May 31, 2010
So, amidst the other things going on here (and it isn't keeping my blog updated, or even my FB for that matter), I have put together a calendar of activities that are free or cheap that we can do here in the east valley (mostly QC or AJ). There is something to do every single day of the month, so I don't have to hear "Mom, I'm so booooored, what are we going to do today?" You know, in that whiny voice every mom learns to tune out so well. Anyway, I figure at the beginning of each week, I'll post the udpated week's worth activities and contact person if any, for each activity. We'll see how this works. Here is Tuesday-Sunday for this week, in the future, come to my personal blog. www.johnsonteammom.blogspot.com
**Begin your 60 day Book of Mormon Challenge today, read just about 9 pages a day and you can finish it before the kids get back to school. I love it. If you want to be part of a group doing it together, check out www.readthescriptures.com and then send me your e-mail. I'm so in, so are my kids.
**The Scottsdale Drive-in offers a family discount on Tuesday nights. It is $4.50 per adult and $1 per child ages 5-11. Kids under 5 are free. Pop some popcorn, fill up the cooler with juice boxes and you're in for a double feature. Too bad it isn't per car, I'd totally take all of you in my 15 passenger van:) www.westwinddriveins.com
**Make a treat with your kids and then surprise your neighbor. Include the kids on this and make it something everyone can help with. Ding Dong ditch your neighbor with your suprise.
**Usery Pass from noon to 1 is "All About Deserts" Bring a sack lunch and learn how the desert was formed and other cool info. Cost is $6 per vehicle. I am definitely going to this, it is in the Nature Center. www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery
**Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is free all day on Thursday. I think they have some kind of "texting" exhibit I think the teenagers might be interested in. www.smoca.org We might stop for a QT drink on the way home. They are only .69 for a 32oz. Sonic has a great happy hour too.
**AJ Library Water Splash play ages Birth to 2 is 9:30-9:50, ages 2-3 is 10:15-10:45, and ages 4-5 is from 11-11:30. Wear your swimsuit and bring your towel. www.ajpl.org
**Phoenix Art Museum is free on the first Friday of the month from 6-10pm. Sounds like a great date night to me. It also sounds like something the teenagers might enjoy more than the little ones. I love the Phoenix Art Museum, especially when it is free. www.phxart.org
**The Arizona Historical Society has a few museums. Let's hit the one in Tempe today, but they are all free on the first Saturday of the month. I've never been there, but what have we got to lose, it's free? www.arizonahistoricalsociety.org
**The San Tan Mountain Regional Park south of QC has a cool even today from 1-2pm. It is all about things that are scaled and tailed. Meet you in the Critter Room. Cost is $6 per vehicle. www.maricopa.gov/parks/santan
**Let's get ready for Flag Day on the 14th. Write a letter to someone serving in the military right now, or someone you know who has served previously.
Don't forget to read everyday too!!
May 30, 2010
Since I began a trend in lampooning English gaffs, I seem to have tuned my ear (and eye) more towards the "oopsy" moments around me.
This week someone mentioned they saw a blog where the term "pre-Madonna" was used. Incorrectly, as it turns out. They weren't referring to the era before the singer became popular, nor to the 1997 album by Stephen Bray. Not even to the American singer/songwriter's own "Pre Madonna" album.
No indeed. I looked up the blog, and it's here, if you want to see LeBron James characterized as a self-concerned person, more important than the normal human being. Unfortunately, the proper insult term is "prima donna". The writer only got it right on his second attempt.
Prima donna comes from the Italian term for "first lady," usually used in an opera context to denote the lead female singer, who often acted in life in a high-handed manner. A similarly-used term is "diva," and both have become slang references to temperamental and conceited persons of either sex, whether in a film, music, or sports context.
You can read more here, here, and here.
I continue to snicker and LOL at these egregious misuses of English. I'm not immune to making some of them, but I do admit to hooting with laughter when I come upon such horrible examples used by poor souls who don't know any better.
On a more sober note, this week we've said goodbye to two of our blog team members, Krista Darrach and Sarah Albrecht, and welcomed our new contributors, Susan G. Haws and Tanya Parker Mills. We appreciate all that our departing friends have shared with us, and look forward to reading wonderful posts from our new members. There will be more changes in a few weeks.
May 29, 2010
By Cindy R. Williams
I read a post from QueryTracker.net this week. If you're serious about your writing, you may want to Google them and sign up for their free on-line Newsletter. I’m finding a wealth of information there.
The topic was "Branding" and they didn't mean cattle. It is branding as in surrounding your writing with your own personal brand. It made me think of having my own personal logo.
Examples were given such as most things Harry Potter. From the style of art for the book covers to the many characters. The lighting scar, the round glasses, a Quiddich scarf of maroon and gold, the wands of different woods and shapes, even the names themselves such as Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Hagrid, Dumbledore. Snape . . . the list goes on and they all ooze Harry Potter.
Another example; Twighlight t-shirts and jewelry. The branding is so univeral that often strangers ask each other if they are team Edward or team Jacob.
Your brand helps people identify with you or your works. The post suggested we choose the genre we are best at then make our name there before we branch out. It used the example of a fashion designer. Once a designer makes a splash in say, swimsuits, then their name means something to the design world, and they can go onto designing other things such as dresses, pant suits, shoes, purses and so forth.
The post mentioned that your brand must be unique to you. It has to promote something that is different about your work or book, so that when your readers comes across it, they will know it is you. Beautiful pink roses work well for romance books, but they're generic. You have to find something unusual. Brainstorm about what makes you and/or your book stand out from the crowd.
Websites and blogs are a good place to build your brand. If you keep you websites up to date and blog often, you're also building your platform. which is a whole other topic for another day.
Please leave a comment about what your brand is, or what you would like it to be. You are welcome to show us your brand with tags to your blogs or webs. Who knows, you may create a bit of your own buzz and build your platform while your at it.
May 28, 2010
- Dramatic structure
- Sensory details and strong verbs
- Few adverbs
- Avoiding backstory
- Showing, not telling
- Single point of view per scene
May 27, 2010
I buy a lot of sale items and use coupons. With most grocery store cashiers I try to watch the screen to make sure I get my discounts, but with "Nancy" at my neighborhood Bashas' I never worry she will forget my coupons. I relax as she rings up my total. She not only remembers me she remembers all the regulars, and I have actually seen people get in a longer line just to have her check them out. (I have too and I feel time is too short for lines.) I also relax in "Joyce's" line, another cashier, knowing I will get credit for all my savings. As she was rearranging my heavy cat litter recently to make it easier for me to put in my car I told her she didn't have to go to the extra work. She replied that she does extra things whether they are noticed and appreciated or not; it's just for herself. The extra effort "Nancy" and "Joyce" put into their jobs brighten the shopping experience.
Sometimes that little extra effort not only brightens a day it literally lightens a load. Last Friday, the hottest day of the year to that point, my A/C went out. If it had just been me in the car it would have been an uncomfortable ride home, but with my frail elderly mother it became an urgent situation. I fiddled with the fuse that had caused problems before and soon had the fan blowing on high. But it was hot as a furnace. The hundred degrees outside was refreshing by comparison. After my futile attempts to reset the fuse, I called the dealership and with it after two PM on Friday they were not encouraging. Actually they practically laughed at me. Then I remembered a discount card I had bought from a young woman going door to door. And called Big O, though I would never have thought of them normally. (My frugality to the rescue.) They promised to get me right in.
While I don't enjoy canceling my plans and spending the afternoon in a waiting room, I was grateful for the air conditioned waiting room and when they said I needed a new compressor, I was not thrilled but at least it was diagnosed. They also gave me a discount (Maybe no more than what they give everyone.), but it felt like they cared. They even offered to have a person ride home with us, so they could take the car back and then work on it first on Saturday morning. Even more than that they said they could have two people deliver the car so that I could pay ahead and wouldn't have to drive the person back to the shop. I didn't have to tell them I would have had to get both a sitter (for my mom) and a ride to pick up the car, they just looked at us and offered. That they recognized my obvious logistical problems and I didn't have to ask for these considerations made my life so much easier. Also, I was low on gas so I gave them cash and they got the gas. Saturday they called about nine AM and said they were on their way with the van. Going the extra foot or mile can brighten a day or bring blessings for others, and definitely wins loyalty.
May 26, 2010
It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and I'm still in my swimsuit.
We are in our new home (snaps!), and are figuring out where to put things. I'm to the point now where I just open a box, cram the contents into a cupboard, and move on. I'll worry about the permanent placement later.
With this new home comes a pool. We received a 'pool school' type introduction of pool maintenance from a neighbor who happens to work for a pool company, and perhaps the most important thing I learned is why people pay other people to clean their pools. I took meticulous notes while our neighbor was talking, and I know this is doable, but this will be a learning experience.
He warned me that a local pool store, while with my best interests to keep our pool clean and healthy, would try and sell us stuff that we might not need. I braced myself, and with a water sample in hand I visited the store to find out what our pool chemical levels were. I learned that the stabilizer (something that keeps the chlorine in the pool) was really high, and we needed to drain our pool. He made it sound urgent, and I was inclined to believe him, because hey, he wasn't trying to sell us anything.
So I called my husband at work and had him stop at Home Depot to rent a submersible pump, and last night we drained the pool. It's actually quite easy, if anyone needs tips. We were up until 1am, but we did it.
Today I called our neighbor to report what good pool owners we were, and after I finished my spiel there was a pause on the other end of the line. He said that, yes, our stabilizer was high, but it was nothing to drain a pool about.
That's. Just. Great.
He said the reason the pool store guy was pushing us to drain our pool was so we would buy a bunch of products to get our pool in running order.
I'm trying not to think about what our water bill will be. It almost breaks my heart that this was something that didn't need to be done.
Let's try and put a positive spin on it: I know how to drain the pool. I know what those black caps in our front yard are (sewer pipes, you pump the pool water down it). I know not to trust a retail store's advice about pool care. I know that Thunderbird Pool and Spas is a great pool company.
I know I should take a shower and get out of my swimsuit.
May 25, 2010
We all know the truth. When the bishop (branch president in my case) assigns you a topic for a talk, it's really Heavenly Father letting you know what you need to know at this time in your life. I had a great deal of difficulty with my recent topic of modesty...my first thought was what can you say that isn't don't do this and don't do that...and then my second thought was everyone especially our girls are wonderful at this...and my third thought was about tying the dress to the behavior something President Kimball felt strongly about.
In the end, I got to church and the stake president was there...yikes, what on earth was this about???? Then I was asked to lead the music which is sorta a joke because I lead terribly but no one watches you anyway and the fill in pianist was worried as well. With leading, a talk and the Gospel Doctrine class, I felt like everyone had had enough of me...only my niece was giving the RS lesson. And I feel compelled to "help" her out.
I stood in front of everyone and thought for a brief second here goes the worst talk of my life..I certainly felt that way when I sat down. Imagine my shock when everyone including the stake president complimented me. And not the usual it-was-a-wonderful talk but actually parroted back to me what I said or thought I said, did I really say that? I didn't feel the Spirit "take over" as I have before...I wasn't my best. My topic wasn't (I'm confessing here) all that interesting to me. Why happened? Why the over-the-top response to my inchorent babbling?
Earlier this week, I posted my prologue and first three chapters of "our" fantasy novel to my co author. I thought it was great...I really laid it out in an Artemis Fowl kind of way. I loved the characters I created, the really cool goddess who sometimes answers prayers in a dramatic fashion, the 8 and 4 year old boys at the woodcutter's cottage. And my co author hated it...blasted it to bits. I was reeling from her criticism and chagrined to think I thought it was so good.
So between a talk I thought was awful and a storyline I thought was terrific and the responses I got, I remain confused. Does this happen to other people?
May 24, 2010
I just realized I posted this on the wrong blog yesterday. Sorry for the mistake!
I know many people wonder how much an author makes. Even more assume authors are rolling in the dough, when in fact the opposite is true for a strong majority of authors. If you have ever heard the phrase "starving artist" then it should not be a surprise to know his brother is the "malnourished author."
To help clarify what authors earn, especially LDS authors, I posted an online survey and then spent the past two months pestering fellow authors to take the survey. I was successful in getting 36 to do so. Here are the general results of that survey:
One book - 33%
Two books - 19%
Three books - 8%
Four books - 11%
Five books - 3%
Six or more books - 25%
More than half of the authors, or 64%, indicated only one or two of the books they have published are currently still available on the market.
The vast majority (95%) indicated none of their books had sold more than 10,000 copies.
National market - 31%
LDS market - 44%
Both - 25%
Royalties Earned in 2009
Less than $250 - 46%
$251 to $500 - 9%
$501 to $1000 - 14%
$1001 to $1550 - 6%
$1551 to $2000 - 3%
More than $2000 - 23%
2009 Royalties Compared to 2008 Royalties
Higher - 21%
Lower - 24%
The same - 29%
2009 was first year earned royalties - 26%
Of course, greater participation in this survey would help to ensure the data is more reliable. If you are an author and have not yet taken this little survey (8 questions total), please do so! If I get another five authors to participate I will re-post with the updated results.
Click here to take survey
May 22, 2010
I find that in writing novels there are certain huge milestones that make you feel accomplished as an author. I like to think of them as writing "highs" to offset the many lows (such as writer's block, rejection letters and pathetic sales.) Here's the moments for me that make writing all worth it.
1. Completion of first draft- The minute when you are able to honestly type "the end" at the completion of your first draft is thrilling. That moment when all the little plot subtwists come together and you can't believe you've actually done it. (That is what is so good about NANOWRIMO.)
2. Completion of second draft- But then (yes, I started a sentence with 'but') those endorphines wear off as you start editing and realise that what you typed at three in the morning wasn't even minorly cogent and that entire paragraphs are indecipherable even though you're sure at one time you must have had a point to what you were saying. Still when you finish and it's shrunk by a fourth and you've caught the fact that you called your MC's brother three different names by accident, that's the real accomplishment.
3. Reader Feedback- With that second draft you send it out to your friends. Now this is where you suddenly get a reality check. When half of them don't reply because they never quite make it through, that's a bad sign or when they return your draft with every paragraph covered with red highlighting, that's another. But every once in a while you get an awesome revue that makes you feel like you can really do this! A real high.
4. The Acceptance Letter- I don't care how many books you've written, when the acceptance letter comes, it's victory dance time!
5. Finishing Editor Edits- Now this may be a high only because because when you get them, it is such a BUMMER! Rebecca can attest to this. Little is worse than being told to cut down your word count or to strengthen an entire chapter. (What does that mean?) Still, when you are done after being tied in knots and going through a complete emotional breakdown when you're asked to kill your favorite scene, it's a high because you'll never have to do that again.
6. Receiving the Galley or Proof- After a while the acceptance letter seems like fiction. You've sent in your edits, and you wait and wait. You wonder if they've decided to drop the book after all because you were so hard to work with. And then one day you pull up your inbox, and there it is. Your PDF file with your proof. It's actually and book and looks kind of cute. At this point you start reading and are amazed that you wrote something so wonderful. It is a perfect moment with no lows at all. Marketing and sales are so far ahead they haven't started weighing you down yet and all your edits are behind you. At this point I'm totally soaring!
7. The Cover At Last- Getting your cover is euphoric. It's the cherry on top of an already perfect moment. That's what happened to me yesterday for my next book "Lipstick Wars" and I'm still dancing around. Now I do have to say that is only true if you like the cover.
When it's hideous and you have no say in making any changes, you may feel differently. My mother was not happy with the cover of "Hannah Mormon Midwife" at all. It really upset her that the woman on the front wasn't more feminine. Then the artist told her he loved the book so much, he had used his wife as the model. I think she regretted being so vocal about it. Oops.
8. Holding that First Copy- Nothing compares to when the FedEx box arrives at your door and there it is. Holding the book in your hand, you flip through each page, you smell it, you hug it to your breast and you scream in delight. You see, this means you really aren't delusional. It wasn't all some elaborate dream. Someone out there thinks you are worth investing in. Now the work begins.
9. Reviews- It is nice when your friends do a blog about your book and like you so they like your book, but when a total stranger gushes over what you've written, I don't think anything can top it. I got two reviews for my first book that I framed and admit I read now again for that positive rush. On the other hand, a bad review can be the pits. Total devastation, especially when it's someone you really respect. You try to channel the constructive criticism but it still smarts.
10. Great Sales- Now I imagine this would be the best high of all but I haven't experienced it yet. Still crossing fingers but I've been practicing for my happy dance for this event when it comes. Until then, I'll just keep writing.
May 21, 2010
My minivan has a dent in the back door. My son, checking to see if the door had closed, hit it with his hip. It closed, but he left a dent—a big one. At the advice of friends, I bought a brand new toilet plunger. With the help of a little petroleum jelly and persistence, I popped that concaved metal out—so proud of my self-sufficiency.
As weeks went by, that darned dent managed to appear again as deep as ever.
So how do I tie this into writing, you ask? This whole dent incident reminds me of a novel I read about a man who made a bad decision. The story portrayed all the unfortunate events that followed his action. While involved in the story, I hoped and believed that the man would learn his lesson and change, but at the end, and just like that dent, the man made the same choice again. He hadn’t changed at all. I wasn't happy with the ending, so I gave the book three out of five stars.
Character growth makes a satisfying ending. Dorian Scott Cole stated, "In a story, the character must change, and should do so gradually from scene one to the ending scene."
I need to buy a plunger again.
May 20, 2010
Like Valerie said the other day, May is not a month for getting much writing done. My creative juices have been sluiced (Can you tell I have been researching gold mining?) away to areas more concerned with immediate survival, so I will share a few more lessons I learned at LDStorymakers Writer's Conference:
Dave Farland/Wolverton taught me more about the writing process in one thirty minute presentation than I learned in an entire semester of college English. Brother Farland firmly believes that writers can make as good a living from their chosen field as do doctors and lawyers do in theirs, provided writers are willing to put in the same amount of time and effort into their education and work. (I've seen the amount of time and energy law and medical students put into learning their craft. How successful do I want to be?)
"There is no one set path for being a successful writer. What is your next step?"
"The harder you work, the luckier you get."
"Be in the path of the lightening." (I love this quote!)
One more quote from my notes that has been haunting me:
"Remember, once you print it, you can't take it back." -Mary Greathouse
Does that statement intimidate you, or does it encourage you? I would love to hear your take on it.
May 19, 2010
I've also seen many parents fooled by so-called experts. One mother brought me a letter written by a family friend, who is also a family therapist. This "expert" stated that the child in question didn't have Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and did have Attention Deficit Disorder. Legally, she's not qualified to make either diagnosis. Federal law requires PDD be diagnosed by a team, and ADD requires the expertise of a medical doctor.
At least no money changed hands in this case. Other parents have paid thousands of dollars for evaluations the school couldn't legally accept as valid because the evaluator didn't have the proper credentials. My heart aches for these families who have wasted precious resources on invalid reports.
I was called just this afternoon by a friend who told me of a coworker who had been fired. She had falsified her credentials, and had been discovered. This phony was considering filing a lawsuit against her former employer, even though she was the liar.
Now I wonder about experts. We trust their judgement, rely on their opinion, and make major life decisions from their input. Where is safety?
Those of us who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ know only one true expert, whose "evaluation" can be accessed through the Holy Ghost. I pray we can learn to rely on this spirit to help us identify the true experts in our lives.
May 18, 2010
I'm so busy I still haven't gotten around to procrastinating. I think it might be next on my list, though.
I've done some writing on my novel, I've done some reading too. I've done a lot of laundry (as the mountains of clean clothes will attest--apparently, I've done no folding of said laundry--again the mountains attest.) I've done a lot of wedding planning with my daughter, and a lot of Girl's Camp prep--vinyl lettering for 38 shirts among other things. I've given a mother-daughter lesson on Mother's Day. I've been to a temple open house with 60 youth and back, I've helped host a bridal shower, and even cleaned my house for the event. I've gone on a 3rd grade zoo field trip. I've attended a daughter's senior awards program. Still to come in about a week and a half's time is the wedding and Girl's Camp and a high school graduation, too.
No one finishes a novel in May.
May 17, 2010
I posted something here earlier today about gossip and something I am dealing with. After I mulled it over today, I decided I didn't like what I had said, it may not have come out the way I wanted it to and I have deleted it. I am frustrated right now and I used my post to vent. I am sorry if anyone read it and was bothered by it. I don't know if anyone even did. So, here's my new one...
I went to the Senior Scholarship Assembly today for my son as he accepted his two, yes TWO scholarships for college in the fall. It has been an overwhelming and emotional struggle for me as I have watched my wonderfully smart and athletic son grow up right in front of my eyes. It makes me happy that I have taught him well, and that he has an inner desire to do good and be good. It is a joy to see him moving on to the next phase in his life, be it somewhat farther away from me on the maturity and independence level. I was struck today as I sat there and listened to student after student receive their scholarships. In all, the class of 2010 at our little high school walked away with more than 3 million dollars in scholarships. I even witnessed the appointment of one student the Air Force Academy in the fall. I was overcome with the knowledge that our future is in good hands. It was a little "hug" that I needed today. I am excited for the future of my son, my community, our nation, our world. Today I felt a little bit of hope.
May 16, 2010
As I was starting work on this blog post, I got diverted by an interesting Nathan Bransford post (it took me two hours to read the comments) and a plate of cream-cheese-icing brownies. Sorry!
Whether it's your native tongue, or you learn it as a second language, English has its quirks and foibles. Some of them pop up because words are spelled alike and mean distinct things: think of the noun desert and the verb desert. The emphasis is on different syllables, despite the alikeness of the spelling. (We won't even think of "dessert.") Others come about due to words that sound alike although their letters are arranged differently: soul/sole, hawk/hock, pole/poll, and role/roll are good examples.
It's so very important that a writer uses the right word for the context. It can be embarrassing to use a word that seems like it's correct, only to find out later that you entirely fluffed it.
Someone I know and love recently used the word "paramount" when he/she meant "tantamount." The difference between "chief" and "equal" made me cringe and hope the person on the other end of the missive either didn't know the difference, or would edit kindly.
Let's look at hawk/hock. Okay, you're saying to yourself, everybody knows the difference between a bird and a horse or ox's rear leg joint. However, there are at least three meanings of the word hawk: the bird, the street-peddling, and the--ahem--throat-clearing. Hock has another couple of meanings, too: to pawn, and in slang, to be in or out of debt. Make sure you use the right spelling at the right time.
One of my pet peeves is seeing the word pair roll and role misused. "Roll" has at least 22 meanings, depending on if it's used as an intransitive or transitive verb, or as a noun. It could mean the action of moving yourself across the room on your belly and back, a piece of bread, a trilling of the letter "r," or a clap of thunder. "Role," which comes from the French and consequently often carries a caret over the o, means a part an actor plays or a function assumed by someone, such as "an advisory role."
Yes, English is difficult, but it's of paramount importance that a writer takes the time to make sure the word used is the correct one. To do otherwise is tantamount to derailing his or her career.
What are your pet peeves about word misuses?
May 15, 2010
I tried to accomplish this, but found it was more of a hit and miss thing. As it got closer to the day of class, I gave the extra effort because we were required to write a scene a week, and I am competitive enough to make sure I had that scene done.
It has been just shy of three years since then. I finally take myself seriously as a writer. In looking back to see when the change finally came, I realize it wasn't any one thing. It boils down to more of a feeling and attitude. I feel what I write is important. I feel that the world has need of wholesome stories. I feel I have been given a seed of writing talent and that the Lord wants me to develop it, use it and reach out to others through my stories. It's easy now to call myself a Writer. It's easy now to share writing experiences with others.
I set a New Years Resolution to write something everyday. I deliberately chose not to use a time limit or even a word limit, but just to write every day. I find this works well for me. I have yet to miss a day. The least I have written is an hour, and most days I write from three to eight. I write on Sunday's too. However, what I write on Sunday's is not for pay, but for enjoyment such as writing to my son on his mission, journal writing, and recording family incidents, some spiritual, some funny etc.
At my last ANWA meeting, five of us attended. One writer said how she feels like such a baby in writing and it's hard to call herself a writer. We other four ladies jumped all over her and told her that she is a writer and to practice saying that to herself and others. We have to believe it to make it happen.
Take stock of where you are right now. Are you a writer or are you a wanna be? Writer's make the time to write. A wanna be laments and moans about wishing they could find the time to write. They choose to let things get in the way of their writing. Sure some things are out of your control, but most things are within your control. Take a good hard look. We all have the same 24 hours each day. We have our agency and a voice in how we spend our time. If you have been given the talent of writing, go read the parable of the talents and decide which servant of the Lord you are. Begin to live true to your calling and gift. As you do, you will find more peace and balance in your heart and soul.
I am pleased and happy to say, "I AM A WRITER!"
make it happen. Our professor told us that if we didn't take ourselves seriously nobody else would either.
May 14, 2010
This Monday I finished an intense semester. Tuesday I woke up and thought, "Ah, now I can write!" But then I looked around at the disaster our home had become, and the list of jobs I'd been putting off, and summer pre-session starts Monday and the professor already posted the assignments...and I didn't write. Not even one hundred words, unless you count this post.
However, a couple of thoughts occur to me. First, even when you haven't been writing, the desire remains latent and waiting, and I feel hopeful. Second, I could do something, even when overwhelmed by other demands. How about keeping a journal of ideas? All it takes is a second to jot inspiration down, and it will be there waiting for me too. I can also make time on Sunday to write the family history I've been working on that has stalled like my fifth grade knitting project.
Sometimes moving forward requires acknowledging that movement might be slower for awhile, refocusing, and a plan. But it's still moving forward, and I can live with that.
May 11, 2010
This day's not over yet! I can still get my post in!
I'm, what you would say, swamped.
I feel so s t r e c h e d and
in different directions.
What I've learned in the last couple weeks:
Moving from one house to another can hinge on fixing a broken washing machine valve in the laundry room.
Roof problems, even minor ones, are expensive to take care of.
A 55 gallon water barrel can be emptied in about 20 minutes.
Don't tell the YW during first aid night to try and catch the wild animal that bit them in hopes of determining if the said animal had rabies.
Shopping for major kitchen appliances and carpet is probably not the best activity for two young children.
Watching and listening to your child struggle to breathe is hard.
Friends are great. Especially friends who will watch your kids so you can try and negotiate your internet bill.
A computer virus can ruin Mother's Day. Along with stepping in cat throw-up, tripping on the way to church, doing all your supervisor's work because none of them were at church, and eating gross waffles that you happened to make yourself.
We move in ten days. The next time I write for the blog, I'll be a in a new house.
Hopefully I'll be on the ball.
This is for all the moms who didn't get to be moms. A few years ago I took a cruise with several family members. One particular evening I was out on the deck, pretty much alone, waiting for the dinner bell. Those of you who have cruised know what I mean here. I saw a young couple meandering their way toward the formal dining area.
As I watched them go by, I thought of their future, their children, how young they were and frankly how much I envied them. I thought again of the children I had expected to have. Sometimes I even think of what would be their ages now if it had happened as planned. What would they be doing? Would I be a grandmother by now?
My co author just became a grandmother for the first time. I'm sharing her joy through facebook. But there is a pain there, an emptiness that nothing can feel.
When I was on the cruise, as the couple disappeared from view, the tears fell as I "missed" what I never experienced. Never had I imagined a life without children...never. Then came from my sweet kind understanding father in heaven...because you wanted them, it is as if you had them. You are a mother in the truest sense. Be not troubled my daughter.
While I may yet be under a curse for being picky about a husband (ha), at least I know that Heavenly Father knows that I wanted children, would have accepted them in my life and cared for them as best I could.
And yes oddly that gives my tremendous comfort.
May 10, 2010
The day before Mother's Day started out well. My DH took the children to buy me some flowers and a small gift I actually wanted (please, no more candles or bottles of lotion!). But then things got a bit hairy. Child #3 made a mess of the kitchen with five cups of flour (at least that is how much I was able to sweep up off the floor).
"Happy Mother's Day to me," I mused as I prepared the mop water.
Then my own mom, under the stress of trying to prepare to leave the country on vacation, called me in a fit of tears and frustration. And I was partially to blame. I apologized, but the call did not end well.
"Oh, no," I thought as I began to worry and stress myself. Phone calls like those usually lead down roads that are simply better left untraveled.
Not knowing what else to do I went to the temple for an hour. There have been far too many Mother's Day meltdowns in my lifetime. I knew only a miracle from above could help avert another one.
And somehow that miracle occurred. Mother's Day went beautifully. My children were sweet and helpful. And my own mother was fine when I next saw her. We shared time together after church and then i left her to take a good afternoon nap before she finished her packing.
Crisis averted. Mother's Day enjoyed.
May 9, 2010
by Sarah Hinze
Recently I traveled to Dallas Texas to take care of our three grandchildren. It was an exhausting task. I couldn't believe that I had really raised nine children and survived. The young mothers drive more than I ever did and have their children in so many activities. I was going from sunup to sundown with hardly any time for real interaction and communication.
My favorite times were when the children had down time. In this photo you see Lila,our little 18 month granddaughter, observing a flower.
When we had down time,the children could play in the yard, play with their numerous toys and just relax. Relaxing is something I have always enjoyed. I was raised in the south where part of everyday was sitting on the front porch in the evening, drinking a mint julep (actually it was lemon-aid), and just talking.
Many of my children don't really know how to relax now that they are adults. I guess I was so caught up in teaching them other things that I neglected that one important thing. I feel bad about that. It is still time to help them because I believe our physical and emotional health depend on taking time for relaxation. Sherry Dew once said,"We will never go to heaven by making ourselves too busy."
I was brought to tears as I watched my 3 year old grandson play with bugs, you know the bugs that roll in a ball when you touch them. He called them "rollies". We made up a game with the bugs and the sticks and the leaves, we gathered them in baskets and observed and studied them. I think the tears came because I had also taught my children to play that way in their innocent childhood years. I wondered--Why do we stop doing that when we grow up? It brings less stress to our bodies--it brings time for meditation, slower breathing and time for pondering and writing.
All good writers have to slow down, observe life, ponder. All good writers need to take time to refresh themselves and relax. We need to take the time to enjoy life. We can observe the little children, in so many ways, and model after them.
May 8, 2010
By Christine Thackeray
My mother was Jaroldeen Edwards. She was a writer, an entertainer and an artist. She loved to "collect" interesting characters both in real life and in her mind. She loved to tell stories and could entertain us for hours in the car, and sometimes I'd think she only had twelve children so she could have a complete, captured audience. She was so loving and passionate it was a true rarity which I didn't learn to appreciate until I realized the rest of the world wasn't that way.
When my youngest sister started kindergarten my mother pulled out her typewriter and begin to type her first manuscript, but she was also a woman of discipline. She never worked on her stories when we were home and never talked very much about her work to us at all. In high school I had to BEG her to be allowed to read her manuscript which was flawless.
During that time she had four national releases "A Woman Between", "Wildflower", "Mountains of Eden" and "Harvest of Dreams." Her last hit the dreaded mid-list and although she wrote two other manuscripts, one of which was brilliant on the banking crisis and the other a journal of the old rancheros in southern California, neither sold. She did three romances to Deseret Book "The Chaldean Star", "Falcon Heart", and "Hannah: Mormon Midwife." Then she was struck by a car. Through the struggle of healing came "Celebration!" and her last project "Things I Wish I'd Known Sooner" which was first published by Deseret and then went national to Simon & Schuster.
I never wondered why my mother wrote because it was part of her, like the way she laughed or did her hair.
In comparison to my mother, I've always felt like a shadow. I don't think that's a reflection of my low self-esteem but of the vivid originality of my incredible mother. I don't think I planned on "following in her footsteps" but one conversation with my father has haunted me lately.
We were walking together one Saturday and out of the blue my Daddy, a very serious businessman, turned to me and said, "I don't know why people are so enamoured with mother's writing career because it hasn't made any money to speak of. The first books were not even at the wage of a school teacher and her LDS releases have profits that are nothing but a small stipend." Then her turned to me and said, "You need to be realistic. Writing will never be a viable career for you."
I remember looking him like he was crazy because at the time I'd never considered writing. As a matter of fact the events that brought me where I am today were so convoluted, I truly felt guided to this industry and at last am enjoying expressing myself in this artistic form.
Yesterday I was unpacking a box from the garage (we recently moved) and I found an old journal from the last weeks of my mission. It was the day before transfers and we had been told the area was closing. We had already visited all our contacts and had the afternoon free. As I began reading my musings of what I'd do when I went home and how I wanted my life to proceed, I flipped through page after page. In that single afternoon I filled over thirty pages. Putting down the book, I thought about dating my husband. I began seeing him in an effort to make another beau jealous and found myself in a real pickle when I fell in love with someone I was simply "using." I wrote hundreds of pages at the time, trying to work out my feelings and talk myself out of falling for the humble rancher-turned-engineer, as opposed to the brilliant wealthy metro-man I thought I had wanted.
Putting down the journal, I got why my father had said those words to me all those years ago. Like my mother, I'm a writer. It's what I am. I can tamp it down but it won't change the fact that there is something in me that longs to express emotion through story, to illustrate truth through symbol and the written word, to reach beyond reality and share what is whizzing through my crazed mind.
Mother was one. Daddy recognized the seed in me and now it's up to me to decide how to use this talent and move forward. It's a change for me to think this is what I am versus this is what I do. The older I get the more I see that our talents and gifts are often not of our own chosing. They are bestowed on us, and we have a responsibility to use them. This totally changed my motivation.
Okay, so this is a whole new idea for me. Did you already know it?
May 7, 2010
I’m missing my mom this Mother’s Day. I’m missing my mother-in-law and grandmothers too. Except for my wonderful stepmother who at age 85 still dances circles around me, each of these women are gone.
They were loving mentors in my life.
Everyone needs mentors to help her/him through life. Women are mentored, and then they turn around and mentor. That is the way of it.
Not all mentors are mothers, but that makes them mothers in a sense. Thank you to all the great mentors who have helped me in life. (Some may even be reading this. I hope you know who you are.) Sister Rowe who took me under her wing when I was a Merry Miss. She knew I needed mentoring and I knew she loved me. Milli Packard encouraged me in songwriting, Kerry Blair first encouraged me to write, my own sisters, my close friends, and of course, my ANWA sisters have taught me so much along the way.
None of us are perfect when we begin an endeavor, be it wifehood, motherhood, writing, painting, or belly dancing. We each have a lot to learn. In the case of writers, it is learning the craft. Knowledge passed from one to another, encouragement to study and to continue on, the loving hand that steadies ours while learning—all so invaluable!
To all mothers, non-mothers, and mentors, I wish you a happy Mentor's--oops!--Mother’s Day.
May 6, 2010
Clean house -check
Pack for trip to Arizona - check
Spend about thirty hours driving during Spring break: Phoenix, Tucson, chauffeur teens around to see their friends, and return to Utah - check
Get hugs and kisses from Grandchildren - check
Come home sick and spend the next 4 days in bed - check
Try to convince teens to help clean the house for anticipated company - =-(
Clean house myself - check
Wish Hubby "Happy Anniversary" - check
Greet family and friends with hugs/smiles (Try not to cough on them) - check
Attend LDStorymaker's Conference -check
Attend Whitney Awards - check
Get ready for more company - check
Attend Woman's Conference - check
More company - check
Try not to cry when all the company leaves -;oP
Obviously I didn't have time to sneak in very much writing during the month of April. To be completely honest, after the first session I attended at Storymaker's, I didn't know if I would ever write anything again. The class turned out to be much different than I expected. I felt like a boxer who entered the ring without any conditioning or training. These were "real" writers, who held "real" books in their hands...books that they wrote. I defended myself the only way I could. I took notes. When the class ended, I patted my bruised ego, took a deep breath (ouch!) and trudged up the lobby stairs for Round 2. There, Janette Rallison instructed, entertained, and gave me hope that I could still be on my feet after Round 3. Thanks, Janette!
Round 3. Historical Fiction Writing by Gale Sears.
I decided years ago that I am not a fiction writer. Just stick to the facts Ma'am! Since the project I have been working on requires a great deal of research, I decided that Gale's class came the closest to what I needed. I squared my shoulders, took up my pen, and oh.my.heck. (I threw that in to show that I have picked up some of the culture up here.) I fell in love with the idea of writing historical fiction. My heart pounded. My stomach fluttered. I wanted to jump up and twirl on my toes. (Can you tell I'm not a romance writer, either?) By the time Round 3 ended, I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I ran to the Ballroom to share my excitement with Deirdre Koppell and my daughter-in-law Christin. Gale Sears walked by our table and I wanted to grab her and hug her and tell her thank you and hug her some more. But I was cool. I shook her hand politely and expressed my gratitude with finesse and grace. I told her how inspired I felt and a little about my ideas. Gale couldn't have been more gracious. She seemed to think I could actually write something. Then she grabbed a piece of paper and said, "Here is my e-mail. I want you to keep in touch with me. I want to see your progress. If I can help you, let me know." Wow. Gale Sears wants to help me. But wait. I was just kidding. I can't really write. I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm a fake. I just pretend to be a writer. Knock out. I had no idea I have a glass jaw.
Fortunately, Storymakers sends in comedy relief every few hours. (Thanks Marion Jensen, aka Matthew Buckley). Then keynote speaker (and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award) Dave Farland/Wolverton taught me how to train for my writing:
*Begin networking now - check
*Take writing classes, read books on writing, join a critique group - (working on that..go ANWA)
*Learn about audience analysis - (How?)
*Treat it as a business - look professional, sound competent, etc. - (Hmmm..needs work!)
*Learn to be confident speaking in public - (I can do that!)
*Practice frequently - (NOW!)
*Prepare phyisically - exercise, be beautiful (This one took me by surprise)
*Research the world - study people, develop your own insight and wisdom (love this)
*Prepare emotionally - (No kidding. Can plastic surgeons fix glass jaws?)
*Write about what is most important to you (Do I know what is important to me?)
*Prepare spiritually - Be careful about what you are teaching. Every book has its agenda. As LDS
writers, we should share insights about how to be more like the Savior -
even if it is very subtle. (Start paying more attention to what I read)
Then Brother Farland said something that changed my thinking forever.
"There are a lot of people who need what we have."
I am no longer in a boxing ring. I am a writer.
May 5, 2010
A couple of months ago, I noticed that my clothes started getting tighter. Since these were my "fat" clothes, this was obviously not a new experience for me.
But this time, I decided to fight back. I found a diet that would fit into my schedule. While discussing this with a coworker, she mentioned that she passed Curves, a gym that caters to women, on the way home every day, but had never stopped in. We signed up that afternoon (after wangling a deal from the owner), and have been going at least 3 times per week for nearly 3 months.
As of two weeks ago, I had lost ten pounds and eleven inches overall. I just put on my former skinny pants, and can now take them off without unzipping them. I'm down two sizes, and the third is slipping away!
Why is it working now when I have failed so often in the past? I decided to approach this like a writing project, problem at work, or other challenge. When I hit a plateau, decide I'm too tired to work out, or face another problem, I look past it for a path to my goal. And one appears!
Time to just keep on keepin on. . . sounds simpler than it is.
May 4, 2010
by Valerie Ipson
I wonder if anyone has a count of how many ANWA sisters attended Storymakers. I just know that we were everywhere. Teaching classes, winning awards, receiving offers to submit (Cindy W! and maybe even others), recruiting new members, mixing and mingling, and some of us meeting each other for the very first time.
Congratulations to fellow-chapter member, conference-buddy, and friend Tamara Passey for placing third in the First Chapter Contest in General Fiction. I know there were others from our group that placed as well--Cindy Williams did in the nonfiction category. I wish I had a picture of her to include here. Winners please toot your horns on the ANWA Social line.
Fortunately, many of us were on hand at the Whitney Awards following the conference to cheer Liz Adair's (and publisher Cecily Markland's) big win for Counting the Cost in the Best Romance category.
[We tried to collect as many of us as we could afterward for a photo op--shown above. Liz is there in the middle holding her Whitney and I'm next to her hoping some of her goodness will rub off]
Note: For more of Storymakers go to valerieipson.blogspot.com. I'll be posting on the subject throughout the week.
May 3, 2010
May 1, 2010
I'm going to play a game with my blog and write short fragments with an explanation on some about my impressions of the LDStorymakers 2010 Writers Conference. I have no doubt that other attendee's experiences will be like night and day compared to mine, but here goes.
Four different hotel rooms for a three night stay. (Marriott kept giving our room away. When questioned about it, one manger started to cry and had to go home. Weird huh?)
Lots of cinnamon bears and sun chips. (No outside food allowed at the conference . . . oops.)
Tried a new pen name and was told it sounded like someone whom writes cheap romances, or something of that nature. (Hmmmm . . . a genre I have yet to try . . . I wonder . . .)
Made many new writer friends and connections. (Everyone I met was great. It seemed that most egos were checked at the door.)
On a roll with my pitch until my killer ending. "I think Im' going to go throw up now." (I don't recommend you try this at a pitch session.)
I didn't throw up, but the toilet exploded as I walked out of the stall. (I think there must have been an air bubble in the pipe. Only the back of my crinkle skirt got hit, thank goodness.)
Ate dinner at Tucano's near Provo Canyon which is the most fabulous Brazilian restaurant ever. (Super salad bar with to die for cheesy rolls. You turn a small wooden column so the green painted end is up, and darling waiters bring 17 different kinds of meats, vegetables and pineapple cooked on spits to your table. They keep coming over and over again until you turn your wood block upside down so the red end is up meaning stop, enough, or you are so full you might throw up. There's that throw up thing again. Pitiful. You simply MUST save room for desert. Lisa had the most incredible Cream Brule. Melinda had the richest cheesecake ever. Morena had the brownie with ice cream and drizzled with caramel. I had the endless, sinful chocolate cake. Yeah, this was one of the high-lights of the conference.)
Midnight, in bed and just about asleep when Melinda sneaked into our adjoining room and climbed on the bed between Lisa and I to talk the night away. (It was like all those giggle, slumber parties growing up and every bit as fun. We also solved all the world’s problems by about 2 am.)
Invited to send full’s of three of my books. (I'm preparing to send them within the next few weeks. No pressure there. Yeah, right. Good pressure though.)
Hobnobbed with and ogled a plethora of great writers. (I began to name them here but the list grew so long, and it was getting late. I was too tired to check the spelling plus I might leave out some great author, which would offend them, so I used the greatest tool known to a writer; the delete key, and deleted the list.)
ANWA's very own Liz Adair won a Whitney Award for her COUNTING THE COST, published by another talented ANWA member, Cecily Markland's company.
Stopped by the Murray Cemetery and visited the grave sites of my dear father, grandparents, brother-in-law and some great-grandparents, great-grand aunts and uncles and double and triple greats. (It was a lovely, windy day and my heart was full to be there on sacred ground.)
Drove around my old stomping grounds from Provo to SLC. I'm proud to say I'm a Jordan Beetdigger. Any other Beetdigger’s out there?
Some great classes and a dud or two. (I'm sure that one writer's dud is another writer's favorite class. It just depends on where you are on your writing journey.)
Saw Kari Pike, and Sarah Eden, two wonderful ANWA ladies that left the sunshine of AZ for the snow of Utah.
Always wonderful to come home to my family. You rock. To quote Dorothy from one of my favorite books and movies, "There's no place like home."