Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday So What Spotlight: Chrisy Ross


 In fiction, our characters often have to skirt around some delicate issues. Non-Fiction is no different. Today's guest is Chrisy Ross, regular contributor to LDSLiving magazine, and the author of To Mormons, with LOVE (a little somethingfrom the new girl in Utah). Chrisy's book explores her introduction to Mormon culture through a non-member’s eyes.


Betsy: So first of all, what made you decide, "I need to write a book about this"?
Chrisy: When people discover we’re not members in a 99% member community, they’re interested to know how we ended up there and almost always ask, “What’s it really like?” Most of these people happen to be LDS and are curious about our family’s experience. I toyed with the idea of a full memoir, but niche nonfiction was a publishable idea per the all-knowing Internet, and I felt sincere about the project idea. After years of ambling through culture shock, finding my social footing, seeking to understand the foundation of a misunderstood religion, and recognizing my own biases—I wanted to share, entertain, and ultimately express love to my community.

Betsy: Religion, in general, is a very sensitive subject. Were you worried at all about stepping on toes?
Chrisy: Yes. I knew that the spirit and intent of my words weren’t harmful or radically polarizing, but it was important that I chose those words carefully to minimize any unnecessary bristling. Thankfully, I had wonderful critiquers. I didn’t expect everyone to like my book or to corroborate my perceptions, but I didn’t want anyone—particularly my friends and neighbors—to feel like I’d been exploitative.

Betsy: In your book, you really put yourself out there. You are very open and honest about your feelings and reactions to our little world of "knee shorts" and "oddly good-looking children". What would you say the Mormon reaction has been?
Chrisy: Overwhelmingly positive, supportive and generous. If there are any true haters (something I doubt), they’re hiding in the bushes. And apathetic people are always quiet. Mormon readers have taken the time to write lengthy emails, sharing stories—both funny and moving—about their experiences with cultural issues. I’ve heard from men, women, stake presidents, teenagers, people of all ages and from all over the United States. I’m thankful and touched by those who’ve enjoyed my book—their openness (in every sense of the word) and willingness to lovingly share details of their lives.

Betsy: One of the general rules of writing is "Know thy audience". A big part of that audience would be Latter-day-saints. A group that you, admittedly are not a part of. How do you approach that hurdle?
Chrisy: I live in Mayberry, Betsy. I “know thy audience.” Wasn’t much of a hurdle at all. Plus, the more I fretted over “thy audience,” the more my friends and critiquers (all LDS) reminded me…we’re all just people. “What’s funny to you is funny to Mormons, too.” They were right.

Betsy: Thanks again for dropping by, Chrisy. Tell our computer audience where they can pick up your funny and fabulous read.
Chrisy: I’m honored and humbled to chat with you here. Much gratitude to you and your readers, Betsy.
My website http://chrisyross.com has links to booksellers’ sites for paperback as well as digital copies. You can also find the book in regional Deseret Book and Barnes & Noble stores, BYU Bookstore, and other independent LDS book stores.
*****
Articles on LDSLiving.com:

Is shunning something we still do in 2012?

What's Mine Is Yours . . . Sometimes

To Mormons, With Love from Your Non-LDS Neighbor





Thursday, March 29, 2012

The "Why" of Critiques


If you've spent enough time hopping around blogs or how-to books on writing, you've probably heard this sage advice to improve your writing skills: Get regular, peer feedback. It's almost as important to the health of your manuscript as regular dental check-ups are to the health of your smile.


Why? No matter how many hours you spend staring at the text on the computer, you will never catch all of your mistakes. Even when you know your manuscript upside down, inside out and backwards in Latin, little but glaringly obvious errors will slip by. Feedback gives you a fresh pair of eyes that aren't married to your story. It makes a difference. Even software spellcheckers can't find every problem.

Also, as a writer, criticism comes with the territory. If you walk around barefoot all summer, by the end of the season the task becomes easier - little pebbles and twigs are less of a nuisance, because you've toughened the skin on the soles of your feet. Getting honest (and hopefully positive) feedback now will toughen your writer's skin for the day when the harsher words start flying (and they will occasionally).

And, writing is a solitary hobby. Critique groups and critique partners are another form of networking that creates connections with other's who get you. The crazy writer side of you, the one at which your husband and children raise an eyebrow in deep concern...

...like when you start having arguments with your MC who just won't do what you tell him to....Aaaggghh!

And there's other reasons too - please share your thoughts and leave a comment!

P.S. Tune in next week for part II of this topic....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: We Lived in Heaven

This book is a remarkable collection of accounts of families who have had the opportunity to meet the souls of their sons and daughters before they were born. Read about the vivid memories of life in heaven by young children, and dramatic stories of prayers answered by guardian angels who watch over us. Discover:
* A letter from a mother to her son, whom she gave up for adoption, telling him of the dream that guided her through that painful decision.
* A kidnapped child who survived her ordeal by the guiding hand of the baby sister who would be born years later.
* A little boy's memory of being brought to earth by his grandfather--a man he never knew.
* A woman's vision of a child in a garden, and the powerful certainty that he was her son, waiting his turn to come into this world.
Sarah Hinze's own personal pre-birth experiences complete this inspiring collection, which radiates a universal sense of peace, joy, and hope that touches us all.


I will admit that I usually don't read nonfiction unless it's for research purposes, but I jumped at the chance to read and review Sarah Hinze's book, We Lived In Heaven. Stories where the spirit world intersects our own mortal world have always fascinated me. It was "magic", but the Heavenly Father kind of magic, not the Harry Potter kind, magic I could really believe in.
Sarah has done a masterful job of compiling and sharing these special stories. Each one is different, reflecting the experience and voice of the person to whom these experiences happened. And in each one, you can feel the sacred spirit with which they are shared. Some of these interactions are with adult spirits who communicate directly with their future parents. Some were dreams where the mortal held the infant in their arms. And others were where the future siblings played or talked with the spirit waiting on the other side and shared that with the parents.
It was a fascinating read, one that brought me to tears several times as I read these sweet stories. I highly recommend it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Danger of Someday

In the words of Roy Miller, Tom Cruise's character in "Knight and Day":  
 "Someday is a dangerous word."

When I tell people I am a writer, I often hear the same response.  " I would love to write a novel someday".  That statement is a dead giveaway that their someday may never come.  Because if they are anything like me, they have an ever growing to do list. When one thing gets checked off another has taken its place.  Without determination and passion someday can quickly become never.

We can't find extra time for our writing.  It will never happen.  There will always be other things that we could use to justify putting off our WIP  (especially when you have written your characters into a situation you haven't figured out how they are getting out of).  However, you and I both know- although, some of us may need reminded- you make time for writing because it is important to you; it keeps you sane.


Don't fall into the someday trap. 
You deserve to live your someday today.

Okay, I lied. I give up.

Remember how I said last week I wasn't giving up? Yeah, I give up.

I was excited about hosting a fun party here at Mormon Mommy Writers, but, as often happens with me and my big ideas, I seemed to be the only one seeing the vision. So a big thank you to everyone who participated and gave it the ol' college try with me, but this will be our last Manuscript in Motion Monday. If you'd like to link up to tackle the topic I gave you last week, then go for it- I'll still have Mr. Linky up at the bottom of this post. Just so you know, I'm not heartbroken- I understand that people have different habits and different goals for their online experience. Maybe sometime in the future we'll give it another shot, but for now we'll close this book and put it back on the shelf.

Our very own Mandi Thomson delivered again last week with a thought-provoking post about our part as reviewers. Do you go with the "If you can't say something nice, don't say nuthin' at all" philosophy? Or are you more of an "honesty is the best policy" kind of reviewer? Check out Mandi's post here to read her thoughts (and some good comments from her readers at the end, too!).

Now, I need some advice: I am going to my first ever writing workshop in two weeks, hosted by New York Times Bestselling Author (just seems like it should be in all caps, doesn't it?) Jason F. Wright, who also happens to be LDS. And it's only 3 hours from my house! How exciting, right?

My question is this: How should I prepare for this workshop? I know it'll be different from a writing conference, but I feel like this is a great opportunity to make some contacts in the business, and I want to be ready in case some kind of opportunity appears. Should I bring a manuscript? Some query letters? Business cards? I don't have business cards. What would I even put on them? Should I set some goals for myself?

Any help from you veteran writers on how I might go about preparing for this adventure would be greatly appreciated. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fruit Blossoms

When we were small children, one of our favorite activities was to record "radio shows" on our double-decked cassette player. One of us would be the host, the other would be a guest. We quickly developed some favorite characters that we would interview regularly. Our best and most loved was Rita Book, an author who would come onto the radio show and, with the help of the radio host, would tell stories to the "listeners." Each of us would tell a couple lines of the story, then pass it on to the other to continue. Little did we know, this fun little game would blossom into a shared desire to create a story that would bring happiness and life lessons to our children. We hope through this venture that our talents will grow and as we are nurtured by your positive influences, and others like you, we will blossom into great authors.
With the arrival of Spring last week, we have been observing the many changes around us in our world. In the Southwest region, the farthest west point of Texas where Ashley lives, Spring brings sporadic temperatures, a few blades of grass coming up through the dirt, and lots of wind! On Jessica's side of the country, Spring brings rain, green leaves on the trees, and lots of flowers. 
Some flowers, like roses and tulips, were created to just be pretty. But some flowers, like those on fruit trees, become something better, something sweeter. They were meant for something more. (We're all about cheesy metaphors, so prepare yourself). Our writing can be like the flowers. Some stories were meant to just be pretty, a nice story to be enjoyed in the moment. Other stories were created to become more, to provide something sweet and desirable beyond their simple beauty. Some stories change people's lives, or at least can change a person's perspective, open their eyes to something new. There is nothing wrong with being a simple flower, bringing joy and happiness in their bright colors and sweet fragrances. They were created for that very purpose. 
We hope to be able to write a fruit blossom kind of story. The kind of story that is not only enjoyable to read, but once the last word is read and the blossom falls from the tree, it makes way for something else. We hope that once the cover closes that the spirit of that book will linger and hopefully give life to some undiscovered hopes or dreams. We challenge everyone to make a similar goal, to create something that will uplift others and last beyond those final words.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday So What: Peanut Gallery

Doesn't matter what you're doing in life. Whether you're writing, parenting, cooking, or making death defying leaps from planes (just trying to include everyone), somebody has advice on how you can do it better. So today's post is all about what to do with said unsolicited or in rare cases solicited advice.

So what should I do about the peanut gallery?


Whether you're looking for it or not, everybody's got an opinion. And they will tell you whether you want them to or not. I've found this to be particularly true with writing and parenting. Your mom thinks she knows exactly how to make your 5 year old eat their broccoli, and your critique group knows why your main character is a snot. Sometimes all you can hear is one big cacophony. The trick is knowing which voices to listen to, and which to nod politely to and tune out.


 "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge."
Daniel J. Boorstin 
We can and must learn from those around us otherwise our life and works would never improve. But not every Tom, Dick, and Sally is an expert on what will work in your life. I used to treat everything others said as expert testimony, trying to implement each and every tip and trick. Now I treat the peanut gallery like peanuts. I  get out the good stuff, and then throw the shells away.
  Well, how the heck are you supposed to do that? Here's what works for me.
1. I let down my defenses
2. I hear, not just listen to what the person has to say.
3. I openly consider the value of the information
4. Decide whether or not it is practical or would make an improvement in my situation.
5. Pick out the nuts that have merit
6. And MOST importantly toss out the ones that don't. Throw them away and never think of them again.

#6 is the key for me at least. I have to let go of the words that hurt my feelings. Here's a little example.

I was with my 5 year old in the supermarket when she threw a HUGE fit over not getting a candy bar. So what did I do? I put her in time out, on the spot, right next to the candy aisle. And of course, someone had to tell me what a horrible mother I was to let my child scream and scream. Not so long ago I would have taken those thoughtless words and carried them around with me. They would have weighed down my heart and made me question my own worth as a parent. Today I know better. I followed the steps above, sincerely considering if I had made a bad choice, decided I was doing the right thing for my kid and discipline style, then tossed out the shells of the peanut gallery's advice. After the time out I felt good, and I felt like a good mommy for sticking with the plan I had set out, even though it was embarrassing.

So that's my two cents on the peanut gallery. If you want more from my little corner of the world you can visit my other blog's posts today. Workout Barbie and the List.

Until next time, feel free to suggest your own topics for So What. Next week I will have a special guest, don't miss it!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Meet the Author: Stephanie Worlton

Stephanie has graciously accepted my request for an interview in conjunction with my REVIEW of her novel, Hope's Journey.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie was raised in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, where she developed a passion for the creation of space, color, and design. She wrote her first short story while in elementary school and continues to nurture her love of reading and writing. Her love of design drove her to pursue an Architectural degree and her love of family pulled her home to be a mom.

Stephanie has been blessed to be a stay at home mom to her four children, many of whom share her love for art and design. She spends her days designing, building, painting, drawing, landscaping, and yes, writing. She loves the smell of fresh-cut lumber and has been known to create projects for the sake of creating projects. She volunteers a lot of time to the service of the young women and boy scouts in her area and finds great joy and laughter in their company.

Now, here's where I stumble through the question process, and Stephanie graciously answers. :)

What inspired you to write Hope's Journey?

I think it's safe to say that the basic concept has been juggling around in my head for many years. Having worked with youth (12-18 year olds) for most of my adult life, I've seen a lot of girls struggle to one degree or another with self worth. I've also seen the naivety of young men concerning their influence over those girls. One of the unfortunate consequences of this cycle is teen pregnancy. Having experienced that turmoil myself, I'm familiar with the emotions, the self-disgust, and the cruel stigmas of society. My hope was to share a story that would help teens understand their worth enough to make good choices, provide insight to those on the outside of the influence they can have (positive and negative), and give hope to those who may have already found themselves on the "sad end of a pregnancy test."


You put a lot of yourself into the book. Was that difficult for you to do?

Reconnecting with feelings that have long since been buried is always hard. I had to remember things that I'd chosen to forget and had to replay some very difficult moments of my own history. In a way though, it was very therapeutic.The best - and probably hardest - part was constructing Alex's side of the story. With all of my own feelings and interpretations to deal with, I'd never stopped to really consider what it must have been like through his eyes.


The primary struggle in the book seemed to be the struggle of self worth, rather than the struggle of immorality. Would you say that's an accurate summation?

Absolutely. I think we often blame bad choices on low morals, and while sometimes that's the case, more often its not. People - teens and adults alike - crave validation. It's a basic human need. Girls seek after the attention of boys, not necessarily out of hormonal rages, but to fill some void they have within their own self. Even when they know something is wrong (whether it be drugs, alcohol, profanity, or premarital sex), the need for validation can cause even the best of kids to make bad choices.


What is your next project?

I have two manuscripts just about ready to leave my desktop. The first is a non-fiction how-to guide for Girls' Camp Leaders, and the second, All the Finer Things, is a novel about overcoming abuse and discovering what the finer things in life really are. And, because I can't stay focused on just one or two projects, I have a few other novels in the works - Lucas Kai (about a drug-addicted baby), Beyond Tomorrow (which will probably be renamed, about the close connection between this life and the afterlife), and by popular demand, a yet to be titled Hope's Journey sequel.

Thank you, Stephanie, for allowing us a glimpse into your life. Congratulations on Hope's Journey. It is a truly worthy novel.

To pick up your copy of Hope's Journey, visit your local store or follow this LINK to purchase your own copy. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

If-Then Doldrums

I've been struggling this week with a very bad case of the if-then's... You know, when you get yourself down by allowing yourself to believe that if you had then following, then you would be the resulting.

For example:

If I had more free time everyday, then I could get more writing done.

If I had better access to a fitness center, then I could get more exercise.

If I didn't have so much to do, then I could get more sleep every night.

If we lived in a bigger space, then the kids wouldn't have such a bad case of cabin fever.

If it was warmer weather, then we could go outside more.

The list could really go on and on. I'm sure many of you readers can relate. Maybe you're thinking right now if only I stopped complaining, then I would realize how blessed I am. And you know what? You'd be right.

Life's not perfect. It probably won't ever be easy. As much as I like to imagine a lifestyle that gave me an unlimited amount of time to write and blog and pursue leisure and hobby activities, it's about as likely as winning the lottery jackpot for which I never buy a ticket.

Do you remember that Sheryl Crow song Soak up the Sun? The lyrics contain a phrase that I've heard reworded in similar ways several times, that has always stuck with me.

"It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you have."

Though I'm not currently working in the field, I'm an experienced certified teacher, and one of the assessment tools I was taught, and often used, in measuring student learning was called the "I can" statement.

The I can statement is essentially a form of student self-assessment that allows the learner to process the objectives of a lesson and turn it into a sentence (or two) that shows their understanding of a concept.

I'm finding that the real problem with the if-then doldrums is that it's interfering with my creative productivity (aka I'm not writing as much as I should be). So I'm going to try to overcome my own if-then doldrums by replacing them with some I-can's.

Here goes:

I can use the brief free moments in my day to make some progress in my writing, even if it's a small amount.

I can add more movement to my life style, by walking more, dancing with the kids, and using soup cans for some light weight lifting (hey, whatever works, right?).

I can remember that the house doesn't have to be perfectly clean, the dishes stacked back in the cupboards and every toy removed from the floor before I go to bed. Sometimes sleep and family trump an model housekeeping award.

I can survive our tiny apartment. I can, I can, I can... (trying to be the little engine that could here folks).... I can, I can, I can....

I can remember the spring is right around the corner, and with it, the warm weather.
Whew, feel better already!

I don't need life to be perfect. I'd love it to be easy, but when I step back and really think about it, even in it's most difficult moments, its still a good thing. There is still plenty for which I am grateful, and that brings me joy and fulfillment. I love my family, I have amazing supportive friends, and a hobby that brings me rewards and furthers my mind, knowledge and abilities.

So how do you get over a case of the if-then doldrums? What are your if-thens?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Oops...

So this week is spring break for us. This means lots of lying around for the kids and a lot more work for mom. It is what makes me think "Now am I really sure I can't wait for summer?"
That also means that I don't do a whole lot of writing. Even as I type two little boys are demanding that I find every little thing on "Lego Star Wars" for the xBox as exciting as they do.
So here is my question for you other writers with children. When these school holidays come around, especially summer vacation, how do you deal with the demands of children and writing? How do you parcel out your time for family and writing? What do you do to keep that time sacred? Or do you just cram writing into every spare second that crosses your path? And if that's what you do, how do you keep focus from moment to spare moment? I want to be prepared this summer before summer even arrives.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Boldly Announcing Our Goals

Well, maybe not quite as boldly as I thought...

*Deep Breath*

*Steps up to the microphone*

*tap, tap*
Is this thing on?

*Clears Throat*
Hi.  My name is Nikki Wilson a founder of this blog , Mormon Mommy Writers, whose motto is to "Change the World One Book at a Time".   A recent class I attended about using the internet to help books on their way to becoming bestsellers helped me to realize that we can't do fulfill our motto if the world doesn't know about our books! 
The first question I asked myself was how Mormon Mommy Writers could help the clean authors and books of the world use the very important tool of the internet.  The answer I came up with is a little scary and very daunting.  I am adding a Mormon Mommy Writers website that I hope will help us change the world with our books. 
To begin with, the website will have two main features.  One feature will be a list of links to MMW approved authors' websites. (The authors will basically agree to write books that don't glorify worldly things such as sex, drugs, alcohol, profanity, and violence.)  The authors will also agree to link back to Mormon Mommy Writers. (This creates backlinks that will help all who are linked, at least that's my understanding.)   The websites will be organized by genre.  This will allow the authors to find other clean writers in their genre and link to each other.  I hope this will promote a feeling of good will and community as we all try to show the world that good stories can be written without compromising the Lord's standards. 
The next thing we need to do to make this work for us is attract readers.  The feature I came up with to do this is a list of books, by genre, that are rated for their content and lists what each book contains so our readers can make informed decisions on their reading choices.  This feature is the one that scares me the most.  The vastness of this task, literally has me sick to my stomach and a voice in my head is telling me it will never work and to give up now.  But after much prayer, I do feel like I need to give it a shot.  The worse that can happen is that it doesn't take off.  I'm using that perspective to move forward in this endeavor. 
If you think this is a terrible idea, please, DON'T tell me!  Trust me, there's nothing you can say that the voice in my head hasn't already said.  But if you are willing to help me with this overwhelming project by either linking your website to mine, or by being willing to help rate books you have already read or will read, please, please let me know!  I need so much help.  Mostly, at this moment, I need confidence.  So even if all you can do is cheer me on...I'll take it!  Also, if anyone is willing to help me in organizing this, and having an administrative type roll, please let me know.  I will choose my helpers through prayer. 

Mormon Mommy Writer blog will still be at the same place and will be continuing to support writers in any way we can.  We will have our annual short story contest coming up soon as well.  Watch the blog for more information about when the website will be up and running.
I'm so thankful to be surrounded by such a wonderful community of writers.  I know that together, we really can make the world a better place!

Thank you!
Nikki Wilson

Monday, March 19, 2012

Manuscript in Motion Mondays: To Blog or Not to Blog?


Okay, so I'm feeling a bit like this frog with my Manuscript in Motion Mondays...last week we had one- yes, count it ONE- link-up. But, for the record, it was an AWESOME post by our very own Mandi Thomson on her blog, Maybe Mandi. She wrote about how much dystopian novels have inspired her and she pointed out how we can sometimes not even realize where our inspiration comes from until we start to track our reading habits. Go check it out! And a big thanks to Mandi for supporting me in my crazy blog party idea!

As for the rest of you...(toe tap, tap, tap)

Just kidding, I'm not mad. I'm still not giving up on you, though. Just a reminder, here's how it works. Last week I gave you a topic. In case you missed it, here it is:

How have you used your writing talents to bless others? If you feel you haven't had the opportunity to do so, I encourage you to pray about it this week and keep your eyes open, for "...there are chances for good all around just now, opportunities right in your way. Do not let them pass by, saying sometime I'll try, but go and do something today!" (read the full post here)

1. Write a post on this topic for your personal blog.

2. Copy & paste the html code for our button into your "Edit Html" tab for your post.

Mormon Mommy Writers

3. Publish your post on your personal blog, then copy & paste the link for it into the Mr. Linky tool at the bottom of this post. Be sure where it says "name" you put something like Your Name @ Your Blog Name or Your Post Title @ Your Blog Name.

Easy enough, right? You are welcome to link up ALL week. Yes, even up until Sunday night. I'll be clicking through the links as they are posted, and, like Mandi's this week, I may feature your post in my post next week. Good publicity for you!

Okay, so now I'm going to delve into my new topic, which you'll be able to ruminate on all week and get your post up about it between now and two weeks from now. I like to give you time to ponder.

So my question this week is actually very relevant to Manuscript in Motion Mondays: As a writer, do you think that blogging is beneficial to you? If you have a blog, do you feel that it is beneficial to your writing skills? Do you use it as a platform to advertise your work and make a name for yourself? Do you feel that it makes you more accessible to your readers?

Personally, I love blogging on here because it's such a supportive environment and I love the opportunity to connect with other writers who have the same values and concerns that I have. Plus, I get to ramble on and on and NOBODY CAN STOP ME! BWAHAHAHAAA!

Just kidding.

I also love blogging on my other blog, The Beautiful Thrifty Life, because it gives me something to write about, and a way to combine all the things I love: writing, crafting, homemaking, and being thrifty. I also love the visual aspect of the photography.

So think on this question this week: Why do you blog? And, if you don't, have you considered it? Why not? (Obviously, if you don't blog you can't exactly write a post about it on your own blog- a comment would suffice.) :-)

See y'all next week! I'm looking forward to your links! (hint, hint!)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Our Big Debut

We are so excited to be a part of the Mormon Mommy Blog!
Yes, you read that correctly, WE
We are sisters and co writers.  Our names are Ashley and Jessica. We are originally from SLC, UT but now live on opposite ends of the country. 
A few years ago, about 2008, we had this really fun idea.  It was a story, an intense murder-mystery-thriller.  It was an idea we toyed with for a bit until we really started getting some concrete ideas. It was just going to be something "for the fun of it."  But the more we thought about this book the more we realized this story wasn't turning out to be the sort of things we wanted our children to read.  And the second realization: Why would we want to write a book we wouldn't want our children to read?  Then the real epiphany came.  We should write a book for our children and make it the kind of book we felt comfortable letting them read.  And then more and more ideas kept coming.   
 Back then we had no idea that there was a whole  community of writers that felt the same way we did.  In fact it has only been recently that we discovered this.  Needless to say, we are a bit green.  This has been a long process.  We've both moved quite a bit, been pregnant, had babies, and had young rambunctious children.  All these things made it hard to find the time to sit down and write together, but we've done it, bit by bit, for one significant/essential reason.  It's important to us.  
All along our goal has been to create something that would benefit the world, not bring it down.  There are enough problems out there, too much negativity, too many things bringing down not just the youth but all of us.  We wanted no part in that. 
We hope to learn so much from all of you readers and gain not only information and experience in writing but also in being able to share as mothers, writers, and Mormons.  We feel like we have so much to gain.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday So What: Compare and Contrast

Howdy to everyone in Bloggerville. My name is Betsy Schow. It's pronounced Betsy's Cow for all you folks dying to know. I will be your hostess for your Saturday blogging fix. I figure a little introduction is necessary before we get the the meat of the post.

I am still celebrating my 30th birthday for the next 10 years at least. I'm a stay at home, sometimes author, sometimes marathoner, all the time mother.  I lay claim to taking charge of two "spirited" little girls, one big kid hubby, a dog, a bunch of saltwater fish, and a hedgehog. I've only had to flush two from that list recently -- the rest are fine.

Recently, I went from a big fat quitter's anonymous lifetime member, to a self proclaimed finishing guru. Emphasis on the big fat. I learned a lot while losing 75 pounds and the weight of countless years of self loathing and doubt. Enough that I decided to write a book about the whole experience, which is where the sometimes author comes in. The title is still being bickered upon by my publisher, but I am sure you will hear more about the book before it's release in January 2013.

Now on to the good stuff. What the heck is a a Saturday So What? Well the Saturday is self explanatory, since it's my given day to blog. A So What can be several things. It can be a question So What about Marketing? It can be a declaration of intent and who gives a hoot, So What if I want to spend all day in my PJs. Most often it's what I've learned to say in the face of an obstacle before I figure out a way to move around it.

Image DetailThat would be today's topic. Saying So What after you've just compared yourself to everyone else in the room and found yourself lacking. We've all done it. Gone over to the neighbor's house to drop off a dinner, message, or kid, and then after seeing their spotless home, go back to ours and cry for an hour and curse our lack of housekeeping skills. "I'm not as good a cook as Donna" "My children are not as well behaved at Teri's" "I look like a beached whale next to her"

Don't worry, I'm not pointing any fingers. I too am guilty of the Compare and Contrast. Why do we do this to ourselves? I mean honestly, it's not as if we didn't have enough on our plates without adding our own self inflicted judgments. Here's how it boils down. Everyone is unique with their own sets of special talents and circumstances. Does that lady down the street have 2 little ones at home? Is she trying to write a novel and wrangle said small children into bed at a timely fashion. Chances are not. Even if there are some similarities, whomever you are trying to measure yourself against still does not live your life in all its glorious insanity.

Most likely playing the Compare and Contrast game does not inspire you to do better, it just beats you down even farther. Am I right? Because that's what happens to me, it all feels meaningless to attempt to clean my house because it will be a disaster again in 10 minutes. And it will never ever look like Sharon's

I plead and beg and implore each of you (including myself) to stop playing the game. I'm packing up my toys and going home. I refuse to be ashamed that I buy my bread at walmart instead of making it from scratch. Destroying my self worth over a loaf of bread sounds rather idiotic when you get right down to it.

So next time you say to yourself, "I'm not as good a writer/housekeeper/mother/christian/business woman/ fill in your own blank here"... just stop. Then say to yourself, "So What".  So What if my house is messier than yours, and there's playdoh all over the floor- the girls had a lot of fun and it made their day. It all vacuums up anyway .

See you next week for another Saturday So What. In the meantime you can visit me over at my blog Finished Being Fat for a continuation on the theme of the dangers of comparisons, even with yourself. "The Long Run: Compare and Contrast".

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ides of March (Has Your Story Ever Been Hijacked?)

Today, March 15 is known as the 'Ides of March', the word Ides referring to the Latin word for middle, according to Wikipedia.
The reason the terms Ides of March is well known has to do with two things – history, and writing.
The History part revolves around Julius Caesar (this info is all taken from the same Wikipedia site). Apparently he was assassinated on this day, stabbed to death by a large number of co-conspirators, several of which were friends/colleagues. The interesting part about his murder is that it was predicted by a seer – a prophecy that Caesar was aware of. because he apparently refuted the prophecy when the day fortold arrived and he was still breathing, telling the same seer, “The Ides of March have come,” (aka I'm still here, aren't I? Better get a different day job...)
To which the seer replied, “Aye, Caesar, but not gone.” (aka, it's not midnight yet, Cinderella)
And he died soon after. On the Ides of March, as prophesied by the seer.
The writing part came when Shakespeare dramatized the assassination in his play Julius Caesar.

I was thinking about this little tidbit of trivia today because of an experience I recently had. The other day I was working on a scene in my current WIP that I had meticulously plotted and imagined. I had done so much 'internal' world building that the words were flowing quite effortlessly. I knew where the scene started, where I wanted it to end, and what I needed to happen in the middle to make it all come together.
I continued to work along, enjoy the process and pleased with my ever growing word count.
And then something unexpected happened.
A new character appeared. And inserted herself into my scene. And changed the plot ever so slightly.
Wait a minute – where did she come from?
Now by new, a don't mean materialized out of thin air. She was a character introduced in the very beginning of the novel to build setting/relationship/etc., but because I had no further purpose beyond that, I forgot about her!
Some characters, however, will not be forgotten.
Curious to see the point of this intrusion, I allowed her some room to explain her purpose for interrupting my previously smooth plot line.
She did her bit, said her piece, and disappeared as quickly as she came. For good? Who knows?! Apparently she has her own agenda when it comes to my story.
I sat back and took a close look at the wrench she threw in my plans. When I was completely honest with myself, I realized I liked the way she had changed the scene. I liked the complications she had introduced. She enriched the story.
While this is not a new experience for me (I've had lots of characters do unexpected things while I was writing), it was what came to mind while I read the fun facts on Caesar and The Ides of March.
Mandi: “The middle of this scene has effortlessly come.”
Not-to-be-forgotten character “Aye, writer, but it has not gone.”
You just never know what will happen when you write. Maybe that's why we love writing so much!
What about you? Ever had your writing hijacked by your own characters (major or minor)?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Structure

I like to think I am a free spirit. You know, inside. I tend to be more rule oriented on the outside (just ask my kids), but I always imagined that I was a the kind of writer that would just go where the whims of the muse took me. Because isn't that true creativity? Letting your subconscious self take over and drag you where it will?

Not for me. I have discovered that I am rule oriented on the inside, too. I should have figured this out long ago, with how powerful a voice my internal editor has ("Is that REALLY the word you want right there?"). Or all the wonderful beginnings of books I have that I just free formed until I hit somewhere between 25-60 pages, and wrote myself into a corner, and the voices in my head were screaming, "You wrote WHAT? How stupid are you?" And middles? Forget about it. Those were the murky depths that scared me so bad I ran screaming the opposite direction.

On the way home from the ANWA conference a few weeks ago, conversation in my carpool fell to writing. (Big surprise.) And Jennifer Griffith shared the name of a book that transformed her writing. Write Great Fiction-Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I downloaded it via my phone Kindle before we'd made it home. (The link I included is for the physical version, however. You're gonna want a hard copy, because you going to gobble it down, then read and reread and flip and mark and you're gonna want to be able to do that easier than with the Kindle. Just sayin'.)

I discovered as I read that I am NOT a pantser. I am just lazy, and didn't want to to the prep work. But as he described the different ways to plot out and structure your story, being both a plotter and a panster, I realized that I would much rather plan out the major scenes before hand, get all my ducks in a row FIRST, and then sit down to write, knowing exactly what comes next. And allowing my characters freedom within those parameters. Because isn't that how we thrive in our Heavenly Father's plan? He gives us boundaries and then allows us to bounce around inside those boundaries. We can leave that safety, but then things can get ugly. Like 20 unfinished manuscripts ugly.

So go check out that book. See if your local library has a copy, and read that version for your first gobble session. Then, if his information rings true for you, buy your own copy so you can mark what you need to. (Libraries frown on you marking their books. Just so you know.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Need Balance?

If there were a photographer in my house today this picture could totally be of my son and I.   It can be hard getting to the computer.  There is always something coming between me and my computer, whether is it cooking, cleaning, or mothering.  Some weeks the only well rounded meals my family gets are pizza, toaster waffles, or donuts. 

But I am a mother and a writer.  Both things bring me joy; however, sometimes it is hard to find the balance between.  I recently read a great article by Tristi Pinkston published at LDS Publisher's Blog "Tips for the Writing Mom."  Her tips are full of wisdom.  You should check them out if you are like me and struggling for some balance. 

I want to hear from you.   
What methods do you use to balance business of being a Mormon Mommy Writer?

Monday, March 12, 2012

You Want Me to Write WHAT? Manuscript in Motion Monday!



Welcome back to Manuscript in Motion Mondays! Remember, last week was your freebie- this week, use the Mr. Linky tool below to link up your post you wrote about last week's "assigned" topic/challenge: your favorite passage from literature and what it can teach you about writing.

Now, on to a new challenge!

Chances are, if you've been writing for awhile, your skills have most likely not gone unnoticed. Have your writing talents ever been solicited for something unusual?

This has been happening to me a lot lately, and I'll admit, it's mostly my own fault. Because personally, I feel that God gave me this gift for a reason, and if I'm not using a gift from God to help others, then I'm pretty sure I'm doing something wrong.

Recently, I've done everything from helping a friend in the film industry rewrite a commercial to assisting a family member with her personal memoirs. I appreciate these opportunities not only because I love to be able to serve others with my talents, but because I enjoy the challenge it presents, and the chance it gives me to strengthen my writing skills. Not to mention that sometimes it's nice to step away from your WIP and stretch your writing muscles a bit.

By far, the most extreme example of, "You Want Me to Write WHAT?" (Shall we call it YWMTWW? No, you're right, way too long.) was a few months ago when a friend found herself in an extremely stressful legal situation. She had fired her lawyer and was attempting to get a motion for a rehearing due to his lousy representation. She was jobless, on her own with no family, and was near tears when explaining the situation to me. Now, I know I'm not a lawyer, and I know nothing about legal stuff. But by golly I can write (well, that's what the Spirit was telling me at the time anyway), and so I told her to come over and we'd sit down together and see what we could do. I sent the kids outside to play and we got to work.

Our challenge: My friend had written a well-researched and well-thought-out document that was about 30 pages long outlining her reasons for desiring a rehearing. The powers that be had sent back their own 8-page document refusing her rehearing. She now had 350 words in which to make her final argument, and 1 week to write it.

No problem, right? Gah.

Well, long story short, after about 5 hours (and lots of silent prayers on my part) my friend had gone from pulling her hair out to grinning from ear to ear. She held our finished document in her hands and breathed a sigh of relief. She had been told by some lawyer friends that this effort was a long shot, but she was willing to try anything.

Fast forward about 6 weeks after that: I get a phone call from my friend, who says, "Kasey, I just want to thank you." I said, "For what?" She said, "They granted my rehearing." I said, "SHUT UP!!!!!" (I meant that in the nicest way, of course.)

The funny thing is, when I go back and read over that document we wrote, I hardly understand a word of it. I look at my notes I took as we were preparing it and it's like I'm reading another language. I have no doubt that the Holy Ghost was my guide in giving me the knowledge and ability I needed to help my friend, and it's just another testament to me of the power of the Lord when are seeking to do His will and serve Him.

So your question this week is this: How have you used your writing talents to bless others? If you feel you haven't had the opportunity to do so, I encourage you to pray about it this week and keep your eyes open, for "...there are chances for good all around just now, opportunities right in your way. Do not let them pass by, saying sometime I'll try, but go and do something today!"

Write your post sharing your story on your blog this week, then come back next Monday to link it up to us. Don't forget to add your Manuscript in Motion Mondays @ Mormon Mommy Writers button (it's over there on the right sidebar) to your post! I can't wait to see how our MMWs are using their talents to serve! :-)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book Review: Christ's Gifts to Women

As soon as I got this book, I knew I wanted to review this book on a Sunday.  "Christ's Gifts to Women" by Heather B. Moore and Angela Eschler is a book with a powerful message about women and our relationship to Christ.


At times, we as faithful Latter-day Saint women struggle to understand exactly who Christ is in our lives. We fail to comprehend the gifts He offers us as we strive to overcome the challenges we face. But Christ’s great message to us is that He has overcome this world—He has given us great gifts that empower and help us realize we are not alone.


With touching artwork from renowned artists, this beautifully written book weaves trials faced in our day with trials faced in Biblical days—and expounds on the timeless power Christ has given women to overcome them. As we strive to draw closer to Christ, He will draw closer to us, magnify our efforts, and fill us with joy and peace. From the gift of mercy to the gifts of experience, wholeness, nurturing, and seeing, authors Heather B. Moore and Angela Eschler help women recognize the incredible rewards Christ has given each of God’s precious daughters, no matter the hardships we face. 

When reading this book, I was immediately mesmerized by the pictures of Christ and the message of the worth of women in His eyes.  As women, we often downgrade our worth.  We put everyone else above us and many times wonder how we matter and if we really make a difference.  This book shows us that with the gifts of Christ, women CAN make all the difference in the world and we DO matter to Him.  This is a book you will want to grace your bookshelf and your life for all time.  You will want to read it to your daughters and granddaughters and buy a copy for all the important women in your life.   With Easter coming up, this book will awaken in you the desire to come even closer to Christ and will make the holiday much more meaningful.

--Nikki (Told you I couldn't be quiet for long!)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Seen but Not Heard

I was never any good at being that kid that was supposed to be seen but not heard. I always had something to say! Well, because I believe in this blog so much, I want to have more time to shape it into what it could be. This means I need more time behind the scenes. From now on, I will be in administrative mode. My picture will be on the side but I won't have a weekly post. But, because I always have something to say, I will be offering to sub for any of our writers when they need it.
Now here's what I need from all of you, what are some things you would like to see from our blog in the future? How could we make it better? Please leave all your thoughts and ideas in the comment section. I can't wait to hear your visions for the future!
--Nikki

Friday, March 9, 2012

Progress Report

First of all, a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who commented on last week's post about my title troubles. I really think you helped me head in the right direction and I wish I could give you all a prize. But my thanks will have to be enough.

I hit another block with Ruby's story, and it's something I really have to search deep inside myself to resolve. Initially, I really wanted to set the book in Duncan, OK because I have fond memories of the place and wanted to show a different side of what is sometimes considered a backwater area. My idea, since I'm telling the story from Ruby's point of view, is to show how annoying she finds everyone and everything about her new life at first, but how eventually even the acts of strangers begin to warm her heart.

But now I'm kind of hit with a crippling fear that locals reading the book will be so disgusted by the stereotyping and cliche characters at first they won't wait around to see how it gets better. Because, right now, the only characters who come to mind are cliche and stereotypical.

That's my current problem. I'm the first to admit that being a Mormon in the middle of the "Bible Belt" is difficult. One of my sons has already been told by a classmate he's "going to Hell" because he's LDS. We have lots of religious discussion in my house now, more than we did when living in UT, and most of it is started by our kids. I think it's because they feel the lack of what they used to know, and seek their grounding in the gospel because it is familiar and true. And, not to point any blame, but the current political atmosphere is NOT making things easier on my kids. Weird, huh?

Last Sunday, author Rachel Ann Nunes posted on FB about a bad review her book received on Amazon--not because the reviewer didn't like the book but because the reviewer felt there should be a distinction between LDS fiction and Christian fiction. Again with that whole "Mormons aren't Christian" nonsense. As a lifetime insider, I confess I don't understand how people can say we aren't Christian. It's in our name. And I pity the poor soul who ever tells my daughter she's not a follwer of Christ. That girl, who can greet Jesus like an old friend, will happily correct them.

I don't want you to come away thinking everyone out here is against us, because that's not the case. Before we moved, each of the kids received Father's blessings. The predominant theme was that the people out here are also God's children, and they are good people with good hearts, and that we don't need to shut them out in order to maintain our faith. In fact, more kids asked my son "What's a Mormon?" than condemned him to Hell for being one.

Religion aside, I'm still struggling with this fiction novel of mine. It will be obvious to any LDS reader of Ruby's story that her aunt's family is LDS. But I want to emphasize the Christian aspect of their beliefs and actions, so that anyone else reading the book won't immediately shut down because it's about a bunch of Mormons. This isn't for some future big reveal, but more for myself. I want the story to resonate with all Christians. Which is why I'm self publishing it and not going through an LDS publisher or trying to hit up a national publisher (because they'll make me take out the religious aspects and mess up my whole plan).

I think I've been more rambly here than I intended. And probably what I'm going to have to do is delve into these supporting characters in Ruby's story and find out the parts of them that make them loveable and less like the cliche, stereotypical book fodder they currently are.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Generic vs. Name Brand


If you've ever lived the life of a student, unemployed, low income or food storage minded shopper (or maybe you're a millionaire because of how you use your money) than you understand what I mean when I say:

Thank goodness for the No Name brand!


As much as I might want to splurge from time to time on that Campbell's thick and chunky soup (substitute this product for whatever came first to your mind as you read that sentence), common sense and a corset-tight-budget often means that it's the yellow-labelled cans of goods that end up in my cart.

Because in food, and clothing, and many other areas of industry, branding products usually works this way:

brand name = high quality
no name = low price

There's been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about creating a brand for yourself as a writer. This is usually referring to the way you use social platforms such as facebook, twitter and blogging to promote yourself, your work and your talents. Your brand.

What does this have to do with groceries?
Simply this: Have you considered what your brand is? Do you think brand is important? (I'm referring here more to how author brand relates to visibility, recognition and the quality of our writing, not the price or worth of our books and stories).

I've never really thought about it to be honest, until last night when I opened my pantry door to the food stacked three cans high with blaring read labels that said "No Name". Do I really want to be one of those cans? Is it worth it to build an author brand, or can one find a 'niche' as a generic writer?

When exploring the question of what is an author brand? I found this interesting statement:

If you've put your pen to paper, you've already started developing a brand, even if you don't know it. A brand is a promise to your readers that you will deliver a specific value or benefit from reading your work that can help you develop your readership and expand your audience. ...and when choosing a book to read, time and again, you'll return to the authors who delivered on their promise (from createspace article).

In other words, just as in industry, branding in writing should 'ideally' lead to the following

brand author name = High Quality
brand author work = Desirable

So while we might be a penny conscious grocery shopper, we don't want to scrimp when it comes to brand name in writing. It's definitely an area I need to put some thought and effort into.

I have a fun question for all you MMW blog readers. If you were a canned good (or any generic/brand name product, what would you be and why?

And, as a writer, how have you worked to develop your own brand? Any tips for those new to the craft?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book Review: Venom...And a Contest!

I had the opportunity to read VENOM, by K.C. Grant. I'm excited to do a review of her third book, recently out by Covenant. VENOM is a departure from her other two books, this one a contemporary romantic suspense. Here's the back copy:


Samantha Evans is determined to make a name for herself in the cutthroat world of advertising. Newly hired by a prestigious ad agency, she volunteers to work on location in Mexico City as a personal assistant to the beautiful and driven creative director Katrina Edwards. At first the association seems promising. But Ms. Edwards seems preoccupied in a way that makes Samantha increasingly uneasy. In fact, many in the group seem like they are not being completely open about the project including David Ayala, the mysterious and moody photographer for whose attention the two women find themselves competing. After several strange accidents and numerous appearances by an unknown man, Samantha discovers the truth: not everyone on the team is in Mexico to create a stellar advertising pitch. When her sleuthing leads to her abduction, she is brought to the pyramids of Teotihuacán and comes face-to-face with the venomous evil of the South American crime boss known as “The Serpent.” Now Samantha must not only fight for her life, but she must also discover if she can trust the man she’s come to love. 
 
The author clearly knows and loves the Mexican culture and heritage. Once the group arrives in Mexico, Samantha uses her previous LDS mission experience to translate for the rest of the group. There are several instances where she is the only one (except for David) who behaves with compassion and understanding for the people there. There are also several scenes in the famous pyramids of Mexico. The culture, people, and ancient artifacts came alive in K.C. Grant's descriptions.

I was pleased to see the growth of Samantha, the main character, as well. Even though she seems very judgmental of others at the beginning, by the time she returns from her adventures you can tell she is learning that not everyone is what they seem on the surface.

Overall I enjoyed this light adventure story, and glad to read the "happily ever after" at the end.


Now for the contest. For one lucky commenter, I will send my copy of VENOM!!! Here are the rules:
You must tell me in your comment what country you've always wanted to visit and why! 
Facebook or tweet about the contest and tell me in the same comment. That gives you a possible 3 entries!!!!
The contest closes on Saturday, March 10, 2012, at 11:59 pm Mountain Standard Time (i.e. when I go to bed, which is always after midnight, it seems.)
 
I'll announce the winner the next Wednesday. Be sure to leave your email address so I can let you know you've won!
Good luck, and I hope the lucky winner enjoys the fun read!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Post: Wisdom from the PianoGuys

I am so very happy to have a message from Rebecca J Carlson to share with you girls today. Some of you may have read her awesome posts here on MMW before. If not visit the archives, but not before you read today's message.


Wisdom from the PianoGuys


A couple of weeks ago the PianoGuys came to Laie, Hawaii to do a concert and shoot footage for a new music video. If you don't know already, the PianoGuys are these amazingly talented people from St. George who make inspiring music videos for YouTube. I had a chance to meet the two performers, Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson, in person as they came to "talk story" with the BYU-Hawaii Ohana the morning before the concert.

After they played a song or two for us, they took questions. Someone asked, "What advice do you have to an aspiring musician who wants to be successful like you?"

Jon and Steve glanced at each other, as if not sure what to say. "We really don't know how this happened to us," they said. "All we can tell you is that you've got to put your life in the Lord's hands. He will lead you to meet the right people, be in the right places, and have everything come together for you. We never imagined we'd be doing this, but God built this path for us and all we had to do was follow it."

They told us that they pray over every detail. They pray before they begin composing an arrangement. They pray before they start a recording session. They pray before they go on a video shoot. They said we should never feel foolish about asking the Lord for help with anything. Then the miracles will come.

They emphasized how essential it is to interact with other musicians. Working together with others creates something better than anyone could do alone. And I would add that this is just as important for writers as it is for musicians. Even though writing itself can be a solitary process, I know my stories work best if I first brainstorm out loud with my husband and children throwing in their own wonderful ideas.

Last of all, the PianoGuys told us to always remember to write for the audience. We can't just write for ourselves or for people like us. We need to create things that will bring joy to as many of our brothers and sisters as we can.

I'd like to close by sharing this music video that the PianoGuys filmed while they were here in Hawaii, just so you can see what it looks like where I live:



Aloha everyone!

Rebecca J. Carlson

Monday, March 5, 2012

What Inspires You? Manuscript in Motion Mondays



Thanks to all of you who linked up your blogs to last week's Manuscript in Motion Mondays! It was truly a pleasure going around and visiting with you. A quick shout out of congrats to Jenni James for her Northanger Alibi launch this past week and to Janet Kay Jensen for winning second place in a national writing contest. Just goes to show that we have INCREDIBLE writers here at MMW, and dreams are coming true left and write! (Ha ha, get it? "Write"? K, I'm done now.)

Kathleen Brebes gets the nod for her fantastic post about an article called, "How Fascinating Are You?" I loved reading this and it definitely made me think about myself and a writer and my characters. Stop by Kathleen's blog and check it out if you haven't yet!

So here's the deal: I'm giving you a freebie this week! No link-up today, but it's because I want to give you a full week to formulate your post for next week. I've decided that you need time to put your best foot forward, so I'll give you a challenge one week ahead of time and then you'll have the opportunity to mull it over and come up with something brilliant that you can come back and link up to the following week. Here are some things I'd like for you to remember:

1. When you link up, use the URL from the link to your specific Manuscript in Motion Mondays post, NOT just your general blog url. That way I (and others) can read your post about the challenge without having to search through your blog.

2. Put the Manuscript in Motion Mondays button within your blog post, NOT just on your sidebar- this is really easy to do. Just copy the code from the window below the button, go to where you're editing the post on your page, click the "Edit Html" tab and paste it right in.

3. If you'd like to draw attention to your link, instead of actually putting in your name where it says "name" on the Mr. Linky form, put in the title of your post. You can even do like I did last week and place the title of your post with the words "@ (blog name or your name)" after it.

If you've been linking up the last two weeks and haven't been doing these things, no worries! It's a learning process for all of us!

Now on to this week's challenge: What Inspires You?

Have you ever read a portion of text in a book and just had a knock-me-over-with-a-feather kind of reaction? Have you ever read anything that just made you say, "Oh, wow. I wish I could write like that"? Well, I find myself having those moments often, and rather than drop our heads, scuff our feet on the ground and sigh that we'll never be that good, I suggest we USE those little textual gems and let them teach us how to be better.

Here is one of my favorite literary passages from "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by David Wroblewski:

"And where the rising and falling water met, something like an expectation formed, a place where he might appear and pass in long strides, silent and gestureless. For she was not without her own selfish desires: to hold things motionless, to measure herself against them and find herself present, to know that she was alive precisely because he needn't acknowledge her in casual passing; that utter constancy might prevail if she attended the world so carefully. And if not constancy, then only those changes she desired, not those that sapped her, undefined her."
There is something about those words that just make my heart stop in my chest. Every time I read them, they just move me to no end. Part of it may be because these words are actually about a dog, Almondine, whose master has just passed away. These words are so deep, so full of emotion, as the author shows us that creatures are just as sensitive and aware of the world as we are, if not more so. I love that these words are for a being who has no spoken words, as they describe emotions that are more intense and more clearly defined than any human's. And if you have ever lost anyone close to you, then you probably are all-too-familiar with Almondine's expression of grief.

So how can I use this in my own writing? Well, I don't necessarily know that this would fit into my current WIP (a YA action/romance) but I think that I often try to conform my feelings about things into words that are conventional, rather than allowing them to speak through the more vague metaphors that I feel. I would like to start exercising this part of my creative abilities, and allow myself to express complex emotions in more abstract yet tactile terms...okay, that might not make any sense, but I know what I mean. :-)

So for next week, think over your favorite books and your favorite lines or paragraphs from those books. Why do you love them? How can you use that in your writing? Prepare a post for your blog, then be ready to link it up with Manuscript in Motion Mondays next week. Don't forget my 3 things to remember that I posted above...see you next week!

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