Friday, August 31, 2012

Surprise! You've Got a Few More Days

We at Mormon Mommy Writers want the best for our readers, and because of that, we want to give you all the opportunity to fulfill your writing dreams.

Or at least enter our contest and perhaps have your work published in our next anthology. Wouldn't that be awesome?

So if you think you've missed the deadline, think again. We are EXTENDING THE CONTEST DEADLINE BY ONE (1) WEEK!

Here's the official posting from our Facebook page:
CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT!!! We are extending the contest deadline ONE MORE WEEK! Entries are now due next Friday, September 7th. We are accepting stories, essays, or poetry about being a Mormon, a mommy, or a writer! For more information, click on the “Contest” tab on our blog page (

Use the long weekend and polish those masterpieces! This is your chance to get KNOWN and PUBLISHED! (and yes, this deadline extension is God’s way of telling you that you need to enter the contest) So do it! Do it now!!! :-)
 The contest tab is at the top of this page, so get clicking and get submitting. The last anthology was a ton of fun, and I think filled with brilliant work, so I know we would LOVE to see your submissions!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

You Just Can't Please Everyone

I read two books last month that really got me thinking.

1. The first book quickly captured my attention and held on till the end.  I enjoyed the twist, I pined for the characters trials and misfortunes.  Once finished, I got onto Goodreads to see what other people thought of the novel.  I was surprised to find that the reception was quite icy - with a few exceptions, most of the comments were nasty, nit picky and perhaps unnecessarily vicious.  While I agree it wasn't the next great American novel, I thought it was very well done.

2. The second book was one whose back cover blurb had won me over.  It was one of those books that was so bad, I'm surprised I actually finished - the editing was atrocious, the characters were shallow, whiny and inconsistent (one moment they praised a certain idea, the next they shunned it, back and forth, like the author couldn't make up their mind how the characters actually felt), and the worst part - the ending was a cheat!  I think it was meant to be a twist, but turned out to be a cliche and unsatisfying way to end a story.  I was sure that Goodreads reviews would agree with me.  Once again I was surprised - most commenters were singing the book's praises.  In fact, out of over 100 reviews, I was only able to find one that agreed with my opinion - the others just didn't jive with the story.

I'm sure that you have had experiences just like this one.  I think it goes to show that there is no such thing as a perfect book.  Different stories speak to different people.  Even Harry Potter has it's haters, I'm sure.

What does that have to do with you?

For the month of August I've been encouraging you (and motivating myself) to D.E.W. - drop everything and write.  To close off the challenge, I wanted to leave you with some encouragement.

Forget the cynics.  Forget the fans.  Forget the comments and reviews.  In the end, they really don't matter.  You can't please everyone, so don't write for them.

Write for you, because you can't see your life without the written word.  That's why we make the sacrifices we do - giving up sleep or television - to breathe life into characters and build worlds, or question society.  In the end, you will have lovers of your words and haters of your words.  That's the cold hard facts.

But more importantly, if you truly feel the calling to be a writer, you will be happy.

So write on, my friends, write on!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Longhand vs. Computer

This post will be brief because I am using my phone to write this post. My laptop recently bit the dust and my 13 year old son does an online charter school, so he uses the desktop all day for school. Then when the other kids get home from school the all need the computer for something, especially my 16 year old who is taking a couple of college courses. Needless to say, my actual computer time these days is limited at best, some days nonexistent.
So to keep from giving up writing all together, I've resorted to 40 cent composition notebooks and a decent pen. (Try those "InkJoy" pens!!) It's driving me crazy, but I'm still writing, just not at the pace I'd like.
So here's the question of the day: computer or longhand, and why?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shine up your Apples it is Back to School

It is that time of year.  Many of you have children whoa re already back in school.  Some will have children returning to school in the next few weeks. Next month I enter into the mix of having a child in school.  My little Princess is starting kindergarten.  I know that with kids in school schedules can get hectic with extracurricular activities and all. 

With this being my initiation into the entire process, I am curious how this will effect my writing time.  What should I plan for?  I put a poll in the side bar.  I would love it if you have time to participate just to help me out.  Or just leave any of your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sacrament Talks Part 3

If you missed the first two parts of this series, be sure to go back and check out Part 1 and Part 2.

So far you’ve focused your topic, created an organized outline, fleshed it out with an introduction, main body, attention-getter, and conclusion- What’s left? you may ask.

Well, for all intents and purposes, your talk is written, but there are a few more bits of business to attend to before you take your seat on the stand.

It’s All About Timing

Once you feel comfortable with the content of your talk, give it a good read-through out loud and time it. If you’re like me, this will take several tries because as you’re reading it you will keep stopping to edit- that’s okay, just make sure you get an accurate time! Be sure to actually read it out loud, though- you might think you’re reading at a normal pace in your head, but that may not necessarily be true. 

After your timed read-through, you can go back and add or subtract as needed. When you’re done, your talk will be just right and you can avoid the tacky sideways glances at the clock and the, “How’m I doing on time?” comment.

Make it You

One thing you’ll discover as you read aloud is that there may be several areas where you are stumbling over your words. As writers, we often write in a “voice” that’s different from how we speak- we may use more complicated syntax and vocabulary than we typically use in normal conversation. It’s okay to throw a few big words in there- you do want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, after all- but it's important that your talk is written in your own voice or else it will sound like you’re reading it.

You’re thinking, Wait, I am reading it. 

This is true, but it doesn’t need to sound like it!

Practice Makes Perfect

If you don’t want to sound like you’re reading off of something you’ve written, then practice is essential! Reading it out loud for time is one thing, but practicing for presentation is different. Print off your talk (big font, double-spaced to make it nice and easy to read- and don’t forget page numbers!!!) and get yourself in front of a mirror. Practice looking up at your audience periodically. 

Run through it several times so that the words come easily and naturally to you. You won’t be able to memorize a 10-minute talk, but practicing it out loud a few times will at least train your brain and mouth to get the words out more smoothly. As you go, make notes of points you might want to say with more emphasis,  change any lingering verbal stumbling blocks (ex: if “consequentially” doesn’t roll off the tongue, go with “as a result”), and get comfortable with your own words.

Did You Think to Pray?

Last but most definitely not least, that Sunday morning before your big day make absolutely sure you pray. Be open to inspiration even at this late stage in the game- I was once inspired to totally ditch my talk and bear my testimony instead!! Just take a few deep breaths, trust in the Lord, know that you have given Him your best and pray that the words you say will be the words He wants your audience to hear. 

I’ll leave you with a poem from the book I’ve been working on, “The Grocery Store Under My Bed and 50 More Fun Poems for LDS Kids”. This one is called, “I Have to Give a Talk Today”.

I have to give a talk today.
I feel a little scared.
My mother helped me write it,
But I still don’t feel prepared.

I practiced with stuffed animals-
My kangaroo and owl.
I really doubt that it’s the same
As speaking to a crowd.

In my mind I see me trip
As I walk to the stand;
Those faces staring up at me,
My trembling shaky hands.

My knees will knock, my brow will sweat.
Now I can barely breathe!
I open up my mouth to talk,
But I can’t even speak!

I know there’s something I forgot-
Wait, what’s that you say?
Oh, yes, you’re right. Silly me!
I forgot to pray! 

Did you find this series helpful at all? Do you think you’ll use my tips next time you have to write a talk? What are your tips for writing a good talk? I’d love to read your comments!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship

   A couple weeks ago I spent the weekend writing.  It was my turn to work on our WIP and I was so excited.  My word bees were buzzing in my brain and I was ready to go.  My husband was out of town so as soon as I put my girls to bed I stationed myself at my computer and typed the night away.  Shortly after midnight I clicked "save" for the hundredth time and said good night to my WIP.  I was so happy with what I had done.  I had read through our WIP, done some editing, and typed over 1,000 words of new story.  I felt I had made some serious progress on a portion of our story that had, up to this point, been left as a big gaping hole in our timeline. 
   The next day we had a storm blow in and our power was out for most of the morning.  Around lunch time when our power came back on I sat down at my computer expecting to see those glorious words waiting for me.  However, I could not find them.  I could not find the document.  It was gone.  I searched every nook and cranny of my computer and was unable to find it.  I was devastated and felt sick to my stomach.  All I could do was ask myself over and over "Where could it be?  How could it disappear?"  I know the obvious answer would be, "Well, did you save it?"  I sure did.  Over and over.  See, I am kinda paranoid about losing any tidbit I type (go figure) so I am constantly clicking the save button any time I finish a paragraph. 
   With a heavy heart I texted my sister to let her know what happened.  She told me that maybe this was a good thing, that perhaps the next time I type it up it would come out even better.  I was doubtful.  I had been so happy with it the way I had typed it.  I found myself cursing this stupid technology for letting me down.  How could this technology that, up to this point, had been so reliable and something I really have a fondness for let me down in such a way?  I was so frustrated.  I guess maybe I have a harder time accepting loss than I thought, but I was completely bummed.  Over the next few days I tried to sit down and recreate the scene I had written but, whether because of my sulky mentality, or my muse was still on summer vacation I struggled to come up with anything I could compareto my previous segment. 
   I'm still working on bringing back those words and the overall picture I had created.  I am hopeful that it will all come together in the end. 
   Have any of you lost chunks of your work?  How did you manage?  Were you happy with the outcome in spite of the loss?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday So What: Why can't I be you?

In case you haven't noticed, my writing style is very conversational and mass market.  I don't have a literary hair on my head. Or on my legs for that matter.

But I long to write the flowing lovely sentiments and imagery that a friend of mine does. Her writing is stunning and deep and ...ugh... and I can't even come up with the right words here. When I had the opportunity recently to write a personal essay about a lesson I had learned from one of my kiddos, I saw it as a chance to strut my serious side. I was gonna make the reader cry, darn'it. I poured over my words, spending hours to find just the right line. For example, "inflicting my pain on the cold and unyielding earth". Yeah, you can probably guess how well it was received in my writer's group.

The central conceit behind my essay was just fine, but the flow was stilted and I was leading my reader to the emotion by the nose. All in an attempt to write like this other girl. Flash forward to me attempt  a few weeks later. I had an idea, it took me 45 minutes to write the 1200 word essay, and I just let the words flow out in my natural narrative voice. This time it was well received. I have a few chuckles and few tears without searching for the flowery or "ensign" words to insert. Just me.

So here's the lesson I took away from this exercise.  I may love the operatic sopranos, but I am firmly an alto. And if I tried to squeak out Ave Maria, everyone would cover their ears. But I can sing something lovely in my own register, something uniquely me. Same goes with writing. As an author, I have to stick with my own voice. I can appreciate and admire yours, but if I try to emulate it, everyone will cover their eyes.

#So whether you write fiction or non, romance or YA, revel and celebrate your own unique style. Don't try to be Dickens, or Rowling, or Twilight. It will always be a pale imitation. Instead shine and create a new original  that others will long to be.

Come visit Smashing Stories for another excerpt from Finished being Fat. "Ghosts of Fat Past"
Don't forget... less than a week to get your contest entries in!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Great News!

First of all, The Tyrant King is available in paperback! Check out the shiny new Amazon PAGE!

Ok, now that that's out of the way. :D

I'm overflowing with new writing ideas lately, and I'm really happy to have time Saturday night to actually write. So I want to know what everyone is working on. Feel free to chime in and leave in a comment what your current project is.

Ready? Go!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Short Quotes from Short Stories on Thinking Big About Writing

I've been studying the art form that is the short story, and writing a few here and there throughout the summer months.  One of the books called "The Art and Craft of the Short Story" by Rick DeMarinis had some really good points in a section he calls The Essential Habit - A Pep Talk.  I'm going to share some with you:

"In order to write, you must write.  That's the Big Secret.  You've got to sit down at a given time every day and make sentences.  Even if you don't feel like it.  Especially if you don't feel like it."

"Don't make the mistake of thinking that you need more favorable circumstances, that you'll start writing when your life changes for the better, or when you retire."

"The problem is you're thinking of writing as a purely intelluectual process: exceptional ideas captured in deathless prose.  But in reality, the composition of fiction is more of a physical process.  You've got to put your hands on the keyboard, you've got to punch the keys with your determined fingers until words begin to collect."

The idea isn't new or original.  I've heard it said in similar ways from countless experienced authors.  However, it is nice to be given a reminder from time to time.  If you like what he has to say, go check out his book.

And then, use the nuggets of inspiriation you find to compose your own entry into the MMW Contest - there's only one week left.

That's your D.E.W assignment this week.  See you next Thrusday!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Living Christlike in an UnChristlike World

In the gospel we are taught, especially as women, to be nice. To be kind and considerate and gentle with the feelings of others. It's the GOLDEN RULE, it's CHARITY, it's the pure love of Christ that we are learning to emulate.

My 8 year old daughter is the kind of person who is needy for attention, but full of love and affection for others. In fact, she almost embodies perfectly the golden rule, or "treat others how you wish to be treated". So even though she demands lots of attention from those around her and is quick to find offense, she is quick to see the needs of others and to serve them. She loves making friends, and for the most part is good at keeping them because she is so giving.

We live in a semi rural area, and neighbors are few and far between. The two neighbors we do have, however, have children that ride the bus. One is an angry sixth grader who comes from a split family with multiple remarriages and a much older step brother (that she loathes). We were friendly with her, and she and my 8 year old played together a little when we first moved in. But as often happens when one child is 7 and the other is 11, those friendships don't last long.

The other neighbor has three children that ride the bus, and though I haven't quite figured out their family situation, I think it involves multiple families living in the same house, so one of the children is a cousin rather than a sibling. They moved in after us, and their children came over to play a little, but when it turned out that they didn't care about playing with my children, just our Xbox, and coming over late in the evening just to play it, I limited their visits, and eventually they stopped. I felt bad about it, but they were just old enough that they would overwhelm my younger children into acting in inappropriate ways and I wasn't okay with that.

A couple of days ago my daughter came home from school complaining that the neighbor kids were not being nice to her at the bus stop.  This isn't the first time she's complained about them. And at first I put it down to her oversensitivity, and counseled her to ignore them and just do her own thing with her two brothers also at the stop. But I also started taking them a few minutes later so there would be less time for any harassment. Just in case.

But she tries to be friends with everyone, and doesn't understand that not everyone is that way. So yesterday morning as I took them to the stop I sat in my car around the corner to wait until the bus comes, I overheard my daughter try to engage the other girl about her age, trying to clear up an apparent misunderstanding she'd had with them. She had told me that they were giving her a hard time about how "late" we come to the bus stop. (We get there five minutes before instead of the recommended ten.) As an adult I understood that it could have been an honest question that she took awry, or it could have been something for them to pick on her about.

So when I heard her ask the other girl if she wanted to know why we didn't get there as early as they did, I waited to hear the answer. It came as the other girl walked by in the wake of the 6th grader. She glanced back at my daughter with a disdainful look and a shouted "We don't care!" Then she and the older girl laughed.

My daughter watched them go, her sad confusion obvious in the slump of her shoulders. In her innocence she thought that if she cleared up the misunderstanding it would mean they could be friends. She didn't understand why they were so unkind. It would never occur to her to act that way.

I'll admit, I was sorely tempted to jump out of my car and go all "Momma Bear", but the bus came at that moment and there was nothing to be done but watch my now wounded 8 year old climb on the bus and wave at me as the bus went by.

As I drove home, fuming, I wondered how I was going to help this sensitive and kind daughter keep that gift of charity she has in abundance when the world around her is saying "only the hardhearted survive". I can't protect her from every mean person in the world, but I don't want her to lose that Christlike quality she has. That desire to please people can lead her down the wrong path if not properly trained, and I'm a little panicky at the image of her at 16, still trying to please her peers. (You get unexpected grandchildren that way.)

I'm still too close to the situation to have any answers, so I'm putting it out there to you: How do you teach your children to be kind, to 'turn the other cheek' without being a doormat? How do you help them draw the line between serving and servitude?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Another Piece to the Puzzle

My WIP has been struggling. My villain has been very good at hiding the motivation behind his evil ways. I just couldn't figure him out. I already knew I had some timeline issues currently in the repair process, but I really couldn't explain Mr Badman's badness. (Obviously, this isn't really his name that would be a little TOO obvious).

Then, at a random moment while I was trying to get my littles to go to sleep I saw into Badman's evil mind.  And it wasn't like a half thought where you are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole just so it wouldn't be empty. This was a missing puzzle piece. It was always supposed to be there it had just fallen between the couch cushions.

I got so excited that I texted Jessica (from our Sunday writing team). It was just one of those break through moments when you have to tell someone who you know will appreciate it. For me that is my writer friends.

Have you ever been super excited to find a missing piece to your WIP?

Do you have writer friends who share your writing woes and joys?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sacrament Talks: Part 2

In case you missed Part 1 of my little Speaking in Sacrament series, you can check it out here.

So last week we covered the topics of focusing your topic and organizing and outlining. This week let’s get into the good stuff- the body of your talk.

Last week I gave you a basic outline to use. This week I’m going to give you a few examples to help you envision where to go with your talk. I’ve decided to use a talk I gave a few years ago in Stake Conference. I was asked to speak for the adult session, and because President Hinckley had recently passed away, the stake president asked me to speak about President Hinckley and the youth. Odd topic, right?

Well, I went through my topic-focusing process, searching, pondering, and praying, and I came up with my question: Why was President Hinckley so beloved by the youth of the church? And consequently, I came up with the real point of my talk: What can we as leaders learn from President Hinckley’s relationship with the youth to better teach and influence them for good?


I was able to narrow my search down to 5 main attributes: humor, respect, gentleness, integrity/example, and love. I wrote my introduction (note: this is not the first paragraph in the talk- that’s the attention-getter; more about that later) and included my question along with these 4 attributes. You may think it’s counterproductive to lay out your answer right there at the beginning of the talk, but it’s actually helpful, as long as you don’t go into too much detail. By just giving a bullet list, you’re helping to give the listener touchstones to listen for as the talk progresses, but you’re not giving them the whole enchilada yet- just a hint of what’s to come. Here’s that key paragraph from my talk:

This evening I would like to share with you what I have discovered about this man and his unique and precious relationship with young people. As I have prepared for this talk, I have seen the great wisdom in his dealings with the youth. There is much to be gained from studying his loving, respectful, gentle approach that seemed to come so naturally. He used humor, respect, gentleness, integrity, and love to bring so many lambs into the fold. I hope that tonight you can begin to reflect on his methods to gain insight into the way you interact not only with the youth in your lives, but all those with whom you may come into contact.
Main Body

Over the next several paragraphs I went on to address each of these attributes in turn. I backed each one up with “evidence”- quotations from youth, quotations from his talks, and my own personal observations. With other topics you can use evidence such as scriptures, quotations from general authorities, and personal anecdotes/experiences. My rule of thumb is to have about 3 pieces of evidence per point, but there is no right or wrong number- just make sure you spend enough time on each point to make an impression in your audience.

Each of these main points will be like a square in the quilt of your talk- don’t forget the thread that ties them together! Make sure you utilize key words from your last point in the first sentence introducing your next point as a way to make a smooth transition between them. Here’s an example for you:

"Another gentle yet effective teaching method employed by President Hinckley was his way of leading by example.” (transition between point on gentleness and point on example)

No, I’m not confused- this will be the first part of your talk, but I’m putting this after the main body for a reason! Sometimes I can figure out my attention-getter right away, but more often than not I write it last, after the rest of my talk has been written. There are two reasons for this:

1. While it’s important, it’s not the meat of my talk- it’s the gravy on top. I feel much more settled once I get the essentials written, then I come back to this.

2. Once my talk is written I have a much better grasp on my concept and I feel better prepared to create an attention-getter that fits in with the topic and tone of the rest of my talk.

For my President Hinckley talk, my attention-getter was a personal anecdote about when I was a youth at EFY. A teacher was giving a lesson about staying strong in the “last days” and one of his visuals was the front page of a newspaper. The newspaper splashed headlines of wars, violence, and natural disasters, but in the middle of it all was a smiling photograph of President Hinckley (it was a Utah paper). It gave me such a calm and reassuring feeling, and it was an experience that always stuck with me.

Your attention-getter can be anything from a quotation to a story. I tend to shy away from jokes, just because they can be cheesy...but a funny story is okay. And really, I think anything other than, “Good morning brothers and sisters. Today I’ve been asked to speak on...” (SNOOOOZE) is fine. :-) Personally, I think that the best way to start your talk is to just launch right in with your attention-getter. When you skip over the pleasantries and immediately grab your audience’s attention, you’re much more likely to keep them with you for the ride.


Remember, last time I told you to “tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em (introduction), tell ‘em (body), then tell ‘em what you told ‘em (conclusion).” For your conclusion, simply round up your main points, much like you did in your introduction, and remind your audience of the initial question and the answer gained from your points and evidence. Here’s my conclusion:
Has the time to touch the youth and lead them in the right passed with the passing of President Hinckley? I think not. Rather, I think that now we have the rare and wonderful opportunity to look back on his life and all of the ways he found to bless young people with his humor, his respect, his gentleness, his example, and his love. Now that we understand these tools and how he used them, may we too begin to look more carefully at the way we interact with our youth, and all whom we are called to teach and to guide.
May we soften their hearts with laughter. May we see them as children of our Father in Heaven with a divine mission to fulfill, and treat them accordingly. May we not preach at them, but gently invite them to do good. May we lead by example, and always express our love.
It is these things that will bring them and us closer to our Father in Heaven, and it is by doing these things that we can honor the memory of a beloved prophet of the Lord, who holds a special place in the hearts of the youth.
After this conclusion, I actually included one more thing- the prayer President Hinckley offered on behalf of the youth after his “B’s” talk. I just thought it was such a beautiful, all-encompassing example of the points I had outlined and I felt it a very appropriate ending message.

One thing I didn’t do in this conclusion, which I think is essential (not sure why I didn’t do it) is to tie your conclusion back in with your attention-getter. This gives your audience a reminder of where you started and brings the talk full-circle. One way I could have done that in this talk is something like this:

'Just as I felt the comfort from seeing President Hinckley’s kind face as an island of peace in a sea of turmoil on the front of that newspaper so many years ago in my youth, so too can we create safe harbors of solace for our youth today as we follow the example of a prophet of God.'

(Yes, it’s not the loveliest thing I’ve ever written, but it’s late and I’m tired!)

This is another example of that thread that’s going to tie the “quilt” of your talk together.

Whew! Are you overwhelmed yet? Next week I’ll finish up with Part 3 in which I’ll cover practice and presentation. Didn’t know you had to practice, did you? ;-)

Think these tips are something you might use someday? Do you have any pointers you’d like to add? Leave a comment and share!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What is Your Element?

    "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Do you remember being asked this as a child? What did you answer? Did you want to be a firefighter or an astronaut? A ballerina or be in a rock band? Maybe a Doctor or a Veterinarian? An Actor or a painter? Or perhaps you always wanted to be a writer. We are all asked as children what we want to BE when we grow up. I heard someone say once that, while meaning it as an innocent question, we inadvertently begin to teach our children that they are defined as adults by what their job title is. We should instead ask what they would like to DO when they grow up. Being a member of the church gives us a wonderful opportunity to understand just who we really are as children of our Heavenly Father as well as who we have the potential to BE when we grow up (and beyond!) 
    Did you find something in life that brought you true joy and happiness, but had to leave it behind because it was not considered a good career choice? I read a wonderful book this past month called "The Element- How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything" by Ken Robinson.  
   In it, Dr. Robinson talks about the idea that we all have an Element, the part of us "where the things we love to do and the things we are good at come together." For some of us this Element could be math, business management, or philosophy, while for others it is dance, music, art, or teaching. Robinson truly believes that those who excel in their field are not special people with amazing gifts, they are simply people who have found their Element and pursued it. This book has opened my eyes to the way that I want to raise my children. I have new ideas about how to help my children find their passions and use their skill and abilities to help them in the areas of their life where they may not be as strong.
   In the beginning of the book, Robinson gives an example of a young girl. At 8 years old, she is struggling in school, she has a hard time completing assignments, sitting still, and paying attention. The teachers believe she has a learning disorder and want to send her to a special school. The girl's mother takes her to a psychologist to be evaluated. The young girl sits on the couch and patiently waits for 20 minutes while the psychologist speaks with her mother. She is scared. She doesn't think there is anything wrong with her and she knows what it means to go to a special school and knows that this man is important in deciding her fate. After speaking with her mother, the psychologist thanks her for waiting patiently and says she needs to wait a little whle longer while he speaks with her mother out in the hall. He then guides her mother out of the room, but on his way out he turns on the radio. After the door closes, the Dr. and the girl's mother peak through the window in the door. The moment the door shuts, the girl gets up and begins to dance. The psychologist tells the mother, "You know, Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn't sick. She's a dancer. Take her to a dance school." This young girl was Gillian Lynne who later became a world famous choreographer, helping to create (among many other things) musical theater productions including Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.

   We have made a goal as mothers to do everything we can to help our children reach their full potential, both here on this earth and spiritually.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday So What: What to expect when you're expecting... a book

Whenever I read other author's refer to their books as though they were children, well, I just thought they were weird. I figured maybe those writers were the same kind of people that dress up their chihuahuas in little fluffy outfits.

Now I get it.

There's the inception. The dream before the first word ever hits the page. The hoping and wishing and wondering exactly what your book will look like.

There are false starts. You get partway in and for what ever reason, this time, it just wasn't meant to be.

Then, you've finally created a book. You are so excited that you want to scream it from the rooftops. But you have to find someone to 'deliver' it. And then you have to wait.

Publishing book gestation time can be a year or longer. You tell your friends and family and everyone anxiously awaits the event. And waits some more. By 7 or so months in, everyone's pretty sick of hearing about it.

If I'm sticking with the pregnancy theme, I'm at the point where my belly is big and I'm waddling to get around. I'm ready for this thing to be here!

But am I really? Have I done all the groundwork? As a first time author, I have no idea what I'll need. I hear other expectant authors talking and I'm still clueless.
What's a blog tour and when do you have one?
What should you do at a launch party? Do you play pin the bookmark on the book?
How do you get the word out once it's here? Should I hand make little birth announcements like I did with my two girls?

Just under 4 months until the big moment and I'm not sure I have everything in order. I could sure use some advice from anyone who's been here before. Or if you haven't, maybe you have some cool ideas to share?

Horror stories welcome too.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Last Night

I dreamed about a little girl with a heart wrenching memory of the day her mama left. This girl lived on a farm with her dad, but dad never explained what happened. He just told her to not ask questions. So she didn't. But she didn't let it go, either.

At age 6, she decides she's going to find her mama. There are letters in her mother's handwriting and a return address on the envelope. So she is going to that return address. (setting--it's like the 1920's midwest) And she goes alone. She hasn't learned to read yet, can't write, and therefore can't get herself there. Along the way she meets interesting and helpful people, and finally reaches her destination.

When she's reunited with her mama, this little girl learns that her mama was called away for some important reason. She didn't want to go, she had to go. And she'd written those letters to her daughter to explain how much she loved and missed her, and that when her duty was done she would return home.

Dad, the uncommunicative type, was waiting until the girl went to school and learned to read to share these letters with her.

When I woke up this morning, this concept was heavily on my mind. The first thing I noticed was the obvious plot hole--what would take a mother away from her family in a way that she couldn't soon return? Obviously, I can make this work in a fantasy setting. Perhaps the mother is a gifted healer and her services are needed by the king--making her pretty indispensable and making it impossible for her to go home. Or there's some intrigue and she has to go into hiding to protect her family. Obviously, though, if she's in hiding, there's no logical reason she'd put a return address on her correspondence.

But, returning to the more contemporary time--what would take a mother away from her family?

Can you think of a reason?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Secret Behind Magic (and Writing)

The sun is setting earlier.

The temperature is getting lower.

The bugs are getting lazier.

The kids are getting restless-er.

It is not an infection.  It's the beginning of the end of summer.  At least here in Canada.  So to celebrate the end of Summer Reading Club, our local library hosted a program today featuring 'Kip the Court Jester'.  It was a one man show combining juggling, magic and international song and instrumentation (Kip told stories of all the different countries and cultures he's visited to learn new music and skills).

And he taught the kids a few things - the basics of juggling, the disappearing quarter trick.  But then he did something that really struck a note with me - he told them the real secret behind magic and music and juggling.  One word:


He told the kids that they should never again proclaim, "I'm bored!".  Instead they should say, "I have time on my hands!" and then start practicing the skills he showed them.  And then they should practice and practice and practice, at least 1000 times.  Only then, he promised, could they be an expert.

Isn't that what we sometimes fail to remember?  Every contest, every rejection letter, every sacrificied fifteen minutes when the rest of the family is sleeping.  It's practice.  It's growth.

That's what the D.E.W challenge has been about this month.  Encouraging ourselves despite our hectic summers to take a moment to practice.  Because you don't go from throwing one ball in the air to juggling with a snap of the fingers.  It's a progression that takes at least 1000 tosses.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Have We Mentioned The Contest?

It's been a crazy summer. Apparently here in my corner of AZ they believe in a summer vacation that is barely 8 weeks long, so our time off was so full activities it's seemed more of a break to be back IN school than out.

I am supposed to be in charge of this year's MMW book contest, but everything "normal" has taken a back seat to the scheduled and unscheduled madness of this summer. So I have completely fallen down on the job. You have my sincerest apologies.

School is back in session (thank goodness!), and all of my kiddos but one is back. I am homeschooling my 13 year old for medical reasons, but he's thirteen, not 5. He doesn't bounce off the walls like my 5 year old does so much as eat me out of house and home.

That being said, I am giving you all your two week warning:

Check out our contest page if you're still interested in entering. We can't wait to read them and see what kind of mad and wonderful ideas you've come up with to represent "Mormon" or "Mommy" or "Writer"!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do Your Characters have Morals?

While thinking about Twilight and the “fan fiction” that has now been morphed into Fifty Shades of Grey, I gain more respect for Stephenie Meyers for creating a character that had morals. A man who lived more than 100 years and still believed and held onto the value of a marriage relationship. It is nice to know that there are characters who have standards. Characters choosing not to compromise even when there are influences tempting them to relent. EL wanted the Twilight series with more sex and grit… well she wrote it and obviously there are a lot of people who like it as well. But aren’t they kind of missing the point of what Twilight was about – we should not give into the demons that drive us away from our beliefs. Okay maybe I am not taking the same message as other people from either book. I haven’t even read Fifty Shades of Grey.

This is not intended as another hate rant against one particular book. I just want positive messages out there for my children as they age. I have read books marketed to teens where the characters participation with drugs and sex is mentioned so casually that it is obvious that the reader is not supposed to be shocked by it. Is that really the world my children are growing up in? I am certain that I do not want the answer to that question.

 It all comes down to the whole purpose behind my writing. I want good books out there in the world. Please write books with morals, books that have strong characters with strong values. Write books interesting books fool, of drama, conflict, laughter and intrigue. And when characters make poor choices, please allow there to be consequences and lessons learned.

Monday, August 13, 2012

So, You’ve Been Asked to Speak in Sacrament...

Not LDS? That’s okay! This post is for anyone who’s ever been faced with (gasp) public speaking!!

It’s Monday! Anyone get cornered by a member of the bishopric yesterday??

Well, I didn’t but I’m certainly not a stranger to giving talks in Sacrament- in fact, I’ve even spoken in Stake Conference before, and believe me, that’s no joke, people.

But you know what? I’m kind of a freak because I LOVE giving talks. And I want you to love giving them too!

As writers we may feel comfortable writing stories, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to writing talks, much less giving front of a huge audience! I thought it might be helpful to share a few of the things I’ve learned in my talk-giving experience with the hope that it might make the whole experience less intimidating.

I have decided to break this up into multiple posts so as not to overwhelm you, dear readers. Today we’ll start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).

I. Focusing Your Topic

Chances are good that you’ve been given a topic of some sort. And chances are even better that it’s a broad, overwhelming topic like “faith” or “the atonement” or “the scriptures.” And you’re now scratching your head trying to figure out how to fit a few thousand years of revelation into a 10-minute talk. Yeah.

The good news: You don’t have to fit a few thousand years of revelation into a 10-minute talk. The less-good news: You have to focus your topic.

My favorite method for doing this is one we’re all familiar with: Search, Ponder, and Pray! My only change to this method is that I usually pray first, then search (, Ensign magazines, scriptures, etc.), then ponder. My goal in this process is to find out what part of this topic the Lord wants me to cover. Ideally, I like to come up with a question to be answered so that I can take the congregation on a journey with me to uncover the answer.

To give you an example, I was once given the topic of “Salvation and Exaltation”. I decided to focus my talk on the concept of salvation, specifically, when someone asks, “Have you been saved?”, what does that mean exactly? Living in the Bible Belt, this was a very relevant approach to this topic for my audience.

Basically, you need to have a point you’re trying to make: try to sum up in a single sentence what you want your audience to take away from your talk. Try to make this point as relevant to your audience as possible.

II. Organize and Outline

So now you’ve got your focus: you’ve got a point to make, and now you just have to figure out how to make it.

One of the basic rules of public speaking is this: Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, then tell ‘em what you told ‘em. With this idea in mind, I usually like to format my talk as follows:

I. Attention-getter (more about those next week)

II. Introduction (main point summary)
       a. (supporting evidence hint)
       b. (supporting evidence hint)
       c. (supporting evidence hint)

III. Supporting Evidence

IV. Supporting Evidence

V. Supporting Evidence

VI. Summary of main point and all supporting evidence

VII. Testimony

Now, this may seem like a very clinical approach to giving a talk, but think about it: do you ever see a General Authority get up at General Conference and “wing it”? No- they always have their talks written out, and they are usually very well-organized. Why is this important? For several reasons:

1. It helps the listener stay focused because a well-organized talk is easier to listen to and digest (don’t you love the conference talks that give you bullet points or acronyms?)

2. When your thoughts are organized and clearly written down you will feel more confident in speaking and the experience will go much for smoothly, for both you and the audience.

3. When a talk is written out you are able to time it to make sure you are both filling your allotted time and not exceeding the time limit.

4. A well-written-out talk will be easier to share with those who ask for a copy of it later.

Does this mean there’s no room for on-the-spot spiritual inspiration? Absolutely not! But if you have a great base to build on, then that inspiration will find its place without causing you to lose your focus. And if your focus is a result of preliminary prayer and its resulting inspiration, then you know that the message you’re giving is coming from Heavenly Father.

Next week we’ll talk about the meat of your talk and I’ll give you some concrete examples.

Do your palms start to sweat when you see the first counselor’s name pop up on your caller ID or do you look forward to that call?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blessings of the Book of Mormon

   This past Sunday in Relief Society, our lesson was on reading the scriptures and the blessings of learning that come to our home when we do. At the end of the lesson our teacher challenged all of us as a Relief Society to read the BOM in 60 days. I am the kind of person that loves a challenge, I love to take something hard, work at it, complete it, and get that great feeling at the end knowing that I DID IT! This challenge is something that I know that I will enjoy and reap rewards of, but it will be a challenge. I admit, I'm one of those that secretly rejoices inside when I see that 6-verse-long chapter for the night's reading. However, when President Gordon B. Hinckley issued his challenge for us to read the Book of Mormon I remember how easy it was to get into it. It was amazing how alive the stories and people became when I was reading more pages and chapters at one time. It became so much easier to understand how the timeline all fit together. Aside from the blessings that came into my home from completing the challenge then, what it really did for me was to make the Book of Mormon come alive, to get me wanting to read more. Even though I read it often and learn about it in church, it was like reading a good novel, I didn't want to put it down because I needed to read what was going to happen next.

   So, despite my busy schedule with kids, husband gone for the month for training, and starting some classes myself, I am looking forward to this challenge and for the feeling I will get during and after. I am only on day 8 and I already can tell a difference in my temperament and my ability to be patient with my kids. I love the Book of Mormon. So, if you feel up to a challenge, I promise it is worth it! But you don't have to take my word for it:


   "The moment you begin a serious study of the Book of Mormon, you will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance." -Ezra Taft Benson

   "I offer a challenge to members of the Church throughout the world and to our friends everywhere to read or reread the Book of Mormon. Without reservation, I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come in to your lives and in to your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living of the Son of God." -Gordon B. Hinckely

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday So What: Swat the flies, not your kids

free image courtesy of

So What is wrong at my house?

My kids are whacking each other, that's what. And for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why. I abhor violence and don't spank unless mortal danger was involved in the infraction. So when my nearly 3 year old got mad at her 5 year old sister and slapped her hard on the back, I blamed unruly preschool kids for rubbing off on my angels.

Flash forward an hour. The two "little angels" were nose to nose yelling at one another. I'd had it. I hollered for them to stop. It was like they couldn't even hear me. Next I stomped over and dropped down to their level.  Still, like I wasn't even in the room. So what did I do? I swatted both girls on the back to get their attention. Just a featherlite pat.


These kids were like funhouse mirrors, reflecting and distorting my behavior back. When I was frustrated at them, I would swat them to get their attention, or get down to eye level. How must that look to them? I'm big, they're little.  Though I don't intend it to come off as intimidating, it probably does. So they take that tap and magnify it 20x.

I have a few things to work on apparently. What about you guys? Have you ever accidentally been a bad influence? Better yet, how do you discourage fighting?


Friday, August 10, 2012

In Honor of School Starting

*I* got a new home office.

I can really get used to this school back in session thing. It's working for me. :)

Seriously, it's been a crazy week in the Chesley household.

First of all, after some serious family debate, I have decided to accept a promotion at my out-of-the-house job. It means--among other things--more hours, a raise, earning vacation days, benefits, and more responsibility.

It also means less writing time. But, what was I really getting done over the summer anyway? Progress on The Tyrant King is moving at a snail's pace, and work leaves me so wiped out I come home and watch movies until it's time for bed. I know. THAT is something that isn't going to be fixed by extending my hours at work.

But, with the kids going to school, that will leave me with huge sections of time on my days off to write. (for those of you who don't know, I say something like this pretty much every we'll see. I'm still trying to find the formula that works) And since I've hired a personal assistant this year, I should be able to plan and attend school visits and book signings on my days off.

One of the huge benefits to my new position at work is that it's not a 9-5, Mon thru Fri position. It's got some flexibility. Yes, that means working some weekends--but not all of them. And with 2-3 days off every week, I'm still in good shape to write and keep my house in order.

Cross your fingers for me, will you?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

D.E.W. You Need Something Good To Read?

Well here we are in the second week of August (can you believe that?) and I'm happy to report that my D.E.W experiment is rolling along nicely.  If you missed last weeks post and don't understand the reference, you can catch up here.

Because I made myself a commitment, and because I kept it reasonable, I have been able to stay on top of my writing goals.  I also found a little bit of extra time to read a good book.

Okay, I admit, I made the extra time (stayed up well past midnight last night when I should have been sleeping, and now I am paying for it!).

In fact, it was such a good book, based on the recommendation of a good friend, that I desire to pass it on to you.

So first, tell me - did you make your D.E.W. drop goal?  Let us know!  And check in next week too - accountability is a huge aid in keeping a commitment.

Second, if you need a good read, check out this book:

"The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie", By Alan Bradley

One of the strongest voices and most compelling characters I have read in several months.  This author is definitely going up on my favorite new authors list right next to Regina Sirois and Veronica Roth.

See you next week!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


The month of July was a  terrible one for writing. We were gone on vacation for most of it, and then when we got back, our laptop decided to no longer allow us to view the screen. We call it the "white screen of death", when instead of fading to black, like any other self respecting laptop does when it is dying, it fades to white; a thick, impenetrable haze that keeps me from my written words.

I'll admit, I got lazy. I had been moving stuff to "the cloud", to GoogleDocs, where I could access them from any computer anywhere, even my smartphone if I needed to in a pinch. But after my writer's retreat, I came home to crisis, a dead AC unit during the unforgiving heat of an Arizona desert. The we left for the mountains of Utah, where I didn't take the laptop because there would be no reception. And I forgot. And paying the price now. (So word to the wise: BACK IT UP!!!!!)

Anyway, I've been kinda depressed, since my current WIP is trapped on the nonresponsive laptop. And with school starting and no extra funds for computer repair/replacement, I've been stuck.

But I needed to write. Something. Anything. And this was something new for me. There have been other roadblocks in my writing life before, but for the first time, I didn't see it as a permanent stop, just a temporary setback. Which says a lot about how I've changed over the past couple of years. I find that deep inside, I cannot quit. Failure is not an option. I must make due with whatever I have to keep the writing juice flowing within me. So I've written journal entries. Short stories. More of my synopsis of my story. Background of my characters. Anything to fill the empty space my dead computer left behind from its ghostly hand.

One of the pivotal movies of our married life was "Apollo 13" starring Tom Hanks. Released in the summer of 1995, the year we got married, it was a movie that defined our early years of marriage. It recounts the true experience of the Apollo 13 astronauts on their near fatal trip to the moon, and the scientists who made their safe return home possible.

I wanted to share a clip with you, if only to share how I feel about writing. Lives are at stake. My life is at stake. And I am willing to do whatever it takes to come through. Even make a square peg fit into a round hole.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Guest Blogger: Adam Sidwell on Book Trailers

Nikki here again to introduce you to yet another amazing author, Adam Sidwell. Adam just released his very first book, "Evertaster". How did I meet Adam you might ask? In the best place ever...the temple! This man has a very special place in my heart because he was my brother's young mens president while my brother lived in LA on his own. This man and his wife made sure my brother was taken to church and attended their Family Home Evenings. So when it was time for my brother to go through the temple right before serving his mission, Adam was asked to be his escort. What a wonderful man he is and of course I liked him even more when I found out he too was a writer! Not only is he a writer but he works in the movie industry helping with special effects. So when he volunteered to tell us all about making book trailers, I was ecstatic! So be sure to give Adam a very warm welcome and be sure to check out his book, "Evertaster".
Book trailers

One of the great things for authors about book trailers is they can be a quick answer to the potentially difficult question: what's your book about?

When I wrote Evertaster, the response to the story was often something similar to "I've never heard of a story like that before." Evertaster is about a picky eater named Guster Johnsonville who hears about a legendary taste from a dying chef. He and his brothers and sister embark on a dangerous quest to recover the ingredients that just might have the power to change the world. But how do you tell that story and hook a potential reader in just a few seconds? How do you portray the sinister undercurrents, the international intrigue, the danger, the high stakes of the game?

Fortunately as authors we have tools at our disposal. The first is the book cover. That picture can be worth a thousand words. Then there are book trailers. They can be worth a million.  As an animator for feature films, I've had the chance to work on movies like TRON, Transformers and King Kong. Visual language is the medium through which those stories are told and imprinted on the minds of us all. It has become part of my person. So naturally I wanted to portray my story in a cinematic way. Visual language, combined with music and sound effects can convey the mood of your story in just a few moments, which may be the only moments you have to hook a reader.

Here's the Evertaster trailer:

In the film industry I've had the opportunity to rub shoulders with others in the business. That's how I encountered the production company Fuse Engine. Fuse Engine helped to cast, direct and produce the trailer. It was surreal when I walked into the casting call and the lobby was full of half a dozen Gusters -- my character -- all wearing red polo shirts!

We shot on location, had a makeup artist, lighters, a director of photography and production assistants. The first cuts of the trailer were impressive, but lacked the proper tension as Guster was running around the forest. Even with trailers you have to define some sort of antagonist to illustrate the danger and conflict. With a little luck, I happened to have some closeup  gorilla footage I shot myself on a trip to the Rwandan jungles years ago. You can see some of the raw footage here:

 It fit in nicely to add actual tension and the antagonistic force to the story arc in the trailer. Combined with a phenomenal musical score put together by another talented friend, we had a product that I could be proud of. The folks at Fuse Engine really did amazing work, and all the credit goes to them. Amazon was even impressed and posted the trailer to Evertaster's product page.

As writers, we may not always have access to a Hollywood production company. This doesn’t mean you can’t make a piece that is impressive and conveys the mood of your work. By combining simple images, music, and a few voice overs, you can edit together something that will draw potential readers into your story and convince them of its merit. Who knows? Along the way, you might just find you’ve got a slice of Steven Spielberg inside.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You: Princess Book

My daughter wrote a book. She's six.

It's called "Princess Book". I wanted to share it with you today, because I think we all need a reminder of our childhood dreams. If you grew up dreaming of being a writer, you probably wrote a few of these yourself. 

Hope you don't mind I blotted out her first name. But she thought it was very important to include the name of the author and a picture of the author.

This princess has a castle. 
This princess is in a carriage.

This princess is outside.
This princess [is] inside.

This princess won a horse race.
The End.

This princess is very proud of the book she wrote.
So is her mommy. :-)

Do you remember the first book you wrote? What's stopping you from doing it again?

And don’t forget- if you dreamed of seeing your name on the front of a REAL published book, then be sure to get your submission in for the MMW writing contest (click the link for more info)- it’s not too late! The deadline has been extended to August 31st! Now is your time to SHINE!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"A Wordplayer's Manifesto"

   A while back Ash found a little something on Facebook and shared it with me.  We both felt that it was so great we just had to share it.  Some of the words, I'm sure, you've all heard before, but who couldn't use a little more encouragement with our writing every now and then?  The image we are sharing was produced by K.M. Weiland, and I encourage you to check out her website.  She has a whole section dedicated to helping writers and giving advice.  To avoid any further tedious blabbing on my part, here is it.  I hope you all enjoy it and are able to take something from it. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

MMW Press Release

I have ceded this week's So What over for an important Press Release about the contest and a way authors and readers can share their clean books with the world. If you want a short little thing from me, help me win a page view contest by checking out the first two paragraphs from my book at the Smashing Stories blog today. Just clicking on the above link helps me out. :)

- Betsy
Profile Picture

Two Amazing Announcements from MMW
Mormon Mommy Writers' Blog is hosting our second annual writing contest. Last year's contest resulted in the wonderful anthology, Totally Cliche. This year's contest promises to be even more exciting since there won't be three winners, but NINE winners since we have three categories in our contest this year. Your mission is to submit a short story, non-fiction essay, or a poem that falls under the theme of Mormon or Mommy or Writer. You do not have to be a Mormon or a mommy to enter this amazing contest. The top three stories in each category will be in MMW's next anthology book. In addition to being published, the authors of the top three winning stories in each category will recieve a free e-copy of the anthology and the following prizes:
First Place: $10 Barnes and Noble gift card
Second Place: $5 Barnes and Noble gift card
Third Place: Free Print copy of the anthology featuring their story
The deadline for the contest has been extended to August 31st. Don't delay! Go to this link for the rules and to find out more 

We believe in good, clean books that uphold Christian values. To accomplish this goal, we will be providing two different services to our readers. First, we will have a list of author websites listed by genres so readers can have access to many books of their favorite genre. Second, we will have a list of books that will be rated for content. We understand this is subjective and our readers will not always agree with our rating. With that in mind we will also list if the book contains violence, sex, drugs, or offensive language. Eventually there will be a way for our readers to vote on what they believe the content rating to be as well.  This will allow our audience to make informed decisions about books. Please come by and check us out.
Opportunity for Authors:
The purpose of our website is to bring readers to clean authors’ websites and to create back links for each writer to up their chances of online virility.   To do this, we encourage authors to do a few things.  First, agree to the commitment below and add your website to our list of authors.  By agreeing to this commitment, you agree to link to somewhere on your website.  We also encourage you to link to other author websites that are within your same genres.  This will help support writers that are committed to writing books that don’t glorify or make light of evil activities or things. 
Next, we would like authors to put their books up on our review page under their genre.  We would also like writers to give their books a rating based on our rating system.  We will have an area for readers vote on the rating they think the book should have. 
Getting Started:
To get started, send an email to with your name and pen name, email address, author website, title and summary of your books, which rating below that you would give the content of your books, and an image of the cover of each of your books.  If you do so, you are agreeing to the following statement:

To be linked on I agree to link to their website on my website. I also agree that any books on my website do not glorify immoral or sinful practices. Meaning that any immoral or sinful things depicted in my books are shown with the natural consequences and are not explicit in their depiction. If there is a book I feel may be questionable in that area, I will address it on my website so my readers can make informed decisions.
G – General Audiences
PG – Parental Guidance
PG-13 – Not suggested for children under the age of 13
PG-16 – Not suggested for children under the age of 16
AC- Adult Content better understood by ages 18 and up
R – For 18 and up containing graphic violence, language, or sexual content
X-rated – Contains excessively graphic sexual content, language, or violence

Friday, August 3, 2012

Unprovoked Blessings

This week I posted on my (admittedly) seldom-used Mommy BLOG about an amazing gift my Heavenly Father gave me. And because I usually post about the "writer" side of this blog, I'm going to spend a few minutes talking about the "Mormon" and "Mommy" parts. :) You'll probably want to read about my experience and then come back to this page and finish my post here.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Ready? Ok.

I don't talk about my miscarriage much because it's not something I like to dwell on--just like I don't talk about being robbed at gunpoint when I was 20 or being inappropriately touched by a member of the family I was babysitting for when I was 18. These are negative things. They happened--I dealt with them and moved on. I credit my faith with that. But still, these experiences helped to mold and shape me into who I am today. And, sometimes, it's something you need to talk about.

We named her Lily. She'd actually died at about 8 to 10 weeks, but we didn't know until I started spotting and went to see the doctor. He did one of those invasive ultrasounds and saw that there was a body, but no heartbeat.

I will never forget the image on the monitor of my still, silent baby. It was July 17, 2002.

The doctor offered me the choice of going through the procedure to have the baby's body removed or to wait and let my body expel her on its own. Neither idea appealed much but I couldn't stand the idea of her tiny body dropping into the toilet on some unsuspecting day. So we opted for the procedure.

When we went to the hospital later that night, the nurse gave me something that would "fog my mind" so that I wouldn't remember the procedure. It didn't work.

I remember everything. I remember the sound of the machine as it sucked her from me. I remember looking into my husband's face because he was trying to keep my mind engaged so I wouldn't focus on what was happening. I also don't believe my daughter's body becoming medical waste is much better than it becoming sewage. But first trimester miscarriages are common--almost normal--so I didn't think to ask if there were any other options.

The doctor assured me I was healthy, that these things "just happen," and that I'd likely go on to have healthy pregnancies after this. I was even right on target with statistics, since one in every 4 (or 5, I don't remember which he said) pregnancies end in miscarriage, and that was my fourth pregnancy. My daughter Rianne was born a couple years later.

So while I get to confuse every doctor when they ask my medical history (I have had 5 pregnancies, I have 5 children, but I had one miscarriage--because my second pregnancy was twins), beyond that it almost never comes up.

Until this week. Until my vision. Until I met her.

I had lingering questions. I wondered about her. I wondered if we could really, truly count someone who's heartbeat I've never heard or felt as part of our family. I know now. God has granted me this incredible, unexpected gift, and I am so very grateful I fail to find the words to adequately express it.

Best of all, I know Lily is safe. I know she is favored and protected and I don't have to worry about her. I worry constantly about my children here on earth, and it's kind of a relief to know I don't have to harbor those same concerns about my heavenly daughter.

And I can still remember how it felt to hold her in my arms (in my vision). It was such a real, tangible experience I can't simply call it a dream.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Drop Everything Now!...And Come Join Me...

I tried a little experiment last month, and came away with some positive results.  With the beautiful weather outside, and the myriad of summer happenings and commitments, as well as opportunities to travel, it seems like this is one of the worst times of year to get much serious writing done (Christmas time, for me, being #1 most difficult).  Instead of stressing myself too much about it, and falling into a phase of unproductive guilt-ridden creative stupor, I just allow writing to take a backseat.

However, by the middle of July, I was beginning to feel the compulsion to pick up a pen and write something!  There were a few summer writing contests I'd been meaning to enter, and maybe that was the perfect opportunity to work toward something.

I began to reflect on a practice the kids use at school called D.E.A.R.

It stands for Drop Everything And Read.

I changed the acronym to D.E.W. drop.

Or, in other words, Drop Everything & Write.  Just DROP it.  Because I'm an obsessive compulsive task manager/ multi-tasker (time to write, but first I need a snack - oh look, the fridge is dirty, better clean it first - we're out of rags, I better make some - look at this pile of mending I've been meaning to get to - where did the day go, and how come I got no writing done?:  Ever felt like that?).

So each week, I set a goal, I set a time, and I committed to a D.E.W drop.

It worked!  By the end of July, I had two polished short stories ready to submit to contests.  I feel like I actually accomplished something meaningful with my writing, even though I still came through on all my other summer priorities.

Here's my proposal:  Join me this August.  Here's what you do...

1. Pick a project: a contest, a short story, a WIP, a journal, blogging... that you've been meaning to get to.*

2. Set a goal: how many times per week, and how much time each session... and be reasonable!  Summer is busy and full of demands, and the more reasonable you're goal, the more likely you'll stick to it.  It also feels good to exceed you're goal, and inspires you to continue to work past it.

3. Whether it's MWF at 8am, or Saturday night at 9, when you're time comes, D.E.W. it!

4.  Report back here.  You can leave a simple comment, saying you met you're goal, or you can keep us up to date in detail.  Either way, the more people that participate, the more motivation to keep plugging along.

* If you're looking for project inspiration - consider this:  MMW (that's us!) is having a writing contest that runs through to the end of this month, with opportunities to win prizes and potential for publication.  For more details, stay tuned to our blog, and check out the contest link at the top.  We would really love to see all of your talent!

Each Thursday through the end of the month of August, I'm going to keep you up to date on my progress.  My goal right now is to begin my first round of revisions on the novel I finished in the spring.

I plan to set aside 30 minutes three times a week at the end of the day, around 9pm.

Check in next week, I fill you in, and tell me how you did with your D.E.W. drop!


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