Mar 31, 2010

Dear Brandon Sanderson

I like writing letters to authors. Perhaps you remember my missive to Shannon Hale that I posted. I also wrote a letter to Elizabeth Peters, the author of the Amelia Peabody series. I was shocked when a postcard from Elizabeth came back to me in the mail. She wrote that she liked my letter. I still have her postcard tucked away, and smile everytime I pull it out to read.

Here is a letter I SHOULD write to Brandon Sanderson.


Dear Brandon Sanderson,

You are ruining my life.

How, after finishing the entire Mistborn Trilogy, am I supposed to read any other book and enjoy it?

The detail and description in your books is incredible! You create entire worlds that are truly fantastic, and the characters ... ARG! They are amazing! All the quirks and personalities and EVERYTHING make the characters so believeable and relatable.

After finishing the Mistborn read-a-thon, I read J. Scott Savage's "Farworld" book, in preparation for a writing conference I was attending that he was the keynote speaker of. All I could think the whole time I was reading was "Where's the complex plot!? Where's the intricate character development!? Where's the crushing weight of upending doom!? CURSE YOU, BRANDON SANDERSON!!!" It doesn't matter that your book is written for adults and Farworld is for young adults, and that the intended audiences are completely different. I didn't enjoy the book at all.

On top of that, I'm busy! I've got things to do, people to see, books to write, etc. You're making it rather difficult for me to get anything constructive done during the day. Somehow the kids don't find reading a good excuse to get out of playing with them. That means I have to stay up WAY past my bedtime to read. No sleep and all Mistborn makes one crazy momma.

Lucky for you (and J. Scott Savage), I recognized my Mistborn-withdrawal symptoms, and am now reading the second book in the Farworld series. It is a very good book. Probably because I've been Mistborn free for about two months. My system has been purged.

I now have your Warbreaker novel sitting on my counter, calling out to me. What am I supposed to do? Anything I read after that will pale in comparison to your work.

Must I read owner's manuals and shopping catalogs immediately after finishing your books? Is that the only way to decompress my mind from your awesomeness? There really should be a support group for this kind of thing.

I guess I'll tell you to keep up the good work. Thanks for making my life miserable.

A fan,


So, should I send it?

Mar 30, 2010

Update on the dating site

by Terri Wagner

Had an enlightening experience this time. "Met" a guy who first claimed he was a brand new convert then said no I misunderstood he was an investigator who was going to be a member. He was a widower with one son. The missionaries had suggested the site to him. He had a sad story. But things were looking up, and he was excited about the gospel.

It was refreshing in a way to talk to him about the basics of the gospel and keep to the simple doctrine. Sometimes I can get carried away discussing things like did Lot's wife really turn to salt and was it nuclear or something else. No, it doesn't matter, but yes it's fun to speculate. But here I was just talking about the Josesph Smith story and the origins of the Book of Mormon.

There were a few offsetting moments. But I mostly put those down to my irrational fear of commitment (the real reason I'm not married). In time though barely two weeks into it, just last night as a matter of fact, he asked for money. In a tight spot, will pay me back right away when he can, just needs a few bucks to tide him over, blah blah blah. At first I was amused thinking "aha the real story" then I got irritated because the more I said no, the more persistent he got, then I got worried well geez maybe the poor fellow is in trouble and shouldn't I help even if it's against my better judgement...I was IM'ing with a girlfriend who was like don't you dare even think about sending him money.

I ended up telling him I was terrible sorry he was in this situation but I really didn't know him well enough to know if it was even a true story, suggested a few things he could do (he claimed he was currently in Rome, Italy for a job and was being used by some dude back in Kentucky) and then said goodbye and terminated all contact points. I also emailed the site about the story.

Then I went to bed and tossed and turned wondering if the poor fellow really was in trouble and should I have helped?! I've always been one to follow the BOM advice: if you have it, give it; they'll answer for what they do with it. But the truth is right now I don't much have it. Then through my prayer I heard the distinct statement: he just would have asked for more.

That settled my heart. Now it doesn't really matter if the man's story is true or not, he would have just asked for more. And I for sure couldn't have kept up financial assistance.

You married sisters out there, give your hubbys an extra hug today. Us single sisters sure have to put up with some frogs before we find those princes.

Mar 29, 2010

Author Royalties

By: Rebecca Irvine

There seems to be a great deal of misapprehension regarding author royalties. Have you ever had a friend or family member (or even a complete stranger) say to you, "You must really enjoy all the extra income you are getting from publishing a book"? Honestly, it is hard not to laugh at this comment now that I know the truth. I admit to being misinformed myself before actually getting published, but I am grateful I did not write for the sole effort of trying to make extra money.

Royalties, especially from publishing a book for a niche market (i.e., LDS Church members), are quite small. Generally, the amount an author earns on a book is determined by how large of a run the publisher orders (3,000 to 5,000, if lucky) and the percent per book sold as agreed upon in the contact (5% to 10% is average). Of course there are a lot more details that go into determining author royalties. There is a good detailed explanation on this site.

In an effort to help clarify how much authors who write for the LDS market earn I have posted an author royalty survey. If you have published a book, please take a minute to answer a few quick questions about royalties. All results are completely anonymous. Results will be made completely public on my personal blog in about a month.

Click here to take survey

PS: If you have not yet read the results of the LDS Book Reader Survey about book purchasing habits of LDS Church members, be sure to give it a once over. Here's the link. Thanks to all those who participated in that study!

Mar 28, 2010

New Book --When We Were Angels

by Sarah Hinze

This has been a very long process but I am finally finishing my new book When We Were Angels--Remembering Who We Really Are. I framework the collection of stories with an ancient poem, The Legend of the Pearl. This poem describes every man's journey from premortality to earth, finding our treasure(our mission and purpose of life), our pearl, and then bringing it back to the kingdom on our return

Thanks to ANWA I met my dear friend Kathy Fowkes. She has been a rock, a consultant extrodinarre, and a FABulous editor to me. On many occasions when we work together, we feel the spirit guiding us as we have put this thing together.

I would like to share with you an exert from this book, one of my personal stories. This story is actually in the last chapter titled, Returning to the Kingdom--Going Home.

In the summer of 1995, my husband and I filled a speaking engagement in Connecticut. On our return to Arizona, we detoured to the home of my parents in eastern Tennessee for a week. It was not an easy visit. My father was gaunt with lung cancer. Only twice during that time was he able to muster enough strength to walk around his beloved and normally immaculate yard. Now—his time was spent confined to his recliner, the front porch swing, or his bed.

Conversation was tempered by his shortness of breath, yet in Dad’s self-effacing way, it was he who tried to comfort us.

Time raced by, and too soon we had to leave for the airport. Dad, with Mom at his side, bravely made it to the front porch for tearful goodbye hugs. As the car eased north through the shade tunnel of poplars and elms, Dad waved and smiled stoically from that porch of memories, a haven of refreshing evening breezes and cherished visits with relatives and neighbors.

It was the last time I saw my father alive.

In October the hospital became his home, and he asked that I not return until the funeral…our summer visit was the memory he treasured, and he did not want me to see him as an invalid. I honored his request.

Dad grew up in rural Smokey Mountain country. His mother, Naomi, died when he was six years old. He was very close to her and missed her throughout his life. I prayed often that she would come for him when it was his time, knowing how much it would mean to him.

One day I felt his mother Naomi draw near. Her message was, “Your prayers have been heard and granted. Your father has only a few days left on the earth. When he passes over, I promise I’ll be there to greet him.”

Later, Mom called, upset and crying. Dad was losing it, she said. “He’s going crazy, talking to people no one else can see. He looks at the ceiling and talks to his brother, who’s been dead for years. He points to the wall and describes a beautiful place where he’s going and is frustrated I can’t see it. He insists I take him home to pack his luggage. I can’t take it anymore!.”

When she stopped talking, I said, “Mom, Dad’s not going crazy. His loved ones are coming to greet him. The veil is getting thin, and he sees parts of heaven where he is going. He’s trying to share his experiences with you. Please accept his gift.”

What was more amazing was that until now, Dad had never believed in anything spiritual. Mom had always been a spiritual person, though, and was comforted by my words.

The following morning, Dad was gone.

Mom managed okay for about five years, assuaging her loneliness through caring for relatives and neighbors in need. But daily her prayers included the same request: “I’m ready. Please take me home to my Lawrence.”

She told me many times a sacred experience—one night she awoke to see Dad standing in the bedroom doorway. He expressed his love to her and described the home he was building for them in heaven where they would be together again.

When Mom was about eighty, she suffered a stroke. We arranged to bring this lifelong Tennessee girl to live with us in the Arizona desert. What a contrast!

For several months Mom got closer to her grandchildren and great-grand children than ever before. She swam with them in the pool and took short walks with them up and down the cul-de-sac.

But soon Alzheimer’s set in with all its complications. In a few months more, she refused to eat, became weak and eventually comatose and had to be moved to a hospice center.

The day before she died, I was sitting by her bed when I sensed my father’s presence. He stood by the sliding glass door that opened onto the patio.

We communicated mind to mind. He thanked our family for taking such good care of Mom, and was excited about their future in the home he had prepared for her in the spirit world. Just before he left, I asked if he would come for Mom when it was time. He promised me, “You’ll know I came for her, because she will die with a smile on her face.”

I sat with Mom through the night. Early in the morning I left to get my younger children off to school. After they left, as I was about to go back to the hospice, the phone rang—Mom had just passed away.

Strangely, I felt no bereavement, only happiness that my parents were again together. I arrived, parked the van, and rushed to Mom’s room in anticipation. Sure enough, her frail face, expressionless in her coma, was bathed with a contented smile.

At once I sensed Mom and Dad’s presence by the patio doors. They had waited for me to share in their joy! Mom whispered to my mind, “Your dad is so handsome! And I am young and beautiful again, wearing his favorite, a full skirt with a slender waist. I am so happy.”

Then from Dad I heard, “There is a conduit of light by the patio door through which I will take your mother to our home. Loved ones and friends are waiting there in celebration. We want you to speak at the funeral to honor your mother.”

We arrived in Tennessee amid a flurry of funeral preparations, which included the funeral program. But later, at my aunt’s house, I had an impression about the program–Mom could not be honored properly without Dad. She was too much a part of him to have it any other way. I called the funeral home, hoping there was still time to make changes. “Instead of just Mom’s picture on the program,” I asked, “please use the picture of both Mom and Dad, and underneath write the words, ‘Together Forever.’”

They had not yet gone to press and agreed to the change.

The morning after the funeral, we drove through the verdant countryside of the Smokey Mountains to the cemetery, where we laid Dad to rest eight years earlier. Sunshine sparkled through air washed clean by rain. We followed pallbearers and casket across damp grass as we approached the gravesite, and I paused with reverence before the weathered headstone.

Beneath their names were engraved the words, “Together Forever.”

They had prepared the stone with those words long before either of them died. I had forgotten, but they had not.

It was the legacy of The Pearl. Both Mom and Dad overcame the adversity and trials of this life and returned home with honor.

Mar 26, 2010

The Editing Process

by Joan Sowards

My novel Chocolate Roses is scheduled for release shortly. This love story is about a chocolatier who makes her goodies from scratch, or from the cacao bean. It is also a Jane Eyre, LDS parody.

As explained in Chocolate Roses, the process of preparing chocolate is lengthy. First the cacao bean is roasted, then cracked and winnowed—the husks are blown off/removed. Next, the nibs and sugar are ground for hours on end into cocoa liqueur, then the chocolate is conched and refined. Last of all, it’s tempered into chocolate that can be molded into beautiful products ready for savoring.

My novel Chocolate Roses has been dragged through this process. Today we finish—I hope—the last edits and it is to meet the printer this afternoon.

Years ago Covenant Communications published a 7,000-word short story I wrote entitled “The Last Gift of Christmas.” The editing process included adding commas, removing commas, and changing a few words for clarification. Simple.

Haunts Haven’s editing was more complicated with a few additions to the story, major “he said—she said” tag debates, tug-of-war over adverbs, refining sentences. When we finished, I felt confident that Haunts Haven was a product I could be proud of.

My editor, Linda, is one of the most congenial people I’ve met. I figure editors naturally become so in order to persuade overprotective authors to change their prose.

Chocolate Roses’ editing felt like a whole different refining process. It is harder to say specifically what the issues were, but resembled more the process of refining the cacao bean. Writing the novel was the roasting stage. Then, for a very busy week, we crunched the manuscript, sending it back and forth through Cyperspace, winnowing a lot of typos, grinding it with sugar—or improving sentences—for hours on end, then conching, refining, and tempering it into a beautiful format ready to be marketed.

It is also a learning process, and very pulverizing.

Now, where did I put that chocolate bar?

Mar 25, 2010

Trust in the Lord

by Kari Diane Pike

To say that we live in uncertain times is an understatement. When you think about it though, has there ever been a time when life could be deemed certain? I don't think so. After all, the only thing that doesn't change in life is the fact that everything changes. And yet, if we look at our situation through a gospel lens, are things really that uncertain? Confused? too. I have been going around and around in mental circles trying to decide who's right, who's wrong, and who's just plain out of their mind. I read and study and surf the web trying to educate myself on people, places and events. Most of what I see and hear is bickering, name-calling, insults, and fear mongering. Even when I agree philosophically with a party or person, it hurts my heart to hear their vicious attacks of the other side. There has to be a better way.

Mosiah 21-23, in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, touched me recently as my husband read to our family the account of the people of King Limhi and their bondage to the Lamanites. These people were enslaved and afflicted and they cried to King Limhi, asking to be able to go to battle to try to free themselves. They murmured, they complained, and they pestered King Limhi until he finally consented. Three times the people of Limhi went to battle, full of pride, anger, and revenge. Three times they were soundly beaten back by the Lamanites. Finally, they "humbled themselves to the dust" and in that humility they "did cry mightily to God." The Lord heard their prayers, and in his own time, he blessed the people of Limhi with the ability to bear their burdens. In the mean time, Ammon and his brethren preached the gospel to them, and King Limhi and his people entered into a covenant with God to serve him and keep his commandments. Now as they tried to figure out how to "deliver themselves from bondage," they did so with humility and hope, with open eyes and ears, and softened hearts. They found a way to escape, and they were delivered out of the hands of their enemies.

In another example, Mosiah 23:27-28 tells us about the words of Alma to the people who were driven out into the wilderness by King Noah and then attacked by the Lamanites. "But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them. Therefore they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord that he would soften the hearts of the Lamanites, that they would spare them, and their wives, and their children." The hearts of those Lamanites were softened, and in the Lord's time, the people of Alma were delivered from bondage.

We need to stand for truth and righteousness in the Lords' way--with humble hearts, asking the Lord to not only give us the words to say and write that will testify of him and his truths, but also the ability to express the love that he has for every one of his children. No matter what we say, as we stand up for what we believe, there is going to be opposition. Opposition is expected. What is important is that we are respectful and do not give any just cause for that opposition. Opposition can, and actually does, shed more light on the issues at stake. We don't need to create fear and hate with inflammatory language. Seeing someone harassed or treated rudely simply because they disagree is generally appalling to fair-minded people. The humble efforts we make can and will influence others for good.

There is hope. We can find answers and peace and safety in this life. Fear not. Be humble. Be prayerful. Be involved...and Trust in the Lord.

Mar 24, 2010

New Discoveries for ADHD

By Lynn Parsons

Remember that kid who couldn’t sit still in school? The blurry one in the class picture? Most adults would say that youngster had ADHD. Identification is relatively easy, while causes and effective treatments remain elusive. Recent discoveries reveal possible culprits.

In 70% of ADHD cases, researchers believe the cause is genetic. What about the remainder? Strong evidence has identified lead, a neurotoxin associated with brain damage. This exposure is not just from aging paint.

Two studies have linked low level exposure to this disorder. Cheap children’s jewelry, imported dishes and polluted ground water are a few of the culprits. One study demonstrated that children with impulsivity and hyperactivity problems have higher levels of lead in their blood. The second study revealed levels of the heavy metal can be directly linked to the severity of ADHD symptoms.

Another group of suspects in the ADHD mystery is phthalates. These chemicals are commonly found in many plastics. Many studies have examined these substances in the past with inconclusive results. New research from Korea examined the urine of children for phthalates metabolites, which occur as a result of exposure. Higher levels of metabolites were associated with more ADHD symptoms.

None of these studies have provided proof that either substance causes ADHD. More research is needed. But common sense indicates less exposure until more is known.

How can you limit your exposure to lead?

• Purchase painted toys from reputable companies.

• Have your drinking water tested.

• Be careful about painted dishes or those made from pewter.

What about reducing phthalate contacts?

• Don’t eat much processed food.

• Shop for toys and baby products with companies who use phthalate-free plastics.

• Read cosmetic labels.

• Breathe fresh air because outdoor air contains lower levels than that indoors.

Mar 23, 2010

The best idea ever!

by Valerie Ipson

I saw this recently in the London airport...a vending machine filled with books. Awesome!

Right next to it was the Ben & Jerry's vending machine.

A novel + some Chunky Monkey = Heaven

Mar 22, 2010

Don't mess with this mama

By Stacy Johnson

So, my sweet baby started sleeping through the night last week. I thought maybe it was a fluke, so I didn't get too excited and hoped it would continue. It did. Yeah me!!!

Unfortunately, there were extenuating circumstances.
I've dealt with this before. I'm thinking about a chapter in my parenting book that I call "Don't be the slave." This is where I talk about the things as parents that we sometimes fall slave to, like soothing devices. Of the eight children, only one took a binky. Vance. While it helped him be a really good baby, I was a slave to it. I would deter 20 miles on a trip just to find the nearest store to purchase a replacement binkie that disappeared between Mesa and Bloomfield. I still had to wake up in the middle of the night to search for it on the floor behind the crib, and who knows how much money I spent on those things. I remember him screaming bloody murder while I spent 15 minutes looking for it. You get my point. I swore then that I would not do that again.

Then came Katy, baby #5. Katy was so sick when she was a newborn and spent so much time in the Dr. office and hospital before the age of 2 months, that I swore I would give her whatever she wanted just so she would be happy. I let her have her thumb to soothe herself, and it was awesome. I never lost that thing, she slept throught the night, and traveling with her was a dream...until I was ready to break that habit. Luckily for me, when she was about three, I convinced her to do it herself and she did...for about 6 months. Then she started up again. So, I became a slave to the phrase "pull that thing out of your mouth" and waking up in the middle of the night to go to her room and make sure she hadn't taken the tape off her thumb. I tortured her with hot sauce and any other remedy I could find that would make the act of sticking that thumb in her mouth a negative experience. I did this for a few weeks and it was misery for both of us. The crying and whining, and magic tricks to be able to soothe herself were unbearable.

Fortunately, my friend had just purchased ThumbGuards for her daughter and swore by them as a treatment to break this bad habit. For the price of new wristbands (about $20), I was ready to devote the next 6 weeks to making sure this habit was gone for good...again. The first day, I noticed some slight blistering on her thumbs (I swear I disenfected them), so I made sure I cleaned them throughout the day and her thumbs too, even though it meant using a few extra wristbands in the process. After day three, her thumbs were so swollen and blistered, I decided that the ThumbGuards were not going to be a good idea, so I stopped. Lucky for me (not so lucky for her), she was so disgusted by the look and the sight of those thumbs (and the pain she was in), she stopped sucking her thumbs right then and there. Whew.

So you can imagine my horror when I see this...and I figured out why he has been sleeping so well lately.

I will not be a slave again, that's all I have to say.
Trust me Buddy, it's better this way.

Mar 21, 2010

English Lesson

by Marsha Ward

Concerns for my future and the future of this nation kept me agitated throughout the evening. However, I came up with an idea for an article. Unfortunately, my notes are in storage in another city, so I have to put that on the back burner.

In the meantime, here's a question for you: what is the difference between an upstart and a start-up?

Answer (from Webster's New World Dictionary): an upstart is a noun referring to "one who has recently come into wealth, power, etc., especially one who is presumptuous, aggressive, etc." A start-up is an adjective (increasingly becoming a noun) meaning "a new business venture."

Mar 20, 2010

I Wrote Myself Into a Corner

by Cindy R. Williams

I wrote myself into a corner. I've been following so many blogs and writing so many blogs myself that I stopped writing my novels. I have created my own writing dilemma, with no where to go without making some big changes.

How to get out of the corner. I mean what did I do, but put myself into writing time out.

I'll write myself out of the corner by making some new and better choices and set some personal bounderies. I'll update one or two blogs a week, my son's missionary blog, and one other that strikes my fancy. As far as reading other blogs; it all began with good intention of learning more about the craft of writing. Now it has usurped all my writing time. I have an inkling that it really works best if we practice writing and actually write so that we can improve our writing, not just read about how to write. So, from now on, reading and writing blogs will be desert not meat and potatoes. I will savor my favorites.

What about all those great marketing tools like Shelfari, AI, Authonomy, LinkedIn, Ladies Room, Our Neighborhood, Facebookm, GoodReads, Namz . . . etc.? There is a never ending list of groups, or sites to join to build a platform and promote our writing. Enough already! It's time for me to slack off and be a bit old fashioned for a while and spend my time writing, not flitting around the Internet. Please note I said "slack off." I will still continue to build my platform, but once my name and info about my book are on, then I will take a step back.

Another way to paint myself out of the corner is to continue my Arizona Elementary Books tour with my book "Chase McKay Didn't Get Up Today." After all, it's awfully hard to write when the stomachs around me are rumbling.

"Moderation in all things," is true in food, and it is true in the writing world too. It seems that writer's tend to be a bit off center. A good dose of reality and balance is what the good doctor orders.

Lesson learned, making the changes and now moving on.

What about your writing life has you backed up in a corner and how are you going to get out?

Mar 19, 2010

Elements of Friendship

by Sarah Albrecht

This week I read an article that delved into the definition of friendship with the purpose of exploring how friendships can educate us. Classically (as in Aristotle), friendship is defined by three characteristics:

· Common interest
· Helpfulness
· Common pursuit of moral good

The article goes on to note that in today’s Western world, friendship is marked primarily by just the first component, common interest, and that the latter two are largely foreign in our culture.
I was very interested in the article’s exploration of what can happen within a friendship when the latter two components, helpfulness and common pursuit of moral good, are either absent or present. When these two elements are absent, friendship can “damage well-being” and “pull people away from community.” When present, these elements:

· Lead to a greater respect and concern for people
· Lead to greater commitment to truth and justice
· Lead to an “elevating, animating” activity of the heart
· Enlarge and extend our moral experience because we know ourselves and others better

And what I really liked is this equation: friendship + virtue = educative experience.

It’s a lot to think about and can be applied in many situations: our own, historically (I think of John & Abigail Adams), in the gospel context…and how about the types of friendships we develop in our writing? Which of the three elements are present, and how do they affect the characters’ relationships?

I’m still ruminating.

Citation: Smith, M. E. and Smith, M. K. (2002) 'Friendship and informal education', the encyclopedia of informal education

Mar 18, 2010

Like Sands Through the Hour Glass...

By: Krista Darrach

Ever feel like you're stuck?
There are lots of ways to be stuck: Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Yesterday I was stuck. In fact I almost didn't write this blog, I had convinced myself I couldn't (until today). Then I decided ... why not be honest!  Okay... so yesterday, I was on emotional overload, coupled with fear and low hormones (anyone challenged in this area, feel free to contact me!). Life is certainly in session!

Luckily, I was able to be an ostrich for half a day and bury myself under the covers. I have an awesome husband who after twenty years finally “gets’” me.  I just checked out, completely.

I have learned to allow myself to ... NOT be okay. I embrace my insanity, this is probably shocking to many. But it works for me. Knowing that this too shall pass and that I won’t feel THIS consumed forever, helps. I’m sooo grateful for that knowledge, I used to think my feelings and emotions would kill me. And I fixed on anything so I wouldn’t FEEL. (didn’t work by the way). 

But today, I’m a whole new person. Thank goodness for the gospel in my life, I lived without it for so long and seriously recognize the difference. I have hope, and joy if I chose to grab it, and a
Savior who suffered for me so I don’t have to. (if only it were that easy!)

A great friend of mine shared with me the analogy of being stuck in an hour glass. This is truly where I’m at in life. I feel like I’m just wedged right there in the center. 
I do know eventually, I’ll fall to the sand below… might be softly… then again, it might be hard.  But I know I won’t be alone … because I never am ... and you never know when the darn thing is going to be turned over again
In life ... nothing stays the same. 
And amen to that! :)

Mar 17, 2010


by Marielle Carlisle

First off, Happy St. Patrick's Day! The leprechauns came to our house last night, spiking the milk green and using the loo. You'd think they'd at least have the decency to flush the toilet, right?

I'm taking a Humanities class about Children's Literature this semester, and have made an amazing connection between folktales and modern literature.

I've always been fascinated with folktales, or traditional literature. Folktales encompass a wide variety of works: fairytales (Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel), myths (Robin Hood, King Arthur), legends (Why the Elephant Has a Trunk, Eros and Psyche), tall tales (Paul Bunyon, Johnny Appleseed), fables (mainly Aesop: The Tortoise and the Hare), etc.

A definition of traditional literature:

"Stories passed down through oral storytelling and from generation to generation fall under the broad term traditional literature. Over time and through many tellers, these stories altered, drawing upon each new generation's truth to become the stories we are familiar with today. Rich in tradition and richer in language, traditional literature connects the future to the past. ("

The stories we know and love today were not written that way originally. Most fairytales were written for adults, containing content not suitable for young readers. Our "Disney-fied" versions of The Little Mermaid or Cinderella, though fun and sweet stories, were quite different with not so happy endings. What Disney did is they took the stories and altered them to fit our generation's truths.

And that's when it hit me ... WHAM-O! All these retellings of fairytales and myths and legends and whatever, they are just the folktale process occuring in modern times. I always thought it kinda sad that the stories change, but that's what makes them folktales: they change and alter to fit our culture. Whether it was written a thousand years ago or last week, if it's being passed down through the generations and has the same basic plot and characters, it's a folktale.

For instance, I just watched this over the weekend, in anticipation of this coming out in April. How different they are. I loved watching Harry Hamlin growing up. I'm pretty sure I watched the 80's version a couple times each year as a kid. Watching the trailer for the upcoming show is an eye-opener. This myth has been changed to fit our cultures ever growing need for action, and tons of it. I'll probably need to be strapped to my seat to view it safely.

I've been itching to rewrite a folktale, and knowing what I know now, I'm even more excited to jump into the folktale writing extravaganza and throw in my two cents on how I percieve a folktale should be written.

Now to narrow down which story to choose ... this could take awhile.

(I hate being a rabble rouser, but when are we getting our newsletter? I'm going into newsletter withdrawal)

Mar 16, 2010


by Terri Wagner

I've had undiagnosed symptoms for almost 8 years now. I've been to every specialist that makes sense to go to and even a few that were just suggested as last hopes. None of them have been able to help me out. My sister the nurse claims it's stress. I rejected that theory because frankly compared to most women in the world, I have it made.

But lately in reading the BOM topically, it began to occur to me that maybe I was stressing out because I was trusting in the arm of flesh and not the arm of God. Sobering thoughts indeed. I realized that I expected everyone on the highway to behave correctly so I could get to work on time and safely. I expected my job to be there. The computer and Internet access to work. The world to remain spinning safely while I went about all my very important business that I knew somewhere deep down wasn't all that important.

My writing fell by the wayside with my dad and I building a house. My stuff is packed up in a box in my niece's house. The last virus go round had the computer fixed with something called wordpad instead of word.which is just another stress factor.

Bottom line I am stressing myself out nothing. Some seasons in our lives it's ok to take a backseat and say I'm doing the best I can and some things will just have to wait. My story will be there. It's certainly not going anywhere. If I can't destress the "big" things like other people (ha), I can destress the small things. And hope it helps. It would be nice to be cured. But nicer still to concentrate my efforts (and stress) in the things that are truly important. And let the Holy Ghost guide me as to what that is.

Mar 15, 2010

Enjoy the Process

By: Rebecca Irvine

Writing is somewhat of a strange experience. It is very much a head game where parallel worlds of drama and action take place--all unseen by the human eye. Most of what my family and readers see is simply the end product or things that take place after the fact. However, by the time a work is published it has already evolved and matured through a lifetime of changes.

Some ask me about being excited to see my work published, which I heartily agree is satisfying.

But, just to myself, I know being published is not the end all and be all of writing. In the past I have wanted my work to come together with the speed of light. I balked at all of the layers of effort a good piece of writing requires. However, over the years I have come to recognize that the part a writer really has to enjoy in order to keep writing is the process. I have learned to appreciate the time it takes for ideas to hatch and eventually fit into the bigger picture. And then the countless hours of editing and rewriting. Although I do not love them yet, I fully recognize their inherent value. I have become more patient with the words, as well as with myself, as time has gone forward.

So this is my two cent piece of advice today: Writing is a process. Enjoy the ebb and flow of ideas, the evolution of change, and varied efforts it takes to truly write well.

Mar 14, 2010

Things Are Happening--Good Things

by Sarah Hinze

I have been busy attending seminars on The Healing of America.

One of the great things I learned is that the Founding Fathers taught that knowledge is "acquiring information that we can use for good works." It is not good enough to just have it in our head. The full power of creation is to move it out of our head, into real momentum. Then as we act, and it is good, the powers of heaven can then step in and help us.

I am acting on that knowledge and moving ahead on my projects.

It is exciting, friends. Knowledge is faith in action.

Move ahead with your goals. Do not be afraid of opposition. It always comes with worthwhile projects. The adversary would have us neutralize our dreams. Don't fall for that trap. Keep the passion flowing and believe.

I believe in you. Thanks for believing in me.

Mar 13, 2010

A Bad Day and a Warning

By Christine Thackeray

Thursdays are heaven for me. That's when I get together with a wonderful group of ANWA sisters to have our virtual critique group. We are Skyping and after smoothing out a few wrinkles, it's working nicely.

Well, this Thursday did not go as planned. It was my daughter's opening night for her Junior High Musical. Since I would be attending the next two nights, she reluctantly understood when I told her that her fifteen-year-old brother would be there to support her at her first performance. I dropped him off when the time came and rushed home to my computer to log on with only minutes to spare.

When I typed my password, nothing happened. I was shocked so I did it again and again and made my computer hybernate to deter the intruder. How could I be an intruder? It was my computer. Then I remembered my son saying how he wanted to change the password and I told him not to. Well, he did. With no way to contact him, I looked at the hint. It said "Your last password."

Though I had probably typed it hundreds of times, that was six months ago. For the life of me I couldn't remember it. I typed in every password I could think of and anything I thought my son had been thinking about or touched for the last few days. For forty-five minutes I tried to get in, typing word after word until my mind was as rung out and spoiled as an old dishrag.

At last my older son called from work. He was heading over to the play that I had missed to pick the kids up and told me I could use his computer. So he gave me his password. I logged on and hurried to Skype but it was under his name. It took me forever to figure out how to sign in because he has a MAC. and then I couldn't remember which password I used on Skype because my brain was totally password jumbled. The worse part was the only place I had the password written was on a file on my LOCKED computer. At last I figured it out but my critique group had all hung up and gone to bed.

Lesson learned: Passwords need a backup and your brain is not enough. Today I printed off a hard copy of my password list and stuck it in my file cabinet. At least then if something happens to my computer, I won't be locked out of various applications like my website, my son's BYUi accounts and skype.

Ah well, live and learn... and wait till next Thursday.

Mar 12, 2010

What the Right Promotion Can Do

by Joan Sowards

My children live to make movies. They have several shorts on YouTube and have entered a few film festivals and even won awards. Listen to Mom—bragging again.

But an interesting thing happened within the last week. My sons and their friends made a live video version of the opening song “After Today” of The Goofy Movie released back in '95. After winning first place in the Phoenix Valley Institute Film Festival in November 2009, they put it on YouTube. In a little over three months, it had earned 5,000 views.

On Thursday of last week, the view count skyrocketed by thousands! After doing an Internet search, they found that two popular video sights had posted and recommended it.

Within a week, the video has had over 112,000 views. It just goes to show what can happen with the right promotional support. Imagine if we could get that kind of boost for our published works, how far we could go.

Keep buzzing. Keep reading and reviewing. Keep writing. Our names will be on the best-sellers lists yet.

Click here to watch “After Today.” (It is also in Japanese, Spanish, and French.)

Mar 11, 2010

What Is My Place?

Kari Diane Pike

My life is in an interesting place right now. Not a cross roads exactly, nor a bridge, but a place where many things are changing, but are still the same. I know that made very little sense. Hmmm...Perhaps my place can be described better as a change of season. It is still summer, but it is late summer. Many of my children are grown, but there are still a few left at home who need further nurturing and aren't yet ready to be harvested. The demands on my time are changing. I find myself once again pondering on the choices before me. Should I look for a job outside the home? Should I finish school? (I'm sooo close!) Am I really a talented enough writer to pull off writing a book? Even if I have the talent, do I really have anything worthwhile to say?

I have been trying to write a book for about 8 years now. I completed quite a bit of research. I created outline after outline. I even wrote a few pages and shared them in my ANWA chapter. I received some fabulous feedback-- some encouraging, and some painful. I put the book away, believing that I needed to do more research and finish school before I could be qualified to write my book.

When the Wasatch Writers chapter successfully launched, I felt new energy and a greater than ever desire to write. When the lessons in my current class kept repeating over and over the need for good men and women to speak out and speak up in defense of marriage and families, I knew the time had come for me to start raising my voice. In my enthusiasm, I said some things publicly (i.e. facebook) that pushed some buttons. Then I made an unkind comment in another forum. I didn't mean it to be unkind. I just didn't think first. The facebook incident created fear. The other incident created embarrassment. Both are negative emotions and I did not like it at all. Now I find myself back in that place of doubt and wondering, "What ever made me think I should be writing in the first place?"

Today, a friend reminded me that anything that's worth doing, is worth doing wrong. You have to start somewhere. I didn't learn to ride a bike or skate without accumulating some scrapes and bumps along the way. Each time I fell, I got up, dusted myself off, frequently shed a few tears, and then tried again. Sometimes it took me awhile to get up the courage to try again. That's okay! When I was ready, I did it. So, am I ready now? I don't know. Maybe. I'm scared of falling again...of tripping over carelessly placed words, either my own or someone else's. No matter how well I write, I know someone out there is going to disagree. I try to avoid confrontation. I like being the peacemaker. But we live in a time where we need to stand for something. You can not take a stand without ruffling a few feathers.

It just occurred to me that confrontation is not the issue. Contention is. We need to confront the adversary (whoever that may be) with love and respect and integrity. The things we write should be clear and exact, and full of love. We should never create contention. We have a responsibility to teach and encourage others to live a life that is " virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy." We also need to remember that everyone has a slightly different definition of what that means. There is a difference between culture and truth. Everyone has their own place in life. That place is always changing. Maybe, one of these days, I will pick up my manuscript, dust it off, and help someone else find their place.

Mar 10, 2010

Don't Do Me Any Favors . . .

By Lynn Parsons

During the past couple of weeks, two different friends asked for favors. Without revealing too many details, here are the facts:

Friend A needed a project done quickly. She was pretty panicked about this, so Friend B & I changed our plans for after work and worked on this task. We tried to call Friend A four times that evening to ask for her opinions and input, but Friend A was too busy with other calls to talk.

The next day, Friend A sent an email listing all the things wrong with this project. There was a short thanks, but no appreciation for our efforts, recognition that we had dropped everything to help her out, or expressions of regret that she had been too busy to collaborate. I explained to Friend B (they don't know each other) that Friend A was stressed. We decided to take it in stride and make the changes.

You guessed it-- the following day an email detailed further changes. These were made grudgingly, but they were done. Friend B and I were glad to be "finished."

Until the next email a few days later, demanding still more changes. Friend B is a professional in this field, but was doing this for free . . . on her own time . . . and with her own equipment. Now totally frustrated, she doesn't want anything more do to with this project. Understandable. Neither do I.

Now, on to Friend C. I had been helping her out at work, arranging and rearranging my schedule to help her out. Suddenly she needed my "help" constantly. Although she outranks me, I refused to let day after day be taken up with work that could be easily done by others. I think my eagerness to help put me in the position of doormat.

I didn't confront Friend A, but did with Friend C. Still wondering which was right. . . .

I'm taking a vacation from favors . . . .

Mar 8, 2010

It was an epic battle

By Stacy Johnson

There was a war waging with my “wife self” and my “writer self,” on one of those wet days back in January. I checked the date on the calendar…empty. “Right on,” I thought to myself, my plan to attend the ANWA writer’s conference was in full swing as I confidently hit the enter key to pay my registration. I mentioned it to my husband, a few minutes later, to which came his reply, “That was my weekend for the coaching convention in Vegas.” I argued that he didn’t write it on the calendar, so I was going, he would have to figure out what to do with the rest of the kids. He wasn’t super happy, but not mad.

The battle ensued just a few days later, this time with my “I-raised-my-hand-in-support-of-my-stake-leaders self” and my “writer self” when I found out the conference interfered with our Stake Relief Society Day. I prayed and pondered my choices and ultimately felt solace in my decision to attend the conference even though my partner in crime, neighbor and fellow ANWA sister, Kristine, had gotten the approval of a refund in case we changed our minds.

Friday night before the conference, my husband drove me to Tucson for caramellos from El Guero Canello. I can still taste the homemade tortilla filled with its Mexican cheese blend, pico de gallo, and carne asada…Yum. Our next stop was Pima Community College, where we were going to enjoy an evening watching a performance of Cinderella, in which my dear friend was performing. (Us moms who choose to go back to college gotta support each other). WWIII broke out between “mom self” and “writer self” when two month old Derek proceeded to cry non stop throughout the performance. My dear husband watched the first half of the show while I walked around the foyer with said child and we switched at intermission. My own anxiety in wondering if I could deal with a nursing baby and still enjoy myself at the meeting was growing.

The next morning, I held a bargaining session with baby Derek. “I want you to go to this meeting with me, but I need you to be good. If you can do that, I’ll write a book someday and you can be the main character. Agreed?” He smiled that peace treaty kind of a smile and I knew the day would be awesome. Armed with a prayer in my heart, diaper bag, purse, pen and notepad in one hand, baby and car seat in the other, we were off.

Did anyone even notice the two of us? We were in our own world, sitting in the back of every session, having a grand old time. If you missed him, I’m here to tell you when he wasn’t sound asleep, he barely made a peep and when he did it was to laugh. I guess I better get writing that book that has a character named Derek, hadn’t I?

Mar 7, 2010

English Errors

by Marsha Ward

Agent Nathan Bransford had a wonderful blog post this week about malaprop/mispronunciation/homonym errors. The comments are hilarious. Well, maybe not intentionally, but prolly because they point out errors that our so bad!

Some of the favorite, or should I say least favorite, errors the commentors see other's make in using the English language are using loose when a person means lose, choose/chose, lie/lay, their/they're/there, peeked/peaked/piqued, your/you're, and breathe/breath.

Also mentioned were the misuse of apostrophes, which drives me wild. A local sign acrost from my public library made me crazy until it was repainted due to weathering: "Condo's for lease". Condo's WHAT? Condo's bedrooms? Kitchens? Living rooms? Its enough to make a writer cry.

Note: my misuses of English in the above post are intentional. I know the difference between probably/prolly, are/our, other's/others, acrost/across, and it's/its. Really, I do!

Mar 6, 2010

ANWA Writers Conference, Full of Diversity

By Cindy R. Williams

"Don't tell anyone that you're writing. You don't want them to bother you with question like, 'Are you done yet?'"

"Let others know you are writing and what you are writing. It will bring accountability."

"You need a good editor. I had 12 edits before the book was published."

"You don't need an editor. You can edit it yourself."

"Query hundreds."

"Query five, then when rejected, try five more."

"Get an agent and have them sell your book to a publisher."

"The future is in self publishing and using a book producer rather than going with traditional publishing."

These and many other opposing opinions were given by presenters at the ANWA Writers Conference on Saturday, February 27 at the Dobson Ranch Inn in Mesa, Arizona.

The diversity was one of the many reasons the conference was so wonderful. The attendees had to think, and choose what works for them. None of this spoon fed, follow like sheep stuff.

We are all grown up now --I know, big news flash --and must figure out what works for ourselves. We each will develop our own system of writing. The fact that I'm a writer is known by my family and friends. I am open about some WIP's and others not so much. I will share them when their shelf life begins. In the meantime, I don't sweat it. Each work will let me know when it's time. I let them breath. I am at peace with my methods.

I want to have an agent and have them sell my book to a publisher, but I also want several self-published books, and involving a book producer will ease the way. In fact, my children's picture book, "Chase McKay Didn't Get Up Today," was published through a book producer. I own all the rights. I have had a blast running with it and using it to create a buzz and build my platform. The first printing sold out, and the second printing is almost gone. It is a great piece to my personal puzzle as an author. I have visited 30 elementary schools in a year and half with my book and the chidlren's writing program I developed. This is my personal journey, and I have no doubt new twists and turns are coming.

Editing? You bet. I know down to my toes that editors are needed. We are so close to our own manuscripts there is no possible way to be totally objective. Good editors make an okay book sing.

A good critique group and a few people who get your style also helps. J. Scott Savage, author of the "Farworld" Series still meets every Wednesday night with his critique group. ANWA meetings and other writing groups create a good network to find critique partners.

Everyone's writing journey is unique. Everyone's publishing journey is unique. Each of is a unique individual, so why would we even think that the way one person has succeeded is the way we must do it also?

There is a world of possibilities out there. There are many gold rings still available on the Merry-Go-Round of books. Frank Sinatra crooned, "I did it my way." That's what this whole writing journey is about. Finding what works for you, and then going for it. Fear of failure and stinkin' thinkin' gets in the way. Banish it all. Toss it out. Vanquish your demons. If the desire to write burns deep in your soul, DO IT and DO IT your way!

Mar 5, 2010

Problem? Try Synectics

by Sarah Albrecht

Have you heard of synectics? I have just been exposed to the idea: synectics are a deliberate process for leaving logical attempts to problem-solve, enter into the realm of creativity via analogies, and re-enter the logical world with a new perspective on the original problem. Synectics could be used in for solving a social problem, a design problem, a personal problem…a writing problem. How about using synectics as a way to look at a character with new eyes?

I gave synectics a try and decided—this is cool. Two strategies exist, but I’m going to explain the one for “making the familiar strange” (again, maybe a character you’re struggling with?). The easiest way to explain the six-step process is through example. I'll illustrate with a personal one (since I'm in school my writing projects are on hold).

Step 1—State the problem: How do you help a child with anxiety who doesn’t want help?

Step 2—Create a direct analogy between the problem and something very different. For example, if the problem involves something animate, compare it to something inanimate:
How is a boy with anxiety like a _________ ? (Here I thought of different machines—combine harvester, lawn mower, blender, car, toaster—and picked the strangest comparison: toaster.)

Explore the compared object, here, the toaster: toasters get plugged in, heat up inside and smudged on the outside, have a tray on the bottom for crumbs…

Step 3: Create a personal analogy with the object of the direct analogy. How does it feel to be a toaster?

My answers: tied down and bored doing the same job, seemingly smooth on the outside but burning rage inside, stiffly controlled by coils and springs and people outside, “crumb-y”

Step 4: Create a compressed conflict, or oxymoron, with two of the words generated in the personal analogy; my combinations: controlled rage, tied-down springs, smooth rage (the list could be much bigger than this). Pick the compressed conflict that has the “truest ring of conflict.”

My answer: smooth rage

Step 5: Create another direct analogy between the compressed conflict and another “unlike” area. I compared the compressed conflict with the natural world: what in the natural world is like "smooth rage"? Ideas: guard dog, war horse, mountain lion, tornado, rooted tree in a storm, tidal wave, mudslide

My answer out of the list "smooth rage" list: rooted tree in a storm

Explore further: What happens to a tree in a storm? It is rooted; it swirls and pounds; it is cold and wet, pulled in many directions; it is held by wet, moving earth

Step 6: Reexamination of the task: How can you protect a tree in a storm? (i.e., How can you help a child with anxiety who doesn’t want help?) My answer: give the tree strong roots.

Give the tree strong roots. Yes!

After going through this exercise I truly felt like I was looking at the problem with new eyes. Now, the new question to explore is, How do you give a tree strong roots? Time for more synectics…

What do you think? Has anyone tried this with their writing? I’d love to hear how it turned out.


Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2009). Synectics. Models of Teaching, 8th Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Mar 4, 2010

Thoughts Create!

By: Krista Darrach

There is nothing like being surrounded by a bunch of odd, peculiar, crazy people who think a lot like I do. I love being at writers conferences and retreats. I love learning, I’m a sponge much of the time and love to absorb.

We had the usual classes teaching us more about improving the craft of writing and about publishing (All Amazing - given by awesome presenters!!). Then we had a class called: “Creative Writing using your Right Brain (Subconscious Mind) by Helen Bair.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this class.

Helen discussed the differences between the conscious mind and subconscious mind. Her main point, or should I say her first point was: “THOUGHTS CREATE.” So, what you say to yourself, and how you phrase things, has a direct impact on what your subconscious mind hears (and what you do).
Helen says:
 “Select word choices in the positive that solicit the sensory response you choose. Rather than “I am not miserable,” use “I am happy.” Imagine your desired outcome in the present tense. Use "NOW" rather than “I’m going to”. Imagine as if you already have or are what you choose.  Following the above formula is like giving a blueprint to your internal builder/creator, your subconscious mind.”

Now, I’ve heard this before and so it wasn’t terribly enlightening. BUT… then she went on to talk about writers block and how it could be due to the conscious mind getting in the way of the creative thought process.

“The conscious mind needs to get itself out of the way and become passive to best allow the subconscious mind to work on the project and create its miracles for you. In its own time, your subconscious mind will present results of your creative projects to the conscious awareness. Thinking hard does not solicit creative ideas…. If the conscious mind is too involved, it may actually be interfering with creativity."

This struck me funny. In fact I was tickled to hear this. Mainly because this is exactly what I do—I allow my subconscious mind to … Percolate. I do this when plotting, or editing and especially when I revise.  Although I never really understood the actual process at least not in these technical terms, but I can say that when I’m stumped, or feeling completely uninspired I allow my mind to … Percolate. Of course I usually start with a prayer, then I mull around the situation (plotting, character development, revising…etc) and then I basically tell my brain to work it all out. I leave it be and find something else to focus on. I have noticed that if I give myself a time frame, it helps. A few months ago I deconstructed my book and moved things around, I told myself, “Okay, next Friday I’m revamping the first 20 chapters.”  And I did just that, by tapping into the creativity of my subconscious mind (and OF COURSE divine help is included in that) I am able to do things that I otherwise could never accomplish.

So … thoughts do create and our subconscious minds are working overtime for us writers. (thank goodness!) I really loved this class and the perspective it gave me or should I say reminded me. Now … I’m off to percolate! 

Mar 3, 2010

I was there

by Marielle Carlisle

I am now a seasoned ANWA Conference attender.

It was awesome to be around all you ladies that I only talk to on the internet. I was kinda shy that day, and didn't really introduce myself to others, but I saw who you were. Oh yes, you were being watched.

Here's some of my observations of the day:

It was FREEZING that morning. Bitterly, sharp cold. It must've been in the 50's. FREEZING!!!! I had on a 3/4 length sleeve-shirt and no coat, so I absolutely have every right to complain. Thank goodness for the heaters surrounding the lunch tables. I planted myself under one to eat but it still wasn't warm enough. For the bulk of the lunch hour I practically hugged the heater. I made sure to sit as far away from the outside doors as possible during the classes.

I loved the pen and bag I received at check-in. I have an ANWA bag! It's now resting on the floor beneath my library books, becoming the new library book bag. The old bag is showing signs of resentment.

J Scott Savage gave a hilarious keynote speech. His depiction of Aprilynne Pike as the devil was hilarious (but I don't agree! Aprilynne is an angel!). I have put his FarWorld books on hold at the library.

My favorite class was Sara Fujimara's about writing magazine articles. It's just what I needed to hear.

I ate way too much at lunch. Probably because the only way to stay warm was to shovel the food into my mouth. It was pointless to talk because my teeth were chattering too much.

Two of the speakers kept alluding to each other, but they wouldn't say each others names. They would say "Someone at this conference is saying this ..." The only reason I caught it is because I attended the two sessions back to back. I almost laughed out loud when I heard the second speaker say it. They didn't agree with each others advice on editing. It's okay to not agree with everyone, but to be so elusive? I found it amusing. So I'll be elusive and not tell you who the speakers were (tricky me).

The book signing ... lovely. I felt so much love in the room. It was in a beautiful octagonal room, with windows in every direction. I felt so content (and warm!) walking from table to table and reading about each author's book. Which brings me to the best part ...

I got to meet Janette Rallison again! If you remember one of my previous posts, I'm a little obsessed with everything Janette. So I jumped on the chance to have another book signed. I tried to control myself better this time around, but I think I might've been a little too standoffish. I hardly said anything to her. I need to find a perfect balance. I do look like the girl on her book "Trial of the Heart," don't cha ' think?

So if you didn't see me at the Conference, that is what I look like, minus the hat.

Til next year, ladies!

Mar 2, 2010

Deep Thoughts

by Terri Wagner

Because the Osmonds were a big part of my introduction to the gospel (read that without them I might never have known about the church), I've always felt a deep connection to them although I've never actually met one of them. I followed their ups and downs with great interest. Hearing about Marie's son was sad; sadder because my family has members suffering from this terrible disease and yes even suicide has been a part of the equation. Suicide attempts even more so.

I was blessed to believe things always got better eventually. It took me a long time to understand that's a rare gift of the Spirit and furthermore people can't just "have" that feeling. Like a testimony, for some, such a feeling must be nurtured and developed.

I still have family members that we "watch" carefully wondering what their final decision will be. I know what affect such an act has on the extended family and how hard it is to cope with the aftermath.

I have also grown in my understanding of this disease and why it's a disease and how little we understand it. But here's where my natural optimism sustains me because I think but someday we'll be able to cure mental/emotional disorders the way we can measles, mumps and even the plague. That would have been unthinkable decades ago. Time is on our side.

But for today, there is only sadness and a longing to understand these disorders of the mind and spirit. And yes selfishly gratitude that I was blessed with "merry heart" and a "happy spirit."

Mar 1, 2010

LDS Book Reader Survey

By: Rebecca Irvine

Sometimes my market research skills end up joining forces with my curiosity as a writer. Last week I posted an online survey about reading in the LDS community and asked people to please take time to participate. The LDS Book Reader Survey is only 8 questions long and takes less than a minute. The goal is to get 400 respondents to ensure the margin of error is +/-5% (at the 95% confidence level). As of this evening there have been about 85 respondents, so we have a ways to go. So please encourage your friends and family members to participate as well--although not more than once each! Results will be made readily available on my personal blog. Thanks for your time and assistance!