Monday, August 31, 2009

3 Easy Steps to Making a Writers Layer

Many of you may not know that I am in nesting mode for my impending delivery! Oooh! Sounds so ominous when I put it that way (LOL). So in response, I have been not only cleaning, cleaning ,cleaning... but I have decided to redecorate my entire house!!!
(Crazy I know! I am told that by family and friends daily).
Of course being on a tight budget I am basically painting, re-organizing, and moving things around. It is quite refreshing actually and really helps those creative juices flowing! Now every time I pass my guest bathroom I just want to stay there. To me it is peaceful, yet invigorating and inspiring. This got me thinking...Why not make a writers layer that is both peaceful and invigorating?!?! Too many of us write in the dark recesses of our rooms and homes. Why not step into the light and paint a small little corner of peace, tranquility and happiness in your home or room with fresh fun colors that will help breathe new life into that dark, cobweb infested writing prison you may find your self begrudgingly going to. Why not want or even have a need to sit in your newly painted, inspiring writers corner?
Here are some easy steps to help you get started:
  1. De-clutter that mess (writing is all in your mind so why not let your mind be free of all that physical clutter. I guarantee the mind clutter will start clear itself up as well and you will feel lighter and ready to write).
  2. Paint something white or a soothing green, blue, or even pink! Valspar has a great pink and green in their spray paint section that I as well as the girl at the register were just drawn to. It made us feel happy! If you do not have an entire room to paint then just paint the desk or writing furniture to help uplift and inspire.
  3. Move all accessories/excesses out! Then bring in a vase, trusty container, etc. on your desk and paint it! Make it fun, pretty and try changing things up!

After you have made these 3 simple changes, watch how you will be drawn to your little writers layer. Excuses will be a thing of the past! Try it and email anoriginalbymaryatbacbelldotnet or post pics to help other writers get inspired to bring their writers layer out of the dark and into the light!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"There's A New Kid in Town"

Some of you may already know this, but I wanted to make an official announcement for those writers who don't. Valor Publishing Group has announced they are now open for business. I've heard great things coming from the authors who have recently been accepted by this company, especially about the founder, Candace Salima. Here's a couple quotes from the press release published on May 21, 2009:

"With the launching of Valor Publishing Group, Candace Salima envisions her team redefining publishing in the 21st century. 'It's a whole new game,' Salima says, 'and we're excited to take on the big boys using every method of effective marketing and publishing there is.'"

"Authors signing with Valor Publishing Group are not limited to local book signings, but will participate in virtual book tours, speaking tours, media interviews, book trailers, author interviews, and national book signings. This is in addition to pioneering self-promotion methods exclusive to the Valor Publishing Group."

Valor Publishing Group is not only innovative, but is dedicated to making the publishing experience exciting and rewarding for each author. They are a national market publication with LDS standards, seeking to take the industry by storm. Valor is currently accepting manuscripts in several genres. If you're interested in knowing more information, please visit their website at:

They have tons of information on there including a blog you've just got to visit.

I've personally met with several members of their board, including Candace Salima and I just have to say, BRAVO!

Friday, August 28, 2009

To Contest or Not To Contest...That is the Question

Ok, so I've been feeling like I need to slow down and get more experience in the writing world before I continue with my current WIP. Well, actually I asked for a blessing and you know your not going to like the answer when your husband has to pause to hide a snicker. Anyways, I was told to be patient. After much prayer and temple worship I have realized that I need to slow down and learn more about the craft of writing. So I have been looking for contests, especially ones that offer feedback. There are so many out there, it's completely overwhelming! So far here are just a few that I found.

Dame Throckmorton Fiction Contest –
Deadline Jan. 1, 2010

Sherwood Anderson Short Fiction Award –
Deadline Oct.1, 2009

Carolyn A. Clark Flash Fiction Prize –
Deadline Nov. 1, 2009

Here's my question to you. Have you entered the world of writing contests and how was your experience? Do you know of any contests that you would suggest? Have you submitted articles or stories to magazines? How was your experience and how would I learn of the submission requirements?
I plan on posting contest links on our "Where MMW's Hang" page. Be sure to send me any you know of so I can post them as well.
P.S. Mary-my daughter thinks you look like the actress that plays Esme on "Twilight".
Elizabethe-she thinks you look like America Ferrera.
I thought about telling her that of course these famous actresses are my personal friends, but that whole burning in heck for lying thing stopped me!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Ratings

I've been traveling a lot lately. And through my travels I have found myself in many an airport bookstore. Overwhelmed. I have felt this way because I normally go to the bookstore with a recommendation, an idea of what I'm going to buy based on someone else telling me it was good. I didn't realize how much I appreciated these recommendations until recently when I have bought three good looking books of my own volition. These three books were purchased at three different airports over the course of two different flights. Their 'back of the book blurbs' sounded amazing. But all three of these books turned out to be 'R' rated in my opinion. It has prompted me to wonder: why do books not have ratings? Sure some might say: Well, you can just look them up online and know their content. But that doesn't help me in an airport or on an unexpected trip to the bookstore.

I'm not proposing authors can't put whatever they want in their books. I'm just saying, don't consumers have a right to know what we're buying? Just a little letter on the back bottom right corner (like on movies) saying: Rated 'R' due to violence, language, and sexual content.

Now, how can I go about making this happen? And who's with me?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Silent Night--no! The Kids are Gone!

Back to School Already?

For most everyone, our kids are away for the day already, brightening their young minds with treasures of education. What is that I hear? Silence? What is that? It sounds so . . . so quiet! Is something wrong?

No! The kids are at school! Wow, what to do now. Clean or write? I am laughing. Why write of course! Do you know how long it has been to have a house this silent? An endless amount of time stretching before me so that I can indulge myself in my tale-spinning? How thrilling!

School, in our neck of the woods here in northern Utah, hasn’t quite started yet. I am like the kids in the famous poem, T’was the Night Before Christmas:

The backpacks were hung by the front door with care,

In hopes that early school morning soon would be there;

The writing mamas were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of whipping up plots danced in their heads . . .

Can you feel the anticipation, ripe and ready to pick? I can. I can feel my creative side biting at the bit, so anxious to freely write. (Writing late into the night this past month has seemed nigh impossible with so many familial goings-on cooking around me.)

I know there are those of us with preschoolers toddling—or even rolling around—the house. Maybe squeeze in some writing time during a nap? Their favorite one-hour educational show on the public viewing station? Yes!

What are your thoughts and what writing projects do you have in mind as soon as you send the last child off to school?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The End

I recently read a story the was very enjoyable to read... until the end. It just kind of cut off at the end, without resolving anything. The MC didn't learn anything. I was kind of just left hanging. Has this ever happened to any of you?

My opinion is that it happens all too often! No matter how great a story is, it is only as good as its ending! A horrible ending makes a horrible story, and no ending at all... well, maybe I should have saved my time by never reading the story.

Do any of you struggle with bringing your story full circle? Do you have a hard time with tying up loose ends? What are some stories you've read that really have just a top-notch, shoot off the fireworks, grand finale ending?

Monday, August 24, 2009


Many of you may have heard the Relief Society Lesson Yesterday on Adversity. It reminded me, oddly enough, of a movie that I had just seen the night before called The Day the Earth Stood Still. It was about how a group of alien civilizations thought that we were the cause of the destruction of the earth and that because of our unrepentative ways, must be destroyed. The main character tried and tried to convince the alien that we could change but to no avail.
Then, nearing earths impending demise the alien spoke to a mathematician/ philosopher type. He said in so many words that it is only at the precipice that we as a civilization tend to change.(In other words it seems that humans change for the better at the peak of adversity and hardship. We come to that bend in the road and either decide to take the path of unfullfilment and hopelessness or take the road less traveled to progression and happiness.) This still does not convince the alien of our ability to change.
Finally, at the precipice (aka earths destruction) the main character and her step son forgive each other of passed wrongs and hurt feelings. They make amends, say they are sorry and hug each other. Because of this small action, the alien sees that we are able to change and stops the human race from becoming extinct.

It's an odd comparison but when I heard the lesson yesterday I was taken aback. Adversity, whether self inflicted, a natural cause of others bad actions or God given, makes us strong and better people if we so choose. It is not a punishment from God but a blessing to help us for the better.
Remember at the precipice of your adversity you have a choice to make. Let that hardship stifle and poison us or choose to let it lift us to a better path of eternal progression.
You're not alone through adversity. Help is just a prayer away.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Seeking Inspiration From the Priesthood

I've recently been asked to make some major changes in the plot line of my book. These changes will not only influence the outcome of the entire series, but require the second book in the series to be completely rewritten. The domino affect will influence the remaining two books as well, deleting loved characters and hours of hard work and inspired words. I've been struggling with this because I was so in love with what I had written and felt at the time that it was the direction I wanted to go.

My original thought was to create a romance novel with hints of fantasy, but was told that true fantasy readers would be disappointed. The fantasy world I've created is unique and it was felt by the publishing company I've submitted it to, that I should switch the series to fantasy with a hint of romance. I can see their point and honestly believe that the series will be better with the changes, but the idea of losing all I've worked so hard on has made for some very depressing days. I've had to force myself to the computer each day and try not to think of those characters that have become a part of my life. In one case in particular, I feel like I've lost my best friend. (Strange how we bond with our characters, I know.)

In considering my options, I've spent many hours in prayer and scripture study. The answer I received was to make the changes. The series will be a much richer story and my hope is that readers of fantasy will enjoy the new story line better. However, even after making that decision and feeling good about it, I was still struggling emotionally.

Last Sunday our home teachers came to visit and after their lesson, one of them began telling a story about how a blessing he'd received had given him strength to overcome the situation he'd been in. I told them about what had been happening with me and asked them for a blessing. Because I had some other issues as well, they suggested we fast beforehand. Wednesday evening they returned after we'd all fasted and gave me a blessing. I don't think I've ever felt the spirit so strong. The words he said were not only to help with my writing, but other aspects of my life. He mentioned things he couldn't have known about unless he was in tune with the spirit.

Since that time I've had a renewed attitude about writing and have tucked my character away for another day, promising to bring him back in another book someday. I think he's okay with that. My hope in sharing this with my writing friends, is that they may also seek help and inspiration from the priesthood. Have faith in the Lord that he will help you achieve those things which bring you true happiness. As daughters of God, we have the unique opportunity to influence those around us, both in deed and in word, whether spoken or written. His influence and guidance is there for us if we only ask.

Please read the 12th chapter in Ether, paying special attention to chapters 22-29.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

No Voice to Speak of -- Guest Blogger Crystal

No Voice to Speak of

My kids get frustrated with me, a lot. Understandably. I get frustrated with them, a lot. By the fifth time I’ve asked, “Will you please go get dressed”, or “Will you please pick up your ponies”, I’m ready to uncage that beast we all like to claim lays dormant—the screamer. But today the tables are turned.

Laryngitis. Miserable, silent, agitating laryngitis.

Ironically, I’m hearing significantly more—like my 2 year old asking for a cup of water three times before anyone responds, or my 8 year old desperately pleading with his sister to stop pinching him, or the silly little things my daughter is pretending be. I’m reminded that communication is a two-way process. The more we hear, (or better yet,) the more we listen, the more effective we are in our families, in our writing, and in the world.

On that note, sometimes it’s painful to listen to what people have to say about our guarded and carefully worded treasures. No fury equals the internal typhoon when my husband shrugs casually to the question, “Did you like it—you know, that manuscript I just spent fifteen hours pouring over?”

Let’s be realistic. No one is going to love your writing as much as you do. What’s more, a response like that opens the door to a conversation of growth and insight, if we can abate the vindictive demon long enough to hear what is actually be said. As in every adversity, “all these things give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7)

How then to we draw out the positive in a negative response? What works for me is asking:

What didn’t you like about it, why?
Is it the genre?
Is it the characters?
Is it the plot?
Is it (heaven forbid!!!) the voice?

As we listen, openly and willingly, then apply the responses—where valid, our greatest power is unleashed: the power of growth.
How do you respond to criticism?
Eat more CHEESE!!Books, music and more:

LDS Publisher Blog

Ok, everyone just a quick side note, there is a contest on LDS Publisher's blog where we can vote for our favorite stories. The winners will be published in a Christmas Story Anthology book. A friend of mine has her story as one of the choices, I can't tell you which story is hers but I can say that I think her story is the funniest one in her category. There are two categories, Published authors, and Unpublished authors. My friend's story is in Published Authors, and there are only 10 stories in that category. The rules for voting are that you can only vote for two stories per category. You have to say in your comment that you are voting for that story. I'm wondering if we have any other MMW's that entered that contest. If so, please leave a note in the comments and tell us what category your story is in so we can be sure to vote. Thanks!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gifts from Heavenly Father

I wanted to build on Kristy's comment about the mindset of talents from last week. What is the first thing you think about when you hear the word talent?

I usually think of painting. Violin. Sewing...

How do you define what a talent is, really? What do you think about being a good listener? Being a good friend? What about a being a patient mom? All these can't be displayed at a talent show, right?

I learned a whole lot more on talents one Enrichment Night five years ago. We made a list of all the things we felt the Spirit the strongest. For example, I feel the Spirit the strongest when I sing. I love to sing. I cry when I sing. I cry when I hear other people sing! I can tell you right now that I have no opera voice! Far from it. That night, I learned that singing is one of my talents.

Before I shed some more spiritual light to the matter, I'd like to share this quote Rebecca found for me by Howard Taylor. "I believe that the range of human ability, the range of what we're born with in terms of talent, is minuscule compared to the range of human accomplishment."

With that in mind . . . What about writing?

I love to write. I feel the Spirit when I write. Ideas flow into my head when I am ready to create. It has been a long road and I still need another thousand miles to travel. I started from somewhere. An awkward poem in fourth grade. An eye-rolling story in the sixth. A "gag me!" novel in high school (even after I took a creative writing class!)

President Monson said: "Each of you, single or married, regardless of age, has the opportunity to learn and grow. Expand your knowledge, both intellectual and spiritual, to the full stature of your divine potential. There is no limit to your influence for good."

He also paraphrased this thought (which I hope everyone reading this today takes to heart!)

You never know what a girl is worth,
You’ll just have to wait and see;
But every woman in a noble place,
A girl once used to be.

In this article, he was referring to our talents. Our gifts from Heavenly Father. We come upon them by expanding our knowledge. The things we learn in this lifetime need hard work to be developed along with inspiration from the Lord.

How are you developing your gift of writing?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bringing Characters to Life

I love character based fiction. In my opinion, every story should center around compelling characters. The characters are what make a story great. For example, we admire Edward Cullen for his goodness, we despise Voldemort for his evilness, laugh with C3PO because of his quirky nature.

We have to feel like we have a relationship with the characters in the book if we’re going to care about their story. For example, you may hear that some kid in Ohio has cancer and think Oh, that’s sad. But that may be the end of it. But what if that kid was your neice… or your daughter? Then you’d know how she loves to play Littlest Pet Shop, how sweet she is with her baby brother, and how scared she is of death. She’d mean something to you, and it would wrench your heart out to lose her.

Do any of us feel this way with our characters? In my WIP, I have created a love triangle. This was very painful for me to do, because I knew, in the end, my MC would have to choose one of them—which meant losing the other. I loved both of the characters so much that it hurt me to let either of them go. My hope is that my readers will feel just as attached.

My question to you is, how do you build your characters? How do you decide which character would fit a story best? Does it just come to you in the night? Or do you meticulously plan it all out? Or maybe a little of both?

How do you “get to know” your characters well enough that they start speaking to you? How do you make them real?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why Write? Why Create?

If you ever find yourself demotivated, depressed or in a writing slump because life and all it's pressures (endless laundry, dishes,cleaning, homework...yeah! The fun stuff to being a mom) and demands make it impossible to practice your talent?

Ask yourself "Why write?"

Why do you do it? I am in great need of changing up my motivating routine! I would love to hear what motivates you! We could all use a little pep in our routine right :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First Person Point of View

I've recently been asked to change my book from first person point of view to third. At first, I kicked and screamed and cried NOOOOO! But then I considered the reasons behind the request and thought perhaps it would give my book more depth and create a way to add scenes from the male character's POV that would help the story to progress. I agreed to give it a try. Three weeks later, and half insane from the tedious job of turning every "I, me, we, us and mine" into it's third person counterpart, my fingers were raw and sore and my mind was mush. My book however, (at least in my mind) is a masterpiece.

Over the years I've heard several writers express their opinions about first person POV and have received a wide range of answers. I was told once that it was the true sign of a novice and that no publisher in their right mind would touch it, but then we have the (used way too much as an example) Twilight Series. All in first person and a huge hit. Except....she did sneak in some of Jacob's thoughts in the last two books. So is that cheating?

I'm quickly becoming a fan of 3rd person, but would like to hear your opinions on this issue.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Mommy Speech

Do you ever find yourself giving a mommy speech to your children only to realize that you don't take your own advice? I did this the other day as I drove my kids to the music store to rent trumpets so they could be in the school band. My mommy speech went something like this:

"Now I want you to know that learning to play an instrument is not easy. When you first start, it's not going to sound like music. You're going to think your no good and that you should just give up. But anything worth doing in life takes practice and hard work. I promise that if you keep with it, even during the low points, you will be proud of yourself for not quitting."

At which point they all said with a roll of their eyes, "We know, Mom."

I barely heard them, because I had just heard what I said and realized that I was talking to myself more than I was talking to them. I was ready to quit writing all together two weeks ago. I had convinced myself I am no good so why bother. But I don't want to quit. I had a blessing and the Lord wants me to be patient. (I'm really not good at that!!) So that's what I'm going to do. I need to be patient with myself but not give up. There are stories in my head waiting to be written. I just have to wait for the right time and not quit.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Seek ye First the Kingdom of God . . .

Hello! Before I start, I'd like to express my gratitude for the privilege of becoming a part of this wonderful team. I look forward to sharing my experiences, thoughts and trials as a way to serve everyone here who comes our way!

My name is Elizabeth Mueller and I enjoy the opportunity to stay at home with my four beautiful, energetic children who are anxious for school to start. I love to write, draw, sing, sew, dance and read.

I started writing since elementary school and have fallen in love with the art. I love creating worlds of people. I love to see them interacting with each other, and the satisfaction of finishing the stories.

Being a mother, I feel it is just as important to follow Christ’s footsteps—especially with my writing. Though I only have a high school journal published and a few poems, I have written several novels and have submitted one of them already! There have been a few times while I write that my kids are up and about. They come visit me in my bedroom, ask for small favors and then go away. I always feel guilty when I say, “I’m writing, I’ll help you when I am done.” It is only until after I am left to myself that I stop and look at them, thinking what an awful mother I am for not being there for them when they needed me. Mother first, Writer last, right? It can be so hard because I find writing so addicting. I can’t stand the consuming guilt I have for pushing my kids off for those few precious hours. I actually feel that I am stealing time away from them.

It is my calling to be their mother. To teach them right from wrong. To teach them the Gospel Principles. To teach them what a mother of Zion should be like. I take all those matters to heart. I have decided long ago to write at my own expense. Writing when they are in bed after I have tucked them in. They understand my passion for writing and how protective I am of that precious window of time. So I have talked with them about it and asked them to help me with my "me" time by allowing me to write after they are tucked away for the night.

Well, they still come up out of bed but I try to stick to my plan of bed-time writing. Now, I will not write during the day unless they are enjoying their quiet time. Quiet time is a wonderful opportunity for my kids to indulge in a book or two, art, quiet playing in their bedrooms . . . Anything, so long as they don’t burn their rooms to the ground. I thrive in my quiet times. It is hard, I must admit, to hold it everyday because our days are so filled with lots of things already.

I make it a point to seek spiritual edification first before I pamper my hobby. I will study a chapter of scriptures and pray before I crack open my laptop. I have found that my mind is clearer and I hear and see my characters so much better.

I know that I can’t do this alone, my writing. I need the Lord’s help. During the times when I feel that I have reached an impasse, I turn to my husband after much praying and reading of the scriptures. He willingly gives me a Priesthood blessing. In those special blessings, prayer is always mentioned. Then fasting. Wow. Will the Lord listen to me with such trivialities?


One day, while particularly troubled with a spot on my latest novel (mind you, it was already completed at the time, I was just revising certain parts to create more tension!), I got on my knees and prayed. Do you know what the answer was?

Take a bath.

What? Take a bath? I was frustrated as I gazed longingly at my sad laptop. I shrugged and thought that I should obey the Spirit. Well, in the middle of my bath as I was dozing off to Never Land, it hit me! In the haze of waking slumber, inspiration flooded me. I smiled and thanked Heavenly Father for the wonderful insight. Just as it is to shower after a routine of vigorous exercise, it is reading scriptures, praying and turning to the Lord for guidance before I write.

I am truly humbled that my Father in Heaven supports my love for writing. My talent. He knows just how important it is to me. It is my main source of sanity while in the midst of four screaming children, a husband whom I hardly see, several church callings and a very messy house!

I have no doubt that He will bless me for my spiritual efforts as it states in JST Matthew 6: 38:

“Seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

I know it isn't always easy to find time to find your window and I feel that whatever works for you is what you should do. I think it is wonderful for the kids to see Mom exercise her talents and interests other than with the kids! I am grateful to be a part of His gospel and all the blessings He has bestowed upon me and my family. I am especially grateful for His loving support with my love of writing and know that if you pray and read your scriptures and actively seek His counsel, He will do the same for you!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creating a Good Story

Hello everyone!

Let me just take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Kristy, I am a wife and mother of four fantastic children. I also have a Burmese cat named Cashmere. We moved to Phoenix in January. I grew up here, but my family moved to Utah when I was in high school and I'm oh so glad to be back in the valley of the sun! I love it! (I named my daughter Summer... what can I say?)

My favorite job in the world is being a homemaker. Not the part involving the relentless cleaning, per say, more the part where I get to play with my kids all day!

My second favorite job is writing. You'll usually find me doing one of the two.

A close third is art/crafts. I have a face painting business that is a lot of fun. (More time playing with kids!)

The common theme among all of the jobs I love is creating. That is what I really love to do. Create a home, a story, a work of art. I LOVE the talk President Uchtdorf gave on the topic!

So I guess what I want to talk about today is what does it take to CREATE a good story? Here are some ideas of what you will need:

1. Knowledge. You have to know how to put a story together. How to create a plot and good characters. Know your genre. Know your market. Plus a basic knowledge of the English language helps too. (Ha, ha. Actually when I tell people I majored in English in college they like to ask me, "So, do you know how to speak it yet?")

2. Skill. This is where you put your knowledge into practice. Some people call it talent. I don't like to. Skill can be learned. Writing a good story can be learned. The word talent can too easily lead into the Well, I'm just not talented enough mindset. Every one of us is capable of writing a good book.

3. A tendancy toward self-deprication... um, yeah, completely kidding on that one! Actually what you really need is motivation! Because self-deprication happens so naturally you have to have some underlying desire to keep going. What is it that will drive you to work it to the end?

4. Research. Know what you are writing about. Whether it's a fantasy or a biography, really truly know the world, the people, the "facts" that are pertinent to your book.
What else helps you in CREATING a really good book? Do you have any ideas for doing all it takes to get it done? What helps you?

Monday, August 10, 2009

You're in the Spotlight!!!

You're in the spotlight now! For some of you this may be your first official interview and for some it may be one of many.

Questions from a 12 year old budding author!
My oldest daughter Nina, as a new budding tween-teen sci-fi romance author and Mormon Mommy blog reader has a few pressing questions for you!

  1. How long does it take you to finish writing a book? (Start to finish because mine feels like forever)
  2. What do agents expect of you?
  3. How many re-writes have you done?
  4. What do you do when you get stuck with your book?
  5. What kind of tips do you have for new writers?
  6. How do you find time to do your writing?
  7. How do you develop your character? Is it during the story? Do you do it before you write?
  8. Is there a special place that you write in that gives you the best inspiration?
  9. How do you know if you have enough detail in your book?
  10. Is there any special way that you organize your book? Do you have it in your mind? Do you write it down step by step before you begin?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Valor Publishing Announces Their First Release"

I was lucky enough to get in on the order of this book when it was first announced a couple days ago and I will be receiving copy #2. I'm very excited to read it. I've heard a lot of wonderful things about it and wanted to share this opportunity to order your own copy with my writing friends. I hope you get in on the deal. Valor is giving an early bird discount until Labor Day, so don't wait.

Valor Publishing is pleased to announce that pre-orders for Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s novel, “Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story” are now available on the Valor website. By placing your order between now and Labor Day, you will receive a discount price and your copy will be signed and numbered by Mark Shurtleff.

Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s ground-breaking new novel, “Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story” is now available for preorder at a reduced price.
An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."
Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.

Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.

You can order your sale-priced, signed and numbered limited edition copy of “Am I Not a Man” by visiting before Labor Day. There are only 5,000 copies of this special edition being printed and once they’re gone, they’re gone … and the sale price ends on Labor Day. You can request that Mark personalize your inscription, and your book will be mailed to you before the stores even get their copies. For more information, visit

Friday, August 7, 2009

Time to Say Goodbye to Two of our Friends

Ok, so I don't like using the word goodbye, because they aren't going to be too far from our thoughts. Jenn and Candi are both unable to continue their awesome weekly posts for us! We are really sad and will definately miss hearing from them on a weekly basis. But they will still be around and hopefully will continue to comment, and we can all still visit their other blogs and see how they are doing.
So take a moment with me to thank these two wonderful women for the time they spent durin the past several months to give us their wonderful insights. I will definately miss you both, so don't be strangers, be sure to stop and say hi often!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Lost City

Things were going missing in our house, important things like Blue Tooth ear pieces (both of them), sunglasses, remote controls, money. What was going on? It was frustrating. We blamed everything and everyone: our poor organizational skills, our two-year-old son, the dog. We looked everywhere: under cushions, inside pockets, behind couches. We offered bribes to whichever child could find them first—all to no avail. What had become of our things? Would it forever remain a mystery, like the case of the one missing sock or the city of Atlantis? When I was ready to give up all hope, just as I had in the previously mentioned mysteries, the case was solved.

It was a normal summer day in Clovis, hot beyond comprehension. I was in the car. The sun was blinding as it radiated off of everything around me, the dashboard, the windshield, the neighboring car’s side mirror. I squinted, in need of relief. I reached over to the passenger seat where my oversized purse rested. I had never been a “big purse” girl before. But I was visiting New York, it was red, a gold emblem that said Dolce & Gabbana adorned the front, I thought I was cool. I forked over the thirty dollars to the street vendor and began totting around my larger than necessary purse. Now, inside my car, in the bright sun, I just needed my sunglasses that resided somewhere inside the ginormous sea.

I blindly felt through the contents as I continued to watch the road. Eventually my hand felt my glasses, but they were trapped behind a thin layer of material. I couldn’t free them. When I finally arrived home, eyes watering from lack of proper protection from the unrelenting sun, I pulled my purse onto my lap. Once again I found my sunglasses, but now I could see that they were behind the lining of my purse, stuck. I was confused. How did they get in there? I searched in vain for a way in.

Eventually, I unzipped the little side pocket and found the hole that had been eating my stuff. I pulled things through it one by one, my sunglasses, a box of tic tacs, the ear pieces (both of them), money, pens (ten pens to be exact), the only thing I didn’t find was the T.V. remote, oh, and the city of Atlantis (it wouldn’t have surprised me if I had).

I was ecstatic. The mystery was solved. No longer could I blame my sub par organization, no longer would our two year old son get the suspicious looks, and no more would the poor, innocent dog be thought ill of. I had found my lost city of junk inside the vast depths of my sea.

Have I since gotten rid of my purse that is bigger than the ocean? Did I mention it says Dolce & Gabbana on the front? I still tote around my fake designer, but now when my husband asks, “Hey, honey have you seen my missing sock?” I say, “Have you checked my purse?”

Have you solved any mysteries in your life or in your writing lately?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Almost! by Emily Dickinson --- Guest Blogger Tiffany Pankau

Ok, I just have to let you all know that I have the best sister ever. I told her I thought we needed a guest blogger for today, so she quickly threw this together! Isn't she amazing?


Okay y’all I was reading this wonderful poem the other day by Emily Dickinson, and it touched me. Like so many things in life, poetry is not one of those things that I get too often. But when one speaks to my heart I have to share, so I will share it with you.

WITHIN my reach!
I could have touched!
I might have chanced that way!
Soft sauntered through the village,
Sauntered as soft away!
So unsuspected violet
Within the fields lie low,
Too late for striving fingers
That passed, an hour ago.

I think I will wait to share my thoughts on this poem and allow for y’all to tell us what you think. Leave a comment about this poem, even if the thought is “I have no idea”. We all receive inspiration and sometimes it comes from reading or hearing something that has been written before… be inspired and tell us what you think.
--Tiffany Pankau

Monday, August 3, 2009

Live Lighter

I recently read an article in a magazine that listed several ways to lighten your life this summer. Since summer is almost gone I thought we could all use this for the coming months to get us through the drearier months. Here is a list that I plan on going for! What's yours?
Live Lighter:
  1. Paint a room in a soft bright color to brighten your day
  2. Clean out the clutter in one area or two!
  3. Give a little pep to your play list and find something new (Pandora is a free Internet radio that helps you find new music by evaluating your likes of rhythm/tempo and style)
  4. Go on a walk ? times a week and enjoy the world around you (for those living in blazing heat try getting up before the heat really picks up)
  5. Lighten up on sweets (reach for a fruit instead of a high carb/fat food)
  6. Learn a new skill however small (my blog has plenty of fun easy to advanced easy ideas)
  7. Learn a new language, a few phrases or even how to count to 10
  8. Let it go! If you feel someone has offended you or something upsets you, breath deeply and put it into perspective. It really doesn't matter in the eternities!
  9. Loosen up, play a game of hide and seek with the kids, a card game (Sleeping Queens card game is really fun for ages 5+), or dance/sing around silly to your favorite song
  10. Pray more, about the littlest of things too.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The importance of the temple

I have been trouble with blogger lately, which is why you haven't seen or heard from me much. I hope this goes through, as my last one didn't.

So my writing journey with the Lord, has had it's ups and downs. Whenever I am feeling my weakest, is just around the time I need to make another trip to the temple, for a recharge of my Spirit.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the temple! I have truly come to crave it and need to be there always. One of my goals is to become a temple worker, after my children have grown. I can't wait to be there all day! So you know why I love the temple so much? Do you know why I can't resist going again and again every single month?

Because I know I'll feel the Lord there. It is the one place on earth--the easiest place to find God. And I need him so much. It's my Spiritual fix, my high-- I need the peace the temple offers, the reassurance, the clearing of my mind, more than I need anything else.

Have you been to the temple in a while? Is your life in upheaval? Go. You will be blessed.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Where Do You Draw the Line"

While writing women's fiction and LDS Romance, I find a great degree of difference between what some consider acceptable love scenes and others deem as smut. While at the LDStorymakers Writer's Conference this past April, someone asked the board of LDS publishers what they thought was acceptable in a romantic scene. One in particular laughed and then said, "One and a half kisses is our limit." Of course, the comment brought laughter to the entire room, but I didn't think he really answered the real question. Where do you draw the line?

I was told once that you don't go any further in your writing than you would be willing to go yourself, and that helps when you're writing about anLDS couple who hold true to their LDS standards, but what if they aren't. What if the book is about making mistakes and overcoming them? What if you have to show the reader what the character has gone through in order for them to realize how far they've come and what they've learned? Where do you draw the line then?

I've given this a lot of thought over the past few months and have come up with my own hypothetical line draw in the sand, but was curious what the rest of you thought. How far should a love scene go and under what circumstances would you let your character slip past the line you've drawn? And just in case you're wondering, I'm not interested in any graphic details or examples. Keep it clean girls...LOL


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