Aug 30, 2015

If You Could Have Any Job What Would It Be?

Note:  Sorry this is late. It was a crazy week and today was the first spare moment I had to sit down and write. Hope you enjoy! ~Susan 

I have recently re-entered the workforce after nearly twenty-one years as a stay-at-home mom. The experience has been surreal, to say the least. I've traded the drama of temper tantrums and poopy diapers for co-worker drama and mile-long to-do lists.

I'm interning – trying to cram 300 hours of work into a six-week time frame. If you do the math, you realize I'm undertaking a mountain of work. Lucky for me, the job of stay-at-home mom is more of a twenty-hour per day job, so I'm surviving just fine.

At my first staff meeting as an intern, the boss asked us, “If you could have any job, what would it be?” Surprisingly, of the 15 employees present, only one person said they were doing their dream job. I mentioned something like S.W.A.T., which elicited many horrified, or shocked stares and several comments on how I'll probably shoot someone. I was never good at answering unexpected questions.

Long after the meeting ended, I mulled that question over. What was my dream job? Motherhood was always my first pick, and I was lucky enough to do it for more than twenty years. But circumstances changed and I was compelled to return to the work force.

Is being an addictions counselor what I really want to do for the next several decades of my life? Could I make it as a writer? How about focusing all of my energy on the mystery game business my parents left me? I could always concentrate of furthering the non-profit business I'd considered starting, or maybe turn my web design hobby into something more full time. What is my dream job? Which option will make me happiest?

After much contemplation, I realized that I am in my dream job. Addictions studies fascinates me, and the idea of helping others to become better people excites me. Everything else (aside from writing) has been a time filler as I've dabbled here and there in various activities trying to find my passion.

In the past couple of weeks, I've slowly emptied my plate, leaving only writing. It will be my way of unplugging from the world and clearing my mind after a long day of domestic and professional drama.

I'm preparing for another week of mind bogglingly long work days, but this time with a smile on my face. I'm doing what I want to do and living the life I want to live. What more can a person ask for?

Aug 29, 2015

New Motto

Write without fear!
Edit without mercy!

This was the thought from my last ANWA Chapter meeting.
My new motto.

Aug 25, 2015

Just Wanted to Share

by Terri Wagner

The time for "the talk" has come. I am basing it on this wonderful song by Carmen This Blood that I really love. The Savior is our advocate with the Father. Watching Intervention (as I have mentioned before) has given such a perspective of addiction but also of advocacy. Most of the people who prepare the family for the intervention process are ex addicts themselves. They warn the family of just what the addict will do. These people seem at times very harsh and unsympathetic. That is just wrong. They know the addict inside and out because they have walked that path. I love that though the families have a hard time with the process, the interventionist is always right.

Our Savior came to earth as a mortal being so He could experience what we do. Do not ask me to explain how He processed all of this. I only know and understand that He did. He loved, hated, despaired, went through all of the human emotions. And He did it to be an advocate for us. One definition I read from Sister Okazaki Lighten Up was an advocate stands with us in front of the judge. I always imagine the Savior doing the same thing for us. He knows, He understands on levels we may yet to understand ourselves. Much like the ones on the TV show. Those ex addicts really comprehend what is going on and stand ready to do battle for the family and ultimately the addict. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. Our Savior does the same thing for us only more perfectly, more lovingly, and always. That's what I came up with. Keep your fingers crossed I can do this!!!

Aug 22, 2015

Thoughts that stick with you

by Cassie Shiels

As writers we have ideas running in and out of our brain like a busy railway station. Some of the ideas hang out for a while, others seem to be trying to catch an express train and are fleeting. Some are frequent visitors of our railway station brain and keep coming back in a way we almost feel haunted. Others come back all the time and we can hardly wait to see them. Its these last two that I feel we usually turn into books.

The ideas that haunt us, because they will be hard to write, are different then what we usually write, or scare us to write, just don't go away. I have a story like this. I thought of it my senior year in high school. Now still almost 10 years later it still comes and visits me at my railway station of a brain. It waves, reminds me that its there, and issues the warning that it will be written and will continue visiting until it has. Then it gets on its train and goes wherever ideas go until they visit again.

I do have lots of ideas I am so happy to see, those are the books I can't wait to write, but because of life they haven't been written yet, or are in various pieces. They are exited to see me and just as impatient to be written as I am to write them. I find myself having to reassure these ideas I haven't forgotten them before they catch their train. I know they will keep coming back too.

Its these ideas that stick with you, that we need to make sure we write, even the ones that haunt us. At our ANWA writing group this month the idea that stood out to me was the idea that if we don't like the idea, it will be hard to get others to like the idea. Or if we can't get excited about or story then how do we expect others to get excited about it too?

If you are trying to figure out what idea to write first or If you are unsure about your list of story ideas, look at the ones that stick with you. The ones that just won't go away. Apparently they have a compelling reason to be written, or else they would be taking the express train out of your brain.

Aug 20, 2015

What's On My Mind?

by Kari Diane Pike

Where did summer go? Depending on where you live, some kids have been back to school for three weeks already. I am not a fan of year-round school schedules...or even modified year-round schedules. In most of Arizona (I have to qualify that because many people are surprised to learn that Arizona does have climate zones with four seasons), July and August is just too stinkin' hot to go to school. Besides, kids need time to play - and by that I mean imaginative, free play. No rules, no teams, no adults calling the shots. Kids need time to pretend and explore and create. They need the chance to experience natural consequences and how to solve problems with their peers without a grown-up stepping into the middle of things.

Wow. I got a little carried away there. While I'm not calling for free-for-all, let kids beat each other up and destroy a neighborhood kind of play, I do feel strongly about the lack of freedom children have now to develop creatively and at their own pace. And this has nothing to do with what I'm really thinking about. Or does it?

My youngest child teeters on the edge of that metaphorical nest. I've mentioned before how uncomfortable I am with this whole empty-nest thing. Six a.m. Saturday morning he will be headed north to step into the world of greater intellectual pursuits. To top it all off, our bishop let us know last night that Levi's mission papers have been sent to Salt Lake. What! I  knew it was happening, but now it's real. In a few short weeks, he will receive a call to go out and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! (I'll post a request for guesses as to where he will be called to serve at a later date)

 I catch myself watching moms of young children and wishing I could have a do-over or nine. Don't get me wrong. I love the people my children have become. I wouldn't change anything about them. What I would do is slow it down a bit. Savor the moments more. Yell less. Appreciate more. I would spend more time at the park and less time scrubbing floors. I would pray harder and worry less. I guess that's where grandmothering comes in. I do get to do those things with our grandchildren. And I adore it.

I also love spending time with our adult children. They amaze me. What I appreciate most is the way they reach out to each other. I love that they want to skype or google chat and spend time together, despite the hundreds of miles that separate them. I love that they encourage their children to get to know their cousins and develop friendships with them. Even when they disagree about something, they express their love and acceptance and respect each other.

Each family carries their share of trials and tribulations. Life is messy and no one gets out unscathed. But when you have family to share those challenges with, the burden is lighter. Someone is there to watch your back, no matter what (And since some of them will be reading this - Don't you ever forget we will always be here for you).

Every day brings me greater understanding and appreciation for my knowledge of the plan of salvation - that great plan of happiness prepared for us by Heavenly Father. Oh, what comfort there is in knowing that our family is sealed together for time and all eternity. I thought about this quite a bit last week while reading the final chapters of the Book of Mormon. Moroni 1 has just 4 short verses - but the messages between the lines could fill volumes.

Here's Moroni - all alone. All of his family and friends have been killed by the Lamanites. If anyone had a reason to be angry, offended, vengeful, or full of hate, Moroni did. Instead, Moroni chose to "write a few more things that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord." Moroni forgives his enemies and finds purpose for his life. How easy would it have been for him to just raise his hands in surrender to his enemies? All he had to do was deny Christ. But Moroni knew the truth. He knew the Savior and he could not deny Him. Moroni loved the Savior and he loved his enemies. He wanted to them to know and love the Savior, as he did - so he wrote down everything he could - having faith that someday in the future their descendants would be able to read his words and treasure them. And oh, how I treasure them.

I love how Moroni quotes his father Mormon: "It is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time." Both of these great men recognized the gift they had been given in being permitted to live and share the sweet message of the gospel.

Do I treasure my own callings - at home and in church - as the gifts that they are? As a young mom, I found myself frequently getting caught in a trap of negativity and whining and complaining. Then I would remember that if I didn't have a mountain of laundry, it would be because I didn't have clothes and people in the home to get them dirty. My sink overflowed with dishes because I fed a lot of mouths - and we had plenty of food to put in them. I learned to recognize that trials come with blessings and blessings often come in the guise of tribulation. There isn't a challenge in my life that I would give up if it meant giving up my family.

At the very end of the Book of Mormon, despite being alone and not knowing how much longer he had to live, Moroni bears a joyful testimony of Christ and His doctrine. How can one be joyful amidst all the tribulation Moroni witnessed? Because Moroni knew Christ. He also knew that he, too, was a son of Heavenly Father and that through Christ, he would return to His Father's presence...and into the arms of the family he lost during mortality. He knew that no matter what happened, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everything was going to be okay.

So, if you read this far, you truly are my friend. I know I rambled, but that's really how my life feels right now. Either that, or I've been watching too many episodes of Gilmore Girls. Or both. I'm sad our children are all grown up, but I'm thrilled that they've become self-sufficient, contributing members of society and that the world is a better place because they are in it. And whether they like it or not, we are all stuck with each other. Forever. And that makes life magnificent.

Aug 18, 2015

How Times Have Changed!

by Marsha Ward

Back in high school, I learned to type using non-electric, or "manual" typewriters. Although our typewriters were a bit more modern than the one shown at the left, electric typewriters had not yet became the norm. We had three or four electric machines in the classroom, so we had to cycle through them. It might even have been a perk for being a good student.

The main difference between typing on a manual and an electric machine is the amount of force necessary to depress the keys. People raised in the age of computers have no idea how much effort was expended in getting a letter written. Today's keyboards are flat, but in those days, each row stood significantly higher than the one below it.

We still used F and J as "home keys," and learned how to use the side of our thumb to tap twice on the space bar after each period before we began a new sentence.


No one taps twice on the space bar anymore. At least, they should not if they're writing manuscripts for publication.

We used to tap twice, because the keys that flew up and hit the ribbon when we struck a letter key--thus imparting an impression of a letter to the paper--were designed to occupy the same amount of space, even though "I" is much skinnier than "G." It was hard to see where a sentence ended, so it was important to put two spaces after a period to help folks out. Let me put it in another way:

We used to tap twice, because the keys that flew up and hit the ribbon when we struck a letter key--thus imparting an impression of a letter to the paper--were designed to occupy the same amount of space, even though "I" is much skinnier than "G."  It was hard to see where a sentence ended, so it was important to put two spaces after a period to help folks out.  Got it?*

When the above "monotype" went the way of the dinosaurs with the coming of word processors, and then computers, each letter only took a proportional amount of space, and it was pretty clear where a sentence ended. See what I mean?

Besides, typographers employed by publishers to prepare a book for print haven't put two spaces between sentences in a long time. Go check that out by pulling out the book from your bookshelf that has the oldest copyright date and casting an eye over the body text. See?

Here's the thing. If you habitually type two blank spaces between each sentence, and you sell a manuscript to a publisher, what do you suppose is going to happen to those extra spaces?

Yeah. Someone has to take them out. Yep, a global search can help, but the publisher has to pay someone to do the global search.

I have no proof that an other-wise sellable manuscript with two spaces between each sentence will be rejected because of the extra spaces, but why brand yourself as a low-information person, and someone who brings extra cost to the publisher, when it's not necessary?

It will take effort to rid yourself of the habit of striking twice after a period, but you can do it, just as you learned not to use tabs to indent.

Uh, you didn't get that memo, either? Oh dear.

*Manual typewriters didn't have the capacity to show italics, so in a manuscript, we underlined anything that should be typeset in italics when printed.

Did you learn to type on a manual or electric typewriter? One with a ball instead of striking keys? A word processor? A computer? Share your memories.

Aug 15, 2015

ANWA Service

by Cindy R. Williams

I am wearing my ANWA Executive President hat for this blog. ANWA is more than just a place to grow in our writing ability, it is an organization of service--service on many levels.  Sure, you already know all this. The point I am working toward is that it is Elections Time in ANWA.

It is time to elect a new Treasurer and a new President-Elect for ANWA. Before you think . . . "Oh, no, I am too busy to do that," Or . . . "I couldn't do that. I don't know how," let me tell you a little about what it would take.

The qualifications are:
1.  Be a member of ANWA for a year or more.
2.  Must have served in an ANWA Chapter Presidency.
3.  Be willing to serve your fellow ANWA sisters.

Now a little about what serving on the Executive Board would entail.

Each term is a three year term.
An executive meeting followed by an ANWA Board of Directors meeting once a month.
Following up on items in your area.
Helping out with the annual Writers Conference.
Some ANWA Newsletter articles.
Working on helping ANWA meet the needs of the members.
Praying about the needs of your ANWA sisters.

Perks? Serving with some lovely ANWA ladies. The satisfaction of helping ANWA to become a better writing organization. Great networking. A writing contract . . . okay not really, but you do get to add to your resume that you serve on the Executive Committee of the world's largest female LDS writing group.

Please consider becoming a part of the ANWA leadership.

Aug 13, 2015

Be the Change You Want to See

by Susan Allred

How many times have we said to ourselves, “It sure would be nice if...” or “Why don't they...?” How often do we talk about how few good books are available, or how often we say, “I need to read it to make sure it's OK before I let my children have it.”

If you can't see me, I'm over here waving my hands wildly. Do you want to know a little secret about me? I don't watch TV. Why? Because even the commercials are junk. The news is depressing or skewed, and most of what's available does nothing to uplift me. Don't get me wrong. My husband watches his allotment and mine combined. And that's OK with me. I'm not judging. Everyone has their own way of decompressing at the end of a long day.

What does this have to do with writing? Simple. We, as writers have the ability to see something we don't like, and to offer up an alternative. Don't like smutty romance novels? Write a clean one. Don't like books filled with horror and carnage? Write something that is suspenseful, yet clean. Tired of the same boring plot? Create something new and exciting.

My parents were an excellent example of being the change you want to see in the world. They used to love going to role-playing mystery games. However, they didn't like going to a party where character stories involved mistresses, sexual innuendos, or compromising positions. They decided to write their own games. By the time my father passed away, he had written 19 different G-Rated mystery games for groups up to 50 people. They sold their games to corporations, churches, youth parties, and a variety of other people who wanted exactly what my parents were offering - but couldn't find - until my dad stepped up and decided to change the norm.

When you consider the content of your next book, remember that you can be that change you want to see in the world. Who knows? Maybe you'll inspire someone else to do the same.

Aug 8, 2015

What to write with

by Cassie Shiels

What do you love to write with? A pen and a piece of lined paper? A sparkle pencil and a special notebook? A key board? A marker?

Do you feel like you write better with one writing instrument then another?

I know I do. I feel like I write differently with the different writing instruments and so I use them to that advantage. I personally love a pen and any kind of paper when writing a scene for the first time or writing down that idea I just had in the shower. (I know that happens to lots of us) But after that I have got to get it into the computer. I haven't written a whole book with pen and paper, but bits and pieces are always done that way for me.

Then after my story is in the computer the fun with a pen really begins. A nice red or purple pen. And highlighters, and extra scratch paper. All come out with my freshly printed draft. (Insert evil cackling) I very much love to see my first draft covered in red. I admit it.

I am not much of a pencil user, but I know people who love pencils the best.

If you haven't thought about it before, maybe take a second. What do you like to write with, at what part of your writing process? Do you have a preference, or does it not matter as long as whatever you have writes?

The good news is its all good. Just something fun to think about.

Aug 6, 2015

Princesses and Rabbits and Goats. Oh My!

by Kari Diane Pike

Twenty-four hours ago I stepped off Allegiant flight 133 from Provo, Utah, ending three weeks of road tripping, grandchild hugging, goat milking, spider smashing, apartment hunting, fair going and friendship renewing adventures. I am exhausted and could use a vacation from my vacation, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I learned new things, strengthened family relationships and discovered things about myself I had not really considered before.

Overall, the trip is kind of a blur. Most of my time was spent driving between Provo and Paul, Idaho...with a little side trip to Boise to pick up our oldest daughter and fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Melissa and return them to their little farm in Paul. Melissa had gone through hip reconstruction to repair damage caused by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time, those three weeks are unforgettable.

If you ask three-year-old Maesie her name, she will tell you, "My name is MaesonAnne Rose Anderson, Princess of Ever." Last Sunday I complimented her on her beautiful dress and told Maesie that she looked like a princess. Maesie gave me the stink eye. "Grandma, I AM a princess." When I asked her how she got so sweet, she explained, "Because I'm made of awesomesauce and sugar and a little bit of spice."

I loved watching Melissa's siblings pitch in and complete not only their own chores, but Melissa's too. Eleven-year-old Ephraim didn't complain even once when I had to enlist his help and show me how to catch the dairy goats and get them milked. During county fair time (the culmination of an entire year's worth of work for 4H participants) all the kids helped push Melissa's wheelchair or carried her crutches (well, okay, they loved playing with those) or lead her animals for her.

The hardest part was seeing Melissa in pain.  Truth be told, Melissa doesn't remember any time in her life when she hasn't been in pain. RA stinks. The worst part of my trip came when it was my turn to add to that pain. Every night before bed, Melissa had to be given a shot of blood thinners - in the flesh around her navel. Her screams the previous three evenings broke my heart.

I helped Melissa get settled in her bed - book, ipad, music and pillows. I asked about her favorite song artists and authors (Thank you, Theresa Sneed for sending Melissa one of your books!). Melissa lifted her shirt to show me where to administer the shot. Small bruises played ring around the rosy with her belly button. I chose a spot with the least amount of bruising and pinched her skin between the thumb and middle finger of my left hand, while I held the syringe in my right. I wanted to be fast and create as little pain as possible. I lifted the syringe, ready to stick her quick. Melissa squinted her big brown eyes shut and covered her face with a pillow. I chickened out and let go of her. "I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you."

"It's okay Grandma. I'll be okay.  I don't want it either, but I know we have to do it."

She told me about some of the nurses in the hospital and how good it was to be home. I shook off the dread, took a deep breath and tried to tell Melissa a joke. Only I couldn't remember any good punch lines. I pinched her again...and let go again. I pointed across the room and said, "Oh, look!" and pinched Melissa again...and let go again. She laughed. I reached for her belly a fourth time and plunged the syringe in deep and fast. Melissa's laugh turned into a scream. She grabbed her pillow and buried her face in it. When she looked up, tears streamed down her cheeks...and mine. That's when the giggles set in.

"I don't know how I can be laughing and crying at the same time." Melissa hugged the pillow to her sore stomach.

"I'm sorry, Sweetie. I really tried to not hurt you."

"No, Grandma, it's okay. That actually was one of the best ones. I didn't feel the needle at all. It's just the medicine burns like heck."

I learned a great deal from that brave young lady. Even being in a wheel chair didn't stop her from achieving her goals. She was awarded the champion intermediate showman and reserve overall showman for rabbits in Minidoka county. She had a friend lead her sheep and goats for her and even qualified for and participated in the round robin competition.

Melissa could have chosen to stay home and not participate in the county fair. No one would have blamed her if she had. But Melissa showed me what it means to be brave and to have faith. She did what she could. She asked for help when she needed it and she carried on. Her example gave me the strength I needed to carry out the tasks given to me while the rest of the family worked at the fairgrounds. Even when I felt like this:

Goats and sheep. Check.
Pigs. check.
Turkeys, ducks and chickens. Check.
Big farm dogs. check.
County fair. check.
Rotten egg. Check.
Rat in barn. Check.
Big fat spiders. Check.
I have officially entered the Charlotte's Web Twilight Zone.

And I love it.
By the case of a zombie apocalypse...stick with me. I can now catch a goat and milk it all by myself. And I can use the milk to create bread pudding, a wicked caramel sauce and a mean glass of chocolate milk. Life is magnificent.


Aug 4, 2015

What Do You Do When Your Pep is Pooped?

by Marsha Ward

This weekend was not the best of my life. Not the worst (and surely not as bad as some of our blog team have experienced lately!), but kinda yuck. On Saturday night I experienced a spell of food poisoning (this is getting ridiculous), although I ingested no mushrooms. Perhaps that chicken was past its prime . . . but I digress.

The consequence was that I was sick all night long, and into Sunday morning. At 8 a.m. I got up and texted, emailed, and called/left a voicemail message for someone, asking her to please take my duties at church, then went back to bed, hoping the recipient would get one of my messages before church meetings began.

I got a text in the affirmative just before the first church meeting, so I went to sleep and didn't wake up until evening.

Yesterday I felt somewhat better, so I got up and did a few things that needed to be done.

But today, I could not get out of bed. My pep was thoroughly pooped.

I only got up to conclude a text conversation with my daughter, who had concerns on a variety of topics, including my health.

I'm trying to take her counsel to rest and have a light-duty day, but as you can see, my blog post is pretty late, and I still have one major task on my list to fulfill. Can I put it off until tomorrow? I think I have to, because my pep is still pooped.

What do you do when your energy is flagging and you have a long list of tasks to accomplish?

Aug 1, 2015

Writers Worries, I Don't Have Enough Time To Write

by Cindy R. Williams

"I don't have enough time to write" is a false statement. You make time for the things you CARE about--for the things you WANT and NEED to do. Make up your mind if you are going to write or not.

Here are a few examples:

A former Stake President and Court Judge in Thatcher, Arizona got up at 4:00 AM to write two hours each day before his work-day began.

A single mother of seven wrote 12 novellas in 1 year, while working outside her home to support her family.

Many women write late at night, after their daily work is done, outside and inside the home, and their family is sound asleep. This is how ANWA, American Night Writers Association got its name. There are over 300 women in ANWA currently, and many still live by this pattern.

One woman with three children was bedridden the last half of her pregnancy, so she wrote a book.

The mother of five fed her children cereal for dinner for a week so that she could meet a writing deadline. The kids lived.

One single lady with a full time job, ghost wrote a book in a month from scratch. That is amazing enough in itself, but there is more to it. She had to transcribe the notes from a tape, organize topics, fill in the transcriptions, format, edited, and send the to the printers for hard copies and create an ebook version--all while fighting a stomach problem that required hospitalization and three major tests and treatments performed.

Stop the excuses. If you truly want to be a writer . . . MAKE IT HAPPEN!