Oct 29, 2016

Who am I to shine?

Who am I to shine?

by Deb Graham
I’ve cherished books since I was a little girl, wandering in the public library, longing to be old enough to venture unto the mysterious realm of the Middle Grades room, certain the thick books held untold mysteries, away from my beloved picture books.

Books are to be cherished. For every holiday since our first son was born, gifts have included a book. I want my kids to associate reading with happiness.  I taught them each to read when they were not much older than toddlers. As a character in my novel asserts, “The world can’t put anything over on a body who can read.” She’s a pioneer; they talk like that. 

I guess my love of books passed down. When the kids were young, I sometimes found myself scolding, “It’s one o’clock in the morning! Put down your book and be asleep!” I’d step into the hall, wondering if I was wrong to fuss. Perhaps I should have encouraged another chapter. I delight in hearing my grown children complain about their little ones reading far into the night, or, at least, sleeping with a pile of picture books.  

Reading is a gift.  But writing is a whole nuther thing.

Who am I to think I can write anything worth reading? A song, a poem, an article, a full-length book? We’re warned against pride and arrogance, cautioned about the virtues of humility, and to present before the world something out of our own creative minds is ...well, daunting.

We may admit, with lowered eyes, “Oh, I write a little.” Somehow saying, “I just published my eleventh non-fiction, one of them has almost  300 reviews on Amazon, my debut novel is selling well, I’m working on two more and I’ve collaborated on three others and I'm thinking about writing a peanut butter cookbook,” sounds like go-stand-in-the-corner boasting. Not to mention, it's anxiety-inducing. Wrapping words around actions can do that, you know.

Let’s look at some wisdom from reputable sources:

Matthew 5:16 (KJV) says “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

The Lord of all tells us to shine. By writing good quality books, articles, stories, poetry, blogs, music, etc, we push back the darkness.

Nelson Mandela quoted Marianne Williamson in an inaugural address:

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (1)

In October 2008, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.” (2)
To deny our probably-inspired creativity doesn’t benefit anyone. The World is great at cutting us down, making us feel inadequate; we need no help in that regard. What we need is  a source of uplift, a reminder that we’re on the right track. I hope we each can find that.

As you read this, I’ll be at the ANWA Northwest Retreat. It’s a coming together of like-minded women, all sharing ideas, strengthening one another, teaching, sharing, building relationships, mixed with time to write in complete, uninterrupted sentences in a beautiful setting.  Last year was my first retreat, and I came home feeling so energized, so accepted, so inspired, I was among the first to sign up this year.
 Last year’s retreat triggered three new books and two bathroom remodels (3), along with tangibly increased self-confidence. Who knows what will happen this time? 

One of the most valuable things I learned was to own it, to boldly say, “I’m an author!”

 ~~~                                ~~~

(1) “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

(2)  Happiness, Your Heritage, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
(3) I designed the backsplashes in our bathrooms and made them of beach rocks from the retreat’s beach, which I gathered a month later. Benefit to living nearby!

Oct 27, 2016

Chocolate Chip Cookie Memory

by Kari Diane Pike

It's half an hour past this early morning seminary teacher's bedtime, but I haven't forgotten my every other Thursday friends. What a day! I didn't mind the doctor visit (despite gagging on the scope three times), braving Costco on the first day of the new coupon book, or making a double batch of chili for the trunk-or-treat at the church. I did mind the fact that it was 101 Degrees today. Will someone please turn the heat off?

Anyway, my sleep meds are kicking in, so I thought I'd offer you all a little Throwback Thursday. Five years ago, almost to the day I attended a little writing class that changed my world. Oh, and my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe because I love you all so much. 

October 20, 2011
I don't know if it was purgatory or heaven. I'm still shaking in my woolly socks. I am either scared out of my writer's mind, or I just became the newest Caleb Warnock groupie. It could be that my blood sugar is too low. I just realized I haven't eaten anything since I walked through the doors of the Historic American Fork City Hall into the jaws of -- what? I don't know what to call it. I think my muse is still curled up in a fetal position in some secret passageway of that old building.

Sorry. I don't mean to sound like such a drama queen, but I've never seen a teacher make students cry like that before. At the same time, I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants. Too cliche. But it's true! Next time, I am definitely visiting the ladies room before class AND during the break.

Do you remember the movie "The Paper Chase?"  John Houseman portrays a much feared law professor by the name of Charles Kingsfield. (If you haven't seen this movie or the series on TV from a few decades back...you should watch it. The characters are fascinating...or you could read the book...by Jay Osborn, Jr.) Okay -- put Professor Kingsfield's mannerisms into a big, burly, blond English professor/farmer. Put that guy in jeans and Tevas (and navy blue, gold-toe socks). Now put him in a room with 8 female writers ranging in age from their mid-twenties to somewhere in their 70s. One woman is pregnant with her fifth child. I should have known there was a significance to the food offerings some of the women brought to the class. (Now I can't help imagining natives throwing food into a volcano to appease their fire gods.) 

Professor Caleb began the class by announcing that he needed to raise $1000 by Thanksgiving for the American Fork Fine Arts Council Press. His plan: to get 50 people to commit to asking 20 friends for $1 each. Then he started writing all our names down and asking for suggestions for other names. After about 20 minutes of "bullying", one of the other first time attendees said,

"I'll write you a check for $100 right now, if you'll just start the class."

He nodded. She wrote the check. Class started.

I don't think it's possible to describe what happened after that. You kind of have to be there. After making a couple of students write their sentences on the white board, and everyone getting a bit frustrated, Caleb felt the need for a visual to make his point. He climbed up and laid his body across the tables and acted out a woman giving birth. Yeah, like I said, you kind of had to be there. Later in class, one lady started talking about reading a negative review of the movie "Abduction." She said, "But, I liked that movie." Her friend said, Yeah, but you like Caleb, too." ahahaha! Writers can be so snarky! I love it.

In all fairness, I want to share this great comment from Loraine Scott (a member of Wasatch Writers and the gal who told me about this class). "The class always has the 'take no prisoners' kinda attitude. You are expected to bring work and share... he says his comments are filled with "buckets of love" but they can be pretty difficult to take even filled with love. But... he says he would rather be honest and help you then to deceive you into thinking "your crap is good". We already think we've written the great American novel and then Caleb looks at it and we see it for what it is. Only the great survive C's classes. Many of his students have gone on to publish and that's really what its all about for him. He wants to see people succeed and now that he has had his first book published, I'm sure he's gotten even worse. If you feed him chocolate, he behaves himself."

Caleb did cut me some slack when he asked me if I brought anything with me and I said no, that I thought I would listen and learn the first time around. He didn't let me get away with not participating, however. And guess what! I got a snorty laugh...and a round of applause for my first sentence! One class member said that he is always nice the first time, and beguiles you to come again, and then gets really mean. Then I got another laugh and applause for the second sentence. Whew. After class, Caleb asked if I was going to bring anything next week. I hesitated, and he said, "Without being fearful." I said I would bring something, but that I would be full of fear and trepidation. He accepted that.  

And you can bet your first book that I will be going back. I feel like I could write a best seller just by being a fly on the wall and writing about all the writers in the class and how their life stories play out during the class. Besides, I have something to say, and I think I found the help I need to learn how to say it.

I'll take some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies with me...just in case.
Here's the recipe we like best...(sorry, no pictures today...too many other things on my plate!)
In a large mixing bowl, cream together:
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
2 cups butter

4 eggs

Mix well and stir in:
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda 
1 teaspoon salt

Add 6 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour. Mix in carefully. Don't overmix. Stir in 2 cups (or more) of chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls (I use a scoop!) onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 deg. for about 10 minutes..or until light golden brown. Don't overbake...unless you prefer a crunchy cookie. I like mine crisp on the outside, but still gooey inside. Is there anything more comforting than a really good, fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie? Maybe...but not many!

Oct 25, 2016

So Much Pain Going Around

by Marsha Ward @MarshaWard

I woke up to the news that a writer acquaintance's missing hunter husband had taken a fall in desolate country and died.

We in the United States are going through the most bitterly contentious and divisive presidential election since 1860.

The daughter of "The Piano Guys'" Jon Schmidt is missing near the Columbia River Gorge in northern Oregon, and official search efforts have been called off, while family and friends soldier on.

So much sadness and despair. So many prayers being offered. What can we do?

I recently posted a meme with an image of Dr. Ben Carson, that tells us what we can do. In his words:
"When we have done our best, we also have to learn that we must rely on God. Our best - no matter how good - is incomplete if we leave God out of the picture."
Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence has asked us to pray to God to heal America.

That's profound, and echoed by many other wise men and women of our day. Many people will be participating in a "fast" on November 6, with accompanying prayers and with repentant hearts to ask God to do just that.

I agree. It's time for the people of the United States to fall on their knees daily, not just on one special day, to give our hearts to God in supplication, not only for optimal results in a pivotal election, but to ask for comfort and healing for those who mourn.

I know God works in our lives. He has a plan for each of us.

We sing a little song in my church's children's program, in which I am privileged to play the piano. It's called, "I Will Follow God's Plan," written by Vanja Y. Watkins.

My life is a gift; my life has a plan.
My life has a purpose; in heaven it began.
My choice was to come to this lovely home on earth
And seek for God's light to direct me from birth.
I will follow God's plan for me,
Holding fast to his word and his love.
I will work, and I will pray;
I will always walk in his way.
Then I will be happy on earth
And in my home above.

Here's a version from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

What are your thoughts?

Oct 22, 2016


by Cindy R. Williams

Can't believe we are finally in October. Here in Arizona that means fall . . . though to see Fall colors you need to go into the White Mountain areas in the  north of the state. Here in the greater Phoenix area/desert it is still hot. Note, not as hot as HOT. HOT is summer. Fall is just hot. Near the end of the month, we do drop to the low nineties in the daytime, so that's something!  The best thing about Fall is that instead of remaining almost as hot during the night, we now drop down to the sixties and seventies.

Why all of this about the weather?

Because . . . by now, most Arizonans are a bit testy from all the summer heat. We all seem to do a collective sigh of relief that we have lived through another summer!

Celebrate! Fall is Great!

Oct 20, 2016

So Many E-Mails. So Little Time.

As I'm writing this, my computer has 8 tabs open in Chrome and 15 open Word documents.  Two of my tabs are different e-mail accounts.  One of my accounts has 5,087 e-mails and the other has 397 e-mails.  My Pinterest Account is much the same. 4,600 pins on writing, and 1,700 pins on writing prompts.  Don't even get me started on research for books, marketing, publishing, or other facets of writing. I have boards for those too.

There have been times I've looked at my in-box and felt disgusted.  Why not delete anything over a month old, or just wipe it clean and start all over again?  What sane person would have nearly 6,000 e-mails in their in-box??

Then I look closer at the subject lines. How Publishing Really Works. [ANWA Chapter Officers] Digest Number 882.  ANWA Founders and Friends. NW Writers Retreat. Daily Scrivener Tip.  Your Daily e-Book deals. And the list goes on.

Before the internet, I would hoard articles that I thought were significant, creating file after file of information I wanted to learn or remember.  Now, in the digital age, my piles are (theoretically) smaller. Instead, I have digital files and big fat e-mail accounts brimming with articles I hope to read.  The idea of missing opportunities to learn and better my craft, or to gleen motivation and friendship from other writers scares me.  There's so much to learn, and so many people to learn from. And I don't want to miss a bit of it!

That desire to learn causes me to whittle away at that long list of e-mails, or the sky-high tower of 'to-read' books beside my bed. It keeps me up long past my bedtime, and often well into the wee hours of the morning.

At times it's tedious, and exhausting.  Other times it's fascinating.  Still others I'm exhilarated.  Whatever the outcome, writing has been nothing, if not totally and utterly fulfilling.

So, I guess I'll keep those massive lists of e-mails, slowly sifting through and filing the articles away as I read them.  Occasionally even (gasp!) deleting those that don't apply. I may not have enough hours in the day to devote to writing the way I want to, but by golly, I will never run out of articles to read on the topic!

Oct 18, 2016

Choosing Ur Bad Guy's Back Story

by Terri Wagner

Lately I have been pondering how you decide on bad guys. I never saw the purpose in plotting out your story until I ran into this experience with my partner. Eventually people are going to want to know about the bad guy. I see this as a cultural transition myself. In my dad's day as he loves to remind me bad guys wore black hats and you didn't try to understand them, you just killed them. In my generation, we still saw bad guys as characters to be killed off or at least receive severe consequences. However, we did like a bit deeper understanding of our bad guys.

Let's use my favorite example, Darth Vader. In the original Star Wars, Vader wore black, breathed funny, was overlord of the bad guys, was the baddest guy's head bad guy. We just knew eventually Vader would be destroyed. And he was in a way. He became more dimensional as we discovered he was Luke and Leia's dad, he had once been good, and in the end, he chose to save his son from corruption and/or death itself, sacrificing himself. I was satisfied. Always nice to know anyone can be redeemed, and the truly evil guy was the emperor who was destroyed.

But then came the prequels. A totally different Vader appeared. He was young, he was confused, he gave in to temptation, he lived on the edge of righteousness until he deliberately chose to be evil. He was despicable. In his rage, he killed a whole family of the sand people for hurting his mom, then he went on at one point to kill younglings. Suddenly I could not reconcile this Vader, he wasn't redeemable. I wanted him to fall into a deep dark hole. In many ways to me he became the ultimate bad guy. He wasn't deceived, he clearly chose evil.

Then came the sequels. Now his grandson has chosen to follow in Vader's evil way. He kills his own father. Sets himself up as second bad guy (some kind of manipulating back evil lord we don't know much about yet). If the story runs true, then are we supposed to be so caught up in the grandson's drama that we "feel" for him? That we overlook his actions because after all he had it tough?

Don't mistake me this isn't about real life or current events, only a dabbling in fiction that puzzles me. How bad do I want my bad guy to be and how much sympathy (if at all) do I want to weave into his backstory (and oh btw he doesn't have to be a he). How do you like your bad guys?

Oct 15, 2016

Tidying Up

Call me sensitive–when a perpetually neat houseguest bought me a book on tidying, it kinda raised my ire. The book is entitled The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and the houseguest was my mother, alias The Recreational Cleaner. We also call her The Phantom Picker Upper, although not to her face. Seriously, I can sip my lemonade, set it on the table beside me, reach for the glass a minute later, and it's gone, rinsed, and already in the dishwasher. How does she do that, without me even noticing she came in the room?

After walking by the book for two days, I finally picked it up, planning to casually skim the first chapter or two. Sucked in, soon I was turning the last page.

I admit I learned a few things, such as Never Throw Away Other’s Belongings, of which I may or may not be guilty. But the Spread Out Every Item You Own, Touch Each, Have A Conversation With It, Asking If It Brings Joy Or Not, seemed outlandish to me. I set the book aside; just another self-help scheme.

And then the weirdness started. Dressing in the mornings, I’d find myself thinking, “Hm. Do I love this faded blue shirt? How much joy is left in it?” Unloading the dishwasher, I’d ponder stacking the chipped green bowl neatly, or throwing it out. Did it make me happy? It felt like a spell had been cast on me, and I was annoyed.

I’m an author, a writer, a researcher, a traveler. On a daily basis, I’m swamped. I juggle a husband, kids, grandchildren, friends, Church responsibilities, writer’s groups, and assorted doctors who seem to be throwing plaster on my crumbling walls.  I converse plenty. I simply don’t have time to be listening to dated jackets and seven-year-old skirts.

I’ve written eleven non-fiction books, including two best-selling cruise books, and I recently released a sequel, “More Cruise Tips from the Cruise Addict’s Wife.” Around this same time, I began my first novel. Off to a great start, until the voices in my head began. Does this paragraph bring me joy? Is this character making me happy? Has this scene outlived its usefulness?

I reread Mom’s book. I know it plainly talks about sorting one’s Things, but it squirmed its way into my mind and changed my writing for the good. If “man is that he might have joy,” then I guess I’m entitled to some joy in my writing, too. I winnowed my novel down from 89,000 words to 68,000 words, weighing each sentence, jettisoning the parts that brought no joy.

“Peril In Paradise” was released in early 2016, and is selling well. I love the cover design! It’s a cozy mystery set on a cruise ship in Hawaii, with warm characters and descriptions so rich, you could plan a cruise with it. The process was more fun than I expected, so much so I’m currently writing two more novels.

Bonus-I also have more room in my closet since I began writing. Weird, isn’t it, how some books wriggle into one’s subconscious? 

Oct 13, 2016

Why I Keep Writing

by Kari Diane Pike

Hold tight to your pencils dear friends. I'm about to actually write about writing [GASP!] Wait. Do any of you even still write with pencils? How many of you still write by hand at all - other than, you know, the occasional grocery list? Even note taking seems to have gone the digital route. But I'm getting side-tracked here.

Which reminds me. I used to wonder why people in Phoenix yell "Squirrel!" when there are no squirrels around here (ok...there's actually three types of squirrels in the Sonora desert, but we don't see them in the city much). Then I discovered it's a movie reference. I think here in the desert we should say "Lizard!" or "Pigeon!" when someone gets sidetracked.  But not "Scorpion!" because that's kind of like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Never joke about seeing a scorpion. And yah, I'm way off topic again. Would someone please call to order? I need a keeper.

Okay. Back to writing. After all, this is a blog for writers. It's also a place to get to know a few writers and how we view the world. Anyway - last month I arrived at the annual ANWA Writers Conference full of fear and trepidation. I had taken that metaphorical step off the ledge and signed up for a pitch session with one of the editors. The night before my big day, I tossed and turned in the motel bed, trying not to wake up my bunk mate. Doubts about my writing swirled in my brain and invaded my dreams. Just before dawn I decided to cancel my appointment.

When I finally got out of bed both of my roommates were still sleeping. I knelt by the bed and had a little heart-to-heart with Heavenly Father. Should I, or shouldn't I, go through with the pitch session? The answer came in the form of another question.

What do you want to accomplish? Why do you write? How will cancelling your appointment help you reach your goal?

I knew then that I wanted, needed even, to go through with the interview. Since I was still terrified, I opened my scriptures. Scripture study always eases my mind. That morning was no exception. In fact, I almost laughed out loud when I opened to my place marker in 3 Nephi 22 and came to verse 4:

Fear not for thou shalt not be ashamed.

Fascinated, I continued to read through to 3 Nephi 23: 4 -

Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you..."

Needless to say, I kept the appointment and pitched my book idea. The editor shared kind and encouraging words of advice and asked me to send a copy of my completed manuscript to her personally! She even gave me a "get out of the slush pile" card (actually it was her business card with her personal email addy - and yes, I think another exclamation mark is called for)!

You'd think that I'd be writing...err...typing my fingers to their arthritic nubbin's trying to finish writing my book. And I did. For one day. I came home from the conference and wrote over 1500 words that very day, which is huge for me. I normally struggle to write 600 words a day because I spend so much time refereeing arguments between Creative Brain and Editor Brain. By mid day, both sides start arguing with the Ref and Creative Brain usually ends up getting kicked out of the game, and...LIZARD!


Back to the story.

I wrote for one day and then got caught up in all the bookkeeping/check writing/paperwork trailing responsibilities for post-conference ANWA, playing with grandkids and hubby's trip to the hospital (he's doing great), and...yeah.

I did manage to meet a friend for a writing session at the library one other day. I read those 1500+ words out loud. I think I can use about 500 of them. They are awful - vague, repetitive, boring. I think the word a former mentor would use describes it well - Craptastic. Ugh. Maybe I should give up.

Or not. Because guess what? Hubby and I sat down at breakfast  yesterday and opened to the last talk from April's General Conference. Elder Holland rocks. In his talk, "Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You," Elder Holland reminds us that highs and lows are all part of life. The important thing to remember is to keep trying. Do the best you can. Have faith in Christ and in God's plan and keep going.

So, what is my role as a writer in the Lord's plan? I don't know the answer to that yet, but I do know the journey will be an exciting one because ~

Life is magnificent.



Oct 11, 2016

Ten Social Media "Marketing" NO-NOs for Authors

By Marsha Ward @MarshaWard

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been astounded at complaints I've seen in writer groups across Facebook on the bad manners of other "authors."

One published author mentioned that someone placed a post with all their books listed on her Facebook Author Page. Someone else said someone horned in on their Fan Group with a listing of their books. Another complained that someone hijacked her book launch event. Her own Book Launch EVENT! Again, this person posted a message listing all their own books. I didn't think to ask if it could be the same ill-mannered writer doing these unthinkable things.

Blogger and author Anne R. Allen posted about this problem eighteen months ago, and gave fair warning to new authors who sorely abuse Social Media in an attempt to sell books that their actions are undesirable. (It's possible some marketing "guru" is selling new authors really bad advice.) Anne came up with a countdown list of ten things not to do on social media, along with very good advice on why such actions are repellent, and that doing them are against the Ethical Author code.

I'll just give the ten no-nos headings. You must read the article to get the meat of Anne's excellent reasoning.

10. Forgetting that social media is social
9. Over-hashtagging and robo-posting
8. Emotional blackmail in demands for shares and RTs
7. Projecting a snarky, nasty online persona
6. Starting lots of blogs, webpages, and social media accounts
5. Pop-ups and other annoying gimmicks on your blog or website
4. Auto Direct Messages in reply to a follow—or advertising in a DM
3. Pitching your own book on somebody else's Facebook Page
2. Buying or trading reviews and trading "likes".
1. Putting somebody on your mailing list who has not signed up


Let me add this to number 1: "Adding someone to your product, party, or any Facebook Group without first asking for their permission."

If you know a new writer who is slipping up and annoying not only you, but your friends, please let them know about Anne Allen's advice.


Oct 8, 2016

The Gift of Gab Has Gone

by Cindy R Williams

Time for my blog post. Hmmmmm...I have the gift of gab, and can talk your ear off, but alas, earwax. Nada. Zip. I got nothin'

Oct 6, 2016

Riding the Conference Wave

It's crazy to think that the ANWA conference was 3 weeks ago.  Time flies when you're having fun. ...Or running around like a banshee with its hair on fire.

The Arizona conference was...uh-mazing. It's the first conference I'd been to, and I'm still sifting through all the information we received. Don't get me started on that one.  My eyes glaze over and I smile off into the distance. The speakers were awesome. The information was glorious.  The women were fantastic. And I was able to meet many fantastic individuals I'd been corresponding with via Internet and telephone for months.  Yep. These ladies are even better in person.

Two of my three pitches resulted in requests for pages (wahoo!).  One of them asked me to cut about 15,000 words from my manuscript (uh...). And I got the impression she expected those words gone by the time she contacted me again. In about four weeks.

That was three weeks ago.  Guess how many words I've removed?  1,200.  Guess how much time I've spent editing since the ANWA conference? 15 minutes.  I've had 15 minutes to devote to writing in the past three weeks.

No pressure.  I hear sleep is highly overrated anyway.

I also came home with seven new story ideas, the feeling that publishing may actually become a reality, several new friendships, answers to specific questions I'd been agonizing over for quite some time, and feeling more motivated and inspired than I've felt in months.

I will be back next year.  And the year after that...and the year after that. I'd love to see you there.

Now, I'm gearing up for the NW retreat at the end of this month.  This will be my third time.  I'm not gonna lie.  I'm giddy.  This is the first time I'm actually leading one of the classes.  Okay so it's a critique group and I don't have much responsibility, but c'mon! A girl has to start somewhere.

I'm sitting here grinning at my computer screen. Why? Because ANWA is probably one of the best things that has happened to me in my adult life (aside from children and church, of course). I am thankful to be a part of this organization, and to be able to ride the conference wave right on into the NW Retreat. And from there, I'll be riding a new wave which will propel me into NaNoWriMo in November then into 2017.

So much to do. So little time.  But at least I'll be grinning while my hair is on fire.

Oct 4, 2016

General Conference

by Terri Wagner

This year I actually made it to see all the sessions but one. And that one I will get to. It was a Sunday of rest from worldly things. I took notes so here's the ones that stick out in my words and in no particular order.

1. President Uchtdorg: Don't take the church for granted.

2. Elder Hales: Cannot pray away someone's free agency.

3. Sister McConkie: Prayer can heal our hearts.

4. Elder Christensen: Translating the BOM must have given Joseph Smith great comfort when Moroni said that infants have no need of baptism.

5. Elder Cornish: Ask Heavenly Father what he thinks of us...it's the only one that counts.

6. Elder Andersen: We are all a part of the miraculous gathering of the Last Days.

7. Elder Nelson: Lehi lived in perilous times.

8. Elder Ballard: You can falter in the faith due to church history, mistakes by past and present leaders, even unacceptable doctrine, but as Peter told Christ, where else can you go?

9. Elder Robbins: Guard against unrighteous and self righteous judgement.

10. President Eyring: Carry a sense of gratitude on the Sabbath Day.

11. Elder Bednar: Living the transformative reality of the Restoration will cement Christ's countenance on your image.

12. Elder Schmutz: Sorrow is part of our mortal existence.

13. Elder Nattress: If your children only knew the gospel from you, what would they know?

14. Elder Renlund: The Atonement is the part of repentance that will change your crippling guilt to hope and joy.

15. President Monson: Trust in the Search for Happiness.

Oct 1, 2016

Learning From Spiders

I’m not a fan of creepie-crawlies, or things with multiple legs, although I admit I can eat an embarrassing amount of crab legs; steamed, no butter. There are no poisonous spiders in western Washington, where I live, but you don’t have to be bitten to die of fright, and I tell you, it’s been close a few times.

This time of year, huge spiders with striped legs are everywhere, festooning all of outdoors, like Halloween decorations.  Occasionally, I’ll misjudge and feel the horrid sensation of a web across my face or arm. Awk—was it occupied? Where is it? Is it on me?

  I’ve been known to run back into the house, stripping off attire as I ran, and leap into the shower. As I dry off, relieved to be alone (I checked), the thought enters my mind...where is the spider now? In my clothes, hair, carpet? The spider, meanwhile, is outside, clinging to a leaf, catching its breath. Wow, I nearly caught me a full-size human.

A spider is okay outside. I understand they have a job to do, but in my house, it's a different matter. I cannot tolerate encroachment.

A while ago, I was in the bathroom, not at a good stopping point, so to speak, and a giant spider ran across the floor right at my bare feet.  I shooed it back, but it made another pass at me. Unable to flee, I grabbed the only weapon at hand, my husband’s shaving crème. I let loose with about half the can, making a foamy mound six inches thick. As soon as I was able, I ran out, hollering for someone –anyone! – to come clean this up.  Public service announcement: shaving crème is a near-miraculous tile cleaner. That area was so pristine, I had to clean the rest of the floor to match it.

Image result for spider web clipart
Outdoors, I try to sidestep the creepies, but sometimes they’re just plain in my way, festooning my garden plants as if they have a right to be there, the size of Halloween decorations. I raised those tomatoes from a slim seed; no eight-legged critter is going to get between me and a fine Greek salad ingredient.

I admit to some grudging admiration of the webs. I can’t understand how a creature the size of a breadcrumb can spin a web bigger than a turkey platter, without reloading the web-goo that forms the strands, and never getting caught in its own sticky web.

It reminds me of crocheting. My daughter and I took a class when she was twelve. She went on to design and crochet anything that crosses her mind, her fingers blurry. Me? I never quite figured out where to put my thumbs, or how to make a simple chain stitch without knotting my finger inside a tangle of yarn.

In my garden, I pick up a weed – there’s always a weed nearby—and carefully relocate the spider, winding the web like cotton candy, quickly, before it gets any ideas about leaping on me or running up my arm. After the battle, I stop to slow my heart rate, and watch.

Now that the gasping is over, what can I learn from a spider...at a safe distance? My mother taught me, and I’ve taught my kids, that we can learn from everything and everybody, that the world is full of visual aids. Every single time, the spider shakes itself off, and immediately begins rebuilding a home.

When we are knocked down, thwarted, even rejected, our plans upheavaled, we need to move on, shake it off, rebuild. With regard to writing, be a little open-minded. Doing what you’ve always done the way you’ve always done it only gets you somewhere predictable, and where’s the fun in that? Maybe you should try a new genre, look into self-publishing, find a less hostile editor, stretch a little. Just don’t build a web; there are plenty of those already!