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. 

Nov 13, 2009

He's a Manx

by Sarah Albrecht

Until a few weeks ago we ascribed our tubby gray tabby Marley’s many oddities to quirks in physiology and personality. The half-length, fat tail that spins like a propeller we thought must have been due to an accident during his kitten days as a stray. The growl that precedes pouncing on our other cat we thought…strange. The fascination with water we thought must be due to either stupidity for not knowing cats hate water or to sheer contrariness.

Then our kindergartener brought home a small science reader about manx cats. Manx cats? Never heard of ‘em, I thought, and opened the book. Manx cats, it turned out, have no tail or sometimes short tails. They growl. They like water. They…sounded like Marley.

Marley is a manx.

I like him better now that I understand his quirks better. I’ve experienced that with people, too—an aha moment about culture or family or religion that broadens the perspective on why someone does what they do.

How about in writing? I like my characters better, know them better, if I know why they act the way they do instead of just that they do act certain ways. And I think we as readers relate to characters better, too, if we learn at some point—figuratively--that Marley is Marley in part because he is a manx.

Nov 11, 2009

Never give up, never surrender

by Marielle Carlisle

That is one of my favorite quotes, courtesy of Galaxy Quest. If you haven't seen that movie, see it. Fo' rizzle.

I was pondering this thought as I was shoveling dirt out of my garden. I had tecnically 'thrown in the towel' on the garden, and was giving up on growing any sort of edible vegetable. I mean, I had tried once and it didn't work, so what's the point?

And then it hit me ... Never give up, never surrender.

And then I thought of a poem. My absolue favorite poem in high school that I would read before every sports game/match/meet to motivate me. I still remember pacing up and down the street before the State Volleyball Championship game reading this.

Playing the Game
by Steward Warnerite

Whatever the game, and whatever the odds
The winning is all up to you;
For it isn’t the score, and it isn’t the prize
That counts when the playing is through.
In the great game of life, it’s the purpose to win
And the courage to fight to the end
That determines for you what degree of success
Will be scored to your credit, my friend.
The best you can do, may not be quite enough
To defeat your opponents today
But you never can lose, and you never can fail
If you put all you’ve got in your play
And the greatest reward that your efforts can bring
Is the fact that you stood to the test
That you played a clean game, and you fought a good fight
And you always were doing your best.

Never give up! Never surrender!

Oh, and we won the volleyball game.

And I'm trying the garden thing again. And little sprouts are shooting out of the ground.

Nov 10, 2009

Tropical Storm Ida

There we were...had all our things tucked away. Either the garage or the camper trailer. Sick with a sinus infection, I nonetheless cleaned up the double wide and we worried over how the dogs would take to living outside while the "real" house would get built. Had the telephone guy coming, extra cable for DirectTV...whamo. Wake up Monday am with the news Ida is headed straight for us.

Now as far as storms go around here, Ida is pretty normal. A lot of wind, a lot of rain, flooding, not much else. We like those kinds of storms if we have to have any. It just came at a very inconvenient time for me personally.

Coming in this morning, it's still windy, rainy and bluesy. The kind of day best spent curled up with a good book and snacky treats. I miss taking time like that and not feeling guilty about it.

What happened to our world where taking time out to relax has become wrong. It's like the books I read (or write) everything is fast paced, action packed, little descriptive narrative and no slow pace to it. In fact, I tend to quit reading if it isn't "fast" enough for me.

Being "forced" to slow down, to talk to my dad since the all our electronic connection with the world is down for the moment was refreshing. He has some funny stories to tell about his military days. And some sad ones. I always look to him for some kind of understanding about the stuff going on like the Fort Hood shootings. And frankly 9 times out of 10, he nails what is happening.

So for today, I'm going to take time to honor my father's military service and all who serve and especially those who died at Fort Hood. Because they are my heros and the reason I get to live in a world that's fast paced and free.

Like "they" say, it's the land of the free because of the brave. And most especially that freedom isn't free.

Nov 9, 2009

Our Audience Is Out There!

This was not one of my best selling weeks at Costco, but I did have one wonderful experience. A woman who stopped by my table said she recognized Illuminations of the Heart from a website that listed “clean” romances. She didn't remember the name of the website or blog, alas, but she not only bought a copy of my book, she gave me a big hug, and said, “Bless you!” and thanked me for writing a clean romance that she could read without worry or fear of stumbling across something "inappropriate" in it. I must say, if I had sold only one book, that would have made my day!

Ladies, there are people out there looking for clean books to read, and they're not only LDS! So to one and all of you...keep on writing!

Nov 7, 2009

Fun Research

By Christine Thackeray

When writing historical fiction, the challenge isn't merely being intimately aquainted with dates, specific characters, places and events. That is the easy part. One of the biggest challenges is being be accurate in the minutia of life. For instance what would they eat or wear. That is where we feel and breathe in their moment.

I'm currently attempting to write an historical fiction of the life of 'wicked' King Herod. It's been tricky because so much of Jewish food and phrases is actually Yiddish which came much later. Even the Mishnah and Talmud are post-Herod. In writing about a family meal, I remember spending a full day just to find out what they would have eaten.

As my husband has watched me struggle, he asked, "Can you really write about a place without seeing it?"

I turned to him and said that I'd do my best because I knew there was no way I would ever be able to go. Still, I remember reading "The Mapmaker's Wife," a loosely historical account of an author re-crossing the same territory as a remarkable woman and trying to see the world through her eyes. It filled the book with an immediacy that brought her story alive.

So my husband said, "Let's do it. Let's go."

And we are. We leave tomorrow with a tour group for ten days and I can't WAIT!!!!!

See, not only can writing be fun... so can the research.

Nov 6, 2009

Courage Take

By Kristine John

I have been a distance member of ANWA for a couple of years, and yet had never attended an official ANWA meeting or event before moving to Queen Creek this year.
The Lord was gracious enough to allow my visiting teaching partner to be a fellow ANWA member, and in June, we held a organizational meeting to form a local chapter.

Last night, for the first time, I shared a piece of writing with our chapter and asked for critique and feedback.
I was surprised at the vulnerability and emotion that I felt, for I love the ANWA sisters and feel a kinship with them in ways that I have rarely felt with other women.
Even though I opened myself to honest critique, I was touched by how tender and kind the suggestions were.
The only other time I have had critiques offered on my writing were in formal classroom settings, and this experience was definitely different than those.
There is a sisterhood, and as the ANWA brochure explains, each chapter provides a "nurturing support for writing aspirations, as well as faith-based view of the world and our responsibilities as writers".

One of the most powerful comments I heard last night that was very motivating for me was, "That story needs to be told."
I tend to shy away from that responsibility to share my story, calling myself too busy or not prioritizing my writing to make it happen regularly.
I felt a difference last night...sharing a part of me, and not only wanting, but also receiving constructive and helpful feedback.

It reminded me of these lyrics:

Pullin' Together

What will we do when
the going gets tough
and the journey is rough
What'll we do?

Courage take
For Goodness Sake
And when we're out of courage
And we're ready to break

We've got our father and mother
Sister and brother
Pullin' together we can work it out

All alone we just can't make it
By ourselves we fall behind
If we lift and pull together
We can help each other climb

While these lyrics from the play Saturday's Warrior here refer to our eternal families, I felt that they applied also to the strength of the ANWA sisterhood, the sisterhood I experienced last night in a way that was different than I had before.
I felt the power of sisters pulling together and encouraging me to become more than I think I can be.
I felt the strength of united purpose, and the sincere desire to see me succeed.
Truly, I felt myself take courage and commit to move forward.

Thanks to my ANWA sisters for helping me climb!

Nov 5, 2009

Growing Up

by Kari Diane Pike

A few days ago, I discovered yet another act by a couple that caused our family more financial loss. Anger welled up inside me...and thoughts of striking back filled my mind. I felt betrayed and disappointed. I found myself beginning to justify those feelings (after all they are card-carrying members of the Church and should know better, right?) and then I knew I needed to ask my Father in Heaven for help. That simple recognition alone produced a small measure of relief. With a prayer in my heart and open scriptures in my hands, I opened the door and swept the debris out of my mind. I invited the Savior in and through the words on the page, He spoke to me.

Helaman 12:1 points out that the "Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him." Verse 2 then goes on to say how often "at the very time when [the Lord] doth prosper his people...yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord, their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One..."

I felt the promise in those verses, but I felt the chastisement even more. I recognized my complaining and anger as a form of ingratitude and a symbolic trampling of His gifts. The things that were lost, were just that...things. I failed to recognize the true gifts before me: the opportunity to learn and grow and show the Lord that I am worthy to be called His own. Things are temporary. Attitude is forever! A little over a year ago, my husband needed a job and insurance. Heavenly Father provided a job and insurance. Months passed and we prayed to be able to have our family back together again. Heavenly Father provided a way for that to happen. The end result is not what I expected, but that doesn't take away the fact that we were blessed with answers to our prayers.

Today is a milestone in my life. Our ninth and youngest child turned 12 years old today. Sunday will be the 27th Primary Program in which at least one of our children has read a part or sung a song. It's hard to think of not having a child in Primary anymore. However, I rejoice at the idea of having another Aaronic priesthood holder in the home. I've noticed our son watching the Deacons pass the Sacrament over the past several months. He even took notes a couple of weeks ago and stuck them in his scriptures! Last week he expressed a desire for the entire family to take him to the temple so he can do baptisms. Wow. All 9 of our children of age and worthy to enter the temple. I am truly humbled as I recognize this greatest of all blessings. Does this mean I am finally growing up?

Nov 4, 2009

Trust: Part II by Kirsten Millsap

As I had said in my last post, I am in the midst of working on my stake's Christmas Concert, and writing the narrations. It has been a scary prospect to be left alone in this endeavor. To be forced to rely on the gifts that God has blessed me with. In the past it was so easy to just have the spirit hanging around, helping me to write and conceptualize the whole she-bang. This year, I can only hope I escape being hit by lightning if I mis-quote a past prophet or scripture. But I know the spirit is still there...just in case...

I had a "Just In Case Moment" the other day when I was getting ready to work on my last narration. I was writing about the Christmas Truce of 1914, and had rented a movie about it to brush up on the details. The internet didn't flesh out the story as well as I needed, so I was relying heavily upon this very hard to find video. And I couldn't find it! I found the cover, but no DVD. Where could I have put that? I prayed to find it, and when I still couldn't find it, I started to freak out. I kept thinking I needed to check my bedroom, and I did--twice, even though there was absolutely NO reason why I would have brought the DVD in there, so I ignored the feeling to check a third time. Finally, when I thought about the bedroom again, I said aloud, "But why would I have put the DVD in there?" The thought that went off in my head was, "Well...why would you have taken the DVD out of the case? You wouldn't think you would do that, now would ya? But you did." So...Ok...I went back to my bedroom, thought I should try looking on top of the armoir, again thinking, "But I wouldn't put it on top of here! Why should I bother running my hand over the top of this dusty old thing??" my surprise...tucked between two candles and a giant dust-bunny, I found the DVD.

So I wasn't left completely alone afterall. The Lord knew this touching true story was a neccessary part of my program, and He was there to help me get it written.

Point I am making? Even when the Lord leaves to opperate under our own steam, He is still there to back us up. And it's a nice thing to know.

Nov 3, 2009

An interesting thing happened on my way to becoming an author...

by Valerie Ipson

I was asked yesterday if I would be a judge in a writing contest. I won't reveal which one, because I wouldn't want to be inundated with gifts, luxury cruises, and Hershey's Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate Toffee and Almond Nuggets, all in an effort to persuade my vote. That would just be wrong...wouldn't it? (Not even just one measly bag of nuggets? *BIG SIGH*)

Anyway, it gave me pause. (Kind of like the mention of Hershey's Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate Toffee and Almond Nuggets just did.) And then I laughed. It reminded me of all those years ago when I had my very first ever item published in the newspaper. Because I could string a few words together in a somewhat coherent (and humorous, I hasten to add) manner and a newspaper was willing to publish it and pay me 10 bucks, suddenly I was an expert of sorts. Never mind that I didn't have another thing published for, like, forever. People just seemed to be impressed with even this one minor success.

They also seemed to think I knew the ins and outs of writing.

My son's 2nd grade teacher saw the article and asked if I would come once a week to teach Creative Writing to the class. And I was actually asked to judge an elementary school Reflections writing contest. I guess it turned out alright. No anarchy in the streets over the winners chosen.

No chocolate-covered bribery attempted either.

Darn it.

Nov 2, 2009

I love when my kids learn about writing

By Stacy Johnson

My 13 year old is learning to write a persuasive essay. His assignment (and mine) was for me to write 10 reasons why he should continue to do something that he hates; he chose piano lessons. His assignment is to argue my reasons why playing the piano is important. It will be interesting to see the different perspectives we have about this. Here are my 10:

1. There is a connection between being able to read well and playing an instrument. I want you to be a great reader.

2. Talents are gifts from God. If we don’t develop these talents, we are wasting a precious gift.

3. I love hearing piano music in the morning while everyone gets ready for school.

4. I love to torture you.

5. You may go to a foreign country on your mission where nobody knows how to play and you will be required to accompany the Hymns at your meetings.

6. It is my money and I will spend it how I want to.

7. Piano can be considered a percussion instrument and I thought you wanted to be the best percussionist you could be. This can only help.

8. Girls dig guys who play the piano so in reality, I’m doing you a favor.

9. Piano lessons keep you off the street and away from drugs and gangs.

10. Because I said so.

I'll have to get back to you on his responses, but this should keep you all in suspense and checking back in a few days:)

Nov 1, 2009

The Coming Thing: Ebooks

by Marsha Ward

I've been fascinated by, and have bought and read, ebooks for several years now. Although I don't presently have an ebook reader, one day I shall have one, or maybe I'll read on an iPhone or other device, when I have something like that.

Although I've enjoyed the convenience and lesser price of ebooks, it never occurred to me to make my backlist novels (you know, the ones I've already written, but don't actively promote right now) available as ebooks. Either the technology wasn't available through my provider when I initially published, or it cost extra to do one, so I didn't go there.

Now, however, it has come to my attention that there are avenues for publishing ebooks beyond posting them on your own website, that take somewhat less cost than you would expect.

So, with the inciting incident being a question from my daughter's boyfriend to the effect of why didn't I have ebooks available for all the Young Generation readers with iPhones and other devices that read ebooks, I thought I'd look into it.

I discovered, and their innovative MeatGrinder approach to providing multiple formats of ebooks.

Effortless? Not exactly. Simpler than re-formatting for several different e-readers by yourself? Certainly.

Although it took me several weeks to properly format my Word file (I had a nasty glitch in the file that forced me to re-do it several times, but that was my fault), I was finally satisfied with the results of my initial ebook, The Man from Shenandoah. The new cover design was created by Rex Sowards.

I am currently sharing the ebook--as a Halloween Weekend Special--for free, working on the theory that the more people who read my work, the more people there will be who will want to buy hard copies of my other and future novels.

Or ebooks of my other and future etc. etc.

There is a coupon code involved, so go find it on my blog, Writer in the Pines.

If you download and read a free copy, please post a review and/or rating on the site. I think it will actually remind you to do that, which is another reason I'm loving Smashwords.