Monday, November 29, 2010

I blame sick kids

By Stacy Johnson

I missed my last turn and I am sheepishly admitting to pre-dating this post so it looks like I did it on time.  It is the middle of the night and I am upstairs on my kid's computer which has a missing 'n' key, so if you see a typo, assume that is my problem, it is hard to slow down to get that one right.

The babies have been sick for the last month with some sort of virus like a cold sore, but a million of them covering the insides of their mouths.  Just as soon as I think the hard part is over and we are on our way to better health, the baby got a nasty cold.  Now I am up to my eyeballs in baby bugar snot.  I ought to be asleep now, but I just nursed him (again) and I am reflecting on how different my perspective on motherhood has changed in the last 18 years.

I remember some advice someone gave us when we got married and that was not to postpone starting our family until we had enough money or felt like we were "ready."  We jumped in with both feet and I'm so glad we did.  I remember being so tired and wondering when my body would adjust to less sleep.  I'm still waiting.

My oldest came home from church yesterday and announced that he could start working on his mission papers in 5 months.  It is all getting away from me too fast and I'm feeling that same anxiety I had when the nurse put him in my arms for the first time and I wondered if I was ready for this.

In the meantime, I will keep plugging along, doing my best to teach them what they need to know and hoping they will accept what I have taught.  For now, I think I will try and get back to sleep.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quite vs Quiet

by Marsha Ward

Several weeks ago, I followed an exchange on a social site between several people, discussing an admonition by a local church leader to the membership to be more quiet during church services. This can be a problem and a challenge, where families with small children worship together.

One of the participants in the exchange spoke of the problem of getting children to be quite in church.

Quite what? I wondered, but kept reading. After the person repeated the use of quite instead of quiet, I saw the problem. It hadn't been a mere slip of the fingers in making a typographical error. She really didn't realize that she was using the wrong word entirely, transposing the e and the t time and again.

Quiet is an adjective (modifies a noun), or a noun, or even two kinds of verbs, but all are related to a state of stillness, silence, not speaking, not noisy, etc.

Quite is an adverb (modifies a verb) meaning completely, really, positively, very and the like, as in quite warm, quite happy, quite a few, quite a bit, etc.

If you find yourself confused as to which spelling goes with which word, try speaking them both out loud. 

qui-et 

quite (the silent e at the end of the word makes the i say its name, remember?)

I hope you all have a quite quiet Sabbath service today.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Letters to Heaven

by Cindy R. Williams

Here are some letters addressing God written by young children. There are two important lessons to be learned here, one spiritual and one as a writer. First, children's pure belief in God, and second; the ability to express that profound faith and love with clarity.

Please take a moment to ponder the letters. Allow them to touch your heart and to inspire your mind. Also, recognize how the simplicity of their words hit upon moments of recognition. This is a good exercise to increase your ability to connect to others with just a few words.

Note, the spelling errors are not typos, this is how the children wrote.

"Dear God,
I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church.
Is that OK?
Neil"

"Dear God,
Instead of letting people die and haveing to make
new ones why don't you just keep the ones you got now?
Jane"

"Dear God,
I think the stapler is one of your greatest inventions.
Ruth M."

"Dear God,
In bible times did they really talk that fancy?
Jennifer"

"Dear God,
I think about you sometimes even when I'm not praying.
Elliott"

"Dear God,
I am Amearican. What are you?
Robert"

"Dear God,
I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world.
There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it."
Love Nan"

"Dear God,
Please put a other Holiday between Christmas and Easter.
There is nothing good in there now.
Ginny"

"Dear God,
If you watch in Church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes.
Mickey D."

"Dear God,
If we come back as something please don't let me be Jennifer Horton because I hate her.
Denise"

"Dear God,
Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each so much if they had their own rooms. It work with my brother.
Larry"

"Dear God,
If you give me genie lamp like Alladin I will give you anything you want except my money or my chess set.
Raphael"

"Dear God,
We read Thos Edison made light. But in Sun. School they said you did it.
So I bet he stoled your idea.
Sincerely, Donn"

"Dear God,
If you let the dinasor not exstinct we would not have a country. You did the right thing.
Jonathan"

"Dear God,
Please Send Dennis Clark to a different camp this year.
Peter"

"Dear God,
Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy."
Joyce"

Are any of you writers and readers in a position where you work with or teach children? If so, it would be fun and quite an education to ask them to write a letter to God. You are certainly welcome to leave a comment and share them with us all.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Why I'm Not Shopping Today

By Tanya Parker Mills

I've never been one to go along with the crowd. I don't know if it's pride or cantankerousness (probably a bit of both), but when masses of people say, "Let's do this, or read this, or see this," I tend to stand back, more than a little dubious. I still haven't read "The Work and the Glory" series. I only read the first book of the "Twilight" series because my son wanted me to read it with him. On that game show "Want to Be a Millionaire?," I would definitely trust the audience option last (even though, time and again, the audience has proven to get it right).

But that is not why I stay at home on so-called "Black Friday." (Okay, in all honesty, that is PART of the reason I stay home on the biggest shopping day of the year. I don't like crowds, particularly when shopping.)

It's the whole American shopping experience that I've grown to detest. As it has evolved, it has become less personal, more time oriented, and with a lot less space in which to maneuver. That may sound strange coming from someone who grew up loving the cramped souks in Baghdad and Beirut. But that was a whole different shopping experience. Lots of people go there, but they meander in small groups, never hurrying. Because there are so many little shops and stalls, you still feel as if you are a valued customer. Why? Because each shop owner treats you as if you are the most important client on earth. They offer you a chair and a cup of tea (which, when refused, they replace with your favorite soda) while they present you with their wares. It is the most hospitable way to shop and bears no resemblance to America's "Black Friday." So I guess I was spoiled.

In the souk, you can always find something unique, some artifact or trinket that seems to speak to you alone, something for which you don't have to stand in a long line out in the cold. Rather than being told by a thousand ads that this is something "you must have," you discover it like a bit of treasure. Think of the souk experience as a combination of antique shopping and Nordstrom's (where they actually wait on you, the customer). My husband thinks I like Nordstrom's because I like expensive clothes...but it's really more about the service. It harks back to childhood memories where, indeed, the customer was king.

Now, if you could find me a souk in my neck of the woods, I'd be there--even on Black Friday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude

By Susan G. Haws


I wrote this a few days ago but forgot I hadn’t put it to post automatically.  So of course I remembered it hadn’t posted when I was already late leaving for my Thanksgiving invitation.  Now that I have already eaten way more calories than is seemly, and had a day full of goodness; I am contented and re-vamping my blog. 
 
I still feel that today is a day for expressing gratitude, resting, and spending time with family and friends.   So I hope that the holiday relived rather than brought stress.  I have worked holidays so I hope that the people that had to go to their jobs today and the people that spent the day in the kitchen, so that others could rest, get time to elevate their feet and take a snooze soon.   This year I am grateful for family, friends, pets, home, health, and so much more.  I appreciate the men and women that have served in the military.  I am also grateful for the people that came before, both my grandparents, etc., and people like the founders of this country both the ones that made it to the history books and the others that did their part and lived and died quietly. 
   
In reflecting on giving thanks I remembered that many prayers start “We give thanks….”  I think Heavenly Father wants us to learn to be appreciative and to learn to be positive.  Gratitude is looking for the silver lining.  Some years are more prosperous.  Some you are just glad to be with the people you love.  Some it is hard to find a silver lining.  But when we open our hearts to gratitude we are able to see more to be grateful for, and are able to receive more good things.  Wishing everyone a contented  Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Count Me in with the I-feel-Violated Crowd

by Terri Wagner

I had the rare and wonderful privilege of entering a full-body scanner on a recent trip out west. I hated it. I felt uncomfortable, violated and angry. I watched a little old man who could barely put his arms over his head and a young mom blushing as they took their turn in the machine. I heard about the scanners but my first stop airport didn't have them going out. It was the airport heading back that did.

I knew a lot of people were angry about it. I also was fully aware my other option was a more violating pat down. I walked away angry, not irritated, not frustrated but actually deep down mad. I talked to several other passengers and all of them felt the way I did. Not one said the requiste oh well it's for our safety. Nope not one.

We all know Benjamin Franklin's famous quote about giving up liberty for safety gets you neither (I'm paraphrasing obviously). Never have such words had such force behind them. I walked into an airport having to take off my coat, my sweater, my shoes, plastic bag my santizer, step into a scanner and do all this without one smile or joke. Total silence and seriousness.

I'm beginning to believe the terrorists won after all.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Be Sure to Poofread

By: Rebecca Irvine

I am in the mood for a laugh, so I found these funny church bulletin announcements (with typos) online (credit). It serves not only to make you smile, but to remind you that a good proofreading is invaluable!

1) Don’t let worry kill you. Let the Church help.


2) Thursday night – potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

3) Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

4) For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

5) The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

6) Tuesday at 4pm there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

7) Thursday at 5pm there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All wishing to become Little Mothers, please see the minister in his private study.

8) This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

9) The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement Friday.

10) Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

11) Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

12) The associate minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.”

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To non-fiction or fiction, that is the question!

By Cecily Markland

I have had the privilege over the last few weeks of working on the editing and, in one case, the publishing of several excellent books. Each of these authors, I believe, has addressed a topic of extreme importance. Each book offers tools that can help with some of the most difficult challenges in our modern-day world. And, each has fueled a question in my mind that I’ve wondered about for some time.

One of these books, called Stand for the Family by Sharon Slater, was published by my company, Inglestone Publishing, last year. The book is now being updated and will soon be going into its fourth printing. As an advocate for the traditional family, Sharon Slater, co-founder and president of an organization called Family Watch International, has spent countless hours over the past decade conducting research as well as participating at the UN and in other arenas. Her book discusses the family as the “fundamental unit of society,” and illustrates how the traditional family is being attacked and undermined through such things as pornography and the assault on marriage and on religious and parental rights. She backs the information she presents with examples taken from social science data and shares ideas throughout the book to show individuals and families what they can do to protect their own home as well as the society as a whole by taking a stand for the family.

Another book I edited was published in late September. Called The Waterfall Concept: a blueprint for addiction recovery, it was written by Roger Stark, a recovering addict and, now, an addiction counselor. It is based on the 12-Step Program, but written from a gospel perspective and includes scriptures and the words of the apostles and prophets, along with his own insights and numerous examples from case studies. The combination serves to help foster understanding of addiction and compulsory behavior, while supplying the specific tools needed for recovery. It’s a message of hope for anyone suffering with an addiction, as well as for their families, priesthood leaders and others who would like to understand more about addiction and how to heal.

Then, just last week, I published a book called: A Warning to My Children: Why Our Economy is Upside Down and How to Prepare for What’s Coming by William R. Cunningham, MS. Based on the author’s extensive reading and his own entrepreneurial business background, the book is not filled with doom and gloom, but rather with clear explanations and ideas of what is to come as well as how to prepare for it. He has been able to condense volumes of research into an easy-to-understand explanation of “the right approach to what to do in our current upside-down economy.”

At this juncture is where my questions—and some doubts—begin to emerge. My company has also published Liz Adair’s novel, Counting the Cost, which was a winner of a Whitney Award in the romance category and continues to win other awards and recognition. And, I am currently involved in ANWA’s Book in a Month, working on my own novel.

Yet, when dealing with such important, “heavy,” and even life-saving topics on one hand, I can’t help but wonder from time to time if novels and other creative pieces are perhaps as “important” or “useful” or life-changing as non-fiction works like those described above. Don’t worry. That is only a fleeting thought as I quickly come back to the first time I read Counting the Cost. Based on a true story from Liz’s own family history, it describes the life-changes that came from the choices made by the main characters. As I read the story, which was woven with Liz’s picturesque descriptions, her strong characterization and scenes that make you laugh and then cry, I was changed. And, in much the same way as with the non-fiction books, I was given tools. I saw myself, recognized some “costs’ I was facing because of some choices and was able to feel and know and then do what I needed to to change all that.

So, please, those of you who write non-fiction…don’t stop enlightening us and helping us navigate the world we live in. And, I’d say the same to those of you who write fiction…don’t stop enlightening us and helping us to navigate the world we live in. Don’t you agree that both are needed? After all, drawing from both non-fiction and fiction, seems like the perfect blend of mind and heart, as we continue to learn line upon written line.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can't Judge a Book . . .

by Joan Sowards

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But again, the cover is what lures the reader to pick it up. Most people will buy a product after it has being recommended by a trusted friend—or a perfect stranger in this case.

Recently, my husband and I went to Oregon. When a stranger heard we were staying in Lincoln City, he said, “Make sure you eat at Otis Café. It is a five star dining experience.”

“But I only brought blue jeans,” I told him.

“Doesn’t matter, it’s just a small place and very casual, but the food is to die for.” Then he went on to talk about its German potatoes and black molasses bread. I was convinced.

So, the next morning with mouth watering, my hubby and I set out for Otis, only three miles from our hotel on highway 18. We almost missed the town because I was navigating, and blinked. “Stop! There it is.” I pointed to a small, older building off the road.

“That can’t be it, it’s so small.”

“The sign says Otis Café,” I insisted. With effort, he turned the car around and pulled into the half-dirt parking lot with several other cars. “How can this be a famous café?” he said, looking doubtful.

We went inside—four booths and a four-person table—and were seated at the table with another couple. Awkward at first, we soon were enjoying a conversation with the couple and learned they lived in central Oregon and this also was their first Otis dining experience.

Soon breakfast was served. Mm! It was as good as the stranger had told us. Warm black molasses bread, hash browns, eggs cooked to perfection, bacon, and French toast made from cinnamon rolls—all yummy. Five stars, easy. Next time I’m in Oregon, I’ll visit Otis Café.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but a recommendation goes a long way. And this also goes for cafés.

Feel the Pain - Find the Answer

by Kari Diane Pike

Marsha Ward posed a question to ANWA last week that has been occupying my thoughts almost constantly. She asked, "Does pain have use?" Several people offered wonderful insight on that subject. You can read them on her blog by going to this link. http://bit.ly/b9X5IU

I shared some of these thoughts with our missionary son serving in Toronto Canada and I would like to share a part of his reply:

"last week...I really studied about pain, feelings and agency - and alongside it, healing, love and charity. Quite the subject. In one April Ensign (I don't remember the year), there was a lot about the atonement, healing and love. One article was about six lessons learned by a nurse on healing. In that article, I believe the third lesson was that healing hurts. You have to feel and overcome the pain to truly be healed. A quote I enjoy from President Eyring is that there will always be pain in the service and in the repentance necessary to bring change and apply to the Atonement - or something to that effect. When we treat the symptoms and avoid the pain, healing is delayed, stunted or even avoided - the real problem still exists. But with the pain as a lesson - "don't do that again" - we can be led to the root of the problem, and change more fully. A complete change and healing - complete with an acknowledgement and overcoming of the associated pain - is not always the easiest, but it is the path the Saviour walked. He didn't turn away from the pain of Gethsemane, or the pain of the cross. In all things we must pray in patience - truly praying "not my will, but thine be done" and meaning it."

As a doula and childbirth educator, I try to teach my moms that pain is not something to be ignored or try to avoid. Pain is a tool the body uses to get our attention. Acknowledge the pain. We can be afraid to face it, thus creating more pain, more fear, etc. or we can focus on the purpose for the pain and feel gratitude for the growth. Ask what is needed and then be creative in finding ways to move through it. We were made to be creative. We can use the pain to help us grow and reach our goal. As children of God, we are divine beings through inheritance. We can have access to the power we need to be successful. Pain is just a tool meant to help us become complete and fully developed.

Pain serves us well in our writing. Our characters need pain and conflict in order to grow. Our writing is incomplete and underdeveloped without some kind of pain. To twist a phrase from an episode of "Gilmore Girls":

"It's not [real writing] if you don't get a little O-negative on your shirt."

Marsha asked a powerful question. Questions (and the pain that comes with them) stimulate creativity. Creativity brings what?...I'll let my 4-year-old grandson share his idea on that. (He and his mom do Joy School...a home-based preschool program. Every time they have Joy School, a note gets sent to the parents telling them what the lesson was for the day.)

"Monday's note said "I made a question mark today. It's what you put at the end of a question..." I asked Travis, right after class, "What goes at the end of a question?" He replies "THE ANSWER":)"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In This Moment...

By Lynn Parsons

Most days, I see myself as a Muppet, screaming and waving my arms as I run from one thing to the next. Although it's gratifying to have many projects get done, I'm not sure this is how I want to live.

We all have periods of time when life gets crazy. When it's a brief burst brought on by special circumstances, it's best to just ride it out. But when you spend your time running from one crisis to the next, it's time to stop.

For example, today I needed to test a student to see if he needed special education services. He was absent yesterday, so I was pleased to see him before school. I called his teacher to tell her I needed to work with him, and she reported him absent. I immediately became concerned about his whereabouts. After searching for him, being waylaid by another parent, and finding out his father had picked him up and taken him home, I was exhausted. It was only 9:00. I did some paperwork and prepared for a meeting with another family. Then I prepared to test a different student, only to find out he was taking a test in class.

I became rather upset that I wasn't able to get any testing done and the day was half over. I spent the day racing from one project to another, making parent phone calls, working on reports, etc. When time to go home rolled around, I raced to the store, then home.

Well, I've discovered it's time to slow down. Many of the things I think I HAVE to do are not really that necessary. Time to stop, take stock, and set some priorities. Next step: learning to say "No!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

T-Shirt Winner Announced!!!

TAFFY

IS THE WINNER OF THE T-SHIRT FOR SPREADING THE NEWS
ABOUT OUR FEBRUARY ANWA CONTEST!!!
I will contact you for details of size and color! :D
by Valerie Ipson

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gratitude

by Marsha Ward

Some of my friends are doing a daily gratitude post on their blogs this month. I'm not, but thought this would be a perfect place to mention my gratitude for some of the blessings I enjoy.

High on my list of blessing to be grateful for are good friends who helped me keep it together this past week when I had a bit of a breakdown. There were those who had eyes to see when I made some cryptic noises on a day that was particularly hard for me. They rushed in, and although they were not in my vicinity, helped me get back equilibrium through emails and blog references and especially, prayers. I'm very grateful for these special friends. I'm grateful, also, for those, although they didn't know what was going on, who answered my plea for prayers, and immediately responded. I felt those prayers, and they were instrumental in helping me.


I'm grateful for the man I married, although sometimes I'm angry that he left me behind when he moved to the next sphere of existence. His love and support sustained me in my writing endeavors. He never tried to restrict my need to create, but made it possible, in so many ways, for me to write, and to inspire others to write. If I'm the mother of ANWA, Robert D. Ward, Jr. is certainly the father and benefactor.

I know women whose husbands are not so supportive, and I hope those men will someday come to know the joy of lifting up their wives through their support.

I'm grateful for the Internet, and pray that it will remain or become unrestricted in our nation and world. It has brought so many good people together to achieve great things. Nothing like it has been seen in the whole of mankind's existence on the earth. May we use it wisely and for good results. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Paraprosdokians

By Cindy R. Williams

A "paraprosdokian" is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. (Note: the two groups of text below have both similar and dissimilar lines.) My sister Vicky sent these to me. They're clever and some will make you smile.

How about these?

1. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
2. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
3. I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
4. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
5. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.
6. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
7. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
8. We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.
9. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
10. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
11. Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.
12. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
13. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
14. How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
15. Some people are like Slinkies ... not really good for anything, but you can't help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.
16. Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.
17. I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.
18. Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars but check when you say the paint is wet?
19. Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?
20. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
21. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
22. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas! (This is my personal favorite and I plan to use it often!)
23. Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won't expect it back.
24. Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.
25. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
26. Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.
27. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
28. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
29. You're never too old to learn something stupid.
30. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target. .
31. Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.
32. A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Revisiting My Youth

I woke up yesterday morning with a sore throat, which got progressively worse until, by the end of the day, I felt as if I were swallowing razor blades. You know that feeling, right? So, I begged off last night's Skype conversation with my writing buddies and curled up with a book.

It's hard to make yourself write when you're feeling so miserable. So what's a writer to do? Research! Aw, who am I kidding? It's hard to make yourself do research when you're cold and achy. The closest thing to my writing career that I could even deal with was revisiting my past by delving into a collection of reminiscences by fellow alumni of my high school in Beirut. I counted it as research since my next novel will pull from my high school years there.

Every time I think back to those times, I'm overcome with a certain, sweet sense of well-being. I can taste the foods in my mind, hear the pop music, mixed with Arabic melodies and the daily calls to prayer. I smile at the memories of certain teachers, friends, and neighbors.

Mr. Rigler, my English teacher, almost falling off his chair from laughter in the front row of the audience as I performed the part of Agnes Gooch in the school's production of "Auntie Mame." Karen, my sister's non-LDS friend, trying to help me stay a good Mormon by refusing to share the delicious-looking brownies that she had laced with marijuana (unknown to me). (She kept them from my sister, too.) Abu Ali, our landlord, smiling as he watched the antics of his little boy down in the courtyard and then, in the next moment, yelling and cursing in Arabic at a neighbor across the street about some local grievance.

Beirut was like that: smiles and laughter in one moment, curses and yelling in another. Still, it captivated all of us, as I can tell by the stories shared in this collection. No matter where you grew up, there is no tonic for the soul quite like revisiting the happy memories of your youth.

It is no wonder that my throat feels a bit better today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Authors Incognito Retreat

photo by Christine Weston Bryant
 By Susan G. Haws

I just got back from the Authors Incognito retreat in Park City, Utah. The AI group welcomed me even though I am not a member of Authors Incognito. The weather was perfect, just cool enough to let me know I wasn't in Arizona anymore. The Cabin had all the conveniences of home, with a rustic appeal; but, the only wild life we saw was a doe browsing nearby while we ate lunch.
.
It turned out the cabin owners had double booked our retreat with a mouse convention so sometimes there was a room conflict and a literal stepping on toes. We and the mice made do.


The organizers can be proud. The accommodations were appropriate, there was plenty of delicious food, and the people were great.  Everyone pitched in for meals and clean up.  There were a lot of volunteers for carpooling.  Karen Hoover was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and get me back. The ride was a big help.

With November being national novel writing month NaNoWriMo goals loomed for group members. We had timed writing contests and total writing awards to help motivate us. There were prizes for night owls and early risers.  There were slow pokes like me and writers with keys of fire, but, all writers were intent on their lap tops. 

I asked more than my share of questions but everyone was generous with their time and experience. It was fun to put faces to names I recognized from the internet as well as meet many more people.  It  was a blessing to be able to attend the retreat and I hope I can make it to one of  our ANWA retreats next year. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Are You Creative?

by Tamara Passey*

I don't even have to ask. I know you are. Everyone is. (I know as I say that it is kind of like saying everyone is special. . . ) But I'm convinced all of us have an inner artist and so many of the myths surrounding creativity -are just that- myths. I came across this article a while ago and loved the research. Here is a little of what Epstein had to say:

The very good news is that, with the right skills, you can boost your own creative output by a factor of 10 or more. Significant creativity is within everyone's reach--no exceptions. What's more, greater creativity breeds greater happiness. The creative process is itself a source of joy for most people. And with new creative powers we're also better able to solve the little problems that beset us daily.
~"Capturing creativity" By Robert Epstein, published on July 01, 1996


Did you catch that? 'Creativity is within every one's reach - no exceptions' In the words of my four-year-old, that totally rocks! And who couldn't use another source of joy in their life or extra help solving problems? It's enough to make a pre-published author like myself really happy about the possibilities. So I'm curious - what kind of creating do you really enjoy? What part of the process do you like the most?


*Confession: This post is adapted from the post on my personal blog yesterday and is the first in a series I'm planning on creativity. My apologies if you follow my blog and happened to read this already.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The 1800-Calorie Junk Food Diet

by Terri Wagner

Weight is a burden I've struggled since I guess I figured out I wasn't growing past 5 foot and one-half inch. If the Buddhist are right and you come back, I want to be an NFL player next time. But that's an aside ha.

I've tried or mulled trying every diet known to man including the WOW diet. I have been moderately successful with most of them. Trouble is none of them seem to work beyond a certain point. At some point this body (and others' bodies) just decide it's not going to lose any more weight.

So I was intrigued by the latest. Seems a nutritionist professor decided to try an experiment about whether one calorie is that much different from another. He went on an 1800-calorie-a-day diet with a vitamin supplement and tried to eat some type of vege a day. That was it. All other calories came from junk food. He lost 27 pounds in 2 months and his blood work indicated changes for the better, admittedly more from the loss in weight than the food.

I wanna try this. Can you imagine?! You actually get to eat the stuff you like and lose weight?! And it's an intriguing thought. Is a calorie just a calorie? Wouldn't it be worth two months of junk food to lose significant poundage?

Keep a diary, write a national bestseller, go on Oprah, book tours, speaking engagements, buy new clothes for your new look...it all sounds too good to be true...but I don't follow the philisophy that if it's too good to be true it probably isn't. I've seen some pretty remarkable things in my life.

So yes after careful thought, I'd like to give this a try. Hmmmm you know 1800 calories aren't a lot in the junk food kingdom. This is about control. I'll keep you posted on my success or failure.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Withdrawal

By: Rebecca Irvine

It has been just over two weeks since I have been able to work on my WIP manuscript and I am going through withdrawal. I feel so far behind. My characters are wondering why they are stuck in the same scene day after day. My laptop keys fave been far too silent. And my word count has flat-lined.

Life has just been extra busy  -- I got sick and have been working extra hours and then Halloween brings on extra activities. I am sure you all have been there. That's the ebb and flow of life.

And I knew the pace of my current world would not allow me to effectively participate in NaNoWriMo (although I would really like to do so). But that doesn't mean I will give up altogether. I may be behind in my manuscript pace goals, but I love writing far too much to abandon my favorite hobby.

So this week I am determined. 2,000 words is my goal.

You all can be witness to my pledge and check up on me when the week is over.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Words of Gratitude

by Cecily Markland

"The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated." -William James, American Psychologist and Philosopher

When I first heard this quote, I immediately knew that it was true, at least it was for me, at that particular time in my life. Since then, I've recognized that it's every bit as true for everyone else who shares this planet with me. But, knowing the statement is true is only half the equation. The other half is in the application. What does it really mean to be appreciated--AND, if appreciation is so important, how do you let others know they are appreciated? At the funeral of one woman, she was described in this way: "She made everyone feel as if they were significant." Okay, that makes sense, but how do you go about doing that then? I truly think it comes down to gratitude. Think about it. Don't you feel most appreciated when someone takes the time to express their gratitude, to genuinely thank you for being them for being a part of their life? It's true, that these times--these simple acts of gratitude--can be the high points in our lives. But, rather than looking for ways to BE thanked, we, instead, can pass the same on to others--we can show thankfulness to others and, in the process, derive even more than we will be holding out for a "thank you" from others. "Living in thanksgiving daily is a habit that will enrich our lives and the lives of those we love." (see Alma 34:38) Saying 'thank you' when someone buys you something or holds open a door is polite and expected, but saying "thank you for loving me and always being there when I needed you" is a deeper gratitude that satisfies others' need for appreciation and significance. So, say "thank you" to the ones you love today and let them know that they are appreciated by you. Even more importantly, say "thank you" to Heavenly Father FOR those you love. After all: "He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious." (D&C 78:19)
I think I'll start now...and I'm thankful TO each of you for your friendship, your willingness to share your kindnesses, your knowledge, your support and your believe in me and others! I'm also thankful FOR each of you...my writing counterparts, my sisters, and friends!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

BIAM- What a Motivator!

By Christine Thackeray

I recently read another blog about how you shouldn't make excuses about not writing. If you want to be a writer, you simply make it a priority and write. I know so many people who say they want to be writers but when you ask what they've done, they haven't written anything. Just because we may be gifted in writing, the thing that makes you a "writer" is the same thing that makes you an athelete- doing it on a consistent basis.

This week my email box has been flooded by writers writing who are participating in BIAM. As I look at their incredible word counts I've turned a little green. I've been getting out wedding invitations, putting off doing housework while playing too much solitaire, getting curriculum together and talking to my college children on the phone for hours. Next week I begin homeschooling my sixth grader and a neighborhood child for an hour each morning (their teacher is burnt out and for my son to endure a year of not learning anything in an area he struggles in doesn't work for me.)

But with all that, I can still fit in writing. I was going to wait until the New Year but I don't think I can. I'm happier writing. I still remember going to my first writer's conference here in Portland. I sat next to a woman who told me her first book was bought by Bantam with a contract for her second. She said that she couldn't get out that second book and lost her contract. She's been struggling to finish a second manuscript ever since. I gawked at her and must have seemed terribly rude, but I couldn't imagine having that sort of opportunity and not leaping at it with everything in me.

Now I understand her better. I've had a strong concept for years. My publisher and a NY agent have expressed interest and I'm still only two thirds of the way there. Three years is too long to be working on the same project. It's time I suck it up and finish. Starting Monday I'm joining BIAM.... if they'll let me.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Divine Plot

by Joan Sowards

My flight had landed to let passengers off, but I stayed seated to continue on to the next stop. I put my copy of the Book of Mormon on the seat next to me as I fumbled through my carry-on bag.

A man waiting to de-board said to his buddy, “I read that Mormon book, but it didn’t have a very good plot.”

The Book of Mormon has a plot? I wondered. If it did, it would be-- God leads a group of chosen people away from persecution to a land of promise and tells them that if they keep His commandments, they will prosper. The people struggle to keep faithful to the Lord. Great prophets record their progress, but in the end, they are overtaken by conquerors.

I recently finished the Old Testament and was surprised that the theme/plot is identical to the Book of Mormon (re-read above statement.) Two books, same theme. Will the record of the lost ten tribes also have the same "plot"?

After all is said and done, I’m hoping for the happy ending.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

T-SHIRT WINNER ANNOUNCED! & NEW CONTEST!

by Valerie Ipson


DEANA YOU HAVE WON A LOVELY T-SHIRT!

It can be the one above or one of your choosing. I will contact you for your address and the particulars of what you want your shirt to say, plus the color and size.

Thanks to everyone for including the widget on your blogs!

Let's continue to build excitement for the conference with ANOTHER CONTEST, shall we?

Same prize, but how about you do any of the things in this list and then comment and tell me what you did!

1. Twitter about the conference.

2. Post it on Facebook.

3. Tell 5 people about the conference through word of mouth or email. (5 that don't already know about it)

This will have to be a point system...one point for Twitter and Facebook, two for telling personally or through email. Here's a link to share... anwa-lds.com/conference.html

Check back in two weeks for the winner!!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

What kind of Leader Are You?

By Stacy Johnson

I'm dealing with a coach right now, who is difficult, to say the least.  I have always had a rule, that I don't complain about the way things are being done, unless I'm willing to step in and lend a hand.  That being said, I have put my heart into this program and still things do not change.  This team fears their coach, they are often belittled, and don't even get me started on how many "injuries" this team has right now. I am seriously at the first point in my life where I have considered pulling my child from a program, it has never been an option before.  Keep in mind, that this team was chosen from a "tryout," meaning, these were supposed to be the most talented kids plucked out to form a team.  This same team is falling apart at the seams, and they have barely progressed since the first time they started working together.

In contrast, I work with another coach who has an amazing ability to draw talent out of kids and ask them to do what they think they cannot.  She gives and gives and gives to her team...and those kids give and give and give, and when the critical hour comes, they are well rewarded for their efforts.  There is an abundance of love and a desire to please that is immeasurable.  These kids come from varied skill levels and nobody who wanted to be on the team was turned away.  They are performing at a level way beyond their actual ability.

So, I have to reflect on my own personal style.  When I yell at my kids to get their jobs done, or finish their homework, or get ready to go, am I doing it the right way?  There is more to this, I've barely scratched the surface.  But for now, the dishes need done and I need to practice my parenting skills.