Thursday, April 30, 2009

Woo...woo...woo...woo (to the tune of the Twilight Zone).


You are OUT THERE... more than you think!!!!!

by Stephanie Abney

As writers, we frequently talk about the need to create an "online presence." I'm guessing you are already present… more than you know.

Have you ever “Googled” your own name? You should. You might be surprised. You are "out there" more than you realize. Perhaps, even, more than you want to be. I have a charming friend, Mary, who is fond of posting photos online… so when I googled my name and THEN CLICKED ON "IMAGES" rather than just search, you can imagine I wasn’t overly thrilled to find a picture of myself at a recent baby shower we attended (in fact it was for one of our ANWA sisters, Deirdra Coppel) "sniffing" poopy baby diapers ~ it wasn’t real poop, of course; just blended chocolate in a baby diaper and we were supposed to identify which candy bar it came from.



I found myself listed in lots of places, even my own blog, and also blogs I have commented on. I also tried "Googling" Marsha Ward, Kerry Blair and Janette Rallison, among others, using the "IMAGES" button each time. It’s pretty fun. You have to wade through people who are not even closely related as well. But you are in there… I mean, OUT there. You should try it. Be sure to try clicking on IMAGES as well as just doing a search. You can also try putting in the names of your ancestors and clicking in IMAGES ~ you might link up to something useful.

Now, if you happen to share a famous name, like our dear Cindy Williams, you can pretty much guess that every image will be of Cindy Williams, the TV star. So, I added Arizona to the end of Cindy’s name and that’s when I got a picture of her. However, Cindy, I was wondering when it was that you were into body building? You should SEE the body builder who shares your name!!! YIKES!!

I put in my kids’ names, etc. and lots of images came up, especially with all the blogging everyone does these days. So, it’s great to be visible, but it bears a warning of some caution. Be careful what (and who) you post about and how many personal details you include; because once you hit the SEND button… it’s pretty much a done deal. And well… cyberspace has no secrets.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Self-sufficient

by Marielle Carlisle

Since moving into our new home 5 years ago, I have attempted odd jobs around the house; Jobs that people pay other people to do. Some projects went well; the others, well, they were good learning experiences. I figure “hey, I’ll be learning new skills AND saving money!” Here's to good intentions.

Success Stories:

1. Homemade baby food puree is easy peasy and much cheaper then canned baby food. I’ve made butternut squash, pear, peach, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, apple, and carrot.

2. I asked my co-workers for a good home wax kit recommendation, and now I wax my mustache and, ahem, other body areas in the comfort of my own home. It will take some practice, but I’m getting better. So long outrageous salon waxing prices!

3. If our auto mechanic tells us we need a new car battery or new windshield wipers, we say “thanks for the tip,” and then replace them ourselves. Piece of cake.

4. Last summer I made strawberry jam, and it was scrumptious. When we ran out during the winter, we were forced to eat jam that came FROM THE STORE. Never again.

5. Our new home here in Stepford did not come with window covers or ceiling fans. So being the ambitious new homeowners we were, we installed them ourselves, all 13 windows and 6 fans. Plus we painted each room throughout the next couple years and put in curtains and curtain rods. The blinds were the hardest by far. Looking back, I’m glad we did it, because we certainly learned how to handle a drill and paintbrush. But my husband and I have made a pact to never do it again.

6. Cleaning out the clogged drains in the sinks and tubs has got to be the grossest, nastiest, stinkiest job. It always makes me gag. Every time. But there's something so satisfying about watching the water flow straight down the drain without any congregating.

7. Doing yard work is where I have grown the most. I have learned to wield the lawnmower, hedge trimmer and blower with ease, and find trimming the trees to be very fulfilling. I put in trellises for the 9 bougainvilleas in the backyard and one winter I even overseeded the lawn. It worked … sort of.

8. My biggest success story is fixing leaks in the irrigation system. When I was putting in the trellises, I accidentally stabbed the main irrigation line with a stake, and discovered my error the next morning when the yard had turned into a lake. Instead of calling Mr. Irrigation Guy for help, I figured out the problem, drove to ACE, bought the $.50 piece of plastic tubing and fixed it. Presto.

This last week I noticed that one of the sprinkler heads was broken. The last time we had a broken sprinkler head, Mr. Irrigation Guy came and fixed it in 2 minutes and charged us 50 bucks. I swore I would fix the next one. And I did. I had a devil of time getting it out of the ground, but I showed that sprinkler head who’s boss.


Not-so-successful stories

1. One night I waxed my legs with my new wax kit, and I will never do it again. It is so not worth it. Pay someone to do it. Trust me.

2. Years ago when I was bored (this is before kids, obviously), I thought “I’ll drain the water heater!” I must’ve been incredibly bored. I researched my owner’s manual, and felt extremely confident in myself. After turning off the pilot light and closing all the necessary valves, I opened the spigot … and nothing. Not a drop. I jiggled with the valves and what not … nothing. I spent the next ½ hour trying to get water out with no results. Dejected, I went to turn the pilot light on … nothing. Now I’m freaking out. My husband would be home soon and would need to take a shower (hot, I assumed). Luckily (thankfully), our water heater was still on warranty, so a plumber came out, drained it and replaced the pilot light. For free. I guess this could be considered a success story.

3. Homemade pinto bean baby puree is nasty. It looks like throw up and it tastes like it as well. Take my word for it.


It's promising that I have more successes then failures. As for my next project, I have multiple ideas swimming around in my head. I'd like to get rid of the pigeons camped up under the eave of our roof, but I think that is above and beyond my abilities. I've always been interested in making more of our clothes, but that's a bigger time commitment then I have right now. I'm always up for fixing another irrigation disaster, but those are hard to plan. So, drumroll please ...

I'll start a garden! What better way to show myself that I know absolutely nothing about taking care of edible plants? Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Power in Your Corner

Of all the successful Disney flicks of the 1990s, my favorite was Aladdin, mostly due to Robin Williams' genie. In one of the many songs the genie sings, there is one about Aladdin now having “You got some power in your corner now,Some heavy ammunition in your camp.” From “A Friend Like Me.” I feel that way because of the Holy Ghost. I have this power I can tap into if I keep myself “unspotted from the world.” And this power gives wings to my writing efforts (and most every other endeavor). I am beyond grateful for the promise of his constant companionship. And I try very hard to listen for that still small voice to guide me.

Last night, it seemed he fairly took over. As I have written, a friend and I are converting an old story written some time ago into a 2009 James Bond world. As a result we often find ourselves at a loss on how to write the scenes while thankfully some scenes can just be reworked. Last night, we discovered the next scene in our story needed to be brand new instead of converted since we have switched around characters and their jobs. At first I was stymied, irritated and tired…I’m sure you can all relate.

I grudgingly volunteered to write up the new scene. My fingers took on a will of their own, I could as it were almost feel myself take a back corner while something else took over and wrote the scene. My friend (we do this through the modern marvel of IM’ing) deemed it perfect. I couldn’t take the credit.

As writers and as sisters, we need to remember we too have “power in our corner.” Tapping into that power can make the mundane adventuresome and the good jump to best.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Poem to Entertain You While I'm Gone

by Joyce DiPastena

I’m not actually home and posting this today. I’m really still in Salt Lake City, recovering from the Storymakers Conference and enjoying an extra week with my sister before returning to sunny Arizona (where I’m sure the temperatures will have risen frightfully while I was gone).

I didn’t know if I’d have time to type a post while I’m in Utah, so I decided to type something early and schedule it to post today. And since I’m frantically trying to get ready to leave town for the Storymakers Conference, I don’t really have time to sit and type up a post from scratch, so I’m resorting to my usual fallback position by sharing another poem with you.

This poem seems appropriate, since I’m visiting my sister and this is a poem that my mother often read to my sister when we were young. I’ll leave it to you to see if you can figure out why she might have done so. If you know any little girls (or boys) like this, you might want to share this poem with them. (Unless, heaven forfend, this poem applies to you!)

Rebecca,
Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably

A trick that everyone abhors
In Little Girls is slamming Doors.
A Wealthy Banker’s Little Daughter
Who lived in Palace Green, Bayswater
(By name Rebecca Offendort),
Was given to this Furious Sport.
She would deliberately go
And Slam the door like Billy-Ho!
To make her Uncle Jacob start.
She was not really bad at heart,
But only rather rude and wild;
She was an aggravating child….

It happened that a Marble Bust
Of Abraham was standing just
Above he Door this little Lamb
Had carefully prepared to Slam,
And Down it came! It knocked her flat
It laid her out! She looked like that.

*****

Her Funeral Sermon (which was long
And followed by a Sacred Song)
Mentioned her Virtues, it is true,
But dwelt upon her Vices too,
And showed the Dreadful End of One
Who goes and slams the Door for Fun.

The children who were brought to hear
The awful Tale from far and near,
Were much impressed, and inly swore
They never more would slam the Door.
__As often they had done before.

Hilaire Belloc

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Secret to Critique

By Shawnette Nielson

Once upon a time there was a magical kingdom where everyone was productive, happy, and talented. People wrote, sang, laughed, played, and danced with ease. When critiques were asked for, they were given honestly, concisely, and with love. There were never hard feelings, and charity abounded …

Yeah right :)

It is not a magical kingdom and writing is, in my opinion, one of the hardest talents to have and develop. When one writes, it becomes a part of them; their baby in a sense. And in order for one to progress in this talent we are left very little option but to hand our baby over, our unique creation which contains a portion of our soul, and allow it to be critiqued by any number of people. Sometimes we are congratulated, and simply given sage advice to help further its growth. Other times, we are advised to change our ‘baby’ to where it would not even be recognizable to us anymore.

What it comes down to, though, is a few basic truths: in the end it is the writer's baby and therefore the writer has the final say as to what is or is not changed. It is so easy, especially at first, to change our story again, and again, and again, in accordance to others opinions, until our final project is no longer OURS. Until our characters no longer speak to us because we have left them behind, deserted them, and changed them into something that is no longer true.

We cannot do this. Advice and critiques are necessary for growth. Absolutely. But ultimately, the final decision has to be the writers, and until we feel that truth to the bottom of our soul, we cannot succeed to our fullest potential as a writer. We would be like Jo on Little Women whose final story no longer was hers.

Discomfort is necessary for growth, but it is vital for us to always be true to ourselves, our story, and especially our characters. At least that is what I have come to learn.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When Writing Feels Like Dirty Diapers and Dishes

By Christine Thackeray

Last week I took my two sons out to college. When I got home, I found out that our six month old puppy who was potty trained when I left is not potty trained anymore. The children had failed to let her out, and as a result she had found a seldom entered room to frequent. We were back to square one. Two days later I finally got to the bottom of my laundry pile and faced the overflowing kitty litter box in the corner. As I began scooping away, I lamented my second unpleasant encounter with great quantities of feces and felt much like I had as a young mother with three young toddlers who was constantly drowning in dirty diapers.

All those years ago, I remember one specific day standing in front of a full kitchen sink that had morphed from being full of soapy water that morning nto more of a soupy stew made from soggy cereal, saturated crusts of toast and sliced hot dogs floating among the half submerged bowls and plates by the time when I finally faced it in the afternoon. I complained as I scrubbed the crusty cake pan that my life was nothing more than dirty diapers and dishes. I felt so oppressed by the weight of my responsibilities that I wasn't enjoying them. As I recall, when I finished in the kitchen I went to the park across the street with my kids and watched my children laugh in the bright Texas sunshine. A friend wandered by and we talked in comfortable camaraderie. It didn't take long before I had opened my eyes to all the glory of my situation. The small cost of maintenance for the great blessings around me were worth it, I just needed to revel in the joy of my gifts more often.

Lately, with my writing I've become a little soured. I've been editing two projects and doing some major rewrites. I'm past the fun creative part and am mired in the technical dirty dishes of it all and want to scream and run away. Now Freud might think this a good thing. After all he said, "Imaginative activity originates from dissatisfaction." But when what is supposed to be your imaginative activity is dissatisfaction- what then?

The answer is the same as with my children. I need to write something fun and light- like this post or a cool writing exercise from "Writing Down the Bones." The author suggests in one chapter to remember why you write and write it down. She put down some of her reasons:
1. Because I'm a jerk
2. So my mother will like me or my father will hate me
3. Because no one listens when I speak
4. Because I have something to share

Natalie Goldberg says the answers may change but if you are a real writer, it is your gift and it's not going away. It's part of you. So I can whine all I want about the dirty dishes i.e. editing, rewriting and editing some more, or I can get through the necessary stuff and relish the beauty of being able to put fresh thoughts on paper- of being able to take all the mushed up crazy thoughts in my head and find a voice for them. As Natalie Goldberg put it "[Writing] is an opportunity to take the emotions we have felt many times and give them light, color and a story. We can transform anger into steaming red tulips and sorrow into an old alley full of squirrels in the half light of November."

Wait. Isn't that basically the same thing Freud said? Anger, sorrow? Hey, maybe it is the dirty diapers and dishes that make me want to write in the first place. Hmm.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ben Franklin, and a B-24

by Anna Arnett

"One today is worth two tomorrows.  Never leave to tomorrow what you can do today."  So said Ben Franklin, and if I hadn't read this recently, I'd be in bed now instead of trying to write this blog.  I'm as bone tired as I can remember.  

Okay, so I have a short memory.

Yesterday I drove with three of my children to Marana (near Tucson) so Wayne and Kat could hop a ride on the only B-24 that's still in flying condition.  Literally at the last minute, I heard, "Mom, there's room for you, too.  Do you want to go?" 

I couldn't say no to such a great opportunity, so instead I said goodbye to David.  

Everyone else ducked under the open bomb bay doors and easily climbed aboard.  I had to wait for someone to find steps  for me.  Even bending low posed a small problem for a hefty, old lady with a strained muscle in her left leg.  With many helping hands, I made it.

The hour flight from Marana to Glendale thrilled me.  Nothing plush, noisy, I stood by the large, open windows, my hair blowing everywhere, and occasionally had to hold my skirt down.  At only a thousand feet, I could pick out individual trees in an orchard.  

I thought of Charles, who had enjoyed piloting this same kind of bomber, and of my maternal grandmother born in covered-wagon times (1847) whose life span included an airplane ride.  I wrote pages about it in my journal, and would like to give you a short version of all I felt.   However, after yesterday's flight, today's Diamondback baseball game, and a three-hour writing class this evening, I'll simply have to change the focus on Ben Franklin's quote. 

 "Never leave to tomorrow the sleep you need today." 

Goodnight.

A Bond of Love

by Kari Diane Pike

The gentle sound of doves calling slipped through my fading dream and tapped on my adrenal glands. My eyes flew open and I heard myself make that sound you make when you suck in all the oxygen in the room at once. My feet hit the floor with a thud as I flew out of bed, threw on my robe and ran down the hall pounding on the children's bedroom doors as I went.

"Rise and shine! It's late! Hurry up! Seminary starts in fifteen minutes!"

I threw cups and bowls, cereal boxes, a jug of milk, and a pitcher of juice onto the kitchen table. I grabbed lunch sacks and juice boxes out of the pantry, slapped peanut butter and strawberry freezer jam on thick slices of bread, put it in baggies, and tossed yogurt cups and spoons along with the sandwiches and juice into the bags. Prayer, a few short verses of scripture while the kids wolfed down their cereal, and my daughter and I sprinted out the door in a flurry of back packs and hi-tech track shoes. My stomach stayed tied in knots as I watched that daughter walk through the Church doors to seminary. I had just enough time to get back home and put the next child on the bus to school. I dreaded the thought that I would be trying to catch up with myself for the rest of the day.

I pulled out of the church parking lot and forced myself to ease my foot up off the gas pedal. Getting a ticket would not improve my day. I took a deep breath and expelled it slowly as I looked ahead to the stoplight and tried to adjust my speed in order to meet a green light. A green pick-up truck ahead of me swerved slightly to the left. My eyes automatically looked at the road to the right to see what the truck managed to avoid. A young, dark-haired boy knelt at the side of the road next to his fallen bicycle, frantically trying to gather the scattered cards and playing pieces of a board game. As I drove closer, I could see the fear and frustration on the boy's face. I pulled over and jumped out to see if I could help.

"Are you OK?" I asked, looking over at him as I reached down to pick up several of the small yellow plastic pieces strewn across the pavement.

The boy hesitated a moment before answering. His body tensed and I could see his thoughts in his eyes. I'm not supposed to talk to strangers. But I really need help. I'm scared. But I really want help. She looks like a mom. Maybe it's going to be OK. He took a deep breath and sighed heavily.

"Yeah. I'm OK. I fall down a lot."

"You fall down a lot?"

"Yeah. I'm used to it."

"Hmmm, I guess it's kind of a kid thing, huh."

He looked up at me and shrugged. He visibly relaxed, despite the fact that cars continued to speed past us...much faster than the posted 25 miles per hour. "Too bad the game was too big to fit in my back pack. It started slipping and I couldn't go fast enough to keep from falling."

A moment later, a small white car pulled up behind my van. One of the boy's teachers got out and greeted us and offered to take the game to the school while the boy completed the journey on his bike. I handed her the tattered, but put together game box. The boy stood up and brushed the last bits of rock and dust from the palms of his hands. He smiled a big toothy grin and his chocolate brown eyes lit up as he mounted the two-wheeler and waved at me.

"Thanks for helping me!"

I waved back as I opened the van door, climbed into the driver's seat, and headed home. I stopped at the red light and an unexpected wave of emotion tumbled over me. Why didn't any of the other drivers stop to help the boy? They didn't even slow down. Tears flooded my eyes and washed down my cheeks. What was this feeling? Why all the tears? I felt, rather than heard the sweet words of comfort that formed in answer.

"When we serve, we create something bigger than ourselves."

I no longer felt the need to rush around to catch up with myself. I let the tears flow and felt the love and light that filled my entire being. I thought about the many other children, big and small, who feel alone and frightened, not knowing who to trust or wondering if any one will ever care. I wondered how Heavenly Father must feel when he puts us in the path of someone in need...and we just pass them by. How sad that must be for Him to watch us miss the opportunity to create that joy and love that comes with service. I'll probably never know the name of the little boy I learned from that day, but he's no longer a stranger to me. He's my little brother. That little act of service, meager as it was, created a bond between us...the bond of love.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Baby's Alive!

by Valerie Ipson

I have a recurring dream that has baffled me for many years. No, it's not the one where I am in school and I'm lost and can't find my classes or realize I haven't been going to class at all and the semester is almost over. That was my previous recurring dream, and frankly, I'm a little concerned that I've stopped having that one because I think it was related to my desire to finish my college degree. Graduating is a real life awake dream that I still want to pursue, but is my subconscious saying the dream is dead? (I'll have to have a little talk with my subconscious, then, plus start figuring out financial aid to pay for the dream!)

Anyway, my current recurring dream has been 'curring over the last several years and it has become increasingly more disturbing. In it I have a baby. Always at least one baby, but sometimes two. So in the beginning, it was good...babies showing up in dreams is happy, fun, often delightful, but now in the dream where I have a baby, I see the baby or find the baby and realize with horror that I have not been feeding the baby. It is barely alive. I have been neglecting my baby. I immediately begin to feed it and hold it and thankfully, it is still alive.

Why? Why am I having this dream? I have eight children--a fair amount, and I also just turned 48--a fair amount. I simply am not having more children. Okay, grandkids? Well, no married kids yet, so that will have to wait. Am I neglecting my own children? I asked a few of them that and they said basically, yes, now leave us alone. Teenagers. They're so funny.

I was excited to come upon this in a book titled One Year to a Writing Life by Susan M. Tiberghien: after relating Maya Angelou's recurring dream, she writes, "I also have a recurring dream..." then she proceeds to describe MY exact dream about the baby and the not feeding and the rushing to feed and it's still alive. This is what she says, "The child is my creative self. I realize that, yes, I have been forgetting my own creativity, my inner child, but that now I am paying attention. The child is still there, still alive."

I was thrilled with this explanation. I've been neglecting my writing baby for too long. It needs my attention, it needs to be fed, and, yes, it's still alive.

I told my husband of the interpretation and he said, "Are you sure it's not that you're neglecting housework?" Husbands. They're so funny.

[NOTE: He may have a point...I was vacuuming Saturday and after vacc'ing up several shades of the always lovely Easter grass that grows in the carpet every spring, I reached down to run my finger along the corner of the entertainment center, and you guessed it, I pulled out Christmas tree pine needles. Eek!]

Monday, April 20, 2009

Purge your negativity

By Stacy Johnson
I’m off to the Dr. for my little girl. She was born with a hand deformity that I found out about during a routine ultrasound. It about put me over the edge when I found out and I feel like I missed about two months of my life worrying about how this would affect her life and ours after she joined us.

When we finally told the kids, they were so nonchalant about it, I wondered why I had been so caught up. They spent the next 20 minutes talking about all the things she COULD do without a perfect hand and I had spent the last two months thinking about all the things she COULDN’T do. It has been better since then, but I still have moments, like today when I have to face the reality of her situation, that I get a little bit sidetracked in my effort to think positive.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, how my negativity seeps into lots of aspects of my life. For example, after I wrote this chapter in my parenting book about “Setting Expectations,” I told myself nobody wants to know what I have to say, I have no degree, no formal parenting skills to offer. So there my chapter has sat and I haven’t written another one since. Of course, the interesting thing is that when I verbally explain my theory on setting expectations to other parents, they say it makes complete sense.

My point is, that we need to rid ourselves of the negative talk. We need self motivators and mantras, we need to cheer for ourselves more. We need to do whatever we can to purge the negativity from our lives and introduce more positive thinking.
Our group president sends a cheer to a group of people every morning (my small effort to purge), hers was quite fitting today:

Know you are fabulous, beautiful, and extraordinary!

It came just at the right time too. Thanks L.J.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Susan Boyle and Living Your Dreams

by Marsha Ward

I'm pretty sure nearly everyone who is active on email, blogs, or other Internet social media has heard by now of Susan Boyle. This unknown woman from a tiny Scottish village wowed the judges and audience of the UK reality talent show, Britain's Got Talent. The audition that was included in the opening for this season hit YouTube, and at the time of this writing, the main video has received over 27,400,000 views! That's just for one version, and there are several, with millions of hits on each one of them, as well.

Go look at the most-watched version:


http://tinyurl.com/c49rgl

Susan will certainly get a chance to live her dream. How about you?

Whether your dream is to write a best-selling novel, or to be a professional singer, you have to put in the time and hard work. You also need a lot of luck, but the luck won't help if you didn't do the work.

Go write. Learn the basics. Attend conferences and workshops. Write 100 words today. Join with other writers to hone your work against the whetstone of good critique groups. Never give up. Submit your work when you're ready.

Most of all, don't give up on your dream!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Writing a Novel Will Change Your Life

by Cindy R. Williams

"Writing a novel will change your life." This was one of the the first things my writing coach told me. I had no idea what she was talking about. I had never written a novel so I really had no life experiences to help me understand how this could be.

Fast forward two years. I have been writing scenes and reading them to my class/critique group weekly, and I am down to my final chapter of the book. I still have to polish up two other chapters to foreshadow the ending, and do a few more segways as we used to call it when I worked in TV. I am so close. In going through my scenes, I have now discarded 30,000 plus words and the book is about 200,000 words. I have done tons of writing, tons of re-writing, tons of discarding, tons of following family members around the house running ideas by them and making them almost as crazy as I am.

I feel I have a better idea about how writing a novel will change your life, you turn into a lunatic. But somehow, I think I have just scratched the surface. It will take me another week to FINALLY type the long awaited words "The End." Hold the press. My family is crying "foul" and say I am writing too much, so it will now take me at least three more weeks. Then I will have my-now-not-so-patient family, which includes five opinionated children and a very logical husband, read through it. If it gets their nod of approval, then it goes to the lovely Kerri Blair for editing. I will also be pitching it to an agent at the LDStorymakers Conference at the end of April.

From what I hear, my next step is to get a stack of rejection letters, continue to send it out while I work on new projects, until it finds a home . . . or not. This is the time one changes from lunatic to Physcho Mother from Mars.

For those of you that have already faced the music, and the rejection letters that come one by one by one by one by one . . . what advice to you have to remain sane at this point of the process?

Friday, April 17, 2009

White's Bird of Thought

by Sarah Albrecht

I just wrote a blog about E.B. White, inspired by an NPR feature commemorating the fiftieth birthday of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. Instead of cutting and pasting it from Word over to here, I managed to delete it.

AAK!

I'll encapsulate instead of rewrite. The deleted blog led up a to quote from the book, one I'll use to galvanize myself when I feel small compared to a master like White:

"Writing is, for most, laborious and slow. The mind travels faster than the pen; consequently, writing becomes a question of learning to make occasional wing shots, bringing down the bird of thought as it flashes by. A writer is a gunner, sometimes waiting in his blind for something to come in, sometimes roaming the countryside hoping to scare something up. Like other gunners, he must cultivate patience; he may have to work many covers to bring down one partridge."

Another quote from the book: "Omit needless words." So I'll stop.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Discovery of an Interesting and Useful Writing Tool

by Stephanie Abney

I am so overextended with everything right now. It makes me crazy if I think about it and I can’t function if I’m too crazy so I’d really rather not think about it. (Like not thinking about it could help).

Ever had such thoughts? Well, I mean really, there are only about 25 or so actual school days left in which to impart to my students all the things I think we may have missed this year. Hmmm.

I’m taking an AZ Constitution class on Monday nights for six weeks, making for very jam-packed lectures and only two examinations that determine your entire grade and starting this weekend, I’m enrolled in a US Constitution class that runs for two weekends from 5pm – 10pm on Fridays and all day Saturdays, from 8:00am – 6:30pm.

True, it will be nice to be done with 3* credit hours in such a short time (*1 credit for AZ Constitution & 2 credits for US Constitution) but it leaves little time to do or think about anything else. Unless of course, it is all the things I have left undone around the house, or that I still need to do before school is over, or need to do for ANWA or for my family, or my church calling, or for myself, for that matter.

Then there are the myriad of places that I should BE at over the next several weeks (many at the same time so unless I quickly discover the secret to cloning, I have to pick and choose between good and good and good and make up a lot of excuses to people, legitimate of course, but I still need to be excused from being where they thought I was going to be).

And then there are all the marvelous things I was going to write and that I wanted to read and you need to throw in the scriptures and prayer.

Oh yeah, sleeping might help too.

It’s just NUTS!!!

But the crazy thing is (yeah, I guess I actually AM crazy) that I love it. I’d rather be busy any day. I thrive on lots of things to do. It fires up my brain. It also makes for lots of undone things as well. I “roll well with the punches.” Such skills are great for the unexpected, but they are hardly the way to plan a life. I think I let too many “other things” plan my life. “Random” comes to mind. And I am rambling right now…

I should have posted this hours ago (well, maybe not THIS, but something), because whoever is next will be on time with their post and then hardly anyone will read this and if you’ve made it this far, you may be questioning WHY you are even reading it at all, which brings me to my unexpected discovery. (How’s that for a run-on sentence?).

I’ve tumbled all sorts of ideas and feelings around in my brain off and on throughout the day, thinking as soon as I get done with this… or that… I’ll sit down and write my blog post for ANWA Founders. Well, it’s after 10pm in AZ and I’m just about to the end of this. I thought of SO many things, that I was coming up blank so I Googled: “writing prompts” and found a writing prompt GENERATOR. So, I give it to you as a gift for having endured this bizarre post and hope you find it as useful as I did, clicking on it over and over again to see what presented itself:

http://www.creativity-portal.com/prompts/imagination.prompt.html

Enjoy and good night. I’m going to get some sleep. Love and Blessings to all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Guilty Pleasure

by Marielle Carlisle

A few months back I received a mass email from the ANWA peeps announcing the release of Janette Rallison’s newest book:

I thought it my duty to support a fellow ANWA-er, so I got the book from the library and started reading, though not really sure what to expect. Since then ...

I HAVE CREATED A MONSTER!!!

I cannot get enough of Janette’s books! After I finished “My Fair Godmother,” I put all her other books on hold and have raced through them. I just finished

over the weekend and am now reading


an adult romance written under her pen name, Sierra St. James.

Her books are super easy to read, considering they were written for tweens and teens. My husband was intrigued by my new book addiction, but after quickly glancing at the inside jacket cover he turned to me and said “You know, these books were written for girls ages 12-16.” Sure enough, on the inside cover it says “For girls 12-16.” I tried to explain how incredibly funny and witty Janette’s writing style is, but he couldn’t get past the whole I-don’t-fit-the-demographic thing, since I’m a teeny bit older then being a teenager.

When I was in the midst of all this reading frenzy, I received yet ANOTHER mass email informing me about a book signing Janette was having at Desert Ridge. That’s like, right by my house! Sort of. I’d never been to a book signing before, and I just knew that I had to go. My husband, though perplexed about my fascination with these books, wished me luck on my night out as long as I stopped at Costco to pick up a new car battery.

When I arrived at Barnes and Nobles, I discovered that Janette’s signing was part of a teen writing group. I felt so silly. Me, a grown woman with two kids and a mortgage attending a teen writing group. But who cares! It’s Janette! She talked about creating a good story, and I kept meticulous notes on her comments.

Towards the end of the hour, the group leader asked Janette to introduce her books to the group. I was like “Wait, you people haven’t read all her books yet? Are you insane? Get to work!” Then, one of the kids called her Janet. "It’s Janette! Come on people!" Sheesh.

Finally, the talking was over and we could have our books signed. I hesitantly edged toward Janette, clutching her other newest book

When at last it was my turn to meet her, I plopped down in the chair across from her and started blabbering on about how I love her books and that I’m in ANWA and my sister loves her books too and I thought

was my favorite by far and on and on. She smiled sweetly at me, listened to my chattering, probably said some things but I was talking so much I don’t remember what she said, and signed my book. Then it was over.

I was so completely out of it I forgot to have our picture taken together so I could send it to my sister. And since I dawdled at the book signing, Costco closed right as I pulled up for the a new battery.

None of that matters. Because I met Janette Rallison.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Those Pesky Transition Scenes

When my co-author and I decided which plot to go with and began writing, we found our biggest "fights" came from transition scenes. You need them. But they are pesky little creatures with a mind of their own. Sometimes you feel you've totally strayed from its purpose and the whole darn scene took on a major feel to it.

And there are so many questions. Should it be funny? Should it be suspenseful? Should it be short, long, and how much is too short and too long? Where is a natural ending? I mean a major scene you've thought out, has a main purpose. This is just supposed to lead from here to there, a setup for another major scene. In action thrillers, time for the reader to catch their breath. Since we are mixing some romance in this story, should that be the place for brief romantic interludes?

And just how do you deal with the very minor characters in some of these scenes? Just describe them? Do a little background? Don't even give them a name?

Add to all that the fact that my co-author just wings it. I'm usually the one agonizing over everything. For example, we both read a great series that had a major major character first described with blue eyes, then later brown...it made me nuts, she didn't even notice it. She keeps asking does it matter? And I keep answering apparently only to me.

Just the other night, we finished up a transition scene and took off a day or two for RL stuff. Came back together via IM and re read the scene. She loved it; I thought it was silly. Ugh. Those pesky transition scenes!

Monday, April 13, 2009

He Remembereth Every Creature of His Creating*

by Joyce DiPastena

Yes, this is another blog about pets! I wrote it many, many years ago now, but the Easter season brought it to my memory, and so I share it with you today.

**********************************************************

Echo was such a cat. That's what I always told him. He was built like an athlete. Long legs, long body, long tail. Everything about him was long. And sleek, with muscles that were sculpted for leaping tall bookshelves in a single bound. Which is exactly what he did, whenever he had an audience to cheer and admire his incredible dexterity. His propensity for jumping from the bookshelf to the pendulum wall clock, however, became more heart-stopping than amusing, as the clock tended to "swing" ominously beneath his weight. The only way to discourage his mischievous tricks (he usually looked over his shoulder to be sure someone was watching before he hurtled himself through the air at the clock) was to leave the room as soon as you saw him eyeing the bookshelf. 'Ere long, he would come trotting out after you.

This handsome silver tabby, with a wide, black "bullseye" patterned on each of his well-fed sides, loved his cat life with a passion I have seen in few of his feline fellows. Weighing a good 15 pounds ("I see you're raising mountain lions at your house," the vet would say when I took Echo in for his yearly shots), he was not content with the normal cat habits of eating and sleeping, eating and sleeping. He was a regular jogger. Seldom found sauntering through the house like his sister, Circe, he preferred a brisk trot to propel him from one place to another in our house. As a kitten, he delighted in crawling up inside of lamps, maneuvering himself inside our baby grand piano, and generally wedging himself into any tight, uncomfortable, commonly inaccessible space, merely, I'm sure, to prove it could be done after all.

Although many of these spaces did, indeed, become inaccessible after he finally stopped growing at 15 pounds, he never lost what I can only describe as a sheer enthusiasm for being alive. Then one day, as I was admiring the bright calculation in his face as he considered some new "adventure" in our house, it struck me: "This cat is excited to finally have a body!"

We are taught that we all lived as spirit children of Heavenly Parents before we were sent to this earth, and that one of the most important parts of this earth life is an opportunity for each of us to gain a body. The Lord, after revealing the creation of the earth, including that of both beasts and man to Moses, said to the prophet, "For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth." (Moses 2:5) Then surely, if I existed as a spirit in the pre-mortal life, Echo's cat spirit existed, too?

A little study confirmed this fact. When the Prophet Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord what the meaning was of the four beasts that John the Revelator saw in Revelation 4:6, the Lord explained, "They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator, John, in describing the paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air; that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, and every other creature which God has created." (D&C 77:2, italics added)

The fact that cats and other animals existed in spirit form in the pre-existence was not entirely new to me. Common sense and occasional gospel teachings on the subject had enlightened me on that matter. But the idea that a body might be a new and exciting thing to an animal, just as it is to a child . . . I had simply never considered that thought before. Watching Echo's delight in testing and stretching the limits of his body took on a whole new dimension for me. I began to watch him in wonder, and furthermore, I sometimes felt a little guilty for taking my own body so much for granted. Too frequently, I have failed to appreciate the unique and wonderful things I can do because I have a body. Yet here, this small, energetic little animal appeared uniquely happy in his sphere of life every single day, thanks to a mortal body that gave him so much joy.

Latter-day prophets teach us that animals can, and do, indeed, rejoice in living upon this earth. President Joseph Fielding Smith said, "Moreover, were not all creatures commanded to be happy in their spheres at least by implication if not by word? What a dreary world this would be should all life in the heavens above, on the earth, or in the sea be removed? What is more joyful to the ear than the voice of the robin on an early spring morning as he sings his song? The voice of the thrush, the meadow lark, even the bark of a friendly dog, each of them expressing their joy for their existence?" (Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.4, p.44)

Another time, President Smith commented, "The Lord gave life to every creature, both the birds in the heavens, beasts on the earth, and the fishes in the streams or seas. They also were commanded to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. It was intended that all creatures should be happy in their several elements." (Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 4, p. 43)

Echo truly was a happy cat. He left this mortal life much too soon for me, a mere six years old. That's young for a cat. He appeared to pass peacefully, if mysteriously, in his sleep one day. Yes, I wept to lose him. The loss of so much energy, so much curiosity and precosiousness left a lonely vacuum in our home. But if the scriptures offered enlightenment about his pre-earth and mortal life, they also give hope for the future. In speaking of the day of resurrection, the Lord has said:

"For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand." (D&C 29:24-25, italics added) When I see Echo again, I believe it will be with those same distinctive bullseyes on his sides.

If the Lord notes even the fall of the sparrow (Matt. 10:29), then surely he knew both of Echo's passing and of my sadness to lose him.

As humbled as I had been by one small cat's appreciation for the body the Lord had given him, I continue in gratitude and awe for the infinite vastness, inclusiveness, and love made manifest by the Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection with its accompanying promise that we, too, both man and beast, shall rise again, "[Our] sleeping dust . . . to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to [our] bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that [we] might receive a fulness of joy." (D&C 138:17)

Perhaps, for now, Echo is anxiously awaiting that day, "look[ing] upon the long absence of [his] spirit from his bod[y] as a bondage." (D&C 138:50) But one day, he, like I, will receive our bodies again. In that day when "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw . . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 65:25)

With the Millennium come, the world at peace, and death finally conquered for man and beast alike . . . oh! what adventures Echo will have before him then.

*Mosiah 27:30

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Lord's Work

I served a mission in St. Louis, Missouri. For 19 months my sole responsibility was to share the gospel with others. It has now been about 5 years since coming home and I have found it too easy to get wrapped up in my own life to forget about the very important role of missionary work. I’m convinced though that as I focus more on the Lord’s commandments, he will in turn assist me in my own endeavors.

It works that way. During the busiest times of my life, if I am putting the Lord first, I am somehow able to accomplish the rest of my goals and endeavors. I guess it’s kind of like tithing. I am able to do more with 90% of my time and the Lords help, then I would ever be able to accomplish on my own with 100% of my time. As life continues forward things seem to accumulate on my ‘to do’ list. Mundane tasks such as laundry, cleaning, yard work, and dusting interlaced with the all important role of being a Mother and wife (or grandmother, or sister, or friend, or…) and then sprinkle in a church calling or two, and perhaps even a social life, and days fly by without much time left to sit down and write the things closest to my heart. I have learned not to despair, though. Because somehow when I make sure to read my scriptures, pray, and practice my church callings with enthusiasm, I somehow AM able to work the other things into the busy grind of life. I somehow AM able to sit down at the end of the day and envelope myself in another world of my own creation. A creation that I have found is essential to my peace and happiness.

I am compelled to write. I am pushed by some unseen hand to put pen to paper and create. Aren’t you? I know that these talents are given to us by God, in hopes that we will expand on them, and make something beautiful out of them. So it makes sense that if we, in turn, put God and his commandments first, then he will assist us as we create.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Easter Feast

By Kristine John

About 3 or 4 years ago, I purchased the book A Christ-Centered Easter: Day-By-Day Activities to Celebrate Easter Week by Janet and Joe Hales.
It has been pulled out every Easter season with the intention of being used, and yet, I have never gotten around to implementing the suggestions it gives for making the Easter holiday more meaningful and truly Christ-centered.

It was just a few weeks ago that I stumbled upon this book, yet again, ahead of the Easter season.
I put it in a place in my kitchen where I would see it regularly and remember to use it BEFORE Easter day.

I was extra excited at the beginning of this week to start our daily devotionals because I knew that they would be focused on the Savior.
Not only that, but they would also help my children learn about and remember the Savior in a way that they had not done before.

We've spent the week talking about, reading about, and singing about the Savior.
It has truly made a difference in my heart to contemplate the joy of Easter over an entire week before the holiday.

Our spring activites (dyeing eggs, hiding the plastic, candy filled eggs, etc..) have been interspersed throughout the week, but not our primary focus.

The amazing thing is that I am pleasantly "full" spiritually already, and anxious for the "dessert" that lies ahead.
Tonight we will see the Easter pageant at the Mesa Temple, and culminate our spiritual Easter feast with our church services on Sunday.

How grateful I am for this season of joy, of sacrifice, and most importantly of remembrance and resurrection.
May the joy of this Easter season touch your hearts as you prepare to celebrate our Savior and Redeemer!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

There's No Proof!...or is there?

by Kari Diane Pike

Three-year-old Travis and his four-year-old brother Wesly love playing at Grandma's house. One day when little Kylie came over to play, Travis didn't seem to mind too much that this little friend was a girl, until it became obvious that he would need to share his toys. Travis decided that some of the toys were "girl toys" and some were "boy toys." When Kylie tried to play with the boy toys, Travis became very insistent that under no circumstances was she allowed to play. Wesly, always the peacemaker, quietly handed Kylie one of the boy toys she desired. With great indignation, Travis approached Wesly and soundly smacked him. Upon hearing the commotion, Grandma asked Wesly why he was crying.

"Because Travis hit me!"

"Travis, Wesly said you hit him. Did you hit Wesly?"

Travis looked up at his Grandma, his hands held up and out from his sides and pronounced, "There's no proof!"

How can you not laugh until you wet your pants when a child says or does something like that? It is very difficult to discipline when the little angels decide to wear devil costumes for the day. Can you blame me when I open my scriptures and read about speaking with the tongue of angels and wonder what that really means.

2 Nephi 31:12-15 promises that "by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel." What does it mean to "speak with the tongue of angels? Obviously this scripture is not referring to these little angels in devil's clothing who regularly visit my home.

In 2 Nephi 32:2-3 we are given further insight. "Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I say unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what you should do." 2 Nephi 31:15 says, "...Yea the words of my Beloved are true and faithful...."

Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost testifies and teaches that Christ is the Son of God. Therefore, angels speak the words of Christ, which are true and faithful and teach us all things we should do. From this we learn that in order to obtain that gift --to speak with the tongue of angels--we must have faith, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and be obedient to thost covenants we have made. The Holy Ghost will bear witness to the truths we learn and when we speak we will speak and teach truth. The incedible gift of speaking with the tongue of angels is to speak truth as the Holy Ghost bears witness to the words of Christ.

In order to speak the words of Christ, we must first learn them. We are commanded to "feast upon the words of Christ." Just as we pray before partaking of a daily meal, praying before we begin our spiritual feast is vital to our understanding. The Bible dictionary states: "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings" (Bible Dictionary, pgs. 752-3). Heavenly Father has blessings and gifts waiting for us...just for the asking!

Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "The more you trust and rely on the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit."

Just thinking about the potential we have to reach out to others as we share the gospel message through our gift of writing brings joy to my heart. That writing might be the thoughts we put in our journals that will one day inspire a child or grandchild. That writing may be in the story line of a work of fiction..which at some time will give strength and hope to someone whose heart is hungering for a glimmer of truth. Whatever we write, do it with love and prayer and a conviction of truth so that what we write testifies of Christ. Then we will know we can speak with the tongue of angels...and even be granted the power to discipline with love and laughter when caring for the precious angels entrusted to our care...even when there seems to be no proof that they aren't really little devils!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On Journaling

by Anna Arnett

A friend called today and we talked for an hour or more, but one thought still stays.  She told me, "When I'm down in the dumps, I like to go back and read in my journal.  It always lifts my spirits."  Comparing her life today with what it once was make her both grateful for today's conveniences and just plain glad for the experiences behind her.

I wish I had followed the prophet's advice and written daily.  Oh, I started many a journal.  I just fizzled out.  Except for the eighteen month Temple mission in Sydney, Australia.  I did write daily then, or at least close to it.  However, I haven't re-read a thing as of yet.  Maybe I ought to find it and start now instead of saving it to read in my old age.

Let's see, what I might have journaled for today, Wednesday, April 9, 2009.

"My son Paul called this morning.  We hashed over the great turnout for Mark's documentary, 'Baby Boomerang,' on Monday evening, and the party afterwards.  There must have been about sixty of us wearing slate blue, 'Baby Boomerang' T-shirt, and everything went well.  The DVD's had arrived, and Paul said they sold over a hundred at the door of the theater room. 

"But what Paul really wanted to talk about was the ball game.  He finally got details on how to buy tickets for the Diamond-Back game at noon on the 22nd, and get the special seating for World War II vets, families and friends. For those who mention the Arnett Institute, or WWII vets when they buy or reserve tickets, our non-profit historical charity gets $2.50. We could use it to good advantage  Paul and David chose this site for the annual luncheon for the Arizona Liberator's luncheon they are now in charge of.  It promises to be a gala affair, with two drawings for rides in the only B-24 still flying, valued at $450 each.  For good seats, all you can eat, a lounge area, and a baseball game between the D's and the Rockies--what more could you ask for only $30?  Being interviewed by a sportscaster?  It's a possibility.  Getting in free?  Well, that's not an option.

"My class tonight with Pamela Goodfellow went well.  I learned I can tell my story from the vantage of an old lady remembering, but must not throw in my comments except when transitioning from one scene to another--not in the middle of a scene.  I'd wondered about that. It makes sense.  A week from Saturday morning, we can meet with a man Pamela says is a great businessman and very knowledgeable about promoting and selling books.  He's pricey, $150 for three hours, but it also includes at least half an hour appointment with him individually on whatever you need to talk about.  Pamela thinks he's worth it.  I'm still pondering.

"I read the part in my bio about telling my parents I was going to marry a man they'd never met--in six more days, in Arizona where I'd never been, and was taking off alone on Monday.  Things have changed drastically since I got that first, strange but exciting temple recommend interview.  Long distance telephoning was done only through an operator, and highway speed, even for busses, was everywhere limited to 35 mph.  I haven't time to mention it all tonight.  It's in my ms (or my published book, some day.)

"Oh, and I started reading Debra Erfert's ms, 'Windows,' and am so enthralled I almost forgot to blog, which I must finish and post right now because today's my day.  If I hurry, I'll have another hour to read before midnight. Unless my need for sleep overrides my interest, I may be reading most of the night."

 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Writers Read

by Valerie Ipson

"Once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system it weakens it so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the inkpot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing." ---Virginia Woolf.

I daresay that most all writers began as voracious readers. I know I've lived a wonderful fictional life through the Bobbsey Twins, Beezus and Ramona, Encyclopedia Brown, and Nancy Drew all the way to more recent adventures with lady's maid, Dashti, of Book of a Thousand Days, heroine Helene de Laurant, compliments of Joyce DiPastena's Loyalty's Web, and a mouse who shares his story in The Tales of Despereaux.

It was the reading of a book that inspired me to begin writing in a journal at the age of 13, something I did almost daily for over twenty years. I was so moved by the story that I had to express my emotions, so that became my very first entry. "Peter is such a beautiful name..." I wrote--that was the name of the heroine's true love. It's not that great a leap, then, to assume that reading inspired me to move from journal entries to writing fiction. Whether we read and say, I can write better than that, or we read and think, I want to write like that, reading moves us and inspires us.

From the words of great poets and prophets to the words found in books of scripture or great literature (or books just plain fun to read) to the words spoken by my mother at her knee..all these words have value to me and have set me on this amazing journey called WRITING.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Moving On

By Stacy Johnson

My dryer has been dying a slow death. You know when it takes almost two hours for anything to dry, there is something wrong. Yes, I’ve cleaned the lint screen to remove the dryer sheet buildup that is invisible. But this isn’t about my dryer, this is about my washing machine. My washer actually gave up on one load this weekend, she stopped right in the middle of draining. I had to go into the laundry room and cheer her on to drain, rinse, then spin the load. I put in two smaller loads to end the day then I gave her a break on Sunday and didn’t ask her to do any work. I got up early this morning to catch up on what didn’t get done on Saturday and she did it to me again. I had to stand there and jimi-rig her with a screwdriver to finish the load. She made me mad, but then I stopped to think about my sweet machine.
She was the first large purchase we made after moving into our first home. I was so proud of her. She sat there at the back of my laundry room, gleaming white, her sticker touting “extra large capacity” made me so excited to do my first load. I only had 3 kids then and I could get the laundry done in one day, easy. There are seven children now, and she is hard at work at least 5 days a week. She’s moved with me five times since that first house and she has rarely given me any problems. I’ve tried to reward her with a new hose every move, I give her a good cleaning regularly and I’ve even bought her some new parts over the years. I even wrote a paper for school about her, you can read it here. http://johnsonteammom.blogspot.com/2009/04/i-am-sicko-who-loves-to-do-laundry.html I’ve been good to her and she’s been good to me.
That is why I feel a little guilty today. For family night, we will go and purchase a new set. A new washer and dryer that will make my old ones look like they belong in a doll house. A new set that will wash and dry in half the time and do twice the amount in one load. I’m already feeling less guilty about it. And, I think with a newer, more efficient washer and dryer, this will surely free up some more time for writing, right? Guilt gone.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

LDS General Conference: A Deep Well to Slake Our Thirst

Welcome! Today is the second day of the 179th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently, the worldwide church is experiencing the 4th session from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah: in person; via satellite hookup at thousands of stake centers; via radio; broadcast, cable and satellite TV; and Internet.

The LDS Church has Internet feeds at www.lds.org. Many on the blogosphere are live blogging. Some of those sites are the Messenger and Advocate and By Common Consent. BCC also has a Twitter feed, and Temple Study is also liveblogging via Twitter. The Messenger and Advocate has several more links.

If you wonder what the Mormons believe, give us a listen. LDS General Conference is the twice-yearly deep well from which we drink to slake our thirst. It is the opportunity to listen at the feet of prophets and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Come and drink of the waters of salvation.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Change Your Seat

By Cindy R. Williams

It is only the view from where you sit that makes you feel defeat.
Life is full of many aisles so why don't you change your seat?

Time for me to pick a new seat. The seat I have been sitting in is growing hard and stuffy. I have been reading about writing successes. Of course I am happy for these great successes and they inspire me. But from where I am currently sitting, I feel bogged down. I get these silly thoughts jumping in and out of my subconscious like; I could never do that, they write so much better than me, or they are just lucky. I might as well just give up. I don't know if I can find the time, to make what they have done happen for me. Discouraging thoughts can zap all of our creativity in no time.

Then that burning desire to hop back into my latest project pushes those thoughts back out into outer darkness right where they belong, and back to work I go. I change my view and pick another seat.

Why is it human nature to compare ourselves to others? It seems to be akin to being hard on ourselves. Isn't is so much better to learn from others, and follow good examples? The greatest example of all is Christ. Yet it would be ridiculous to compare ourselves to Christ. So why would we want to compare ourselves with anyone anyway? There is no comparison. We are unique, and there is a place for each of us. The world has need of our voices. Each and every one of us.

I will keep writing. I quite like this new seat I have chosen. It is a comfortable, overstuffed, love seat, that helps my imagination fly. I think I'll snuggle in and have some fun!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Humpback Chub

by Sarah Albrecht

“Humpback chub,” my fourth-grade son greeted me in the driveway after school.

This startled me only slightly, as he tends to latch onto words that intrigue him. He’d learned about humpback chub that day in science lab. They’re odd-looking endangered fish that live only in the Colorado River and can live to be twenty-five years old. Interesting as that may be, I doubt my son would have met me in the driveway and announced the fish’s name if it had been as mundane as “bass” or “trout.”

Which left me thinking about something we all know--that the right words have power. I liked the reminder anyway, because it's easy to draft vague mishmash. Great word choice is usually hard work, sweated out in revision. But the right word rouses interest. The right simile zings meaning to the reader’s mind.

Without going back to refresh myself, I tried thinking of great word choice in some of the books I’ve read, figuring that those words must have had staying power. In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain described a courtier in orange tights as a forked carrot. Humpback chub didn’t startle me, but this did. In A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard described a rising flock of starlings as a black net tossed into the air, and a daytime gibbous moon as a smudge of chalk. Perfect. In one of my most favorite books ever, A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park named her orphaned lead Tree Ear, the Korean term for mushrooms that grow on trees and appear without “parents.” The name intrigued while representing everything the character longed for.

When I actually have my work in progress far enough along that I can revise for word choice, I need to force myself to find those words that reach out and clutch readers. Maybe I’ll start with humpback chub?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Missing Pieces


A BOOK REVIEW (and so much more!!) by Stephanie Abney

Monday night I had the privilege of attending a most unique “book signing.” My dear friend, Jeni Grossman, was introducing her book, Missing Pieces. Jeni and I go way back. I introduced her to ANWA and when she published her first book in 2001, Beneath the Surface, her inscription on my copy said: “For my dear friend, Stephanie ~ Well, I guess I can blame this book on you! Joining ANWA pushed me into it and you pushed me into ANWA! I love you!
Jeni Grossman.”

Jeni was the first LDS fiction author to write a murder mystery. In Beneath the Surface we meet Dulcey Martinez for the first time, a rookie television reporter. In the sequel, Behind the Scenes, published just a year later, we catch up with Dulcey again. This time she is covering a story on drug dealers and soon her own life is in danger. Jeni is a master at unexpected twists and realistic characters.

I’ve come to expect great things from Jeni (who was also my daughter’s creative writing teacher in high school), but I was completely unprepared for what awaited me in her third novel, Missing Pieces. I had visions of finishing it before I wrote this and I have tried in vain to come up with a different blog post but this one won’t let me be so I’ll share what I’m experiencing right now with all of you. Alas, I am only on chapter 11 out of 49. I am so intrigued and impressed I can only marvel and wonder at what lies ahead as I continue reading.

Jeni’s husband, Gary, is a professor at ASU. He was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to do research in Turkey for two years from 2002-2004. Jeni went with him. If you know Jeni, then you know she didn’t just go out sightseeing for two years. Instead, she found numerous ways to make a difference. While living in Ankara Jeni worked for an agency of the prime ministry responsible for building dams and as a guest reporter for the Turkish Daily News where she wrote award-winning articles about the two thousand year old city of Zeguma that was uncovered during the building of one of the dams. The discovery of this ancient city will be greater than that of Pompeii once the excavation is completed. The condition of many of the artifacts, particularly intricate mosaic floors, is quite pristine.

The delightful gathering, as it was so much more than a book signing, took place at the Val Vista Lakes Country Club in Gilbert, AZ. We saw a slide presentation of some of the breathtaking archeological finds, heard from several people who have gone to Zeguma personally and listened to Dr. Gary Grossman and his colleague, Dr. Mary Jane Parmentier, discuss some of the history and current conflicts in the Middle East. I tasted Turkish Delight, tried my hand at creating part of a mosaic, visited with friends and gained new insights on our brothers and sisters half a world away. Jeni and 19 local women who went to Zeguma (on a book club “field trip” no less!!) started a peace organization called, “Tiny Peaces” which does much to help women and girls in Turkey, including provide scholarships for girls to stay in school. You can (and should) visit their website at
www.tinypeaces.com.

The book is completely captivating and Jeni paints pictures with words with such ease. I am watching this story play out as a movie in my mind as I read. Paraphrasing the back jacket of Missing Pieces, Dulcey is now a famous CNN reporter. She kisses her children and husband good-bye and flies to the Middle East to document history in the making as the excavation of the fallen city of Zeguma reveals a magnificent golden goddess statue. Terrorists attack her entourage, revealing a perilous political plot. An Al Qaeda henchman seeks the statue to fulfill ancient prophecy that would grant ultimate power to Islamic extremists. Tensions mount inside and outside of the excavation camp and Dulcey struggles to distinguish friends from enemies. In a heart-pounding race to secure the goddess, Dulcey learns the value of honor, family and heritage as she risks her own life in trying to preserve her most precious treasures.

This book has given me much to think about in just the first 11 chapters. The unexpected plot twists, which Jeni is expert at, keep you wanting more. I can’t wait to finish this book. But, I do have to fit my life and teaching in there somewhere. All I can say is, “Thank-you Jeni. You amaze me. And please stay safe!”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Finally!

by Marielle Carlisle

Technology is incredible. Computers, the internet, cell phones, television ... and everyday things are invented and improved upon. I chuckle when my grandma asks questions about how to surf the web, but it always makes me wonder: what sort of technology will I have to learn?

At least searching the internet just got a little bit easier.