Feb 28, 2010

I Love my ANWA Friends

By Sarah Hinze

It is always a delightful part of our annual ANWA Conference to see everyone and catch up on family and writing projects of the members. Peggy Shumway, Gayla Wise and I were chatting when Jannette Rallison came up to us and with her typical humor said,"Wow! I am witnessing a meeting of the charter members--can I break in with a comment?"

"Yea, please enlighten us", we joked back. So we all giggled and talked and enjoyed a warm and loving time together, excited about the projects and accomplishments of one another.

It was so good to see Julie Grant all the way from Texas. I was happy to connect with Betsy Love--what a perfect name for that girl--she is so full of hugs and sunshine! I vowed to her that I would attend my next chapter meeting. I asked Patti Hulet to write down the time, place, etc. so I would not forget.

"Can you stop by and put up a zillion hearts on my lawn--just to remind me to go, and as a special token of your love?"

"Sure, if that is what it takes to get you there--we miss you." said Patti, with that typical twinkle in her eye. What a sweet girl that one is.

But that will not be necessary. I plan to attend my chapter meeting this month and enjoy the warm fuzzys from my ANWA sisters.

You might want to attend yours too--who knows what interesting writing tidbits await us.

I loved the conference. I was inspired to get busy and keep writing. But most of all--thanks for the friendship of all you dear sisters. I love you so much.

What a treasure for me to have my beautiful daughters with me,Laura and Heather, both of them talented novelists. They amaze me with their strength and determination!!

Feb 27, 2010

Aren't Sisters Great?

By Christine Thackeray

As we speak, I am at my yearly sister's retreat. I came from a family of twelve children with eight girls. Two years ago when my mother passed away, we decided it was time to get together, just us girls, and spend a weekend without children and spouses enjoying each other. We do hokey crafts, talk until the wee hours of the night and laugh until invariably someone pees their pants, (a result of having many children.)

This year my oldest sister couldn't attend because she was on a mission in Brazil. My third sister was also unable to make it due to grandbabies. In order to include everyone, we teleconferenced them in and had our own little "View." Each of us came up with a single question to ask of the group and it was FUN!
Here's the questions we came up with and our general consensus:

1. If you had armpit stains, would you want someone to tell you? (Apparently, in Brazil it's so hot, you're whole body is an armpit.)

2. What is your internal age?(We ranged from 11 to 30.)

3. Do you force a teenager to go to church? (We didn't really agree but decided it depended on the teenager and was essential to seek personal revelation about it.)

4. Have you ever had to chose between something good and something hard but better that other people thought was wrong like EVE? (Interestingly, we all got it and we all had. One sister had to spend a lot of time with one child because of LD's, but she knew it was right. Actually, most of these answers were children based which is the same reason Eve took of the fruit- fascinating.)

5. What would you ask Mother if she were still alive? (This was teary but as each of us asked the questions, whether about a recipe we didn't have or about an interpersonal issue we were coping with, we were given an answer by someone else in the group and we realized that although Mother was gone, so much of her wisdom was still here- through us.)

Well, they are all getting on their exercise clothes to go running which my knees won't do but I can at least go do sit-ups or something. Have a great day and if you've got a sister, call her. If not, find a close friend to be an adoptive one. Because life with a sister makes everything better.

Feb 26, 2010

First Book Signing

by Joan Sowards

I had my first Haunts Haven book signing last week and it was so fun. Since my story is an LDS yarn, the by-line being an LDS Ghost Story, my novel is sold only in LDS bookstores, and since Haunts Haven is published by an independent publisher, my signings are in independent LDS bookstores.

The marketing person for Walnut Spring Press and Leatherwood Press, Amy Orton, arranged for me to sign at Beehive Books and More in Edgewood, Washington. Because of my schedule, it had to be on Thursday at noon. Strange time, I know.

She advised beforehand that bookstores are leery of book signings unless the author could guarantee a good turnout, so the president of my fan club (hubby) and I sent email invites to everyone we knew in the Seattle area, and posted an invite on ANWA Bulletin and FaceBook. As it turned out, “O” came from our efforts and I had to rely on the usual walk-in, Thursday noon traffic.

Beehive Books is an adorable shop that not only carries books and LDS supplies, but also missionary and scout clothing, and all kinds of extras. The owner and staff gave me a warm welcome and set me up in a cozy area with a loveseat and fireplace. After a few minutes relaxing on the couch, I decided it was best not to sit and hope people came to me. When each customer walked through the door, I took a book and a Ding Dong and approached them.

“May I introduce you to my novel?” I’d ask. The trapped customer always nodded yes. “Haunts Haven, an LDS ghost story is about a girl who inherits an inn that has been boarded up for 50 years, and when she moves in, she discovers she has also inherited a real ghost. The story tells how she deals with him. She is also addicted to Ding Dongs.” That’s when I’d hand over the Ding Dong bearing a cleaver ghost sticker. Inevitably, the person’s eyes lit up.

Out of the 15 women I spoke with in those short two hours, 8 bought Haunts Haven. (There were half as many men who came in, but when I tried to tell any about the book, their eyes glossed over.) I learned you can’t predict if a person will buy your book only by their appearance. Some I thought would not want to read Haunts Haven, were the most enthusiastic.

Thinking Ding Dongs could sell books, I visited the local LDS bookstore in my hometown, fully armed. With permission, I began giving my spiel to customers about Haunts Heaven. They listened politely, took the Ding Dong and said they’d keep my book in mind, but nobody carriedHaunts Haven enthusiastically up to the cashier. So what’s the diff? Do we have LDS bookstores so close that good products are always available and there is no expediency to purchase? Was it that I wasn’t an official guest of the store, so there wasn’t a luminary spirit?

Book signings and figuring out how to sell books is still kind of spoooky.

Feb 25, 2010

I'm Flexible!

by Kari Diane Pike
I think most people have heard or read Charles Dickens' famous opener: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 - 1870)
Thoughts about the existence of opposition and the role opposition plays in our lives have occupied my mind quite a bit lately. I don't think I have ever felt more challenged and at the same time more supported than I do right now. As a result, my prayers are longer, more frequent and more intentional. I feel greater love and sorrow for those who suffer and mourn, yet at the same time I have less patience and tolerance for unkind words and deeds. In a world where nothing stays the same, I have discovered the joy in knowing that God never changes.

I love how I can be feeling absolutely miserable and someone will cross my path with an unexpected smile or witticism. The other day a friend posted this on her Facebook status: "Women are angels and when someone breaks our wings, we still fly...on broomsticks. We're flexible."

Now, I realize that may not seem very funny to you, but I almost fell out of my chair laughing. My own wings were feeling pretty broken that day. Those words gave me a different perspective. Instead of whining about the internet being down, I dug out actual books to do some research. When the printer refused to print black only, simply because it wanted a magenta cartridge refilled, did I throw a tantrum? Maybe...but then I found my favorite pen and continued writing the old fashioned way. I hopped on my broomstick and kept riding--er--writing!


Feb 24, 2010

Emptied Nest, Time for a Party!

By Lynn Parsons

My youngest child, Cassie, was just accepted to both Brigham Young University-Idaho and BYU in Provo, Utah. My two sons graduated from BYU, and my other daughter is at BYU-Idaho (and nicely recovered from her recent concussion, thanks for asking!).

Attendance dates were an important part of her deliberations. She could begin in Provo in June, but her track in Idaho didn't start until January, 2011. She's leaving in June.

That means my empty nest (after 28 years) comes sooner than expected. I had mixed feelings about this. Then I realized that her freshman orientation is just before my book launch party in Salt Lake City. We can travel up as a family, and she can attend the book launch with her siblings! This essentially saves me a round trip airfare. Heavenly father is looking after our family.

I had wondered how I would face this (relatively) child-free time in my life. But my two grandchildren will move nearby in August, and I have book signings and presentations to keep me busy between now and then. Rather than focusing on my empty nest, I look forward to my full life!

Feb 23, 2010

Why Should I Attend a Writing Conference?

by Valerie Ipson

I remember my first writing conference. I was nervous. I wondered if it was worth the money. But it turned out to be one of those *BIG SIGH* moments, where I felt surrounded by others that were doing what I was doing. Of course, I felt like a brand new guppy in a pond of experienced swimmers, but I loved just being around other writers and learning and laughing with them, being inspired by them. Years later it is still a highlight to attend a conference and laugh when people think I am experienced and know what I'm doing. And it is definitely worth the money to establish those relationships within the writing/publishing community.

I came across Susan Denney's Ten Great Reasons (plus one) to Attend a Writer's Conference at writing-world.com.

Here are a few of them, but please click on the link and read the whole list. They're good.

You will meet other writers.
You will learn something.
You will get energized.
You will learn more about different genres.
You may find a new market for your work.
You will improve your professional effectiveness.
You will be inspired.
You will meet editors and agents.

I'm betting you'll find the ANWA Writer's Conference (link on the left side bar) will deliver on several of those reasons for you personally this weekend.

Feb 22, 2010

Jumping the gun on my son's graduation this May (can you tell I'm excited?)

By Stacy Johnson

I’m just a kid. We sit in a large booth, the one in the corner that fits our whole family. It is fun sliding around to get to the middle where I sit next to my dad. He orders a pig sandwich and asks if I want to split it with him, I reply in affirmative with an excited ”oh yes!” He orders corn on the cob as his side dish with French fries for me. The rolls that our waitress, Janette brings us are warm and soft, the butter just melts as I spread it on. There is sawdust on the floor and mom has to keep reminding my baby brother not to play in it. I’m in the 6th grade and eating out is a special event. Mom makes us wear nice pants with a blouse and she took the time to brush our hair. Walking through the cowboy doors, I feel like I own that restaurant on Main Street.  Theone with the huge cow on the sign outside. Mom lets us order sarsaparilla in the brown glass bottle instead of milk, because today is an extraordinary day. Mom, dad, and 4 siblings are joining me as I graduated from elementary school earlier in the day. “Let’s make this a family tradition,” my mom suggests.

I’m just a kid on this day. I sit at the large table next to my dad. He orders a pig sandwich and asks if I want to split it with him. My smile is all he needs to know that I always share a sandwich with him. The sawdust is still on the floor and as I walk through the swinging doors, I am reminded that this place is special and today is an exceptional sort of day. Today I graduated from high school.  Janette has been our waitress the last few years. Along with my sarsaparilla, I savor every bite of my deep dish apple pie as we sit and remember.

I’m just a kid on this day. Dad still sits next to me. The two large tables near us are full of family. My pig sandwich is as delicious as the first one I ever enjoyed. The sarsaparilla is sweet and cold, the deep dish apple pie warms my heart. The sawdust is still on the floor, though there were a few years when a lawsuit prevented it. I’m so glad it is back because as I walk through the swinging doors, I am flooded with years of memories. I’m still just a kid when I come to this place, even though today my oldest son is the same kid and he is graduating too.

Feb 21, 2010

Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn't you say?

by Marsha Ward

Sometimes I get way too much silly pass-along email, but this one I got yesterday seemed to hit the spot for writers. These are supposedly actual headlines.

(Needless to say, we all need to proofread very carefully! Any first person statement below is by Anonymous.)

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a correction the next day. Too funny.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
Really? Ya think?

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that's taking things a bit far!

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's!

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

War Dims Hope for Peace
I can see where it might have that effect!

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
Ya think?!

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Who would have thought!

Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Weren't they fat enough?!

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
That's what he gets for eating those beans!

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Do they taste like chicken?

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is....
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Did I read that right?

Feb 20, 2010

To Swear or Not to Swear, That is the Question

by Cindy R. Williams

I have been following a thread regarding the use of profanity in literature on the ANWA Critique email group. This is a vital writing issue to all of us and a social issue to boot.

Profanity is the norm in most conversations one hears in supermarkets, hardware stores, movie theaters, the ballet, the zoo, the Post Office, you name it. It’s accepted in movies and has become quite common on TV.
Now I'm here to tell you, there is swearing, and there is SWEARING. The absolute worst swearing is when the Lord’s name is profaned.

I’m often at my children’s schools, and hear the Lord’s name in vein by all grade levels of students including Kindergartners. I have a habit of asking anyone, young or old, if they are praying. They look at me with confusion and I reply, "You just called upon the Lord so I thought you must be either saying a prayer or ready to pray." Sometimes the whole idea is beyond the perpetrator's grasp because the disrespect of the Lord's name is such an everyday and casual part of their conversation. Some responses I have noted include confusion, laughter, contemplation, being offended, or chagrined. Oh well, let the chips fall where they may.

I attended a ten week writer’s class with five other women. All professed to be Christians. I quickly learned that being Christian does not bring unified language standards among differing religions. After many weeks of listening to one particular lady read her scenes full of profanity and vulgarity, I finally couldn't stand it anymore. When it was my turn to voice my critique, I asked her why she felt that Kyle, her 17 year old college physics genius, had to have such a potty mouth. I added that he sounded more like a fish wife on the docks, than an intelligent and brilliant young man. She glared at me for a moment quite stunned then said she thought it would make him seem like he was more mature. He had been in college since he was 14 so he needed to put on airs to act like a man and be taken seriously. I grinned at her and asked if cussing really makes one seem more mature and manly? I quoted my Dad, “Only uneducated or lazy people swear, because they either don’t know any better, or are too lazy to use their brains to think of real words.” I finished with, if he is such a genius then why does he use such dumb words?

It seemed the entire class was in shock. I wondered if I would be asked to leave for the evening, or even for the remainder of the course. My professor finally broke the uncomfortable silence. What she said surprised me. She told her that I was right. A young man with his great intelligence, and the other abilities she had given him in her novel would not speak like a boy from the gutter. She had built a very strong character, but by cleaning up his dialog, he would be even more impressive. His filthy language just didn't fit his character. After class, some of the other ladies thanked me for standing up for my convictions. They too had been very uncomfortable but didn’t know what to do about it.

Okay, so I didn't really win a moral victory that profanity just is no good, but at least I didn't have to sit in class every week and have her scenes grate on my soul like screeching chalk on a board.

As writers, we have a great opportunity to stand and be counted. We each have a decision to make as to where we personally stand on this issue and how we will act when given the request by an editor or publisher to add this everyday common vernacular into our novel or they won’t publish it. Those of us avoiding profanity are quite peculiar in today’s society.

Some will feel justified to use "just a little" profanity to sell their books. Some will cave in compelety and others will consider them sell-outs. It's not for me to judge what another person chooses to do. Everyone is entitled to their free agency and their opinion. I believe the world has plenty of books full of profanity. In fact, I would dare say that the quota for vulgar language in literature has been filled. As for me, I feel the world needs wholesome literature and wholesome voices and I choose to help fill that niche.

Feb 19, 2010

Eat Your Bananas

by Sarah Albrecht

I came home with a hunger headache late in the afternoon and only one food would work the cure. A banana. Handy things, bananas: easy to peel, nutritious, filling yet lo-cal, and great for things like headaches or burbly stomachs. They’re scrumptious in bread, pancakes or splits or even in strawberry jello salad. I recall a gourmand’s divine chocolate crepes with banana sauce for book club snack.

I’m not really a fan of plain old bananas, though. Might be the spots, might be the taste…might be my mom’s classic Banana Tale from my childhood that I have told my children as a bedtime story.

Picture a family of seven, five children, two parents, moving from Utah to Iran for the dad to serve as engineering counsel to rural areas in the early 1950’s. They’ve traveled across the U.S. by car, across the Atlantic and Mediterranean by ship, and have disembarked in Turkey for a final drive across Arabia to Iran.

They need food. Dad buys a crate of green bananas.

The time spent driving across Middle Eastern desert can be measured by banana color and texture: firm green, tender yellow…mushy brown. “No complaining. Eat your bananas!” Dad decrees, passing around the brown ones from the bottom of the crate somewhere outside Tehran.

So eat my mom did eat her bananas. At least on that trip. But after that, bananas were never the same.

After her story, they’ve never been quite the same for me either.


How about you?

Feb 18, 2010

Surrender to Win

By: Krista Darrach

Sometimes the harder I try to make something work, the worse it becomes. You know, like when I’m trying to force knowledge upon myself, or make someone else do something they don’t want to do.

This week I’ve been struggling to come up with my synopsis. I had the outline of my book done: Forty-eight chapters all summed up, this took nine pages. I read all about synopses and talked with people about how to do them. For two evenings, I struggled to grasp what it was I needed to do.

Then I heard a whisper, “You're trying to make it work on your own.”
Talk about a brick to the head, once again I’m reminded that I must surrender and ask for help … and through Him all things are possible. I don't know about you, but I always need divine help-- in just about every aspect of my life, especially my writing.

Once I did as instructed, and with a little help from a friend. My mind opened and I was able to see the path before me. I didn't receive more knowledge, I received clarity and understanding. I knew exactly what I needed to do. Within an hour, I had blown through the synopsis and it was … dare I say it… effortless.

Obviously this is a pattern in my life, because I continue to learn this over and over. I’m just grateful I’m still able to listen, and still teachable. And maybe next time, I’ll recognize that if I’m going to win the battle … I’ve only got to surrender, and then the rest falls into place. 

Feb 17, 2010

Dear Shannon Hale

by Marielle Carlisle

It is no secret that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Shannon Hale's books. I just got this

from the library, and can't wait to delve into it tonight.

In honor of my fantastic read, here is an actual email I wrote to Shannon Hale many moons ago, after I just finished reading

(I talk about her books in it, so sorry if you have no idea what I'm refering to. If you haven't read her books, READ THEM!)

Dear Shannon Hale,

I should be taking a nap right now (while the baby is sleeping. I’m sure you understand), but I have all these thoughts in my head that I wanted to write to you about.

I stayed up way past my bedtime last night to finish “Book of a Thousand Days,” and I simply loved it. I have read all your books, and each one has been so delightful. I’ve read reviews where your writing style has been described as lyrical, and I wholeheartedly agree. It has such a gentle, comforting tone, and I simply can’t put the books down until I’ve finished them, which is after midnight most of the time.

Last night I had tears streaming down my face after reading Dashti’s story (it could also be hormonal; I am three months pregnant). You portrayed her loneliness so well, and her ache to be near Tegus was so real and her frustration with Saran’s depression so malleable, I couldn’t help but be emotional. My favorite part was after she brought down Khasar, and she stumbled trying to walk back to Batu, and Tegus swooped down to carry her. I imagined myself as Dashti, with a broken ankle, being held by the man I love, on horseback, and I could feel every jostle and jolt from the horse’s canter. I reread that part three or four times before moving on. She was so happy! But yet she was living a lie! Oh the drama.

Like I said, I have loved all your books, especially Austenland, because that would be my DREAM to go live that life for two weeks (sorry, off the subject. You should watch “North and South.” It’s from the BBC, and it’s about a young lady who moves from the comforts of the south to live in an industrial community up north in England. It has many similar elements to Pride and Prejudice, and I loved it.), but I only had one other “favorite moment,” and that was in “Goose Girl.”

It was towards end, after Isi finally arrives at the castle to confront the King, and is left alone in the room with Selia and her men. Again, I imagined myself there, and I could feel my heart crumble as the door to the chamber was closed, leaving me alone with all the treacherous people. I don’t remember if I cried reading that part (it was a couple months ago), but I still recall how shattered I felt, thinking that those she came to for help were deserting me. After all her hard work! And Geric was the prince! Oh the drama.

I realize I’m probably not in the demographic of readers your books are aimed at (married, late 20’s, pregnant, a two year old). Luckily a friend of mine who lives in SL recommended your books, and I’m always relieved when I finally get your books at the library (I never buy books. I’m so happy the library system in AZ carries your stories), and now I am utterly miserable, because I have no more books to read.

Thank your for sharing your amazing gift with the world!

Feb 16, 2010

I'm Late for a Very Important Date

by Terri Wagner

I was wondering is better late than never? It's Fat Tuesday once again. And normally I adore going out to the parades and enjoying the floats, beads and moonpies. But I've been sick and it's been cold. So I chose to go see Avatar. Not impressed. Don't ask me I just can't put my finger on it but I wasn't impressed.

I also didn't like ET so I think I may be the only one in the universe that disliked these two films. Not that they are similar well in a few ways they are. Too predictable, military the bad guy, but that's just par for the course these days.

No I don't like James Cameron either. His morals well they don't exist but it can't be that. Which brings me to the point of my post today.

If good fruit can only come from a good tree, why are things like Mozart's music so well loved? Why do people say oh I loved that except of course for..... I mean why do we put up with it? I do too. But I'm just wondering these days. Why?

Feb 15, 2010

Romantic Novels

By: Rebecca Irvine

Yesterday being Valentine's Day, I have recently been rereading some of my favorite romance novels. There are so many great ones out there, but here are a few of my favorites, which I tend to re-read over and over again (in no particular order).


Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare)- I love Shakespeare's comedic romances even a little more than his classic tragic romances. Much Ado has a few romantic story lines to enjoy.

Sense and Sensibility (Austen) - Jane Austen does romance better than most and I melt every time I read S&S. Eleanor's character is one of my favorites, in particular.

Oldies, but Goodies

Gone with the Wind (Mitchell) - Scarlett O'Hara taught me to think about my troubles tomorrow. I just wish Rhett Butler was one of the troubles I had to think about ;-).

It's a Great World (Loring) - As one of Emilie Loring's true works, this is one of her best. Not only is it a good romance, but there is mystery and intrigue as well.

More Recent Favorites

In Search of Heaven (Stansfield) - This whole series by Stansfield is well done; however, the first book is my favorite of the four. Very romantic!

Icing on the Cake (Strain) - A fun romantic read; Strain's sequel, Previously Engaged, is up for a Whitney award this year.

What the Doctor Ordered (St. James) - I laugh out loud every time I read this book. The romance is charming and the subplot very creative.

Santa Maybe (Mace) - Another book that has been nominated for a Whitney award this year. My kids even loved this book when I read it to them on a trip.

This list is by no means complete, so be sure to leave a comment with a few of your romantic favorite novels. I am always looking for another good (clean) romance to read.

Feb 14, 2010

Don't Throw Me Away

By Sarah Hinze

There’s nothing I love more then a bargain. I mean, a hallelujah-call your best friend bargain or in my case, a call-my-daughter bargain. My daughter, Laura and I aren’t just thrifty shoppers; we’re down and out bargain hunters. I raised her right, that girl.

A few years ago, Laura and I hit a yard sale thrown by a restaurant owner/chef who was selling his business. We purchased stainless steel cake pans, professional waffle irons and other kitchen tools we never even considered owning, let alone knew existed. To this day, we are both still happy with the bargains we found and use them daily.

But Laura has taken this whole thrift store/yard sale thing to a whole new level. Why? WHY?

Because she’s a writer, that’s why.

She started a blog, a writer’s blog on treasures she finds at thrift stores & yard sales and what she does with them. Sometimes she shops out of necessity and other times it’s just for fun, but when writing about bargain-shopping there’s never a chance of writer’s block.

The title of her blog, My Dear Trash (www.mydeartrash.blogspot.com) came to her in a dream. It’s cute and catchy and I certainly thought it was great, but soon realized it had more meaning to her then just finding bargains. It was finding value in things that others didn’t see anymore and even deeper, finding value in relationships and even in ourselves.

Writing is a tough industry. We get told over and over again, “No thanks, not today.” The rejection can be brutal, but our writing is not trash and it’s certainly nothing to throw away. Sometimes Laura brings home something in need of repair or out-dated, like this little beauty. This picture frame was purchased for $2.00 at Goodwill.

With a little paint and inventiveness, this is what it became.

If our work is rejected, we have the opportunity to re-work it and make it better. Something that’s been rejected and tossed away, with some care and polish can become a treasured thing of beauty and become more valuable then we every realized.
Continue to find value in what you do, value in yourself and treasure your dear writing and for a little fun, visit My Dear Trash. You won’t be disappointed.

Feb 13, 2010

Flowers for Valentine's

By Christine Thackeray

My husband is in Wisconsin on assignment for six weeks. He won't be home for Valentine's Day but I got a surprise tap on my door this morning and found a dozen red roses on the front porch.

As a much younger woman, I was often frustrated with my husband for this gesture. Flowers die so quickly and with our budget always stretched trying to care for a big family, I only saw them as a waste of money. Maybe that's because I had toddlers who would try to eat them no matter how high the shelf or older kids whose frisbees and tennis balls seemed to have some magnetic draw to the vase, causing it to crash to the floor in pieces.

Oddly, I think my attitude began to change when I went to the San Diego Temple for my sister's wedding. It was the most ornate temple I had ever seen, and it made me realize that even with limited resources, we need to spend time and effort on beauty in our lives. Whether flowers on the table, an afternoon at the art museum or curling up with a great book, making room for the glorious things of this life is truly important. It feeds our souls, making us have more to offer others.

Lifting the velvet buds to place in the center of my kitchen table, I felt nothing but joy and gratitude for a great husband and the token that reminded me of him. It also made me want to share that beauty with others more readily.

Feb 12, 2010


We have a new member of our blog team, author Joan Sowards. Welcome, Joan!

by Joan Sowards

In my college days, I was a big-time fan of a popular singer named Matt. I could listen to his music all day and had a few albums on 8-track. He had a concert planned in a neighboring city, so the guy I was dating bought tickets and in great anticipation of a fantastic concert, we dressed up and traveled quite a distance to attend.

The pre-act was painful to watch. This stand-up comedian’s crude humor made his act hard to sit through. I endured a demonstration on how to remove a bra one-handed from an ironing board, among other degrading concepts, all for the fantastic show my favorite singer would present in just a few minutes. The pre-act went on and on and enduring became harder. I wanted to stand up and shout "Get off the stage and take your dirty jokes out to the dumpster!" but restrained myself, knowing the fabulous show following would make the wait worth it.

Finally, the guy finished. As the crowd cheered him wildly, I shrank into my chair with relief. Then Matt walked onto the stage looking wonderful in a tuxedo and charmed us all with his smooth singing and English accent. Each time he stopped singing, he made a vulgar comment. I tried to forgive each comment, hoping he'd just sing and quit talking. Disappointment. He kept talking, offering the same kind of humor as had the stand-up. I wanted to stand and shout, "Stop talking, and sing!"

But then he said, "Let's hear it for all you naughty girls out there!" The crowd went crazy cheering. When they stopped, he said, "Let's hear it for all the nice girls out there." The cheers were about one tenth compared to the naughty support. "Well," he laughed, "tell me, how is Salt Lake City these days?"

My heart sank to my tailbone. That jab at my values and my religion shattered any love I ever had for the man. I sunk into the depths of disappointment. The man's pedestal had turned into a cesspool. I didn't want to sit through his dirty jokes and be insulted by him any longer. It took me a few more minutes to gather courage and turn to my date and say, "I'll wait in the car." I stood and walked out. He followed.

I wished I had known then that I could ask for a refund. I would have. We walked away from the theater and I left that part of my life behind. I never listened to another album of Matt's--and today can only tell you one title of a song he sang. Never missed him.

From that experience, I learned that celebrities are not people to put up as idols. They may sound wonderful on recordings and look good on screen, but they are often not people I'd enjoy spending time with. It's not worth it. I'd rather save my money and buy a plane ticket to Salt Lake City.

Feb 11, 2010

Winds of Change

by Kari Diane Pike

I have never been fond of wind. Cool breezes on a hot day, yes, but wind in general has always spooked me. In Western Montana, it was the Chinooks--warm, wet winds that melted the snow, stole the cap off my eight-year-old head, and caused the hair on my arms to stand on end. In Southern California, the Santa Anas--strong, hot winds rushing from the high deserts to escape out to sea--delivered scorching temperatures, sucked the moisture out of every living thing, and made the hair on my arms stand on end. I felt silly feeling afraid of the wind and finally shared my thoughts with a friend. She said,

"Oh, you mean the Murder Winds?"

Gee thanks. That really helped. I took matters into my own hands and researched the folk lore of the Santa Ana winds and how the murder rate supposedly rises when they blow. I also found some pretty intense murder mysteries based on those myths. Yeah...I have never been fond of wind.

Until now.

One of the unexpected challenges of moving from the Valley of the Sun in Arizona, to the foot of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah County, has been the day after day after day of cloudy, foggy, hazy skies. I live just five short miles from the American Fork Canyon/Mount Timpanogas area and there have been times when I couldn't even see the base of the mountain. A couple of days ago, I woke up as a chill ran through me--one that had nothing to do with the frigid temperatures outside. The wind was blowing. Ugh. With a resentful heart, I climbed out of bed and began my morning routine. The gray light of dawn revealed we finally had a break in the weather. After breakfast, the sun greeted me with vibrant oranges and golds and lit the mountain peaks with fluorescent pinks. The crystal air seemed to vibrate and the rugged details of the mountains and canyons stood stark against the winter blue sky. The wind had scattered the clouds and fog and gray and gifted me with sunshine and clarity and a new perspective.

I thought about how much the wind is like adversity in my life. I have never been very fond of adversity either. It makes the hair on my arms stand on end. Like the wind, adversity has a way of helping me shift my perspective. Adversity helps me see myself and others more clearly. It shows the stark reality of the choices I am making and the consequences that follow. Just like the warm, moist Chinook winds that melt the snow, adversity softens and melts my heart and helps me hear the sweet promptings of the Spirit.

In The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Ether 6 describes the oceanic journey of the Jaredites to the promised land. Verse 8 says, "And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind."

I am learning to appreciate the wind. I am learning to appreciate adversity. Both offer opportunities for change and growth. I am also learning that the winds of adversity will continue to blow me towards the promise of eternal life.

Another gift of adversity--it gives me something to write about--and by writing these things down, I can help my family and friends navigate their own winds of adversity. (How's that for tying it together??) Hugs~

Feb 10, 2010

When Everything Changes . . . Or Seems Like It Will . . .

By Lynn Parsons

Monday night I got one of "those" telephone calls. The ones every parent dreads. My older daughter's roomate, Sam,  called to tell me she was following the ambulance carrying my daughter, Tami, to the emergency room.

They both attend BYU-Idaho. Tami was sledding with friends. Sam was at home, asleep, when she got the call that Tami had hit her head badly enough to be unconscious and have a seizure. Sam was kind enough to call me. We live in Texas.

As I frantically waited for Sam's second call with more information, I began searching for flights and rental cars. My suitcase was out from a quick weekend trip to Tucson to see my second grandson blessed. I began to throw in sweaters and anything I thought would work in the freezing weather of Idaho.

Sam called back to say she couldn't see Tami or get any information because she wasn't a relative. I called the ER and was told Tami wasn't a patient. I indentified myself and told the receptionist repeatedly that Tami had just arrived via ambulance. After a few threats, I was put through to a nurse.

The nurse told me she had no information, but after questioning, I was able to find out Tami was conscious and able to move her limbs independently. Visions of every child with traumatic brain injury I had every worked with began to leave my mind.

After giving the business office the all-important insurance information, I demanded to speak to her doctor or start reporting employees to the hospital administrator. The doctor said Tami was oriented and had minimal memory loss. They were about to do a CAT scan.

Sam called after the radiologist had read the scan and told us Tami could go home. Sam had instructions to wake her every two hours, which she did faithfully. Tami was told to rest for two days, then return to normal, non-strenuous activities. She told me there was no need for me to come.

Needless to say, sleep was difficult that night. I have been pretty much a zombie at work all day. But I feel blessed. Priesthood holders were with her to give a blessing, and many prayers were answered.

Feb 9, 2010

Working on my novel today

by Valerie Ipson

Yeah. It's like that.

Feb 8, 2010

Parenting Skills Put to the Test

By Stacy Johnson

I don’t know what it is about having a large family that makes acquaintances and total strangers say things like, “Wow, with a family that big, you ought to write a book about parenting.” I know those of you with large families can relate. It’s as if the mere fact that I have a lot of children makes me some sort of expert.  I have a hard time thinking that I know enough about parenting to share it with the world.  I do think I have pretty much the best kids around.  For sure they are not perfect, but they are perfect for me. They have this awesome ability to use sarcasm correctly (not that that is always good), they are athletic (they get that from me), they are smart (they get that from their dad), and they are oober talented. I’m bragging a little, but it’s my post, so indulge me.

There is one thing that sometimes frustrates me though; they don’t do their chores very well. I am constantly annoyed by the rolling of eyes, the verbal responses to my gentle (and sometimes not so gentle reminders) to do their chores, and their occasional blatant disregard for the care of our home. Maybe I expect too much; I truly wonder sometimes if I’ve taught my children the importance of a clean home and how to actually clean it. I’ll be the first to admit that I never kept my room clean when I was a teenager, nor did I enjoy doing my chores. I enjoyed a beautifully clean house because my mom was very good at doing just that. But, I never saw her clean, really. I just remember thinking I did all the chores while my mom laid on the couch and slept. But, the mere fact that our house was always clean when I got home from school, tells me that my mom worked hard while we were away. Having said that, I at least can understand where they are coming from. I know I frustrated my mom to the nth degree and now this is what she calls “payback.”

Yesterday, I was put to the ultimate test. We had family in town for the blessing of our sweet little Baby Derek. We had planned a lovely picnic in the park after church for everyone to enjoy being together and letting the children play (without destroying my house that was already being neglected by me so I could spend time with family). My sweet husband reassured me that it would not rain just before he went to bed on Saturday night. I, of course, stayed up late doing homework and tending to the baby who fusses from 8pm to midnight every night while the rest of the family slept. I heard no sound of rain over the crying of the baby. I woke up again at 4am to feed the baby and heard nothing. When my husband’s alarm went off at 6am, he gently snuggled up next to me and said, “Do you hear the rain?”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! Church is in two hours!”

He held me close and reassured me that it would be all right. I only prayed it would be so. With that, I threw on my clothes from last night and went to the kitchen to try to bring my neglected home back from the edge of Hades. I mean, it was really bad. We didn’t worry about it too much since I knew we would be at the park with about 40 of our closest family and friends. Ben went to wake up the troops (I didn’t want to hear the whining as I was going on only about 5 hours of sleep and was already cranky.)

And you know what happened?

They each took their assignment to heart and pulled our house together in no time. The dishes were loaded, the floor mopped, the playroom organized, the guest bathroom shined. Tables were put up in every nook and cranny, along with chairs and tablecloths.

In addition,

Nobody complained, and we even got to church early enough to sit on the row reserved for the Johnson family (cause that is what you get when you have a large family).

I guess I’m not doing such a bad job after all.
It was like a pat on the back from my Heavenly Father, so I made sure I thanked Him.

Feb 7, 2010

Going the Extra Mile

by Marsha Ward

Last night it started to snow again. By this morning there was an accumulation of a couple of inches here--nothing much for those used to driving in snow, but enough to make me ask myself if our church meetings would be canceled because of the unique circumstances of members of our congregation.

Our boundaries are long and thin, extending over twenty miles along a state highway. Our church building is on my end of the highway, so it's not usually a big trial for me to get to church in iffy weather. I could even walk there, if I really needed to.

The highway, however, winds over hill and dale, through forest and glen, over several two-lane sections interspersed with divided highway. For the next two years, there is a seven-mile section of reduced speed for major construction. There are several long grades, and places where the roadway ices up. In inclement weather, it may be closed until the plows come along.

I called my "home teacher," the man who, with his wife, has a special interest in my welfare (The LDS Church is famous for its home teaching and visiting teaching programs that aid members in looking out for one another). I inquired about the possibility of our meetings being canceled. He said he would check into it.

A few minutes later, another member, who lives in my area, called and offered me a ride to church. I gratefully accepted, as their vehicle has four-wheel drive. The members who live on the other end of the highway were told that if they didn't have four-wheel drive, they should attend the church service in Payson. We had a shortened church schedule--just the worship service--and returned home.

When the family dropped me off at home, the husband got out of the car and shoveled the snow off my deck before he let me get out of the car. He didn't have to do that. The snow would have melted in a couple of days. He didn't want me to slip, though. He went the extra mile to bless me. (He also asked me to speak in church next week!)

How many times do we go the extra mile in our relationships with other writers? How do we give help to those who are beginning their writing journey? When I was a beginner, many people in the writing community went out of their way to guide me through the pitfalls and snares of the world of writing. In gratitude for that assistance, I have dedicated many hours of time and much effort to aid other writers. Some of this is invisible, some is evident for all the world to see.

I know other writers who feel the same way I do that we have a duty to help others. You will see the evidence of that when you attend the 2010 ANWA Writing Conference on February 27. Eight wonderful writers are sharing their experience and knowledge. Your time and money will be well spent partaking of the joys of that Conference.

What do you, as a writer, do to help other writers?

Feb 6, 2010

A Snipit of My Writing Journey

A Snipit of My Writing Journey

by Cindy R. Williams

I usually have my blog posting ready about a week prior, but this time I'm just getting to it three days out. I prefer to write it, then let it sit, and go back to it with fresh eyes a week later. This is how I work on all my short stories.

Novels are a different story. I finished my novel about a boy, a dragon, magic and choices and sent it out on Christmas day to my editor, the lovely Kerry Blair, no less. That novel took THREE YEARS to write. Mostly because I took a three year college course on Creative Writing and it was my project. I learned tons while writing it. We wrote a scene a week for class.

The cool yet strange thing was that we didn't write chronologically. Instead, we wrote by type of scene; recognition scene, action scene, conflict scene, resolution scene etc. It was a wild ride. We allowed the main character to dictate the story. It was high on character development and low on plotting. I found my character(s) really blossomed writing this way.

Two draw backs to this method for me were: First, when it came time to put the book together and write connecting scenes, I ended out with a bunch of extra scenes. (However, I must admit, I certainly did get to know my characters well.) Second, I had to go back through the entire book and tweak things so that the emotional curve worked as did the many details. I also had to map in foreshadowing.

A big surprise was that the book was over 200,000 words long-- way too long for a first book in a series so I found a natural break about half way through, and cut it in half. I beefed up the action climax scene, and voila, I now have book one complete, and the next book's first draft complete. Two books for the effort of one.

My book will fly home via cyberspace within the next week or so. As I work on edits, I'm also going to begin my research on finding my dream agent. I have four books in this dragon series and two other series started so I finally feel like I have enough in my repertoire to move forward.

Becoming an author is more than a full time job. With a family to raise, Church, Community, School involvement, and the world to save, I write at night. I'm truly an American Night Writer. While I'm working on finding my agent extraordinaire, I'll continue to work on the dilemma of how sleep is supposed to fit in the equation. Life is good as a writer.

Feb 5, 2010

Soccer Assoc.

by Sarah Albrecht

This is just a little post about something that bothered me for a long time.

Nothing big, nothing personal, just one of those niggling things that gets hold of your psyche. Are you ready? Are you sure? What bothered me was... soccer. Not that the sport itself bothered me. I'm not a huge fan, you know, not one that stays up to watch the World Cup live at 2:00 a.m. or anything, but I like the game well enough and admire the athleticism. No, soccer itself wasn't the problem.

It was the name.

Why? I asked myself over and over. Why does the rest of the world call the game football while we call it soccer?

Finally I decided to end the agony and answer the question. Took all of thirty seconds on the Online Etymology Dictionary. And here is the answer to why we call soccer, soccer: in 1889, to distinguish between rugby football and football (that is, soccer), some fraternity guys took the Assoc. from "Football Association," put the "A" at the end, and started calling the game "socca," later to become "socker."

And so now we have soccer. What a kick!

Feb 4, 2010

Our Process - Our Journey

By: Krista Darrach

1. a systematic series of actions directed to some end:
2. a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner

I LOVE processes.
I’ve worked as an office manager for a construction company for over eight years. In my job I have tons of processes that make everything easier and more efficient.

I love asking writers how they go about starting a novel. The answers are so varied— one would wonder how we all reach the same end result. But that is the beauty of being a writer— each of us has our own journey or as I like to say— process. My mind works almost mechanically when it comes to writing. There is nothing like being in the “zone” and feeling the surge of creativity at its best. I know this is a gift, be it one that laid dormant in my brain for many years. Today I’m grateful to be aware of it, and utilize my ability at putting ideas to paper.

My process may not work for you, just as yours might not work for me. I sit down with an idea and then make a simple outline of main objectives. Start a character list and then have at it. Through time this may change as I learn new skills.

I love this quote: "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." — E.L. Doctorow

I can totally relate to this quote. Because my process is to: rely on the narrative, and allow my characters to show me the way.

Most important in my writing is to remain teachable. I don’t think I will ever know it all. I hope I never reach that point. Learning to me is paramount in my process. Reading books on writing and mingling with other writers is a must. Attending conferences and Retreats help us learn even more.

The ANWA Writers Conference is coming up and I am MORE than excited to learn from some great people. This helps my process immensely. If you haven’t signed up- it’s Feb 27th and we have a GREAT line up. So come prepared to LEARN! Here is the link for more information:

I believe, especially for new writers, it takes a village to write a book. The more we help each other—the better we become. Knowledge is Power—and helps me develop my process and become a better writer.

So a big thanks to those people who have helped me develop my process and enjoy my journey into the writing world. * Big Hugs! *

Feb 3, 2010

What to write about?

by Marielle Carlisle

I thought about sharing what I've learned so far in my online Children's Literature course at GCC, but I want a break from thinking about school.

I wrote out a rough draft of yesterday's afternoon at the playground, but decided to discard it. My wee ones looked for 'beads' (air gun pellets) instead of playing on the play equipment while I cleaned up the cigarette butts. Towards the end of my draft it turned into a rant on irresponsible teenagers, and I thought it a little too negative.

Do you want to hear about the Miss America party I attended last Saturday night? Where I, as the runner-up from last year, delivered my sassy-pants speach about how I should've been crowned the winner last year, and did my last walk as reigning champion (the winner last year had other obligations that night) to Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA"?

I would talk about how depressing it is to hear my little guy wake up from his nap after only sleeping for 30 minutes, but it is seriously depressing. Best not go there. He can wait 10 more minutes for me to finish.

So, what to talk about? The weather? It's beautiful outside today. The forecast says it will rain, so I should probably pick up all the toys scattered throughout the backyard. UPDATE: It didn't rain. Thank goodness I didn't pick up the toys.

Callings? I'm now the ward YW Camp Director. I told the YW President that I'm overqualified for this position, since I'm practically a 13 year old girl at heart already. I mean, come on, I picked Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" as my Miss America final-walk song.

My new haircut? I've decided to grow my hair long again. It's been over two years since I had it long, and it's time for a change. I wish I had thought of this before I had it cut.

The housing market? We're in the process of trying to buy a short sale. Our chances of actually going through all the ropes with the bank and getting the house we want? Slim. Slim to barely above none (I like to keep a little hope alive).

So, what to talk about? Can't decide. I better go get the little man. He's ... upset.

Feb 2, 2010

Update on the LDS Dating Site

by Terri Wagner

As promised I'm updating ya'll on the singles website experiences. There are 3 of us single sisters on different LDS sites having very different experiences. Only one of us (not me) is actually having success of a type.

I've "met" the truly desperate and here lately someone who wasn't even LDS. You don't have to be but I just had to ask why he was on there. His profile was a bit muddled so I didn't know until I asked. And when he didn't even know what LDS meant, I knew he couldn't be a Mormon. He seems very nice, is German but American through his mother and has an adorable 10 year old daughter. His English is not that good, but hey neither is mine and I'm native. So we've exchanged a few emails...that's about it. The good news is he's only about 4 hours away from where I live.

I managed to ditch the few truly strange ones and have become more discreet about who I contact. At first you're thrilled someone has "checked" you out and sent a flirt, then you discover why they have, ha. The reason is as I have discovered, I'm not really into moving into the center of the country, ha. I prefer the coastline. I'm amazed at the number of men who think a few sweet notes means I'm ready to pack up and move that far away and I've never even met the guy. Is is me?

The only conclusion so far all 3 of us have come to is this is no way to date and yet how else can you find a companion when you live so far from a large singles' base. The one success story is a bit hampered by the fact that once again the lady in the equation is reluctant and the guy is a bit on the liberal side when it comes to standards.

Right now I'd have to say it's a no go on the dating site. But hope does spring eternal in the human breast as the poet has said.

Feb 1, 2010

The Safe

By: Rebecca Irvine

A true story that unraveled last night.

Christmas this past year was mediocre for my mother. Not terrible, but not great either. Some family members were not speaking to each other, which made get-togethers uncomfortable or altogether impossible. And work was a very busy month for her, as well. It was mid-December before her tree was up and a week later before it was decorated.

But one of the more disappointing things for her was the lack of a thoughtful gift from my father. There was the usual line of his annually given gifts under the tree: Oil of Olay, some bath beads, and other niceties that Mom had come to expect. But the big box under the tree--the one she had wondered about the most as she eyed the wrapping paper and the sloppy bow--turned out to be a let down.

It was a safe. A fire-proof, water-proof safe with both key and combination locks.

When she had first opened it she was definitely surprised. But it was more like the surprise of expecting Tiffany's and actually getting Tupperware. "Oooo," Mom said half convincingly as she tore the paper from the box.

Mom handled it well. At least for the first week. After the New Year Dad asked her where she would like him to put the safe (it had been sitting in its box by the tree for more than a week by then). She told him to put it in the garage and that he could bolt it down to something out there if he wanted. But Dad left it sitting in the living room by a few other gifts Mom was neglecting to put away.

A few more weeks passed and life got busy again. Work picked up, new church callings were received, and there was even trip out-of-state. Christmas decorations were put away somehow during all of the in and outs of daily life. But there the safe sat in the living room, still unopened in its box.

"You can return it," Dad told her.

"No," said Mom. Although it was not a gift she wanted, Mom would not hurt his feelings by returning it. Surely she could find some use for it.

Finally the last day of January arrived. After dinner Dad brought the boxed safe to the kitchen table. He gave a knife to his visiting granddaughter to open the box. Mom rolled her eyes.

"What's with the safe?" I asked.

"Your father bought it for me for Christmas," Mom said as she shook her head in pity for herself.

Finally it was removed from the box. The black heavy safe, somewhat larger than a briefcase, looked sturdy and reliable.

Mom turned it around and opened it to inspect its workings. To her surprise another gift lay inside. A small black jewelry box in a gift bag! She opened it to find ruby and diamond earrings, bright and shiny against the black velvet.

"What is this?" Mom asked Dad in amazement.

"Since when have you ever had a Christmas when I haven't given you a piece of jewelry?" Dad asked. "Merry Christmas!"