Sunday, July 5, 2015

Forked Ton


By Beckie Carlson

My son has a gift. When he was small….around five, we found a mouse on our back porch. It was a tiny thing with a long tail. He was not afraid of it at all. He picked it up and swung it around by its tail. They became the best of friends. He played with it for a long time. When it was time to set it free (and wash our hands) we dropped it out in the ferns in our back yard. The little guy looked up at my son with longing in his beady little eyes. It was almost as if it was saying, “Can’t I stay with you?” sniff sniff….it was magical. And a little weird.
I’ve finally had a chance to get into the pool I spent my entire life savings on this week. It’s been hot as….Phoenix, and it is an easy way to keep the grandson happy and not making messes inside. My son decided to grace us with his presence this week as well. We were splashing along when I spied a tiny, TINY, lizard holding on for dear life under the lip of the pool.
I am not afraid of lizards, how could I have been after living in Florida, but I called my son over to get the little guy. I was holding the grandson and didn’t think I could wrangle two wild beasts at once. My son came over and got the lizard to climb into his hand. He was perfectly happy in his hand. In fact, he staying with my son for quite a while. He rode in  his hand, climbed up his arm, walked across his chest, and finally built an impromptu next in his hair. I can handle the body walking, but when something other than a hot guys hands get in my hair…there is a problem. My son had no problem with it. He walked around with this tiny lizard for over an hour.
I told my son he must be a lizard whisperer. He said no, he just understood living things. I have to agree with him on this. My son may have trouble expressing himself, getting along with other, and saying things that are appropriate at times, but he can get along with any animal.
When we got our last dog, she would stand over him like she was protecting him. Our cats will sit on the back of a couch or chair and groom his hair. He literally has an animal magnetism.
I think most people with autism have a special awareness that gives them insight into the animal world. Maybe they don’t have any preconceived notions about the difference between man and beast. Maybe they really can communicate on a higher level. Maybe they smell better. I don’t know. All I know is that if I get lost in a forest, I want my son with me to ‘talk’ to the beasts so they don’t eat me. Cause I said so.

Photo credit:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!! Thoughts on Patriotism

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Today is the day we officially celebrate the Declaration of Independence. A little-known fact is that the date is not when the document was written, or signed, or voted on, or presented to King George.  It's quite simply the date that was written on the draft that was approved by the Continental Congress, after all the edits they had debated over and agreed upon had been made. That doesn't make it any less important to celebrate any more than the history of why we use December 25 to celebrate Christ's birthday makes THAT celebration any less important.

Teensy bit more trivia: did you know that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826? James Monroe died on a 4th of July as well, and Calvin Coolidge was born on the Glorious Fourth. Just cool stuff. No bearing on anything, really.

The reason I was tooling around on the net to find these little tidbits, was because I was looking for someplace non-partisan to find a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I've been thinking for a long time that I need to study these documents more. I need to teach them to my children.

What does it mean to be a patriot? Does it mean that we wave the flag and jump to defend the honor of everything the United States does? Do we give a black eye to anyone who dares imply that the country may have done wrong in any epoch of its history (including modern day)? Are critics un-patriotic?

Well, in a word, no. None of those things are actual patriotism.

Patriotism, American Patriotism at least is a dedication to the ideals upon which our nation was founded. Some of those ideals are actually revolutionary to this day. The thought that we can completely and utterly disagree with our government, established by the Founding Fathers, and still call ourselves lovers of the country they created, seems absolutely revolutionary. But here it is, from the Declaration of Independence:

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” –Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence

So, the love of our country and our fellow citizen serves as the impetus for change. Our love for free-thinking, for individual freedom, means that we debate--hotly--our own positions and beliefs about what the government should be doing, controlling, overseeing, or not. To debate IS patriotic, if the purpose is to better the country and the status of its citizens.

But in order to intelligently debate, decide, vote, and act, we must know the principles to which we are dedicated. I learned all about the Constitution when I was in high school. At Brigham Young University, we had to take an American Heritage class--a combination of civics and history that was pretty intensive--it even had a LAB. But, it's been (REDACTED) years since then and most of what I've learned has faded from my mind. So, I am dedicating myself to getting reacquainted with the Constitution. I want to be able to contribute meaningfully to not just the national debate, but to affecting change in my community, my state, my country.

There are MANY sites that offer downloads or even books of the Constitution in different formats. There are online classes that can be taken. Like I said, I don't want to be partisan in this post, so I was looking for something without political leanings one way or the other in order to provide a resource for you if YOU would like to take a gander/refresher on our Constitution. I found the following website and read a lot of "we will not take sides" from different pages, as well as many different documents and offerings for educational opportunities. Here's the site:

No matter what side of any debate you're on, whatever your political leanings, there's no denying that our country is in trouble. It's being ruined by (insert politically opposite point-of-view-holder here) and it's up to each of us to halt its rapid decline.

Part of patriotism is being educated as to what ideals you are being loyal to.

One last quote:

Let's show our patriotism by giving ourselves the tools to do the job at hand.

God Bless America.  (I really mean that, I'm not just being patriotic)

What does PATRIOTISM mean to you?

Friday, July 3, 2015

What's So Great About the End of the World?

This year will be my first year teaching 9th grade English. So this summer, in addition to reading the massive amounts of first-year-teacher advice books, I’ve also been catching up on my young adult (YA) novels. I’ve always prided myself on being a hub for great book recommendations. Not to brag, but I have multiple friends and a few strangers (who have become good acquaintances) come to me for advice on their next book. It’s amazing and wonderful to have that kind of influence and trust. Choosing books is very personal, and I am honored to have people willing to listen to my advice. I hope to be able to earn that same trust with my students. In order to do that, I have to read!

That said, back to the YA books. Since I’ve been reading so many young adult books back to back, I’ve started to see a trend. A vast majority of the more popular books are dystopian fiction. After reading my fifth novel having to do with the end of the world and a bunch of kids fending for themselves, I started to ask myself, why? Why are these books flying off the shelves?

I could be jaded by now (which is sad) but a lot of these books follow the same plot points:
-          An oppressive government hiding behind a utopian facade
-          Vaguely described post-apocalyptic world
-          A persecuted or suffering protagonists who will become the brave hero or heroine of the story
-          Division within the society: rich-against-poor, elite-against-workers, government-against-citizens

As I started on my sixth novel that was more or less the same theme as the other five, I decided to look at it from a different point of view. I tried reading it as a young adult would, all the while asking myself questions about why this would appeal to my “teenage” self. Here are a few of my thoughts:

1.       The Lack of Adults
-          I think the lack of adults is the number one reason teenagers like to read dystopian fiction. Young adult literature is a break from authority figures telling them what to do, what to watch, and what to read. It makes sense that teenagers would relish the idea that adults were either missing or incapable of helping to change their circumstances. The burden of being a hero falls onto the shoulders of children, with whom the readers identify.

2.       The End of the World
-          The end of the world is a fascinating prospect. Will we be overrun by zombies? Will the surface of the world be pocked with craters from a massive meteor shower? Will there be massive floods that makes the remaining humans build treehouses and live among the leaves? The possibilities are endless and the small glimpse in how humanity handles The End is interesting.   

3.       Young Hero Rising from Nothing
-          Seeing someone rise from humble beginnings to become the hero of the world is inspiring and motivating. We all have a touch of ordinariness, but we hope and wish that one day we will be able to prove ourselves extraordinary. Of course it would most likely be because we were the first person in our family to graduate from college, or we were able to get a book published against the odds *wink!*, but who knows. Maybe we will be overrun by werewolves and one of us will have to take down the pack leader in order to restore peace…it’s a possibility!

4.       The Action and Suspense
-          Action and suspense catches the eye of readers. Guys, especially teenage guys, don’t care about love triangles or sparkly vampires. But if there are fights to the death for survival, then they become very interested.  Readers get to place themselves in the shoes of the protagonist and feel the danger, but without placing themselves in jeopardy. Look at the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I can tell you right now, if I were part of the Hunger Games, I would not last long. Not that I wouldn’t try my best to survive, but I really don’t think I could kill another human, much less a kid. But that’s the beauty of dystopian novels. We delve into our minds and ask ourselves, “What would I do?”

5.       Righting Injustice
-          This world is full of wrongs that we wish we could change. In dystopian novels, the heroes have that chance to change what they see. They start a covert revolution, or join one that is already gaining strength. They fight back. I’m sure there are times where we wish we could fight back against the injustices that we see unfolding in our reality.

I’m sure there are more reasons why people enjoy reading dystopian fiction, but these are my top five that I see consistently. Do I wish there was a little more variety in the dystopian novels that are out there now? Sure, but I think each book has something to teach us. Whether we are running with the protagonist as they are being chased by Grievers or fighting side by side against a pack of flesh eating unicorns, we come away feeling flush with adventure and weary of societies that seem too good to be true. If you want to learn more about what dystopian novels are teaching our students/kids, here is a link to an interesting article: (YA dystopias teach children to submit to the free market, not fight authority)

Now, what do you think attracts people, not just teenagers, to dystopian literature? Can you add to my list of common reasons for the attraction of it? Why do you think, especially in recent years, that this subgenre has taken over the YA sections in libraries and bookstores?  I’d love to know what you think!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Gratitude Challenge

by Katy White

In seminary, I remember being challenged to occasionally say a prayer where I didn't ask for anything but simply thanked the Lord for my blessings. Over the years, I've made a point of doing this once every few months. But recently, I found myself in a rut of anxiety where I seemed to be pleading for the same things on loop (in addition to almost obsessive concerns over my children's and husband's safety, things like "please let my newborn sleep tonight," "please, please help me to calm my mind and sleep tonight," "please, please, please help me to have patience to handle today on so little sleep," were common refrains).

I tend toward sleep anxiety, if you couldn't tell.

In the midst of this, I realized I felt more anxious after my prayers than I did before them, almost as if my desperation-filled prayers were fueling my fears instead of allaying them. I knew it was time for a change, and I knew what that change had to be. I needed to focus on gratitude.

The night I made this decision, I laid it all out for Heavenly Father. I told Him that I couldn't stop stressing about my kids, my husband, my loved ones going through trials, and I mentioned how worried I was about staying sane and patient with so little sleep. I told Him that I knew He knew all of this, and that during this time where I wouldn't ask for anything, I was going to trust that He wouldn't forget about those things for me. During that portion of my prayer, I was wracked with sobs. Having faith and letting go in this way was hard, and I wasn't ready for it to be freeing yet. But I was committed to my gratitude challenge. My goal was set.

Cue the conflict.

The following day while my daughter was playing with friends, there was an accident. She fell from several feet up and smacked her head on concrete. She was shaking, crying, and really upset, but her pupils looked fine and I couldn't feel a bump on her head, so I thought (hoped) she was okay. She calmed down after a little while, and she even started playing with her friends again. The moment she stopped running, though, she started throwing up. A lot.

My friend and I got her cleaned up, packed into the car, and I instantly headed for the hospital, knowing she had a concussion. As I drove, I began to pray. "Please--"

I stopped. I'd just promised myself and the Lord the night before that I wouldn't ask for anything for two weeks. My chest burned. I had to keep that promise. But how?

I paused to reflect on what I knew was true, and I decided to express thankfulness for every one of those things: I was thankful I had good health care. I was thankful an emergency room was close with good doctors. I was thankful to know that the Lord was aware of me and my daughter. I was thankful that I could receive revelation for her. I was thankful that the Lord's hand was in my life.

My fears weren't completely erased, but focusing on the good comforted me in a way that no amount of begging for help could have. After staying in the hospital for a few hours with her under observation, the doctor said he thought she was doing all right. He gave me a choice to do further tests (including one that would expose her to radiation) or to go home and come back if any other symptoms manifested. When I prayed about that decision, I told the Lord how grateful I was to have the perspective of the doctor and nurse. I told the Lord what I felt was the right thing to do and expressed gratitude again for the knowledge that I could receive revelation and that He would stop me if I made the wrong decision. This time, putting my faith in Him felt liberating. I had some minor doubts about my decision (because I hadn't progressed so much in 16 hours that I could let things go completely), but I didn't dwell on them like I would have if I were saying my usual prayers.

And that felt good.

Over the next 13 days, I learned about a good friend's financial troubles and a relative's serious health issues, among other things. When I prayed, I said how thankful I was that the Lord was aware of them and loved them. As I thought about their situations, instead of asking the Lord to help them or to help me know how to help them, I expressed gratitude for the things I knew I could do to help. I found myself thanking the Lord more for the ways he'd blessed me that would allow me to bless them. The Spirit filled me in these prayers so strongly that I wept with love and gratitude. Not only was I learning how to take more responsibility for the trials in my life, but I was learning that those trials were laden with blessings. My relationship with my Heavenly Father was stronger than it had been in...I don't know how long. Those two weeks were as filled with the Spirit as any I can remember.

It has been just over two weeks since I finished the challenge. I'm not sticking to the no-asking rule, but I find that I'm still so busy enumerating my blessings that when I reach the "please" portion, it's brief and general, and when I say "let thy will be done," I feel a kind of sincerity and earnestness that I can honestly say I've never felt before.

The Lord has blessed me--all of us--beyond comprehension. And I, for one, am unspeakably grateful for that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What's Your Story?

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

Today at MMW finds me trying to kill two birds with one stone. I am part of a homeschool co-op that meets for two eight-week sessions during the regular school year. This coming year, I’ll be teaching (theoretically) a writing class directed toward kids ages 8–12, and I’ve been working on the class description.

The last description I wrote for this class was crazy boring, which is a shame because I think the class itself is actually going to be tremendously fun. Card games, story dice, ad-libbed stories, art projects like dioramas of settings and portraits of characters. Plus watching movie clips, listening to music, a multimedia extravaganza! So I have tried to jazz it up.

The class is for our co-op, and most of the classes there are fun, not strictly academic. This class will certainly involve a fair amount of writing, but it isn’t supposed to be a heavy-hitting language arts class. It’s supposed to provide a fun exploration of what goes into a story and how to write one—along with a lot of practice.

Now I need your help! Does the class description below sound fun? Does it make sense? Should I add anything from my description above? If you were a kid, would you want to take this class? It’s critique time! (And thanks in advance for any critique you’d like to offer. Unless your critique is, “That’s a terrible idea, Jeanna. Start over and teach something else.” Then you can just keep your opinion to yourself. :) )

What’s Your Story?

Stories are everywhere! Books and movies, of course, but also music, video games, even commercials! Come learn what makes an awesome story, and practice different ways to tell tales of your own. We’ll play games, watch and listen to short movie and music clips, invent new and interesting people and places, and, of course, write stories. Create superheroes and supervillains, then imagine how they would fight to the death . . . for the last slice of pizza! Practice inventing unsolvable problems and force your characters to solve them! Imagine explanations for mysterious drawings and photos! Build on each week’s projects and tasks to create a final polished short story as well as a bunch of exciting ideas along the way. Mystery? Fantasy? Action adventure? What will be your story?

Materials: Half-inch, 3-ring binder with pockets; lined paper in binder; several pencils and pens; materials for drawing (markers, colored pencils, crayons—whatever your child prefers); if your child struggles with the physical writing, you may also consider a voice recorder so he/she can dictate and you can type any at-home assignments

Class fee: $7 (there may also be an additional optional fee of about $7 at the end of class for a bound collection of class projects)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You Know You're a Writer When Part 2

by Celeste Cox

I wrote, You Know You're a Writer When on my blog Happy Messy Life and I thought I'd make a part 2. Because let's face it. There are plenty of, you know you're a writer when moments.

1. Every social media account you open feels like ripping out another piece of your soul. In other words, you're Voldemort creating horcruxes.


2. Writer's block is the devil.


3. And you secretly know it's an excuse but you will never admit it.

calvin-hobbes-writers-block-e1411294957599 large_Writers_Block_Ecard

4. You believe this is one of the most romantic gestures of all time.

tumblr_lxyxxivvb01qm6oc3o3_250 tumblr_lxyxxivvb01qm6oc3o7_250

5. And you want to just live in Belle's library. So bad.

Give it to me now

6. These are the villains in your life,


7. You will do this before you die,


8. Let's face it. You relate to Princess Belle on so many levels.

beautyandthebeastbellenoonetotalkto_zpsxltwlfhc tumblr_nqboarP3ko1r52z5eo1_500

9. You have a special writing place.


10. And sometimes you improvise.

Kayak with a typewriter

11. You proofread EVERYTHING you write on social media because you've already shared something like this on your wall. And you can't be a hypocrite.


12. This is also true,


13. This is your favorite smell,

tumblr_mec660S7Y11rl38pho3_250 anigif_original-grid-image-5806-1420480937-6

14. You are a psychic. Well, whenever you watch TV because you can't help but think like a writer.


15. Which is why when you find a show that surprises you this happens,


16. You can't help but read rejections this way. At least once. Or ten times.


17. You've handled a rejection by pretending to be okay. We all have to be rejected, right?


18. But when no one's looking . . . HowToHandleRejection-79161


19. Your characters have minds of their own.


20. When you actually like what you've just written, you think something must be wrong with you.

uhhhh quick zoom on face

21. What it feels like when you submit anything you've written. Even if it's just a small excerpt on Facebook.

Rejection Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.

22. While reading you want grab the two love interests like barbies and make them kiss already!


23. While writing you are maniacally laughing because you won't let them be together until the end of the third or tenth book.


24. Replace squirrel with bookstore and this is your life,


25. This is your internal response when people say they've boughten your book but haven't read it yet.


26. This is your reaction when someone asks you what your book is about,


27. This is your state of being after you've written 10,000 words,

Cheeks jiggle Dispicable me little girl

28. This is your reaction when someone asks if 10,000 words is really that many,

i reject your reality

Or why it's taking you so long to finish your novel,

aca-scuse me

Or have your work published,

Covering ears-pooh bear

29. Which is why this thought enters your mind daily,

sometimes its better to be alone. No one can hurt you-meg

30. Except you've already given bits of your soul away



Monday, June 29, 2015

A Kick in the Pants

Sometimes when it comes to writing, you need to give yourself a kick in the pants. Sometimes, if you're really lucky, someone hands you a great big steel-toed boot to do it with.

I'm really lucky!

I've been sitting here thinking about my book for months, but haven't dared to even look at it- too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed even by the thought of it. Last week I was looking up a program for my son at the library and I happened to see a free writing workshop on the events calendar. And it happened to be on a Saturday my hubby had off. But it was 5 hours. No way I'd get away from my kids for 5 hours. But then hubby told me to do it. "Go for it!" he said. So I did.

Helloooo boot!

I will be perfectly honest- the workshop was for beginners. Like, beginning beginners. People who think they might like to write a book but may or may not yet even have a story idea. We did some simple exercises- getting to know our main characters (which I actually found helpful because while I knew her pretty well, I had never really "interviewed" her, if you know what I mean), having our characters interact with others' characters using some dialogue (a fascinating exercise, actually), writing scene descriptions, and learning about basic plot structure. Like I said, basic stuff, but just the kick in the pants I needed.

Here's what I got out of it:

1. When you stay away from your WIP for too long, it's hard to remember all those great ideas you had for it before- and it's hard to remember other stuff too, like the color of your main character's horse (true story). I need to not let so much time pass between my writing sessions.

2. I got the great reminder that every character in your story is their own person- they have their own background, their own likes & dislikes and motivations. It was so fun to have my MC meet another person's MC in a store, and to see how they reacted to each other. From that exercise I also learned that I know my MC very well. I was able to say, "You're going to have to talk to her first, because she wouldn't come up and talk to you," and "Give me a minute- she's feeling anxious which means she's going to ramble," and then when my partner's MC gives her a puzzled look, "Yeah, she's familiar with that look. She gets it a lot," and then, "She knows she's screwed this up and when you say that she's going to breathe a sigh of relief."

3. I'm not a beginner anymore. There's no excuse for me to be sitting on these writing talents of mine and not using them. Plus, I have a really great story and it deserves to be a published book- or at the very least, to be finished.

Kick in the pants? Accomplished. Time to get back to work.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

And Here's the Pitch....

By Lacey Gunter

In my post 2 weeks ago, I sought out advice for a live pitch session I had with a children's editor from a big publishing company last week. I promised to report back on my experience, so here it is.

First I want to report that no matter what happens, I had very good experience meeting with the editor and attending the workshop that accompanied the meeting. I learned a lot and I am truly grateful for the opportunity.

I spent my preparation time formulating, editing and practicing pitches for 3 different picture book manuscripts. I had 12 minutes with the editor, so I wanted plenty of potential discussion topics.  This preparation helped to solidify the main themes of my manuscripts and how to talk about them with someone.  It was great practice coming up with less than 25 word summaries for the manuscripts. This skill is very useful for constructing query letters and twitter pitches. 

Practicing the pitches verbally was also very instructive. People tend to talk differently than they write and it took me two face-to-face practice sessions before I realized I needed to write my pitches and practice them in a way I would speak to someone about the manuscript, not write about it. This doesn't seem like that big of a deal until you try it. I strongly, strongly recommend practicing conversing with people before you live pitch.

Try to practice with someone who is savvy enough to ask meaningful questions about the manuscript so you can talk freely about a wide range of topics on the manuscript, not just recite a memorized pitch. Your confidence in conversing will improve after practicing this.

Having said all that, during my preparations I kept wondering about whether agents and editors care all that much about verbal pitches for picture book manuscripts when they can just quickly read or peruse the entire manuscript and make a definitive decision. So I wisely chose to bring copies of the manuscripts along with me.

When I met with the editor she was very kind and easy to talk with. One of the best parts of the experience was to see that editors and agents aren't some super human, they are ordinary people like you and me and you don't have to be so nervous or afraid to talk to them. As I suspected, she listened kindly to my pitch, but really just wanted to see the manuscript. So I just took out my 3 manuscripts for her to review.

I am very glad I prepared three, because the first one matched too closely to a series her imprint is already publishing and it was respectfully dismissed pretty quickly. So I was able to show her and talk about my other two manuscripts.  She had positive feedback to give me on both of the manuscripts along with some suggested edits. She thought they were both very humorous and, happily, she gave me her business card and asked me to send her the manuscripts after I had completed the suggested edits. We will have to see if she is seriously considering either of the manuscripts after I send them in, but I did take note that some people at the meeting reported not getting any requests. So, who knows? What I do know, is that the suggestions she gave me have made my manuscripts stronger, and she cleared up some long standing questions I had about how to present one of the manuscripts.  That alone made the meeting very worthwhile.

So, if you are considered signing up for a live pitch session at a conference, I'd say go for it. You may not walk away with a manuscript request, but it will likely be a good learning experience and I wish you all the luck!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Life at Both Ends

My 94-year old Mom has been in the hospital for nine days.

A few states away, there is a new baby in the family, just two days old.

Both are wrapped in cozy blankets, both are fragile and needy and vulnerable.

Both are loved so much.

Opposite ends of the spectrum, these two lives. One is surrounded by joy and tears. The other is accompanied by frequent sadness and tears. Both tug on the heart and draw us closer to God, who authors all life.

Mom will be 95 in just a few days, and in a month, her latest great grandson will be visiting. I pray we can get a photo of these two together, but today Mom talked of being so tired and getting a feeling that her life is winding down, so we will see what God has planned.

When I look at Mom, I see a long, full life.   When I gaze on this sweet new grand nephew of ours, I see a long, full life. Mom has many memories; our grand nephew has none. I cannot visualize our grand nephew at 95.  Only God knows what his journey will be. 

Life is short and long at the same time. When I'm sitting with Mom, who is often confused these days, the hours are long because there is a relenting grief that this may be the last day I see her.  When my brother holds his new grandson, I'm sure he's aware that this little boy will grow up as fast as his own sons did. Time seems to be measured by the heart - what we are celebrating, and what is painful. 

Life is amazing and scary and surprising at both ends.  It has value at both ends.  And every day in between. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Too Much to Say

by Patricia Cates

Unlike many of my fellow writing comrades, I do not suffer from writers' block. Please do not be envious, for the opposite is just as detrimental a malady. What plagues me instead is an ongoing rush of thoughts to the brain that cannot be constrained. I always have too much to say. One would think that this would be a blessing, right? Well I can tell you it is not. As a busy parent, with little time to write, staying organized and focused is crucial. I get frustrated because I am often neither.
My stories seem to get started but never finished. I have way too many WIPs. There is seemingly always some new idea that is more enticing than the last, popping into my head and distracting me from the current project at hand. Am I alone in this?

I don’t know about you, but my faults lean towards the tendency to want to put too much detail into one area of my book, when I should be working on another. I want to delve into every scene and obsess about it, or get lost for hours in overly tedious dialogue that I could easily work on at a later date. I've been like this since the 5th grade. I'll never forget agonizing over a paper I spent the entire weekend perfecting. Monday I was scolded by my teacher as it was meant to be a three page practice in creative writing. I had proudly turned it into a 13 page play, thinking I would get a high mark for my efforts. Hardly! I had to can the entire thing and start fresh. 
Shouldn't I be past this phase yet? By all means I know what I am supposed to be doing with that precious time. It’s just so difficult to stay on task when thoughts are flowing. Sound familiar? If you recognize yourself as part of this gaggle of gregarious gabbers, I may have found a great remedy.

Try channeling a favorite author. Think of the poet, author or playwright who inspires you most. Simply pretend to be them for the duration you intend to write. I personally like to sit at my desk and become Sue Grafton for a few hours. (What a dream that would be!) I find her composition to be very clear and concise. This in turn aids me in being clear headed and concise, which means I spend way less time editing.

Whoever you believe will help you focus, and get into your groove, is fine. It's alright if they have been dead for centuries. I say all the better. A stoic and serious author from the 18th or 19th century is always a fun one to try on. There's no one like Dickens or Locke when you need to quell some of that exploding fervent passion during a YA or fantasy writing session.  And if you are into horror or sci-fi, why not pick someone wildly successful like Rowling or King?  

For any females who need a cure for wordy vivaciousness, I recommend assuming the brain of a Victorian era author. Incessant speech would have been viewed as intolerable in those days. These fine women would never have considered being such a thing as verbose. So remember when you are going overboard, that you would rather be invited to tea than deemed a bore.
This exercise is a sure bet when I’m heading off the deep end. I hope this both helps and amuses you, when you need to stifle that muse a bit. I know that if my erudite grandmother were still alive, she would have agreed that sometimes we writers just need some reigning in. She would have told me to slow down, because sometimes I just have way too much to say.


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