Jun 30, 2012

How To Increase Writing Productivity Part 2

If you missed Part 1--suggestions on writing more productivly from Kevin J Anderson, be sure to check it out.

I agreed with a lot of what Kevin had to say. In fact I've worked to implement at least one of his suggestions. I'm now telling people and doing my best to keep with writing
at the same time each day. To me, that goes with the "shut up and write" principle. Now, that doesn't always work because my son may or may not go down for his
nap at the same time each day, but I've found that it's even helped him sleep better if I'm consistent at
putting him down at relatively the same time each day.

So, here are a few more suggestions that I've found have worked for me.

  • Write something every single day, whether it be in your current WIP or a journal or a blog entry or something along those lines. Write something to keep you in the habit of writing daily.
  • One of the things we should do as writers is to read. So, I've choosen a day where I will focus on reading rather than working on my WIP. That's usually a day that I count writing in my journal as work. This has helped keep me up to date as to what is out there in the published world, and I've learned a thing or two as I read. :)
  • Be ready to write whenever you can. If I can only squeeze out 5 minutes, then I take those 5 minutes and write a few sentences. That's more than not writing anything at all because we don't think we have enough time to get anything done. I have found time in between classes at a writing conference that I've sat in a corner and worked on some things. I've taken the spare moment when my husband has the kids to get what I can done. It's better than nothing.
  • Have you ever noticed how much time we spend in the car? When I really think about it, I'm amazed. So, I've begun to utilize that time to plot and develop whatever I happen to be working on. New ideas will come and when I get a chance, I'll scribble them down. It's a chance to tune out the kids and dive into your book at least mentally.
  • Always have paper with you. You never know when something will come. Then you'll have something to write it down on so you don't forget.
  • Work on something different. If you feel like you're not sure where to go next with a plot line or a character, give it a rest. Start another story. Write a blog post. Do something else. Let your subconscious have a shot at it, and things will iron out faster than if you beat your head against a wall for days.
  • The last thing I've rediscovered recently is taking a break. Breaks are good. Give yourself permission to not stress over you WIP for a few days or a few weeks. Then DON'T stress over it or beat yourself up because you feel like you should be writing. Our minds need breaks just as much as our bodies do. I think the hardest thing to do though, is giving yourself permission to relax. Give it a try. You'll be amazed at how refreshed you'll feel your break, and how much more productive you'll be.
These are things that are working for me. I hope they may give you some additional ideas to help you write more productively. Life is crazy and should be enjoyed. Hopefully these tips help. I'll share more as I discover more. In the meantime, HAPPY WRITING!

Jun 29, 2012

She Couldn’t Hear the Music

 I sit and sing the opening hymn in Relief Society, watching Sherlene, the smiling chorister, as she moves her arms in time with the music.  Around the room, sister’s voices sound like a choir of angels and the spirit of the melody touches my heart.  Before I may have rushed through the words in the hymn book, but today I listened more carefully.  I hear the beauty of the music because of Sherlene.
Other then occasionally seeing Sherlene in the hallway of the church, I knew very little about her.  She was a pretty woman in her late thirties, usually on task helping the bishop collect attendance rolls from the classrooms.  A week earlier, she had bore her testimony in Relief Society.  Her smile caught my attention, only next to the enthusiasm in her voice when she spoke.

“I’ve been deaf since birth,” Sherlene said “but because of loving parents and excellent schooling, I learned to read lips.”

I was shocked.  This woman, so poised and articulate with the courage to speak in front of a room full of people was deaf?

“For many years, I was angry at God because of my disability.  I wanted to be like other girls.  I didn’t want to be teased at school.  Through prayer, I’ve come to accept I will never hear and I do my best to love and serve those around me.”

Sherlene went on to explain the complications of her birth, how she wasn’t breathing when she was born and her mother had been told her baby would die.
“But my mother knew I would be alright and she knew she would take me home.”

Sherlene picked up the hymn book on the podium and held it close to her heart.  “A few months ago, the bishop asked if I would be the chorister in Relief Society.  I can’t hear the music and I don’t know the melody of the hymns.  Surely, there was someone who could better handle the responsibilities of the calling, but I knew the Lord’s promise, that if we accept any calling given to us, He will help us accomplish it.”

I sat in my chair, humbled by what Sherlene had said?  How brave she was?  How many tasks had I been asked of the Lord, only to feel inadequate, complain or not follow through? 

After hearing her testimony, the hymns I sing in church, with their beautiful words accompanied with heavenly melody are a reminder to me that with the Lord, anything is possible.  Thanks to Sherlene, for sharing a testimony I needed to hear.

Jun 28, 2012

The Gossip Writer

by Kari Diane Pike

Hello! My name is Kari and I am a gossipaholic.

My new obsession with gossip came about after I sent a long over due message to a sweet friend telling her how much I appreciate her and that I am a better person for knowing her. You see, she truly is an extraordinary woman. And I have always assumed she knew that about herself. She surprised me with her reply.

"Thank you for your kind words. Oh my gosh! I am printing them out and making a little sign to go on my wall so that I can read your words every day. I'm even going have them put on my headstone. Do you really believe what you said to me? Do I really help you be a better person?"

My friend's words helped me recognize yet another weakness in myself. I think "nice" things about people all of the time, but I rarely open my mouth and tell them what I am thinking. I don't know why that is. I'm certainly quick enough to point out errors when I see them.

I've been thinking a lot about several small notes from friends tucked in my scriptures that have lifted me in my dark moments -- special words that could only have come through promptings by that still, small voice. Those friends served as angels in times of desperate need. Even years later, I will pull one of those notes out and find the courage I need to keep going.

Now it's my turn. I no longer assume the people around me know how incredible they are. I am determined to go out of my way to tell other people every nice thing I notice about them and to tell others all about the utterly fabulous and amazing people in my life. I can't think of a better way to use my gifts as a writer. Won't you join me? We can call ourselves the Good News Gossip Girls and have tons of fun spreading delicious stories of service and courage.


Jun 27, 2012

Behavior Analysis is Not Boring

by Nikki McBride Spencer

This whole autism thing has been an adventure for sure. This month, I have been required to attend behavior classes in order for my daughter to receive behavior therapy services. Although it’s only been two weeks, I have learned loads. For instance, yesterday we learned this truth:

All behavior serves a purpose, a goal, or fulfills a need.

All. That’s everything, bar none. Seems simple, right? Uh, yeah, not so much.

Our instructor went on to inform us that there are four and only four causes of all behavior. They are:

Attention-gain access to attention of a peer/adult
Tangible-access to a desired item/activity
Escape/Avoidance-a difficult or aversive demand, task, or activity is removed or avoided
Automatic-provide oneself with stimulation that is pleasurable or to avoid a painful sensation

Ahhhh, now we’re getting somewhere. Every behavior under the sun can be categorized by these four causes—and we’re not talking just autistic children, either. This is EVERY behavior, which includes adult behavior.

So my little writer’s brain was naughty and wandered a tiny bit during class (um, OK, it might have had something to do with ADHD or the fact that a three hour class is waaaaay to long for this rear end) and it started to piece together motivations for characters.

Human nature fascinates me to no end and what I had just learned about causes of behavior hit home. Think about it. The guy who cut you off in front of Ralph’s “just to be a jerk” now has an entirely new reason why he did this. It could be attention (impressing his girlfriend), tangible (he has to make that red light), escape/avoidance (fast driving symbolic of escape from the reality of his mother's death), or even automatic (fast, unsafe driving gives him a rush).

Next time you need a reason why one of your characters does something (or needs to do something) and you are stumped, think about the four causes of behavior. Get crazy with it. Write down what your character just did, and below that the four causes. Plug in four or more behaviors next to the appropriate cause. See how fast your eyes and mind opens to the possibilities of your plot!

Jun 26, 2012

Lady Bonbons

By Leesa Ostrander

I have been thinking about the use of a pen name.

What are the benefits? The disadvantages? Legal?

One reason I am thinking of a name, and I have discussed it here before, is because I teach college and want a separation of my writing and work.

I have begun my adventure into the freelance writer profession and need to establish the name now.  (My editing class begins in August, yay)

I have met a few authors in the general market that have multiple names for their different genres.

What do you think?

In the process of researching I found this (http://www.poemofquotes.com/tools/pen-name.php). This site will generate a name for you. I need to note this is the name generated for me (BIG smile), “Our Lady Bonbons”

Please refer to me as Lady Bonbons when we in person now. (hehe).

Jun 25, 2012

Hello, My Name is...

By Tracy Astle

The King and I
Deborah Kerr
© 1956 20th Century Fox

Everybody sing along - Getting to know you,
                                    Getting to know all about you
                                    Getting to like you,
                                    Getting to hope you like me.

I know I've been around a little while, but since I live hundreds of miles away from the closest ANWA member, I've only ever met one of you in person (Hi, Kristin!). I really would like to get to know all of you better.

Right about now you may be thinking, "Attend the ANWA Conference. It's a great place to meet us." I would love to do that, but as long as I work in an accounting office, that won't be possible since the conference always falls during tax season when I can't take vacation. I may crash the Pacific Northwest conference/retreat soon, but until then I'm hoping you'll humor me and play along today.

In the comments, would you please tell me -
     Your name
     Where you live
     What season of life you're in
     Your favorite book and/or movie
     Anything else you feel like sharing

I'll go first.
    I'm Tracy Astle
    I live in Yuba City, California (in northern CA, just north of Sacramento)
    I have four children. My youngest, and only daughter, just graduated from high school, so come fall I'll be an empty nester.
    Aside from Testaments, my favorite movie is It's a Wonderful Life.
    My very most favorite book is The Book of Mormon (maybe corny, but true). Next in line would be The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.
    I am a hard core optimist.

If you're tricky and know how to include a picture of yourself, that would be great. Unfortunately, I'm not tricky like that yet.

I'm excited to hear about you!

Jun 24, 2012

Word Verification On

Due to spamming, I've had to enable word verification again. I'm so sorry.

~Marsha Ward

Blog Team Member Changes

by Marsha Ward

As Debra Erfert told you on Friday, she is stepping down from our Blog Team. As the Blog's creator, I give Team members the option every six months of continuing or leaving, depending upon their life needs. Debra has signed a book contract (YAY!) and needs to focus on getting set up on the Internet as an Author, with all the web sites and social media pages that entails. Others on our team have similar or varying life needs, and will also leave us by June 30th. This means we'll be introducing new members of the Team in subsequent weeks.

Thank you, Debra!

While we miss our departing team members, introducing new blood and new viewpoints to the blog is always exciting. Keep watching this space!

Jun 23, 2012

Daughter Married Today

by Cindy R. Williams

When your daughter gets married, it is quite a rite of passage. Emotions rush through roller coaster ups and downs and round-abouts. With only 27 days warning to plan the shower, the temple arrangements, the luncheon/celebration including dancing, it is been a whirlwind, to say the least.

The support of friends and family is greatly appreciated at these momentous times. The love of our Heavenly Father is felt at every turn.

The world is a lovely place to be and families are forever.

Jun 22, 2012

Of Writing Sprints, Worn Fingers, and Farewells!

by Debra Erfert

Last night I participated in a writing sprint. It was my first. The sprint lasted for all of an hour, but in that short hour I deliberately concentrated on only one thing, writing on my current WIP. Okay, two things—writing on my current WIP and checking in with Twitter every 15 minutes or so to get an update on my two sprint-mates, Julie Coulter Bellon and Janice Sperry. Between 9 and 10 pm we wrote, and chatted, and wrote some more. Julie smoked up her computer keys writing 10 pages before the hour was through. I only laid down around 900 words—puny compared to what Julie scored. They were mostly dialogue words, and, I have to admit, I do edit as I write, which probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do in a competition type of situation.

Will I give up? No! Will I get discouraged because I didn’t write as fast my friend? No! I now have 900 more words in my story that I didn’t have before last night. I think that’s fantastic! I’m more than 1/3 of the way through my book. THANK YOU, JULIE!!!!

Writing sprints are wonderful, they’re fun, they’re productive!

Have you participated in a writing sprint before, or something similar?   

This is my last post for ANWA Founder & Friends. My tour of duty/fun is up. I leave with a grateful heart for the experience that Marsha's given me. Now I need to apply this knowledge to my personal blog and build the "business"side of my writing. It's a little scary not having a solid reader base to work with, but that is life--to face our fears, and to learn from them. 

Odd . . . it's as terrifying publishing this last post as it was the very first one 6 months ago. 

Jun 21, 2012


By Susan G. Haws

Eyes can switch  from reading a book to seeing a bird in a distant tree and immediately readjust focus to return to reading. I need corrective lenses both literally and figuratively.
I work in a scattered fashion. Whether years necessitating multitasking, or aging, or congenital defect are the cause I still  need to work on my focus.  I am setting small goals and like the proverbial tortoise plodding my way to the goal line.  
Anyone else experiencing struggles they would care to share?

Jun 20, 2012


by Kami Cornwall

I'm struggling today with something probably most of you LDS mothers out there have struggled with before. It's Sunday, we're making phone calls to family members, relaxing, and the neighbor kids are playing kick-ball outside. My boys are sitting at the window looking longingly at their friends and cousins out in the front yard - all of whom are also LDS. My 6-year-old starts to cry.

We made a choice early on that part of "keeping the Sabbath day holy" included not playing with their friends. We wanted Sunday to be different - set apart from the norm. Yet because the other LDS kids are allowed to go out and play with each other, we look like the super-strict, mean parents who are going too far and emotionally scarring their children.

Today I sat down with them and we talked about it. What does it mean to "keep the Sabbath day holy? Would it be okay to take walk to the park? What about playing with your brother? So playing outside with your friends (LDS or not) is...okay? Iffy? Where do we draw the line? It's their cousins as well as best friends from church. They're good kids, but it's still that whole "playing with your friends" thing. We came to the conclusion that perhaps it would be okay so long as they don't go over to their house and they don't come over to ours. That way their families are still able to have quality family time. They went out for a few minutes until a cousin decided to go to a friend's house. My dutiful boys came back in and said, "Well, they broke the rules, so we're coming back in." Now they've sat down and are enjoying a cartoon.

When I was growing up we weren't allowed to watch T.V. on Sundays either.

So how do you deal with these situations? What's a parent to do? How do we keep the Sabbath day holy without coming up with a list of do's and don'ts? And what if the things you deemed off limits are okay with the other LDS kids? You can't really tell your kids, "Well those people have different beliefs than we do."

Jun 19, 2012

My Dad

by Terri Wagner

My dad turned 79 on May 31. We had to make him promise we could do something big for his 80th next year. It hasn't been a good year for his health. Lots of small issues all making him feel like what's the point. And yet all these issues while chronic and frustrating are livable. He can continue to coast his way into heaven.

I know he'll go because my dad showed me what a father's love is all about. Because of him, I was able to accept the concept of a Heavenly Father very easily. Does that mean my dad was a fairy godfather, oh no...he was a military brat who joined the military. My dad had no trouble telling me just what I was doing wrong, and what I had to do to get it right. But he always adds what he'll do to help me.

I've spent the last 16 years of my life getting to know my dad as a fellow adult and roommate. It's been trying in some ways because of course he's always your dad. But I've learned things I never knew. Things I will always treasure.

I want to write his story one day so the next generations will know him as I have known him. It's an undertaking to be sure, but worth it to share him with others.

Thanks dad. I don't say that enough for me but probably too much for you. He only likes the sappy stuff from my sister who loves to indulge him. Me? I stick to the cutest stuff. It works for us.

Love you dad!!!!

Jun 18, 2012

Remembering My Dad

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

I'm sorry my post is so late today! I had the hardest time signing in to Blogger, but I finally figured it out. Change + Kristin = massive confusion!

With Father's Day recently past, I was of course thinking about my dad. We lost him in 1998 to lung cancer, and I still miss him terribly. Although my parents were divorced, my mom and dad got along pretty well as friends in later years, and up until the day he died, he referred to my mom by her affectionate nickname of "Bear." My brother, sister, and I have great memories of exploring the countryside at the various agricultural plants where he would live and work. (But don't get me started on the giant black-and-yellow spiders that would jump out at you from their webs in the field!)

I thought I'd attach a few pictures of my dad that have special meaning to me. And although I miss him, I'm comforted with the knowledge that I'll see him again someday.

This was taken at Mandeville Island near Tracy, CA - the last place he lived for several years before he died. Typical of my dad, he was always out in the field, mud-encrusted, but always making everyone around him laugh.

Dad was a Chevy man, so at a birthday party/family reunion, nobody could resist giving him a few gag gifts!

This picture is the most precious to me. He surprised me by showing up the day my daughter Emily was born. This was two months before he passed away.

Jun 17, 2012

Born of Goodly Fathers

By Jennifer Bailey Debenham

Like Nephi of old, I was born of goodly parents. My mother and father are truly some of the choicest people to grace the planet. But since today is Father's Day, I'd like to take a moment to pay tribute to my own father as well as to some of the men who have played a big part in my life.

My dad didn't have the best role model for his own father, but it didn't stop him from becoming one of the best men I have ever known, and the best father I could imagine. The fact that I was blessed enough to deserve him for my earthly father is beyond my understanding, but I am eternally grateful. My dad is the kind of man who lives his testimony every day of his life, and that simple fact enables all of his posterity--eight children and eighteen (so far) grandchildren--to benefit from daily examples of how to treat others, what really matters in life, and how to put the Savior first. Often my dad reminds me of Nephi, because, although none of his family members can compare to Lamen or Lemuel, my dad is the spiritual leader among his siblings, even though he is one of the youngest. As a child growing up under his patriarchal influence, I gained a strong testimony at an early age, much because of the way he taught and loved me. I've heard it said that a girl especially needs a good father so that she can develop a strong self-esteem and have the courage to seek a good man as her husband; in my father, I could not have been more privileged. Thank you Dad.

My father-in-law is nearly twenty years older than my own father, and his life has led him through many interesting trials and experiences. Currently he is fighting a debilitating disease--Parkinsons. But true to his strong personality and ever-present courage, he has not let Parkinsons determine his fate. He fights the illness with extreme persistence and dilligence by researching the best treatments and making certain he eats perfectly and exercises every day. His example in this one trial has been a perfect display of how he has endeavored to live his entire life--full of faith and dilligence. I am fortunate to have him in my life, and even more fortunate that he passed on some of his excellent traits to his son--my husband. Thank you "Dad D."

Jim and I recently celebrated nineteen years of marriage. That means--since I was married at nineteen--that I have officially been married as many years as I have not. I couldn't ask for a better husband for myself or a better father for my three children. I am privileged to say that, though I have been blessed with tremendous men in my life, none can compare to him. To me, he is truly the best man I know. In a day when so many things seem uncertain, I'm so grateful to have him as my constant. Thank you Jim.

I'd love to hear about the men who have made a difference in your life . . .

Jun 16, 2012

The World Of Social Media For Writers

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic as of late. I’ve also been reluctant to join the social media sites for years, partly because I don’t like to “jump on the bandwagon.” The decision to join in on the craze happened when I realized that most of the authors I liked had profiles on things like MySpace and Facebook. As an aspiring author, it only made sense that if I wanted to be a successful author, I should be doing what other successful authors do.
So I’ve slowly gotten my feet wet and set up a profile on MySpace and Facebook. I didn’t spend too much time on either site, but I did post book reviews. Then a friend of mine, Tanya Parker Mills, encouraged me to set up a blog and post my reviews there. I followed her advice and that’s how I got my start in the social media world.
From there, I’ve taken classes on networking, creating platforms, and had another realization. The social media websites, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and all the other sites out there, are all ways of creating an author platform as well as networking with other writers and readers around the world. And let me tell you, it works.
Here are a few tips that I’ve learned, mostly from Kristen Lamb’s WE ARE NOT ALONE—which I highly recommend to anyone who is wanting to make a name for themselves in the cyberspace world, which really is any author out there, self-published or traditionally published. Stay tuned for my review. :)
One—you have to be online. You can’t just have profiles and update them once in awhile. Be consistent. If you have a blog, make sure you blog at least once a week. Try to make it on the same day so followers will know when to come visit you. As Elana Johnson said in one of her classes, the internet world is very forgiving, but also very forgetful.
Two—return the favor. I’m working on this one. If someone follows you, follow them back. (Twitter, FB, Blogs) If someone comments on something you said, return the favor. I had someone ask me how I keep getting Twitter followers. My answer: follow people. I go out and find people with similar interests and follow them, and if someone follows me, I be sure to follow them back.
Three—choose a few social media sites to participate in. It seems like every few months a new media site pops up. My head spins just thinking about all of them, and if I tried to keep up with all of them, I wouldn’t have time to write. So don’t feel like you have to be on all of them. Pick a couple that work for you and stick to them. Personally, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, my blog, LinkedIn, and Goodreads. Am I active on all of them all the time? No. I keep FB and my blog regularly updated. I’ve also linked my blog posts to FB and Twitter. There are ways to do that and it makes life much easier.
Four—create a brand name. As authors, we want people to recognize our names, not just the title of our books. When at all possible, use your name. For example, my Twitter account is @bonnieharrisaz. My blog is www.bonnieharris.blogspot.com. You can find me on FB under harris.bonnie. When I get my website going, it will have Bonnie Harris in there. That way, people will know my name and when I am published, they will recognize it when they are looking for a good book to read. :)
These are just a few things I’m trying to implement to help build my author platform. I’ve had a few author friends ask if having an online presence really does any good. My answer to that is a resounding YES. I know it takes time and I know it can be a time waster, but if you allot a few minutes a day, you’ll be amazed at the results. We live in an internet world and our readers are closer than ever. I know, as a reader, I get really frustrated when I go to an authors website and the information there is years old. As fickle as this sounds, it makes me not want to read there stuff anymore. If I feel that way and I’m more lenient toward authors, how does a reader feel that wants the information, but can’t find it?
In the end, we want to share what we do. In a world that has everything at their fingertips, we need to be willing to share it by letting people know what we do. Take a look at Kristen Lamb’s blog. It has tons of help on it. Her book helps authors navigate the social media world. And here’s another article by Aimee L Slater about some do’s and don’t’s for authors. In the meantime, Happy Writing!

Jun 15, 2012

Falling in Love - Part V

Last month, I blogged about Stephanie Nielson’s new book Heaven is Here.  Reading it was emotional and I cried sad, happy and spiritual tears.  Please read this book.

I also finished Ree Drummond’s book The Pioneer Woman and am giddy with her incredible sense of humor.  This book is so good.
Heaven is Here is about a young mother who survives a plane crash,  burned on over 80% of her body and her struggles to heal while The Pioneer Woman is about a city girl looking to jump start her career, only to find love in the arms of a rancher.  Very different books, very different ideas, but there is something similar in these stories (other then the fact that they are both famous bloggers turned New York Times Bestselling authors);
it is romance.
Yes, both Stephanie and Ree are great story tellers of how they meet their one true love.  Both romances are dreamy and earth-shattering and unforgettable.

I wanted to write my own love story of how I meet my husband with moving metaphors and vivid imagery.  My husband has become the hero in these write-ups and through each memory, I've been able to fall in love with him all over again.  This is Part V.  To read the first four blog entries, click here, here, here and here.
I had agreed to go on another date with tall shy guy and I wasn’t sure what to think.  I was still wrapped up in the idea that I usually dated a much different type of guy.  Was this really going to work?  I sat on the bathroom counter in my apartment and applied my make-up.  I was calm, not nervous like I was before dates I’d been on with other guys.  I felt grown up and in control of my life for the first time in a long time.  There was a knock at the door, which I had left open and I quickly put my earrings on.  When I walked into the family room, he was there, standing in the middle of the room with a smile on his face and flowers in his hand.  I stopped, taken back by the handsome man standing in front of me.  How tall was he?  He looked so tall.  How was it that I hadn’t notice he was much, much taller then most men?  He turned to me when I caught a glimpse of his shoulders.  Were they really that large, that defined?  Wow!  Those were some impressive shoulders, strong and capable of holding up the world.  He walked toward me and I was taken back by his eyes.  They were so bright and the color of the ocean; in some places blue, in others green.  His eyes were gorgeous.  It took a bit out of me just to say “Hello”.
One of our first photos taken together.
Tall shy guy had everything planned for our date, right down to the red handkerchief he tied around my eyes.  “Trust me,” he said as he held my hand and walked me to his car.  We drove for a while, him keeping secret about where we were going.  We arrived and he took me into a building, a farmer’s market I later found out.  Blindfolded, he had me smell fruit, touch the textures of different vegetables, leafy and spiky, and use my senses to guess what he was holding.  When I lost patience and finally ripped the handkerchief off, we both agreed we should buy every type of fruit and vegetable in the entire market.  Artichoke, squash, raspberries, exotic bananas, mango, okra; you name it, it came home with us. We cooked it and ate it, but the best part of the evening was how much I enjoyed talking to him.  He was funny, reserved, sincere and really, really smart.  So what if I didn’t cook the artichoke long enough and it was a bit raw when I bit into the yellow heart; it was still the perfect evening.

We were together every night for the entire week, eating out, taking long walks, and meeting at the library at ASU while I finished up my research on environmental sociology or rhetorical studies.  Tall shy guy was turning into someone I really liked having around.  Still, I kept my feelings deep inside, knowing all to well the feeling of going home with a broken heart.

The next Sunday, tall shy guy spoke in church, bearing his testimony about his love for Jesus and the blessings in his life.  I sat in the front row with my hands folded in my lap playing with my purse strap.  Isn’t it funny how love catches us by surprise?  At the time, I wondered if he would hold my hand again or if any other girls in the congregation liked him.  I felt a bit insecure.  What was he?  A friend?  Something more?  Surely, real love couldn’t be happening to me.  I mean really, he was just this guy who I met in the back of a car.  After his talk, he came and sat by me.  He took my hand in his and held it sweetly while my heart swooned. After church, the congregation gathered for ‘meet and greet’ pot luck.  Tall shy guy had made a pecan chocolate pie.  Yes, he cooked too.

After church, he offered to drive me home.  It was a beautiful Sunday evening in April with the weather still comfortable.  We walked into my apartment and I offered to make us a vegetable tray.  I took some celery and carrots out of the refrigerator and started chopping.  Tall shy guy walked into the kitchen to help when some thing came over me, like a magnetic pull I couldn’t control.  This man; so sweet, so gentle was also so gorgeous and standing right next to me!  He was so tall and had these long legs that went on and on and his shoulders kept screaming at me to look at his muscles and don’t get me started on his eyes.  He had once asked to kiss me and I had said "No" because I didn't want to kiss him until I knew I could love him.  It was time to say "Yes."  I turned and just about tackled him into the kitchen pantry.  I literally ran into him, on purpose mind you, because I couldn’t stay away from him any longer.  It took about one second for my lips to find his and I didn’t let go for a long time.  I distinctly remember a poem going through my mind the first moment we kissed, something like “his kiss is sweeter then wine.”  Yes, tall shy guy’s kiss was like the purest, loveliest tasting wine (funny thing is I’d never had a drink of wine) I’d never had.  The carrots and celery went untouched and we kissed.

And we kissed.

We stood in the kitchen, me a bit wobbly, and kissed.

We sat on the couch and kissed.

We went on a walk around the neighborhood and kissed, me standing on the curb to get a bit more height so I could meet his sweet lips way, way up there.

I walked him to his car to say goodbye.  He never even unlocked the car door because we were kissing.

He walked me back to my apartment door, which I never opened because we kept kissing.

At around midnight, we decided to stand in the middle of the walkway, convincing ourselves we could be rational as we said goodnight and parted ways. Face to face, on last kiss and we would walk backwards, staring at each other mind you, taking steps away from one another, small baby steps, him to his car and me to my apartment door as to not miss a single moment of seeing each other while we said goodbye.  Me reaching out to him, one last touch of his hand, he letting his fingers run through my hair, another step away from each other and it was torture that we couldn't touch each other.  He was a vision, he was my perfect match and I had to live the night without him. We just about said goodbye, when he ran back to me and took me in his arms again.  I placed my hands on his shoulders and finally got a feel of those strong muscles.  Yep, just as I suspected, they were pretty impressive.  We kissed in the middle of that walkway while the full moon shone above us.  I’m not sure how we ever pulled our lips apart that night.

No doubt there was some physical attraction going on. 

Jun 14, 2012

What a Mom Wants to Know

by Kari Diane Pike

Sometimes there are things moms are better off not knowing.

Me: "So how was your High Adventure? Did you have fun?
14-year-old son: "I had a blast!  Rappelling rocks. (haha) The mountain biking scared the heck out of me. But that's okay. I only almost died 3 or 4 times. I loved it!"

I'm hoping he exaggerated. A lot.

What I discovered is that I didn't ask the right questions. The Sunday following this conversation, one of the Young Men leaders shared a another kind of experience the boys shared.

The second morning of the trip, Brother Woodward chose to remain in camp while the other leaders followed the boys to make sure they stayed alive for sure. A strong wind picked up, swirling dust and leaves around the seven tents the boys had set up in a sandy area where they could easily pound in their tent stakes and have a softer place to sleep. The wind intensified and it wasn't long before one of the tents lost its hold and blew over. Brother Woodward set the tent back up. The determined wind blew it back down.

Knowing it was fruitless to keep setting the tent back up, Brother Woodward left it alone until the young men returned to camp. He was curious about how they would solve the problem.

The boys went straight to work. They evaluated the situation and set the tent back up. They found longer stakes that would reach deep into firmer ground to strengthen its previously weak foundation. They placed sand and rocks around the base of the tent to add even more stability. The wind continued to blow through the night. The tent stood still.

My son came home stronger in so many ways. He learned he can do hard things. His testimony of repentance and obedience and of the power of the Atonement grew tenfold. He learned in a powerful way that the Savior made repentance possible and that when we discover that our foundation is weak, we can start over and strengthen it.

Would it have been better if the young men had set up their tents on firmer ground in the first place? Probably. It would have meant a lot less hassle later on. But what I love is that they had been taught what to do in such a situation -- and they did it. There have been so many times in my life when I didn't pay attention to my situation and I let my "foundation" weaken. How grateful I am for a knowledge of the gospel -- for the reassurance that even though I make mistakes, I can do better next time.

The other part of this story that touched my heart is the fact that the boys worked together to help each other succeed. They didn't stand around and say, "If there's anything I can do to help, let me know" -- while they watched their friends repair their tent. They grabbed a shovel or a hammer or a rock and got to work.

Now that's something worth knowing.

Jun 13, 2012


by Nikki McBride Spencer

I am not, in any way, shape, or form, a poet. Nor could I be confused for one. However, I have a dear friend who has that elusive knack for poetry which I lack. Her poems lift me and I appreciate them very much.
Please enjoy the following delightful poem; I did, and it made my day.


There’s a bunny in the bougainvillea,
I saw him go;
Just a lil guy, a handful of rabbit, or two
I watch him strain his young neck for the dried weeds
a mere inch from his reach
And his ears strain to and fro
As he at once tries to chew as bunnies chew
and not become dinner.
I'm thinking of stew, lil wabbit
Which is funny, you know, because
We don't eat rabbit here
One look at your bright eyes and I can feel
your hind legs upon my wrists like mad
And twisting
As I picked you up by the ears -
No, it wouldn't do
How could I treat you like your mortal enemy
the hawk would, straining at life as you do?
Could I wring that little neck of yours without some stripes of me own
blood too?
Pretty brown thing with a cottonball at your bum, you look more like a wren
or a sparrow,
tense and twitching, flight at every sound, blending in with the earth
and the sparseness of brush that
you chew on, munching with that ever-twitching muzzle - I see why we
are charmed.
You're so rabbit. From every tale.
Could I ever hurt you, you who act so much like prey?
And now seeing it’s you instead of the gophers casting up mounds under
our hedgerows,
I am still and watch you instead of being annoyed, and think
How precious, bunnies here?
And it occurs to me ironically the "damage" is still done, and,
I don't have the heart to eat you.
It appears I'm out of the loop
of the life cycle.

C. Harrison
May 27 2012

Jun 11, 2012

At War

By Tracy Astle

All I can do today is post my apologies.

In an on again off again war with my computer in which I am embroiled, my computer has won the battle today. It feels particularly insidious to me for it to have struck so heartlessly on my day to post here.

I humbly sit in the lap of defeat bandaging my wounds, but I promise, Evil Computer, that I will rise to fight again! You may have won this battle, but the war is far from over.

Jun 10, 2012

"I Dreamed a Dream" Dec 14, 2012

by Marsha Ward

The iconic logo

I am thrilled, almost beyond words, that the musical version of the stage production of Victor Hugo's classic novel, Les Misérables, is being brought to film at last.

Hugh Jackman as the Mayor and factory owner (aka Jean Valjean)
I have waited for this day to comeoh wait, it hasn't come yet! However, I believe principal filming has been completed. The premiere will be December 14, 2012, and the film will be in theaters by Christmas. What a great present!

Russell Crowe as Javert (yes, he can sing)
Featuring a stellar cast of actors who can actually sing, with the original theatrical producer, Cameron Macintosh, behind the scenes, and director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) at the helm, this production should be magnificent.

Anne Hathaway (yes, she can sing too) as Fantine, looking like Jean Simmons

I'm very much looking forward to the movie.

24601 - Is that even the same actor? What a great transformation!
Yes, that's Hugh Jackman, getting his convict on. Here's a link to the first trailer. You may want to grab a tissue, or a box of them, before you watch it (yes, even you manly men).

And what does all of this have to do with writing?

Two things: Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo, may possibly be the greatest novel ever written. "Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit." (Yes, I borrowed the description from the Facebook page. It's pretty powerful stuff.)

Secondly, The Curmudgeon wants everyone to know that when you're sobbing your eyes out as you watch that trailer, you're bawling (not balling). I don't even want to attempt an explanation of that latter word.

* * *

In other news, the novel is coming along nicely, I have cover art a-building, and a wonderful Western author has agreed to read Spinster's Folly for a possible blurbif he likes it. I hope he likes it!

I'm also looking for beta readers, so give me a shout out if you're up for that in a month or so.

Jun 9, 2012

13,305 Books and Counting

by Cindy R. Williams
I am still counting books owned by readers and writers of ANWA Foudner and Friends. Around 12 people have added comments to report how many books they have.

If you haven't made a quick count of the number of books you have in your home, please do a quick rough count and add a comment.

We are up to 13, 305 books and counting.

Jun 8, 2012

A Sixth Sense?

by Debra Erfert

As writers, we are aware of the sense of sight, sound, touch, taste, and of smell. If we're being honest with ourselves, we rarely, if ever, use all of these senses when we write. It's easy to have our characters see something, they might even hear a phone ring, or another character laugh or yell. I know in romances we often have our leading ladies inhale the intoxicating musky fragrances their heroes wear, but these descriptions rarely goes beyond that. 

I know we get told too much description slows down action. I've been on the receiving side of those critiques. And they would be correct—to a point, but there are times when a more in-depth picture is needed to give the reader a good sense of her surroundings that would make us more sympathetic to the characters, or the opposite—dislike the bad guy even more, if that was the goal.

Sol Stein says in his book, Sol Stein on Writing: “We take our senses for granted. When we let their use atrophy, it often takes conscious effort and exercise to restore our awareness of the ways in which we take in the world around us.”

He described fishing keys out of a pocket. Since we are women and don’t usually keep our keys in our pants, let’s try that exercise with something each and every woman is very familiar with: digging for our keys from the bottom of our purses.

Without looking inside your purse, can you touch your way to your keys if you can’t see them? I believe we’ve all had this experience in our lives—finding something without being able to see it. As soon as you touch that wallet, you remember what it looks like and can probably describe it—how it feels to your fingers, if it's leather then that earthy scent might briefly come to your nasal passages in a memory. Knowing that the wallet isn’t what you’re looking for, your hand pushes it aside. Your fingers touch something cool, flat, metallic. You pinch it between you index finger and thumb. There are ridges that bite into your skin. A key!

If you were able to imagine this, then you’ve experienced that 6th sense—the sense of awareness!

Now, all this description absolutely can’t take place if the character searching for her keys was at that moment being chased by a killer. It would be stupid. The reader would be incensed and most likely throw the book across the room never to pick it up again. 

As Sol Stein says, “For the writer, the sense of smell provides opportunity. It is important not only to be aware of and use smells, but to be accurate in rendering them. Rubber bands have a marked odor. And old book smells musty. Unseen winds has a smell. If you don’t smell anything, what might you smell? A single flower in an imagined vase on your desk?”

I have an excerpt from one of my very first manuscripts called Windows. It’s an unpublished paranormal that I will probably Indie-publish in the next couple of years. I have the main character using her sense of smell, touch, and taste all in one short paragralace where you can let your reader “take a breath” and relax before the next action scene. This, too, is very important.

I was brave enough to share with you a glimpse of my writing. Would you do the same with me—something with one of the 5 senses in it?

Jun 7, 2012

People Missed and Insecurities

by Susan G. Haws

First off, today, the last two weeks, this whole year and decade have zipped by in fast forward. It is 9:49 PM as I am starting this blog. (So probably no one will see this.) I have been working on a few ideas but I keep adding and deleting so I will play with them some more before sharing.

I would to mention the recent passing of two writers: Dean Cody Kyrobie and Ray Bradbury. I met Cody at David Farland's writing workshop last year at this time, and while I never met Ray Bradbury, he has also influenced me through his writing. I pray for comfort for their families.

On a significantly lighter note, I will share a silly insecurity I visit periodically when I haven't met my goals or when I admire, sometimes to the point of envy, the work of other writers.

I worry my characters will give up on me and go harass some other aspiring or, worse yet, accomplished writer. Someone that will actually do them justice and maybe even make them into household names, and action figure merchandise. Does anyone else share this fear?  

Jun 6, 2012

Speaking of furry distractions

by Kami Cornwall
I wasn't going to post this initially because I didn't want you all to think I was one of "those" people who talk about their pets all the time but then Kristin Przybyla TOTALLY opened up the doors for this one and I don't think she's one of "those" people either. So yes, Kristin, I can relate but it's not that they want to cuddle as much as...well...just read on.
Dog: Please let me out! PLEASE! I’m scratching at the door and whining! I’m gonna pee on the floor if you don’t let me out RIGHT NOW! I will follow you wherever you go in the house whining and making your life a living hell until you open that door!”
Me: Okay, go out and chase rabbits or something. Jeez! (Open sliding glass door.)
Dog: I want in! I want in! PLEASE let me in! You are so cruel to send me out when it’s so windy and COLD outside! It looks like a hurricane is coming! You horrible, horrible human, you! Let me in, let me in, let me IN!”
Me: “I just let you out ten seconds ago! What do you want from me? I just sat back down and now you’re begging to come back in!”
Dog: (Scratch, scratch, scratch, scritchity scratch.) “What? You’re not going to let me in the exact moment I ask? Maybe you didn’t hear me correctly. Perhaps you will hear better with your inferior human ears if I scratch on the screen door instead!”  (Screeeaaaatch! Riiip! Angry stare of doom.)
Me: (Running to the door now.) Don’t scratch the screen door, you stupid dog! Go lay down on your pad and quit being such a nuisance!”
Dog: (Skulking over to the dog bed.) Well you don’t have to be a jerk about it. I only wanted to be inside where it’s warm and dry. I am one of you, you know.
Me: (Sitting down again.) Don’t give me that look. I just want to sit down and relax.
Dog: (Ears perking up and running back to the door.) LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT! There’s a RABBIT out there, I know it! (Scratch, scratch, scritchity scratch, whine, whine, WHIIIINE!)
Me: “UGH!”
Dog: “Bowowoooo!  I will stay inside and howl at the rabbit until you let me out!  Bowowooo!”
Me: “Gah!  Get outside and stay out!” (Opening door once again.) Man’s best friend, my foot.”
Dog: “I’m done now. I’m giving you my best eyes. Won’t you pleeease let me in? I’m raising my paw to the screen. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna scratch the screen if you don’t let me in after I paw at the glass door. Watch me. You know I’m in charge, don’t you?”
Repeat 10 times daily.
(He was cute once. Okay...still is...but not like that.)

Jun 5, 2012

Some Days I Really Do Just Stay in Bed

by Terri Wagner

After a week of helping dad out with his knee problem and some weird cold he got...I got the cold. I spent most of Monday and nearly all of Tuesday huddled under the covers. It was all I could do to drag myself to the bathroom. Interestingly all my dogs just wandered around me and kept vigil. I wonder what they were thinking.

Flu? Summer cold? Severe sinus infection? No clue. Just want it gone.

What comes to my mind in a state like that? Gosh never underestimate a healthy body.

Jun 4, 2012

They're Like Furry Children!

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

It never fails. I make the commitment to sit down and write, and my cat decides it's Cuddle Time. If I'm on my laptop, something similar to the cartoon above happens. Either my chest or the keyboard becomes prime kitty napping territory. If I'm working on my hubby's desk PC, Oreo claims the spot between the keyboard and the monitors, and gradually increases his territory until the keyboard falls into my lap and loose items on the desk (phone chargers, USB drives, books, Doctor Who collectibles) topple between the desk and the wall. If I plop him on the floor, he pops back up in about 30 seconds. There is no avoiding Cuddle Time.

A stealthy foot already starting to push away the keyboard

Vigilantly guarding his territory

Any fingers that try to remove the cat will get nommed.

I love my kitty boy because of, not in spite of, his annoying timing for snuggles. The unconditional love of a pet does a lot for a troubled and busy spirit.

Do any of you have the joy of being bugged by a cat, dog, ferret, hedgehog, or other furry/feathered child, while you're trying to get in your daily word count?

Jun 3, 2012

Moving Should Be Banned, but Thank GOODNESS for Summer!

By Jennifer Debenham

Moving should be banned. That was my prevailing thought a little over four years ago when my family moved from Reno, Nevada to Issaquah, Washington, just outside of Seattle. My heart ached for all the dear people I had left behind--all the familiar places and comfortable routines. How would I ever recover? But we adjusted to our new home and embraced the culture, the people, and the lifestyle of the Pacific northwest.

Then, four months ago, we moved from Issaquah back to Nevada, but to a different city this time. Again I thought, "Moving is the pits." This time, however, the majority of my pain has been in watching my children struggle with the shock of moving from a large city, full of culture and interesting things to do, to a tiny community that consists of two restaurants, a gas station, a tiny grocery store, and a Subway. A twenty minute drive brings us to a "city" of 25,000, but my poor kiddos have been in severe culture and climate shock ever since we got here. Funny how quickly you can forget the desert when you're surrounded by trees and rain.

So, though I always look forward to the end of the school year, I don't think I've ever looked forward to it quite as much as I did this year. And as of Friday, SUMMER HAS BEGUN for the Debenham crew!

It seems like a half dozen years ago that we started the school year in Washington, even if it was just in September. I am looking forward to having some summertime fun and a period of low stress. I'm sure we'll all be looking forward to the back-to-school fever of late August, but for now, I'm ready for some running through the sprinklers, some slurping on sno-cones, and some reading a book under a shade tree.

What is summer to you?

Jun 2, 2012

How To Outline Your Novel Part 4

By Bonnie Harris

So, this will be the catchall post. To start at the beginning, here are the links--introPart 1 (The Hero's Journey), Part 2 (How To Beat Out Your Novel), Part 3 (Snowflake Method). 

There really aren't any more big methods with names. I know people who outline with index cards or post-it notes and stick it up on a wall or whiteboard. That way they can move things around more easily. 

There are software programs out there to help with outlining. Who would have thought? :)

Here are some other great links to give you an idea of other ways to outline.

How To Write A Novel by Glen Strathy
Outlining Your Novel by the Creative Penn
Novel Outlining 101 by Paperback Writer
Plotting With A Purpose by Paperback Writer
Plot Outline in 8 Steps by Glen Strathy

And here's an interesting article from the New York Times for the discovery writer side.

Frantically, when you look at everything, it can be a bit overwhelming. I began this journey with an idea of what I might use to outline my novels. The more I've learned, the more I realize that I really am not an outliner. There's too much of the discovery in me. So, for those of you who can outline your entire novel before you even write it, (I can think of a few authors off the top of my head) more power to you.

For me, I can't process things that far ahead. Here's my comprimise. I'm about 3,000 words into a new WIP. I know where I'm starting, and I have an idea of where I'll end. The middle is up in the air. However, it's been helpful for me to have the Beat Sheet in front of me to keep me on track, or rather to remind me of what needs to be in the story for sure.

Annette Lyon and Elana Johnson said they write their first drafts, and then fill in the outline to make sure they aren't missing anything. They are able to spot holes pretty quickly. I think this is how I'm going to do it. It makes sense to me. I have my roadmap, but I don't have to decide right away how I'm going to get to the end. For me, this is a really exciting new journey. We'll see how it goes and adjust on the way.

Ultimately, you have to find what works for you. Don't be afraid to take something and make it yours, afterall, isn't that what we do on a daily basis? I'd love to hear about what is and what is not working for you. I'll keep you posted on my progress as well. In the meantime . . .