Sep 27, 2014

Writing Retreats

by Cindy R. Williams

Much has been said about attending writing retreats. I am adding my two cents. Last Thursday about twenty ANWA members attended the ANWA Writers Workshop/Retreat hosted by Angela Morrison and Janette Rallison. It filled my well and gave me the writing spark I needed.

How magnificent is it that we have such gifted writers all around us in this wonderful organization. Everyone is so willing to share their knowledge, much of which was earned by struggle and hard work. THANK YOU TO all of the wonderful ladies in ANWA who had any part in this event. There is a special place in a snugly overstuffed chair in Heavenly Libraries for each of you!

Sep 26, 2014

Rainy days and Tuesdays

By Beckie Carlson

My daughter got married. I know….how am I old enough for that to have happened? And it wasn’t like she was an underage mail order bride or anything. She is the ripe old age of 22. She married a terrific guy that laughs at my jokes and doesn’t get upset when she throws fits.
The day of the wedding was full of miracles. My hair looked amazing, everyone made it safely to the event and the weather was perfect. It had rained most of the day before. This might not be a big deal in Florida or other non-desert parts of the world, but here in Arizona it was a freaky day. When I say it rained, I don’t mean it just rained…it literally poured buckets from the sky. Torrents of rain came down. We had more rain on that Monday than we normally have in an entire year here. The rain washed the world and made everything sparkly and beautiful for the wedding. It wasn’t even very humid. Everything went off without much of a hitch.
The reception was Tuesday night. I drove over to the reception hall, nervously glancing at the dark clouds circling above. Surely it wouldn’t rain again….not after we had gotten more than our fair share the day before. It wasn’t in the rule book. Someone would oppose. It rained. It was that beautiful dark, cloudy, mysterious, everything-looks-better-in-this-kind-of-light afternoon but, I couldn’t enjoy it. My hair still looked good but would cease if it rained. There was a lot of stuff to carry in and set up, including a photo booth and cake. Both of these items rebelled against rain. I got a bit worried.
I sat in my car, wishing the rain would stop, and knowing it was in reality getting darker and wetter. I did the only thing I could think of. I put my hands together and said a prayer. “Please Heavenly Father, just one more blessing today. Please make the rain stop.” I’d said a lot of prayers over the last few weeks and I felt a bit guilty asking for one more. Was it really important for the rain to stop? In the grand scheme of things?
Heavenly Father cares about what is important to us. He knows us and wants to help us. He knows what we need, but wants us to ask for it. I asked. The rain stopped. It literally, slowed, and stopped. The clouds parted, held back, and obeyed. We were able to move everything in, including my hair, the cake and the photo booth. People came, instead of hiding at home from the rain. We had pictures outside in the amazing light. All in all, it was a perfect evening.
Heavenly Father knows. He cares. He answers prayers. Was having the rain stop important in the big picture? Maybe not, but to us….it was a big deal. Not because we got to take pictures or stay dry or have a huge amount of people show up. It was a huge deal because we were given a witness, once again, of how much He loves us.
Prayers are answered.
Photo credit:

Sep 24, 2014

Meeting My Daughter Part II

by Andilyn Jenkins

“If you’re paying for a first class ticket, would you ride in coach until it’s time to land?”

I heard this beautiful summation in Delivery with my second child. I had learned from my first experience that if I planned on getting an epidural, I may as well enjoy it through the entire laboring process, particularly because my babies come fast.

By the time the anesthesia kicked in at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho, the windows were dark and the hallways quiet. It was probably well after midnight. Other than being unable to move, I was in heaven. For the first time in nine months, my back wasn’t shooting pains through my sacrum, and I felt calm. For me, anesthesia was like the Popsicle your mom gives you after working hard in the yard all morning. I put in my nine months, and I would be putting in many more in recovery. But at that moment, I was comfortable. And I was going to enjoy every minute of it.

The nurse came in and checked my vitals and the baby’s. Then she suggested we try and get some sleep. Ha! I couldn’t believe I was in the throes of labor and my nurse just told me to take a nap. This anesthesia thing defied all my perceptions of how labor was supposed to go.

Aaron made up the chair-bed, and I closed my eyes to sleep, which proved difficult seeing as I both couldn’t move and was too afraid to mess up all my cords. Soon, Aaron was snoozing. But I lay there with closed eyes, feeling the waves of contractions squeeze my abdomen and release. The pressure and release felt like a ticking clock, counting the seconds until my little girl arrived.

All the comforts of home . . .

I’m not sure if I woke from the pressure or because I never truly fell asleep, but a little less than an hour later, I felt like my pelvic bones were being pushed apart.

“Aaron, honey, wake up.”

“What’s wrong?” Aaron roused.

“No nothing. I just can’t sleep. I feel all this pressure. It’s like the baby is pushing her way out,” I explained, knowing that would sound ridiculous because she was in my uterus. Not between my legs. But that’s what it felt like; I couldn’t explain it any other way.

Aaron laughed. “Well, honey, she probably is.”

“What?” I replied, both confused and in awe.

The nurse must have heard us talking because she took the chance to come in and do checks again. I filled her in.

“Well I was going to wait an hour after we started pit., but now I’m curious. Let’s check you out,” my nurse replied, putting on gloves. “Oh—well, you’re at a nine, and hey, your little girl has some hair!”

“You can feel her head?!” How was that possible? Her fingers were shorter than mine.

“Oh yeah,” she replied, smiling. “I wasn’t expecting you to bear down quite so soon, especially since this is first,” she explained while readying the room for delivery, “but often when women get epidurals, it can actually speed up the labor because your body relaxes and the contractions can do their work without your pain getting in the way.”

Our nurse said goodbye and left, and in came the next shift’s nurse. She finished prepping the room then collected towels and mats and brought them to a table on wheels next to my bed with various buckets and tools. Then she drained my bladder into a plastic bag, while I felt like a mix between Lloyd on Dumb and Dumber and a sponge when she pushed on my lower abdomen to squeeze everything out. Oh man, labor was weird.

“Alright, you’re contractions are really starting to pick up. I think it’s time we get Dr. Watson in here,” the nurse announced, and she walked out the door. And for the first time I felt like I needed to push.

The nurse came back in and explained the process. “I will stand on your right side. Dad, you stand on her left side. We’ll hold your legs in a crouching position like this, and you can push your feet against our hands. Now, I’m watching your contractions here. When I say go, you take in a big breath, and hold that breath while I count to ten and you push. You only push while I’m counting. Got that?”

“Sounds good to me,” I said while my abdomen fluttered with a feeling I recognized as stage fright.

“Okay, here it comes. Go.”

Breathe. Push. Push. Push. Push.

“ . . . 7, 8, 9, 10. Nice job. Relax. Make sure you relax between pushes.”

We went through three more contractions before my frustration voiced. “Can I get a mirror?” I thought that question would be too embarrassing to ask, but the fact was I couldn’t feel my muscles because of that glorious anesthesia. And I had no idea if I was doing anything but sit-ups.

“Of course you can!” She whipped one out of the closet in seconds. Then she came to the root of my problem and suggested we turn off the anesthesia so I would feel more in control. I agreed.

After a few more contractions, Dr. Watson joined us. And finally, the mirror and the lack of anesthesia combined, and I finally felt progression. And pain.

Breathe. Push. Push. Push. Scream. No screaming—hold my breath. Push. Push.

“Great. Great. Here comes another one. Go. 1, 2, 3 . . .”

“You’re amazing, Andi. You’re doing great. I see her head. Push. Push,” I heard Aaron’s voice over the counting. Her head? I had been pushing so hard, my eyes were closed.

Breathe. I felt like I was doing sprints, not able to catch my breath before the next heat.

“Okay, this is the money push. You ready to give it all you got? Breathe, and go. 1, 2, 3 . . .”

Push! Push! Plop. Ah!

“That’s a head! Okay, last one! Breathe, and go! 1, 2, 3,  . . .”

“She’s almost here, Andi,” Aaron encouraged with misted eyes. “You’ve got this.”

“9, 10, push, push! Done.”

Dr. Watson plopped an Indian-skinned baby with Asian eyes, blue lips, and thin, brown hair on my chest and handed Aaron a pair of scissors. “Dad, would you like to do the honors?”

Aaron snipped once, but his hands shook over the thick cord and he had to snip again. Then Aaron came in close over my shoulder and kissed my forehead. “You’re amazing,” he whispered as we cradled her close for a few more seconds before they stole her away for her bath and APGAR tests. Aaron followed while Dr. Watson tended to me.

“Dear,” Aaron called from across the room, “she looks like an Evelyn.”

“Okay,” I replied. That’s all I needed to hear.

After her bath, we attempted breast feeding, and then called in two anxious grandmas and my older sister. We introduced Evelyn Toni Jenkins, born at 4:57 a.m. on September 10, 2010, 7 pounds 7 ounces, 19.25 inches long. Then Aaron handed her to my mom, Evelyn’s namesake, Toni, whose birthday was three days away. In my family, Evelyn was grandchild number two.

Then Teressa, Aaron’s mom, had her turn holding her sixth grandchild. And after, Kristin took the last turn, cradling Evelyn on top of her own about-to-pop baby bump. Each woman swayed back and forth while peering in on little Evelyn’s long fingers and alert, navy-blue eyes. Her button nose was mine. The curl in her wet hair came from Aaron.

Around 6:00 a.m., the nurses sent our family home, and I sat in a wheelchair holding Evelyn to our recovery room, where all three of us promptly fell asleep after a long day’s work.

Boy, was I tired. The adrenaline wore off by this point.

It has now been four years since that moment, and Evelyn has filled our lives with laughter, play, frustration, prayers, snuggles, and joy. She adores her new baby brother and takes on the responsibilities of both mother and friend regarding him. Her favorite color is pink, and she rarely wears pants and/or tennis shoes, much preferring skirts, dresses, sparkly sandals, or her latest silver high heels. This year, she requested a fairy, butterfly, princess, ballerina birthday. She loves reading books, doctoring her stuffed animals, and putting on “performances” for Aaron and me—the captivated audience. Her emotions are both sensitive and perceptive, which makes her an excellent big sister and a loyal friend. She hates being alone—her favorite bed-time catchphrase being, “Wait, Mommy, let’s still chat.” I love this girl. Happy birthday, baby.

Sep 23, 2014

Tag You're It

by Terri Wagner

I was recently tagged on Facebook to list things I am grateful for. Since I don't really participate in FB tags, I thought I would do it here and direct everyone there here LOL.

I'm going to place these in four categories because frankly my spiritual thanks would take up the entire Internet...seriously. So spiritually I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who is simply always there. Less often than I would have liked, God has not waved a wand and made things better or right or just or wonderful. But He has walked every path with me, including and maybe especially, the ones I shouldn't have taken.

Emotionally, I am grateful for a sturdy healthy outlook that keeps me laughing at things that first made me cry. I cannot explain what a terrific coping mechanism a "merry heart" is. I can laugh even while I am crying. It never fails to help.

Physically I have learned to be grateful for a body that keeps me alive and well. I look back at the dreadful way I always took my body for granted. I have not been blessed with a terrific looking body and so ignored it for years. Now I can see just how healthy it is and how important that is.

Intellectually, I am grateful for a sharp and quick mind, that has repeatedly gotten me into trouble. Why am I grateful for that? I learned painfully how to deal with people different from me. Smarter and less educated. I say that because I don't really believe anyone is dumb. We are all smart at different things. I know that to be true. And while my intelligence shades toward the academic side of life, I'm just as amazed at people who have more common sense than I will ever grasp.

So you are all officially ANWA tagged to be grateful for life itself. I mean apparently we fought a war to have it this way, not really sportsmen like of us to fuss about it now.

Sep 22, 2014

The Magic of the Written Word

By Claire Enos

Today, because I didn't have time to write something new, I thought I'd post something I wrote a little over a year ago on my personal blog. I hope you enjoy!

Some say Chick Flicks are overrated, and that they are "the supidest things ever." They hold no value in the world, and are nothing but the romantic imaginings of singles who have nothing better to do but to live through the lives of characters in movies. Then of course, there are the girls who enjoy a good chick flick for exactly that same reason. They want to get away from their relationships which are going no where, or from their non-existent relationships. Chick Flicks help them feel better about themselves. 
I don't agree with either side. They aren't stupid movies, and they aren't just there to escape reality. Because honestly? There's no way you're ever going to forget you're single or your relationship is going nowhere if you are sitting around watching romantic movies all the time. That's like trying to ignore a box of cereal by eating it. 
So then, what's the value of a chick flick? What's the use? Does it have a purpose? 
Well, obviously it serves a purpose, but it's not what most people think it is. I just finished watching 27 Dresses. Did it help me forget that I am single? No, it definitely reminded me: painfully. But it also reminded me of something more important than the fact that I am still single. It reminded me that love is worth it. That love isn't exactly a myth (though sometimes I like to believe it is), and that one day (if I'm really lucky) I'll find a love like the one I deserve. Not because I am me, because I personally don't deserve it, but because I am a daughter of God. I am meant to be like my Heavenly Mother up in heaven. I was born to be a Queen and God alongside a Son of God, who is meant to be a King and God alongside me. We are meant to be partners. Help Mates. Equals. 
When I watch Chick Flicks, they remind me that there is someone out there. I will most likely run into him by accident. I won't know what the future holds, because that isn't in the cards. My life will get better. Life always gets tough right before the grand finale. 
Books and movies are important because they remind us of this. Of the struggles of life. They keep pushing us through. So, if I seem lost in my own little world: it's not because I'm trying to escape reality (because that is impossible). It is because I am coping the best way I know how. Through the written word, and dramatic interpretation of life itself. 
Perhaps that's why I want to write for a living. So that I can provide that little bit of a push that someone else in my shoes needs. That dose of reality administered not through life, but through the pages of a book or the scenes in a movie. 
That is my role in this world. And I hope to one day rock at it.


You can find the original post here, including a song I posted at the end that I felt like sharing.

Sep 20, 2014

Sally and Her Hip Replacement Episode 5

The phone rings, and I pick up.
Sally's voice is on the line. "I's quittin' the church," she says to me without even saying 'hello.'
We talk. She tells me it's too much pressure for her to stop smoking while she's in pain from her hip surgery. 

She talks for a few minutes and decides not to quit the church. (She really does have a testimony.)
She says that as soon as she has pain pills, she'll be able to stop smoking. We negotiate, and she promises to use only one or two cigarettes a day. We hang up. (I can't believe I just had that conversation - negotiate to continue smoking?)

She goes to the doctor and gets more medication, but the pain pills really don't  help.
Days go by. The doctor says that her physical therapist didn't give her the exercises he should have. She needs more physical therapy.  She's sure she can quit smoking as soon as she has good physical therapy.

More days go by. Her pain doesn't subside even with more therapy.

The city changes the bus route. Now she can't get to therapy or the doctor. Sally is sure she has to buy a car. That will solve all her problems. Then she can quit smoking.

She buys the car, but still can't quit. Her pain is bad. It's been three months since surgery. Something is wrong. She goes back to the doctor.

He says she has infection in her new hip. He gives her mega doses of antibiotics that will hopefully clear things up.

I don't think he told her that if it doesn't get better, she might have to have more surgery to clean out the infection. (I didn't mention it. She's got enough troubles as it is.)

We have our last hugs good-bye. She's feeling a little better. Maybe the antibiotics are helping. We pray for that to be the case.
She's excited to drive her car to church. Still one or two cigarettes a day.

Story to be continued . . . with the next set of missionaries. (The new senior sister missionary is a retired nurse. Blessings come in many ways.)

Have we helped Sally in any way? Maybe. We've loved her and nursed her back to health after her surgery - done her laundry, taken her to pay her bills, and been her friend.

The only thing we know for sure is that because of Sally our capacity to love has been increased. Our view of life has been enlarged. We will always chuckle when we think of her asking us to become  drug runners! What fun we had together. We will always love Sally. She has blessed our lives forever.

That's how we would sum up my entire mission experience. We don't know how much good we did, but we know for sure that we are better for having had this experience. And we had a lot of fun along the way.

Sep 19, 2014

Just Because Clean eBook Sale: $0.99 cents or less!

by Marsha Ward

Hello! It seems my mind is running in book promotion mode lately, so I thought I'd share one I'm currently involved in with you all. This is a Clean eBooks Author Promotion! I've banded together with several other authors to bring you a bunch of cool books for hardly any cost. One book is FREE!

This promotion runs from now until Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 11:59pm MST. Enjoy these fantastic, clean eBooks! :-) I know my credit card is going to take a hit this week.

Discern, Katon University Book One

Andrea Pearson
Kindle, Nook, Smashwords

Nicole Williams is an Arete—a fourth child with magical abilities—yet no matter how hard she tries, she can’t Channel her power. In fact, she seems to be the only student at Katon University who fails at magic.

That doesn’t stop magic from finding her. It starts with magical currents and possessed books before moving quickly to cursed spiders and freaky shadows. Nicole turns to her best friend for help, along with fellow student Austin Young, who is considered by all a magical rarity. He also happens to be the hottest guy on campus and just might be interested in her.

Nicole soon finds herself competing to be included on a university-led expedition to Arches National Park. She is determined to show everyone, but mostly herself, that she does belong. Yet, to qualify for the trip, she must produce at least a speck of Wind magic, and that appears to be impossible.

As the competition progresses, Nicole wonders if she’s making the right choice—especially when she learns that the strange fossils they’ll be studying in Arches might not be as dead as everyone thinks.

Prejudice Meets Pride

Rachael Anderson
Kindle, Nook

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn't afraid to show him that he doesn't. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

Your Eyes Don't Lie

Rachel Branton
Kindle, Nook

Sometimes Surviving Isn't Enough . . .

Years of living on the street and fending for herself have made Makay Greyson tough and resourceful, if a bit disillusioned. She's come a long way from sleeping in parks and scavenging for food. Her entire focus is on providing a better life for her young brother, one without fear of loss and neglect.

That certainly doesn't leave time for Harrison Matthews, who from their first meeting sends fire through her veins and upsets all her carefully laid plans.

Makay has done things she isn't proud of to survive, and those choices now threaten the small amount of security she's created-and any chance of a future with Harrison. They've been raised in two very different worlds, and the secrets they both hide can only lead to disaster. There is only one chance to make it right, and one misstep could be fatal.

Your Eyes Don't Lie is a story about facing fears, sacrificing for those you love, and about a girl who thinks she isn't worth loving and a guy who knows she is.

A Fantasy Christmas

Cindy C Bennett, Stephanie Fowers, and Sherry Gammon
Kindle, Nook, Smashwords

Three mystical tales that make for fun reading as the weather turns cold. Enjoy the romance, the magic, and the joy of Christmas and fantasy while you snuggle up in a blanket and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Halfling by Cindy C Bennett
Banished from the South Pole, Kara tries to carve out a new life among the elves of the North. It’s not easy with a secret to protect—a secret she's cursed with by the unusual circumstances of her heritage: half-elf, half-fairy. In the North, she’s assigned to work with Seb on a special project. He's the most gorgeous elf she’s ever seen - and the orneriest.

As if being banished wasn’t punishment enough.

Seb introduces her to Trystin, a fairy from the nearby fairy forest. Trystin discerns her secret right away and promises to teach her how to use the powers given to her by the very thing she’s fighting to keep hidden.

Aphrodite by Stephanie Fowers
Nothing is simple for Aphrodite’s daughter, especially love.

Scorned by society in regency England, Affry longs for romance. Upon encountering a dashing nobleman at her aunty's Christmas' ball, Affry gets caught in a lovely intrigue with disastrous results. Worse, she wins the interest of the gods. Now the furies of the underworld and Hades himself are after her.

When all is fair in war, Affry must use love as her weapon—but only for the one who’s stolen her heart.

Loving Marigold by Sherry Gammon
Young Marigold Yarrow has a secret. She’s also in love with Jack Mahoney. In the middle of her ninth grade year, Jack's family up and moves to Port Fare, New York, leaving the small town of Sugar Maple, West Virginia - and Marigold - far behind.

Nine years later Jack and Marigold meet again. They join forces to weed out the shady Abbott boys. The unscrupulous brothers are illegally selling moonshine near her home on Sugar Maple Ridge. And they'll do anything to get Marigold to leave the ridge. Anything.

But this time it could be magic that tears Jack and Marigold apart.

Ride to Raton

Marsha Ward
Kindle, Nook, Smashwords

Thinking he's been treated unjustly by his father, James Owen leaves the family homestead to make a new life for himself.

The turbulent world of post-Civil War Colorado Territory is fraught with danger and prejudice that increase his bitter loneliness as personal setbacks threaten to break him. Then James's journey brings him into contact with another wayfarer, beautiful young Amparo Garc├ęs, who has come from Santa Fe to Colorado to marry a stranger. Through a twist of fate, their futures are changed forever when their lives are merged in a marriage of convenience. James and Amparo undertake a hazardous horseback trek over Raton Pass to Santa Fe, battling their personal demons, a challenging language barrier, and winter's raging storms.

"Ride to Raton is a pure western, complete with bad guys and broken hearts and even a dog. The sequel to The Man from Shenandoah features James Owen, the younger brother. Marsha Ward writes a fantastic romance against a vivid southwestern backdrop. James begins this book as a hurt young man, but by the end of the book, I really could see him grow up and become a man. Made tougher by circumstances he has no control over, James realizes that the love he thought he had lost was nothing compared to what Amparo shows him. Amparo is a young Hispanic lady, forced to leave her home in Santa Fe to marry a stranger in Colorado. She bravely faces her uncertain future, relying on her faith to get her through. She is sweet, loving and she provides a great contrast to James's rough exterior. With an ending that surprised even me, Ride to Raton is not your usual romance. However, I do recommend it for western lovers—even the cover is wonderful! Marsha Ward once again shows us her gift for old fashioned storytelling!" ~Jen Hill, Roundtable Reviews

The Husband Maker

Karey White
Kindle, Nook

Charlotte’s a girl with nicknames. She may not love being called Charles or Chuck, but the hardest nickname to take is the one she was given in college, the one that’s followed her now for too many years. They call her “the husband maker” and sadly, it fits. Every guy she's dated since high school has gone on to marry the next girl they date. Not two or three girls down the road. The very next one.

Is she doing something wrong or is she just cursed?

When Kyle Aldsworth enters the picture and sweeps her off her feet, Charlotte begins to hope that maybe she's not destined to be single forever. A senator’s son with political aspirations of his own, Kyle's wealthy, handsome, and in need of a wife. Will Charlotte be disappointed yet again, or will she finally be able to make a husband for herself?

Life, Love, and The Pursuit of Free Throws

Janette Rallison

Josie loves hottie Ethan Lancaster, the captain of the basketball team, but she never can do or say the right thing in front of him. So how can it be fair that Ethan is only interested in her best friend, Cami, when Cami isn’t even trying for his affection? Or is he?

Cami dreams of winning her basketball team’s coveted MVP award, and earning the chance to take the court during a special halftime demonstration with WNBA star Rebecca Lobo, but her best friend, Josie, is a better player. So how can it be fair that Josie is a shoo-in for the honor if she is barely interested in basketball in the first place and isn’t even trying to be the best? Or is she?

Told from two points of view, this novel of freshman life, love, and the pursuit of free throws displays the same delightful humor as Janette Rallison's other comedies.

My Forever: A Triple Treat Romance Box Set

Annette Lyon, Karey White, Cami Checketts
Kindle, Nook

A Portrait for Toni  by Amazon bestselling author Annette Lyon
Toni has no idea what she’d do without her best friend, Carter. Who else would she be able to vent to about her parents, her job at the dance studio, or her latest relationship woes? That is, until he starts questioning Toni, saying he thinks she has an eating disorder. Then she starts dating Clint, and somehow that puts a deeper wedge between her and Carter. When she’s hospitalized after an on-stage collapse, and Carter stupidly starts in with advice about food and weight, she sends him away. One night after a performance, Toni tries to mend the hurt between them. Instead of finding Carter, she stumbles onto proof that he has feelings for her that go way beyond those of a friend. Toni is left with the very real prospect of losing Carter forever, unless somehow she can return his feelings—but that’s impossible. Isn’t it?

My Own Mr. Darcy by USA Today bestselling author Karey White 
After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. During the six intervening years, she finds all of her suitors lacking—they just aren’t Mr. Darcy enough. Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. She starts dating Chad, but she believes her dream comes true in the form of wealthy bookstore owner Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.

The Broken Path by Amazon bestselling author Cami Checketts 
Injured in a debilitating accident at age six, Ethan Searle believes women eye him with a mixture of pity and disdain. He’s tried love before. He won’t again. He meets his match in a precocious two-year old who loves him despite his disability, even while her mother seems bothered by everything about Ethan. Autumn Reader escaped her abusive marriage with her beautiful daughter and a stack of fear. She can’t make the mistake of trusting a man again. Autumn’s daughter becomes enraptured by Ethan. Despite Autumn’s best intentions, she finds herself following her daughter’s example. When her ex-husband reappears, threatening everyone she loves if she won’t submit to his demands, Autumn has to learn to trust or lose her chance at real love.

Still Time

Maria Hoagland
Kindle, Nook, Smashwords

Thrust into the chaos of her mother-in-law’s hoarding and forgetfulness, LDS church member Alyssa Johnston wishes she could retreat to a simpler time when her kids were small and almost anything could be fixed with a hug. But reassurance and a quick distraction no longer erase the pain of a missionary son who is struggling, a young teen who is bullied, or a daughter who is distant. As Aly’s own life and relationship with her husband plunge out of control, she wonders if her faith will be enough to keep her family—or herself—from falling apart.

Still Time is a deeply moving story about a woman’s faithful journey into the next phase of her life. You will laugh with Aly, feel her sorrow, and see yourself in Maria Hoagland’s realistic, heartfelt portrayal of a woman’s struggle to keep her family safe and hold back time as long as she can.

Sep 18, 2014

Discovering Purpose

by Kari Diane Pike

I had never been to Texas before. As I sat next to my husband and listened to the prelude music I looked around at the Carrollton ward members and watched mothers and fathers settle young children, comfort babies, and greet each other with hugs and pounding pats on the back. A few sat quietly, arms folded and heads bowed. The organist transitioned into another melody that seemed to open a window to heaven. The warmth of the Spirit flowed over me and I turned to watch the man who shared such a wonderful gift. He was an older gentleman, years of hard work and experience were etched in the lines of his face. A hymn book stood open in front of him, but he wasn't looking at it. He wasn't even playing a hymn. Measure after measure of harmonic beauty flowed from his instrument. And he smiled. I wondered how many songs he has memorized and how he came to learn to play the organ. What was his story? What other gifts did he possess? I could see and feel the Savior's countenance shining upon this man.

 I thought more about gifts. Everyone is given at least one. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a part - a reason and a purpose in this life. I doubt that the organist will ever know that he played a part in my life and how his gift lifted me that Sunday morning. How often am I unaware of how the things I say and do - or write - affect others; for good or bad?

During my trip to Texas, I reconnected with a sweet couple who lived in Phoenix many years ago. I met Taryn and Colby when they were still young single adults and I have fond memories of watching their courtship and the beginnings of their now large family. We had fun remembering how my then five-year-old daughter had a terrible crush on Colby and cried when he got married. Then Taryn said,

"I need to tell you that your family name comes up frequently at our house. You had such an influence on us as a young couple and now we've made friends with a new young couple in our ward. We've taken them under our wing and we tell them that they will have the same opportunity to serve fifteen or so years down the road - like you did for us."

I had no idea. I did know I loved this couple. And there lies the key. Taryn reminded me that the greatest gift I can develop is the ability to love - to focus outwardly - and to serve others-unconditionally.

So, how do I apply this to my writing? The concept of love gives me a purpose for my writing. To help me remember, I wrote that purpose on an index card and taped it to the mirror above my computer screen.
Write to help others find joy in the midst of their challenges and remind them who they are - a child of a Heavenly Father who loves them.

Sep 17, 2014

Putting Out Fires

by H. Linn Murphy

I've been running around putting out fires all day.

I'm the Relief Society President for our ward. We're having a Christmas in September night on Thursday. For this night we've been planning since May. I decided, as my contribution, that I wanted to offer a kiln-fired bisque statuette of the Christus. We've done these before a long time ago and they went off quite well.

So I went around looking for somewhere to get these. Finally someone sent me a link to a woman's site in Wisconsin. Not only did she have what we wanted, but they were a great price. So I tried to navigate her site to buy them. Nothing on the site worked. So I called her on her phone.

We had a perfectly lovely conversation during which she informed me that for only $8 more per statue, she could double fire the statues, making it so I wouldn't have to hunt down a kiln or glaze (much more expensive than a little bottle of acrylic). To that end she sold me two bottles of fixative and 10 statues to be shipped on or by the 18th of September.

Then began a headache of massive proportions. Luckily everything but the conversation (the unlucky part) was well documented. I made two payments and she made several excuses. She was sending them separately since the humidity where she is made it so she couldn't do more than one a day. Then she asked me if I really still wanted 10. I of course said yes, and I wanted them all for my class on the 18th. She was already indicating she'd forgotten bits of our conversation. I think she's about 15 1/2 crayons short of a 16 crayon pack.

The box came. The packaging was subpar and one statue was broken and a second of the six was cracked. That was bad enough. But then I looked at them and found that they weren't even double fired. They were bisque. So that means now I either have to pitch a honkin' fit and make her send me double fired statues at her cost, or try and find a kiln and the expensive glaze at my cost.

Yeah. I'm livid. This is supposed to happen tomorrow.

So why, you ask, does this have to do anything with writing? Well I'll tell you. We write under contract when we use a publisher. A contract is binding on both sides. You will do certain things and they will do certain things. And there is a set of circumstances for if either breaches that contract (it's kind of like a covenant with God).

When you deal with contracts, you need to make certain you document every single thing, even (and maybe especially) if you are good friends or relatives with the other person. That is protection for both of you. Don't leave ANYTHING to a verbal agreement if at all possible. Verbal agreements are way too easy to wiggle out of.

When you get your contract and finish dancing wildly and calling all your friends and family to celebrate, when you get home from dinner out, take your contract to a lawyer and have them check it over for evilnesses and explain the legalese. That's what they're there for.

Uphold your part of the contract religiously. And don't try to weasel out of things you promised to do.

You'll have to decide between you, the Lord, and your lawyer and whoever else you want to consult, what you should do in case the other party breaches your contract. It might even be added to said contract.

And now I've got to go pick up my son before the hurricane happens.

Sep 13, 2014

Blogging When Stressed

by Cindy R. Williams

How does one blog when falling apart?

Smile and tell every one you love them is my answer!

Sep 10, 2014

Meeting My Daughter

by Andilyn Jenkins

Today I celebrate my oldest child's fourth birthday. And because I was up late decorating the house and busy this morning decorating pink princess cupcakes, I completely spaced the blog. So I thought it would be fitting to give you a work-in-progress piece I'm calling "Meeting My Daughter," a little flashback to four years before today. Look for my next post in two weeks for the end of the story. But here's a picture for a spoiler.

Meeting My Daughter (part I)

“Are you going to get an epidural?” I got this question more often than “Is it a boy or girl?” Of course I was going to get an epidural. I wanted to love my baby when she arrived, and I figured an epidural would help me see past the blinding pain. Plus, when your father-in-law is a nurse of anesthesia, you get laughed at when you consider the possibility of going natural.

Getting an epidural was plan A. But being induced was plan Z. I had heard enough horror stories about induced labors, and I didn’t want to take my chances.

A week before my due date, I had my final check-up. My husband sat on the chair in the corner of the room while Dr. Watson examined my progress. “You’d never know this was your first one. You’re body’s ready to have this baby. You’re already dilated to a three, and you’re 97 percent effaced.” Unfortunately, this was my first, so nothing he just said made any sense to me. Apparently, before you can deliver, you must be dilated to a ten, 100 percent effaced. Dr. Watson continued, “I’d be surprised if you didn’t meet your little peanut here in the next day or two. Come back to see me on Thursday if I don’t meet you in Delivery before then.”

A day or two? Was I ready for that? I was counting on having another week to prepare. But I could meet my . . . daughter? Tomorrow? I’ll admit, the thought was intimidating. But I wanted so much to be rid of the aching pain in my lower back. I wanted to sleep. Well. I was so tired, but I could never get comfortable. My hands and feet looked like stuffed sausages, and my whole body felt that if forced to stretch any further, I really would pop. A day or two? I was ready.

Thursday came, and I still hadn’t felt one single contraction. I went in to see Dr. Watson, once again with my husband. Dr. Watson examined me again and told me there had been little progress. He was convinced I’d deliver that weekend on my own, and then delivered the bad news.

“I’m going out of town this weekend. And your blood pressure is reaching an uncomfortable high. So you’ve got a couple of options. One, we could break your water, which will probably naturally stimulate your contractions. If it doesn’t we give you some Petocin and you’d be holding this baby tonight. Two, you wait for your body to just do things on its own and Dr. Prince will deliver your baby. He’s excellent. He’s my colleague, and I trust him completely.”

I hadn’t seen any other doctor my whole pregnancy. Dr. Watson felt as much of a part of this as my husband and me. He did the ultrasound that told us we were having a girl. He measured her little head and listened to her heart beat and felt her roll her knees across my tummy. I wasn’t ready, this late in the game, to trust someone new. And I had gotten my hopes up for “one or two days.” We were going on three.

I looked at Aaron. Plan Z? “Let’s do it. Let’s induce.”

“Excellent. I’ll call over to Madison and see when they can get you in.” Dr. Watson left.

Aaron and I looked at each other. No more guess work. We really would be holding little Evelyn or Lillian tonight. We still hadn’t decided on a name. I had butterflies in my tummy. Crowded.
Dr. Watson entered the room and told us to be at Madison Hospital at eight o’clock. There, he’d break my water and get labor started. Aaron and I left the Clinic holding hands.

I tried to sleep, but the butterflies, the baby, and my body wouldn’t settle down enough to let me rest. Eight o’clock came too slowly. Before walking out the door, Aaron gave me a blessing. We grabbed our overnight bags. And the car seat—empty now. For the trip to the hospital, our baby sat with me.

I got to the hospital and Dr. Watson came in to see me. He told me I was dilated to a four now. Good progress. Then he broke my water. A plastic bucket caught most of it at the beginning, but over the next hour, fluid kept draining out of me. It was very odd. Every time I laughed, or twisted to one side, more warm fluid would leak out, saturating the towel I kept pinched between my legs. I wondered if this was what being old felt like. Not able to control the fluids leaving your own body. Bizarre.

A nurse came in to check on me. She wore pink and purple scrubs. She had blonde hair tied back in a pony tail. A mother of two. She was very pretty, and made me feel at ease. I promised myself I’d remember her name. I don’t.

She hooked me up to an I.V. and wrapped a fat rubber band around my baby bump. The rubber band had a black box attached to it which monitored my baby’s heart beat. About an hour later, an anesthetist poked me in the back with a needle as long as a number 2 yellow pencil. Between the rubber band, the black box, and the I.V.s, I felt more like a toaster oven than a human being. 

Sep 9, 2014

Learning Perspective

by Terri Wagner

I started to write something entirely different, but when I checked out The Blaze which is Glenn Beck's news website, I was intrigued by this young man's thoughts on religion. Shockingly I found myself agreeing with what he said although perhaps not for the reason he said it. Let me assure everyone here that I am not necessarily endorsing anything he says...he's a different religion from me. But I am giving a huge shoutout to the concept that as Christians living in the world, but not being of the world, we walk a very thin line when we start judging and demanding certain behaviors. And I only mean we have to be as close to the Spirit as we can to walk that line.

An example, Pastor Jim Burgen tackles the troubling issue of medical marijuana. I had a very long and involved discussion with two medical personnel about this issue. One was emphatic that marijuana be de-regulated and available for everyone. The other one just shrugged their shoulders. They asked me what I thought. Big mistake lol.

Because I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I believe that Heavenly Father has uses for all the plants that grow here on earth. Some are for man, some are for the animals, etc. I think it's foolish to assume that a certain plant has only one purpose. So I am probably on board with certain narrow allowances for medical marijuana use. But I am adamantly against any other use mostly because we already have so much out there creating unsafe and tragic situations...we just don't need one more. Neither of these individuals were LDS nor knew I was. When I voiced my trepidations about where all this might lead, the pro marijuana person exploded. I expected that. What I didn't expect was the other person quietly telling me that the father of the pro marijuana person had had a particularly nasty and life ending cancer, and that marijuana was one of the few things that eased his pain toward the end of his life. Changed my understanding completely.

I think, if I'm reading Pastor Burgen right, that he has had experiences situations where his perspective was changed.

Burgen also jumped into the transgendered/homosexual issue. I think what he is saying is you should not deny these individuals the opportunity to come to church. Does anyone disagree with that? In theory probably not, in practice probably so.

A sad example at my very small branch. A young woman new to the church wore what might be considered inappropriate clothing. As a member of the Relief Society presidency, I had several older women approach me about the situation and demand I do something about it. Not one offered to buy or give her appropriate clothing. Not one asked about her circumstances and could they help? Not one!!! I was appalled at them, not her. In point of fact, I knew her situation, and that steps were being taken to assist her. Unfortunately, she left shortly thereafter. I hope she found a kinder reception at another church, because she was not getting it with us. So in that respect, I find myself in tune with Pastor Burgen. At the same time, I have to weigh in the fact that as the RS representative had I given those "busybody" sisters an opportunity to help, they just might have. So who's to blame for what happened?! Frankly none of us behaved well, but I learned a powerful lesson about being loving to everyone in any situation. And that listening to the Spirit late is indeed sometimes too late. I hope I don't make that mistake again.

It is hard to balance what the Lord expects of us with the direction the world takes. And even harder to walk that very thin line of love the person, but don't endorse the sin. I suspect Pastor Burgen has some ways to go before he finds that balance. He has time, he is young. Me, not so much.

Go check it out for yourself and tell me what you think. I'm Done with Stupid Rules.