Saturday, June 24, 2017


 Some years ago, our then-three-year-old granddaughter spent the night with us, and in the morning, we took her to a parade, her very first. Grandpa and I set out some rules of behavior as we parked the car.

1. Hold hands until we get to the right spot.

2. You may sit in the street.

3. If anyone throws anything at you, you may keep it.

Wide-eyed, she silently climbed out of her car seat, unsure what to expect. Holding hands in public was standard protocol, but I’m pretty sure her parents never told her to sit in the street, anywhere, any time.

We wound our way through the crowds to a good location alongside the street.  Still not questioning, she sat on the curb, her bare knees visibly trembling under her tutu (because what else would she wear to a parade?).

Twenty minutes later, she turned to me with shining eyes, her hands full of candy tossed by waving people on the passing parade floats. “Grandma! You said people would throw stuff at me. I didn’t know I’d LIKE it!”

I’ve often thought about that morning; how trusting was that little girl, having no concept of what the word “parade” meant, but knowing if her beloved Grandma and Grandpa felt confident taking her there, it must be alright.  In her day-to-day life, no one threw anything at her, and she’d been repeatedly warned not to even go near a street...yet she relied on us to keep her safe.

I cut out a comic strip years ago, and taped it inside my journal. Two old guys sat on a park bench. One says, “I don’t mind life passing me by, but I wish it wouldn’t throw things at me on its way past.” I feel like that some days. I wake in the morning confident, with a mental list of things to accomplish in the day. I lie down at night, and review the day. Some days, I actually do what I set out to accomplish, or close to it, while other days, I’m like the guys on the park bench, ducking as life throws things at me.

I think it has to do with expectations. We need to be strong and focused, but if life throws a need or a serendipity experience at us, we need to be flexible enough to seize it, not trapped by our Must Do list. Or as my friend says, “we must remember that we are human beings, not human doings.” And you can’t go wrong mustering the faith, trust and joy of a child.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Adventures

by Kari Diane Pike

May 24 - Last day of Seminary. Emergency trip to dentist. Emergency trip to endodontist. Try not to                   cry during root canal.
May 25 - Meet with foot doctor. Watch grandchildren. Post blog entry. Take pain pill.
May 26 - Return to dentist for permanent filling. Attend nephew's birthday party. Last minute                             shopping for trip to Europe.
May 27 - More shopping. Workout at gym one more time before trip to Europe in hopes that I can get                 away with eating pastries, gelato, and schnitzel. Pack backpack.
May 28 - Homecoming for niece. Time with family. Teach Primary. Print boarding pass.
May 29 - Arrive at airport and begin Power Tour 2017 with daughters Brittany and Kati.
May 30 - June 9 - London, Paris, Frankfurt, Schwangau, Munich, Rome, Florence, Venice, London.
June 10 - Arrive home.

We hiked more than 110 miles according to the fitness devices my daughters wore. We traveled by plane, metro, buses, train, and boat.  The most steps walked in one day came to a little over 29,000. We even got to see the Pope! I cannot lie. One evening I ate an entire pizza by myself and enjoyed gelato every day we stayed in Italy. Upon my return, my sweetheart met me at the airport with flowers and a great big kiss.

June 11 - missionary homecoming for a friend. Sleep. Or at least try to. Jet lag is real.
June 12 - Up at 3:00am. Time to face consequences. Work out and weigh-in with trainer. No way. I                     lost four pounds! Maybe I should look deeper into this whole pizza/gelato/pasta/pastry                         lifestyle. How can I fit walking ten miles a day into my schedule? Give in to jet lag and go                   to bed at 7:00 pm.
June 13 - Up at 4:00 am. My last shift in the Gilbert temple. Clean house. Prep for foot surgery.
June 14 - Check into surgical center at 6:00 a.m. Get dr.'s signature on my left foot. Wheel into OR.                  Take a little drug induced nap. Wake up. Sit up. Vague memory of getting into car and world                spinning. Stand up. Throw up. Take two steps. Throw up. Repeat. Shoot me now.
June 15 - 19 - Emerge from post anesthesia brain fog. Develop mad skills using crutches. Melt my                     brain watching Netflix while on pain meds. Attend seminary inservice with crutches and                     pillows.
June 20 - I love my writing family. MM chapter met at my house since I can't drive.  For the first time                 in months I want to write again. I need my brain back.
June 21 - sleep Until 7:00 am. Take that jet lag. Foot doc declares surgery a success so far. Brain fog                   clears. Try to take things slow so healing can continue, i.e., postpone today's appointment                    with trainer for a couple more weeks. Try not to curse at crutches or boot.
June 22 - Plant backside in chair, prop up foot and write.

Going back through my journal, I found this entry before our trip.

May 19 - Seminary. I stood at the door waiting for students to arrive. I had prayed for the Spirit to direct my  thoughts and tell me what the students needed to hear today. I pondered. I listened. I searched. Standing there at the door, a new thought came clearly to my mind. I knew in that moment what I needed to share with my students. I watched out the glass doors. I felt prepared. I could relax. And at that moment a silent "alarm" went off in my head.

Don't tune me out now! Keep listening. I know you feel like you got your answer but that doesn't mean you should turn off the receiver. You don't have to save batteries or worry about an energy bill. Our line of communication needs to stay on and tuned in every moment. Never stop asking. Never stop listening. That way you will always be able to receive the assurance and encouragement you and your students need to keep going. Remember to always stay tuned in. 
I realized in that moment that I have a bad habit of hearing part of the answer and then in excitement "taking off and tuning out" without taking the time to fully grasp what the Spirit is trying to teach me.

As much as I dislike having my activities restricted, I am grateful to have an excuse to slow down. My eyes have been opened to some things I've been taking for granted - like being able to wash my hair - and I realize that challenges I face help me become more compassionate. My experiences can teach me how to help others in their time of need, particularly as I keep those lines of communication open and listen to the quiet  promptings of the Spirit.

 Taking that trip helped me face three of my biggest fears: 1) fear of getting lost 2) fear of heights 3) fear of closed in spaces. But that's a blog for another day. My foot is telling me I've worn out my welcome and yammered far too long. If you read this far, thank you for stopping by.

Live your dreams my friends. Listen to the Spirit. Life is magnificent.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

18 Ways to Improve Your Writing Efficiency

We had our monthly ANWA meeting today. As usual, it was wonderful. A sister returned who hadn't attended in nearly a year, and we discussed our writing progress.

A common thread emerged during conversation: "I need be more productive when writing."

 So I decided to brainstorm ways we can become more efficient to increase our writing output.

  1.  Turn off the Internet. Okay, this is a no-brainer.  For many reasons. For the purposes of writing a book, you should disconnect your Internet for at least seven years, just to be safe.  Imagine how many hours you can devote if you're not reading the news, talking to other writers, reading writing prompts, or connecting with family. The internet is evil. Eeeeeevilllll. 
  2. Get rid of children. Speaking of family, your kids are impeding your productivity. Get rid of them. Dump them on your spouse, your older children, introduce them to the television, or confine them to the backyard. Parenting is highly overrated anyway. Leaving them to their own devices is the only way to prepare them for the cold, dark world around us anyway. As long as they are alive, and relatively well fed, then you're good. 
  3. Get rid of spouses, friends, and anyone else who likes to talk. While you're at it, it might be best to sever all ties to your spouse, friends, relatives, and anyone else who sucks time away from writing. Consider removing the dog's vocal chords. There's nothing more annoying than catching up on Aunt Alice's latest fashion disaster when all you want to do is work on your current WIP.
  4. Remove pets from your writing space. C'mon. Fluffy does NOT need to be on the keyboard.  She will be perfectly fine confined to the bathroom.  Better yet, send her out back with the kids. They'll take wonderful care of her. No, those scissors little Billy snagged are not intended to give Fluffy a haircut. And Sally is fast enough to stay out of his grasp. Her ponytails will be just fine. Honest. 
  5. Read Books. We hear it all the time.  Read read read! In fact, I've heard 36-hour reading marathons work wonders on one's relationships, writing ability, and housekeeping skills.  If you're lucky, maybe you'll find an author with a 15 book series.  You might have to binge. Oh, the sacrifices you must make in the name of your craft!
  6. Listen to podcasts, and read articles or blogs on productivity. This is much like a Netflix binge. Find a podcast or author you like and listen to every podcast produced since the beginning of time. If one podcast is good, then 7,894 is better, right?
  7. Quit your full-time job. To be a serious writer, you must sacrifice for your craft.  All true artists make sacrifices. The greater the sacrifice, the more committed you are a a writer, right? So go ahead. Quit your job. Lose your house, eat less food, don't pay the bills.  In the end you'll have massive pools of experience to draw from for future stories.
  8. Ignore your church callings. Heavenly Father will understand. He wants what makes us happy. And writing makes us happy. He won't mind if we take a small hiatus from our callings...or church for that matter.  As long as we're doing what makes us happy. 
  9. Starve. Wait. Scratch that. Indulge.  Make sure rich, chocolate, caffeinated sodas, savory chips and goodies are always within reach while you're sitting at your computer.  Use those extra calories to maintain your energy and keep you from being distracted by annoying things like family dinners. If your cup doesn't runneth over, buy more soda. 
  10. Don't clean your house or do yard work. Oh the hours you'll save if you leave the housework and domestic responsibilities to someone else!  Just put on a set of blinders, or better yet, situate your desk facing a corner. You'll never see the chaos around you. Or the rats and bugs. I'm pretty sure the health department can't enter unless you let them in. 
  11. Holidays are highly overrated.  Holidays require a person to go to parties, socialize, make extra food, shop for presents, and spend time with (shudder) family.  Holidays are no bueno.  Avoid them at all costs. 
  12. Limit your sleep to three hours per night or less. Utilize time originally spent doing nothing. Sleep is a perfect example.  You were accomplishing nothing during those hours anyway. Instead, rise several hours early. Or better yet, pull an all-nighter and hammer out a few thousand more words. 
  13. Type until your fingers bleed. Breaks are for lazy, un-dedicated amateurs.  Carpel Tunnel? All in your head.  Need a break? That's why God created potty breaks. Fingers tired? Rest them while you're grabbing a handful of Cheetos. Then get back to work! Sit down at 5:00 a.m. and type until your fingers bleed.  
  14. Never ever ever write by hand. Oh heavens. There's a reason why typewriters were created. Then replaced by word processors, which were replaced by computers. Who needs the tactile input pen and paper offers? Plus, you're killing trees.  Tons of them!  You don't want to be responsible for decimating an entire rain forest, do you?
  15. Steal, if you must. Sometimes writer's block becomes unbearable. Or you get lazy. Whatever. In that case, plagiarism is okay.  But only if you don't get caught.  If you get caught. Well, then. You're on your own buddy!  Don't say I didn't warn you. Because if anyone asks, I totally threw a hissy fit telling everyone to never ever ever EVER steal someone's work. That'd be just wrong (wink wink).
  16. Let the words flow like a waterfall. Trust your initial instincts.  the most ineffishent use of ur time iz editing ur first & subsequant drafts.  1000's ov people submit there NaNoWriMo 1stdrafts to publishers & lit. agents mere days after completing they're first draft.  Thousands of people can't be wrong, can they????????
  17. Never ever ask for help. Forget about it. Nobody wants to help you.  They're only interested in your final draft. You are an island.  Suck it up and do this by yourself. 
  18. Ignore me.  In fact, do the opposite of everything mentioned. Utilize the Internet for information and resources as needed. Take care of children, nurture family and relationships.  Fulfill your callings. Go to work. Take care of yourself and pets. Take breaks. Ask for help and edit like crazy. Learn along the way. Take your time, and go at your own pace.
Writing is most efficient when done in moderation, fully dependent upon your particular life, priorities, and lifestyle permits. Writing is an activity that can be a hobby, a profession, an obsession, or any variation in between.  The key is to make sure you don't burn out, and you don't ignore the other priorities in your life. The only requirement you have to be a writer is to write. Put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. One word, or 500,000 words; it doesn't matter. Just write.  

Good luck!  Enjoy the journey, and be sure to take time for yourself along the way.  Everything else will come in it's own time. 

All the best, 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Second Coming

by Terri Wagner

I gave this lesson in Gospel Doctrine this past Sunday. It thankfully turned out to be more of positive instead of gloomy lesson, and we as a class managed to reel in the ones who wanted to go speculating. I suggested that perhaps we should ask ourselves why we think we live in the "last days" as compared to other time periods. That was my opening gambit.

I shared with them interesting aspects from the Shardlake series. A brilliant writer CJ Sansom has captured a segment of England's break from Rome in a powerful and compelling way. His main character a medieval lawyer who solves puzzling murders without DNA or cell phones. It's a wonderful series, but the compelling part for me is the backdrop of the break with Rome.

Shardlake starts off a reformist with deepseated beliefs that Erasmus is right. That breaking with Rome will usher in the Second Coming. He also throws his lot in with Thomas Cromwell who you should know helped Henry VIII cast off his Catholic wife and marry wife number two. What makes all this so fascinating is why the reformists believed the "end" was near. See if this rings a bell.

Cataclysmic events were shaking the earth at the time. The plague had been around several times, and still cropped up. Riding on the coattails of plague came famine, and death. The disruption of the monasteries threw thousands out on the streets as beggars, and hospitals for the poor and mentally ill were closed. Nearly all of them starved. Governments were run by men out for their own gain. When Henry VIII closed the monasteries and centuries of beautiful art was destroyed, his "beloved" counselors of the moment lined their own pockets at everyone else's expense. Hard fought civil liberties were set at naught overnight. First the Bible was distributed to any free man or woman, then snatched back only to be given to men in high places who did not stay long in those high places. "They" could come in the night for you for breaking the Sabbath, having an opinion different from the norm, eating or selling meat before Lent was up, throw you in the Tower never to be heard of again.

The reformists believed the restoration had come about through Martin Luther and the shaking off of the Catholic stranglehold. Fresh beginnings were taking hold, religion was central to every aspect of life in medieval England. And the land of milk and honey brought strange wonders like bananas and chocolate to the old world. It is not hard at all to see why they believed the Second Coming was so close.

Bringing it full circle I then asked my class what is different now from then that gives us assurance we are actually the ones living in the last days?

Saturday, June 10, 2017


I’m pretty particular about wearing the right shoes for any occasion. One thing I refuse to do is to wear heels high enough to compensate for my compact height. I realised when my oldest son grew to eye level that I’d be in trouble if I kept buying higher and higher shoes so as to tower over him. I’d need  shoes of a scale that’s just plain dangerous, like the ones I saw an ABBA review band wearing. Those platform shoes had to be eight inches high, and I worried the whole performance about one of them falling off his glittery shoes and breaking a leg in front of the audience. In the case of my son, I feared I’d end up with orthopedic stilts in my old age; not my goal. He passed me up by a good nine inches, and I’m okay with that.

I travel rather a lot, and shoes can make or break a trip. Blisters are tiny things, but the agony they trigger is anything but tiny. On old cobblestones or scaling yet another lighthouse, I don’t want to wear wobbly shoes that invite a turned ankle. When I’m on the go, I opt for walking shoes with good soles; nonskid, cushy, and flexible. I want to be free to explore, without sore feet. 

I bought new shoes for a recent cruise; pretty, comfortable, versitile;  exactly what I needed for the trip. They, plus the ones on my feet, were the only shoes I brought. I chose a much smaller suitcase than Husband’s  and he said, “If you need to put something in mine, just set it on the bed.” I left the pair of new shoes and an alarm clock with his stuff to pack.

 In San Diego, I was baffled to find only one of my shoes and no clock. Who packs one shoe? Found it on the floor at home when we returned; guess it had slipped off the bed, but I still think he should have asked if I really intended to bring both shoes. Does he think I hop?

On a three-week Mediterranean cruise last year, I thought a lot about feet and shoes. In fact, that trip turned onto a thick book, one of my best sellers. We visited nine countries, over 17,000 miles, with nary a blister. I clambered up marble stone steps, walked down streets of Pompeii and Ephesus and old Roman structures I’d only seen in my history books, steps and paths and buildings worn down by three thousand years of people passing by, and I thought about shoes.   

 Think of it; centuries ago, long-forgotten workers laid the stones. As time passed and styles changed, many feet crossed that place. Bare feet of slaves, Roman sandals, tooled leather boots,  soldiers’ shoes, laced sandals, ragged shoes on the feet of travelers from  many nations, delicate high lace ups on the feet of fancy women, stiff boots worn by invading soldiers, soles of leather and wood and fur,  medieval footwear, on to flip-flops and modern athletic footwear, even the preposterously high heels I saw on some silly tourists, across the centuries, on the same byways, scuffing the same stones, walking the same streets, mounting the same stones.

 Think about what those stones could say if they would speak! The people that they’ve seen walking by; families across generations, government leaders, warriors, people whose names were destined to go down in history, slaves in shackles, societies in crushing poverty, others in great wealth, rulers and leaders bedecked in jewels and gold, peasants in rags. The battle of religions came in jolting waves as Christians, Catholics, Muslims, and smaller groups jostled back and forth for the same territory, conquerors, warriors, ordinary residents trying to take care of their family as families take care of their  children all across the generations and all across the world—to walk where they walked was astonishing.

Now I think of the footsteps I make in my daily life. They’re usually invisible, unless I track through something unfortunate, but I leave my unseen mark, same as generations before me.  Who will follow in my steps, generations form now? Am I going anywhere important? When others speak of the example I set, will they have anything kind to say?At the very least, I’ll be comfortable walking there, and I will have both shoes on.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

ComiCon Report

by Marsha Ward  @MarshaWard

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I recently shared a booth at Phoenix ComiCon. I had an interesting four days.

I could tell you about the gunman who got in on Thursday, but I was unaware of the event until I read about it on Facebook. Fortunately, Phoenix police officers took the fellow into custody without incident.

That caused much discomfort for fans on Friday, though, as they had to wait in the sun for a couple of hours while staff and security searched all backpacks, large purses, etc., for any contraband. Prop weapons were banned, weapon sellers were obliged to put purchases into opaque bags (that is, black garbage bags), and one vendor created such a stink that he was told to pack up and leave.

But you probably want to know about my experience. I met two of my booth-mates for the first time. I learned that I probably want a table-front banner of some kind and/or book cover posters if I do something like this again. I did decide to emulate something another author did in our booth. You'll see what that plan is when you come to the Payson Book Festival on July 22.

But as I said above, I had an interesting four days. Costumes abounded, some incredibly detailed, some pretty basic, some outlandish, some lacking much substance. I was amazed, however, at how easily I let go of the need to judge all manner of people and their fascinations. That's not my job, anyway. I simply enjoyed the spectacle and the homemade ice cream.

I sold a handful of books. I didn't expect to sell loads of books. In fact, I scaled back my inventory from tons of books to five of each, because I knew I would not sell many books (plus, I didn't want to undergo the dock loading process).

For one thing, I'm not a well-known, super-star author.

For another, I was offering historical novels for sale at a convention more into sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, and popular TV shows and movies of those cultures. But I did give away my handouts, which have QR codes on the back for people curious about what I was doing there. That is a part of my brand awareness advertising plan.

I enjoyed looking at the costumes, but I could not tell you who about 90 percent of them represented.

I did get a Whovian thrill, though.

BBC America had a Dr. Who booth at which one could have free photos taken: outside with your own camera/phone,

and inside, with a photo emailed to you. By the way, the TARDIS really is bigger on the inside!

Will I do ComiCon as a vendor again? The verdict isn't in yet. If I ever write a book in a genre more in line with the spirit of the Con, perhaps yes. If I don't I can always go as an attendee. That will probably give me less stress and fewer hours of after-event decompressing.

Have you ever been to an event like a ComiCon? Were you an attendee or a vendor? What did you experience?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

How Writing Can Be Cathartic

It's been four years since my father died. He passed exactly eleven months after my mother. Though the doctors blame Gangrene and Diabetes, I know it's from a broken heart.

For Mom, I cried once for three or four minutes. After that, I was done.

 I never cried for my father. Not as I watched the light fade from his eyes, or when they carted his lifeless body out of the house, or at his funeral.  I wasn't even teary-eyed.

For a while I felt guilty for having no emotion.  My father was a hard man to love, but he was still my father. Wasn't that enough? Apparently my mind didn't think so.

In my heart, I've known for years that Define Normal needed to be written. But I opted to let other projects take precedence, pushing it further down my to-do list.

Finally, this winter, my sisters and I decided it was time to write. The sisters decided since I was the writer (insert laughter here), I would spearhead the project.  My only stipulation was that all stories would be funny. I didn't want Debbie Downer vignettes. Define Normal was designed to heal, not re-open wounds from our past. The Crazy Cady Sisters were created.

We began writing, each of us tasked with turning out one story (3-4 pages) per week, and 1 blog post every two weeks.  At first, we reminisced about growing up together, discovering different perspectives about our family and parents based off our 20-year age gap, and added new memories to the old.  We Skyped twice a month, and most of it was spent rolling with laughter and wiping our eyes.

Friendships were re-kindled, and sisterhood was strengthened. We were well on our way to having something to pitch in September at the ANWA Conference.

However, last night, I was reading a sister's blog post, preparing to add it to our Twitter feed.  The blog discussed all the things our father did for our family of ten children.  As I read the exhaustive list, I cried.  Not delicate trickles down the cheek, but giant crocodile tears, snot running out of my nose, and hiccuping sobs.  Years of resentment, anger and sadness escaped.

I mourned the loss of my father while cursing my ignorance and selfishness. I hadn't noticed his struggles to make our family fun, filled with laughter, and to raise hard-working, hard loving, independently minded children.  I cried over my unwillingness to see, and the many chances I missed to tell him I loved him. I sobbed over his big heart. And my small mind.

When I finished wiping my eyes, I knew the tears were a result of our book. We had written the thoughts in our hearts. Some, we already knew. Other emotions were discovered after they settled onto our pages. All of it will be forever etched in black and white for the world, and our other siblings to see.

In the end, I hope our family will draw closer to one another. If we cannot, at least I know how much my father loved me and each of my siblings. Now, after all of these years, I can properly mourn him.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Keeping Up

            I’m not keeping up very gracefully; there, I said it. In the last four months, I’ve had five major trips, my daughter’s family moved (and took my heart with them), Husband retired, I planned and threw a surprise retirement party, I consoled three family members struggling with depression (while trying not to join them), I reorganized and redecorated a room in the house, I accepted a new Church position, finished my second novel, planned its book launch (Murder On Deck), and started another book, while outlining four to follow, all the while juggling routine things like keeping the house running, the refrigerator full, the weeds at bay, the gas tank full, managing the family newsletter, helping friends as needed, and ignoring the squawks of my fat and intriguing medical chart as best I can.

            We’re busy—we’re all very busy. I think the real news is that more of us don’t go up in a puff of smoke by the end of a normal week.  

             We all have the same amount of time in a day, week, month, year, although none of us know when the expiration date looms. How do we prioritize all that needs to be done without going ‘round the bend?

         I think payoff makes a big difference for me. If you offered me a million dollars to wash your dog, even though I detest dogs, I’d be there with my soap and bucket in minutes. Sometimes thoughts swirl in my head, setting up a cloud of distraction I can’t see past. In that case, writing them down (getting them out so they’re less in) is the payoff. Walking past the toy room after my three small grandchildren moved away threatened my tear ducts, so redoing that room, winnowing the roomful of toys to one bin and box of kid books, is what I needed.

        Some days I lie in bed listing all the things I wish to accomplish that day, and arise with a sense of purpose. And there are days when I lie back down at night, knowing I actually did accomplish the list. Those days are infrequent; more often, my plans are derailed by something or someone. 

         When I was a newlywed, I met a woman who was so severely scheduled, she could not let go of her calendar long enough to be of any use to anyone. If a neighbor needed help to run a child to the ER, too bad: Tuesday’s floor-mopping day. On a ward temple trip day, she’d be home washing curtains, because the third Saturday was always curtain-washing day. Personally, I can’t recall the last time my curtains made it up the list of priorities enough to be washed. I bandaged her son’s bleeding knee myself because she wasn’t done rearranging the front closet and he couldn’t wait.

             I watched this woman with fear and fascination, determined to allow myself space and time to help as needed. She accomplished more than I, certainly, but I’d like to think that days when I choose to jettison my plans, I’m choosing the better part. Some days, a friend needs a ride to the store; the laundry will wait. If a grown child needs to talk for an hour, the To Do list is set aside.

        I guess it’s the same with writing.  I know writers who stick to a rigid schedule, say 4am-7am; don’t bother them unless the neighborhood’s on fire. I also know writers who write when the muse rears her head, and not between. So long as I write a bit every day and don’t neglect  the most important tasks, I’m probably alright. Right?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Seminary Rocks

by Kari Diane Pike

I'm baaack!

In the whirlwind of end-of-school activities, out-of-town guests, family weddings, birthdays and unexpected doctor appointments, I completely forgot about popping in here. Making time to write anything has never been more challenging. I even scheduled writing sessions on the calendar and left myself reminder notes. You know that saying, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans"? Life happened. And I'm so glad it did. Life is magnificent - even when it's hard.

So, in between doctor and dental appointments and scurrying around to find last minute items for my trip to Europe (insert a squeal of excitement here) I have to share the sweetest experience we had in seminary last week.

During our study of the book of Revelation, I testified to the students about how learning to hear the Spirit speak to them and then acting on that personal revelation is the greatest skill they can learn. Actually, it's a principle we discussed all throughout the year. Near the end of each class period, I've been asking my students if anyone would share their thoughts on a doctrine or principle that stood out to them. What did the Spirit teach them during class? I'll wait for a minute or two for someone to speak up, but most of the time they just ponder for a bit. Pondering is good. But I really wanted them to share with each other.

Last week  something finally clicked. I asked the usual questions. I heard the usual silence. But just as I opened my mouth to ask a student to offer the closing prayer, Nathan sat up straight and grinned. "Oh! I have something to share. I had an epiphany yesterday."

"That's great, Nathan. What happened?"

Nathan hesitated for a moment and ducked his head. "Well, maybe it wasn't really that big of a deal. Never mind."

"Nathan! We would love to hear your thoughts. Please share it with us. You never know how what you learned might help someone else. That's what this class if for. Go ahead."

"Well, okay. So, It was getting hot outside and I got really thirsty. I wanted a root beer. I opened the fridge and I thought about how great that root beer was going to taste. It would be cold and sweet and fizzy. But then, out of nowhere this thought came to my mind. I could drink that root beer and it would be good, but after I drank it I would still be thirsty. What I really needed was water. And that's when it hit me. That was kind of like the gospel! People look for happiness and solutions to their problems, and they can drink that root beer or Sprite, but while they might enjoy it, it won't solve their problem. They need the Living Water of the gospel to really find the answers that will bring them real happiness. So, yeah. That was my epiphany."

It took all of my self control to keep from jumping over the table and giving Nathan a great big hug. The entire class buzzed with excitement. They could relate to what Nathan said. They felt the Spirit witness to them the truth of what Nathan shared.

I couldn't stop grinning. "Did you write your experience in your journal?"

Nathan looked me right in the eye and said, "Oh, I'll never forget it."

I gave him my best glare. "Nathan, write it down."

We had our last day of seminary yesterday. Even though it was a treat to sleep past 4:30 a.m. I already miss those sleepy faces and the amazing things I learned from them each morning. I can't wait to witness more of these special moments next year.

Bring on summer!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ComiCon and Me

by Marsha Ward  @MarshaWard

Several months ago, I was invited to share a booth with a friend at Phoenix ComiCon. I went back and forth before I decided to give it a go. Now there are four of us authors in the booth.

ComiCon begins Thursday, May 25, and runs through Sunday, May 28.

I'm not positive whether or not I'm a good fit for the event. I write Westerns. ComiCon celebrates popular culture, particularly in the fields of SciFi & Fantasy. But before Firefly, there were Westerns, right?

If nothing else, I can take the expenses off my income taxes in several categories, including Advertising and Fees.

Although ComiCon is not strictly a book event, authors do participate, in both booths and at "Artist Alley" tables. For me, this will be an adventure in marketing, putting my author brand out there, conquering fear and anxiety, and trying to be an extrovert for four days.

I've been working on what books to take, how many copies of each book, how to display the books, how to decorate the booth, and other details. I've sent a ton of questions to my friend, read the policies of the show innumerable times (and I'm sure I missed something!), and even had nightmares.

Yes, nightmares. Horrible, vivid nightmares of having my car stolen from downtown Phoenix, thus stranding me 150 miles from home. Once I got my parking secured, though, the nightmares went away.

The last couple of days, I've been working on handouts. One handout showcases my major series, "The Owen Family Saga," and the other has a headline of "WESTERNS, America's Timeless Fiction," with photos of nine of my works, plus fifteen QR code links to various sites on the reverse.

I also made a ring-bound set of cards with large QR codes for those who wish to go purchase ebooks on the spot. Or just look at one of the books at Amazon.

Why all the QR codes?

In view of the demographic of the attendees, I've decided to take a minimum amount of paperback books, because this crowd is more likely to buy and read ebooks. I'm attempting to make it easy for them to purchase books of mine that catch their interest!  

There are tons of apps for reading/scanning QR codes. I'm hoping many attendees will have such scanning apps.

So much goes on at ComiCon that I probably won't be sitting around watching my feet swell as I thought at first. I might get to go roam a little to take in a panel, or just wander around and see the sights. I'm sure there will be cringe-worthy costumes, but some are likely to be spectacular--even if I don't know what show or comic book character they represent.

My friends have advised me to have fun. By gum, I'm going to have fun. Really, truly.

I'll be in the Four Carat Press Booth in the Lower Level Exhibit Hall, Hall Six, Booth #1797, against the south wall. Come say hello!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Will Not Compare Myself To Others

Normally I'm a pretty confident person.  My life is not perfect. I know it. I've come to terms with the things I cannot change, and I work harder to change what I can.

But for some reason, this last couple of weeks, I've struggled with comparing myself to others.  I don't know if this is because I spent the better part of that time with strep throat and the flu, while also caring for my youngest who had strep throat and a staph infection.  I do know this means I'm about seven pages behind on my to-do list.

I know part of my problem is that I'm spending too much time on social media. It's hard not to compare your rough draft to someone's final product.

I listen to stories from my writer friends who are cranking out a book or two or three a year, and I'm thinking, "Hey! I think I added 2 pages this month."

Plus, I'm working on a book with my sisters. Each of us has a specific list of things responsibilities for the book.  We also have a mountain of other responsibilities in addition to writing this book.  As we do our daily/weekly check-ins, I continually struggle with internal dialogue accusing me of not pulling my weight and doing as much, or as well, or as often...well, you get the picture.

Finally, last night around 1:00 a.m., as I was staying up extra late to close the self-perceived gap between me and my sisters, I threw my hands up in the air.  I closed my eyes, wishing I could go to bed and get some sleep. But my mind kept saying, "Just a few more minutes.  You're almost caught up."

For one brief moment, I remembered a conversation with my husband earlier in the day. We'd been talking about the atonement, but it just as easily related to my desire to 'keep up'.  He told me, "What you do is good enough.  It doesn't need to be  your very best, or 100% all the time.  As long as you are trying, that's good enough."

And with that thought, I drug my butt out of my chair, and shuffled to bed.

This morning, without the fog of exhaustion seeping into my thoughts, I see the error of my ways.  Why am I comparing myself to someone who isn't living the same life I am? They're not fighting my battles. They don't have the same demands on their time.  Yes, there are people who write better, more prolifically, and publish more often than me.  I will be there one day.  But there is a time and a season for everything.  This is not my time or season to be a full-time writer.  I am a full-time mother, and a part-time writer.  Full-time writing will come in time.  I just need to be patient. Comparing myself to others is like opening the front door and welcoming Satan to make himself at home.  Nothing good will come of it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What is it about Facebook?

by Terri Wagner

So many published writers I know tell you that you need a website, a twitter account, a blog, and of course be on FB. I have often wondered what the benes are for being on FB for actually writing your novel. I see the bene for promoting and marketing your book, but writing it?

Since I love research, I went looking for the benes on having FB as part of your writing experience. Here's what I found. Hope it gives you some ideas on how to utilize FB to your advantage as a writer. Five Ways That Social Media Benefits Writing and Language author Tenore believes that social media can help you be a better writer. My favorite of Tenore's suggestions is setting yourself apart by writing your comments well. Hones your ability to write well in a larger context like a book.

Shahabi suggests that it gives the readers an "in" with their favorite author, prompting an exchange of ideas and even suggestions on where to take the characters or storyline. I particularly like that idea since I know that several early authors of the Star Wars Expanded Universe worked together and the movies coming out now include some of those Expanded Universe characters and plotlines on minor characters.

Pew Research has concluded that all the writing we do on social media can still help us in formal writing. Good news. Teachers feel that while informal writing "creeps" into formal writing, it's an opportunity to teach students about the difference between formal and informal writing, as well as clarifying what constitutes plagiarism.

I remember many years ago that President Kimball encouraged us to keep journals using formal language. Bottom line is that everyone seems to agree that writing takes practice and the more practice the better so sharpen your tools by submitting those Facebook posts and comments. It's a good thing.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


              Have you ever thought about sponges? Natural sponges go way back in history. Mentioned in Old Testament, Jesus on the cross, pilgrims on the Mayflower had them, pioneers carried them across the plains, they’re used in many societies, old and recent. Natural sponges are commercially harvested in only two places on earth; Greece, and Tarpon Springs, Florida.

                     When Greek immigrants moved to western Florida, they brought sponge diving skills and heritage with them. They sent their sons into the Gulf of Mexico to explore, and were delighted to find sponge beds. A community was established.

                  Sponge harvesting process is interesting. Divers, young men ages 18-24,  wear weighted underwater suits with trailing air hoses, connected to compressors on the sponge boats. They leave all that’s familiar and descend into foreign and often hostile regions. 30 -145 feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico. At that depth, there is very little light, and of course, no air. They stay underwater until their harvest bags are full, returning to the boats over and over, 5-8 hours a day. The small boats stay out in the Gulf  far from shore, several weeks at a time. The divers drag long net bags, and carry rakes with them. The rakes have 4 tines five inches long, which are used to both measure and harvest mature sponges. As they walk along the sea bottom, they pop off sponges and pack them into the long bags that trail behind them. The sponges leave behind micro particles, which then grow into new sponge colonies.

             At this point, the sponges are unappealing, and almost unrecognizable. They are covered in thick black slimy skin, like squishy rocks. Back on the boat, they are dumped out of the nets and piled two deep on the boat’s decks. They are turned and tossed to dry in the blistering Florida sun. After a few days, the sponges are beaten and battered to remove the skin, which is now dry and papery.

          Now the sponges are the familiar texture and a dingy yellow, recognizable, but not yet useful. They are soaked in a caustic solution to remove sand, small shrimp, other contaminants.  They are strung like beads on a necklace and draped high above the boat's decks. After several weeks, the boat is full and returns to shore. There the sponges are clipped, graded and sold for many uses.

              If harvested and put through the process, and cared for, sponges can last many years, even generations.  If they are not harvested, they are not good for much. They will eventually die and decay. Even sea creatures will not eat them.
We are much like the natural sponges. We are content to sit in the familiar darkness, stuck firmly to our favorite rocks, where not much is required of us.   The Lord created the lowly sponges to be used and useful. He wants us to be alive, vibrant, bright, strong and of use in his kingdom.

               To do that, we must be individually gathered and brought into the light, and go through a refining process. The process of becoming all we are meant to be  is not easy. The sponges probably don’t like their process, either. We humans often grumble about leaving our favorite spot in the comfortable darkness. The sponges are not fond of being hauled out of their environment. They don’t adjust well to the piercing hot sun which causes them to die on some level. They likely protest shedding their slimy skin, a part of them they probably thought was important, but actually prevented them from becoming clean and capable and useful. Do we balk when called upon to give up our favorite sins, or lazy habits? Do we mutter when asked to serve? The scriptures refer to putting off the natural man --- is that similar to the sponges’ gooey skin, holding them back from all they could become?

We humans don’t enjoy trial, work, stress, illness, problems, sorrow, or temptation. It’s way easier to sit in the darkness, where so little is required. Sponges are meant to reach their potential, and so are we.

                  Natural sponges can last many years, and the only care they require is to be thoroughly rinsed off and left to dry between uses. Like the sponges, if we serve where needed, and rinse off sins and contaminants as they arise, taking time to dry and regroup between challenges, we can be available to help wherever we are needed in the Lord’s kingdom.

           As we go along the path called life, we must guard against the temptation to judge others. We are all at different stages of the process. Like the sponges, some are still anchored in darkness, unaware of the brilliant light available. Others are recently scooped into the gospel net, unsure of that happens next, or what is expected of them. We all know Saints who are crusty, and others who happily soak up all they can. Some may  be half dried, others basking in the hot sun, others rather flakey. Some of us need a through rinsing, some are already clean and productive, a few almost worn out in service. Some feel we want to sit on the shelf a while, others feel decidedly wrung out. 

           Living the gospel requires effort and some sacrifice.  Joseph Smith explained the important relationship between sacrifice and faith thusly, “ A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary to life and salvation.” We humans tend to be a lazy bunch, but in our hearts, we know effort is required. Deep down, we know we must DO something, even if we don’t much feel like it. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Advice for Writers: Write the Book!

By Marsha Ward @MarshaWard

The first step to getting a book published is to write it. Here's an encouraging excerpt about that from my new book for writers, The Checklist: Indie Publishing My Way.

The essential step in publishing a book is writing it. Yeah. That. This step will take however long it does, but the sooner you develop habits that help you move forward—without an internal editor on your shoulder to make you write, rewrite, polish, and re-polish Chapter 1—the better. It doesn't matter whether or not you own the most popular writer's software out there, or if you write your 1st draft using Word, Open Office, Pages, or Notepad. The point is to push through and finish the draft, because you can't publish a book that isn't finished.

On my checklist, I allow two to three months for writing. Sometimes I hit it, and sometimes I don't, Because Life. Happens. Did I mention that I have a condition known as ADHD? That's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A great many creative people—or Creatives, for short—suffer from this malady in its various forms. The condition is difficult to deal with, but all challenges can be overcome (or so I keep telling myself).

Here's a Truth that you must remember: every writer writes differently. In other words, there is no One True Way to write. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that their method for writing is the only method of writing.

The corollary to the Truth is that every writer may write each book differently. Okay, I don't want to scare you or introduce unneeded stress into your life, so I won't say much more about that. Just realize that you may need to write a second book using a different method. No stressing about it, okay? Just get this book finished.

Writers write using methods that string along a spectrum that ranges from Plotter at one end to Pantser at the other. Where you may fall on this spectrum (and it probably will shift from time to time and book to book) depends on how your brain is wired. Plotters feel a compulsion to know everything that will happen in a book, so they plot it out, using outlines of varying degrees of exactitude and comprehensiveness. Pantsers (the name comes from the term "writing-by-the-seat-of-your-pants") are also called organic or discovery writers. They want to write the story and discover what happens as their fingers work on the keyboard. You'd be surprised how many top authors are Pantsers. Really surprised.

Pantsers often are stymied by complete outlines. For example, if I write so little as a synopsis of a book, my brain says, "Well, look there, you've written the story. You don't need me anymore," and it shuts down and refuses to cooperate with me in writing a first draft.

There is so much danger in this state of affairs that I cannot plot out a book. I can only figure out who the main character is, a vague estimate of where the book could end, and maybe a couple or three things I hope will happen along the way. I usually know when and where the story will be set, and maybe what the "inciting incident" or "change in the character's life" is. Beyond that, I have to let my mind direct my fingers when I write.

The process is really kind of cool.

That doesn't mean it's your process. It's mine. And it can change. Slightly.

Different books I've written have called for different degrees of foreknowledge, so I have ranged a bit from the Pantser end toward the Plotter end, but never so much that my brain turned off.

Go with what works for you in writing your book, but do go forward.

The Checklist: Indie Publishing My Way is now available for only $4.99 on the sites of all major ebook vendors:

Coming soon in Print!

Friday, May 5, 2017

5 Ways I am Working To Become a Better Writer

If you talk writers, nearly all of them are constantly learning about their craft.

At the 2016 ANWA Writer's Conference, I listened to Anika Arrington confess not using pages from her past books as examples for her class because her writing had changed too much over the last several years.

I remember thinking, "Your books are published. How are they not good enough?"

Since then, I've seen my writing change drastically. For the better, I hope.  Below are some ways I've worked at becoming a better writer

1. Read.  I often thought I could read or I could write, but I didn't have time to do both.  Um, No.  Find time.  Always find time.  Though I don't read as prolifically as most, I do my best. Even if it's a book in the car while waiting for my kids, or on the stairs as I wait for my youngest's bus to pull up.  Every bit counts.  Especially when I'm actively writing.  I'll nearly hyperventilate when I get to a scene that grabs me, then obsess over it for days, dissecting the scene until I know exactly how it was written to evoke such emotions.

2.  Listen. It took a while to realize I should "plug in" during my 30-minute work commutes with an audio book, a TED talk, a conference talk, Podcast, or anything that may cause my creative juices to flow. Now, I multitask. I'll try to listen while doing housework, driving, or any other time where I'm doing mindless activities.

3. Don't Listen. Some of my best inspiration is found during those aforementioned drives when the radio is off and I let my mind wander, replaying my current scene until I have the dialogue just right. I may consider 'what if' scenarios for future books, or add layers of interest to characters I'm working on.

4. Learn. I spend way too much time on Pinterest. Ask anyone who knows me. Or several who don't. I agree.  Anyone with more than 40,000 pins has a problem.  I'm sure I'll have an intervention soon.  But Pinterest has a crazy amount of resources and links to writing-related tutorials, material, information, tips, and ideas.  At last count, my Board,  "The Writer In Me" had 4,950 links to writing-related resources. Plus, I have 25 other writing-related boards. Several of the pins I've read, and others I haven't, hoping to come back when I have more time.  My goal is to read 3-4 how-to articles a week.

5. Apply.  After learning something new, I invariably end up back at my current WIP, sifting through the pages to see how I can apply my new-found knowledge. Sometimes I feel like I'm spinning my wheels, re-editing the same pages. Other times, it's as if angels are singing from Heaven.  Either way, it's forward progress.

No matter how I look at it, writing is a fluid process.  For someone who loves to learn, I couldn't have chosen a better hobby/obsession/wanna-be profession. The writer I was seven months ago at the ANWA Convention versus the writer I am are two different people. Hopefully for the better. But I know this progress is due to the efforts I make, bringing me one-step closer to being the writer I want to be.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Really? Trump's fault? LOL

by Terri Wagner

Disclaimer: This is not a policical post but a language discussion.

Recently I ran across this article that for some reason struck me as hilarious. Now I'm Trump supporter so I was curious as to what Mr. Charles Blow was ranting about. First he insults everyone that voted for Trump by saying we all use the words that people with 4-6 grade education would use, and Trump uses words even less educated than that. Then Blow adds insult to injury by saying that at least Trump is better than George W. Bush. I was laughing too hard to continue, but I just had too.

Blow goes on to say that we are so stupid we think because Trump delivers his words in "a clumsy, folksy lie delivered by a shyster using broken English..." we accept them as truth. He suggests the folksy style lowers our natural suspicion because we just think someone who talks on that level must be telling the truth.

He also insults both Trump and his supporters by directly stating that Trump watches too much TV and doesn't read that much. Implying his supporters are the same. Blow describes Trump's recent interviews with The Times, The Associated Press, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal shows a person with "the intellectual depth of a coat of paint." Blow continues by adding that "In Trump world, facts don’t matter, truth doesn’t matter, language doesn’t matter." And concludes with "Degradation of the language is one of Trump’s most grievous sins."

Like Trump or not, I am still laughing because one, Blow really thinks degradation of the language is a sin, and two, that Trump is the cause of it all. The beauty and frustration of our peculiar language is that it is fluid. As new waves of immigrants move here, our language takes on the challenge of relating to us all. Twitter and the hashtag phenomenon has totally changed the way we spell things...and I am kinda liking the challenge of learning clever ways to say things like LOL, GN, ROTFL...the list goes on.

I mean truly we do not say things like "He loved chivalrye Trouthe and honour, freedom and curteisye"...Geoffrey Chaucer. Or ""Ha! Art thou Bedlam? Dost thou thirst base Trojan, to have me fold up Parca's fatal web? Hence! I am qualmish at the smell of leek" from Shakespeare's Henry V.

Let's celebrate our language and its fluidity. And I did email Blow and say one of the underpinnings of writing to keep things on an 8th grade level. And don't worry our language can handle it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why and How To Write Nonfiction

I'm out of, well, country, this week, so here are some notes from a recent workshop I presented: 

Reasons To Write A Non Fiction Book
1. You’re already an expert on ... something. Do you have parenting skills, nursing insights, do your friends rave about your Thai cooking, can you re-seat a rattan chair or keep iguanas alive? 
2. They sell, and, if you find a niche, often earn more money than fiction
3. It’s easier than you think! Just lay out facts, add details, maybe a sketch or two, get a proofreader, and off you go. 
I know it’s effective, easy and profitable. I’ve self-published eleven nonfiction books, with much less angst than my novels, and they’re bringing in significantly more money each month!  My first, a book on cruise vacations, is still selling dozens a week after 2 1/2 years, and has over 310 reviews on Amazon. The much shorter kid-activity series is nothing more than my files from my seven years as a Girl Scout leader and four as a den mother in the pre-Pinterest era, arranged with line drawings. 
The How To:
See A Need, Meet That Need. The best-selling non-fiction books fill a gap, or add a twist to a topic that interests people. Ancient crocheting techniques may not be a best-seller, but How To (almost anything!) books sell like crazy.
Identify Your Audience. The narrower it is, the more successful the book can be, with the exception of a few highly niche markets. A highly-technical topic may require more detail than a book on party games. 
Keep It The Right Length. Fiction books have strict rules about length, depending on genre. Nonfiction can be anywhere from a pamphlet to epic-length. Around 20,000 words is a good starting point. This frees up time; I finished six of my shorter nonfiction books in under three months.
Know Your Competition. The trick is to present it in a way that is relatable, understandable, and utilize your unique voice. Use your voice to fill gaps not covered by other eBooks in your niche. Zero in: “Low carb” is ho-hum but “Low carb traveler” is a unique perspective. Do some research and see what else is already available, then figure out how you can make it your own.
Write What You Know. If you have years of experience gardening with carrots, traveling by kayak, or cooking for a veggie-adverse family, speak up! What talents have you developed through Church activity? Go ahead and research. You don’t have to know it all beforehand, but be familiar with your subject. Readers see right through flim-flam.
Use Real Life Examples to make your book relatable. Unless you’re writing a yawn-worthy college textbook, make it interesting, not dry. Add in personal stories and real-world experiences to enhance your point, yours or other people’s. Your readers want to learn from you, so share!
Read. Research up-to-date information, identify your competition, find gaps and find a way to fill the need. Read reviews on other books in your field. What are reviewers complaining about? Are they getting the same old thing with no unique perspective? Are they expecting more advanced strategies? Use their negative reviews of your competition to fill that gap with your own book.
Watch The Market. Be aware of seasons; Camping and gardening books sell better in the spring and summer, holiday craft books do better in the autumn, be aware of travel seasons if you write travel books. Try to release your book at the proper time.
Humor is Your Best Friend, regardless of topic. Humor relieves tension, spruces up boring areas, and helps your book be more relatable, as well as cementing facts in your readers’ minds. A two-line story can make even papercuts interesting.

Try a search online for “How To Write Non-Fiction” and while you’re there, look up “How To Self-Publish.” I find that works best for   nonfiction.. It’s a faster way to get books Out There, which is especially important for very current topics. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Time Enough

by Kari Diane Pike 

Time. I can spend it, waste it, kill it, or use it wisely but no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to find a way to save it. I remember people asking me what I would do with all my spare time once all our children were in school. And again when our youngest left home for college and a mission. That was two years ago and I have yet to find all that spare time I hear others talk about. 

To be completely honest, I do have a little more "control" over how I use my time. I don't often have little ones who need to be fed and bathed and dressed and hugged. My laundry loads shrank from three to five loads a day to just three or four loads twice a week. So yeah. There's that. 

The past two weeks have been stuffed with doctor appointments, tending grandchildren, end-of-school activities with said grandchildren - piano recitals, choir concerts, lunches, etc. all on top of the usual need to prepare meals, shop for groceries, water the garden, and so on. Today is a family wedding, so lots of out-of-town guests, food prep, errands, and more. And no time to write...

What I have discovered however, is that when I tend to the most important things, I have time enough and to spare. Time expands to fill every need and even some of the wants.

How do you find time?

Life is magnificent. 


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Business of Indie Publishing: Print Editions

by Marsha Ward

I’ve just finished taking a course on business for fiction writers. One of the things I’ve learned is that an Indie Publisher should have many streams of revenue. Here a few sales and there a few sales adds up.

One revenue stream often neglected by Indies is print editions. I’ve heard that I should rectify this situation.

It must be true. Many times I’ve heard one of my friends say, “Well, I’ll buy it when it comes out in print.” Make that two, no, three friends. There must be more who I haven’t heard from.

I’ve always thought, Well, it’s only a novella, and I don’t plan to do it in print. It’s too small.

Always Learning New Stuff

But I’ve learned that nothing is too small for print! Bundling several projects together can make a larger printed product, but it’s a valid idea to have ALL work in print.

So, I’ve taken a bit of time away from writing to do some business “housekeeping.” That is, I’ve been making print editions of a couple of pieces of my work. I will continue to do this in the future.

I also uploaded an updated print cover for The Man from Shenandoah with the correct Book Number, and will do the same with Spinster’s Folly after TMFS clears the process.

Besides that, I’m toiling over new print editions for the last two of the Owen Family Saga novels, Ride to Raton, and Trail of Storms. Once they are ready to go, I’ll rescind permission for iUniverse to print those books. My relationship with them will then be at an end.

FYI, prices of the print editions for Gone for a Soldier, The Man from Shenandoah, and Spinster’s Folly have gone up a dollar each, but Amazon is holding the line with sales at the lower prices. I don’t know how long that will last, however.

Now In Print:

Newly published is a print edition of Western Stories: Four Tales of the West, with a brand new cover! It’s currently available for $6.99 plus shipping and handling from CreateSpace, Amazon, and

Work continues on a mega print edition of The Complete Owen Family Saga. That has been quite an undertaking. I’ve had to change the font and margins several times in order to keep the book within the page limit for the size. At first, I thought I might have to go up to 8 1/2- x 11-inches, but I figured out a way to keep it at the familiar 6-x 9-inches.

It will be a thick book. The minus is that it has over 400,000 words, so the font size is smaller than I would like. However, it’s going to have that stunning yellow cover. I might do it in the silky-feeling matte cover. The five novels within are in the best reading order. Those are big pluses.

I trust these moves will be good for business.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Anger and Rage From a Writer's Perspective

For those of you who don't know, I have a son with Down syndrome. I've been blogging about him  from the moment I discovered he'd have Trisomy 21. I've discussed Jacob-related miracles, stories from the three months he's spent in the hospital, his open-heart surgery, and numerous milestones that make up his life. As a result, I probably love Jacob more fiercely than my other children because I've had to fight so hard to keep him in our family.

In addition to blogging, Jacob has his own Instagram Account so I can share him with others also touched by people with disabilities. Not only can I share and rejoice with family and loved ones who had a hand in Jake's development, but there are people whose lives are similar to mine. Together, we rejoice in the triumphs, mourn the lows, and pray for miracles as needed.

Today, I experience my first troll on Jacob's account.

Last week Jacob's big sister had a pirate themed birthday party. So, I took a picture of Jake with a patch over his eye, looking fierce. The caption was, "Arrrr! I'm a pirate!" and posted it on his Instagram account along with a couple of Down syndrome related hashtags.

The troll, someone who doesn't follow my account, then proceeded to say something nasty about Jacob, and tag one of his friends to come look at Jake's picture.

Arrr! I'm a pirate!!
In that split second, when I realized what had happened, my blood boiled, ears burned, jaw pulsed, stomach roiled, and heart surged with adrenaline. My fists balled into fists and lips pursed into a tight line. I'm pretty sure I may have suppressed a growl too.  This was an honest-to-goodness fight-or-flight reflex, and Mamma Bear was ready to rumble.

I resisted the urge to hunt that troll to the ends of the earth and inflict unimaginable amounts of misery on them. How dare they say such mean and hurtful things about a child who cannot stand up for himself.  Instead, I blocked the troll and immediately made Jacob's Instagram private.

And then I spent the next several minutes, from a writer's perspective of course, examining that instantaneous reaction I'd experienced. In essence, I dissected my emotional reaction, noting each physical and emotional reaction I'd felt.

It's been decades since I've felt rage. I hope never to feel it again. But, should I have a character in one of my stories who needs to show and feel rage, I now have first hand documentation of what that emotion feels like.