apprehension, because I knew that I needed to accept that challenge and not just talk about a book that I might write, but to actually write it.

I came back the following month with an outline and, because of the encouragement of the ladies in ANWA, I completed my first book less than a year later. I called it Life Before Life—A Collection of Mothers Stories of their Unborn Children.

After that I was on a roll and have written three more books (others have been republished with new covers and titles), one an unpublished manuscript. I will share parts of that manuscript with you over the next few weeks. I would enjoy your feedback. With the publishing of my new book, The Memory of Angels : Remembering Who We Are and What We Came Here to Do, I hope that I have fulfilled that calling.

My mission as a writer is probably different than yours. My calling has been non-fiction up to this point. Through a collection and analysis of anecdotal evidence, I developed a new area of research-–the pre-birth studies. For a definition of the pre-birth experience and additional information, please check out my website at and my blog, Sarah’s Pearls and Daisies.

In almost 20 years of this work, I have worked with several PH.D. candidates who have used our research (my husband Brent, a PH.D. himself, makes many contributions to my research) in their theses. Many others have taken our research and developed it. So far I have found over 25 other books, several documentaries, and other media forms that have included our work. I had a prompting when I began so many years ago that others would pick up this information and do their own research. This has been a thrill for me because our research and our findings have held strong and been recognized as solid information.

I recently spoke at a division of NAU in Phoenix, the fifth Arizona campus where I have been invited to guest lecture. I give a run down of that meeting on my own blog.

My point is not to pontificate but to encourage you. It takes courage to fulfill our dreams as writers, no matter how unusual they may be, but the benefits can be rewarding and far reaching for good.

Dec 5, 2009

Turning Rejection Around Through Good Editing

By Christine Thackeray

Recently, I was reading an article outlining the 17 most common reasons manuscripts get rejected by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, a list she got from a panel of editors and agents. As I read through all the causes of rejection, it occurred to me that of 13 of the 17 have little to do with the plot or power of the story. They are all a matter of editing.

Let me get specific.

17 Reasons Book Manuscripts are Rejected

1. “The writer uses the phrase ‘fiction novel’ or misuses the English language in some other obvious way.
My experience: So I wrote this incredible story for ABNA and in the end of my first chapter used the word "straddled with the nickname" instead of "saddled with the nickname." My reviews were wonderful over storyline but because of my misuse of language, I was eliminated from the competition. BUMMER!

2. The manuscript is trying to copy another style or follow a trend.
Nothing to do with editing. Sorry.

3. The manuscript is too complicated.
My Experience: I always over-write my stories and then go back and combine and kill off characters. Sometimes that complicated book is only a first draft to a leaner and happier version. My first draft of "Crayon Messages" was over 600 pages. When it came out in print, it was under 200.

4. The book is boring. “If your opening paragraph is someone driving and sleeping, I’ll put it down. Make sure your story starts in the first sentence.”
My Experience: This is completely an editing issue. Many manuscripts don't start until the second or third chapter but the writer needs to write those chapters for herself. It's just you have to be willing to throw them away later. My latest book just lost its first two chapters, and it's a lot better for it.

5. The writer offers no reason to care about the character.
My Experience: Again, this is totally an editing issue. Often as a writer you can't see if you have not explained enough to have the reader relate to a certain character. An editor or critique group can see that more clearly and catch it before you submit.

6. The writer shifts point of view.
My Experience: I stink at this especially when my first version incorporated different rules than subsequent versions. Thank goodness for Terry Deighton who is working with me on my latest POV errors, which are many. She is so sharp. I don't know what I'd do without her.

7. The writer includes too many stock characters- beautiful blonde bombshells, evil billionaires, and hookers with a heart of gold.
Again, editing will catch this and may help you flesh out a stock and make them real or kill them off.

8. The writer offers didactic messages.
And again, an good edit will wake you up when you are laying it on too thick... or being redundant.

9. The writer keeps saying how great the book is. Describe your book, don't brag about it.
Editing's not going to help you with this one.

10. The writing is too flowery. “Show, don’t tell.”
My Experience: Sometimes I think I'm showing when I'm really telling. It's nice to get a second pair of eyes.

11. The manuscript isn't clean and professional.
My Experience: This is were editing may backfire if you think you can send the hard copy your editor used to submit to the publisher. Please, give them a clean, new copy of their own and after the edit is done, check for blank pages between chapters and basic formatting. It's not uncommon for those things to change during the editing process so you do need to do a once over before printing it out.

12. The writer relies on cliches.
Duh, editing helps.

13. The writer incorporates graphic violence, profanity, and explicit sex.
It's important to have someone you trust tell you if it's too much.

14. The writer has an unpleasant tone and attitude.
An editor can't help that much with your attitude. Remember the publisher needs to market you and if they think your a grumpy monkey, they may love your writing but not buy it.

15. The writer’s pacing is off.
I hate how ethereal this concept is but a good editor should tell you where they got bored and where they wanted more.

16. The manuscript is great but the writer is a stalker.
Again, editing's not going to do much here.

17. The manuscript has an improper word count.
When my next VT adventure was rejected, it was for length. I had to cut it in half and that was PAINFUL! Now it's coming out next year. Making sure you stay within word count for novels and especially magazine articles can be almost as big a determiner of rejection as content. If you are off, you won't even get in the running.

So, if you are writing for fun, then simply have fun. But if you have hopes of bringing your work to market, find an editor. I like to have three initial edits- one from a writer who is technically based, one from a writer who is idea based and one from a non-writer who loves to read. After the final revision, it's nice to have one more technical edit.

Remember, you either need to swap, pay or use a fan that would read you anyway. Irene Radford, a prolific writer, has a group of three other writers that she works with at this level and still swaps with.

Nothing feels better than finally printing off the clean final copy, knowing your really done. Someday I dream that when the publisher looks at one of my manuscripts they will come back with zero secondary edits. Wouldn't that be cool?

Dec 3, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life

by Kari Diane Pike

One of the things I love most about the Christmas season is the traditions. I delight in having an excuse to bake, sample, and share yummy treats, burst into song in the grocery store, read enchanting tales to my children, who now claim to be to old for bedtime stories, and just cozy up with my sweetheart to watch an old classic movie like "It's a Wonderful Life" or "An Affair To Remember." Above all, I have come to cherish the traditions of Christmas because of the message they carry and the reminder we are given about what is most important in our lives.

It has been a tough year for this world in which we live. No one can blame us if we seem a little down and out. Earlier this year I didn't feel particularly excited about the upcoming holidays. In fact, the thought nearly put me into a panic. Thanksgiving came anyway. I'm so glad it did. We drove 13 hours to Phoenix and spent 3 full days with our children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, cousins, in-laws, out-laws, and friends (48 all together). We ate turkey and all the fixings, played games, shopped, ate more turkey, stood around the piano and sang tunes (thank you for your gifted playing, Trina) and talked and talked and talked. Our son set up his Christmas tree while we were there. As I sat listening to the singing and watching the pattern of the lights on the tree, I felt a longed for peace wrap itself around me and seep deep into my soul. I thought about the angels who sang announcing Christ's birth, and the star that illuminated the heavens. I remembered why Christ came to earth and why we are all here. My family thinks it was the jalapeno chips I ate and the liter of Mountain Dew I drank that kept me awake for the long drive home, but I know it was the joy and anticipation that filled my heart.

The day we arrived home (about 1:30 am), I dug out the Christmas story book and the advent cards we use every year. Each card and story has a scripture attached to it to help us think about the Savior and his mission on earth. I encouraged my husband to call the nieces and nephews attending BYU and invited them over for dinner next Sunday. I opened my recipe books and made a list of ingredients for the caramels and fudge and cookies we will create. Saturday, we will decorate the tree, shop for a few gifts ( I haven't even started that part yet) and prepare for the First Presidency message. Oh...and I can't forget to set up the nativities! Over the years we have accumulated a few. Most of them are small and I can set them up in little corners throughout the house. I love nativities! I love traditions! I love Christmas!

Yesterday, one of our daughters posted a story about setting up their nativity. She said, "Got out the Christmas decorations. Setting up the Nativity, first one I take out is one of the Wise Men. I say, Here is one of the Wise Men, Wes starts digging in the box and says...where is the foolish man?" (In the above picture, Wes is the middle boy holding the baby.) I love being a grandma!

And I love all of you!
Merry Christmas!

Dec 2, 2009

Driven by Distractions

By Lynn Parsons

Many things are changing in my life. After more than 28 years of being a mother, I am about to become an empty nester. I may go back to school. I am a new member of ANWA, and looking forward to my first book publication.

I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life. A combination of divine intervention and choices led me to be a special education teacher for seven years. During that time, I learned about an online parent's group from the father of one of my students. This is where I met my coauthor, Danyelle Ferguson. Our two-year collaboration led to (dis) Abilities in the Gospel: A Guide for Families and Church Leaders, to be published in June by Valor Publishing Group.

This sounds good, doesn't it? Great, in fact! But at a time in my life when I can focus on new adventures, I am deterred by distractions. In my current job as an educational diagnostician, I deal with many interruptions. Phone calls, sudden parent visits, stressed-out teachers, and a variety of other things pull me away from the task at hand. I've learned to pause, make a note, and continue my work.

There are even more distractions in other areas of my life. I'm torn away from preparing my Primary lesson, taking care of my family, book revisions, and marketing plans to deal with the requests of others. I've been asked to sew adult elf costumes, teach knitting classes, and a host of other things. I also have a mounting list of projects I'd like to accomplish. These projects could all be put in the category of "good works", but not at the expense of my religion, family, or life's work.

What to do? What came easily at work is more difficult at home. Many years ago, a wise friend said, "When you say no to something, you are saying yes to something else." I am learning to set my priorities, and taking time to evaluate whether my distractions will detract from the things of true importance.

Dec 1, 2009

Catching Fire

by Valerie Ipson

A good friend is one who loans you their copy of Catching Fire when they find out you are number bajillion in the library hold queue and they know you have been in withdrawals ever since coming to the end of Hunger Games and discovering it's not the end, but only the beginning of a series, and even though you were rather late in jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon, there was still several months to wait until Book Two would be released. Said friend has not even read Catching Fire herself, but still loaned it to me, probably because I am obsessed, and because she purchased the book, but recklessly decided not to read it till Book Three was released, thus sparing herself the agony (of which I am now experiencing) of waiting so long to find out what happens next.

That is my definition of a friend.

Thanks, Peggy. I owe you.

And in case you're wondering...Book Two is every bit as intense and wonderful as the first. I loved it!

Nov 30, 2009

What are you picky about?

It occurred to me this weekend as I laid on the couch and reflected about our holiday meal we just finished. Grams was exhausted because she had just spent the day cooking the turkey, making the mashed potatos, gravy, rolls, stuffing, and cranberry salad. Fortunately, I found the following amusing because I'm not in the mood for hurt feelings over something so not important in the grand scheme of things.

When I was young and newly married, I was asked to make the cranberry jello salad for our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. I was even given a specific recipe to follow. At that moment I figured out what it was that I didn’t like about the jello all those years…celery. I am of the opinion that vegetables do not belong in jello. Fruit, I can handle, in fact appreciate, because the texture of jello does not sit well with me. So, as I went over the rest of the recipe, I found that another crunchy part of the jello was chopped apple. I chose to leave out the celery and add an equal amount of crunchy apple to make up for it. It was delicious if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, my Grams noticed the missing ingredient and asked me why I didn’t include it in the recipe. I explained to her that not only did vegetables not belong in jello salad, I loathed celery and refuse to touch it. The thought of the strings on a piece of celery getting stuck in my throat was too much for me. That was the last time I was asked to make the jello.

The next year, I lived in close proximity to Grams and she asked if I would like to be in charge of the rolls. Rolls for 50 people? No problem, seriously. I made Rhodes rolls at least once a month for my own family and they loved them. So, the day before, I prepared approximately 8 dozen of the most beautiful rolls I had ever seen. My house smelled divine. They were lightly browned on the outside and soft and perfect on the inside. I knew it because I tried one or two that evening. The next afternoon, we delivered our rolls and much to my dismay, Grams had a small meltdown because they were so “undercooked.” She promptly began moving things out of the oven to cook the rolls. She complained more than once about having to finish cooking the rolls that afternoon, thus making dinner be served about 20 minutes late. Needless to say, that was the last time I was asked to make the rolls.

There are other assignments I haven’t gotten right for one reason or another, green bean casserole, sweet potatos, even frozen corn. I don’t remember how I got those wrong, but I was never asked to make those dishes again. The last few years, I have been put in charge of the relish tray; a few veggies, some dip, olives, and pickles. Piece of cake, right? I thought I had been doing a quality job the last few years, and although this pregnancy has really been hard, if I couldn’t wash a few veggies, stir some spices into a tub of sour cream, and dump olives and pickles into a bowl, I have a husband and plenty of children who can.

On Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, my sister calls me and says that she has been asked to help with the relish tray. I laughed and told her I had it under control. She told me that Grams specifically told her what kind of processed cheese to purchase to put on the celery that she knew I wouldn’t be touching. So, later that night, she came over and retrieved the celery I had already purchased (that my daughter was going to prepare) and brought them back the next morning filled with the process cheese spread. We left for Grams early enough to arrive and put the veggie tray together before dinner was ready. As I pulled out all my cans of olives and pickles, Grams quickly stopped me, “I didn’t know if you were going to actually get it all or not, so I asked someone else to take care of the olives and pickles.”

Don’t get me wrong, I know that Thankgiving is a big and important holiday, and she just wants it to be perfect, but I get a chuckle wondering what my assignment will be next year or if I will even get one…

Nov 29, 2009

This Year is Rushing to a Close!

by Marsha Ward

Wow! Thanksgiving celebrations are over and November is almost finished up. It seems like a headlong dash is occurring toward December 31. Where has the year gone?

I've stuffed a lot of things into this year, and I'm not going to name them all off for you. Take my word. I've done a lot!

I will mention the new territory I've dipped my foot into, becoming a member of Twitter early in the year, and last December, Facebook. I also produced an eBook of my first novel, The Man from Shenandoah, which is available in ten versions at I just finished the Spanish Glossary I'm adding to an eBook version of Ride to Raton, so that should go up this week. Life is good.

Enjoy the rest of the year. We will be adding some new blog team members between now and the end of January. I hope you will continue to visit the blog and read what we have to offer. Feel free to make comments. We welcome your participation.

Nov 28, 2009

Mission Organization

by Cindy R. Williams

I'm on a mission. A mission to simplify my life and the stuff in it. I dejunk one thing a day, just one. It's so doable, and I feel great every night when I climb into bed to read my scriptures and close out the day.

My house is coming together nicly, every room, cuboard, closet, and drawer. It is so much easier now to keep on top of all my chores. Last week, I even tackled the garage. I feel so much freedom in being orgaanized. Peace sits on my shoulder like a soft butterly. Ooh, I like that. I feel more creative and have more energy to put my heart into my writing. It really does feel wonderful to have things in order.

It's almost like I'm nesting. Now that's a scary thought. Five angels are my legacy, no more, no less.

I'm getting more organized in my writing along with this major overhall. The goals I now set are clear, concise and attainable. I'm getting rid of things that delay my goals. TV is overated. It is only worth turning on to play one of the music channels, and right now that one channel is all Christmas music. Surfing the net is out unless it's for research. I'm learning to say no to things that are just busy work, and also to people who are lazy, and want me to do their job. I'm learning that it's okay to keep my planned writing schedule even when chaos is rampant all around me and others are scrambling from lack of planning ahead. I'm learning that I don't have to save everybody from themselves. That's not the plan. It's wrong to rob others of their opportunity to learn. I like this new me I'm becoming. It's rather nice to be a good friend to others and myself.

As I continue forward with mission organization, I find I'm thankful for the ability to grow and make these changes. I'm thankful for my abundant life and the gifts and miracles all around me. I'm thankful for my talents I'm having so much fun developing.

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. This turkey probably fulfilled it's purpose and mission well. A good purpose in my viewpoint, but probably not so much for the turkey's angle.

Are we each fullfilling our purpose here on the earth. Are we taking our writing serious enough to make the needed changes to make it happen?

May you each find what works for you so you can fulfill your mission and purpose and reach your writing potential. I'm now ready and willing. This is going to be an exciting year.

I'm on a mission. A mission or organizing every needfull thing so that I can fullfill my purpose.

Nov 27, 2009

On Thanksgiving and Christmas

by Sarah Albrecht

Fearing impending holiday business, we put up our Christmas trees (the plurality of the trees being a story of itself) last weekend and decorated them Monday for home evening. That leaves us in the odd position of having the dining room decorated for Thanksgiving and the neighboring living room with a gentle Christmas glow.

With the holiday juxtaposition I feel I must blog about both.

Each year we hang on our tree an ever-growing conglomerate of ornaments purchased on vacations, given to us by friends, made by our children--and I feel a rush of memory and sentiment and gratitude in the experience.

The round, gold-framed cross-stitched angel was from the first Young Women president I served under as a young married woman; I still feel grateful for what she taught me about serving. The small glass kerosene lamp was my aunt’s, once a gift of perfume to her during the Depression. I am grateful for her love and for passing part of her life on to me. The pink and yellow ball is from a set my younger brother and I bought together when I was twelve; I am grateful for the close relationship we have always shared. The cardboard cube with snowy scenes on each side is from the cold day we visited historic Danville, Kentucky, with my in-laws; I’m grateful they raised a good son; I’m grateful for new places to visit and learn. Brass ornaments with various temples hang in various spots; most my mom gave us and I’m grateful for her and her love of family history. Stars and trees with my children’s preschool pictures twist on high and low branches. I am grateful for my children.

My children’s favorite ornament, a nativity with a space in the back for a tree light to back-light it, hangs front and center. I am grateful for the Savior.

Turns out, I think, the two holidays go quite well together.

Maybe I’ll do it this way again next year.

Nov 26, 2009


by Stephanie Abney

I thought I’d share some thoughts (random though they may be) and hopefully some of what I say will add to your celebration.

On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day "of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father." Here is an excerpt from the text of Lincoln's proclamation … after listing some of the blessings the nation had received, Pres. Lincoln said:

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

What prompted President Lincoln to establish Thanksgiving Day as a permanent national holiday? In the 1800’s only a few states celebrated Thanksgiving Day. Sarah Hale, a strong-willed widow, A WRITER, no less, believed that Thanksgiving was a very important holiday. She thought the whole country should celebrate it on the same day. Sarah felt such a holiday would help unify our nation. She began writing letters to the President of the United States. In each letter she would plead her case and ask the president to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Sarah wrote to President Taylor. He said no. Next, she wrote to President Fillmore. He also said no. Then she wrote to President Pierce and after him, she wrote to President Buchannan. Like those before him, he also told Sarah no. Finally, after 17 years and thousands of letters, Sarah wrote to President Lincoln. He agreed with her and on October 3, 1863, President Lincoln declared that the fourth Thursday of November would be Thanksgiving Day and thus a national holiday of gratitude was born.

On Tuesday, my class led our school’s morning ceremony. They did a great job and the entire class recited an adorable Thanksgiving poem in unison. It’s one that my daughter, Shannon, now 37, memorized in the first grade and I have loved it ever since. For your pleasure, I share it with you now:
Thanksgiving Poem

There lay upon the table
A turkey big and round
But when it was time to cook it,
It was nowhere to be found.

They all looked in the kitchen
And in the pantry well.
They asked Kate if she'd seen it
And John and Anna Bell.

Even tiny Mary,
They asked her if she knew,
Where the missing turkey was.
She said, "Of course I do.

Poor turkey wasn't feeling well
Because he lost his head.
So I put my nightie on him
And tucked him in my bed."


I hope you all have loved ones to share this special day with. We will be gathered together with many extended family members for a wonderful lunch, prepared by all who attend. Then in the evening some of our family members are bringing and serving Thanksgiving dinner to the families that reside at the Ronald McDonald House near Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

May you have a blessed day – I also want to tell you that this will be my last post. I’m emailing Marsha and asking her to find a replacement for me. I HAVE LOVED participating on the ANWA Founder and Friends blog, but I have missed my last three previous entries due to the excessive demands of my job and my life right now, so, I thank all you readers and wish you well.

Stephanie Abney

Nov 25, 2009


by Terri Wagner

Had a funny thing happen on the way to writing my blog entry yesterday. Since I'm on central time, I'm usually early on my day to blog. I get into work around 7 am and go right to our site and check things out. Yesterday, I went there and thought hmmmm at the moment I have nothing to write about. Let me think on this.

This morning I got up and saw I forgot to come back. Let me tell you why because I personally think it's amusing and a little shocking. I belong to an lds singles site. Not much luck there I can tell you. The other day I saw where some CA Mormon (apologizes to any of you on this site but like Utah Mormons you have a reputation) checked out my profile or whatever they call it.

I went to his, noticed he had trained some laboradors for guide dog purposes. So I sent a nice little note about my Chewbacca and now my Kota, both labs, both very different and my lab/husky Cassie. Didn't really think too much else about it.

He writes back that I'm too short, too far away, probably fat since my profile photo is only my top half and definitely unemployed since I had writer up there (that was done before I became the editorial manager). At first, I was plenty insulted, then a bit disappointed, then laughing uproarously at it. What assumptions he made. I couldn't resist sending back a little note gee, I just thought we could share lab stories.

Then at work we have an annual contest. This year one project had two entries. The project won so both entries win. The German company is questioning why the Chinese company is considered part of the project since they just presented it but didn't actually work on it. Mind you the project is in China and it's pretty cool too. I passed that sticky ball of wax off to my boss. He just checked my work, said I had it right and we'd just let it lie for a while. My other boss wanted things checked out. Ball back to me. So I bounced it back to the Germans, ha. International life can be so much fun.

And I must confess a part of me wanted to say hey we're Americans, it's our contest, we pick the winners, live with it. But then that would make me like that CA Mormon now wouldn't it?

Nov 24, 2009

True Story

by Marielle Carlisle

Twas' the week before Thanksgiving and with energized gumption,
I was busy preparing for mass turkey consumption
Vacuuming, check. Dusting, all done
The ring in the tub is officially gone

When all of sudden, my ears are aware,
Of the sounds of my three year old throwing up on the chair!
ACK! Where do I start? It's all over the place!
On the carpet, the table, the blanket, her face.

Let's clean this stuff up, change out of your clothes,
Wait, not again! It's like she's a hose.
Now the baby's throwing up? He just won't stand still
Every sofa's been hit with this bile-filled spill.

That's it! Time for bed! You two are a mess
At least bedsheets will launder with greater success.
Damage control, get out the rags
I wipe up the chunks while my poor husband gags.

Grandma and Grandpa will be here tonight,
Lysol the door handles, phones and the lights
My clothes are a splatter of ABC food
(that means already been chewed, in case you're confused)

Load up the washer, jump in the tub
Relax in my thoughts of Thanksgiving grub
We get throught the night, one more throw up per kid
Thank you, dear stomach flu, for all that you did

I'm thankful for family, for home and for health
For temporal and spiritual goodness and wealth
At last we are well, the house is now neat
Happy Thanksgiving to all, now let's go eat!

Nov 23, 2009

The Clock Is Ticking...

By Joyce DiPastena

Have you voted for your favorite book(s) for the 2009 Whitney Awards yet? A number of ANWA sisters have published fiction books this year. Let's show them our support!

What is a Whitney, you ask? I'll let their website speak for itself:

The Whitneys are an awards program for novels by LDS authors. Elder Orson F. Whitney, an early apostle in the LDS church, prophesied “We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.” Since we have that as our goal, we feel that we should also honor those authors who excel and continually raise the bar.

The Whitney Awards honor novels in the following categories: General Fiction, Romance, Suspense/Mystery, Speculative Fiction, Youth Fiction, Historical, Best Novel of the Year, and Best Novel by a New Author. Novels can be nominated by any reader (via our website or by mail), and nominees are voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others.

The clock is ticking. All votes must be in by December 31. If you'd like to nominate a book (or books!), click here to go to the nomination form.

Nov 20, 2009

Before Midnight

By Kristine John

In spite of cleaning up throw up from two of my children all through the night last night, a day of prepping for the make and take portion of the Relief Society meeting our ward is having tomorrow (which entailed designing 3 cards and then cutting the paper for 60 of each), plus spending a tiny bit of the afternoon napping to make up for hours of lost sleep last night and squeezing in a date to the grocery store with my husband, tonight, I am posting here on the ANWA blog.

Notice the time.

Who says I don't have time to write?

Nov 19, 2009

A Driving Lesson

Don't you just hate it when you're toolin' down the road, on your way to somewhere important, with just enough time to get there right on time and you suddenly find yourself stuck at a light behind a big old semi that is so slow getting through the intersection when the light turns green, that the light turns red again before you can get through it? So annoying!

I recently found myself in a similar situation. There I was, sailing down the highway, feeling rather smug at my success of hitting all the lights green and making it to my appointment in record time. The last light before my turn-off turned green and I knew that if I took my foot off the gas for a bit, the traffic ahead of me would have time to clear and I wouldn't even have to step on my brakes. Woohoo! Wrong. The humongous truck in my lane crawled through the intersection. I had to come to a complete stop and then creep behind him at an impressive 5 miles per hour. Grrrrrrr....One, two, then three cars sped past me in the adjacent lane. Finally, I saw an opening, darted into the neighboring lane and stomped on the gas to get around that annoying truck. I mean, come on. He had to pass a test to drive that thing. You'd think he'd at least have the courtesy to pull over into the slow lane. Just as I pulled even with the truck, feeling rather pleased that I had the self control to refrain from honking at the guy, I saw two things. First, I noticed that the right-hand, or slow lane, ended just another fifty or so feet from the intersection. Oops, I needed to really step on the gas if I wanted to get around that truck. Second, the truck was pulling not one, but two very large dumpster loads of gravel and his loads were almost overflowing. The truck driver couldn't accelerate because he was pulling several tons of rock.

My next thought was, "Aren't you glad you didn't honk? You had no idea he was pulling such a difficult load." I began to wonder how many other times I've made judgments about people, not knowing the burdens they carry. Wow. I felt like I had been head smacked...and I deserved it! Very rarely are things just the way we see them.

As I walked out of yoga this morning, I started chatting with a couple of other ladies that attend the class. You have to understand that this was only my third class and I knew that the other ladies had been participating for several months. I felt intimidated and very inadequate. The things these ladies can do with their bodies! of the ladies knew me from working out at Curves and she asked about how things were going with our house in Phoenix. We talked about dealing with challenges and how we cope and the second gal opened up and poured her heart out. She expressed her concerns and fears and her inability to feel the love that she knows Heavenly Father has for her. We shared tears and hugs. We talked about the things we do to strengthen our hope and faith. She mentioned wanting to write a book... then I mentioned ANWA. I gave her the website and told her I was trying to get a chapter started up here. She expressed an interest in joining. Then this wonderful, amazing, beautiful woman looked at me and said, "Now I have something to live for."

She thanked me and the other sister for sticking around and chatting with her and brightening her day. I told her thank you for brightening my day. I know that many people have come into my life to teach me, to be a light for me. Right at a time when I had slipped back into a feeling of inadequacy, I was gifted with this opportunity to shine a light for someone else. I was given much more than I gave. That is such a miracle to me. I've made a new friend. That is another blessing. I gave her the link to this blog, and if she visits, I hope she reads this and knows how much I have already come to love her!

I'm thankful for the lesson the truck driver taught me. Look, listen with your heart, and allow others to be. I'm thankful for all the amazing people Heavenly Father has put in my path to teach me and help me fulfill my purpose in this life. And...and I am thankful for those of you who read all the way through this random post!

Nov 17, 2009

Practical Guide to Completing a Novel

by Valerie Ipson

Turn over the "WELCOME" mat, hiding the sentiment.

Ignore the dishes.

Laugh in the face of laundry. Ha, ha, ha!

Let the Sunday paper pile up unread.

Overlook the Barbies that have taken up permanent residence on the dining room table.

Bathing? Overrated.

When the school calls to say another parent is needed to go on the class field trip, say, "Sorry, I'm working today."

Never, ever, EVER turn this on...


And now back to my WIP!

Nov 16, 2009

Persuasive Essay by Drew Johnson

By Stacy Johnson

Remember this blog post from November 2nd? I told you I would get back to you and I thought this was cute. My 13 year old son is cute and adorable if I do say so myself and his argument was clever, yet comical to me. It is a clear expression of his way of thinking and his personality. I wish you knew him like I did and I hope you find this funny.

This is his roughdraft. It got some editing before the final draft was turned in, but we haven't gotten it back from the teacher yet and it is handwritten so there is no copy available. I will post my comments in red, his essay in black, because I have to have the last word you know:

Why your reasons aren't good enough, Mom
By Drew Johnson

There aren't many good reasons to why you make me play the piano and some of yours were illogical and unfair. (Contrary, son, I am rarely illogical or unfair, that's why I'm the mom.)

You said I needed to be a good reader. But, I already am. I read everyday and have almost a tenth grade reading level in the 7th grade. (Yes, but wouldn't you rather have a college or higher reading level? I'm just saying you could be better)

I know I need to develop my talents, but I'm no good at playing the piano so there is no talent. And, because of the time piano takes, it wastes time for my real talents. (Isn't it funny that I think you are so incredibly talented at the piano and you think you aren't? I will not argue the point that you have many wonderful gifts and talents, I just want you to see that playing the piano is one of them.)

If you love to hear piano music in the morning, then let someone else do it. There are three other kids who play and so they can cheer you up. You wake us up so you're never asleep for us to wake you to our playing. (You misunderstood me, I enjoy hearing you practice in the morning, not being awaken by the sound of you playing.)

You do love to torture me, that is for sure. You know I'd do most anything to be able to quit piano lessons, I hate playing. (hee hee)

I may go to a foreign country on my mission, but I can almost play the hymns now. If I can't play them on the piano, we can sing to my bell playing. (Yeah, sure, cause bells are readily available in sacrament meeting, give me a break.)

If you are just going to spend your money, spend it on someone that wants to play. Marly really wants to play the piano, spend it on her. (Marly is my 15 year old who sits down and plays the piano just because she wants to and she enjoys it without taking anymore lessons, besides they would have to be at 9pm in order to fit them into her schedule.)

The piano is never used in a jazz or marching band and that is all I play in. Yes, I want to be a great percussionist, but I will never have to play the piano. (Oh, ye inexperienced child, piano is an important part of jazz band, it is unfortunate that there is nobody good enough at your school to be in the jazz band that plays the piano. You may be that person in the future. I have some great links to some incredible jazz bands that have piano, just ask me to show you.)

There aren't any girls I know that like it. Every girl I tell thinks it is funny or stupid that I play. Anyway, I'm amazingly handsome so I don't really need the piano. (Why yes, you are amazingly handsome, but you can't take the opinion of middle school girls, they don't know anything. Wait till high school or college and then argue this point with me.)

See, he is amazingly handsome!

There are no gangs in Queen Creek. Plus, I participate in sports like track, football, basketball, baseball, and I'm in scouts so there's no leftover room to join a gang right now. (OK, I might have no reason to think you are going to join a gang, but I needed one more reason.)

The End.

Nov 15, 2009

Little Triumphs

by Marsha Ward

I've thankful for some little triumphs that I've been able to achieve this week. Tuesday was my wedding anniversary. As my Eternal Companion left me eleven years ago to move on to a new sphere of existence, I've very happy to report that I got through the day without blubbering. A few days later, I celebrated my marriage by purchasing something I've had my mind on for a while: an iPod Touch. This is more than an MP3 player. It's also a personal digital assistant with wifi capabilities, and can function well as an eBook reader.

It took me a couple of days and lots of patience to get the thing operational. First, I had to update my version of iTunes, which is the synching and set-up mechanism for the Touch. After the 88 megabyte download failed through my dial-up (and I know it was close) after hours and hours of guarding my connection, I was almost in tears. However, I went into town again and successfully downloaded the software. Actually, it took two tries, because I got diverted into another project first. My download was at 98% when the library turned off their router and booted all us patrons out for closing. Ack! I was considering sitting in a hotel parking lot to hijack a signal when it dawned on me that another business in town which was open had free wifi.

I sat in the ice cream parlor for several hours, downloading the software, and yes, eating a scrumptious banana split, and setting up the Touch.

Then, I had to download some books. I was able to grab a few before the clientele became boisterous and dark started coming on. Then I hightailed it for home.

Well, actually, I went to Wal*Mart and got a few things first, like a pink "Tiki" protective case for the Touch, and a few groceries. Once home, I downloaded other software I needed to make some adjustments in the process, and got to bed at 4 a.m.

I found some awesome free classics on the Internet. Now I'm set to read several books in my waiting-in-line time: "Five Little Peppers and How They Grew," "A Girl of the Limberlost," and "The Scarlet Pimpernel," among them. I can hardly wait.

That "other project" was uploading my new eBook trailer to YouTube. This video is to publicize the eBook version of THE MAN FROM SHENANDOAH, and can be found here.

Another small triumph is that I submitted a very small humorous story to an anthology edited by Nichole Giles and Cindy Beck that will be printed this coming week. It's called MORMON MISHAPS AND MISCHIEF: Hilarious Stories for Saints, and can be pre-ordered at Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers. It will be in LDS bookstores around December 8.

It occurs to me that my small triumphs are analogous to writing. We plug along, having to be patient sometimes, until every element works together to produce a fine piece of writing. All the parts need to be there: the plot, the characters, the suspense, the dialogue, the romance, the setting, etc. When we finally have everything in place, we have a piece of work that will satisfy our readers. They can hardly wait.

Nov 14, 2009


by Cindy R. Williams

Feelings. Some feelings are based on reality and others are based on the skewed outlook we allow ourselves. Feelings are real, and they feel honest. Yet are they distorted? Are we sitting on a cloud of self-doubt that is really fear of failure?

Now how does this relate to writing? On a personal note, I am very quick to feel despair and become discouraged about my WIP. I read of tons of successful LDS writers and see my friends and colleagues' books in Deseret Book, Shadow Mountain, Cedar Fort, Walnut Creek, Scholastic, Bloomsberry, Putnam . . . etc., and I begin to feel like I can't do it. All the spots for books are taken. There is no room for me and the dribble I write. I can't make it in this tough market, in the economic down turn. I can't find time to write. I can't discipline myself to finish this WIP before I jump to another one. I waste too much time checking my email. I allow less important things to take over, and besides I am neglecting my family so I must be selfish to want to write. Fill in the blank, there are a million reasons why I can't do this, many of them seem justified, even altruistic.

Who knows my heart, my desires, my abilities, and gave me my talent, small as I feel right now it is, in the first place? Who can I tell all this to without any fear of rejection and with perfect and unconditional love?

Of course, you already know where this is going. The only answer is prayer. Our Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves. He is kinder to us than we are to ourselves.  I venture to say that he loves us better than we love ourselves which I am so very thankful for that knowledge.

The world needs wholesome works.  I will stop worrying about everything except following the promptings I get from the Spirit and write.  Whatever happens after that happens.  As long as I listen,it will work out and it's all good.