Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Intersection Between Failure and Time

By Lacey Gunter

Most of what I have been taught about overcoming the fear of failure has been somewhere along the lines of accepting and embracing failure as a necessary part of the process.  If you can train yourself to understand this and think this way, you are definitely going to feel more free to try out new and difficult things. But for some people failure is just too scary and this doesn't work.

So what if instead we did the opposite! This probably sounds like a bad idea, but just hear me out for a second and then decide whether it might work for you.

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary gives some of the following definitions for the world FAIL


: to not succeed 
: to end without success
: to not do 

Although it is not directly stated, all of these definitions have some dependence upon time, or at least the limiting of time. It is difficult to ever declare failure if there is not a stopping point in which to declare it.  Pondering this, I am led to believe that fear of failure must have a great deal to do with the way we see time. 

 So maybe instead of being compelled to embrace failure, we just pull the rug out from underneath it and take away the aspect of time. Instead of managing our fears, what we really need to manage is the way we see time. When you get to the road labeled Failure, look closely. It is not a T-section. It is an off ramp. Just keep going on the road you’re on. All you need is time.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Green Friday

by Mare Ball

In the world of retail, today is Black Friday.   My husband, who is a manager for Home Depot, went to work at 3 a.m.  My son, who works for Gucci, headed to work at midnight last night.  Me, not in retail, I snuggled in my bed until eight this morning.  I felt absolutely gluttonous.

I'm not a Black Friday girl.  Shopping is burdensome enough to me, let alone shopping with everyone else on the planet.   I did some baking today and pulled out some Christmas crafts.  I worked on THE BOOK, and I made this.


It's a fire-proof advent wreath. 

Advent starts Sunday and marks the four Sundays approaching Christmas.  It's a time of preparation.  Not for Santa, but for the Christ child.  Every Sunday, a candle is lit.  The candle can burn throughout a meal, or during a time of devotional prayer; then, it's distinguished.  On the second Sunday, the first candle is re-lit, and a second candle is lit.  This little ceremony is repeated every week, eventually lighting all four candles.

We always had an advent wreath when I was growing up.  Now that my parents are in assisted living, they can no longer have a wreath because they can't have fire in their suite.  This makes sense, of course, but they miss this tradition.

So, I made a cardboard/construction paper wreath they can hang on their door.  It has Velcro "fire" stars they can apply to the appropriate candle/s when needed.  It warmed my heart to be able to create something that enables them to still celebrate advent in a tangible and familiar way.

As I cut and pasted green leaves, I enjoyed the peace of my own home.  I was grateful we'd had a nice Thanksgiving, and I was looking forward to Christmas.  I was happy I was not circling the mall parking lot looking for a parking space, or standing in a winding line waiting to check out.

When the wreath was done, I savored a cup of green tea and ate some homemade biscotti.  Then, I took a nap.   So far, it's been a lovely day.

What color is your 'black' Friday?

(If you'd like to see how I made this wreath, click HERE.)



    

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gratefuls

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

It’s Thanksgiving! Of course I’m going to write about something I’m grateful for. And it’s not going to be well-edited. Because one of the things I’m grateful for is my husband having time off, and I’d rather be spending it with him than writing a blog post. So there you go.

There are so many wonderful things to be grateful for, of course, and I could go on and on about the big things—the gospel, my family, the atonement, and so on. But honestly, at the moment, what I really want to mention is a couple of small things.

First: At this time every year for the past three years, I have been grateful for an opportunity to try my hand at an intensive writing experience. Yes, NaNoWriMo rears its head again. But really—what a wonderful thing for someone who spends the rest of the year agonizing over word placement and comma usage (and smart quotes!). I recognize this time as something that is truly a blessing to me. Each year I have learned something new and pushed myself forward in different ways.

Second: In a similar vein, I am simply grateful for opportunities to practice multiplying talents. Writing can be discouraging work sometimes. I have a lovely friend who I am always jealous of—she is a photographer. She practices her talent, and she gets paid regularly. Also, she gets the external validation of having oodles of people tell her what lovely pictures she’s taken (which is true, and I certainly don’t grudge her that). I practice my talent, and I end up with another few bytes of memory on my computer. And the ever present question: “When are you going to get published/be rich and famous?” (Published: Eventually. Rich and famous: Pretty much never.) It can sometimes make the work feel worthless.

But the purpose of the practice is not really to make money but to expand myself and my capabilities. Remembering that makes the work sweeter. It’s about becoming better, and I’m grateful to recognize that as a worthy goal. I’m grateful, when I think of the parable of the talents, to feel that God does not begrudge me this effort either.

Third: God does not begrudge me the work, and neither does my family. All through the year, but especially in November, I realize how blessed I am in the man I married and in my children. I can hardly imagine a more supportive pit crew for my writing work. I have successfully finished NaNoWriMo this year (yay!), and in part it is because of those nights when the hubby came home from work and said, “Have you finished your word count for today?” And when I pouted and said no, he sent me to my room to write. I joke that he is a tyrant, but really he is a gift. Even when I don’t get paid, even when I actually spend ridiculous amounts of money to go to writing conferences I’m dying to attend, he backs me up.

And my daughters? My six-year-old read over my shoulder earlier this month as I was writing, and she was so inspired that she wanted to write her own book. It’s about a princess, a ninja, and a forest. Cool, right? She was also in absolute awe of the idea that I was writing 50,000 words. What could be better cheerleading than my daughter? My three-year-old, well, pretty much she just gives me silly grins and tries to come snuggle in my lap when I am typing. But that’s good too.

So that’s that. Happy Thanksgiving, all. I hope it is a wonderful one.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Moving Ahead

Post by Amber Lynae

Before my son came along, (when it was just the little princess),the toys in our house were living the fantasy full of love tales.  But with a little boy around toys don't get treated as gently.  Sometimes I wonder if they are scattered into every corner of our house because he put them there or they have attempted to go into hiding.


I would not say that he goes about trying to destroy his toys, but toys just don't seem to last very long the way he plays.  There is not concept of holding back for him.  He is full steam ahead, which sometimes leads to his toys getting injured.


I do not think Dusty last a day before he bent his propeller.  And it was less than a week before the flag on his hanger bay was missing. 

I have noticed something about this though.  Little Man doesn't let it stop him from enjoying his toys.  He doesn't focus on the flaws the way I do.  It is far to easy for me to get caught up in the imperfections in myself, in my writing, or anything else. 

The biggest challenge I face in my writing is turning off the internal editor and pushing ahead.  We must allow ourselves to leave the mistakes for a future revision.  We must also learn to enjoy the process in all the stages.

So if you find yourself yet again stuck in the mud of revising the begin without ever making it to the end, maybe you too need to learn to turn off the editor when it is the writer's turn to play.  Good Luck.

Monday, November 25, 2013

It’s Sprint Time!

I’m trying to get myself geared up to write some of the closing scenes in my novel- that’s right, I’m approaching THE END.

Yikes!

67,642 words. And it’s time for some characters to say goodbye. And to realize what was right in front of them all along. We’ll see how this goes....

So leave a comment to let me know you’re sprinting with me, start writing at the top of the hour, and then check back every 15 minutes and share your word count.

Could I reach THE END tonight???

Unlikely. I’m far too wordy for that.

;-)

Tuesdays and Transformers (And another sprint tonight!!)

by Kasey Tross

I love my Tuesday nights. Tuesday nights are the best, because on Tuesday nights I run around from one thing to another like a crazy person and it’s GREAT!

I know, doesn’t sound so great. But get this, if my husband gets home before 5:15 then I’ve got it made: At 5:15 I leave to take my daughter to dance class. The library is only about a half mile from the dance studio, so while she’s dancing I go to the library and either write on my laptop or I check out the YA section for books similar to the one I’m writing. I get a whole 35 MINUTES! In the library. By myself. It’s amazing.

Then I go back and pick her up at 6:15, and we go home and I have 15 minutes to scarf down some dinner before I take my son to Scouts at 7. And then- get this- I get to hole up in a classroom with the door closed and write for a full hour. In fact, I often get longer than an hour because he loves to run around in the gym with the other boys afterward, so sometimes I steal a few extra minutes. It’s awesome.

The other reason Tuesday nights are great is because my kids know exactly what I’m doing while they’re in their activities, and they always check with me to find out how the book is going. In fact, in the car on the way home my son always says, “So Mom, having any problems with your story?” He asks me this because in the past I have chatted with him about the story when I’ve gotten stuck. He will give me his ideas, and while they usually don’t quite fit with what I’m going for, he always says something that sparks another idea and gets me past my writer’s block. He gets very excited when he’s able to help me (and so do I).

But probably my favorite writing-related conversation with him was when he overheard me telling my husband that I had started out writing a scene that was supposed to just be a vehicle to get me to another scene, but somewhere along the way it changed into something else entirely. My son said, “You mean like a TRANSFORMER? That’s so AWESOME!”

Because to a 9-year-old the words 'vehicle that changed into something else' = Transformer.

:-)

And speaking of working on our books, it’s almost the end of November! Let’s SPRINT tonight, people! If you’re behind on NaNo, this is a great chance to catch up, and if you’re on target or ahead, this is a great chance to get even MORE ahead so you can actually relax and ENJOY your Thanksgiving! Come to the blog at 10pm EST (9pm CST, 8pm MST, 7pm PST) and I’ll have a new post up just for the sprint. We’ll write write write write as fast as we can for an hour and post our progress every 15 minutes. See you then!

Do your kids ever help you with your writing? (Or say crazy things about the process that make you laugh?)


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Traditions


 
Thanksgiving is in a few days and I don’t have to do much, I have been assigned a few things to bring. I am making some delicious fattening Yams with apples, drinks and rolls. I decided to try a new thing on Pinterest (click here) where you ask everyone that is attending dinner what they are thankful for. You then put each paper in a crescent roll. At dinner everyone has to open their roll and read aloud the paper and you guess who wrote it. It sounds fun, and I’m excited to try it, but I am nervous for a few things. What if we can’t find a paper, or one of the kids swallowed it? I am still going to try it. This year will be a trial year for this tradition.

 
We don’t have a lot of Thanksgiving traditions aside from making a different decoration that we plaster our list of what we are thankful for on. It is always fun to see what the kids add. My favorites this year include, turkeys, jumping, hamburgers, horsies, sleep, hot weather, fries, and trophies.



 
I decided that we needed a new tradition for this holiday that really is so important. I was thinking about it and I knew that I wanted it to somehow be in memory of my sweet Grandpa who just passed away. I saw something that someone posted on Facebook and I knew that was it. I decided that we were going to write cards, draw pictures and donate some items for soldiers who are away from their families. My grandpa was away from his family and friends for four years missing three Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It’s a great way to teach the kids that we can be grateful that we have each other this holiday and also help others. I am really excited about this and hope that others can participate as well. If you are interested in doing the same you can check out the web site (here) and donate different things that are listed on the page. We are so excited to appreciate this holiday just a little more. What are your favorite Thanksgiving Traditions? Is there anything new that you are doing this year?
 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Circle of (writing) Life

Are there ever two sweeter words in the English language than, THE END?

Not as far as I'm concerned. (I thought I would never finish this book!!!)

But for a writer, even after I type those words, I'm far from over. As soon as I get to the end, it's time to go back to the beginning, rip it to shreds, then put the confetti back together into something that resembles a novel.

After rinsing and repeating that for a few times, its everyone's favorite thing -- QUERIES.
I have to say that is by far my favorite thing about having an agent. No more query letters.  At least not to agents. But she and I do have to come up with a good synopsis to send out on submission to the big 6 and the middling 100.

And while I watch the inbox with baited and dreaded breath, it's time to start the cycle over again and outline a new book.
hamster-wheel.jpg
It's the circle of writing life, or the psychotic hamster wheel. It depends on the day you ask me about it. And if I'm extraordinarily lucky, I'll never get off.

There are ebbs and flows, successes and not so happy tears, deadlines and past deadlines. However, the experience gained from each go around the wheel makes the next time that much sweeter.

Finishing Red Reaper is my fourth turn in the two years I've been on the wheel. I've been fortunate enough to sell and go through the publishing cycle on two of those books (if writing is the hamster wheel, publishing is exercise bike you have to pedal to keep the electricity running). Though it feels like I've been doing this forever, my time is just a drip in what will hopefully end up being a big old pond.

Some people catch a bolt of lightning on their first go around. (insert any number of debut best sellers here). Even I grabbed a lightning bug at least to publish my first book, even through a small publisher. But for the most part, it really is a process, and each cycle makes me a better writer than I was the book before. Sure I'd love for my agent to call me tomorrow and say, "Simon and Schuster is offering a 5 figure advance on your book", but barring that miracle I'm pretty content to keep going around building new characters to love and hate, fantasies to live out on paper, and richer worlds to explore.

That's why I love THE END so much, because then I can ONCE UPON A TIME all over again.

Betsy Schow
Author of Finished being Fat & Trouble's on the Menu

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interview: Dorine White


Today we have an interview with Dorine White, author of  Cleopatra's Legacy - The Emerald Ring!



1. What inspired you to write your first book?
 I think that I am always imagining stories in my mind. When it came time to write my first book I just had an idea that kept growing. You know, one of those where you have to wake up in the middle of the night to write it down.
2. Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp? I would love it if readers gained an appreciation for different cultures and beliefs. I was a Humanities major in college and it is something I care deeply about.
3. Tell us about your books.
Well, this series revolves around 5 magic gemstones that each have different powers. Each book focuses on finding a different gem, so we get new characters every time. The final book will bring all the kids together as they try to defeat the cult once and for all, and give Cleopatra here gemstones back in the afterlife.
4. What was the hardest part of writing your books?
 Rewrites! I seem to have issues with commas.
5. Do you write an outline before each book you write?
 No, I picture events like a movie. However, usually I will write down specific things I want to make sure happen.
6. Do you ever experience writer's block? If so, how do  you overcome it?
Well, I'm one of those weird writers that doesn't write everyday. When I'm working on a new book I do it in waves. Rewrites are the things that take the extra time and cause me roadblocks. Usually if I can't get inspired I will read other fantasy books.
7. What advice do you have for other writers?
Don't give up. It really does take forever. Most writers I know took between 8-10 years to get their first book published.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
 I read so much I don't really have one anymore. I am always finding new books to delve into. That's the fun of it.

Thanks so much for visiting MMW, Dorine! To learn more about Dorine, go to the links below:
Author Website- http://www.dorinewhite.com/
Blog- The Write Path- http://www.dorinewhite.blogspot.com/
Twitter @Dorinewhite- https://twitter.com/DorineWhite
Facebook Author Page- https://www.facebook.com/dorinewhite

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Time May Change Me...

by Katy White

This month has presented an interesting lesson in balance for me.  At the beginning of the month, I set a goal of writing 70,000 words, I committed to teaching a week of seminary, and now another later in the month, and I've received a new calling in my ward's YW Presidency.  And, of course, I fully expected that all of my regular duties as a wife and mother and sister and friend wouldn't take a hit.  I planned to put on the Whole Armor daily, like I always try to do, and I was sure I'd still get my visiting teaching done.

So, yeah, about that...

Some things have gone really well.  I've written 54,000 words to this point, which means NaNo's in the bag!  Squee!  Happy dance!  The first week teaching seminary was wonderful, and I'm optimist that the next one will be, as well.  My scripture study has actually been stronger than usual; I'm actually studying rather than simply reading a page or a chapter each day.

Other things have not gone so well.  The state of my house, while not truly horrific, is causing me some stress.  Laundry gets done, then sits, clean and wrinkly, in the laundry basket.  Which is now about the height of my husband.  The floor around my daughter's high chair is getting wiped up daily, and I'm just pretending that the quick wipe of these two square feet counts as mopping.  My husband has been writing love notes to me in the dust on our surfaces.  Literally.  He thinks it's cute, I think it's an indictment on my housekeeping.  We agree to disagree.



I've realized that TV is a luxury I don't need but I'm not completely willing to give up (and I thank Brooklyn Nine Nine and The Mindy Project for that little epiphany).  I have cut out a couple of my weekly shows, though.  I've virtually turned off Facebook, I've Instagrammed maybe a tenth of what I normally do, and I've talked to my sisters about half as often as normal (considering we talk once to twice a day, this isn't the tragedy I'm making it out to be).  I drink a can of Diet Pepsi almost daily.

I'm still saying my prayers, though I've fallen asleep praying almost every night because I'm staying up too late.  I've also remembered more than once to say my morning prayers while on my morning walk rather than when I first wake up.  Frown.

According to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Our priorities are most visible in how we use our time. Someone has said, 'Three things never come back—the spent arrow, the spoken word, and the lost opportunity.' We cannot recycle or save the time allotted to us each day. With time, we have only one opportunity for choice, and then it is gone forever."

Our time is precious.  I haven't reached the balance I want, but I'm closer from this experience than I would be otherwise.  I've learned that writing daily is possible and necessary for my happiness, while Facebook daily isn't.  I can't "have it all."  Heck, I don't even want it all.  I just need to know what my priorities are and shoot for those.  If my house is a little dusty (okay, a lot dusty), my day will be just fine.  If I miss my prayers, not so much.  

While I work out my priorities, I'd love to know how you ladies do it.  What sacrifices have you found are worth it and what aren't?  Any balance successes or failures (like my dusty love notes) to share?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Five Things Britain does Better than America

By Anna Jones Buttimore

I posted a while ago about five things America does better than Britain. So here's the other side of the coin. (Note that I'm deliberately avoiding hot-bed political topics. I happen to believe that strict gun control and free healthcare are wonderful, but many Americans disagree. So I'm restricting this post to things which I think are uncontroversial.)

1. Chocolate
British chocolate is right up there alongside Swiss and Belgian as the best in the world. Seriously. American chocolate tastes like earwax in comparison. I've yet to meet an American who, having tried British chocolate, doesn't agree with me. Sister missionaries are fun to try it on - their faces when they first bite into a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk are always quite the picture.

2. Christmas
Christmas is much bigger over here, and lasts much longer. My office will close on 23rd December and not reopen until 2nd January, and that break doesn't come out of my holiday entitlement (see below). Not only is Christmas Day a public holiday with almost everything closed, but so is Boxing Day, the day after. And New Year's Day. All the best films and Christmas specials are on television, and there's a dizzying wealth of traditions, from mince pies and Chrismas pud to carols by candlelight and Christingle. It probably helps that we haven't just had a big family celebration involving a turkey.

Buckshorns, my parents' home.
 3. History
In fairness, America  can't really help the fact that it doesn't have much in the way of history, but we do laugh over here when we hear American sites designated "historical" when they're barely a hundred years old. My parents' house was built in 1491, it's not a historical attraction or a museum, and they live in it. It's no big deal, because there is no shortage of homes available which date back several centuries and have the character to match.


4. Maternity Leave
America is one of only two first-world countries that doesn't offer statutory paid maternity leave. Over here we're entitled to - get this - up to a year off work, with a guaranteed-by-law job to return to afterwards. For the first 39 weeks you get paid 90% of your salary, after which the pay goes down incrementally. It costs the employer nothing because the government not only reimburses the salary paid to the absent employee, but pays more than that 90% in order to cover the additional expenses involved.

5. Statutory Holidays
Similarly, America is the only western country not to require its employers to provide mandatory vacation time, and apparently one in four Americans gets none at all, although most get one or two weeks per year. This caused some problems during one of our visits to Florida when we tried to book our apartment for two weeks. Their computer system just wasn't set up for people to come for two weeks at once, and we ended up having to move to a different apartment halfway through our stay.

Over here in the UK we are entitled to four weeks' statutory holiday (vacation) time each year. Many employers, including my own, are more generous and add the eight annual Bank Holidays (New Year's Day, May Day, Good Friday, Christmas, Boxing Day, etc) on top of that four weeks rather than including it within it. And with that week off between Christmas and New Year too, I'm hardly ever at work...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

4 Ways to Write Faster Than Ever

Whether or not you do NaNoWriMo (and by this point in November you've already decided if you're going to finish or not), if you want to make a career out of writing, you will absolutely need to know how to draft quickly.

As a writer, unless you are one of the rare handful of uber-successful multi-millionaire writers, you will constantly be working on someone else's schedule. Many of us spend years writing our first book, churning out the first draft slowly over many, many months. But if and when you sign a contract, you don't have the luxury of moving that slowly for the second book. Agents and editors will want to see early drafts very quickly, often as quick as sixty or ninety days. And that has to be a draft that you're comfortable presenting to them. Not your first draft.

Experienced, multi-published authors get in the habit of getting the story down, drafting entire novels in a month or less (Robison Wells famously drafts each of his novels in two weeks or less - VARIANT was drafted in eleven days!)

If you're someone (like me) who spent much longer than that on their first draft, you might ask "HOW DO THEY DO IT?!?!?"

I have the answers for you. Buckle up. This is going to go quickly. (Not really)

- Plan before you write. 
Put together an outline, or a plot, or a rambling summary. Make character biographies, create a list of names that fit in your world that you can draw on quickly, have an idea of terrible things that could happen to your character. You might not use it all, but having a mad-libs sort of list to fall back on is a lot better than spending an hour "researching" all the ways teenaged girls can hurt each others feelings.

And by "research" - I mean watching 90s teen movies. Obviously.

- Utilize the placeholder. 
When I get to a place where I can't think of the word, or I realize I haven't built that piece of the world yet, I put "XXX" in the manuscript and move on. At last count, my NaNoWriMo project has about 41K words, and 31 instances of XXX. The XXX stands in place of towns, directions, people's names, list of ingredients, description of weapons, symptoms of an illness, anything that I need to do more research on or need to think about.

The XXX allows me to keep writing. I know where the scene or the conversation needs to go, and I don't want to get bogged down by details and research right now. I'll come back to it. When I'm done drafting (or if I have a few minutes to spare and need a mental break), I'll use the search function and find all the XXXs and replace them, one at a time.

- "Insert this kind of scene here"
When I know I need to have a transition scene, or a scene where someone reveals some information, but I can't get the words to flow, I type, in big capital letters, "INSERT A SCENE WHERE SHE CONFESSES HER LOVE BUT HE REJECTS HER". Then I move on to the scene I am mentally/emotionally prepared to write. It's not always that specific. Sometimes it's "INSERT TRAVEL SCENES HERE" or "INSERT SOMETHING AWFUL HERE".

Then I use that handy-dandy search function to search for the word INSERT and take care of each scene, one at a time.

- Make changes inline. 
Sometimes I'll realize I need to foreshadow something, or that I've written a bunch of scenes out of order. In line with the text, I'll type in "XXX move this scene up - before she eats breakfast" or "XXX add stuff about his hair before this". This way, I don't waste valuable drafting time scrolling up, searching for just the right paragraph, and finding ways to do these little things.

So that's it. Those are my tips.

What are you fast-drafting tips?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A penny for my thoughts...

              I was standing in line at the grocery store, trying to get a few things that we've been needing.  We the clerk rang me up and I ran my card through, I found out that I was a bit off, and needed to take some items off.  I had a few dollars in cash, and when I had taken enough off I told her to go ahead and ring me out.  I realized though, that I still came up a penny short.  Embarrassed, I rummaged around in my purse, just praying that I'd happen upon a forgotten penny.  I asked the clerk if she could ring me out, and I'd run out to my car to get the penny.  I would do it too, because I wanted to be honest, but for some reason she said she wasn't sure if she could do it.  I didn't understand why she couldn't but by this time I was really embarrassed because I was holding up the line.  So I said a quick prayer that Heavenly Father would help me find a penny.  Right after my prayer the lady behind me said, "Go ahead and just add the penny onto my bill."  She paused for a moment and then added, "...and while you're at it, add the stuff she took out of her basket onto mine, and put it back into hers."  All I could do was just stand there and stare, not knowing what to say.  Before I walked away, I went up to her, still not knowing what to say.  I just took her hand and said "Thank you."

                There were two things that really blew me away from that experience.  The first was to encounter someone who would randomly be that kind.  I just love to see it because it makes me feel better about our mentality today.  She could have just asked them to add the penny, wanting to move through the line, but she didn't.  She asked to pay for the items I had to take out.  I think it was the way she said "...and put them back in her cart."  As if it was wrong that they had to be taken out...

                 The other thing that I realized was how The Lord answered my prayer.  Here I was praying to just find a penny, a mere fraction of the price of anything you can buy nowadays.  It hit me.  Isn't that how he answers many of our prayers?  We have our own thought on how our prayers need to be answered.  But when we ask in faith, he answers with so much more!  I prayed for a penny, and got all that I thought I had to give up in order to pay the price.

                 Such a simple experience.  But that one experience will be burned into my memory forever, because of the very simple but SO POWERFUL message my Father in Heaven gave me that day!  He's taking care of me, and he's showing me how I am to be by showing me who he is.

                 So my dears... as we make our quiet sacrifices and maybe get a bit discouraged because you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, or know whether someone knows what you do and sacrifice, please remember this:  Your Heavenly Father knows.  and he's ready and waiting for you to ask for that penny so he can give you so much more!!  Remember what it says at the top of the penny...

"IN GOD WE TRUST"

Mundane Chores

Written by Ashley & Jessica

We're now half way through November.  Many of you have probably participated in NaNo, kudos to all of you!  We have not this year.  We have both been very busy.  Ashley just moved into a new house and is busy unpacking.  We haven't had much time to sit together and write.  I do, however, have a suggestion for those of you who, like us, may not be able to hammer through and write an entire novel this month. 
Last September fellow MMW, Amber Lynae, and I did a week of writing prompts.  Each day we were  given a short writing prompt and we wrote a response that was between 500 and 1,000 words.  It was a lot of fun.  When we first started the week I was a little intimidated and wasn't sure I would be able to finish, but I did it and learned so much about myself as a writer and what I could push myself to accomplish.  So, if you can't tackle a whole novel this month don't worry about it, but don't let that stop you from writing.  Take at least one day and write something wonderful!

I'm going to share with you one of the writing prompts we did.  When I first read the prompt I was worried I wouldn't come up with anything, but as I let the words start coming a fun picture came together in my mind. 


Writing prompt: "The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes." Agatha Christie



 At the end of every meal another undertaking begins. The task in front of me is towering, rising up and intimidating, but it is my task. I don't complain, I know that it is an illusion. What seems like work is really a moment of freedom, so I embrace it as I roll up my sleeves and suds up my rag.

 My ideas are fluid and flowing like the water running over my hands.
 The clanging noises of pots and silverware awakens my sleeping muse. I feel her stretch and ready herself. The hot water rouses her magic...
 
 Each idea comes and goes, one dissolving into the other. I see battles and warriors, Queens and crowns. Perhaps there is a sleeping dragon guarding his copious treasures. And if there's a dragon there must be a hero to challenge him. Where did my hero come from? What is his life story? He must have had good parents with strong morals and valor. How else would he become such a valiant champion? I wonder at who his parents are and I think now about proud men and strong women. How can a stubborn man absorbed in his own arrogance be brought to love and appreciate the woman who is an outcast of society? The woman must be strong and stalwart in spite of adversity. She doesn't back down from a challenge. She's probably a bit of a curiosity at first, but the man would soon see her true valor and come to adore those very things that set her apart. They would then have their happily ever after and settle down in a beautiful cottage. A cottage surrounded by a rainbow of wildflowers. What other stories wait to be found in a sunny meadow? Every sunny meadow must have a dark forest looming in the distance. I see a stone cottage buried in the depths of the forest, its wall covered in moss. The dweller of the this cottage is an ancient witch. She sits at her table staring at her caldron as she strokes the ebony feathers of her companion. Ghosts and fair folk hover gracefully in the corners of my mind silently making their presence known. I see the little pixies dance in the moon light as they taunt the spirits that linger behind the branches of the trees. They whisper their stories to waiting ears until a dark demon forms and chases  them into the deep recesses of my mind. The shadowy demon is oppressive and terrifying but just as I feel it start to devour my thoughts I hear an angelic melody playing through the darkness. It chases away the sinister demon. Soon the sweet music melts into visions and can now see a small town carnival. I hear laughter and excited shouting. There's a little girl pulling on the arm of her mother begging for cotton candy. The whirring and dinging of the carnival games pulls at my mind's eye and I see a young couple holding hands. She points to the oversized stuffed animal and he wins it for her. Summer love. But what comes after the summer ends? My mind begins to play the story of struggling  newlyweds fighting for their love desperate to regain their lost passion. And then I see a couple who's love is as old and strong as a mountain. They have weathered the storms of life. They sit together and look at one another, always seeing the other as the one they could never live without.
 I look over at my husband and my heart swells with love and appreciation. He smiles back as he dries another dish. I think of our own love story and the places it has taken us.
 Bustling cities, quaint countries, far off islands. We've seen many horizons and  each journey has brought us closer together. I tell him I love him as I remember the sunset from our last cruise. It reminded me of the blazing sunsets of the old west. Cowboys ride through on their trusted horses, but as they disappear on the horizon a new story rises and I see an English gentleman on his thoroughbred galloping through the fog.  The fog swirls and dances as it envelopes the nobleman.  I can no longer see him but I hear the beats of horse hooves fading into the swirling white wisps. 
 
 My sink is empty, but my mind is full. All that is left is to write the many thoughts and breathe life into their waiting stories.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Writing for posterity - the good, the bad and the boring?

By Lacey Gunter

I have recently started to get into genealogy. FamilySearch.org has done a major overhaul of their website and tools, making genealogy work dramatically more accessible and interesting.  One nice thing they have added is the ability to post pictures and stories about deceased ancestors. Looking through these pictures and reading stories about my ancestors has helped me to see these were real people who have had an affect on my life and has helped me to feel more connected to them.

Reading through these ancestral stories really highlights the importance of keeping a personal journal for ourselves and our posterity. How will the story of our life get painted if we choose to be silent on the matter. Will your posterity get the messages you are hoping to pass on to them?


What should these messages look like? It seems like a certain subset of the LDS faith (and likely in other Christian faiths) believe only positive, happy, wholly faith affirming stories and messages should be written in journals.  In essence, leaving out our doubts, mistakes, misgivings, failures and painful or embarrassing experiences.  On some levels I  understand this mode of thinking. It's difficult to admit and reveal one's imperfections. However, I find this idea short-sighted and superficial.  

The 'everything turned out just like it was supposed to' stories are nice to hear once in a while, but I find myself less moved or inspired by them. I find myself much more moved by the stories of relatives facing an awful or difficult situation, expressing their true feelings of hurt, doubt or fear, but hearing they eventually soldiered through somehow and found a way to cling to or come back to their sometimes wavering faith.  These stories make the person seem so much more real and relatable and help me to develop an appreciation and love for the kind of person they were.

But what about the dull, the mundane and the every day?  Let's face it, life isn't always exciting or romantic. It involves a lot of typical day to day repetition. This is where I struggle in my journal keeping. How do you keep your motivation and drive up when most things seem to feel the same as yesterday? I don't really know the answer to this, but I would love to hear from any of you who have figured it out.

However you do it, I encourage you to actually do it! Don't be silent in this one part of your life. Who needs the messages of you heart more than your posterity? Today is as good as any day to start.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Skinny Cow and Electrical Tape - These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

by Mare Ball

It's getting chilly here in Florida, and I'm enjoying making apple dumplings and wearing my snowman sweater now and then.  (I'm normally in flip-flops and shorts.)  Facebook is full of gratitude posts, and I'm thinking of trying a new cranberry salad recipe for Thanksgiving.

I love autumn.  It's my favorite season.  I was married in October solely because that's when trees show off their colors.  I love the cool breezes in November and the fact that Christmas is peeking around the corner.

I won't be posting again until Black Friday, so I wanted to share a few things I'm grateful for this year - outside of family and relative health, which I recognize every year.  These are just simple things that make me smile.

1.  My gym, where membership is only ten bucks a month.  I don't make it there every day, so I appreciate the fact that I'm wasting only thirty-three cents on the days I'm not checking in.

2.  My PT Cruiser.  It fits my behind.   

3.  CVS weekly sales.  Nothing beats .99 Puffs or Dawn dish washing liquid. 

4.  Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.  We've gotten away from fat ice cream completely and don't even miss it.

5.  Fresh salmon all year round.  With maple syrup and a bit of lemon. I only wish it was thirty-three cents a day like the gym.

6.  That Mom, who's fairly reserved, can still make me chuckle.  Like the fact that she calls her pantiliners "ipads." 

7.  Coconut oil.  It's a great moisturizer and, mixed with baking soda, a wonderful, natural toothpaste. 

8.  Dental hygienists and proctologists.  No, really.  What if no one wanted those jobs?  Just imagine. Whatever they're paid, it's not enough.

9.  Pocket calculators.  I haven't had to do math in my head for a decade.  And I wasn't very good at it then.

10.  Can openers that take off the lid from the side, so there are no sharp edges.  This enables me to use the lids and cans for all kinds of things.

11.  Electrical tape.  I've just discovered it's a super craft tape, and it comes in all kinds of colors.  It enables me to make stuff like this.
                                                           
                                       

(Notice the tin can with no sharp edges.)

12.  My clothesline.  I hang clothes out all year long.  I feel like I'm pulling one over on the electric company.  I'm sure it doesn't care, but it makes me feel like I'm smarter than the average bear.

13.  IKEA.  I love roaming around in that store.  The plastic bag holder and the washcloths with loops on them make me so happy.

14.  Flannel sheets.  We use them all the time, even in the summer.  Cotton sheets are crinkly and loud.

15.  Cream of Mushroom soup.  You just can't replicate that stuff.  I've tried, and I've failed.  I bought two cans today.  Green Bean Casserole, I'm ready.

16.  Those Liberty Mutual commercials where the tree drops on the car, or the car door gets snapped off by another car whizzing past - they crack me up every time.  Humans.   

17.  Cookie cutters.  I've collected all kinds over the years, and they bring such creativity and fun to sugar cookie dough.  If I had to carve swans or reindeer by hand, we'd just have circle cookies cut out with a glass.


18.  That God's graces are new every day.  Because, everyday, I need a do-over.
   

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mid-November

-a post by Jeanna Mason Stay (who has written absolutely nothing of interest on her writing blog since the dawn of time . . . and yet, she continues to link you to it)

I tend to write blog posts that are way too long, and then I have to slash them a great deal. And then they are only sort of too long. Well, in one of my editing rounds for my last blog post, I cut out a part where I said that since my next post (this one) would be in the middle of NaNoWriMo, it would probably look something like this:

“Well, it’s the middle of November, and I have nothing brilliant to say because all of my brain power has been sucked up by trying to get through this stinking novel. So, um, have a great day!”

And that was going to be it.

Well, I’m happy to say that now it’s the middle of November, and I pretty much have nothing brilliant to say because all of my brain power has been sucked up by trying to write this really atrocious novel that maybe has some seeds of awesomeness that are really deeply buried in manure. (At least that’s a good thing, I suppose—seeds in manure should theoretically grow really well, right?)

So, um, have a great day!*

*And because this is probably the dorkiest post ever, I will supplement it with someone else’s motivational awesomeness. Someone recently shared this with me, and it was a wonderful reminder of one thing it takes to be great. My favorite part: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” So go forth! Begin again, fail again, succeed again. In writing, and in life.

P.S. In other news, Im barely keeping up with my NaNo schedule, despite having started off with a bang. For various reasons, it turned out to be a rough time to write a novel. But still plugging along—because something is better than nothing.

And how are you all doing?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

30 day service binge

by Charla Schneider
Last month my husband’s parents, siblings and in-laws all got on the phone for a ‘book club’ conference call.  Since we are all busy people and don’t seem to have time for an extra book in our lives we’ve decided that short articles are sufficient conversation fodder.  We discussed an article entitled “Be Anxiously Engaged” which is a great article about how important it is for each of us to reach out to others.  The author weaved in a metaphor and described the seemingly heroic and selfless efforts of bees.  They’re busy, hardworking and dedicate their lives to the hive.  Bees get a lot done and they make a miracle food that nourishes and heals.  So we all committed at the end of the phone call to pray for inspiration each morning to see opportunities to reach out, help, connect with the people in our lives.  Binging has never been so satisfying.  I haven’t moved mountains, I haven’t fed Calcutta, I haven’t found the cure for cancer – I’ve just been a little bee who I think has found the right flowers to pollinate.  Sometimes the problems of the world seem overwhelming and we perhaps are tempted to think less of our little drops in the ocean but this little experiment has made me feel happier and more connected to the people in my life.  I must say that with the limited time I have, I treasure the opportunity to engage the universal powers of heaven and allow them to direct me and enlighten me on how best my limited time and energy can be spent.   I highly recommend indulging in this kind of binge.  It’s even better than chocolate – I promise.

Monday, November 11, 2013

SPRINT TIME!

It’s SPRINT TIME! If you want to join in, just leave a comment below. Check in again at 10:15, 10:30, 10:45, and 11- leave comments and word counts.

*yawn*

Here we go!

It Matters to Him (and another sprint!)

by Kasey Tross

I don’t know about you, but unless I’m writing something specifically related to the gospel, I always feel a little weird praying about my writing. I guess I just feel like unless I’m using my talents to directly “build the kingdom”, I’m actually doing something selfish- even wrong.

So as I’ve shared before, I’m working on writing my first novel, and it’s a YA paranormal mystery/romance. Nope, no gospel stuff in there. But I’ve been dedicating quite a bit of time to it, so I figured that as long as I go to Institute class during the week and keep up with reading my scriptures maybe it would all even out in God’s eyes. (This sounds totally crazy to me as I write it but I’m just trying to be honest here.)

Well, the other morning I was reading in a book I have called “A Year of Powerful Prayer.” It’s my morning routine to read one entry in this book (there are 365) and then say my morning prayer. On that particular morning the entry was by John Bytheway, and he said,
“Sometimes I’ve wondered if the things I pray about are too trivial or too unimportant when compared with everything else going on in the world. At least I used to think that until I had my own children. Now I think differently. If something is important to my five-year-old, it’s important to me, no matter what other problems are on my mind.”
He went on to share Alma 34:18-26, and paraphrased it with more modern language, and identified things we might pray about. He said, “Pray for all of these things because it they’re important to you, they’re important to God."

I thought about all the things that are important to my kids, things that I know are probably not essential to them becoming the people I hope they will someday become, but they are things that make them excited and happy. For example, my son loves Lego Ninjago. I listen to him go on and on about various ninjas, helped him choose which of the massive Lego sets he wanted to spend his birthday money on, got him a Ninjago shirt for him to wear on the first day of school (last year AND this year) and even played some Spinjitzu with him on occasion. It’s important to me because it’s important to him and it makes him happy. Could it be possible that Heavenly Father might feel the same way about me and this book?

After I read the passage in the prayer book I thought, “Hmm. Okay, well maybe it’s finally time to pray about this. Maybe God is okay with it.” I’d always been too afraid to pray about it. What if He said no? But this time I decided to give it a shot- face the music and accept whatever answer I was given.

I tentatively explained to Heavenly Father that I was working on this book. And that I really wanted to finish it because-

And then suddenly it was as if He was finishing my sentence for me.

He said, “because you’ve wanted this ever since you were a little girl. I know.”

I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and joy that brought tears to my eyes. It was as if He was telling me, “I want this for you because you want this for you and I’ll be with you every step of the way. You’ve set a goal for yourself- a worthy goal. I want you to succeed.”

Needless to say, it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I no longer feel like I’m tiptoeing around. (Ha, like that would actually work, right?) I feel like the Lord is my partner in this and He is my biggest fan and cheerleader. I feel like I can do this work with His blessing.

So, speaking of work, I’d like to help us all progress with a WRITING SPRINT again tonight. Again, we’ll start at 10pm EST (9pm CST, 8pm MST, 7pm PST). Just go to the blog a few minutes before and I will have a NEW post up for the sprint. Leave a comment and say hello to let us know you’re participating. NaNo-ers- I can pound out 2,000 words in a 1-hour sprint, so this could be a great way for you to literally SPRINT ahead in your word count! And checking in every 15 minutes really helps you stay motivated. See you tonight!

Oh, and don’t forget to start your sprint with a prayer... ;-)

Have you ever felt a little bit sheepish about what you’re working on? Did you think to pray? ;-)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Love of a Lifetime


 
Most people learn faith from experiences that they go through. At times, when you have no other choice, but to have faith or give up. I learned about faith and love from my grandparents. Their “love story” truly shaped who I have become.

It was a time that money was rough, and family mattered. My grandparents were ready to start their life together, but with Merle, my grandma, still in High School they would wait a little longer to marry. Life seemed perfect, until a letter came in the mail. Jerry, my grandpa, was being drafted in the Army for a year. It didn’t alter their plans too much only by a few months, but they were both scared of that year apart. Only one month after he left something changed everything. Pearl Harbor was bombed and WWII had begun.

Pictures and letters were the way they could communicate and my grandpa described it as “Gold to me”. The year passed and he was still far from family and the wedding was put off. He put in requests for a furlough to go home, but they were all denied. One year, turned to two and then three. It was the most difficult thing for them to go through.

My grandma saw friends get married and start their lives together. All she could do was wait. And she waited so faithfully.
 

Grandpa got word that they were moving out and were not told the destination. As they got closer they were explained the mission, Iwo Jima, Japan. The initial attack was several days and nights, but they remained on the island for months. Still throughout the years both were faithful and still in love.

Just before he was gone for four years he returned home to his family, friends and Merle. They couldn’t wait any longer, they were married seven days later on November 7, 1945.

Throughout my life I heard the story over and over again. It helped me know that true love does exist and I can get through anything. September 23, 2012 Grandma passed away. It was so hard to see my Grandpa without her. After being apart those four years, they never wanted to be separated again. Among my Grandma’s scriptures there were some “Scripture Study” notes that she had typed up.

“D&C 121:7-8 Thine afflictions . . . Shall be but a small moment, and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.

Thoughts: Trials and troubles are mandatory, misery is optional.”

It is so true. I feel that because of my grandparents’ examples I have been blessed to endure things and learn from them, rather than complain or suffer. Just this last Tuesday on November 5, 2013 Grandpa decided he was ready to join his wife. He passed away 72 years after he left his sweetheart to be part of the Army and two days shy of their 68th wedding anniversary.
 
Picture on the left was taken in 1940 after they got engaged. The picture on the right I took of them November 2009 for their anniversary. My grandpa just told me a few weeks ago that this was his favorite picture of him and grandma. I was looking at it and realized that the pose is so similar to the one from 1940.
 

A week before he passed away Grandpa said he was going to die and he was scared. It was so hard, several family members were there to comfort him. I held his hand and told him how much I loved him. I told him that if he did leave us, he had Grandma waiting and he would be okay. I said if you don't we are all here for you and it will be okay. I didn't know how else to comfort him. This morning I was thinking of that moment and remembered a letter that he wrote Grandma while in the Army. He was scared. He was leaving on a ship to an unknown destination. He felt for sure that he was going to die and wouldn't make it back home. I am thankful both times Grandpa made it home to his sweetheart Merle.  I am thankful for both my grandparents' love and faith that got them through hard times.

#1 January 23, 1942 -March Field, California

Oh darling, if only you were by my side I could face anything, but without your sweet words of encouragement I feel kind of weak at times. It’s not that I’m afraid to face what I’m required to, but it’s just that without you there is a vacant place in my life. You have become such a necessary part of me, that to take you away from me is like taking away all that life means. But as long as I know that you are still back there loving me, makes this waiting much easier. So long beautiful, until next time, keep smiling. Remember sweet itto honey dear that I love you more every day.

        Yours, Jerry

I had the opportunity to write their obituary and was honored. As I wrote it I was reminded of their faith and love. I am so blessed to have two amazing people and wonderful examples in my life. I am thankful for an amazing Savior and Heavenly Father who are always there  when we need them.



Alma 32:21

21 And now as I said concerning faithfaith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true

-Dani Oldroyd
www.sharingapplesfamilytree.blogspot.com
www.familystorytelling.com

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Grumpy Writer

post by Betsy Schow

I'll admit I've stared at this blinking cursor for at least an hour.

I've typed. Hit backspace. Then typed a few more things. Then closed the stupid browser.

Now I've realized the problem--I want to be a hermit.



No man is an island - I'd like to prove that saying wrong and be tropical to boot.

After a year of interviews, facebooking, blog touring, book touring, taking care of hubby's health problems, being primary chorister, I am ready to be set on an iceberg and be drifted off to sea. Just give me a kindle and a credit card and I will be totally good.

My daughter, Lily, is like that everyday after school. She's 6 and has a sensory disorder. After a full day of stimulation she comes in the car and covers her ears, not wanting to hear one more thing. It used to drive me nuts, now I completely get it.

I feel like wearing a shirt that says "I promise I'm not a jerk, I just have issues."

Anybody else get like that, and what do you do to recharge your emotional battery?

Friday, November 8, 2013

An Outline is an Epidural for Writers

By Nikki Wilson


When I was pregnant with my first child, I was sure childbirth would be a simple thing. I just knew people were over exaggerating how hard it was. I went into the birth with an open mind to epidurals or medications, but I was sure I wouldn't need them. After all, I'm a pretty strong person, right? Well, needless to say when the contractions started my eyes were opened to just how difficult it was going to be. I had regular, hard contractions for 36 hours. When I was finally admitted into the hospital to have the baby, I'd been without sleep for two nights and I was tired and I hurt. I even told my husband that I changed my mind. I didn't want to give birth to our children, I wanted to adopt. There was such a horrified look on his face at that point. When the nurse asked if I would like an epidural, my husband was nodding yes along with me. I did ask that they make mine double. I think she listened because once the epidural kicked in, labor became a whole different thing entirely. I was able to relax and enjoy the process. I asked the nurses all kinds of questions, I was able to be excited about pushing and other parts of the process. I was able to pay attention to all the details. The things I didn't notice before because I could only focus on the pain. At one point, I remember hearing a woman in another room screaming like crazy. I turned to the nurse and pointing to my epidural, saying, "You gotta get her one of these!"

Now how does this story relate to writing? When I first heard about Nanowrimo, I was sure it would be a simple thing. I just knew people were over exaggerating how hard it was. Well every year I attempted Nanowrimo, I heard people talk about outlines and how wonderful they are. But me? I'm a devoted pantser (I fly by the seat of my pants when writing). After all, I'm a strong writer and I can do it without the help of a stinking outline. And I did! I actually won Nano a few years ago by pantsing my way through it. But to say it was difficult is an understatement. The hardest part was the idea of all the rewrites it was going to take (I was on my fourth or fifth rewrite when I put the whole thing on hold.) It was difficult for me to ask myself if maybe I was a little hasty dismissing the whole outline thing. After all, I do try to keep an open mind. So I decided to give outlining a try. I spent the two months before Nano this year, shaping and sculpting a magnificent outline. I tried several different methods and found that a combination of three types is what works for me. Now as I begin Nano I find that I am enjoying the process so much more. I'm not discovering the plot as I go, I'm enjoying it instead. I get to pay attention to all the details because I no longer have the labor pains of pushing out a plot. What a magnificent experience! And when I hear a fellow Nanoer scream out in frustration and pain, I have to restrain myself from holding up my outline and saying, "You gotta get one of these!"

Now I know epidurals aren't for everyone and outlines may not be either, but it never hurts to keep an open mind. ;0)

Here are some methods on outlining that helped me:

"Million Dollar Outlines" by David Farland





Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven

by Katy White

A few weeks ago, I received a voicemail from a representative in my stake asking if I would substitute teach seminary during the first week of November.  I can't tell you what my first thought was, because, honestly, there were a few competing ones.  On the one hand, being a seminary teacher is my dream calling.  I love working with the youth and I love studying and teaching the Gospel.  On the other hand, it's November, and as you've heard ad nauseam, it's NaNoWriMo.  And for the first time in my life, I'm participating in it and bent on finishing.  And on the, um, third hand?  It's 6 AM seminary.  Which means getting up in the 5's, something I vowed never to do again once I quit working unless it involved a cute, screaming little munchkin.

So I was torn.  I knew I wanted to teach seminary, but I also knew that I wanted to devote all of my spare time to writing for the month of November.  During that few seconds of hesitation (that's really all it was, thankfully), this line from the hymn, "Praise to the Man," came into my head:  "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven."  I knew that the sacrifice I would make if I committed to teaching seminary would be minimal; it wouldn't compare to the countless, important sacrifices that people make every day as they live lives that are far more challenging than my current state.  But I knew, too, that Heavenly Father isn't concerned with our comparative obedience and sacrifices.  The little things count to him.

I returned that voicemail quickly, telling the representative that I would be happy to teach seminary.  Then I prayed to the Lord that I would find the right balance between studying and preparing for lessons and developing my writing talent through the NaNo challenge.  I felt great at the end of that prayer, like Heavenly Father was only too happy to help me find that balance if I would let him.

I've only taught a few days so far as I write this post, but I'm already thrilled with the balance.  I've felt excited each of the mornings I've taught seminary so far, and I've been very happy with how receptive the kids have been to the Spirit and to the lessons.  I've managed to keep up on my NaNo writing and, thanks to a writer's retreat Friday night and all day Saturday with the lovely and talented Gina Denny, I'm actually a few thousand words ahead of my goal!  So far, I've had a clear vision of where I should go next, and I pray every day for continued help from the Lord.

I don't know what will happen with this novel, but I know that Heavenly Father is blessing me in ways that I wouldn't have deserved had I turned down the call to serve in this manner.  Sacrificing writing time for service time has been a pleasure and a blessing, and I hope that I can remember this next time I'm asked to serve, however great or small the request.

“There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”
– D.L. Moody   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Don't Give Up the Day Job

by Anna Jones Buttimore
www.annajonesbuttimore.com

Every September for the last couple of decades or so, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has sent me a tax return. The income from my day job is taxed at source under the Pay As You Earn system, so the tax return is simply for me to declare any additional earnings. Read: book royalties.

Last year I filled in and sent off my tax return, and got an official envelope from HMRC a couple of weeks later. A cheque. £33. A refund, no less. I'd paid too much tax on my day job because they'd been taking royalties into account and I hadn't in fact earned enough in royalties to offset what I'd paid in tax.

A day or two later I got a letter saying that HMRC were no longer going to require me to fill in tax returns. It said, "We know you're never going to make enough money from writing to make it worth our while to chase you for tax." Well, it didn't, but that was the gist.

"I'll have you know my next novel is going to be a massive bestseller!" I protested. Actually I didn't, I just felt quite pleased I didn't have to bother with doing tax returns each year any more.

But I might have felt a little sad that the Inland Revenue had no faith in my writing ability.

Having said that, does anyone (apart from JK Rowling) make good tax-liable money from writing? Is it, in fact, possible to make enough to live on just from writing books? Probably not, it seems. The Society of Authors estimates that the average professional (full-time, agented and traditionally published) author makes around £12,330 ($20,000) per annum. Half of all self-published authors make less than £300 ($450) per book, and among the other half the average is just £6,375 ($10,000). That's well below the income tax threshold of £8,105 ($13,000). 

We write for love, not for money. Meanwhile I'm keeping the day job, and rejoicing in my little tax-free sideline writing novels.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Some Motivation For You

If you are a NaNo writer this year, I hope you are deep in the trenches of NaNoWriMo, slogging through your 1,667 words per day and loving it (I have no idea if I am or not, because I am writing this way ahead of time, getting all my other obligations out of the way so I can NaNo properly... we'll see how it works out). 


If you are not a NaNo writer, I am so very sorry that we keep bombarding you with NaNo-related posts (actually - I have no idea if we are doing this or not, because I'm writing this way ahead of time, blah, blah, blah). 

But wherever you are in the writing process, whether you are NaNoing or not, I'm sure you could do with a little motivation, yes? Here goes: 







And lastly:

PS - You can pin all these images on pinterest :) 

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