Nov 29, 2012

Gadgets or Gifts?

by Kari Diane Pike

A professional organizer taught me a simple way to prevent disastrous closet avalanches. Every time I purchase a new shirt or pair of pants, or even shoes, I have to choose to let go of something already in the closet. Easy peasy! What woman doesn't like refreshing her wardrobe!

Supposedly this works for kitchen cupboards, too, although I'm still working on that one. I have a very difficult time letting go of my precious tools. (In fact, my husband claims that my passion for kitchen gadgets went too far when I swiped his good oil filter wrench to use as a jar opener.  BTW...Best jar opener ever!)

Anyway, I may not have used those star-shaped ice cube trays for the past two years, but I know that the moment I get rid of them, I'll need them. Right? I know they're not very practical -- it takes longer to get those cute little decorative pieces of ice (that are going to melt the instant I put them in the beverages and no one will notice anyway) out of the tray than it does to drive to the store and back with an entire bag of crushed ice. But I paid good money for those ice trays! Besides, when my overflow storage of kitchen tools started taking up garage space, dear hubby decided to remodel the kitchen. (Bwahahaha!)

That remodeled kitchen still smelled like new when we made a sudden move out-of-state a few years ago, and this summer, all those kitchen tools went into a storage unit, along with most of the rest of our worldly possessions, while we hunted for a job and eventually returned to Arizona. Now I see all that stuff as being rather burdensome. The cost of storing, maintaining, and eventually transporting those possessions makes them much less desirable. I'm learning to recognize more important gifts and blessings in my life.

While I spent the month of November learning to recognize, ponder on, and give thanks for the those gifts and blessings, it occurred to me that in order to make room for this abundance from the Lord, I need to clean out my "spiritual closets" and make room for Him.

What am I willing to let go of in order to accept His gifts?  As I sweep away cobwebs of fear, toss out bags of resentment, and polish away cloudy smears of envy from the windows of my soul, brilliant rays of light reveal hidden truths and help me see more clearly who I am and the plan Heavenly Father has for me. While my "clutter" took up all my time and energy and left me feeling trapped and claustrophobic, making room for the Savior is showing me endless hope, and joy beyond description.

Nov 28, 2012

Reasons to write

by Jill Burgoyne

Why do writers write?
 My sister in law writes because she feels like the story she's writing needs to be told by SOMEONE.
 I write often as an outlet, but more often because I love language and expressing my thoughts in a tangible way.
Some people write for financial stability.
Some people write to escape.
Some people just love writing.
Some people write to be read.
Some people write to change the world.

And many of us who write and want to progress in our writing and our writing goals, don't. Why?

We don't think our thoughts are worth expressing.
We don't think we are expert enough in the field we're writing.
We don't think our writing is grammatically correct.
We are afraid people won't read it.
We are afraid  that these words that come from the deepest core within ourselves will be rejected.
Our English teacher labeled us incompetent.

BUT: the truth is that every fear and doubt and block that we have can be overcome if our reasons for writing are stronger.

Nov 27, 2012

Under Pressure

Leesa Ostrander
My computer is in the process of dying. I will post my weekly when I can get my laptop to recognize the internet - Sorry happy readers

Nov 26, 2012

Gobble Gobble

By Tracy Astle

Hopefully you all had a lovely Thanksgiving, which, now that I think of it, is kind of a funny thing to say since if we consider what this holiday is about then it will automatically be lovely. How can someone ponder all they have to be grateful for and not have a good day? Not possible.


I think I can safely say that during the holiday season turkeys are probably on our minds more than usual, so I thought I'd share some things to help us to show some love for our turkey sandwiches and soups.


Turkeys can see in color but have poor night vision. - So be sure to sneek up on them after dark.

Wild turkeys can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. - And on such short legs!

Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird to be a turkey. - But you probably already knew this.

Turkeys fly to the ground at first light and feed until mid-morning. Feeding resumes in mid-afternoon. - Sounds like our Thanksgiving feeding schedule, doesn't it?

Turkeys spend the night in trees. - I think this is funny. I don't know why. Maybe just picturing such a big bird in a tree. I know. I'm weird. 

The fleshy growth under a turkey’s throat is called a wattle.
Turkeys have a long, red, fleshy area called a snood that grows from the forehead over the bill.
The caruncle is a red-pink fleshy growth on the head and upper neck of the turkey. - Wattle, snood and caruncle-gotta love turkey related words?

Israelis eat the most turkeys.....28 pounds per person. - Yikes, who knew?

For their first meal on the moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin ate roast turkey in foil packets. - Worthy of giving thanks to be sure.

June is National Turkey Lover’s Month. - Not November? Those crazy turkey loving people!

Turkey breeding has caused turkey breasts to grow so large that the turkeys fall over. - How's that for a good visual? I know, I know, kind of sad...but still funny.

Turkeys have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attacks. - Poor turkeys.

Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly. - But they're good at falling over, apparently.

A 16 week old turkey is called a fryer. A five to seven month old turkey is called a young roaster and a yearling is a year old. Any turkey 15 months or older is called mature. - Now we can read grocery store labeling more intelligently.

Nineteen million turkeys are eaten each Easter.
Twenty-two million turkeys are eaten each Christmas.
Forty-five million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving. - Oh dang.

Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour. - Don't tick them off. They could chase you down, even if you're in your car!

The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog. - Pictures please!

Turkeys can drown if they look up when it is raining. - Are there turkeys that look up in the rain?

Turkeys’ heads change colors when they become excited. - Like many bald men I know.

Tom turkeys have beards. This is black, hairlike feathers on their breast. Hens sometimes have beards, too. - I wonder if the hens bleach or wax theirs.

And if you've read this whole list, you can now claim the title of Turkey Expert.

Your certificate stating this should arrive in 6-8 weeks.

Happy holiday season!

Nov 25, 2012

New Week - New Thoughts

by Marsha Ward

I've enjoyed seeing all the Thanksgiving posts, reminders of all we have for which we can be grateful. Now it's a new week, and we're heading pell-mell into the rest of the holiday season.

It's been grand working with so many partners as we've labored to write here on our little contribution to the blogging world. Every six months, they have the opportunity to elect to stick around or to take off for greener pastures. Two others besides me, Kari Pike and Terri Wagner, have stayed the course over our six years' existence. What troopers they are!

This year I've been very fortunate to have completed and published a fourth novel in the Owen Family Saga series, Spinster's Folly. I owe thanks to so many people who kept me working on that task, among them, many members of ANWA. However, I want to single out one dear friend who was especially encouraging: Kathy Van Horn. In her quiet way, she managed to remind me why I write, which is to enrich readers' lives and remind them that they can overcome great hardships. Kathy has overcome much. She underwent two back surgeries recently, and after six months of wearing a back brace, can still light up a room with her smile. Thank you, Kathy!

Thank you for visiting our blog. We welcome your comments.

Nov 24, 2012

Mom's Great Advice

by Cindy R. Williams

I'm finally old enough to realize how wise my own mother is. (It only took me thirty-plus years to figure this out.)

Mom stopped by today for our weekly lunch. She left a paper on my roll top desk without saying a word. You see, she learned long ago, that I listen to her counsel better when she gives it in a more back door, you discover it yourself, fashion.

Here is what the paper said:


It's s good to finally get a health warning that is useful!!


I don't know why I didn't figure this out sooner. I use shampoo in the shower. When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body, and printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning, "FOR EXTRA BODY AND VOLUME."

No wonder I have been gaining weight! Well, I have now gotten rid of that shampoo and I'm going to start showering with Dawn dish soap instead. It's label reads, "DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE."

Problem solved! 
If I don't answer the phone, I'll be in the shower.

My mother is full of good advice!

Nov 23, 2012

Let my people go

My children have been asking me what Black Friday is all about. It is hard for me to explain it without a hint of sarcasm. My husband wants to tell them it is the day the slaves were all freed. He is a dork. My sister in law has convinced her daughter, sweet innocent Gwen, that the day is full of horror as people go to stores to fight and maim each other. Gwen is terrified of even the mention of ‘black Friday.’ My older kids understand and wanted to hit the stores last night at nine o’clock. At first I was impressed and then saddened when they admitted they weren’t going to Christmas shop, but rather ‘self shop.’ Good thing they are broke and I hold the car keys.
            It is funny to me that we spend days, weeks, dollars, and even sweat getting ready for a full on day of giving thanks, only to throw it all away the next day as we fight like cats to get those items we can’t live without. Isn’t there a sick bit of irony in that whole picture?
            I have to admit, I have participated in Black Friday before. It was two years ago, at the peak of my ‘move back to Arizona high’. I went out with my sister to hit the sales and ‘save a ton of cash!’  It was a total blast spending the day with my sister. We froze, stood in lines, ate at Wendy’s and took a nap on the floor of JoAnn crafts while waiting for the line to get fabric cut. I even have a few choice pictures to document the event. Did we save tons of money? I don’t think so. Did we find amazing deals? I thought so at the time…til my camera was the same price the day after black Friday. Would that be…grey Saturday? Did I end up buying lots of stuff I had no idea I needed desperately, yet knocked out that little grey haired lady to get to? No, not really. I’m kind of an easy going gal. If you want it? Take it. If you are going to die without it? Be my guest. Then again, when I found out I had scored the last Canon camera and then watched someone walk away sad….there was the tiniest rush of victory.  Hey, I’m human…..cause I said so.

Photo Credit:,r:12,s:100,i:49&tx=66&ty=62

Nov 22, 2012

Thanksgiving History

By Susan Knight

Since everyone has waxed poetic about Thanksgiving and what they’re grateful for, I decided I would provide a little trivia about Thanksgiving. I’m all about trivia.

History buffs may say that William Bradford and the folks in “Plimoth” had the first Thanksgiving in 1621, but research tells me the first Thanksgiving was celebrated years earlier.

Mass in St. Augustine, Florida, 1565

 In 1565, Pedro Menendez de Avile, a Spanish explorer, invited members of a local tribe near St. Augustine for a Mass of thanks to God for the crew's safe arrival on the shores of Florida—followed by dinner.

A group of settlers in Virginia also beat them to it. Thirty-eight people from England arrived in what was called Berkeley Hundred, now Berkeley Plantation, on December 4, 1619. They made a charter that stated they would observe a yearly day of thanksgiving to God.

The charter outlined the service that should be held: “Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

Meanwhile, the good folks back at Plimouth Plantation tried and failed at living with everything in common. Sound familiar? Everyone worked for the common good, including farming, hunting and everyday activities of survival. It seems some folks didn’t like the idea of working hard to support other peoples’ families, so people grew lazy and there was no harvest to speak of that first year in Massachusetts.

Bradford then proposed people get their own land and they could work it however they desired. Lo, and behold, production greatly expanded.

In Bradford’s own words: “This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted than other waise would have bene by any means ye Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente. The women now wente willingly into ye field, and tooke their little-ons with them to set corne, which before would aledg weaknes, and inabilitie; whom to have compelled would have bene though great tiranie and oppression. . . By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed . . . and some of ye abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any generall wante or famine hath not been amongst them since this day . . . ” (Wm. Bradford, “Of Plimoth Plantation,” original manuscript, Wright & Potter, Boston, 1901)

Did you know lobster, seal and swans were on those Pilgrims' menu? And did you know William Bradford's descendants include Noah Webster, Julia Child and Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist? Native Americans used cranberries for medicinal purposes. In fact, it was called “craneberry” because its drooping, pink blossoms in the spring resembled a crane. I warned you. I like trivia.
George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789. President Thomas Jefferson later opposed it; however, Presidents Adams and Monroe observed it. Every president after Abraham Lincoln decreed a day of thanks.

Sarah Josepha Hale

 Sarah Josepha Hale, a novelist and magazine editor, who penned
the nursery rhyme “Mary Had  Little Lamb,” influenced a day of thanks in the early days of the Union. She composed Thanksgiving editorials every year from 1827 and endeavored to persuade governors in each state to name November 25 a day of Thanksgiving. She said there should be two great religious holidays, Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day.

By 1851, Hale changed her stance about the day and wrote: The last Thursday in November has these advantages—harvests of all kinds are gathered in—summer travelers have returned to their homes—the diseases that, during summer and early autumn, often afflict some portions of our country, have ceased, and all are prepared to enjoy a day of Thanksgiving.”

In 1859, as the union moved farther apart, Hale felt it even more important to celebrate a day together and, in 1863, wrote to President Lincoln. Her petition brought Lincoln to declare the last Thursday of November a national day of Thanksgiving.

That day held until 1939. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during the Great Depression, was persuaded to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Sometimes there were five Thursdays in November and shopkeepers needed to spur retail sales. The first year of the change of date was met with public outcry. Citizens called it “Franksgiving.” By 1941, President Roosevelt "reluctantly" signed a bill declaring the fourth Thursday, not the last Thursday, a legal holiday.

And so it has remained.
Please visit this LINK for more interesting trivia and history about Thanksgiving.

In conclusion, I hope we will all remember that Thanksgiving began as a religious observation. It’s not about the food . . . really. It’s about love, volunteerism, worship, family, friends. 

I’m grateful for a day to celebrate thanks to our Heavenly Father for all He has given me and done for me. I’m thankful for my Savior’s Atoning sacrifice. How can I ever repay Him?
I don’t know what I did to deserve to live in this great land of ours. It’s such a privilege. I'm especially thankful for those two elders who knocked on my door thirty-one years ago with a message about a restored church. Who knew?

May we always remember how loved we are by Deity and that we are offspring of Divinity.

Nov 21, 2012

My Thankfuls

by Kami Cornwall

I'm thankful for the carpet cleaners who keep me sane after the dogs have tracked in a mountain of dirt.
I'm thankful for the will not to strangle children or relatives during the Thanksgiving season.
I'm thankful it stopped raining.   Finally.
I'm thankful for a husband who insists on making Chex Party Mix from October through January.
I'm thankful for family that lives close enough to visit but far enough away that we yearn for each other.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Nov 20, 2012

In Keeping with the Theme of Thanksgiving

by Terri Wagner

Words fail me when I try to describe how grateful I am for the beauty of the earth. I have had the privilege of traveling starting at nine months old when we moved to the rather exotic Panama Canal zone. As an adult, I have been able to travel by plane, car, and feet (as in hiking). I honestly cannot think of a place I did not find a slice of breathtaking beauty. My eyes remain healthy enough for me to enjoy sunsets on the beach, sunrises on the beach, in the mountains, in the snow and the sand, I actually could go on and on.

My most recent earth appreciation day was Here in the very deep South it gets cold around December and lasts maybe if we're lucky until February. However, that is not a given. More likely is the kind of day we had today. It's the kind of day you just have to race down to the beach with its sugar white sand and green/blue water.

Sun is shining like a jewel in an azure sky filled with wispy bits of clouds just to let you know they really do exist. The air is crisp and clean. Some people are still wearing shorts, a few pants, most with a light sweater and jacket. Yep, down here, we wear shorts, sandals, and a light jacket. It seems to fit our way of life.

I hope I always get to travel and that my eyes continue to hold up so I can appreciate as much as I can of what Heavenly Father bequeathed us.

Nov 19, 2012

Of New Things and Thanksgiving

By Claire Enos

This past weekend and even the week to come have been full of new things for me. Yesterday, I went to a broadcasting of the Re-dedication Ceremony of the Boise, Idaho Temple. It was the first time for me, I'd never even heard of the Hosanna Shout before people started talking about the re-dedication. But this was an awesome first for me and I'm glad I got the chance to see it and participate!

This upcoming week I'll be staying up in Idaho for Thanksgiving instead of going home to see my family. This is definitely a first for me, not being with family. So, I've decided to cook up some of my favorite Thanksgiving Recipes on my own! (Except Turkey... I don't know how to bake it and I hate making any sort of meat). So, I'm thinking I'll make:

  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • (Buy some Cranberry Sauce)
  • Chocolate Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie
Are there any other ideas of recipes I should try or dishes I should try making? I'm open to almost anything as long as it doesn't involve cooking meat!

But, Thanksgiving isn't all about the food, so I thought I'd share some of what I'm thankful for with you as well!

  1. My roommates
  2. My family
  3. My friends
  4. Everyone who has ever critiqued me, I'm sure I've at least become a little better at writing because of you!
  5. The chance to go to school up here at BYU-Idaho
  6. Electronics (of all kinds! I'm sure I'll be watching quite a few movies, and tv shows this weekend!)
  7. Books (Already got a couple I'm planning to read this weekend!)
  8. I'm grateful to live in America!
  9. Money (at least having enough to live off of is nice!)
  10. Food! (Somehow I seem to be able to afford it! It's quite nice!)
What things are you grateful for? I'd love to hear them!


Nov 18, 2012

Writing Tips Digest

By Jennifer Debenham

I'm definitely a quote person. My house is dotted with them. When we move into our new home in a month, and I FINALLY have my own office, the walls surrounding my computer desk will be plastered with bits of inspiration.

Here are a few that pertain to writing, or general motivation, that I've gathered over the years. Do you see your favorites below? If not please post them in the comments section.

Happy Writing!

"Try to leave out the parts that people skip." ~Elmore Leonard

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." ~Anton Chekhov

"The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything." ~John Irving

"Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't." ~Jerry Rice

"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." ~Abraham Lincoln

"To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph."~Mark Twain-- Letter to Emeline Beach, 10 Feb 1868

"Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."~ Barbara Kingsolver

"Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs. "~ John Osborne

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master." ~ Ernest Hemingway

"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~ Toni Morrison

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." ~ William Wordsworth

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." ~ Mark Twain

"Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space." ~ Orson Scott Card

Nov 17, 2012

Things I Am Grateful For . . .

By Bonnie Harris

Since Thanksgiving is next week, (can you believe it?!) I've been thinking a lot about the things I am grateful for. I thought I'd share a few, in no particular order. :)

  • My Savior
  • My Family
  • Home
  • Blessings
  • Trials
  • Books
  • Music
  • Kids
  • Cool Weather
  • Stars
  • Technology, most of the time
  • The ability to create
  • Freedom
  • Blankets
  • Hot Chocolate :)
  • Good Food I don't have to cook
  • Smiles
  • Laughter
  • Showers
  • Animals, when they aren't annoying me
  • Love
  • Friendship
  • My Critique Group
  • My strengths
  • My weakness
  • The ability to help others
  • The knowledge of what happens after death
And the list can go on. My prayer is that during this holiday season we don't lose sight of what's really important. It's easy to get caught up in the turkey dinner, the decorations, the presents, the stress of having company, worrying about getting writing in, worrying about having a clean house, and again . . . the list goes on. Take a moment and enjoy the little things, like cracking an egg into the garbage rather than into the bowl, that make the memories we smile at later on. As always, Happy Writing, but also a very Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for all the help, love, and support you offer me. :)

Nov 15, 2012

Be Careful What You Pray For

by Kari Diane Pike

The many "I am grateful for" posts on Facebook this month gave me a great deal to think about. I take far too many blessings in my life for granted. So, I set a goal to be more observant and show gratitude for those blessings. Why does it feel like the entire universe conspires against me whenever I set a new goal?

Let's just say that one panic attack and days of prayer gave me a fabulous opportunity for growth. I learned that the Lord loves me and is mindful of my every need -- and the needs of my family. He blesses me beyond measure. Even when I turn to him for something as seemingly trivial as what to prepare for dinner, he will help me figure it out. I learned (again) that even though I am just one puny mortal amongst worlds without end, he loves me for who I am and who I can become.

I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me, and I love Him! Every effort I make, no matter how small or unsuccessful it may appear to me or the rest of the world, counts in His eyes. No effort goes unwasted.

When I am in need of an answer to a problem, all I have to do is turn to the Lord. I begin with prayer and then open my scriptures. The answers are all there. Sometimes I find the answers written out word for word. Most of the time, however, the answers come as brilliant flashes of insight. I learned that even though asking what to make for dinner may seem trivial to the world, it is an important part of my calling as a wife and mother. The Lord helps me become strong and blesses me with the ability to fulfill all of my callings -- especially the most important one -- the one from which I will never be released.

Today, when my to-do list seemed unconquerable and I was tempted to run and hide, I remembered these lessons. I asked for work in order to help my husband care for our family's financial needs. I was blessed with several new contracts. I prayed for the health of my chidren and they have schedules filled with school and sporting events. The list goes on...I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can either complain about the "stress" or express gratitude for the blessings manifested. I wouldn't want to give up any of them! I really do need to think about it when I hear "Be careful what you pray for!"

May God bless you and yours!


Nov 14, 2012

Moments to take away

by Jill Burgoyne

Near the closing of my day to blog, I write to you with the few moments I have. Having spent the night in the ER due to not being able to keep anything down, I have spent the day juggling auto loan applications, prescriptions, and two adorable little girls. The dishes did not make the priority cut today, but the living room did at one time.

As I seek to train myself to be a better writer, I am taking whatever free online classes and other advice I can. I realize that not everyone gives advice worth remembering, but almost everyone knows more than I do. The last chapter of the particular writing class that I am reading talked specifically about the moments that people will take away. The class is geared towards people who would like to write screenplays, but I think that those specific moments are vital to a memorable story.

The teacher specified humorous moments and poignant moments. I think back on the movies I like and the moments that impress me most. They are usually the funny and poignant one-liners that Ironman spits out in Avengers, or the moment in Hook when Peter and his family are reunited.

I'm picking a few moments in a manuscript I'm working on. As I've been trying to decide what moments people take away, I look at my life and try to identify the moments in each day that I take away. Yesterday, I realized that I don't remember the painful and constant nausea, or the blood drawing very much. I remember the tenderness with which my husband treated me as he walked me into the ER at 2:30am or the way that the nurse, who had to draw my blood, did it quicker than I thought. I'll probably remember how fast my Mother in Law got to our house to watch our children. OH: and how amazing the ice water tasted once they had me on the anti-nausea medication.

Today, the moment I'll take away forever, won't be the one where my daughter pinched me so hard I bled, or the countless diapers I changed, but I'll remember my little toddlers (1 and 2) dancing in their new(ish) Christmas dresses to a CD my deceased uncle gave us. They were giggling and holding hands gently with one another and spinning in circles to one of my favorite Christmas songs. (Yes, it's early, but both the music and the dresses were special requests) and the moment they produced was timeless.

Nov 13, 2012

Push Along, Push Along!

By Leesa Ostrander

(when you read the post title, did the song come into your head? Do your duty with your heart full of song? If so, you know where I have been the past 5 weeks :-)
I apologize for the tardiness of this post.

I feel I am suffering from a bad case of “I only Want to Nap.”

It is mom undergoing surgeries for her cancer and I feel I need to nap for her or I am having the stress now catch up to me.  Or it could be that my husband has been gone for many weeks and will not be back until after Thanksgiving or all the other stresses that are involved in our lives.

With all of these “or” situations, I find I am just making excuses to why I am behind in my Nano count.

I found I am not very creative right now and struggling for words during this Nano month.

However, I have made other items a priority that has fallen in the past. I have talked to my mom, my dad and my family daily. This connection is fulfilling my daily smile bank. I have found with a solid connection to my family, the daily stress is not stress but another aspect of the day. It is not a check list item that I ma worrying about.

I have found I am a “head in the sand” person when things get too stressful. It has taken an extreme amount of stress for this to come out.

It is not a productive way to be. It is how I am at this point in my life.

What are you like in extreme stress? How do you continue to find the creative process and enhance your writing?

Nov 12, 2012

Again, Again!

By Tracy Astle

Picture (or 'pitcher' for those of you in Utah, right Susan?), if you will, a young, wobbly child pleading with her parent to swing her around one more time as she sways at their feet. "Again, again," she begs with upturned face.

That was me after I finished my most recent read.

I wanted to start reading it again right that minute. The most delightful thing about it is that normally I'm not like that. Once is usually enough for me with books. Oh, I have a short list, a very short list actually, of stories/characters I have to revisit every so often. They're like old friends I need to catch up with. But I put them away when I'm done. I don't start on them again as soon as I finish.

The things that drew me back in to this recent book so quickly are the brisk pacing of the story, very likable characters (I wasn't done with them when I was done with the book. And that's saying something!), a premise that is pure fun and a writing style that is smooth and easy to read. It's a YA contemporary that I feel really captures high school without all the dramatic, angsty stuff going on. I'm not opposed to dramatic and angsty when it comes to YA. Goodness knows there's plenty of that at that age, but it's not all that. I love a story that is clean and doesn't take life so seriously all the time.

I think what I love most about this book is that it's inspiring without being intimidating. It's well written, but not so perfect in the beauty of the prose, the depth and brilliance of the plot, the sheer majesty of its very existence, that I know I will never write anything that amazing. It's simply a totally enjoyable read that makes me want to write like that.

How about you? What qualities in a book inspire you and/or make you want to want to jump right back on that ride and start reading it again as soon as you finish?

Nov 11, 2012

Things to Avoid Like the Plague

by Marsha Ward

Setting up and hosting a live, online Facebook Event

Getting sick with the plague

Inviting all your Friends to your live Facebook Event

Getting sick with the plague

Asking all your Friends to invite their Friends to your Event

Getting sick with the plague

Failing to realize that Facebook Events send email notifications with every post made, to everyone who ever showed up on the page . . . all during the Event

Getting sick with the plague

Trusting technology you haven't experienced before with your precious, fragile Book Release Event

Getting sick with the plague

Failing to realize that not everyone using Facebook has made adjustments to their settings to avoid receiving Notifications of your Event

Getting sick with the plague

Hosting a live Event on Facebook for eight hours straight

Getting sick with the plague

Losing Friends who receive a hundred emails or more during the course of your live, online, eight-hour Facebook Event

Nov 10, 2012

Wise Optimist

In keeping with all the "I am grateful" comments posting in all social medias,
I am grateful for wise council of the leaders of my faith.
I will go forward as a "wise optimist," as suggested by another wise leader, President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.
November 11, 2012, Stake Conference address delivered to 95 Stakes throughout Arizona.

Nov 9, 2012

Cherry Tree Lane

I remember the days before movies at home. When I was a kid, it was a big deal to go see a movie. Every year around Christmas time we would get to see our favorite movies at home on television. It's a Wonderful Life and the Wizard of Oz were holiday regulars. We would watch them on our black and white tv while we ate popcorn and apples.
when I was a teenager, the VCR happened. Now we could watch movies at home whenever we wanted to! There weren't a lot of options at first. We rented the movie Goonies many times. I remember walking around the TINY video rental store and being amazed that we could take any movie home with us. Our holiday movies changed to Goonies and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I'm sure we rented other movies, but those are the ones we gravitated back towards.
We started buying movies when they got a bit less expensive. Our book shelves that used to be full of books now shared their space with those big VHS tape cases. One movie that was watched a LOT was Mary Poppins.
My baby sister, fourteen years my younger, had a thing for Mary. She wanted that movie on all the time. It didn't matter if she was in the room or not. The movie would play 24/7 at our house it seemed. It could have been worse, she could have been adicted to Barney or PeeWee Herman instead of a really classy, creative, magical nanny that enabled children and brought families together.
I think about that movie often. It kind of worked its way into my brain since it was on all the time. This week, the phrase, "something's brewing at number 17 Cherry Tree Lane" has been going through my head a lot. Changes were in the air at our house.
Tuesday, my daughter went into labor with her first child. She was not due until November 21, so we were a bit less than prepared. We were both able to attend our college classes that day because she is a super trouper! We all went to bed around 11pm, I thought, and slept until she woke me at 2 am. We ended up at the hospital around 3:20 and my first adorable, sweet, wonderful grandson was born at 4:43 am Wednesday morning. Something was definitely brewing...
I remember when my daughter was born. She was my first and I had no idea what to expect. When she came out, I remember breaking down in tears. It was a huge mixture of relief (10 fingers, 10 toes), exhaustion, joy, and terror. I had a beautiful baby and I had no idea what I was doing!
My daughter let me be in the room when 'Teddy' was born. It was an amazing experience! I have had six children of my own, but I never got to see the action from those particular seats. wow. When they refer to it as the 'miracle of life'.....that doesn't even begin to describe it. It was an overwhelmingly wonderful and humbling experience. My faith in my Heavenly Father and his plan for us has been strengthened. His hand is very much at work with his children. Everything happens for a reason and by his design. Our bodies are amazing works of art.
I broke into tears when Teddy was born too. It was a different kind of emotion from when my daughter was born, it was cushioned a bit by the fact that I am not the mommy this time. I get to sit back a bit and watch my daughter learn and grow her way into mommy-hood. She is an amazing woman and is going to be great! I am so glad she is doing it here in my home. I don't want to miss a thing! I'm trying to be the perfect 'husband' for her....but maybe that just means I'm being a good grandma? I kind of like this new role.... it feels good. Especially when I'm holding Teddy bear.
Cause I said so.

Nov 8, 2012

Utah Speak

By Susan Knight

Before you get the impression I disparage "Utahn," let me first admit that I come from a place in the United States with the worst dialect—Philadelphia. Hands down, it is the ugliest. My hometown is about 40 miles away from Philly, so I grew up with it; i.e., wooder = water, at/dat = that. I've spent my whole life trying not to talk that way.

Like New Orleans speak, nobody can fake the Philly vernacular. It does not sound like a New York City accent thanks to Benjamin Franklin, who wanted Philadelphians to be far removed from anything British.
Philly people pronounce “r” like a pirate; i.e. arrr. It gets swallowed into the back of the throat, along with most vowels and consonants. New Yorkers, like Bostonians—and the British—say “ah; i.e. pahk the cah. If you watch a television show that takes place in Philadelphia, note how they say their “r’s.” You’ll know if they’re faking it.

 Enter Utah. Rather, I entered Utah about two years ago. I can’t figure out the accent or where it comes from, and have denoted several dialects in or around the Great Salt Lake. Diphthongs seem to be the main problem, or lack of them.

 Some pronunciations here sound like a southern drawl; i.e. say-id = said (where there shouldn't be a diphthong), some are decidedly cowboy; i.e. thee-ay’-ter = theater; and some might come from Scandinavian influence; i.e. yah = yeah. Or maybe it means "yes?"

 Below are some conventions of the English language in Utah that have made me pause as I have tried to stay in conversations. I have about a five-second lapse, so please be kind to me if ever I’m immersed in a chat with you. s.m.i.l.e.

her = here
ther = there
            Usage: I didn’t get her until 1:00. Before that, I was over ther.

filling = feeling (Not to be confused with dental work.)
            Usage: I have a filling this is the rill dill
the rill dill = the real deal (Not to be confused with a type of pickle, which is what I think they’re talking about and wonder, how does a pickle relate to their dental work? By the time I give up trying to figure it out, they’re on to the next topic.)
mill will = mill wheel (Not to be confused with a will reading where someone is left a mill in a will, which is what I thought.)

peenk = pink
      The short “i” sound is pronounced like long “e,” such as theenk, meaning think; but the long “e” sound  is pronounced like short “i,” such as filling, meaning feeling; i.e. apple pill is not a flavored medication.

mell = mail or male
sell = sale
            Usage: I got this mell box at a garage sell. It was a rill dill.
hell = hail
      The long “a” sound is pronounced like short “e.” I once heard a hymn pronounced from the pulpit as “We’ll Sing All Hell to Jesus’ Name.” Even the Utahns balked at that.

Conversely, the short “a” sound, like in apple, is often pronounced with a long "a" sound, like “ay;” i.e. bank, thank, sank = baynk, thaynk, saynk.

pitcher = picture

excetera = etcetera

buh-in = button
mouh-in = mountain (I can’t even simulate this sound. It is an enigma to me.)

hooware/hoowat = where/what (The “h” sound is first, instead of silent.)

I was walking in the mouh-ins with my frind, Gell, when I fond a buh-in in a fild off the trell. It's pell peenk. Her, I took a pitcher of it to put in the pepper. I have a filling someone will thaynk me that I fond it.

 Can you see why I lag behind? 
I love Utah. The people are great, but—diphthongs can be very useful. Hoowat do you theenk?

Nov 7, 2012

And now back to our regularly scheduled lives!

by Kami Cornwall

Rumor has it that if Romney was elected he would begin WWIII, get rid of Netflix and all T.V. shows, and chop off the heads of all sixth-graders. It must be true because my son told me this was what was being said around the playground.

The talk on Facebook and college campuses isn't much better. Scandalous banter that Romney would get rid of Martin Luther King Jr. day, and that his slogan, "Keep America American" was used by the KKK. To be clear, his campaign slogan was "Believe in America" and he has never mentioned wanting to "rid the world of that irrelevant Martin Luther King Jr. Day."

After all is said and done, we need to remember that the president (which looks like will continue to be Obama for another four years) is not king. He doesn't get to royally decree anything. Not even to chop off the heads of sixth-graders.

I for one would like to breathe a sigh of relief that the arguing over which candidate is worse, is over. Can we stop now? Can we stop calling one another inherently evil? Can we begin to pray for our leaders to make the right decisions? Can we be good influences in their lives and work together to make things right?

Dare I say it? Yes.
Yes we can.

Nov 6, 2012

Vote, Vote, Vote

by Terri Wagner

It's a scared duty. Considering the special knowledge we have of America's true mission, we simply cannot be found guilty of not casting our vote for our candidate. It always seems that every election lately is the BIG one. Doesn't matter if it's a REGULAR one, we owe our ancestors who came here to vote to keep America safe for generations to come.

We might not all agree on how best to accomplish safety. But we can and must vote. I'll be voting early. And I have to tell you, where I live, the polling booth will be quiet, serious, and clean. That's just the way it is in a small town.

I don't envy those of you who may have to run a gauntlet to vote. And I sincerely hope none of you run into intimidation.

Mostly I just want you all to be able to stand with me when we stand before Heavenly Father and say...I voted as my conscience dictated to me. I "kept the faith."

photo of vote encouragement

Nov 5, 2012

Things You Should Know About Me...

By Claire Enos

I wasn't sure what I was going to write for this blog post, since I've been so busy with NaNoWriMo (btw, already WAY behind on that!) and school. So, I did some research on the internet, trying to find some ideas. Found this post and decided to use one of her ideas. Many of you don't know me very well, and I'm pretty sure I'm the youngest blogger on this blog, so here goes!

Things you should know about me if we're gonna be BFF:

I am only 4'10 1/2" (yes, I am a shorty)

My blonde friend is 6' and my dark haired friend is 5'6-5'8 or something
like that, if that gives you any idea of how short I am! (I'm in the black
jacket!) [Taken January 2012]

I have been an aspiring writer as long as I can remember, and I've been writing since I was 13 or 14, though I do have some books I wrote when I was in Elementary School for class assignments!

I couldn't live without my family, I love them all and they are more important to me than my friends or education. So if I ever had to choose between my friends and my family, don't be surprised if I choose my family first!

My mom is in the middle, my dad is behind her. My 11 year old brother is
back left, 12 year old brother back right, 16 year old sister front left,
19 year old sister front middle, and I'm on the front right.

When I was a kid I loved moving! Now, I love the mystery of the move and the anticipation, but I hate the packing and unpacking of it all.

I am the oldest of 5 children. My siblings are: 2 girls, ages 19 and 16; and 2 boys, ages 12 and 11.

I'm the one sitting down. My 19 year old sister is the one with the badge
and walky talky, my 16 year old sister has the toy rifle, my 12 year old
brother is on the right, and my 11 year old brother is on the left.
(Taken July 2012)

I would rather read, write, sing, and dance than do any sort of household chore, but I hope to one day be a stay at home mom! (Yes, that is contradictory, I realize that!)

I just turned 21 a couple weeks ago, but I still feel like a teenager. (And look like one!)

Picture taken on my 21st birthday!

I am an English major (creative writing emphasis) with a minor in Psychology. However, I am thinking about switching my minor to two clusters (half-minors) in Vocal music and Family History Research.

I go to school at BYU-Idaho, which incidentally has been my dream school for as long as I can remember! So, essentially, I'm living out all my dreams right now.

Me (in the pink sweater) with a few friends this last spring on a
wall that says Brigham Young University- Idaho. This is up by
the Rexburg temple.

I've been singing in choirs since I was 8 years old (at church and in school). Currently I'm in Women's Glee at BYU-Idaho. I asked my mom recently and she says I've been singing practically as long as I've been talking! Needless to say, I couldn't live without my music!

Taken General Conference Weekend October 2012

I still don't have a Driver's License and have no plans of getting one anytime soon! I prefer walking, riding a bike, or catching the bus when I need to get places.

I've lived all over the Western United States. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. And I've been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and to Disneyland in California.

One day, I hope to be married in the Temple (which one doesn't really matter)

Me standing in front of the Rexburg temple!

Last, but definitely not least, my favorite candy bar is, and always has been, Idaho Spuds.

Birthday present from one of my roommates for my 21st!

I'm sure I missed some things, and I'll remember after I publish this but oh well. I hope you enjoyed this little (and simple) post! What should I know about you? Post your own in the comments! Or post a link to your own post, if you decide to do your own. I'd love to read them!


Nov 4, 2012

Here Comes the Boom!

By Jennifer Debenham

It's so infrequent that I attend a movie and leave with a 100% satisfied feeling in my heart. I'm definitely a movie lover, but usually I find one or two things in the film that I wish had been done differently. Maybe it's the writer in me. Definitely it's the mom in me. It's pretty hard to find a movie that doesn't have a scene or two that makes me cringe and wish it had never been included.

Here Comes the Boom, however, is entertaining from start to finish. Kevin James is delightful as a biology teacher, Mr. Voss, who reclaims his passion for influencing students for the good when the music program at his school is threatened to be cut due to lack of funding. Because of his admiration for the music instructor, portrayed by Henry Winkler (and you will love him in this), Voss determines to do what he can to save the program. It turns out what he can do is fight--mixed-martial arts fighting, that is.

What ensues is a sometimes funny, sometimes tear-jerking, and ultimately heartwarming story that completely hits the mark. I do not recommend it for families with little children as the fighting is sometimes quite violent, but families with older children will find it fun, entertaining, and bearing many positive messages.

Nov 3, 2012

Things to watch for after your first draft

By Bonnie Harris

It's amazing how quickly time and my mind goes. I thought I had this post figured out, but as I sit down to write it I'm drawing a blank. Oh well. This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Northwest Writer's Retreat in Washington. Aside from being in a beautiful location with much cooler weather than I'm used to, great company, and great classes, I've been able to do some solid writing of my own. It's been wonderful!

One of the subjects talked about by our resident writer Heather B Moore was "Life After the First Draft." It's always nice to be reminded of what we need to watch out for. This was especially useful for me right now as I'm going through yet another edit. Here are some of the things to watch out for:

  • Watch out for Dialog Tags. Make sure you have them when needed and substitute an action when you can.
  • Avoid repetition of all kinds, i.e. words, name calling, etc
  • Punctuation. Beward of too many !!!!!, know basic comma rules
  • Verbs. Check your "ly" verbs, use more accurate verbs, watch was/were
  • Pacing. Make sure your book is always moving forward, watch info dumps, are you skimming your own words?
  • Sense of Setting. Keep each chapter to make sure you know where you are within the first few paragraphs
  • Point of View. Make sure you stay consistent. No head hopping.
  • General. Have your facts straight, use spell checker, are your actions physically possible?

All of these things are great to keep in mind while writing a first draft, but that doesn't mean you should get hung up on them. Just write the story, then go through looking for these things. Keep up all the wonderful writing and Happy Editing! (If that's the stage you're in.)

Nov 2, 2012

Most Gracious

Several years ago, a dear friend of mine passed away.  Here name was Holly and she was just 30 years old.

Holly was a beautiful as the day is long.  She was a natural Snow White, with beautiful peach skin, natural red lips and black hair down her waist.  She always had a smile on her face.  Any chance she had, Holly would sing.  She had a beautiful singing voice and her eyes would twinkle with the spirit.  Everyone felt special when they were around Holly.

I think of Holly almost every day.  A few weeks ago, I had a dream.  I was in a large ball room gathered with hundreds of people, many of which I recognized as family.  We were hugging and welcoming one another when in walked a queen.  It was Holly.  Everyone was surprised.  The crowd hushed and we all bowed.  She was dressed in a red gown and looked like royalty.  I was overcome with emotion.

A large lined formed as those in the room wished to speak to Holly.  Many took photos with her and hugged, others were crying with joy; unable to speak.  Finally, when it was my turn and I was speechless for a moment.  After hugging Holly, I told her she was so beautiful.  Then I said “I can’t believe you are really here.  I think of you every day.  How are you?”

She took my hand in hers and looked into my eyes.  In a beautiful voice she said “Most gracious.”
I held her stare for a moment, wondering what she meant, then was moved along as others in line were waiting to see her.  I watched intently as this queen-like woman loved and held dear all those in the room. 
Then, I woke up.
“Most gracious,” she had said.
That word ran through my mind.  It was a bit haunting.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word gracious used in that frame of reference.
I quickly ran to my bible dictionary.  The word gracious was defined as the following:  


see also Kind; Mercy.
·                                 I will hear; for I am gracious, Ex. 22:27
·                                 will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, Ex. 33:19
·                                 face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee, Num. 6:25
·                                 Lord is gracious, and full of compassion, Ps. 145:8
·                                 gracious woman retaineth honour, Prov. 11:16
·                                 words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, Eccl. 10:12
·                                 turn unto the Lord … he is gracious, Joel 2:13
·                                 God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant, Amos 5:15
·                                 bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words, Luke 4:22
·                                 tasted that the Lord is gracious, 1 Pet. 2:3
·                                 gracious unto those who fear me, D&C 76:5

a obsolete : godlyb archaic : pleasing, acceptable
a : marked by kindness and courtesy <a gracious host>b : gracefulc : marked by tact and delicacy : urbaned : characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding<gracious living>
3: merciful, compassionate —used conventionally of royalty and high nobility

Gracious -what a perfect word to express her sweet life, her love of the Lord and her vision of heaven.  I think of Holly in my dream; her queen-like mannerisms and her royal red dress.  How beautifully she loved all those waiting to see her and was most gracious in her expressions.  I’m grateful for a Father in Heaven for creating beautiful words that allow us to express ourselves, even in dreams.  Each word is uniquely beautiful.  My friend Holly told me she was “most gracious.”  What a beautiful way to think of her, for truly she is.