Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where do you start to get to the finish?

Remember how I few weeks back I posted I was almost done my first draft?

Well, late Tuesday night I finished.  I reached 'The End'.  It was fantastic, and I literally floated all day yesterday (like Mary Poppins). I also blogged about it here.

As I let that manuscript breathe, my thoughts have turned towards preparing for the next stage of the process.

I have always preferred editing/revisions to first drafts - but that's when it comes to short stories and articles.  In my experience with those, its a much more enjoyable process to adjust, clip, reword, rewrite, and extend, then it is to just push it out of your mind and onto the paper (or screen).

Now I'm looking at my first novel length work, and the best visual description I can use to explain how I feel about trying to edit the whole project is this:

Where do I start to get to the finish?

So I'm looking to you for suggestions:

Where do you start?

What resources/books/websites/blogs/experiences authors do you turn to?

How do you tackle a project like this?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Contest Reminder

I am sick, sick, sick in bed. I wanted to write more, but it's all I can do to sit at the computer for a few minutes and write this post, so bear with me.
Don't forget our next ebook contest! "Mormon", "Mommy", or "Writer". Use one or any combination in your submission. June 1st through August 31st submission window. Poetry, 4000 word short stories, or personal essay.

I will add a page with this info in the next week...I'm just too sick today. :P

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review/Giveaway: "The Most Important Catch" by Jaclyn M Hawkes

 Back Cover Blurb: 
She knew too much, and she’d seen too much. And the police refused to help. Knowing that she was to be the next scheduled death, Kelly Campbell hid under head to toe black leather and a tinted motorcycle helmet and ran for her life.
When the weather turned cold, she turned south. She ended up in North Carolina, home to one of the most famed and eligible NFL football stars in the whole league; only she didn’t know that. She thought he was a businessman. Not being a huge fan, all she knew was that he was incredibly attractive, kind, generous, and that she was safe with him. Or was she?
His brand of fame proved to be all but deadly, but his fame wasn't nearly as lethal as his attraction. He kept her safe and protected. All except her heart.

You can also catch the book trailer.  

My Thoughts: 
This is the first book I have read by Jaclyn M Hawkes.  It was refreshing to read a clean romance with characters that share my faith.  I enjoyed the suspense in the novel, and the quirkiness of the characters.  Both Kelly and Robby, and filled with insecurities and doubts when it came to matters of the heart, but strength and confidence in their faith.  At times Kelly seemed a little too blinded by her insecurities, but I found her believable. And Robby just seemed like the catch every lady dreams about. 

I was hooked before I finished the first chapter, and I found myself wishing for more time to read when I had to take a break.  I was intrigued by the plot line.  The Most Important Catch is a beautiful tale of love, filled with suspense and laughter.

If you'd like to purchase your own copy, you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Book Depository.

 About the Author: 
Jaclyn M. Hawkes grew up in Utah with 6 sisters, 4 brothers and any number of pets.  (It was never boring!)  She received a Bachelor’s degree, had a career, and traveled extensively before settling down to her life’s work of being the mother of four magnificent and sometimes challenging children.  She loves shellfish, the outdoors, the youth, and hearing her children laugh.  She and her fine husband, their family, and their sometimes very large pets, now live in a mountain valley in northern Utah, where it smells like heaven and kids still move sprinkler pipe.
You can also check out her blog, follow her on Twitter @JaclynMHawkes, or like her Facebook page to get to know more about her.

For one lucky reader we are offering a copy of the Kindle Edition of The Most Important Catch.
1.  Leave a comment on this post including a way to reach you if chosen before 11:59pm MST Monday June 4th
For extra entries
2.  Become a follower of this blog (you must clearly state in your comment on this post that you are a follower to receive credit for this).
4.  Follow MMW on Facebook (again, you must clearly state in your comment on this post that you have done this to receive credit).
  I will announce the winner on next Tuesdays post.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Celebrating Our Freedom

Here's a little something to remind us of what our armed forces give us every single day: the right for our children to be able to sing songs like this one (this is from my son's "patriotic program" the first grade classes put on last year).

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Don't forget to pray for our troops today and thank them for their service to our country.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Words For Future Generations

"This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord."  -Plalms 102:18 I have been thinking about my journal writing lately.  I realize that in trying to find time for everything else, I often times put off writing in my journal.  I tell myself, "I'll write tomorrow." or "I'll write down the big significant events."  But I have neglected it so much that even the thought to write comes less and less.  It is like ignoring a prompting from the spirit, if you ignore it long enough, the Lord stops giving the promptings.   At a family reunion several years ago, my Aunt and Uncle presented our family with journal excerpts from my grandmother's journal.  We each took turns reading these excerpts.  The things we read were not necessarily about big important events in my grandmother's life, but they were her everyday thoughts and feelings.  It was so special and touching to gain insight into her life, to read about this person who has had so much influence in the lives of our family.  Even the use of her vocabulary was cute.   In my own journal writing, I look back at past entries and think, "There is no way I want anybody to ever read this!  It is cheesy and poorly written, it makes me sound silly!"  But who knows, maybe there is something in there, some little thought or event that I wrote about that could touch the lives of my posterity.  So I'm making a new goal to write in my journal more.  Much more!    

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday So What: Sting of life

Last week's So What was all about the bumblebee. This week's post is inspired by his pal, the wasp.

A few days ago, my 5 yr old daughter was playing outside. From inside, I heard a scream of pure pain and I knew that  this wasn't a case of her little sister stealing a toy. Something was broken or bleeding. I ran out and saw her holding her finger. She had been stung by a wasp for the first time.

You think someone would have hacked her hand off the way she carried on, but in that moment, her little world had changed. She already has anxiety problems, but now they were on overdrive. After calming her down (for hours) I finally dragged out what was bothering her. Usually when she gets owies, they are the consequence of her behavior. You run around like a crazy girl, you'll probably trip at some point. Keep poking your sister, and she'll probably whack you. But this time, she had done nothing to warrant the pain. She was being a good girl, doing everything she was supposed to, and something stung her unexpectedly.

She vowed to never go outside again. She was scared to death that something else would come and get her when she wasn't looking. I'm still trying to get her back outside, and while I'm thinking of ways to do that, I started thinking of how true this situation is of life in general.

Alot of times our trials are a direct consequence of our actions, but sometimes they're not. Sometimes we are on our path, doing everything right, and something comes and stings us. Losing a job, or heaven forbid a child. Or someone offends you and hurts your heart. I have a tendency to react like my daughter, to draw in and hide under the covers. Afraid that the big bad world is gonna get me again. If I get a particularly harsh criticism, I don't ever want to let anybody near my work. I want to keep it to myself, stay safe.

Thinking about this and what I make myself do, is the same approach I need to take with my daughter. I can't promise that she'll never get stung again if she goes outside. In fact she probably will. But if she stays inside, think of all the great things she'll miss out on. Riding bikes, playing on the new playground, and running through the sprinklers.

Bad things are going to happen, things are going to hurt. It's inevitable. But if we close ourselves off to the possibilities because we are afraid of the sting, think of all the great things we'll miss out on while we're inside looking out the window.

Thanks for reading. You can visit me at my other blogs and read  this week's post, 50 shades of ranting, or check in on my marathon training.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Punching the Clock

As most of you know, for months now I've struggled with some personal frustrations with my writing progress. Some I've shared here, while others I've posted on my author BLOG. I want to emphasize most of this has been self-inflicted. I've been feeling stagnant, unworthy, and untalented.

I am starting to wise up.

Part of that is due to the encouragement of some really amazing people in my life, but--as I'm sure you know--the only ones who can fix me are me and God. So I've been working on that aspect of my life, too. God's wonderful that way. Patient. Forgiving. Full of encouragement for the future.

Wednesday night we had a family meeting. I explained to the kids my new writing schedule and, more importantly, WHY I had a new writing schedule. And now I'm going to explain it to you.

I have spent a great deal of time calling my writing a career while treating it as a hobby. While I know writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme, I have been too obsessive and consequently frustrated by the lack of revenue. I'm not talking about hundreds of dollars. I'm talking about any dollars. At. All.

As usual, a change in direction required a change of thinking. On my part. I've worked enough jobs to know if you want to get anything out of it, you have to put something INTO it. If I want to make money--even just enough to supplement our family income a tiny bit or be able to afford to continue writing--I have to WORK for it.

I have this quote on my FB wall: Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison

Well, I for one am tired of missing opportunities because I'm too dense to recognize them for what they are.

I also know I'm not the only one who's had an epiphany this week. Share yours. You may end up helping someone else. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Special News for a Special Book

A note from the author, Regina Sirois. Visit, download the free excerpt, cast your vote for On Little Wings by May 30th in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition

It's not everyday that we get to share an accomplishment like this, but today we have an opportunity to support one of our own. 

Regina Sirois, a fellow MMW, whose debut book 'On Little Wings' was featured on our blog here, has some exciting news - after competing against 5000 other entries, Regina's book is one of the top three finalists for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA).

The winner of this award is determined by public vote, which opened May 22 and closes May 30, 2012, with the presentation on June 16, 2012.  Voting is free, and one simply has to click on any one of the banners to go to the Amazon site.  There you can read all three of the excerpts and cast your vote.

If you have had the wonderful opportunity to meet Regina or read her amazing book, please go show your support by voting.  If you haven't had a chance to get to know her, visit her website here, or go read the free excerpt.  If you love what you read (the first chapter alone had me thirsty for more), let Amazon know with your vote!  Don't be afraid to pick up a banner as well, and pass along the word.  Together we can help 'On Little Wings' fly to great heights.

To celebrate this amazing accomplishment, here's Regina with some thoughtful responses to the questions I had a chance to ask.  Enjoy!

1. First the book.  You've probably already answered this question a hundred times, but where did the inspiration for 'On Little Wings' come from?

This is always the first question and I have the worst answer. I have no idea. I have no secret aunt or seaside cottage. My ideas come like everyone else. One second there is nothing, the next second there is a thought, a voice, a smell, a picture. My characters would drop in at the most unexpected moments with a line of dialogue or a thought that intrigued me. I let them feed me the story slowly. Sometimes I tried to force it and I ended up writing junk. I had to wait and listen and think. The words came because I was listening for them.

2. Which character in the book do you identify with most?

Every character has a different piece of me. Surprisingly, and unfortunately, I identify with Claire's need to keep the painful past in the past at any cost. I identify with Jennifer who swallows the world whole. She observes everything, watches everything, processes everything, analyzes everything. I've always done the same. Sometimes I wish I could put my brain in a sleep mode!

3. What was the hardest part of the process for you, from the moment you wrote the first word until you decided to publish it to Amazon?

What a fascinating question. It gets sort of personal. There are two worst moments. The first is the day I got a call from a tiny publishing company that was considering my manuscript. It was a rejection call. I said thank you and all the polite words before I hung up. I sat down at the top of my stairs and didn't cry. It hurt too much to cry. I just sat there and felt it. It was disappointment so tangible that I could feel it moving in my chest. It ended up being a huge blessing, but at the moment it felt like the end of any chance I would ever get to share my words.The second worst moment  was after my book was very successful on Amazon. The attention hit so unexpectedly that it left me in a panic. I felt like many eyes were upon me and I was going to nosedive into epic failure while they all smirked. I got three hideous reviews in a row and that was my fire to walk through. That night I cried until my husband's sweatshirt was soaked through! I begged him to take the book down and make it all disappear. Like all feelings, you walk straight through them and come out stronger.

4. Next, the contest - How did you learn you would be a finalist?

This is a long, long answer. I will abbreviate. I knew the day the finalists were getting called. I knew it wouldn't be me. I drove to the middle of nowhere (gravel roads and all) and parked my car and sat by the side of the road with a squirrel and bees and a mockingbird. (the first I'd ever seen) I told myself every reason why I am fine without contracts or publishers. As I was taking a picture my phone rang and the voice asked if I was Regina.
That is when my heart stopped.
Then she said, "This is Livvy from Amazon."
I tried to take a breath but the world ran out of air. I squeaked, "you are?" and burst into tears.
I remember reaching down and touching the  road as if I were checking to make sure I was still on solid ground. I remember my tears hitting the dust.
I remember the mockingbird.
I remember a feeling of shock and happiness so big I was glad I was out in the middle of nowhere because it would have never fit inside a little house or a little car or a grocery store.

5. Did you read any of the other entries?  Where there any that stood out to you, and that made you feel - I'd love to be in the running with those ones?

 I read very few. I remember one that made me wince because it had the F word several times and I had trouble believing it was supposed to be for young adults. I read 'Dyad' by Jaima Fixsen and I thought it was very well done. I hope to see it in print someday.

6. Where there any moments in the last six months that you though, this can't possibly be happening?  It's so surreal?

I am glad I took pictures of that gravel road before Amazon called because I might think it was all a dream without documentation. When my book made it to the front page of kindle for the third time I looked at my husband and my true and honest thought was, "I have a guardian angel who cheats and loves my book!"

7.  What advice do you have for those of us looking to that future day when we hold our first book in our hands?

Find one or two people whose literary opinion you trust implicitly and who love you and write for them. The world has too many opinions and they are all conflicting. If I tried to write for critiques my book would be tangled in so many knots. "it's too dramatic, it's too boring, it's too intelligent, it insulted my intelligence..." Trust me, I have heard everything! Pick one kind and honest person and write for him/her. When you've refined it to the point that one person loves it, so will others.

Thanks, and good luck Regina!

A note from the author, Regina Sirois. Visit, download the free excerpt, cast your vote for On Little Wings by May 30th in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Can't Wait!

I know I'm supposed to find joy in the journey. That life is ABOUT the process and not about the destination. But can I just tell you I can't wait for this month to be over? I'm so looking forward to what is coming up, I want it RIGHT NOW.
Like...while I'm excited for my daughter's baptism on Saturday, I'd been caught up in my preparations for my 16 year old's MASSIVE Hunger Games themed party on Monday. Now it's time to dedicate myself to this next milestone. I'm excited to see the last day of school on Thursday, no more waking up my 6 year old at 6:30 am. I'm excited to be able to write again, which I put on hiatus while I've been dealing with the end of the school year and parties and visits from my parents for the baptism. (Which means CLEANING MY HOUSE TOP TO BOTTOM BECAUSE MY MOTHER CAN'T THINK THAT I LIVE LIKE A SLOB BECAUSE SHE TAUGHT ME BETTER.)
But next week begins time to write. And kids at camps and EFY and swim lessons and family vacations and sister's getaways and a writing retreat.  Ummm.....maybe I'm not so excited. Huh.

No, I really am. Mostly because my WIP has been very impatient with my need to deal with real life for a while and put it on the back burner. I think it's up a little too hot because it's not merely keeping warm, it slowly rising to a full boil. And I absolutely CANNOT give in and write until all this other stuff gets done this weekend.

SOOOOO......the other thing I absolutely cannot wait for is to see your entries for our "Mormon, Mommy, or Writer" contest. I hope you are mulling over and starting your entries. Because this summer, while full of real life activities, will hopefully be enriched by your stories, essays, and poetry.

Remember: June 1st to July 31st is the entry window. Get ready!!!! It'll be here before you know it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sinfully Neglected

Have you ever had a friend who you didn't call as often as you should?  Life got busy and you knew that the friend would understand. After a while you realize that you may have put off talking for so long that you have reached a point in which calling seemed impractical.  You begin to question the strength of your friendship.
 "Did you guys even know each other anymore?" 
 "Were you really friends?"  
 "Has time come between you?" 
I'm sad to say, I've had some friendships like this.  I miss those friends.  I think often, but doubt that I even really know them anymore.

In my writing career,  (if you can call it that) I've also had some WIPs that I feel much the same way about. These stories that were once so dear to me have been set aside and left for much too long.  
"Will I ever really return to complete the novel?"
 "Why did I even start this story?"
"Is this even my story to tell anymore?"

When we neglect something/someone, is it the same as saying we don't care?  How do we regain the things that we lose through our neglect?  I'm reminded of the Biblical parable of the talents.  I refuse to accept that hope is lost in some of these cases.  There must be a road to recovery.

If something/someone in your life has received your neglect for far too long, maybe today is the day you recommit to making a change.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Because It Was One of THOSE Weekends

I had another hectic weekend (all good stuff, but very busy) and since I didn't prepare my post ahead of time like last week (another crazy weekend!) I am reaching into my back pocket, where I keep my Use In Case of Emergency Post, otherwise known as my "Good Writing Articles" folder in my browser's bookmarks section.

This week I am treating you to a great article/post entitled The Proper Care and Feeding of Conflict, brought to you by Erin Shakespear of Utah Children's Writers. She writes:

Conflict. Oy...we need a lot of the stuff, right? In our books my living room, between the wee natives, not so much. 
But how do we make conflict? How do we stuff enough into our stories to turn them into Must-Be-Read-Until-The-Crack-Of-Dawn page turners?

If you want to know the answer, be sure to head over there to read her post- it will make you eager to delve back into your WIP and stir up some juicy conflict...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Co-writing part 3

This week, in our Co-writing Part 3, we would like to take a few minutes to describe our crazy method of writing together.  During the past few years since we have begun writing together, our situations have changed, we have both moved several times.  But our co-writing style has developed during this time to a point where we feel we have a method that works pretty well for us.     Our little system keeps us organized. Because, lets face it, emailing something back and forth while adding more to it could get a little messy and confusing. We always start with a brainstorming session where we write down notes.  This is when we formulate the basic plot line and begin to develop our characters.  This is done together, either in person if we get the chance, over the phone, email, or Skype. Once the bulk of it is down in notes one of us will take a piece and start putting it in story format.  Anything that we add we put in colored font so that when the WIP is passed to the next person their attention is immediately drawn to anything that is newly added and needs to be edited.  Upon receiving the WIP from the other, we will edit the new material, expand on or complete any added ideas.  Any colored text is then changed to black, or is left colored if we feel it needs more consideration or needs to be changed in any way. Then we add our new material (in a colored text different from the previous) and pass it on for another go-around.  We also take time to sit down while on skype or the phone and read through sections together and edit.  When one of us has a new idea to add to the plot, or a new character, we will talk it over together before putting it into the WIP.   Maybe this only makes sense to us :) but it seems to work well.  We build on each other's strengths and make up for weaknesses.  One of us is better at expanding ideas, while the other is a really good editor.  A really good story would be really confusing without indentations and punctuation in the right place, while all the good grammar in the world can't make a story by itself.  We feel it makes us a good team.     When we write our blog posts, we use a condensed version of this system.  Most of the time we use e-mail to send back and forth while on the phone so we can write somewhat simultaneously, helping each other build on an idea.  Occasionally, one of us will write the bulk of the post with the other doing minor editing.     As Mishmashed as this method may seem it has worked really well for us.  What are some of your methods of writing and keeping organized?      

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday So What: Flight of the Bumblebee

Today's So What is brought to by this little guy.  And today I am going to endeavor to be a little more like him.

No, I'm not going to make honey, or sting someone (even though they totally deserve it).  Let me tell you a little something about my striped friend here. According to aerodynamics, this little guy shouldn't even be able to fly. His wings are just too small for the mass density ration of his body. So why do you think he can fly?

Because nobody's told him he can't.

This is the way I think we should be as people, but specifically I wanted to focus on being that way as authors. At the LDStorymakers conference recently, I met a ton of highly intelligent and talented authors.  We would chat at the dinner table and the topic would inevitably boil down to whether or not we had been published. I would whip out my spiffy little card that had my blogs and release dates for my two books. Then they would tell me this, "Well I really hope to be published one day." Some had been honing their craft for ten years. Some had been working on their manuscript for almost that long.

I was shocked! I read through a few of their manuscripts or queries. Some were really good. So why hadn't they been published? Most often, because someone along the way had told them that they can't. Or even worse, told them what they should.
You should have at least 15 drafts and rewrites before it is ready for public consumption.
You should never try to publish your first book.
You should spend at least a year polishing a manuscript before sending it off.
You should have exactly x amount of words in each chapter.

Rewind to back at the conference tables. The other person would ask me a few questions about my work, and after hearing their story I was almost embarrassed to admit that it took me 11 weeks from first word to submission. And that I had been a "writer" for all of 6 months now. Cue jaw dropping on the floor. How did I do it? How did I get published on the first try?

Because I had the good fortune to have no clue what I was doing. I had an idea, had a story, and a good friend that believed in me. I didn't know any other authors yet.  I didn't know it was supposed to be hard and be insomnia inducing. I just did it, because nobody told me I couldn't.

Now I know better. I have a huge list of things that every story should have and should do. I am positively agonizing over my current WIP wondering whether or not I am following all the rules.
I should only use this word x amount of times
I should tag my dialogue in a certain way
I should write it, then edit it, then edit it some more

So what's different? For the first two books, I wrote the book I wanted to write without any rules. The only rule was that it had to be something I would want to read. Now I'm so caught up in worrying about what everyone else wants it to be. I can hardly get two pages without being sure I am doing something wrong. Something against the rules.

After beating my head up against a wall for the last two weeks, I've decided that there are no rules. Just plain old good storytelling. That's why we do this right? To twist someone up and bring them into OUR world. Where WE make the rules. Think of some of your favorite books. Did they follow all the dos and dont's? (JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer anyone?) But we fall in love with them anyway.

I challenge you to join me in making the bee your authory-type mascot. Whether you are writing your fifth manuscript or agonizing over your first, forget about all the aerodynamic reasons why you shouldn't be able to fly with it. And just... take off.

You can find me on my other two blogs Finished Being Fat, and Betsy Schow Writer/Mom/Weight Loss Survivor. Until next week, happy flying.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Aaaand, They're Off!

I don't know about you, but here SCHOOL IS OUT. For the summer. I'm so over my panic attack and am ready to dig in and make the most of it. But, you should probably hear a little back story before you understand why.

Last week my daughter had her first BIG field trip. That's when the school decides to take a bunch of 2nd graders to Dallas (2.5 hrs away) by bus to the Aquarium. I honestly don't know why. I wouldn't take anybody's 8 yr old across state lines. I'd rather wait until they're 10. But maybe that's just me.

Because she's (barely) 8, my hubby and I decided one of us needed to go as a parent helper. And because he works from 8pm to 8am, I got elected. It's simple logic. Let me help you understand that I didn't want to go. I mean, really did not want to go. I wanted her to have this experience. Very much. And I felt one of her parents should be there. But I seriously didn't want to do it. I chalked it up to one of those things we do as parents that we may not want to, but feel it's best for our child.

Until everything goes horribly wrong.

Like, I had no idea my daughter's bladder couldn't take the 2.5 hr bus jolting ride all the way to Dallas. If I had even considered that, I would have packed a change of clothes. But she isn't the one to have regular accidents (one recently during testing because she was told she couldn't leave the room for anything, and she's just a kid to I figured that was an isolated incident). I can't recall the last time she wet the bed. But as my dripping, sobbing, sock-footed baby girl got off the bus and approached me while all her other friends ran off to the aquarium, I knew I had a problem on my hands.

And, we're not immune to economic troubles, but I knew we had the money in the account to get through the day. Or so I thought. And, these days, who doesn't take debit/credit cards? Well, suddenly I had to buy my daughter a whole new outfit. And my debit card would not work. Called my husband, got him out of bed, and had him check the account. The money's in there. But the card was declined. Repeatedly. Finally I wrote a check. Thank goodness they still accept checks at Ross.

Don't ask me why I didn't take cash with me. It was stupid. Poor planning, poor thinking. Totally my fault. All week this little voice in the back of my brain said "Go to the bank" and all week I let things distract me into not going.

Then it got worse.

Brand new clothes, shoes and panties make my little girl a whole new person. She was happy, bouncy and excited to see the exhibits. So we drove back to the aquarium. 3 or 4 times because I got lost. My instructions from google don't help much if I'm coming from a different direction. But we made it back. As her class gathered in the gift shop because they were nearly done. And, guess what, you have to pay to park in downtown Dallas.

Duh. I know that. I've lived in enough cities where I know you have to pay to park in downtown. But I hadn't considered (bad Mommy) that the aquarium was downtown. Dallas is a big place. And nothing I'd heard or received about this trip said downtown. So I didn't think about it. Guess what? You can pay with your debit card. If it works. Or cash. If you have it. But one thing they don't accept? Personal checks of any kind.

I'd reached my breaking point. I had two options. Turn around and go home, disappointing my daughter and wasting all that money we'd spent to get to that point (gas for the car, the new outfit including shoes because hers were soaked, the entrance fees to get into the aquarium, etc) or go through the aquarium and risk having my car towed.

I cried halfway home. My daughter didn't even get a chance to express her disappointment because she was too busy worrying about me. I seriously couldn't get a hold of myself until we were almost back in OK, and still, now, when I think about this too hard I choke up.

I felt like the worst, most idiotic mother in the world. I felt every bit a failure. I felt like this was the stupidest thing I'd ever done. And I'd broken my baby's tender heart. I felt lower than a snake's belly (which is a lovely cliche, but quite descriptive).

In retrospect, the fleeting idea I'd had that morning of skipping the field trip altogether and taking her to the lake to dip our feet in the water would have been sheer genius. I could have fed her breakfast and lunch at Sonic and not spent nearly as much money as I'd spent on our failed aquarium excursion.

And that's to say nothing about the praying I did on the way home that the little E on the gas gauge meant "just a little bit more." 

But here's the thing. If I'd listened to that prompting, I'd never have known the hell I was sparing myself and her. Which, on the surface, sounds like a good thing. But sometimes we have to go through the little miseries (that feel like huge, epic miseries at the time) to appreciate what those promptings truly do for us. There were so many different ways to do that day. I could have been better prepared with a change of clothes and cash and she wouldn't have lost a moment in the Aquarium. I could have taken her to the lake instead and promised her a trip to Dallas later this summer. I could have let her go by herself with the class and have her either be the pee-smelling child all day or the one someone's mom had to bring home early. That would have been horrible for her. Probably more horrible than what happened with me there.

Look, I'm not saying I can turn that terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day into a rose. But I am saying I'm grateful for agency. I'm grateful for a God who loves us enough to let us make mistakes. And I'm grateful for hindsight--which is 20/20--because I can use it, not to store regret, but to see and learn and grow.

Maybe, by sharing it, I can help someone else avoid having this kind of day. Maybe.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line

I have a confession.

I've been writing since third grade.  I've dabbled with poetry, short stories and novel length fiction.  I even have the beginnings of a non-fiction book that I like to pull out and dust off from time to time.  The last I counted, I had eighteen different manuscripts at various stages of production, ranging from the work I wrote while I was in high school all the way till the present.

Eighteen.  And that's just the ones I can find and count.  I'm pretty sure there's others buried in boxes or zip drives and forgotten....

My confession?  I've never finished one of them.  I have never completed a first draft. 

Last November I persevered through NaNo, bringing one of my WIP's to the 50,000 mark.  And that was the first time I've written past 40k.  I was naturally excited, but once again, did not finish.

I don't know why I do it.  It's not standard behavior for me to begin a project and toss it aside half done.

With some of the books I lost interest.  Some of the books I got stuck.  Some of the books I got busy, and then lost the flow of creativity and desire, and the ambition to jump back in.

Until now.  On Friday, January 6, 2012, I sat down with the computer after the tucking the kids into bed, and wrote out a chapter of a story that had been floating around in my head for a couple of days.  I took it to critique group the next day, got some great feedback and advice, and dove in feet first without looking back.  Sometimes it took a lot of willpower, but I held myself to a steady goal of adding to my word count every night. (It helped that my husband had three night classes and was never home in the evening).  Some weeks the words just flowed.  Some weeks I stagnated in self-doubt and uncertainty.  (When you're climbing a high building, it's good advice to not look down.  When' you're writing a first draft, it's a good idea to not look back.)

This past Saturday, I passed the 85,000 mark.  And I can't be totally certain, but I think I'm on the last chapter.

I can hardly contain my excitement.  This is what it feels like?  It reminds me somewhat of labor.  You get to the other side and think, well gee - that wasn't so bad!

The race is not over yet.  Now the real work begins.

Here's to crossing the finish line.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sometimes Just a Mommy

I'm dashing in to write my post today between a million different activities today. My second daughter's 8th birthday is today, and while we are celebrating only as a family, there are still many things to do. My oldest also has her final choir concert today, so we have to run right after dinner and birthday cake to that. Not to mention that we were so out of food my 5 year old would open the fridge, look at its bareness, and say, "Mommy, are we ever going to eat again?" We're also knee deep in preparations for the "Hunger Games" themed birthday party we are throwing for my 15 year old next Monday(who will be 16 a week from today) AND for family to come for the 8 year old's baptism a week from Saturday. (Can you see my eye twitching? CAN YOU?????)

My point is that while I write to fulfill myself, which in turn helps my children because mommy isn't so cranky, there are some days when I have to say "Today I am just a Mommy. I am not Megan. I am not a writer. I am just Mommy. And I am okay with that."

I'll have time later to think just about my writing again, but "Today is NOT that day!" (Name that movie.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Seasoned Writer

The weather is warm, the flowers are fragrant, and the rabbits are nesting in my backyard. Which is better the rabbits than the poison ivy climbing the fence.  Every year as summer approaches, I feel as antsy as a dog when he sees you with his leash.  What is is about summer that even as an adult I get so excited about?  It has a Je ne sais quoi.   I just feel like grabbing a notebook and a pen and sitting out under the sun while I write. 

Do you have a favorite writing season?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cake Pops Gone Wrong- And What They Have to Do With Writing

Baseball cake pops, courtesy of I was just thinking...

Nailed it.

So, ever since I found out that I would be in charge of my son's Little League baseball team snacks after the game on his birthday, I just knew that I had to make baseball cake pops. So cute, so simple, so perfect, right?


It seemed simple enough: make cake balls. Skewer with stick. Dip in white chocolate. Prop up to let cool. Pipe on red stitching.

Yeeeeah. Not so much.

Something strange happened when I was melting the chocolate- I think there's something off with the temp setting on the burner I was using- and it just started clumping (btw, there was no water in it- I know that's the usual culprit of melting mishaps, but I was very careful). When I skewered the cake balls and tried to dip them, they started falling off the sticks (yes, I had chilled them ahead of time- didn't seem to help). My "propping-up" technique was a disaster, and the pops kept falling over and running into each other and, again, falling off the sticks (I know, I should have used a block of styrofoam like recommended). 

Long story short(er): It was an epic fail. My baseball cake pops turned into strange, flat-topped, impaled  snowballs. I wanted to either cry or throw my hideous little snowblobs at something. I was dreading telling my son that, alas, there would be no baseball cake pops after all. Chips and Capri Suns would have to do for the post-birthday-game snack. But then, in all my melted misery, I grabbed one of the stupid things and put it in my mouth. And man, was it good. It may have been the ugliest treat ever made, but it was downright delicious.

My heart lifted just a little.

I decided that I didn't care if they were homely. They were awesome! So what if they weren't going to be my perfect little baseball pops? Maybe nobody would have to know they were supposed to be baseballs. These were a bunch of 6- and 7-year-old boys. They eat dirt. They don't care if I'm Martha Stewart. Their mouths can't tell the difference between unsightly clumps of cake on a stick and red-piped cake pops. They just want to be fed.

So I stuck them with sticks, dripped some clumpy chocolate on them, and turned them upside down on waxed paper in the freezer. I figured as long as they made it to the game and into little mouths, I'd call it good. 

And you know what? My son didn't care. He said, "Thanks, Mom!" and devoured one. I had to grab the stick away before he wolfed that down too.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, if we let our inner Martha Stewarts (or J.K. Rowlings or Stephenie Meyers or Suzanne Collins-es) dictate our writing, it will never be good enough and we'll end up with chips instead of cake pops. The delete button on our computers will start filing for overtime pay and our WIPs will get stuck in our mires of self-doubt.

It's time to embrace the hideous, people!

Your first draft will be ugly. It will be a misshapen snowball at the end of a stick. 

But it will still taste good.

The point is to feed those hungry, craving mouths that want a good story, to make something delicious, even if it isn't pretty. There will be time to make it pretty later. Just get it out of your head and onto the page. 

The End.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Simplify Your Life

Happy Mother's Day!
  How many of you feel like you are a candidate for the Mother of the Year award? How many of you feel like in the midst of all the hectic business of life and the stressed words that were expressed at our children and loved ones you go to bed feeling like the day was a loss or a failure? There have been plenty of nights when both of us have gone to bed wondering what we could have done better. There is an amazing talk by President Uchtdorf titled "Of Things That Matter Most" given in 2010 that can give us hope and guidance. In it he talks about the pace of our modern lives and the benefit of slowing down and steadying the course and focusing on the essentials.
  We all have so much to do, with all our dishes and laundry, the vacuuming...and much more. And then there are things like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and all the other apps and games or other social networks out there that sometimes it hard to focus on the things that matter most.
"Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives." Pres. Uchtdorf
  Sometimes it can be hard to decide what should go on our to do list. It can be even harder to prioritize all those things. There have been many times when I will be in the middle of a chore and one or both of my girls will ask me to come dance with them, or read a book, or play some game. I always feel torn between getting my chores done, the things I feel need to get done, and spending precious time with my little girls. Most of the time I will tell them I need to finish, because I feel its important that my girls realize that we can't always play, that there does come a time when we need to work. (I also feel these are prime opportunities to teach my girls how to do certain jobs and chores)  but there are other times when I see that pleading little twinkle in their beautiful eyes that I remember something my own mom has told me many times. "The dishes will still be there, the laundry can wait, but your children wont always be there, and they can't stop growing in order to wait for you to enjoy this time with them." In these instances I stop what I'm doing and I go play with my girls. I like to believe those are the memories that they will take through life with them, that "Mom would stop and play with me."
"Printed material, wide-ranging media sources, electronic tools and gadgets—all helpful if used properly—can become hurtful diversions or heartless chambers of isolation." Pres. Uchtdorf
  There are other things in our lives that have become more prevalent the last few years that can be huge distractions. Let me just say, I don't think distractions are a "BAD" thing. Sometimes we ALL need a little distraction to keep us from completely going crazy. However, it is important to keep those things in check, and not let them rule our lives. We can't let them become a priority over the things that are truly important in our lives.
“We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.” Elder Oaks
  As we go through our days there are things that NEED to get done. Each of us has the same allotted time, we each have 24 hours in which we have to accomplish all of our tasks. So, which are the things that we can do without? We mentioned Facebook and Pinterest and some other things that can take up a lot of our time. At times we tend to let these things monopolize our lives. So many women (and men) use these "tools" to compare themselves to others, which often times leads to feeling inadequate. Another down side to obsessing over the computer or any electronic device, is, at least in our cases, our children tend to misbehave a lot more when our attention is so riveted on a screen. Again, we're not saying these things are BAD, they are just things that we need to keep in balance and not allow them to get out of control or take up time that should be used for something else.
  We have a challenge for you. We challenge you to for at least one day (maybe more if you can) turn off the TV and the computer, put down your iPad, or any other device you may have and take out some of those distractions. The challenge isn't so much about turning things off as much as it is REPLACING those things with more simple things, the things that build you up and can help revitalize you. Since most of you readers are writers you could print off your WIP the day before and then for your "unplugged" day simply use a pencil. If any of you participate in this challenge we would love to hear about your experience. There is a little story in the talk we have been quoting that we found humorous and fitting. wasn’t long after astronauts and cosmonauts orbited the earth that they realized ballpoint pens would not work in space. And so some very smart people went to work solving the problem. It took thousands of hours and millions of dollars, but in the end, they developed a pen that could write anywhere, in any temperature, and on nearly any surface. But how did the astronauts and cosmonauts get along until the problem was solved? They simply used a pencil.
  We have so much technology in our modern day lives that we have grown to depend on it so we feel like we need it at our finger tips all the time. But if we step back for a moment we may realize that much of this technology is only creating more stress and clutter in our lives than necessary. It doesn't matter what the world thinks of us. It doesn't matter if we have as many pins on Pinterest as our friends do, or as many pictures on Facebook of fun vacations and parties. It doesn't matter how many "likes" we get on our statuses. We should give little notice to things like this and instead focus on the things that uplift us and build up our foundation in the gospel.
  We have a divine role as mothers to set an example for our children and teach them about the things that give true value to our lives. It is also our duty to unlock their own divine potential. In doing this, our children become our greatest cheerleaders and in turn help us to be better mothers.
  Last week I (Jessica) made a birthday cake for my youngest daughter's birthday. This was a slightly stressful task because I have never taken any cake classes and I was just flying by the seat of my pants. I kept worrying about whether or not it would look right, and just the way I envisioned it. As I was applying the first layer of icing (the "dirty icing" which is just plain white icing) my oldest daughter was standing near and kept gasping and exclaiming, "Mom, you're doing a great job!" or "Mom, that is so beautiful!" It wouldn't matter if this cake turned out looking nothing like I envisioned because my girls would think it was perfect, and that is what truly matters.
  When I (Ashley) take the dog on a walk, I put my younger 2 children in a double jogging stroller, and my oldest rides his bike along side. The other day, I decided to pick up the pace a bit and jog part of the way home. The dog thought this was great and began to pull on the leash wanting to go even faster. The runner I am not kept screaming inside at me to STOP! But I had this little voice next me on his bike who kept saying, "You can go faster Mom!" and "I know you can run all the rest of the way!" My little cheerleader, he inspired me to keep going. I didn't run all the way home, but I felt pretty darn good knowing my little guy has faith in me and didn't want me to quit. I think I need to jog with him more often!
 These are the people who's opinions matter, and they think we are Super Moms. So we should go to bed at night feeling like a super mom.

  We feel that way about our own mother. Growing up, we both truly believed that none of our friends had cleaner houses than we did. Our laundry was always done. Even if you needed that work shirt that you wore the night before, you could come home from school to find it hanging in your closet. But this wasn't all. Our childhoods are filled with afternoons of flashcards, spelling quizzes, and stories. Every time we left that school project to the last minute, Mom was there to stay up with you until it was done. I will always remember the banana Mom drew on the cover of my report on Ecuador. Our shelves in our homes today have many books on them that are worn and tattered from being read so many times throughout our childhoods. But we keep them because they hold so many fond memories of reading together with Mom. She taught us how to clean and cook, but will always be the first to tell us that the cleaning can wait, our children are more important. Our mom truly is Super Mom, we love you!
  You may find yourself asking what makes a good mother. We answer you with a quote from Pres. Uchtdorf's talk: short, they focus on the things that matter most.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Top 10 Things You Need to Thank Your Mother For

Welcome to the Saturday So What: Mother's Day Edition.

So What have I learned in my adventures in motherhood? That we all need to get down on our knees and thank and/or apologize to our own mothers. With Mother's Day tomorrow, I saw the perfect opportunity. Without further ado here is my Top 10 things you need to thank and/or apologize to your mother for.

10. Letting you take up residence in her body for nine months, making renovations to it, and then vacating after X amount of hard labor - without leaving a security deposit for the damage.

9. The roughly 5 years worth of accumulative hours sleep lost while rocking/ staying up/ caring for the sick/ and worrying over you.

8. The agony she felt when she realized, Yes, she sounds just like her mother.

7. At least 3 years worth of diaper changes, not to mention the middle of the night accidents there after.

6. Making sure you brushed your teeth so that today you are not eating corn through a straw.

5. Forcing you to do your homework and learn your ABC's so that you can enjoy this blog and your successful writing career ahead.

4. Giving you plenty of things to use as comic relief and character drama in your stories. (Because let's face it, perfectly adjusted people make lousy writers)

3. Not letting you go out with the bad boy of your dreams. At midnight. On a motorcycle. Without a helmet.

2. Holding you when you cried about boy from number 3 breaking your heart.

And the number one thing we should all thank our mothers for.....

1. Knowing all of this ahead of time, and still choosing us anyway.

Thanks mom, I love you.

Thanks for reading everyone. Join me on my other blogs.
 Finished Being Fat and Betsy Schow-Writer/Mom/Weight Loss Survivor. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

What I learned Watching Castle

First, a disclaimer. I do NOT watch television to be instructed or even enlightened. I watch TV to be entertained. I don't even watch TV, actually, but TV shows on my computer.

But here's the thing: Heavenly Father will reach out to you in whatever way will work, especially when He has something important to share.

Lately, I've been struggling with writers' blues. Not the oh-I-got-a-bad-review or I-have-incurable-writer's-block type, but the I-can't-ever-be-good-enough-why-try-I-want-to-quit-writing variety. And it's been serious.

I've been here before, and I know it's my calling in this life--beyond family and children. I can't give up. No matter how many times I may want to. But it's just been really hard to dump this funk. Weeks. Months. I have some highs where I think I'm coming out of it, and then some crashing lows where I wonder if the writer in me is bi-polar. Or schizophrenic. Being a writer is HARD. We each have demons we face every day. And I hate to say it, but some days the demons win.

Back to television. I love the show, Castle, but this season has been really hard to watch. Lots of stupid misunderstandings, characters missing the hints, hurt feelings, and some lame storylines have made me wonder why I keep watching. And I've been pretty hard on the writers.

Then I watched the season finale. Blew. Me. Away.

As I lay in bed that night, I started thinking. (You know how it is, sometimes the only quiet time you get as a mom is when everyone else is asleep) It was like the whole season was a set up for the finale. The finale that rocked. The finale that brought everything together in a wonderful, exciting way and culminated in viewer success. Like the writers were just saying this whole season, "Wait for it. There's something better just around the corner."

And I thought, isn't that what God does for us? We're slogging through the mire in a difficult time, feeling down and thinking it's never going to get better. But He's up there saying, "Wait for it. There's something wonderful just around the corner."

I'm sharing this because I know I'm not the only one who feels down, or like a failure, or like I just can't ever be good enough. I can throw some cliches at you (we at MMW love cliches, after all ;)) like "Tough times don't last; tough people do" or "It's going to get better" but, honestly, deep down we all know that. What I do want to say is that you are NOT alone. And that I KNOW God has something really wonderful in store for you. So hang in there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hush, Hush, Be Still

As I walked to the school with the kids yesterday to pick up my daughter from school, we passed a young woman lying on the grass beside a bus stop.  She had her legs stretched out comfortably in front of her, feet crossed at the ankles, head propped up against her backpack, and a book pressed lovingly against her heart with both hands. 

The book - Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, was not what caught my attention (though it did remind me that it's on my to read list).  It was the expression on her face, and the soft sigh that escaped her lips.

In the midst of a busy neighborhood, with the schoolyard shrieks of children and the honking of impatient drivers, this girl was lost in the world of story.

As writers, it's not really about the money (which would be nice), or the fame (which might not really be that nice), or the fandom (which would be nice).

It's about capturing the reader, in that moment, with our story.

The moment where they lay back in the warm spring sunshine and sigh, the graceful exhale of euphoria.

The moment where they become so immersed in our book that they forget the world moving all around them...

...hush, hush...

...just for a moment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rev Your Engines...

So last year we did something we'd never done before. We held a contest for short stories based on the theme "Totally Cliche`". Then we went through the process of creating first an ebook (which is still available, by the way) and then a trade paperback of it (which is also still available). We showed you the sometimes complicated process, and hopefully it was as informative to you as it was to us. It was so much fun, we decided to do it again!!!
We learned a lot last year putting the book together. And we hope we can use that knowledge to make this year's book that much better. 
One thing we learned is that our theme last year was maybe too narrow, as was our submission window. So we've changed that. Our new theme is broader, and hopefully will include more of our readership. Our theme this year is (drum roll please......) 
 "Mormon" "Mommy" or "Writer"
You can choose to write on ONE aspect or any combination of the three. Or include all three. 
And to add to the changes, we've decided to include not only fictional short stories of up to 4000 words, but personal essays (think "Chicken Soup" type stories), AND  poetry!!!! (Hopefully your poems aren't 4000 words.)

 The contest will be open June 1st to July 31st. So start prepping...rev your writing engines...

We'll share more details as the the time gets closer, but we wanted to let you know what was in the works. We're so excited to hold this new contest! It's gonna be GREAT!!!! But only if you submit. WE NEED YOUR SUBMISSIONS! DON'T BE SHY!!! Okay. Screaming done. :) 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Not Now, Mommy's Busy

If any of you haven't heard, mother's day is coming up.  It makes me think a lot about the challenges and blessings of being a mom.  I have two wonderful children.  My five-year-old daughter's urgent "I love you"'s randomly announced always warm my heart.  And my one-year-old son's bouncing dance to any and all music makes me appreciate life more.  I am blessed beyond compare; unfortunately, sometimes I forget this.  There are so many things I want, need, and should be doing.  It is easy to think that I will be able to do fun things with my children when I am not busy.

I will always be busy, but my children will not always want me for tea parties and trips to the park.  I will miss the special moments of watching them discover the world for the first time.  I am certain that my daughter interprets, "Not right now, let me finish this first," to mean, "No, and don't ask again."

When I think of Mother's Day, I often wish for a day off.  I am not even certain what that means.  I think this year instead of striving for a day to myself, I will use mother's day as a day to show both of my kids that they are the reason I am I mother,  and let them know that I am lucky to have them.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hackles, Hooks, and Other Wonderful Words

For today's post I just wanted to share an example with you of what I believe to be wonderful, fun, expressive, amazing writing. This excerpt is from Love Walked In by Maria de los Santos, and maybe it's because I can relate to her writing "voice" so much (well, the voice she uses for this character), or maybe it's the message she's conveying here, or maybe it's both, but I just love this passage:

Parenthood chooses you. And you open your eyes, look at what you've got, say "Oh, my gosh," and recognize that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop. It's not a question of choice.

Before you get your political hackles up- and I like those hackles; they're fine hackles, I have a set myself- I should clarify that I'm not talking about choice as we ordinarily use the word. Not Choice as in Pro-. I'm talking about post-choice, the embodied baby, the done deal, the child trailing clouds of glory, etcetera. And, of course, because I see said hackles rising again, I know there are plenty of people with done deals who are smart and brave enough to recognize that they need to thrust parenthood upon someone else, someone with more resources. I'm not talking about those people or taking them to task. If I'm taking anyone to task, and apparently I am, it's those people who have the material resources (and then some; if you can afford a penthouse, more than one signed and numbered Edward Weston photo, and a Mies Van der Rohe chaise, you can afford a child, yes?); who are grown-up; who are in splendid, chiseled, glowing, shockingly handsome health; and who are in all ways suited not to be let off the hook.

I'm talking about Martin. Obviously, Martin. Because as his eleven-year-old daughter slept the sleep of the spent and brokenhearted in the next room, in a strange bed, Martin sat next to me on the couch and said, "I'm just not cut out to be someone's parent. I never was," neatly lifting himself off the hook, without so much as a wrinkle in his English custom-tailored shirt.

Do you have a favorite passage from a book that inspires you to be a better writer? I'd love for you to share! :-)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grab the Rope

We had another post planned for this week, but I liked yesterday's post so much that I wanted to take a few minutes to comment.
I like the story Betsy shared, and her comments on using what the Lord blesses us with to help ourselves. I'm not really waiting for that rescue in my writing (as sister co-writers, we kind of rely on each other for that). But it did make me really think.
The past several months, each time I have received a priesthood blessing, there has been one phrase that has been said each time and it would confuse me every time. A few months ago, I received a new calling that would require a lot of organization, keeping others on track, and service. I felt overwhelmed as I began my new duties. I have struggled to feel that I am doing even the bare minimum to fill this calling, like I have not been serving those who need me right now. I was also, I admit, not getting in my visiting teaching each month. Many nights I would go to bed thinking of all the things I didn't do that people were counting on me for, including putting in my share of time on our WIP.
Recently I was given another blessing, and there it was again, this phrase, this commandment if you will. "Let others help you." I am just stubborn I guess, but I really felt that I didn't know who I was supposed to receive help from when I wasn't doing my part on so many levels. Then, this past month, our family has been in a situation in which we have needed help. It seemed that one financial requirement after another, from the computer breaking, the dog needing shots, the van needing breaks, husband needing gear for work, ect. And it all comes at a time when my husband is out of town for a month, except on weekends. It came to a point where we honestly did not know what we were going to do and we were getting really worried. Then, one thing at a time started to happen, little things came into our lives that have greatly eased our burden. We have been blessed by many people who have given and sacrificed in many ways simply so we can have what we need for our family. After one particular visit, during which we had to put aside our pride and accept the help we knew we badly needed, the thought came to me, "Let others help you." And I knew this was my answer.
We may not know why we go through our trials at the time, but if we have that faith, the Lord will provide our boat or helicopter. Just like Betsy said, we need to keep our eyes peeled and grab that rope. I know my experience has definitely taught me that my pride can get in the way of the Lord trying to bless my life. And it gets in the way of others being able to receive blessings as well. When others want to serve us, sometimes we think, "No, I don't need to be served, I need to serve." But everyone needs an opportunity to serve, and we each need to take our turn to be on the receiving end. The thought keeps coming to me that there may be some opportunity for me to serve in the future which I will only understand because I have been through these trials in my own life. I will be eternally grateful for all those who have thrown that rope to us.
Thank you Betsy for your thoughts and inspiration.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

So What Saturday: God sends a helicopter

Pardon me if I butcher the retelling of this story I heard in church forever ago.

There's a man who lives in a mobile home. One day it begins to rain. And rain. And rain.  We're talking Noah flood like rain here.

So he's a little bit worried, but he has faith. He knows God will take care of him.

The water seeps past the cinderblock and comes into the mobile home. He heads outside to climb onto his truck and wait out the flood.

A boat floats by. The driver of the boat says they are evacuating, and does he need a lift, The man waves him past. He will be ok, because God will rescue him.

The water rises and soon he finds himself up on his roof, waiting for the flood to subside. A helicopter fly past and drops a rope ladder. Climb up, we'll save you.  The man thanks them, but declines. He's got the Lord on his side.

As you may have guessed, the man drowns. When he arrives in heaven and meets the Lord, the man is upset. Why didn't you save me, Lord? I had faith and I waited for you to help me.

The Lord replies in loving chastisement, "I sent you a boat. I sent you a helicopter. But you would not help yourself."

Okay, there was a point to this, I swear. Are you drowning in you writing? Are you on the roof waiting for the Lord, or your muse to rescue you?

I have a friend that is writing a doctrinal book. She is stuck so deep in the mire that I worry about her oxygen resources. I've asked her why doesn't she go get help. Go to a conference, take classes, join a writer's group. Her answer is no way. She is positive that the Lord means for her to write this book and he will make it happen for her.

I too am drowning in writing woes. Well today I am at LDS Storymakers conference. I am rescuing myself. And there have been so many life preservers thrown my way. And I hate to say I almost passed this up. Out of fear (of meeting new people), maybe pride (do I really need classes? ( um yes)), with a little bit a money woes mixed in.

But I know that this is my boat. This is my helicopter. When I get on my knees and pray to find my way through the muck, the Lord hears me. He doesn't pull me out with his own two hands, but he does send help.

It can be a person. It can be a story. It might just be the still small voice. Keep your eyes and your ears peeled- and be ready to grab the rope.

 Here's Nikki Wilson, MMW founder , at the book signing table at the conference. :)  

Follow me on Facebook- Author Betsy Schow  or on Twitter @BetsySchow

Friday, May 4, 2012

I've Been Hijacked

Not the blog, not even this post. Me. Myself. I. Have. Been. Hijacked.

I don't even know what happened. One minute I'm lamenting my progress on my latest, awesome full-fledged fantasy novel, and the next I'm writing crime drama. With nary a unicorn or flash of unexplained light in sight.

Please tell me I'm not alone. Please say that yes, you too have been taken over by a story idea so compelling, so complete, that you have to stop everything else and write it. Over 5k words yesterday, another today--at this rate I'll be done by the end of next week. It's insane. When I'm not writing it I'm thinking about writing it. And I've dreamed about it twice.

And I don't even know if I'm going to ever want to PUBLISH IT. The story is such a sharp departure from anything else I've ever done, I don't know what my readers would think. Maybe I'll do what other writers have done before me and use a different form of my name to publish under. You know, Cheri Chesley for YA fantasy but C.L. Chesley for crime drama. I dunno.

I just wish I knew why now, and why this story? It's dark, with some chapters from the POV of the victim. It's scary--the kind of thing that makes me want to hold my kids tighter at night. I'm looking for the redeeming quality and not finding much. Why share that kind of story with the world? What is the purpose behind it?

So maybe I won't publish it. Maybe it's a writing exercise meant to make my publishable works better.

Or maybe I'm over-thinking the whole thing. Cause that's never happened before.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The 1000 Milestone

We have some very exciting news today - as you read this post, you are viewing a milestone for the Mormon Mommy Writers Blog.

Today is our 1000th post!  To celebrate, we have a few fun things to share.  And a giveaway!!!

First:  A tribute to things past...

We wanted to give a preview of the top ten posts on the MMW blog since its premiere in January 2009.  Take a few minutes to check them out, then vote on the sidebar poll and tell us your favorite post of the top ten.  We'll announce the #1 voted post in a few days.

Here they are:

#10: G is for Gardening with Caleb Warnock (Blogger only gave me the stats for the top nine posts, so I checked our stats for the AtoZ Challenge and found that this post was the most popular post in April, so it earns slot #10!), by Betsy Schow on April 7, 2012.

#9: Never Ever Give Up!, by Olsen's 7 on March 22, 2010.

#8: Book Review and Author Interview (of H.B. Moore's book Alma), by Nikki Wilson on September 25, 2009.

#7: I Haven't Been Punished Yet, by Guest Blogger Rebecca J. Carlson on July 7, 2009.

#6: Ideas for Acts of Service, by Elizabeth Mueller on February 17, 2010.

#5: Writing Family Histories, by Guest blogger Tiffany, on May 20, 2009.

#4: Lazy Days, by Cheri Chesley, on June 3, 2011.

#3: Saturday Stories, LDS Publisher, by LisaAnn Turner on March 5, 2011.

#2: A Little Demented?...Or a Writer?, by Nikki Wilson on January 24, 2011.

And finally, the most popular post on our blog:

#1: Squidward can't make Krabby Patties, by Kasie West on July 30, 2009.

Now it's your turn to weigh in:  What do you think?  Which is your favorite post.  Visit the poll on the sidebar to cast your vote.  If you need a refresher, the top 9 are also listed at the gadget bar at the bottom of this main page, with thumbnails, if you like the visual references.

Next goodie - a little tribute to the current MMW's (they don't know I'm going to do this).  I've been honored to be a contributor to this blog for almost three months now, and it's been a positive experience.  I love the feeling that comes with identifying with a group of amazing people - not only the other MMW's, but you the readers as well.

 If you haven't had a chance to explore their inspirational, encouraging, honest, motivational and often humorous posts, take the time to do so now.  Here's a little guide to who's who, from today's host, me.  For each lady I have highlighted a past favorite post (There's a lot of linking today, I know, I'm sorry).  This is just a post that really spoke to me.  What other things have these lovely ladies written that have really touched you?

Starting at the beginning of the 'work' week, we have Kasey Tross.  Even though Kasey calls herself 'the rookie', her posts and behind-the-scenes-efforts prove she is anything but.  She frequently writes things that motivate me to be better in everything I strive to achieve.  I particularly loved this one: What You Lookin' At?.  In case you didn't know, she's also very crafty!

Amber Lynae - one of the things I really admire about Amber is her brevity.  Now that might sound like an unusual compliment at first, so stay with me.  Mark Twain is quoted as once having said, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."  I believe it takes great talent to make an important point or share a meaningful message and do so concisely, yet Amber frequently manages to do so.  I really admire somebody that can speak less, but say more, because it's something I'm working on being better at.  Today would be a case in point.  Anyway, check out her post: The Danger of Someday.

I had a hard time picking just one favorite post for Megan Oliphant, as her thoughts are often so lyrical and poetic.  This one really impressed me though: The Mommy Writer's Soliloquy.  I look forward to her posts every Wednesday, not only for content, but with a secret desire that reading her writing will allow some of her elegant style to rub off on my own skills.

You know that girl, that everyone loves?  You can't just help but enjoying their company?  Well, that's our Cheri Chesley.  Her posts often reflect that positive, personal vibe.  She writes to her reader like they are her friend, even if she's never met them.  I've never met her, but I think if I ended up at her table at a conference, I'd walk away feeling like I'd just made a long-term friend.  Check out this post from our AtoZ challenge:  R is for Reaching.  I also appreciate the things she shares about her publication journey and experiences.

Betsy Schow joined the blog just a couple of weeks after me, so I'm still getting to know her, but I can't believe the depth of her writing.  I'm excited for her upcoming publication, but this particular post blew me away: Y is for You.

And because this blog strives to reach out to the diversity of the Mormon mommy writing community, I thought that our newest team addition was particularly fitting: Ashley and Jessica are co-writing sisters, whose posts have been both touching and humorous.  I really admire how they work together to pull off a shared message like this one: Begin at the Beginning.

Our Administrator and one of the original MMW founders: Nikki Wilson.  She doesn't have the chance to post as often anymore, instead allowing us the spotlight.  But she was here at the beginning, and is working hard to build this blog, and our latest website, to reach their highest potential.  And she's talented.  This post alone proves it (as do many others): Don't Laugh.

Now it's your turn - and the giveaway as promised.  Amber is going to do a draw for a $10 gift certificate.

To enter, simply leave a comment in the trail below this post, sharing your favorite post of the first 1000 - whether it is one of the top ten, or another.  Just say which post, and what you loved about it!

So happy 1000 to the MMW blog - here's to the next 1000, and many more to come!


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