Jun 30, 2011

Summer Magic

by Kari Diane Pike

My most favorite days of the year have always been Christmas Eve, the first day of school, and the first day of summer. Christmas Eve is self explanatory. The anticipation, the mystery, the sweet remembrance of the birth of the Christ Child, family get-togethers, etc. The first day of school always held promise of everything "new." Do you remember the smell of a new box crayons and the ink in new textbooks as you cracked them open and smoothed the pages? I can still hear the squeak of the chalk as the teacher wrote his/her name on the board and the sound of my voice as I placed my hand over my heart and raised my voice with others in allegiance to our flag and country. I loved the anticipation of knowing there would be moments of enlightening as I began to grasp new concepts and ideas. I miss the exhilaration of running home after that first day of school, eager to share my new found knowledge with my mom over a slice of fresh bread and a glass of milk.

As much as I love the first day of school, there's something magical about the first day of summer. Perhaps it was knowing that for one more day we would have the most time to play. Curfew happened when the street lights came on and June 21st in Northwest Montana doesn't get dark until after 10:00pm. We had all the time in the world to catch minnows, build castles in the trees, and watch the dust poof around our feet as we walked home from the convenience store. Popsicles and watermelon would drip down our hands and arms, leaving a sticky, muddy trail of evidence of where we had been and what we had been up to.

Over the years I stopped paying attention to the magic of summer. Being an adult is serious business, after all. I grew up and set aside my childish dreams and fantasies. There were schedules to keep and chores to be done. Stick to the routine! Really??

A number of weeks ago Sister Beck's words came to my attention about living with intention. A few days later, a dear friend asked if it was better to be kind naturally, to be kind habitually, or to be kind intentionally. Thoughts whirled through my mind when I pondered on that question and I decided to make my goal for the summer to be living with intention -- to pay attention to everyone and everything around me and to act intentionally with kindness and with the Savior in mind. It just so happened that on the first day of summer there was a free orchestra concert by the Timpanogas Orchestra at the American Fork Amphitheater and Jenny Oaks Baker was a guest performer. What a great family activity!

The American Fork Amphitheater was built in the 1930s as part of the work program set up by President Roosevelt. Most of the trees are the same ones planted ninety years ago. The branches on many of the trees dip to the ground and make the best places to hide-and-go-seek or find quiet and solitude. We sat with our sweatshirts under us to protect our rumps from the damp grass and prepared to listen to the clashing of symbols in the William Tell Overture and the sweet strains of Amazing Grace. The temperature was cool but not cold. The trees swayed in the breeze, but where we sat the air was still. Families sat together in the amphitheater and on blankets and lawn chairs under those magnificent trees. The scent of fried chicken and pizza mingled with that of nearby blossoms and newly mowed hay. Babies toddled, belly laughing as they tried to escape beyond their mothers' reach. Two preteen girls played a hand clapping game and then dived under a blanket in a fit of giggles. A father scolded, just for a moment, and older siblings led younger ones by the hand to find treats at the refreshment stand. Insects buzzed and flitted above our heads, but none pestered. Birds lighted on branches and held their song as if they too anticipated the music to come. When the orchestra began to play, the magic of summer came rushing back in a swirl of energy that took my breath away.

Each day brings new joy as I continue to try to live with intention and purpose. Everything around me testifies of the magnificence of God's creations and his love for us. 3 Nephi 27:27 - 29 tells us, "What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am...whatsoever things ye shall ask the Father in my name shall be given unto you...Therefore ask, and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you, for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened." All we have to do is ask and knock...intention and purpose...and the Lord is waiting to pour blessings upon us!

What is your favorite day of the year? How do you create magic when you write?
Happy summer!

Jun 29, 2011

A Change In Perspective (And Time Zones)

By Melinda Carroll

I just got back yesterday from a trip to Ireland. My head is still spinning from the jet lag, so if this post doesn't make sense forgive me. It was 60 degrees and raining the whole time... and TOTALLY awesome. The countryside was amazing, the food was fabulous. But what has stayed with me most is the day trip we took to Belfast. Did you know there is a twenty foot high wall that cuts right through the city? It divides the Protestants from the Catholics and it closes every night at 7 pm. Everything in the city is divided-- they go to separate schools, live in separate neighborhoods, and even take different transportation (years ago the Protestant side-- Belfast is still under English rule which supports the Protestants-- made a law that Catholics could no longer ride on public transportation. The Catholic community came together and bought a bunch of black taxi cabs so they could still get around.) They don't even agree about their nationality-- Protestants say they're English, Catholics say they're Irish. To the Catholics, the English are suppressors (in the 80's they had internment camps where prisoners could be held without cause and without a trial for up to 2 years and 4 months). To the Protestants, the Catholics are the terrorists (IRA).
I knew a little (very little honestly) about the violence in Ireland, but until I saw what was there I just didn't understand. It's amazing what a little change in perspective can do.

Jun 28, 2011

Prevention to Minimize Danger

By Leesa Ostrander

After a short break, I went back to school. One year ago I became an EMT and love the field of emergency care. Now, I am learning of the body’s anatomy and how it works (I took A&P many years ago and am taking it again). I am learning about the body’s potential for imbalance and how it negatively affects our health. The body can withstand much abuse. One thing I have learned is: emergencies can be prevented and prevention begins with full body health.

 Prevention is being aware of potential dangers.

A potential danger I have every time I sit down at my computer is a misaligned back. Our vertebrae are designed to fit together like a puzzle and encase our fragile spinal cord.

The potential danger here is hurting your back. Without sitting correctly causes stress on this alignment. Not sitting straight, at a correct level to type, not having the correct chair and your back in incorrect position causes stress on the spine and the intervertebral discs. With long periods of time in a poorly aligned situation the body begins to accommodate. This adjustment will cause for bulging discs leading to pain associated with blockage of the spinal nerves. This is a huge potential danger and can cause work disruptions - each creative book needs to be out there for us to read and disruptions stop the creative processJ. An emergency associated with back misalignment can be many visits to a doctor or chiropractor for a misaligned back and the pain that comes with this.

Another danger is with the discs between the vertebrae.

The gel-like discs in-between each vertebrae are made of cartilage. A unique characteristic of cartilage is the 80 percent water within the matrix. The large amount of water allows for movement and rebound of the tissue.

I was stunned by this number. The moving joints and discs between my vertebrae and meniscus in my knee is 80 percent water.

The potential danger here is lack of drinking enough water dehydrates these fragile areas making movement difficult. There are a number of emergencies that can occur with this imbalance.

By drinking plenty of water and having an area to work that accommodates for minimal stress on your spine will lead to less injury. Exercise is a method of prevention, also. Strengthening the muscles will allow for the body’s imbalances to be minor.

As writers and working at a desk or other sitting positions, we need to take simple steps in prevention to have less injury and more words on a page. Choose correct working environment and drink water. Drinking 72 ounces of water per day can be done by taking a drink every 15 to 20 minutes.

Jun 27, 2011

Lovely Surprises

By Tracy Astle

Forgive me for today's post not being writing related, but sometimes life springs lovely surprises on us that are too nice not to be shared.

For the recent surgery I had done, I was referred to a new doctor. I had heard good things about him and felt comfortable with him from my very first appointment. He's one of those doctors who is very thorough, very knowledgable and shows great respect for his patients and their intellegence as well. He doesn't dictate diagnosis and treatment, but rather listens to the patient's description of symptoms, asks appropriate, info gathering questions, discusses the diagnosis thoroughly and explains possible options for treatment along with the benefits and shortcomings of each option. Then he and the patient decide together which option is best for them. Gotta love a doctor who recognizes that just because his patient didn't go to med school doesn't mean they can't understand what's happening with their body as well as a doctor can.

I live in California, which is not necessarily known for being as home, family and church oriented as many other parts of the country, so imagine my happy surprise when during my last appointment before my surgery, my doctor went over all I might need to know about my condition and the upcoming procedure, answered all the questions my husband and I had and then, just before we finished, said, "Normally I like to pray before these types of surgeries. Would it be all right if we have a word of prayer together?"

A moment of stunned silence followed before I could say, "That would be awesome! I knew I liked you."

He rolled his little stool over to me, held his hand out for me to hold, and offered a prayer for me, for him, and for any others who would be involved with the procedure. So comforting. So unexpected. So wonderful.

How about you? Can you think of any lovely surprises you've had? Share some and brighten our day.

Jun 26, 2011

ANWA Writers Conference is February 24 & 25, 2012

By Cindy R. Williams, wearing my ANWA Writers Conference Co-Chair hat.

Circle these dates on your calendar and add stars and glitter!  ANWA Writers Conference is going to be FANTASTIC! The ANWA General Board is working fast and furious to find a top notch venue in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona. We have five hotels with conference centers in the running and will be visiting them over the next two weeks.

A number of great faculty members are already locked in.  Lisa Mangum, Editor at Deseret Book, Joshua J. Perkey –Senior Editor for the Ensign Magazine, Linda Radke –owner of Five Star Publishing, and Brent Whiting –long time Writer for the Arizona Tribune. This is just the beginning. There will be many more great presenters. 

We are toying with starting a writer’s contest. Maybe a “First Page” Contest. What do you think? 

Those of you whom have attended in the past, would you be interested in having some writing time or do you like having back to back classes? Personally, I sometimes hit a wall. My brain fogs up. It seems to have absorbed all it can take so I take a break and miss a class to chill, then hit the reset button ready to move on again. Maybe we should add two 15 minute snack breaks; one in the orning and one in the afternoon. Again, your input is appreciated.

Are you interested in being part of the ANWA Writers Conference Committee? There’s always room for more. We have so many new ideas we would like to try, but need bodies accompanied by great minds to make them happen.

Also, do you have any connections to agents, authors, editors or publishers? If so, let me know and I will present their names to the General Board.  This is going to be the BEST CONFERENCE EVER!

Save your pennies, nickels and dimes and write a ton between now and then so you can take full advantage of the February 24 & 25, 2012 ANWA Writers Conference.

Jun 24, 2011

The Personal Aspect of Reading

by Tanya Parker Mills

You may not believe this, but I've never read Anne of Green Gables. It's true. That and a whole bunch of other YA classics. I think I skipped directly from picture books to adult fiction. Except for a short and now embarrassing stint with all the Hardy Boys and another series involving a teenage boy inventor, whose name I can't recall right now (yes, I was a tried and true tomboy).

Anyway, as it was recommended by one of my Goodreads friends recently, I thought I'd give it a go and told him so on his Facebook wall. My daughter happened to notice since she's also his FB friend and she made the following comment:

Yay Mom, you won't regret it. Trust me, you will understand the life of Allison Mills so much better :)

Okay, now it's become personal...way personal. I guess every child thinks they were never really understood by their parents, but still--now I'm not reading for pleasure. I'm reading for clues! I'm assuming she identifies with the main character, who is an orphan by the way. What does that say about me and my husband? Or am I represented in the book by another character, since she leaves her orphanage in the very beginning? And her friend (actually her boyfriend) who recommended the book in the first place responded to her comment by saying, "Agreed." Just what has she told him about her life...or us, for that matter?

This should prove to be an interesting investigation. I hope it's pleasurable, as well.

Jun 23, 2011


by Susan G. Haws

I want more time. I suspect this is a universal desire, as pretty much everyone I know wants more time. The characters in books I enjoy need more time to fight a battle, solve a puzzle, save the world, and experience a happily ever after.

There is not enough time in one life to read all the  books I want to read.  I read so many books where I think:  now that is how I want to write and this author did it so much better than I could. It is presumptuous for me to think I have something to offer. Yet, I toil on my work in progress because I hope and dream of learning and applying all the writing skills I glean from authors.

I dislike phone sales so try to avoid them with the aid of caller id.  Recently I made the mistake of picking up a call that turned out to be a political survey.  This call reminded me that I choose how to spend my time and that people and organizations that want my time need to make it worthwhile for me to share some of my precious time with them. (Needless to say this call was not worth my time.)

But the call reminded me how the hook I am rewriting needs to capture the attention of the reader and prove that the book to follow will be worth the reader's scarce time. I want each subsequent chapter to captivate the audience so he or she doesn't even think about the passage of precious time. 

Jun 22, 2011

A year of firsts

Who else did something really fun this last weekend? Raise your hand! We took the kids to a cowboy dinner show. Now if you've never been to one, you ought to go - even if you're not really into the "cowboy" scene. My husband thought it would be "okay" but he couldn't stop raving about it after we returned and we were making our Father's Day phone calls. So that was a first for the whole family! (Not to mention my boys were hysterical with their cowboy hats and cap guns challenging the actors to a quick draw.)

I'll be meeting my pen-pal from Germany for the first time in September this year and the whole family is excited for that visit. We're going to be her tour-guide around Seattle and through Washington to the Palouse.

My youngest will be entering Kindergarten this year (First day of school!) which will leave me at home without kids for the first time ever. (It's only half-days for him but I'll take whatever I can get!) I see more writing time in my future! Maybe.

We are planning to drive our family down to Disneyland for Christmas this year. Another first! Not for me, but for the kids. (I lived in San Diego for a few years.) They've seen commercials for Disneyland all their lives and have always viewed it as the un-attainable kingdom. Now we are looking forward to a new first to finish off the end of the year. What fun!

As I've been contemplating our firsts this year it has inspired me to find more firsts to share with the family. Not like...first visit to the E.R., first time a pet died, or first time the house burned down. But maybe we'll have a first time the kids made their own breakfast without any help, first song played on the piano, or first trip to somewhere new. Cheers, to a year of firsts!

Jun 21, 2011

Lessons from a Cyber Meeting

by Terri Wagner

Our east/south US cyber group has been meeting for a while now. When I was president, I worried so much about how many would show up, would the lesson fly, would the assignees show up, would it be worth while that I never really got to "listen" to the lesson. One time me and a "new" member spent the hour just chatting with each other. Me, worried that she would never consider coming back.

Now I'm just the secretary. But that's a big "just." Now I have to "record" the meeting for the group. That means I listen really listen to the lesson. I pay attention. I sense where the group is going next. I read over (and over and over) the last comments, see where the group chased a rabbit or came back to the object lesson.

I LOVE it. I finally get the chance to learn things I need to know. Last month's lesson was terrific. It addressed query letters. Twenty-three words to hook an editor. Only 23! Our attempts were both hysterical and instructional. The lesson also recommended around 64 words for the overall description.

I have become a product of the cyber/sound bite generation. Hit me in 23 words or less and you got me. Take your time, I'm outta there.

When I checked out articles for publication, I always raced through the article first to see if there was interest, instruction or information. Once quick glance through would tell me what I needed to know. I could always take an article and decide later not to publish, but that first glance was all an author got. And that was non fiction.

It's a sound bite world and as writers we are going to have to accept that and use it to our advantage.

Jun 20, 2011


by Kristin Baker Przybyla

Whoops! Almost forgot it was my day today.

So there's this plotting technique I've used a few times, but I worry if it can be considered ripping off another author's plot. Sometimes I'll read a book and find myself disappointed in something--whether it's a villain, the setting, or the overall plot. I'll start thinking of how I'd imagined the book to be when I read the back cover--the hook that drew me in in the first place, but ended up being much different than I'd thought. Many times it works out fine anyway, but other times I like to imagine how I'd have written the story.

Last year I read a very good YA fantasy about a post-apocalyptic world where fairies were the enemy. Trees were vicious in this world; the main character could not imagine a life where one could walk into the forest without branches and roots reaching out to tear the poor victim apart. It was very creepy. In fact, I wasn't disappointed in this plot element at all, but I'd imagined it to be different in some ways. I'd been trying to put together a plot for a steampunk book, and the idea of the dangerous forest stuck in my head. I ended up surrounding my main character's village with fast-growing, sentient trees that attack if you don't use one of the energy-powered safe trails leading into the woods. The forest I came up with isn't similar to the one in the book I read, but is more like what I'd imagined when I started reading it, with a few additional changes to fit the plot of a steampunk dark fantasy.

So is this considered copying? My plot isn't anything like that of the other book. I just took an intriguing idea and wrote it the way I would have imagined it, which ended up being a lot different from the source. What do you guys think?

Jun 19, 2011


By Wendy A. Jones

A father is someone who whispers in your ear, "You are beautiful," and believes it, even when you know you're only of average prettiness.

A father is someone who encourages you to follow your dreams.

A father is someone who suscribes to four newspapers and cuts out articles he thinks you might be interested in (which is a good thing, because, well, you don't subscribe to any).

A father is someone who buys noisy toys for your children and then just smiles when you ask, "Is this payback?"

A father is someone who slips you money to help "pay for expenses" even when he already bought your plane ticket to come and visit him.

A father is someone who's always glad to see you.

A father is someone who will sit on the floor to play Chutes and Ladders with your children even though he can barely stand up afterward because of his bad knees.

A father is someone who teaches you how to shuffle and play cards.

A father is someone who takes you fishing--or in my case, not.

A father is someone who takes lots of pictures of you and only one third of them are embarrassing.

A father is someone who teaches you lots of things without saying anything at all.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father's Day.

What special things does your father do?

Jun 18, 2011

Being Productive

By Bonnie Harris

Well, in my eternal quest to figure out how to get more time for my writing I think I've come to conclusion that it's not necessarily the time I need, it being able to use the time I have more productively. So in my journey I've run across yet another book that supposed to help. So far I've enjoyed what has been written and I think it may help. It's called Writing Tools by Roy Peter Carter. The chapters are short and full of different ideas. One of the tips is how to turnProcrastination into Rehearsal. It's been really interesting.

So if anyone has any additional ideas on how to use what little time there is to write more productively, I'm all ears. :)

Jun 16, 2011

No More Stangers

by Kari Diane Pike

I've been giving quite a bit of thought to the Savior's admonition for us to become as a little child, and the difference between becoming as a child and being childish. It has been a joy for me to spend a lot of time with most of my grandchildren the past six weeks and witness the simple faith and love children share...along with a few moments of childish meltdowns. (Two year old who got mad at her mom said, "I so angwee...I go a my woom and cwy!" Then she stomped to her room and faked crying for several minutes. Hilarious!)

A few weeks ago I took that same two-year-old granddaughter to a music recital for a couple of her cousins and an aunt. The music teacher's three-year-old daughter and my granddaughter saw each other across the room and immediately ran up to each other and introduced themselves.

"Hi! My name is Rebekah Lyn Wright. "(Only it sounded more like Webekah Lyn Wite.)

"Hi! My name is Rylee Rafferty."

Then they embraced each other in tight hugs. My teenage daughter started rehearsing her musical number and the two little girls grabbed hands and started dancing together. Less than a minute had passed since we arrived and these precious spirits called each other "best-friend."

What would the world be like if we lost our fears and inhibitions and like a child, accepted each other unconditionally. I realize it would be awkward to just run up to a complete stranger and give them a hug. But what about making eye contact and smiling and saying hello? Even a nod of acknowledgement helps someone feel noticed and less invisible. One three-year-old grandson spontaneously greets everyone in the parking lot and grocery store with a hearty,

"Good morning! How are you?"

This never fails to make complete strangers at least turn up the corner of their mouth. More often than not, they will laugh out loud and return his greeting. What if there were no more strangers...only friends we we have yet to meet?

Jun 15, 2011


By Melinda Carroll

I'm posting this at 10:30 tonight. Why so late? I'd planned on doing it earlier, but my schnauzer decided to surprise us by having puppies. Five of them. In case you're wondering, I did think she was gaining a little weight, but still. Five puppies? You've got to be kidding me. We just had our male poodle neutered two months ago, but apparently he slipped a few by us before he got snipped. *sigh*
So how does this relate to writing? Hmmm... Maybe it's good to throw in a surprise twist now and then just to make things interesting.
Oh, and surprise twists can make you very tired-- especially when you think about trying to sell them at the same time your kids will be going back to school. *did I already sigh?*

Jun 14, 2011

Celebrate Life!

By Leesa Ostrander

Last week I found out a friend from my childhood disappeared, and then was found dead. I do not know the full story, I do not want to and find myself not questioning his passing but hoping for his future. I hope for my grandmother to come across him, recognize him and give the hug I was not able to give to him in his challenging last days.

I have also been thinking how social media has allowed for me and my classmates from Flagstaff to reconnect. Using social media to connect with others can be effective and rejuvenate relationships that may have been lost. I had not talked to him in years and I was able to reconnect through a social media site. Yet communication via technology is an outside observation in someone’s life and is different than what had been from generations past. The social media is instant and impersonal view with very personal and sometimes delicate information. If it is typed and recorded on the internet then it is there for anyone and everyone to see. The same site that allowed us to connect also informed me of his shortened life and the deep sorrow experiencing by his wife and family.

Posting is an impersonal connection, outside view, a bias by what is posted and not being able to see the nonverbals that prompts me to seek a deeper connection. The posts are quick snippets into life and not what is the meaning behind them. I say this because I look at a post on my friend’s page by a grieving wife and childhood friends saying goodbye as an outlet to show our shock.

When a comment by my friend’s wife to another post on his page shows the pain she is having and is curt and full of grief. Yet the original comment was meant to be enduring and came across incorrectly. Our pain can come across differently. In face-to-face emotions can be seen, felt and understood and in words, all we have is a limited context and the vocabulary we have learned.

By giving the words a background and context we can share a meaning and have to trust the reader to feel the emotions. Giving descriptive yet, not wordy context through written images the reader can be influenced to the desired emotion.

This is my second young friend I have lost this year, with each one leaving this world I think of how we are being called home on our own personal time in a way we may have known before we signed up. It is my thoughts to remember to share what we have in this life. Share it through a talent and be remembered even if we do not know who we have touched or influenced in a limited or in-depth relationship.

With this I bid adieu and celebrate a life well lived and a childhood friend.

Jun 13, 2011

Six of One, Half dozen of the Other?

By Tracy Astle

So...I'm supposed to be using all the time I have on my hands while I recuperate from surgery to write a rough draft of my next novel, right? Well, it's been two weeks now and this is how much I've written of my intended project - Not. One. Word.


I am generally a very self-disciplined person, so I wasn't too concerned about not feeling the excitement of digging into this project. I figured I would simply make myself start and once I got into it, the juices would start flowing.       Not.      I've done lots of things to try to make it happen, but I'm just not feeling it.

Then one day as I sat trying to work on that project I let my mind wander to another book I want to write and guess what happened. My muse decided to drop by. Things are starting to roll now. I'm feeling it. I've decided to let the other novel wait and focus on this one.

Tell me - how do you write? Are you a Push Througher who makes yourself sit down and write no matter what? Or are you a Put It Asider who gets more done by knowing when to let some things rest? Or maybe you're a combination of the two?

Jun 12, 2011

My Vacation

by Marsha Ward

I'm taking a vacation. Actually, I'm in a nursing center after more than a week in the hospital. Everyone knows the gory details by now, but the summary is that I had unexpected major surgery, and I'm in here for R&R until I can care for myself at home again.

I'm making good progress, but I'm going to take a nap now.

See you all later.

Jun 11, 2011

LOVE YOUR WORK, but don't forget to get some sleep!

Did you grow up hearing something like this? "If you are lucky enough to do what you love for a job, you will never work a day in your life."-- Meaning that if you love what you do, it isn't really work.

Hmmm. . . whoever said that was nuts. I love what I do. I love being a mother of five. I love being a wife to a good man (and yes, it is work, but well worth it.) I love serving in the Gospel. I love working in my garden and yard. I love playing my harp and guitar and writing new songs. I love telling stories. But I will be totally honest here, most nights I pretty much stumble into bed because I'm flat tuckered out. ALL the things I love to do are HARD work.

I think the quote should be something like, "Happy is the woman who works hard at what she loves."

Most of you reading the ANWA Founder and Friends Blog are fellow writers. I imagine many of you could say it better. Any takers?

Jun 10, 2011

Heads Up

by Tanya Parker Mills

This will be brief today. I first got wind of a new disturbing trend in publishing through Dave Farland's "Daily Kick." But it's been reported here, as well (along with several other places, I'm sure). If you have an agent, or are seeking an agent, you ought to be aware of this.

Second, I'm not sure how many of you are aware of Litopia, but I've decided to join this oldest of online writer's communities. This doesn't mean I will be leaving ANWA or LDStorymakers or even my own critique group, Writeminded (though we have taken a summer hiatus). It only means I've taken Susan Haws' challenge of yesterday to heart. I'm upping my dedication to my craft and I think Litopia will help me hone that craft and get it ready for publication in a national market. I hope I'm right.

Now, what are you doing about Susan's challenge?

Jun 9, 2011


by Susan G. Haws
I challenged myself and signed up for a writer’s workshop.  Then I got the pre-workshop assignment and I thought: Oh, no I am in over my head.  But,I had already gotten other people to rearrange their lives so that I could leave town,plus I had the desire to attend.  I figured it would be full of information and intensive. 
I was right.  I am at the workshop now and am enjoying networking and learning. How have you challenged yourself lately? 

Jun 8, 2011

Moving right along

by Kami Cornwall

I have been writing furiously (those sit-ups can wait) and getting a lot done! The story is moving along nicely but I still grapple with a few frustrations. I go back and forth between loving my story and feeling like it's just plain stupid. I ask myself, "Who is really going to like this?" and say to myself, "This is never going to get published." Then I take some time off and re-read the story and say, "Oh yeah, that's why I loved this story so much!"

One of the most important things I learned at an ANWA writer's conference was that it shouldn't matter so much whether or not your work gets published, but the important thing was that you were learning the craft as you pressed forward and enjoyed the ride. I am really enjoying the ride! I find myself laughing at my own jokes or reading something that I don't recall having written and then saying, "Ooh, this is getting good! I wonder what I wrote next!" (Usually from writing that I've done late at night and I was too tired to remember what I was thinking.)

I was asked a few days ago if I was done yet. When I replied, "No," my friend said to me, "Listen...it will NEVER be done. Nobody is ever happy with their story - even after the thing has been published." I had to clarify that I had an outline and still had to write the climax of the story and leave the reader wanting to read more. I haven't written the last few pivotal pieces of information yet - so it's REALLY not done yet. "Oh," was his response. I could tell he was disappointed.

Still, I'm a little embarrassed to say it has taken me 3 years on this one book and I still haven't even finished writing what I wanted to. I take too much time away from it, but when I come back I always get a lot done. Am I the only one who drags out their writing project longer than expected? How long did it take for you to get your first book written?

Jun 7, 2011

It's Scary Out Here

by Terri Wagner

I'm thinking maybe it's time to start a blog about being laid off. First, it's scary out there. By my age, you have learned a specific skill set that doesn't really translate to another field. And yet I have increasingly felt I should look further afield than the publishing industry.

So I opted for some schooling only to discover the school is filled up for this fall and won't take another class until next fall. Hmmm a year of unemployment checks???? Ok my math is not good, more than a year of unemployment checks. So should I consider this a closed door?

Go back to my field and hope I can get something online? Or prepare to move?

I went today and took a teller assessment test. I have a newfound respect for tellers. I'm pretty sure I flunked it. The math questions were multiple steps with 15 seconds to complete and no calculators allowed. That meant I had to figure out in 15 seconds when a person gave the teller a check for say 4,789.46 and wanted to put some in their interest bearing account and some in their pocket. And frankly that was the easiest math question there was.

I'm getting discouraged. Unemployment won't start until June 17 which btw is when I have to get a new driver's license.

It's scary and I want to dive under the covers, put on my all-time favorite tv show dvds of Starsky & Hutch and eat chocolate. But I can't. Now I have absolutely no excuse for not visiting teaching as in actually visiting my sisters.

Who upped retirement to 70 from 55? I want to have a little chat with that person.

Jun 6, 2011

This is When I Embarrass Not Only My Daughter, But Myself

Lia Marie Przybyla: High school graduate; Harry Potter geek; self-taught piano maestro and composer; comedienne; Wicked freak; experienced theater and backstage crew member; wedgie victim
This is a bittersweet week for me, and probably bittersweet as well for the subject of my blog post. I've been accused many times of playing favorites, but I insist, as any mother would, that I have no favorites and love all my children equally. True, some of them are easier to like at times, and each of them has different qualities, strengths, and quirks that I admire and value.

My oldest, Lia, just turned 18 and is about to graduate from high school. She's by far the easiest out of all my children, which may be where the "favorite" accusation started. We share many of the same tastes in music, books, television shows, movies, and food. We both have offbeat senses of humor that sometimes get us strange looks in public. Most mundane errands, when I take her along, turn into adventures that have us rolling around laughing by the time we get home.

While growing up, Lia never got in trouble--not once. Well, unless you count the time she got caught forging her parents' signatures on a permission slip that she'd forgotten to have us sign, in the 4th grade or something... There was also the time she came home from school covered in blood. She told us she was walking home backwards, then turned around and hit her face on a wrought-iron fence. We later found out that was a lie; she'd actually tried walking home with her eyes closed! Why she thought she was going to get in trouble for that, I'll never know. What it really got her was twice the teasing for it, once I found out the truth!

I started writing my first book when she was 14. A few months ago, after a disappointing round of agent rejections, I asked her to read through the manuscript--which she did without complaint, even though she'd read the story once before, or heard various drafts read out loud. When I got it back, she'd marked all over it with corrections, suggestions, and constructive criticism beyond what I'd expected. She'd unwittingly secured herself as my first editor for any future works!

Lia holds herself up to high moral and ethical standards. Through the years I've watched her stick up for classmates who were bullied and cheer up a sad friend. She's never let peer pressure affect her, or criticism because of her religious and personal beliefs get her down. I wish I'd been half the teenager she is. She's not only an example to her younger siblings, but an example to me as well. I've learned so much from her.

I'm afraid I've rather selfishly convinced her to remain home for a while longer to get her core classes completed at the community college. She may be ready to be an adult, but I'm not ready to let her go just yet. I know I haven't been the best mother I could have possibly been over the years; I'm sure I've disappointed her and let her down, as well as my other kids, more than once. But I do hope she knows just how much I love her and how very privileged we've all been to have her in our family. Congratulations, Lia. I know I'm going to bawl my face off during the graduation ceremony.

Now enough of this mushiness! I'm totally going to give her a wedgie later on today.

Jun 5, 2011

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Cupcakes?

By Wendy A. Jones

Friday I spent the day in the kitchen, making cupcakes. My subdivision had a garage sale scheduled for Saturday, so I had planned to sell some stuff and increase my profits by selling baked goods. As per usual, once an idea gets a hold of me I go slightly overboard.

I made seven or eight varieties of cupcakes and spent way too much time and energy making them delicious and beautiful. After the sale yesterday, I counted out the money in the jewelry-cum-cash box. I made $86.16 (and that includes money I made from garage sale stuff).

Beyond that, I still had about 48 cupcakes left over.

When I woke up this morning, late and groggy from staying up into the wee hours reading Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt (which I highly recommed, by the way, if you are a YA fan) I remembered all the cupcakes in my refrigerator. Especially the cinnamon toast ones. They are fabulous, if I do say so myself.

I am the type of person who thinks one or two cupcakes, with a glass of milk, is a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Occasionally. Once or twice a week.

But it's the first Sunday of the month--fast Sunday in Mormon homes across the world where we go without food or drink for two meals and donate the cost of those meals to people in need. In addition, fasting increases spiritual strength. Win-win, right?

Yeah, tell that to the cupcakes.

One of my favorite scriptures is in Mosiah 3:19. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

I read this scripture sometimes and consider it a largely mental process--the submitting and the humbling, the patience and the love. As a person fasts, though, it is much easier to do those things. By subduing the most natural part of us we truly realize how much we depend on the Lord's goodness to support us from moment to moment. In some ways, the spiritual side becomes stronger than the physical side during fasting. Usually our physical body is yelling at us so loudly to do its bidding we can miss the relative whispers of our spirits.

In some ways, it's surprising that fasting even works. You would think the body clamoring for something to eat would make it harder to hear the Spirit. I'm not quite sure why it isn't, but I know there's a sort of power when you can tell your hunger, "Hush up. I'm fasting about ______" that gives your spirit a little boost.

As I tell those cinnamon toast cupcakes calling me from the refrigerator, "Hush up. I'm fasting," I feel a little stronger.

And I think of how the deliciousness will be compounded when, after dinner tonight, I sink my teeth into its spicy goodness. Too many cupcakes? Never.

Jun 4, 2011

Thank You

By Bonnie Harris

With Memorial Day last week, I've been thinking a lot about those people who have served and currently serve in the military. Both of my grandpa's served, I have an uncle that's retired and another currently on active duty as well as a cousin. Then my neighbor is leaving on Monday for boot camp. I think of some of my friends who are and have served and the conversations I've had with them. I think about the hardships that each member of military and their families have and my heart goes out to them. Here are a few bits of conversations from various friends and family that keep running through my head. I don't think I'll get it verbatim, but I don't think that's important.

He was showing me and my roommates a picture of his platoon before they were deployed. 'This one no longer has his legs. This one didn't come home. This one lost and arm. He didn't come home. Neither did he. He's still there. He died. He died.' All in all there were only three or four members of his platoon that came home, none were completely whole. A very sobering moment for me.

'It doesn't matter if I agree or disagree with the President or even the reason to be other there. He [the president] is my Commander in Chief and I will support him in his decisions.'

'I can't describe what it was like over there, or the way those people looked at us like we were heaven sent.'

'I'm serving because someone has to defend our right to make good and bad decisions.'

My grandpa never talked about his experience in the war. He only ever admitted to firing his weapon. I've since learned of his extreme involvement and high ranking.

I just finished reading Donna Hatch's Queen in Exile and really liked the growth in perspective of the Queen in her learning the purpose of a warrior. Her conclusion was that we need warriors to protect us. They don't necessarily enjoy taking life, but when a bloodthirsty man is out there, someone needs to have the ability and skill to defend the innocent.

That's our military. Highly, trained, professionals willing to sacrifice everything to defend our freedoms. As much criticism as war gets and knowing the potential cost of entering the military I am extremely grateful for those willing to fight of our rights. Where else do we have the freedom to write what we want without fear of repercussion? Where else can we express our opinions freely? Where else do we have the freedoms we have?

I am touched every time I see a flag flying or a person in military uniform or hear stories of what is happening because of our military. THANK YOU to all of those past and present that are serving in the military.


Jun 3, 2011

A Tweet

Okay, so I'll admit that I totally drug my feet with twitter. I DID NOT need another time sucker. Now that I'm on it? (thank you Marion Jensen) I get it. And I love it.

I've had dialogue with agents, with authors, with editors from some of the larger publishing houses. I've already learned a TON. I've found new friends, new crit partners, and new blogs to follow. And you know what? It takes almost NO TIME AT ALL.

My recommendations if you decide to jump into the tweeting world -

1. keep your username SHORT (I'm jolenebperry) and I wish I'd gone with joperry or something similar. In twitter, characters are of the essence...

2. Make lists - I have an agent list, a friend list, an author list. This way I can look at the tweets from ONLY one list at a time.

3. @jolenebperry means you're sending ME a message - but anyone who follows you will be able to see it.

4. # or hashtags are how you follow topics. Hashtags I follow all the time are - #wip #askagent #amwriting #yalitchat - there are a ton more good ones out there, but those are always up.

5. Use the app on your iphone or ipad - awesome. OR download tweetdeck - when I'm on actual twitter, it's not as easy to look at all my lists at once as it is on tweetdeck. I pull it up, leave it in the background, and the tweets just pop up as I'm working on my computer. When something interesting happens, I jump into the conversation.

So, I could go on and on and on, but if you haven't jumped in, I highly recommend it!!
I hope everyone is having the delightful weather I am - even way up here in Alaska. After one of the worst winters I remember, it's AWESOME to feel the warmth!!

Jun 2, 2011

How Do You Generate Story Ideas?

by Melinda Carroll

A year ago I went to a writing class on generating ideas.  There were four authors, one very well-known, who were teaching the class.  The first thing they said was, "Generating ideas is easy.  You wouldn't be here at this workshop unless you already had plenty of ideas.  So instead, we're going to talk about..."
I was so disappointed!!!  I looked around the class thinking, "Really?  I'm the ONLY one who thinks coming up with viable story ideas can be difficult?"
I think of probably twenty story ideas a day (or more), but they never usually make through a good night's sleep.  I read a book by Orson Scott Card where he said that a good idea takes a long time to develop.  He cited Ender's Game as an example (I LOVE that book).  He said the idea for a battle school in space came to him years before the rest of the story actually took form.
So how do you generate ideas?  Do they just come to you?  Do you get inspired by other people?  Do you brainstorm?

Jun 1, 2011

Do You Push Play or Fast Forward?

By Kari Diane Pike

I can hardly believe that today is the first (oops, 2nd...I started writing this yesterday!) of June. And not just because snow fell less than forty-eight (ummm...72) hours ago. (Really, truly it did!) What happened to January through May? I feel like an old VHS tape stuck on fast forward. The problem with being on fast forward, however, is that eventually you run out of tape and depending on how fast you are moving, the abrupt halt can make you snap.

A number of weeks ago I opened my calendar and started writing down the new and exciting things that are happening this summer: a new grandbaby, graduations, our missionary coming home, having all my children and grandbabies together at the same time, finishing a college course, working, putting in the garden, far away friends coming to visit, oh, and did I mention grandbabies? I planned each day of May through August almost to the minute. Sunday morning, May 1st, I overslept and spent the little time I had to get ready for church rushing around, worrying about what to wear, and how and what I needed to prepare for dinner. By the time I walked into the chapel, my thoughts had hyperdrived through the week, planning out a research paper and figuring out how to get everyone to soccer games, play practices and orthodontist appointments.

I always look forward to the first Sunday of the month. I love to listen as friends and neighbors bear their testimonies of the Savior and share their stories of receiving tender mercies. I love the growth experienced through bearing my own testimony and the deep burning feeling that can come as that testimony builds inside until you feel that if you do not walk up to that microphone you just might explode. Since my husband and daughter were out of town, and my deacon son was preparing to serve the Sacrament, I found myself sitting alone for the first time ever. I quieted my thoughts and tried to listen to the prelude music. I waited for the tingling of anticipation and inspiration of testimony to build in my heart. Nothing happened. No burning desire. No urge to express words of gratitude or anything else. A brother in the ward stepped up quickly and bore the first testimony of the morning. When he concluded his remarks I expected other members to flock to the podium. Silence. No one moved. I stared at the empty podium and wondered why I couldn't feel a desire to bear my testimony. The answer carried by that moment of silence pushed my pause button.

"Because you weren't remembering."

A sharp pain took my breath away as an understanding of those words penetrated my heart. I shifted uncomfortably on the bench. Shame, then more pain, then humility and a desire for repentance passed through me. I felt a loving chastisement as I recalled how earlier that morning I had focused on everything except for the true meaning of the Sabbath day. I had forgotten to stop and ponder on the meaning of renewing my covenants with the Lord through partaking of the sacrament. By the end of the meeting, my heart overflowed with love and testimony.

While the ensuing days proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated in the planning stages, I felt the strength and assurance of knowing that I didn't have to run faster than I was able. Operating on fast forward all the time blurs the view and creates unnecessary stress. Being present in the moment cleared my vision and created beautiful memories as we blessed that new grandbaby and saw our seventh child graduate from high school. Instead of feeling stretched and ready to snap, I feel joy and peace.

As I savor each moment of today, I can't help but look a little bit forward to this first Sunday coming up. How do you prepare yourself for the Sabbath?