Jul 31, 2010

Bodily Fluids and Writing- Where to draw the line

By Christine Thackeray

Last year I went to a writer's conference where a very prominent writer spoke. When I heard of the millions of books she sold, I was dying to read her. I went to the library and found one of her books, sat in the aisle and began reading. Her first scene was a Pagan ritual which turned into a very graphic sex (not love) scene. I put it down, blushing.

Lately, in my own writing I have been working on a screenplay with a rape scene. It's been a challenge to keep it accurate but tasteful. The line is thin when we are portraying important conflicts and how they affect people, which is the foundation of powerful stories.

I've got a historical novel I am also writing. Last chapter I dealt with diarrhea, another a birthing scene, I have a pagan temple that is little more than a brothel, brief nudity and bloody war.

It's part and parcel with the time period I've chosen but does leave me with feeling that I'm a PG or PG-13 woman. I've prayed about whether I've crossed the line, and that's how I've decided to deal with it. Still, the line gets thin.

That line "Seek ye out of the best books" is my goal. I really want to write one of the best books or movies one day. I guess the key is, if you feel that Christ could read it out loud and you wouldn't blush, then you'd be okay. Heck, the Bible gets pretty darn graphic at times, The Rape of Tamar, Songs of Solomon, David and Bathsheba, just to mention a few. And look at the Book of Mormon where a man is scalped, arms go flying and that great sword fight between Gideon and King Noah.

Still they never describe the oozing blood or body parts, that is left to our imagination. The problem is that my imagination is pretty darn graphic.

So what do you think?

Jul 30, 2010


by Joan Sowards

A friend, who had too many chickens to comply with city ordinance, gave us a young black hen. The new hen makes a great companion to our only hen, Little Red, who is the last of many who have lived in our yard throughout the years. Red is considered an old lady, being past egg-laying stage. Besides providing eggs, chickens control pest populations quite well, including scorpions, so we keep Little Red.

In no time, the new hen’s name became Black. Little Red and Miss Black, cute? She is glossy and beautiful. When she first came, Miss Black appeared full grown, but in the last few weeks, she has grown taller, longer legged, and elegant.

There is nothing you could see strutting across your lawn that is more serene than hens. Looking out the window and seeing those two lovely birds together, I daydream about fresh eggs filling my fridge’s egg tray as soon as Miss Black makes her debut at egg laying. The weeks have whizzed by since she came, and to my disappointment, she's yet to produce and egg.

But, what light in yon window breaks—and what is this noise I hear?


Miss—I mean, Mr. Black?

Jul 29, 2010

Detecting Deception

by Kari Diane Pike

I've been trying to write this post all morning. I got up before the kids and showered and set out bowls and a variety of cold cereal on the table. I toasted english muffins and pulled two kinds of juice out of the refrigerator because choices keep children happy. Having happy children is a good thing when you want to write. I felt very pleased with myself for such clever planning. After all, I am a veteran mom. I've been in the business for more than thirty years. After the prayer, I helped four-year-old Enoch pour his cereal.

"Are you ready for the mi....Oh no! I forgot to get more milk!" Giggles erupted all around the table.

"I guess I better run and get more milk. It will only take me 15 minutes. Can everybody hang tight until I get back?"

Everyone smiled and assured me that they could wait. I assigned my twelve-year-old to finish toasting the muffins for his nieces and nephews. I bolted out the door and headed my tired Durango towards the local grocery. A large hand-painted sign in the store window announced a sale price on milk. Another sign beckoned me towards the fresh doughnuts. I figured the kids wouldn't mind waiting an extra minute or two if they knew that the wait meant a treat. Silly me. Upon returning home, I opened the door to spilled cereal, hurt feelings and lots of tears.

Okay, so we'll start over. I served them their breakfast, tidied the kitchen and settled everyone into their activities for the rest of the morning. I opened my scriptures and read Alma 51 and 52. I thought about the role contention played in the destruction of an entire nation and how Satan used contention and pride and stubbornness to distract the Nephites from more important matters like freedom and family. I thought about how those same tactics distract me from being the kind of parent, friend, spouse and writer I want to be.

After my study, I opened my computer to log on ANWA Founder and Friends. I noticed several ANWA social messages and decided to check them first. Yikes! Someone had hacked into a member's account and sent a scam message. At first glance, the message seemed to be a plea for help from a friend in trouble. Several replies had been made to the thread, either notes of sympathy or alerts to the scam. The problem with replying to a scam like this is that the scam artist now knows the email address is a valid one, and they can continue with their destructive behavior. Fortunately, several members recognized the fraudulent message and gave the alert. Experience had taught them how to recognize the signs of deception. Hopefully, the damage is contained and we have all learned a valuable lesson that protect us in the future.

After helping a grandchild negotiate her way through another meltdown, I have a renewed gratitude for the lessons taught in the scriptures. The thought crossed my mind to just swat her behind and tell her to knock it off, but a whispering from the Spirit caused me to think again. While my first impression painted a picture of a disobedient and whiny child, my second look showed me a child who was just plain tired and missing her mom and dad. She didn't need an overbearing, "do as I say or else" grandma. She simply needed some loving direction and quiet time.

How many times have I fallen for the misdirection and deception Satan uses to get us to choose less important paths? I am grateful for the direction found in the scriptures and writings of modern day prophets. I am grateful for loving friends who share their own wisdom from life lessons in order to make my path easier. Hopefully, I can do the same for my family and those with whom I share a path as I strive to fulfill the mission for which I was created.

Jul 28, 2010

Twitter Tips

By Lynn Parsons

As promised, I'm making inroads into the world of social networking. Let's start with Twitter.

Twitter is a form of instant messaging that sents your 140 character messages to all your followers. For a more detailed video explanation, go here: http://www.freetwittertutorial.com/twitter-in-plain-english .

Why would anyone want to do this? While I can't believe anyone is interested in whether I'm about to mop my floor, occasionally I'm doing something interesting that I want to share with friends. I follow many people who make interesting observations about life, share news stories, give great tips, and make things more entertaining.

Setting up an account is free and fairly painless. Go to http://twitter.com/ and create a new account. If you're still struggling, go back to http://www.freetwittertutorial.com/twitter-in-plain-english and watch the how-to video.

Search Twitter for your friends and start following them. Post tweets that are timely, interesting, or funny. Your followers may retweet, or forward your tweets to their followers, which will encourage them to follow you. You can also post links to websites you like, news articles you think are important, or blogs you enjoy.

Have some fun with Twitter, and in my next post we'll cover advanced topics like what to do when Twitter is over capacity, how to use hashtags, making money with Twitter, and other helpful tips.

By the way, I'm @parsonslynn, and if you follow me, I'll follow you!

Jul 27, 2010

ANWA Sweeeeeeeeeeet Retreat!

by Valerie Ipson

Jul 25, 2010

Our Crazy Language!

by Marsha Ward

Today I have a few more examples of words that I have seen misused and the proper words folks meant to say or write.

gambut This isn't even a real word. The writer must have meant gambit, but even then, it was wrong in the context in which it was used. She really meant to use gamut. I can see where the "u" in "gambut" came from. Here are the definitions:

Gambit: n. 1 Chess an opening in which a pawn, etc. is sacrificed to get an advantage in position 2 an action intended to gain an advantage. From the Spanish word, gambito, a tripping.

Remember the MacGuyver gambits?

Gamut: n. 1 any complete musical scale 2 the entire range or extent, as of emotions. From the Greek letter gamma, for the lowest note of the medieval scale.

Let's look at other errors:

ancestor/descendant: I see or hear this frequently. Ancestor is the progenitor or forefather/mother of you. You are their descendant. Ancestor is up the line, descendant is down. To make this shorter, I won't give dictionary definitions here.

sells/sales: Sells is a conjugation of the verb "to sell," as in "Janet Evanovich sells a lot of Stephanie Plum books." However, the misuse I have seen/heard lately is where it is employed in the place of sales, a plural noun referring to receipts in business, or the work of, or a department involved in, selling, as in "Sheila obtained a job in sales."

pension/penchant: Wow! This one blew me away, it was so wrong. A pension is a regular payment to one who is retired or disabled. A penchant is a strong liking or inclination. The misuse was along the lines of "Given our pension for choosing multiple social media outlets...." See why it startled me so much?

in tact/intact: I see a lot of this in written usage. The correct form is intact, meaning kept or left whole. In tact takes us to the realm of a delicate perception of the right thing to say to avoid giving offense. Intack is just wrong!

I've edited "English Oopsies" from two weeks ago to include the mistakes I found in the online news report. If you played along, check it out.

But before you leave, can you spot the slight pun in the post above?

Jul 24, 2010

Crazy Write!

by Cindy R. Williams

My every other Saturday turn to blog here seems to come way sooner than two weeks apart. I always start my post at least several days prior so I can let it steep. Then come back to it and see if I wrote what I meant to say or roll my eyes and ask myself, "What was I thinking?"

This is much like my writing. I love to do what I call "Crazy Write!" Crazy Write is where you just forget everything, and everybody and lose yourself in creating the story, not worrying about whether you are using correct techniques, or breaking writing rules. You just let your finger fly as fast as they will on the keyboard trying to keep up with the story as it pours out of your mind.

I Crazy Write until I run out of steam or am called back to this planet to take care of real life things. My story simmers and settles then I go back with fresh eyes and take a good look at it. I find that I usually love the story so much because I let myself just spill it out from my crazy brain. I'm often surprised and even delighted at what I wrote and wonder where in the world did this or that come from? When I come back to do some clean up editing, I'm not sick and tired of it. I also am more objective about it and able to cut and toss without feeling like I am severing an arm.

I attended a conference where one of  my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, told us he writes his books from start to finish without any editing along the way. If a new character just happens to appear midway, he doesn't go back to the earlier part of the story and work it in until after the entire book is finished. Once done, he ties in all the loose ends and makes it all come together. This intrigues me. It sounds a lot like Crazy Writing an entire book. I decided to try it on a YA project with four characters that have been bantering back and forth in my head. I will tell you how it goes in a few months.

What is your writing style? Have you ever tried to Crazy Write? I would love to hear from you.

Jul 23, 2010

Primary Sources

by Tanya Parker Mills

I'm on a 10-day vacation, visiting my parents and two siblings and their families mainly to catch up on what's going on in everyone's life, enjoy a couple of plays (featuring my sister and two of her daughters), and relax away from home. Yes, that's right. My wonderful husband let me have this time to myself with my family.

But I can't turn off the writer in me and, since the new novel I've started is set in Beirut, Lebanon (where my family spent a few wonderful years), I'm also using this vacation for research. My memory is only so good (or perhaps I should say "so bad") and I intend to cull every little detail my aged parents can call up about our experiences there concerning our home life, neighborhood, etc. Then I'll excavate the memories of my brother and sister for their recollections of school and other social gatherings. Primary sources are always best! The trick lies in turning those facts into credible fiction (without offending anyone).

Wish me luck!

Jul 22, 2010


By Susan G. Haws

I love amusement parks like Disney World and its related parks. I love the rides and the shops. I don’t even mind standing in line. Unfortunately the emotional roller coasters of real life are not fun and have far more loops and twists. In this virtual theme park of MOVING my family has completed the house hunt exhibit, the hurry up and wait line, and the purchase is a process not a decision ride. That ride made us want to leave the whole park a few times.

Looking at homes for fun with no intent of packing and moving is a lot of fun. Unfortunately when you know you must pack your belongings and transport them across town or across the country even looking at homes isn’t fun. Now the daunting task of packing is before us. I brought home our first batch of boxes. Next we just fill them and many more, and then take them to their new home. It sounds so much easier than the heavy wearing process I know is before us. I have heard people talk of quick packing and moving and would love to know their secrets. (Hire their army.) I also want to know why most of my moves have occurred in the heat of the summer. Moving is the nightmare that combines all my weaknesses into one interminable horror roller coaster: home repair, home decoration, heavy lifting, reorganization, and the list goes on. I will vomit now to practice.

The crowning glory of this is I probably won’t even loose an ounce let alone a pound  after lugging a house full of belongings across Mesa. I hope I am wrong. I hope that is the silver lining: twenty five pounds of fat burned off moving in triple digit weather. I have no idea how pioneers moved cross country using a sad little wagon that didn’t look like it could hold food and bedding for a family let alone tools and furniture. But that is another article entirely. I am thankful my move will involve motorized, air conditioned vans. If anyone has tips on how to navigate the labyrinth ahead and say we are still sane after MOVING feel free to share.

Jul 21, 2010

Fan Mail

by Tamara Passey

For every writer that wonders.

Dear Writer,

It's not like me to write a letter to someone I haven't met. I've read your book, your blog or your article and I feel like I know you, though. Words can do that. I go about my ordinary day which sometimes is crazy-busy and other times is dull and slow. Either way, reading what you've written picks me up, takes me to good places and by the time I'm done, I'm refreshed for the work I have to do. Thank you for that - that writing thing you do. Thank you for inspiring me, for stirring the life-loving part of me. You can do it with a chapter, sometimes with a sentence. You can make me laugh, cry or stare at the page in wonder. Writing, composing, and editing must not be easy. I imagine you must spend countless hours --or maybe you do count them if you're preparing for that Good Morning America Interview when Matt Lauer asks you "So how long did it take you to write this best-seller?" and even though you might not admit the truth of 10,542 hours - you want to know it so you can sheepishly say - "Oh, I don't know, Matt. Time flies when you are doing something you love." I hope you love doing it, because the world needs good writers like you.

I was thinking if writing were an Olympic Sport, you'd be a medal contender. Of course, the cameras would have to follow you for two years, rather than two weeks and they'd have to figure something out for the action -since typing can come across kind of slow on the screen. And you'd want to be sure not to to give your villains any foreign names because you wouldn't want to offend any of the international judges. Wait. Why am I talking about the Olympics? I was thinking of the sacrifices you must make as a writer that go completely unrecognized by most of the reading public. In our defense, it is not entirely our fault. The publishers never advertise the portion of your life you've dedicated to improving your craft and subsequently finding an agent and publisher that are willing to put your book on the shelf. The two paragraph bio on the glossy inside back cover gives the distinct impression that you've written books in between your first job at the hospital help desk and starting your vegetable garden. It's like their marketing strategy is to minimize, not celebrate, your hard work. Not to mention the time you spend wondering if you really could be doing something different with your life. Only, I hope you don't wonder about that. As your reader, I hope you know what you are doing with your amazing writing talent is priceless, irreplaceable and worth it. Worth all of it. I guess I can't really be the one to tell you what's right for you, your life, but I do know that no one can tell your story, at least not the way you can tell it. I thought it only proper to tell you I love to read what you write. And I hope you will keep writing, for your sake and mine.

Your Appreciative Reader

Jul 20, 2010

Writing Sometimes Makes Me Feel Guilty

by Terri Wagner

In keeping with a summer theme of reading and writing, I had to confess to Rebecca's post that I sometimes feel guilty for the inordinate amount of time I spend reading and writing, especially that kind of reading and writing that means putting the book down and contemplating it or staring at a blank page on a computer screen. Seems like a waste of time I don't really have to waste.

A little voice begins to bleat in the back of my head and if I give it room, it continues until it fills the whole of my head. It starts out you really should DO something not read, not write, DO. The world needs more doers. Be ye Does of the word and not just hearers. It goes round and round. Sometimes I just beat it back by ignoring it, but sometimes the voice gets louder.

Last night it was hammering on me so much I gave up, shut down the computer and went to talk to my dad who is having his own crisis at the moment (total knee replacement in the next few weeks). He was fine. We talked about 2 minutes, he went back to his crossword puzzle. I went into my room where my visiting sister was watching TV, looked up and said what are you doing here?! She was fine.

So why was that darn voice so loud in my ear? Is it a voice sent to remind me time is short, stop the self indulgence of reading and writing and go save a piece of the world; or is it a sort of writer's block trying to lure me away from my writing goals?

Being around in the last of the last days (if indeed they are those days) sure makes for some tough choices. Anyone else feeling guilty out there?

Jul 19, 2010

Mind Escape

By: Rebecca Irvine

English novelist Graham Greene once said, "Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition."

I have been reading a lot lately to escape; reading is good for that. So is writing, and I have been able to do more of that, too. A few weeks ago I had an unexpected change in my work schedule--not bad, but it is taking some getting used to. And I am incredibly grateful for the therapy reading and writing provides to help get through life's changes.

Personally, I highly recommend a good hour of both reading and writing on a daily basis, especially when the rough patches come about.

Jul 18, 2010

Sometimes I Hate Writing!

By Cecily Markland

At times, I really don't like to write. Actually, let's tell it like it is, should we. There are times when I HATE writing. I know, I know, it's a strong word for the thing that I also love and that pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head, not to mention bringing me hours of pleasure and a TON of great associates. STILL, there really ARE times when I dislike it immensely.

I know, I know...just two weeks ago, my blog post was a postive--and maybe even preachy--declaration of my glowing feelings of responsibility and the rich reards that have blessed my life from writing.

But, that was then, before last week when The Beehive newspaper hit mailboxes and drop sites across Arizona. For those who may not know, I'm the editor of the Beehive, a newspaper that targets the Latter-day Saint community in Arizona and is published five times a year. In my position as editor, I followed Marsha Ward's excellent lead, as she had been the previous editor and, as a Beehive writer, I learned much from Marsha.

Since late 1998, when I took the reins as editor, I have written literally hundreds of articles for the Beehive and have read and edited many more that have been written by our pool of skilled writers. I've also written articles for other publications, including Mormon Times, Meridian Magazine and the Gilbert Independent newspaper. The vast majority of the time--read: more than 99.999999 percent of the time, I have loved writing for these other publications. Particularly where the Beehive is concerned, it gives me wonderful opportunities to hear about great things the Saints in Arizona are doing. I love writing articles about authors, musicians, artists and playwrights and others who are using their skills and talents to spread light and truth. I enjoy the interviews and hearing people's testimonies and stories about decades of unselfish service and sacrifice. This work helps me keep my writing and editing skills sharp and Iove being paid to do something I really do like doing.

Or, used to really like doing, I mean. That all came to a momentary screeching halt this past week when I came home to find a quite critical and obviously angry letter in my email inbox...and then another. These Beehive readers vehemently disagreed with one of the stories that ran in a recent issue. It was not even one of the stories I had written, but the criticism and anymosity were directed at me and "my" paper. In the few minutes it took to read the emails and to process things a little, my emotions ran the gamut from stunned to ashamed, from hurt to humiliated, and then to embarrassment and regret. It was devastating to read someone's harsh view of me and to see my character and credibility questioned right there in black and white. I felt physically ill for a few minutes; to think that these people really felt I would blatantly try to hurt someone else--or even condone it as an editor--was a real blow. My 12 years of confidence-building writing seemed to be shot down with just a few letters of opposition. I understood that these readers were angry at what the story may do to someone else, but they had little regard for what their cutting words were doing to me. And, they were doing it all based on incomplete facts and without a view of the entire picture.

So, I did what many writers would have done--I used words as weapons in return. Well, not really. Not how I would have liked to, anyway. I did vent in some pretty pointed emails, but I didn't send them back to the disgruntled readers. Instead, I sent them to the Beehive business manager and publishers and we passed several emails back and forth discussing how to handle the situation.

Yep. By that point, I was sort of hating writing. I can only compare it to the feeling I had when I ran over a small kitten in my driveway. I felt horrible. I would have given anything for it not to have happened, but it was, pure and simple, an accident. In both cases, it really wasn't anyone's fault and there was no way I could take it back. I couldn't restore life to that kitten, nor could I change what had already been printed and distributed. Slowly, though, as it had after the kitten incident, a measure of peace began to distil. I felt real compassion--and true empathy--for those who felt they had been wronged by the words of that story. And, with that, came another profound reminder --I saw again the reality of the fact that words really do have power! Words can be used to damage reputations, tear apart relationships and create caverns of misunderstanding. Indeed, as it has been said, words are more powerful than the sword. Yet, just as surely as they can destroy, words can inspire and enlighten, they can build and bless.

I suppose I don't really hate writing at all. The thing I hate is that I don't always get my writing just like I want it. I don't always pick the right word, or I fail to say some words like "thank you" often enough.

I'm thinking that the answer is twofold: Just get back in there and write more...and love more!

Jul 16, 2010


by Joan Sowards

What would YW camp be without drama? Boring. What would a novel be without conflict? Just as blah.

I recently spent five unforgettable days at YW camp. Imagine, no girls worrying about social status, no backbiting, everyone happy with the cabin and the girls they were assigned to, and no one getting homesick. Heaven, huh? Well, that wasn't our cabin.

Honestly, the girls were wonderful for the most part, but we had our moments of drama. Can you imagine a novel about girls' camp with NO drama or conflict? It would never be published.

Conflict creates memories, a good story, and lots to laugh about later. (Crisis + time=humor.) It also gives us a standard of measurement to gage the girls’ growth and maturity in years to come.

Opposition in all things—drama at girls’ camp. I sure love my girls.

In a good novel, conflict is the driving force. Without it, there is no story.

Jul 15, 2010

Reunion Lessons

by Kari Diane Pike

You'd think spending three days and nights at a campground with 70 other people with whom you are genetically connected in some way or another, I'd have a plethora of stories to share. I'm sure I do. I just can't think of them yet. The problem with camping three days and nights with 70 other family members is the mental and physical fatigue from sun, water sports, rounds of spoons until nearly midnight, and heart stopping incidents with active toddlers. (One two-year-old ran under the boat trailer and was run over. Fortunately, the trailer was empty and constructed of light-weight aluminum. His only injury was a kiss-shaped abrasion left on his cheek by the trailer tire as it passed over his head.)

I thought about Alma 43 where Moroni organizes the Nephites to fight for their families and their freedom and their God. They were gathered together, unified in body and spirit. They prepared physically and spiritually as they put on their armor and as they sought the counsel of the Lord through their prophet Alma. Then they obediently carried out all they were asked to do. (As terrifying as it was to witness our young nephew's potentially serious accident, I knew that we had the power of the priesthood there and that everything was going to turn out for the best.)

I witnessed the power of unity as we all worked together to provide meals and activities for our families. I watched as Grandma passed on stories and hugs to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I felt the baton being passed as the next generation took on the roles played by their parents twenty years ago. I felt peace and joy knowing that they are preparing their children and sharing with them their testimony of Christ.

I recognize the importance of writing down these experiences as they happen and recording my testimony while it still burns within me. Even though I may always remember the "event," details begin to blur and feelings ebb. Other memories and events begin to take their place.

I don't really have a conclusion to all this except to gather your loved ones and give them all a proper hug. Then write about it.

Jul 14, 2010

Social Gnat-working....

By Lynn Parsons

A few months ago, I was asked to increase my "Internet presence."  This request was made by my now-former publisher. I have since asked for (and gotten) my rights back. This was for many very good reasons which won't be detailed here. The good news is that another publisher is interested. But, that's a story for another day.....

But I continue to work on my Internet presence. My kids had already helped me get on Facebook, which has been a fun way to reconnect with old friends. Although quite a few of my former classmates appear to look like serial killers....also a story for another day....

So, I now Tweet. I did learn how to use a url shortener so I can fit my tweets into 140 characters. I also discovered TweetDeck, which shows you many social networks at the same time. But is giving me ADD because it chirps and shows you the message every time someone enters a message. Well, it's free, and I do have the power to turn it off! I joined some Twibes, don't know what they do. I hear and see hashtags, and don't understand the point of them either! You can imagine how embarassing this is to someone with a masters' degree in technology.

I did join LinkedIn--but have mostly either been contacted by people who think I'm a rich American who can finance their school or gotten into arguments with people sponsoring "treatments" that can "cure" every disability imaginable. They do get angry when I ask if they can help kids regrow limbs....like lizards....

I get emails all the time about additional features of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. So, my new goal is to learn at least three things each week about social networking. I'll be posting them here, so join me in moving from social gnat-working to social networking.

Jul 13, 2010

It's come to this

by Valerie Ipson

Last night I stayed up way too early rewriting a chapter of my novel and, you guessed it, once I went to bed the old cogs of the writing brain would not stop turning. I was afraid to look at the clock to see exactly how long it took me to finally fall asleep, I just know there were a total of three times I pulled out paper and pen in the dark to scribble something I was sure I'd forget by morning.

Despite my lack of sleep, morning still came, and it started with a six followed by other numbers which is not a big deal to many of you, but in the summer it is to me and especially after last night.

I stirred awake a bit while my husband was getting ready for work and the dream I was in the middle of still lingered. I thought, Now instead of having her say that I could have her act it out and the other person would know what she's talking about.

Then it hit me.

I'm editing the dream I just woke from.

Then I shook my mental fist at the looming lightbulb that's always above my head--the idea I have that I can write a novel--Nooooooo! I say. Let me rest in peace.

But there was certainly no more rest, or peace either, and with the lure of ibuprofen as my guide, I got up. I stumbled down the stairs with my bleary eyes and jammies, the bedside clipboard and pen in hand. My daughter was right there on her way out the door to work, and she said, "Do you always sleep with a clipboard?"

Last night I did," I replied.

Now I'm going to read my chapter rewrite and all I'm saying is it better knock my slippers off or clipboards are going to roll.

Jul 12, 2010


By Stacy Johnson

Try to make me go to rehab, I say no, no, no -Amy Winehouse

Sorry I missed my post yesterday, my dad finally made it to the rehab center yesterday afternoon and I wanted to be there to help him get settled in.  He is so much happier there than he was at the hospital, I could see it in his countenance.  Now, for some intense physical therapy to get him strong enough to move back home!!

I just want to say that through my dad's illness, it has been a blessing to know that Heavenly Father's hand is in all things.  When I thought it would be hard to have my parents have to move out of their rental and into my grandmother's home temporarily, it has turned into a great blessing.  When dad got sick, less than a month later and had to be in the hospital for two weeks, it is a blessing to know that when they go home, my Grams is there to take care of both of them...my mom when she goes back to work and my dad while he continues to recover.  I know there is more to this story, but that is it for today since I am posting on Tuesday what should have been done on Monday.

Jul 11, 2010

English Oopsies

by Marsha Ward

I seem to have found a pattern for my blog posts here. I have no idea how long my focus on errors in written and spoken English will last. Just bear with me (that "bear" is in the context of withstand or endure).

My intended subject for today was exploring more words mistakenly used for the correct ones, but something I saw on Saturday just blew me away, and I'll share that with you, instead.

Go look at an online news article here. Read it carefully, with an eye for mistakes. Then come back and tell us in the comments how many oopsies you found.

The errors that caught my eye were egregious (I love that word, which means remarkably bad or flagrant). For a news report on a timely, but not urgent, subject, you'd think the writer could make fewer mistakes in only 191 words. Clearly, no editor proofread the effort before it was posted. I tremble for the state of the English language if, indeed, an editor passed this report through with an okay!

List your error finds in the comments. I'll update this post later, and compare yours with what I found.

What I found included five errors in word usage, spelling, and punctuation. I didn't address the truth of the reporting.

Here's what I found. Good for those who found more!


on hand

Jul 10, 2010

Oil in My Lamp

By Cindy R. Williams

Last Christmas I bought terra cotta colored molding clay from a hobby store, the kind you have to bake. My oldest daughter and her husband helped me craft small lamps reminiscent of the lamps used in Jerusalem some 2000 years ago. Christmas Eve, we gave a handmade lamp to each family member along with the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Each child got something different out of the gift. The pyromaniacs loved to put oil from our outside torches in them and burn them, telling us they were seeing what it was really like back then. (Sorry kids, we weren't born yesterday.) One child used it as a little flower vase, another set it on her shelf where it sits today, covered in dust. Two of the lamps remain on the table in the front room in what we hope is a constant reminder that we must always be prepared.

Always be prepared is an important principle in writing. If we study our craft, attend writers conferences and workshops, take classes, participate in writers groups, and write, write, write, we shall be prepared. Don't forget the all important element of prayer for guidance in our writing. Our lamps will be full and ready and we will shine as we face all that we must do to reach our personal writing goals.

If we are prepared, we shall not fear.

Jul 9, 2010

Marriage and Publication

by Tanya Parker Mills

My daughter at BYU is going through all the typical woes of the lonely single at a university so attuned to matchmaking that mere 19-year-olds feel there is something wrong with them if they are not yet married. Remember the symptoms? Those feelings of unworthiness, listlessness, and self-doubt that make it hard to get up in the morning because you're certain a new day will only bring a new round of rejections. And everything begins to seem like rejection. A guy speaks to you at FHE, but doesn't follow up and ask you out...REJECTION. A guy smiles at you in the library, but doesn't come over to talk...REJECTION. You go to a party and all the guys seem to be hovering over another girl...REJECTION.

Writers know all about REJECTION, too. And it got me thinking. There's not a whole lot of difference between the unpublished (or pre-published) writer looking for an agent/publisher and the single looking for a lifetime/eternal partner. In each case, you're trying to find that right fit--someone who understands you, appreciates you, brings out the best in you, is loyal to you, and shares the same standards AND for whom you reciprocate all these qualities. The more we get rejected, the more we doubt our abilities, lose our focus, and feel less worthy of publication.

But here's the good news: Pre-published writers, like singles, have certain advantages that were pointed out in a recent blog posting here. We have the freedom to explore any genre, write anything we want, and without any time deadline or expectations (except our own and, perhaps, those closest to us). Think about it. Once you're married, your world becomes much more tightly focused on your partner and the family you grow together. You have new responsibilities that generally keep you close to home. Your free and easy single days are over. It is the same with publication. Once you have an agent and/or a publishing contract, your genre is pretty much delineated and you have to begin meeting all kinds of deadlines and responsibilities. In other words, you have to grow up from being a free and easy writer to a professional author.

Whether you're single looking for that one love...or a writer looking for that one agent, don't waste your time moping (and I'm speaking more to myself here than to any of you). Enjoy and use your freedom exploring new worlds and possibilities. You never know when it may end.

Jul 8, 2010

Caregiver Musing

by Susan G. Haws

I am a caregiver. While the world has learned from the Cullens that immortality isn’t all movie premieres and Volvos it does sound appealing; if you have your physical abilities and your faculties. Rather than a broken hip or osteoporosis, it would be nice if God sent emails or calligraphied snail mail saying, “your time is ticking.” Instead of a heart attack or a stroke perhaps pictures of an hourglass trickling sand or a digital countdown. One of the cruelest indignities of a frail body is a Swiss cheese memory. I say one because there are many heartless tricks the failing body plays on the soul. But memory as much air as substance does have the plus of allowing a person to think that loved ones long passed over are just in the other room, out of reach only for a moment. In God’s view I guess that is what it is. Personally, I wish God wasn’t big on bodies as biological clocks, and learning from suffering. So, while I would not want to drink blood or live with a person that might want to drink my blood I wouldn’t mind both of us being physically and mentally top notch until the moment our numbers were called.  I have to say a farewell party before transformation rather than a funeral has significant appeal.  Just thinking.

Jul 7, 2010

Don't Judge an Author by Her Book

by Tamara Passey

Especially when she doesn't have one. Yet.
Actually, I prefer the term pre-published.
It's much more optimistic, isn't it?
I borrowed that phrase from a T-shirt website.
I was looking for one to wear to the recent LDStorymaker's Conference.
I wanted to get noticed or make a good impression. Then I decided the two were not the same and opted for clothes without words across my chest. First impressions are tricky.

I remember a teacher I had my senior year in high school. His name was Mr. Tingblad. Yes, really. He was stout, wore glasses and had a mustache. Most students didn't give him the time of day, maybe looking at him too long made them uneasy. But you know what? In the four years I went to that school and out of the 5,000 students and faculty, he was the only one who ever noticed and asked me about my CTR ring. He wanted to know what the initials stood for - as my personal initials were different. I told him "Choose The Right" and his eyebrows raised and a smile broke out across his face. "I like that." He returned to his desk and in a few days I noticed he began signing his papers and putting the CTR letters underneath his signature. Go figure.

I've been thinking about the amazing people I've met through ANWA this year, one chapter meeting, one blog post or one comment at a time and I've decided I love this community of sisters that understand the writing life.

I read something recently:
"Your past is not your potential. In any hour you can liberate the future."  Marilyn Ferguson

Now when I sit down at the keyboard, or sometimes with my notebook and pen, I tell myself I'm not simply writing - I'm not just making an impression, I'm also liberating my future.

Jul 6, 2010

I Gave Up

by Terri Wagner

I quit the singles' site. First I had to deal with scam artists. Then I had the poor fellow who told me he was basically dying (and how do I really know this???). And then I got what I would term cybersex or at least a rather graphic sexual narrative of what I guess was mine if I wanted it. I only read two lines but that was enough for me to figure out where it was going. He did apologize. Funny thing though when I sent his profile to a friend of mine, she said red flag, something's not right here. Turns out she was right.

I don't regret trying it out though. I learned a lot about myself...I want real dates in person...and I'm not really comfortable saying hello, how are you? to someone miles away that could be a freak (not that I haven't met my share of them in real life it's just you generally know it right away)...or not. I tried it because 2 guys at work did and ended up marrying the women they met (one is a young man, the other around my age). Maybe eharmony is better; maybe it was a standards issue; maybe I'm just not very good at weeding through the profiles to find the one fella that was there like me to try it out. I know of at least 3 couples in my area that met and married via the Internet and so far are very happy.

So after an honest attempt, I'll just put that idea out of my head. So anyone know any single men my age out there? I think networking is the next alternative. ROTFL.

Jul 5, 2010

Fireworks and Writing

By: Rebecca Irvine

It is late and I meant to post much earlier. I guess that is how lazy vacation days go. It has been a weekend of celebrations, feasts, and swimming. We attended the Diamondbacks game on Saturday evening, but were disappointed with the slaughter (14 to 1). The only reason we stayed was for the fireworks promised at the end. And we were well rewarded for our patience. They were lovely to watch. As we sat and enjoyed the fireworks and the accompanying music my mind compared them to writing. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. The best books, like the best fireworks shows, have overlapping plots. No one likes a show where only one firework goes off at a time. Or a show that only uses one kind of firework. The best fireworks I have ever seen were over the Hudson Bay. There were fabulous boats, an amazing display of pyrotechnics, and patriotic music in the background. It was an experience I will never forget. Use varied, colorful subplots to build and enhance your writing. Your reader will appreciate the added complexity and excitement!

2. Of course, with fireworks you also have to be very careful. As a kid I had a teenage cousin who was once lighting off bottle rockets. When one seemingly turned out to be a dud he picked it up for closer inspection when BAM! It launched from his hand leaving him with a badly burned palm. Writing can be similar; never rush it. It is best to let a book sit a while and then come back to it later for editing. Even if your manuscript is begging to be published, taking your time only serves to improve it and prevent the author from getting burned altogether.

3. After the family barbecue today we had some faux fireworks for the kids to do. I was wishing for some sparklers, but all the stores sell now (at least around here) are the non-igniting variety. Although I understand the safety issues and fire dangers, the poppers were sadly lacking when stacked against simple sparklers. In terms of writing, are you using tips and tricks that sparkle and shine, or only those that snap or pop? If you are not sure, find a good alpha reader to get feedback. Have them critique your point of view, dialogue, rising action, and the climax. Have you handled it in true sparkler fashion? Or does it pale in comparison to other books they have read?

Happy Fourth of July!

Jul 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

By Cecily Markland

It's great to be back among the ANWA bloggers! I've just returned from a 1600-mile road trip with my youngest daughter and fully intended to make that the topic of my first returning blog. However, while that is very much on my mind, and while that trip has given me much fodder for writing in the future...and for life in general...it's hard to ignore the calendar and the celebration of one of the most important pieces of writing in history!

As I traveled through Arizona, Nevada and Utah, making several stops along the way, it was impossible not to rejoice in the beauties of nature that this land has been blessed with and in the opportunities we have to entertain one another, to worship as we please, and to recreate in some of the most fun and relaxing ways imaginable. Even with an economy that has forced families to cut back, to move in with other extended family members and to make difficult choices about what they can do without, we are blessed far beyond the many who are in abject poverty and slavery in this world.

So much of what we have is tied directly to the document that was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed on this day in 1776. These writers, we now refer to as our "Founding Fathers," had spent many hours in collaboration and discussion before Thomas Jefferson penned the words to the Declaration of Independence, to which they affixed their signatures. This piece of writing was not a frivolous diary entry (or blog...ha!) it was a statement of their core beliefs, of the things that they were willing to stand, and to die, for! And, indeed, for this simple act, of putting their beliefs in writing, of declaring to the world what they felt in their heart and soul, each of these men suffered great tragedies. It's worth remembering, though, that they KNEW beforehand what could happen to them even before they placed their pens on the parchment and signed the document. They had the courage to do so because they knew it was right and that it was important to the future of all mankind.

These were humble men, who were willing to pledge everything they had to ensure our future and our freedoms. How can we show gratitude for their sacrifices today and in the coming weeks and months? There are many ways, of course. One suggestion would be to google the names of the signers and learn more about them. It makes for a fascinating read. (Also, I have a copy of a list put together by James Witt of some of the things these men endured. E-mail me at cecilymarkland at gmail.com if you would like me to send you a copy.)

I think it would also be appropriate and do us much good as individuals and families to kneel today and express our thankfulness for these men and their dedication and foresight.

More than that, perhaps, for us as writers, we can take our own pledge in our hearts and minds, and even on paper if we dare...to write those things that move us, those things that we know are right and that will contribute to a future filled with light and truth for our posterity and for all mankind. For me, I can't help but declare that as my right and my responsibility.

May each of you have a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend. And, may God continue to bless and guide good men and women in helping to preserve and protect this, the greatest nation in the world.

Jul 2, 2010

My Summer Reading

by Joan Sowards

How does one eat an elephant?

My summer reading is a book I’ve put off for too long because I’ve always viewed it as an elephant. I’m taking it a few pages every day, and surprisingly, I’m enjoying reading it. There are a lot of things in it that I don’t understand, but I do my best. In the past, I’ve started this book numerous times, only to lose interest or get stumped by its peculiar nature, but this time, I’ve persevered and it is paying off. The book is the Old Testament.

Six months ago if you had asked me if I’ve studied the Old Testament, I’d have said yes. I have read many passages and cross-referenced, and had listened to and enjoyed Bible stories, but I’d rather have been taught the lessons than read them. Its wording seemed like cryptic seawater, not leisure reading. Our family would jokingly say, “If you can’t sleep, read Isaiah.” I confess to have used the technique several times, but actually, I now read his words wanting to know why Nephi loved the man’s writings so much. It is enlightening to learn that, time-wise, Isaiah was to Nephi what Joseph Smith is to our day. That makes more sense of Nephi’s love for this prophet.

By reading the Old Testament—I finally understand why Moses and the children of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years rather than have taken the shortcut and been done with it. I’ve finally got past the scandal of Bathsheba to see that King David was actually a very good, righteous man, and have grown to love him. Also, it is interesting that its writers used story and character development, foreshadowing, descriptive words and metaphors.

Just as one comes of age and reads the Book of Mormon to gain their own testimony of it, this is the year that church members, individually and as a whole, can gain a testimony and understanding of the Old Testament.

It is all about reading it. So, the answer to my first question is: One bite at a time.

Jul 1, 2010

Lesson From a Two-Year-Old

by Kari Diane Pike

The thumping of feet running across the front porch set off our ever watchful, Brittany Spaniel security alarm. As I stood to hush our trusty hound, the door flew open and the first of the visiting grandchildren greeted me with a giant hug and a huge grin. I stepped outside to greet my son and the rest of his family. By the time I reentered the house, 2 1/2 year old Gideon had already located the kitchen drawer that houses my Bosch mixer and other baking tools. The bowls had been placed on the floor and the appropriate attachments put in their place. Gideon can name all the parts and tell you what they are used for. As I entered the kitchen, he opened another cupboard and pointed at a container of flour.

"Bosch!" he said, pointing at the flour.

I laughed and said, "That's the flour. Does it go in the Bosch?"

Gideon nodded and said, "Eggs."

The light went on in my head. "Yes! Flour and eggs go in the Bosch. What about sugar?"

Gideon threw his arms in the air and did the happy dance as he yelled, "Cookies!"

A kid after my own heart--and one smart cookie!

Later, I thought about how often I underestimate the ability of children to understand the things that are happening in the grown-up world. So many times, just because they lack the ability to communicate, I forget they watch our every move. I remember the summer I spent in France trying to learn the language. I could understand a lot more than I could say. Sometimes I would pretend I didn't understand just so others would speak more freely around me. I learned a great deal by just listening.

This chain of thought led to a conversation with my son Kenny about child development and language. (I promise this all ties in together!) One of the challenges he is facing as a parent is finding good books for his children to read that not only challenge their comprehension but are still age appropriate. He has a 5 year old who has a 7th to 8th grade reading comprehension, but still loves to read about the same things other 5 year olds love to read about: super heroes, fantasy creatures, etc. He likes picture books, but the language of most picture books is very simple.

When I have to look up the definitions of words in my scholastic pursuits, I usually discover that the author uses that particular word because it is the most efficient. The use of layman terms would require a couple of sentences to replace the one word. Where do we draw the line between using more efficient "big words," and a greater variety in your vocabulary and writing for "the public?"

When we write, defining our audience is critical. We are told that when writing for the adult general public, we should write at an 8th grade level of comprehension. When writing for academia, we write on that level. Children's books have been assigned a specific level as well, but I think that we have been led down a "read/write to the lowest level" road far too long. I think there is a niche out there just begging to be filled. I realize it's not a huge niche, but it exists, nonetheless. We need more children's stories written in rich prose and accompanied by beautiful illustrations. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are encouraged to read the scriptures to our children from the day they are born, even though they obviously lack the cognitive skills necessary to understand what they are hearing. They become accustomed to the pattern of the language and as they grow and we discuss the meaning of our reading, their comprehension increases.

In a fast world filled with fast food, movies on demand, and fast moving video games, what would happen if we slowed things down by reading well-written books with our children, marveled at the imagination of both writer and illustrator, and then discussed the ideas presented in them? Little Gideon knows all about the Bosch. He sits on the kitchen counter every Sunday and helps his mom bake cookies. He can name all the basic ingredients of a cookie recipe. And he understands how it all works, even though he's only 2.