Friday, February 28, 2014

What a World...What a World!

By Nikki Wilson

Yes, those are the famous words of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Since she said them when she was melting away, they seem to have a negative connotation. But today, I mean them with a sense of wonder and awe. Because this is an amazing world we live in. And a really amazing community we belong to.

This past month has been busy for me, but I'm going to try to only focus on the writing part of my life for this post. This month was the ANWA Writer's Conference. It's been my favorite writer's conference for awhile now. But this year, it really out did itself. Leading up to the conference, I had a lot of things to do. I was pitching my romance book to a senior editor from Harlequin for their Heartwarming series. (A new line of clean romance books, because there's a market for that! Haha!)
I didn't want to pitch my book if  at least the first draft wasn't done. So I stayed up till 4:30 am one night finishing it. (I still had to wake up for work at 6:30am that morning!) But it was worth it to know I'd finally finished the story. Then I had to come up with a pitch. Plus I was trying to get the MMW book finished and ready to sell at the conference. I was also in charge of the Professional Development hours for teachers at the conference. So I had to get certificates made up for that.

The conference finally came and all the prep was worth it. I had so much fun and met the editor of Harlequin Heartwarming series and she requested my full manuscript! I got to see so many of my friends and meet lots of new ones. I even got to meet Jeanna Stay! The classes were awesome and the protagonist gala?? Oh my word! It was amazing. What other writer's conference would hire Tahitian Dancers for entertainment? It was off the hook! (I know no one says that anymore, but it always embarrasses my kids when I say stuff like that. It makes it worth it! LOL)

On Saturday, my 14 year old daughter and her friend came to the conference for the day. They are both new writers and it was awesome to watch them experience it for the first time. They introduced themselves to agents, editors, and authors. There was nothing shy about them. It was so fun to watch.

One of the best things about conference this year was that my friend Jenni James was there. She is a force of nature. Anyone who's ever met her will agree with me. Life is never dull with Jenni James. Only with Jenni could I spend the whole conference with the Editor from Harlequin who also happens to be Jenni's friend. Only with Jenni would we find a world champion ballroom dancer in the hotel lobby. Only with Jenni would said ballroom dancer (who also happened to be a cowboy) waltz with Jenni and the editor from Harlequin. Haha! Yes, life is good.

But even with all this awesome, amazing stuff going on, I found myself obsessing over the fact that the MMW book has a major mistake in it!  The Table of Contents is all wrong! None of the page numbers line up with the right stories. I was mortified! I can't believe I let something that big get past me. But even as I write this I realize that I shouldn't have let that one negative overshadow all the wonderful things that happened last weekend. And I tried not to, but sometimes the thought of those books being wrong would creep in. Why do we let one negative thing get in our way of all the positive things sometimes? Well, I'm not going to let it bring me down anymore. I apologize to all of you who may have bought it, and I will work on fixing the problem this weekend, but I'm not going to dwell on the negativeness of it anymore. In fact, any of you that bought the first copies will have the limit edition of Choose to Write! How awesome is that? LOL!

Ok, now that I've rambled on and on, the point I'm trying to make here is...what a world we live in. There are opportunities at every corner and disappointments too. But how exciting it is to experience both and to grow and learn. I thank God everyday for this world and my chance to experience it, and for all of you in the MMW community.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Finding Time to Write

Today we are excited to present a guest post by author Jolene Perry!

FINDING TIME TO WRITE

I think I can safely say that we all struggle to find time to balance and juggle all the things we want to do in our lives...

I have two elementary age kids, a husband with a demanding job, a busy calling at church and books to write, release, and edit..

It's HARD.

I find myself sitting down to write and feeling like - I might get interrupted... I don't have much time... I think this next part of my book is going to be tricky... I shouldn't jump in because it'll take too long... 

And then I end up on Facebook for a few minutes, reading blog posts for a few minutes, answering emails for a few minutes, and... no writing gets done. What's sad is that these are all things I can do in two minute intervals, which are a lot easier to find than real writing time.

What I've started to do is to set a timer.

Here's how it helps me:

I don't watch the clock. That problem has been taken care of for me. I know that I can totally immerse myself and that timer will tell me when I can/should/need to stand up and do something else.

I don't jump out of my MS to check emails/Facebook/twitter during the timer countdown. I don't answer my phone unless it's something I NEED to answer, and I never have my internet alerts on, so that's not a bother. If you like alerts, I'd turn them off for this ;-)

Normally I set my timer for 30 minutes. When my kids are home, I get them started on a show, or a game, or a snack and then I set my phone up where they can see it and set the timer. NO ONE IS ALLOWED to bother mom unless the timer is done, or they're bleeding ;-) Of course this only works b/c my kids are elementary age.

I tune out of everything but my book. My writing. I don't stop to research, just stop to make notes about things I might want to check later. The purpose is to GET WORDS DOWN.

When my kiddos aren't home, I generally find myself writing for ten extra minutes or so after my timer goes off. Then I get up. Step away. I think about what I want to write next, and then I do dishes or laundry or sweep or pay bills or make a few phone calls for church stuff... Anything to get me AWAY from my computer. Or anything I can do where I can still keep my mind on my characters without being at my computer.

Honestly, it's rare that I can do much more than 3-4 timed writing bits in a day because my brain turns to mush - especially when I'm totally immersed.

Of COURSE this would be different if I had an infant and a two year old. At the same time - it's amazing how much I can get done in 30 minutes when I use the whole 30, and even 30 minutes once a day when/if you have someone to help with little ones, is enough to write a novel. 10 minutes a day is enough - as long as you keep doing it.

Anything work for you to help get words down amidst the chaos of life??
I'm always looking for new ideas ;-)

~ Jolene

Jolene is the author of the newly released THE SUMMER I FOUND YOU (and isn't the cover GORGEOUS?).

All they have in common is that they're less than perfect. And all they're looking for is the perfect distraction.

Kate had the perfect boyfriend - until he dumped her. It couldn't have come at a worse time: ever since she found out she has diabetes, she's been trying to cope. She just wants to feel normal again.
Aidan planned on being a lifer in the Army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's the guy with one arm and nothing is the same as it was before. He wishes he could forget.
When Kate and Aidan meet, things couldn't be more awkward. Neither wants to get attached, and they both could use some fun. But what if they need each other more than they realize?


AMAZON

BARNES




-- 
YA author of Out of Play 
The Summer I Found You (March 1, 2014
Stronger Than You Know (September 1, 2014)
Love Blind (2015)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Editing - harder than it looks

by Anna Jones Buttimore


I've recently started a little sideline as an editor. I needed a bit of extra cash (a tiny bit - I'm the cheapest editor ever) and figured that since I've worked with several professional in-house editors as my own books were prepared for publication, I'd have the right qualifications and know what I was doing.

How hard could it be?

VERY. That's how. Here are some of the things I have discovered which make editing someone else's work much harder than it looks.

  • It's hard not to worry about upsetting the author. I try to tell them that lots of corrections are the sign of a good editor, not a bad writer, but I'm still ripping to shreds their treasured work and highlighting every single thing that's wrong with it.
  • I don't always understand what the author is trying to say. Sometimes they will pick a word which they've misunderstood, or which doesn't convey what it should, and my job is to suggest the correct word. Often, though, I have no idea what that word should be.
  • I need to know everything. I spend a lot of time on Dictionary.com and other reference sites checking and rechecking. Is it "piqued her interest" or "peaked her interest"? "Spitting image" or "splitting image"?
  • Some books really aren't ready for publication, and there's nothing I can do, short of rewriting it, to help. It's tough, but in these cases I send the work back to the author with a gentle reminder that it needs to be the very best they can do, completely polished and checked, before it goes for editing. Writing is a skill, like any other, and we all need to learn it. Some people who send their work to me haven't yet reached the level where they should be putting out their work, and they may have unrealistic expectations of what an editor can do. (Naturally in these cases I don't charge.)
  • Conversely, I'm currently editing a book which is so good that it looks as though I haven't done anything. With barely a correction per page, I'm sure the author will think I didn't put in much effort.
  • If the writer hasn't quite got to grips with one little element of punctuation, like semi-colons (which can be fiendishly tricky little things) or using italics for reported thought, or commas around speech, then much of my editing time is going to be taken up correcting every single misuse of the same problem. It gets boring really fast.
So editing is proving to be harder than I expected, but I can't complain. Despite all these issues, I love editing. I get to read an advance copy of a book, and be part of the process of making it better. I get to work with some really interesting writers, and do what I love most - read books. I might even get a little mention in the acknowledgements, which is almost as exciting as having my name on the cover. Oh, and I even get paid!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You See What You Wanna See

The internet has been at each other's throats lately, particularly regarding two very popular works of art-as-pop-culture. The arguments have been passionate on all sides but have boiled down to this:

SIDE A: Really enjoyed this work, has listened to the criticisms of it, thinks they have some validity, but do not detract from the value of the work overall. It was fun to read/watch. They will own (or do own) a copy of it that they will return to often.

SIDE B: Sees nothing but the "negative" message in this work and will not stop telling everyone they see about it. Blog post reviewing the book/movie/show? MUST COMMENT. Tweet about how much it was enjoyed? MUST RESPOND PUBLICLY. Saw something on facebook that referenced the book/movie/show? MUST COMMENT AND RESPOND TO ALL OTHER COMMENTS WITH ANGER.

Now, with both of these things (one was a movie and another was a book series), I have to say that I genuinely see what critics are saying. Their views have merit, and they aren't wrong.

But they are 1. Blowing it out of proportion 2. Focusing on the minutiae instead of the overall message/tone/context.

That's part of what's wonderful about art, isn't it?

We all can read the same book, and we will all come away with different messages. We can watch the same movies and shows and take a different piece of it into ourselves. Great art - whether it's written or performed or captured in a frame - works on an infinite number of levels and speaks to an infinite number of situations.

TRUE STORY TIME:

In high school, I was obsessed with the musical Les Miserables. (I didn't read the novel until college) I remember talking with a friend of mine about it, and he said that he liked how this play reminded him that we needed to take care of the poor and the needy.

AND HE WAS SO WRONG I ALMOST STOP BEING FRIENDS WITH HIM.

Joking.

Sort of.

(Because, you see, I was fifteen and that's the sort of reaction you have to things when you are fifteen.)

But while he was totally and completely wrong (because Les Miserables is a parable of justice and mercy in action - duh!), he was also totally and completely right. 

There is no wrong way to interpret a work of art.

You have no right to tell other people how to interpret a work of art.

You have no right to tell other people that their personal interpretation of a work of art is wrong.

None.

Because that's the whole point of this writing gig - to put a story down on paper. To bleed and die a little on every page, and to hope that someone, somewhere sees something they identify with, too. In order for that to happen, though, there needs to be an infinite number of interpretations and applications.


I, for one, am grateful that we have the chance to even have this discussion. That an endless world of books sits before us, ready to be read and experienced and discussed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A funny thing happened....

By Lacey Gunter

Earlier during the day I was on the phone with my hubby explaining the sizable skid mark in our lawn next to the driveway. He was a little worried and wanted to know what had happened. It was sort of a random story, nothing dramatically exciting. But at the end of the story my husband remarked in amazement "Seriously, Lacey, you have the oddest things happen to you." Then he proceeded to list several other incidents he found unusual, as evidence, and ended with a "Weird!"

I ruminated on the conversation for quite some time.  He is not the first person to voice such opinions.  And, in truth, the incidents he mentioned were very strange. One or two I would even have trouble believing had I not experienced them myself. But, don't strange things happen to everyone?

I unreservedly accept that I am a bit of an odd duck. However, I came to the conclusion that what he and others were really expressing is that I love a good story, especially the kind that actually happened.

 I love to hear other people's narratives and I enjoy telling people my own narratives. One of my favorite types of narratives to tell are the ones that are funny, strange or unusual.  I love to set the scene and sprinkle in all the quirky details. And that moment when they start to giggle or their jaw drops open in surprise is great. I guess I share them to help me process the experience and to try and decipher any hidden meanings or lessons learned.  I also share them to try and connect with people and make them laugh or get them thinking.

What about you?  Do you love to tell a good story?  Not just the made up kind, but your own intriguing or romantic narratives? What stories do you love to tell?

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Defeat

by Mare Ball from ADVENTURES IN THE BALLPARK 

Women's Olympic ice skating finals were televised last night.  I have to say, I'm a lazy viewer when it comes to the winter Olympics.  The only thing I'm interested in is the ice skating.  I don't dismiss the work and talent of the speed skater and skiers, I just love the ice skating.  

I love the American ladies, of course, but I was rooting for the Italian, Carolina Kostner.  She was so lovely in the short program, and her outfit was swooshy and elegant.  I know they don't score costumes, but that's a factor in my mind.  I'm a romantic when it comes athletes swirling across the ice - the women should be sparkly and flowy and dewy. 


Carolina Kostner (http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=carolina+kostner.com)

Anyhoo... Kostner took the bronze, which is great.  ANY medal in the Olympics should be celebrated.  The athletes probably don't share that exact sentiment, but I'm proud of bronze, silver, and gold winners alike.  To even GET to the Olympics - that feat is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  Gracie Gold, our best American hopeful, came in fourth.  I'm proud of her too.  They're all wonderful athletes.  It takes everything out of me just to get to the gym three times a week. 

I did catch the last ten minutes of the women's hockey final - U.S. vs. Canada.  The game went into overtime, and the Canadians won.  I don't begrudge them the gold, they played hard, but the faces of the U.S. players were heart-breaking.  The medal ceremony was long - they read the names of every player from all three medaling teams - and the cameras stayed with the U.S. team for much of the time.

These girls were crestfallen.  Their eyes were so sad, some were teary, although no one sobbed openly.  Every one of them was grieving.  I have never seen such bereft faces outside a funeral.  Once commenter remarked that hockey is the only winter event in which you have to lose to get the silver. 

Members of the US team after their loss
http://sports.yahoo.com/photos/tragic-faces-of-silver-women-s-u-s-hockey-1392931581

The Olympic games really do highlight the ups and downs of chasing a dream.  Gold medal winners are ecstatic; non-golders are crushed, at least temporarily. 

It's kind of like writing.  I've felt ecstatic and crushed more than once - often about the same piece of work.  I give my everything, sometimes for years, to something, and then...nobody wants it.  Back to the drawing board.  Or the computer.  Or the ice rink.  I think winning and losing must feel the same to every heart.

I felt a bit like a winner this week when Choose to Write was released and available for purchase.  When my copy arrived, and I saw my name in print, the very first story in the book...I was very humbled and grateful.  It so warms the heart to be recognized.  Thank you, MMW gals for giving me that opportunity.

I'm back to work this week on my book and my book proposal.  I hope there's another win around the corner, but I know I still have a lot of work to do.  It might be another four years before I see success (not unlike some of the 2014 Olympians.) 

The Olympic games are truly an inspiration for anyone who's working hard to fulfill a dream.  Be it on the world stage, or here in my little central Florida loft.  For every athlete who made it to Sochi, thank you.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Indecision

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay*

Recently I was listing out all the writing tasks I needed to be working on right then. There were nine.

Nine tasks. Some were difficult and long, some were urgent and small, and some I just didn’t want to do at all. Now, you are probably fantastic at juggling your many tasks and deciding which to do first, which to put off, how much time to spend, etc. But not me. I sat and stared at the list and fluttered my hands and started freaking out. Egad! I was never going to get any of them done.

But after about ten minutes of freaking out, I finally chose one and started working on it. In the most inefficient manner possible. This was a task that should have taken three minutes to plan and fifteen minutes to complete. Twenty minutes later, I was still “planning.” Fortunately, my hubby got home just then. Saved! He would rescue me and help me focus. He’s very good at that. I organize the paperwork in our marriage, and he organizes the mental energies.

“Help me!” I pleaded. “I’m being a total spaz.” I explained my problem and told him my list of tasks. Three minutes later I had a prioritized list of what to do and where to start. Oh, also, something he said made me think of the perfect plan for the task I’d been “working” on. Magic. He’s like my muse.

Sadly, I don’t always have him around—since, you know, I like having a roof over my head and money to buy food. So I’ve grown to realize that I really need to get a grip on how I deal with tasks when I have too many of them (or tasks that I’m avoiding because they’re hard).

How do you do it? I asked him. Apparently he has two guiding principles:

1. Do the most important things first.

2. Start now.

And you really only have about three minutes to decide which are the “most important things.” Because after that, step 2 starts to apply. Even if you prioritized wrong, it’s better to do that and then start on things rather than spend all your time prioritizing.

I like the simplicity of this approach. It appeals to the logical, ordered part of me (I really do have one). I think I would add a step 3 too, though: Stop when it’s good enough, then move on. Because I sometimes spend waaaay too long trying to figure out “perfect” when “good enough” is actually a better choice at the time. Sure, a manuscript you’re sending off should be the very best it can be, but maybe the email you’re sending to your child’s teacher doesn’t need that fourth draft. Just a thought.

So those are the steps my husband and I suggest for overcoming hand-flapping, hyperventilating, and overall crazy-making indecision. What works for you?

* Today’s post is brought to you by last week’s snow day. Win!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's time for organizing!

image from shutter stock.com

By: Kristi Hartman

After moving out of state recently, organizing my life has been on my mind a lot lately.  Moving seems to give me a sense of trying to frantically organize and streamline everything, and I often just want to keep purging and purging, trying to make things feel tidy.  I love the feeling of opening a drawer, or cupboard, and seeing everything inside nicely arranged and usable. I also love the feeling of donating or selling things that we don't use anymore, and seeing the space and lightness it gives our house.  I feel like I can breathe!  

Even though I have been trying to slowly tackle our home over the last couple of months, one area that hasn't been looking so great is my writing organization.  I have so many different places to write, I feel a little like I have writing ADD. I had written some of my book on a desktop computer, then when my husband generously bought me a laptop to help with my writing dreams, I started writing there.  I also have a notebook to jot down ideas for when I don't want to get the computers out, because sometimes a good old pen and paper is nice too. THEN, I also have ideas and notes typed onto my 'notes' app on my iPhone.  And as if that weren't enough, I have a mini diary I keep in my diaper bag, for yet another place to jot down ideas and inspiration quickly.   Although, I probably bought that more because I love little tiny notebooks and journals.  They are so cute and full of so many possibilities!  If I could I would have a whole organized drawer full of journals and mini-journals stashed away in my home somewhere.

All these methods are effective and have helped on some occasions, but now, I feel a little scattered.  

I love having the option of writing down thoughts for when an idea strikes, because often we think we will remember an amazing idea, to only be mad at ourselves later when our Mommy brains won't function as well as we thought they would.
I am a big believer in using our creativity and putting down thoughts, because you never know what is going to work.  We don't want to stifle our creative sides by only letting ourselves record ideas that we think are 'worthy.'

My question is, how do you organize your writing life?  What works for you?  How do you keep your book ideas/ideas in general organized?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Olympic Inspiration

by Kasey Tross

The past few weeks I have had a great time watching the world's best athletes compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. As I've watched, many of the competitors have impressed me and inspired me, and I wanted to spotlight four of my favorites and share what I've learned from them.



1. Jeremy Abbott, American Figure Skater- If any of you watched the Men's Short Program last week, you'll know it was basically a hot cold mess. It seemed that everyone was falling*, and as Jeremy Abbott's turn approached, I got a little bit anxious. I had seen him skate before and I knew that nerves were a big issue with him, and I imagined that the pressure inside that rink was at a boiling point.

Well, he skated, and he crashed. And not a little fall- it was a full-blown sliding collision with the wall. He was down for the count, and he was clearly in some pain. But then, something strange happened. The crowd started cheering- well, roaring really- and Jeremy's head came up. Then, he tried to stand. He did, and, with the crowd roaring ever louder, he began to skate. Well, 'skate', is putting it mildly. He attacked the rest of his program with such vengeance that it was hard to believe that this skater had been down on the ice just moments before. He finished off the program and the crowd was on their feet.

Did he get a medal? No, he finished twelfth- but he taught us all that sometimes what you do after you fall matters a lot more than the fall, and you never know what you might accomplish when you pick yourself up and just keep on going.

*I was convinced the ring was tilted. That's my excuse in bowling whenever I get gutter balls. "The lane is TILTED!"


2. Nick Goepper, American Slopestyle Skier- What impressed me the most about this young man is that he had to work his butt off to get to the Olympics. When he was a kid, he mowed lawns, stained decks, babysat and pretty much did any odd job he could find to earn money so that he could afford to train and pursue his dream of becoming an Olympian. He said sometimes people would just give him twenty bucks just to get him off their porch. :-)

Goepper grew up in Indiana and skied at a resort he called a "glorified bunny hill." During the summers he built a training setup in his backyard, using lumber, PVC pipe, and astroturf. His parents joke that the real grass still hasn't grown back. He even learned to use video editing software so that he could make his own videos of himself skiing and send them to ski companies to try to get sponsorship.

Goepper was part of the American clean sweep of the Slope Style competition, earning a bronze medal.  It can be easy sometimes to make excuses- I don't have the resources, I don't have the help, I don't have the money, but Goepper showed that if you want it, you can do it- you just have to work hard.



3. Noelle Pikus-Pace, American Skeleton- If you're a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) and you watched Pikus-Pace in the Skeleton competition, you probably know that she is also LDS. She lost out on a medal at the Vancouver Olympics and so she retired to focus on her family. She already had one child and had her second after Vancouver. Then she suffered a miscarriage, and said she needed to focus on something to pull her through, so she went back to training and competing- but this time she took her family with her on the road.

During her time in the spotlight this year, it was rare to see her on the screen without a huge grin on her face. She kept talking about how grateful she was that her family was there, and how much fun she was having. There was a big show over this "rivalry" she had with Lizzy Yarnold from Great Britain, but when Pikus-Pace took the silver medal behind Yarnold, she had nothing but joy, and said that it was clear that the other competitor deserved the gold medal, calling her own silver "good as gold."

During the course of the Olympics I have seen several competitors who were less than enthused when they took second place, and I was so happy to see Pikus-Pace set such a glowing example of sportsmanship and demonstrate what being an Olympian is all about. She reminded us that personal goals are more important than the goals the world sets for us, and that putting your family first and achieving your personal best is more important than being the best.



4. Jason Brown, American Figure Skater- This guy was one of my favorites to watch. Like Pikus-Pace, he also had a huge grin on his face every time the camera was on him, and he just exuded joy at being there at the Olympics. He is only 19 years old, and this is his first Olympic games. He skated clean, but his tricks weren't as big as the other guys', so he didn't medal. But that didn't stop his grin. He said he was just glad he was able to come and happy he could help his team, and that he couldn't wait to come back again in four years.

Jason just reminded me that it's okay to acknowledge you still have more to learn and to just enjoy the journey and appreciate every contribution you are able to make, no matter how small.

These were just a few of my favorites that I managed to catch when I've watched. How did the Olympics inspire you this year? I would love to read about your favorites!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Inspiration from my Ancestors



Last weekend I went to the Roots Tech conference at the Salt Palace. I have never been before, and I am still new at genealogy. It was so great. I learned things that can even help with my writing. One of the biggest things themes was that “everyone has a story”. I loved it, because that is how I feel. I don’t do genealogy to get a name on a page, I want to find the person behind the name. They may not be John Smith or Abraham Lincoln, but everyone lived a life and had experiences that they went through.

Everyone has their genre that they like to write in. I seem to be drawn to Historical Fiction. I am writing my grandparents story. They have an amazing love that needs to be shared. My second story that I am working on is my 9th Great Grandmother Penelope Stout. She was a survivor and hero. I have found several ancestors who need their story told. I am so excited to be able to combine my love for genealogy and writing.

Another thing we heard a lot was keeping record of our own family’s history. Blogging, journals, Facebook and Instagram are all ways to keep record of your family. Do you do genealogy? What genre to write in? What inspires you to write?

I am thankful to live in a time when I can attend conferences, and use technology to help me in the things that I love to do. I am grateful that there are so many ways to keep a record of my family history.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Heeerrreee!!!

https://www.createspace.com/4176058

That's right! MMW is proud to announce the birth of our second book baby! Choose to Write: A Collection of Short Stories, Essays, and Poetry is now available to purchase in paperback!! You can buy it a this link. You can also find it on Amazon!!

Choose to Write is a collection of stories, essays, and poems that are all about being a Mormon, or a mommy, or a writer. These common threads cross the lines of diversity and link each piece together into a patchwork of unity. This unique collection shows how Mormon Mommy Writers, like many other blogging communities, can use our individuality to stitch together a book that evokes suspense, humor, spirituality, and above all else, love.

Inside this wonderful book, you will find the winning stories, essays, and poems from the last MMW writing contest, an editor's choice, and some pieces written by some of our very own MMW bloggers. Be sure to get your copy today and read stirring essays about motherhood, and the priesthood, read poetry that have you smiling and leave you inspired, and enjoy stories about many things including an author who's dead characters come back to haunt him!! It is truly a book we are proud to present to this community and can't wait for you all to read it!!

The ebook is coming soon!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Defining Success as a Writer

by Katy White

My husband and I have recently put in our papers to adopt a second child.  I'm thrilled at the prospect of another child entering our hearts and home, and I pray for our birth parents every day, that they'll have the support they need to make the decision that the Lord knows is best for their child--our child.  As a part of the process with the agency we use, we get to write a letter to prospective birth parents and answer a lot of getting to know you questions (in addition to an unbelievable amount of other questions about our parents, siblings, experiences with parenting, thoughts about the moon landing, etc.  It gets pretty crazy.).



As I've completed all of this over the last couple of months, I've been particularly grateful that I'm a writer. I find myself thanking Heavenly Father for this gift almost daily.  Because the truth is, just filling out this much paperwork is hard and emotional and time-consuming, and if I didn't love to write, I can see myself being so daunted that I'd procrastinate this to a ridiculous, unacceptable degree (I tend to that when I'm overwhelmed, even when I want something desperately).  

As it is, though, I've...enjoyed the process.  Mostly.  My favorite parts are where I get to explain how quirky and awesome our little family is.  It's fun thinking about how to sum our personalities up by our favorite movies (I'm a mix of Pitch Perfect, Moonrise Kingdom, and Sharknado) or sharing why Cormac McCarthy's novel, The Road, rocked my husband's world.  It's neat to pull away all the noise from our lives and personalities and distill who we are down to our beautiful, kooky core.  

I am blunt and unapologetic about who we are: foodies, pop culture junkies, bibliophiles, BYU fanatics, world travelers, a nerdist (me), and a (thankfully very smart) jock (my husband).  We don't hike or waterski or snowboard.  We know nothing about horses.  We hate University of Utah (though not the people, of course).  I love threading our identities through each answer, because I love the idea of our birth mom finding us because she is also obsessed with Chinese-Mexican-Jamaican fusion.  I love the idea of her clicking with us because she knows us.  

As writers, it's easy for us to measure our success by whether or not we publish a book.  After all, that's all anyone asks us about, isn't it?

Well, that's rubbish.  

If the only writing "success" I ever achieve is that our birth families find us through what I've written, I'll consider myself the most successful writer of all time. 

How about you?  What is your greatest writing success to date?  Why is it important to you?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Do You Still Find Time to Write?

by Anna Jones Buttimore


Last Saturday evening I went to a Seminary training meeting. As these things invariably are, it was helpful and encouraging and the biscuits were excellent. Afterwards, just in passing, the Seminary director asked, "Do you still find time to write?"

It was nice of him to ask, especially since I didn't know that he knew I was an author. Seminary is a pretty time-hungry calling, so it was a valid question. I have three children, a job, a home to care for, and I spend at least two hours a day on my seminary calling and an hour a day at the gym.

But the answer was "Yes", I do still find time to write. In fact, over the last month I've written an average of a thousand words a day.

My secret is my little notebook computer, which fits in my handbag. On Tuesday evenings I drive my children to the chapel for their mutual activity, and since it's not worth driving all the way home again just to come back half-an-hour later, I hang out in an empty classroom and write. On Thursday evenings I take my middle daughter to ballet, and while I wait outside the studio, out comes the computer again. Around once a month I travel to London on business. The train journey only takes 45 minutes each way, but you'll be surprised how much you can get done in that time.

At every opportunity, no matter how brief, I seize the chance to add a few more words to my work-in-progress. It's only by doing this that I can still find time to write despite the constant rush of everyday life.

You're busy too. How do you carve out time to write?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Your Job as a Good CP

You know you need a CP. Or, a critique partner, if you're not into initialisms.

BTW - Sorry, if you're not into initialisms, but this is the internet. So.

You know how to find a good CP. You visited CPSeek.com and you trolled on twitter and you found eleven people to read your MS and six of them actually read it and two of them gave you feedback that was useful and now

YAY YOU HAVE A CP!!!

But wait.

Now YOU have to be the CP.

And that comes with some responsibilities. This isn't a one-sided relationship; you can't just send work out into the void, demanding that others help you improve your craft while offering nothing in return.

You want to be a good CP, you want to give helpful feedback, and you want to build a good relationship with these people.

Here's how you do that. In eight simple steps.

1. Pay attention to what kind of feedback they are looking for. Depending on where they are in the process, some people are looking for big-picture feedback (pacing, character development, story plausibility, etc) or they are looking at the minutiae (grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, etc).

If your CP wants big-picture feedback because this is only the second draft, and you spend all your energy nitpicking on the little stuff, you're doing it wrong.

If your CP wants a proofread and you tell her to delete a character, you're doing it wrong.

2. Provide "unwanted" feedback only if it is REALLY important. If you're going to step outside the bounds of what your CP asked for, you better have a reaaaaalllllly good reason for it. Like, they better have a plot hole a train could drive through for you to make that suggestion.

3. Be honest. Feedback is useless if it doesn't address the real issues at hand. Yes. It might hurt their feelings. Yes. It might be brutal. But you absolutely need to tell them. If this "unique fantasy setting" is full of tall graceful elves and surly dwarves and warmongering orcs... you need to help your CP out.

The purpose of critique is to get better. Not to wallow in a cloud of self-congratulatory stink.

4. Be kind. Just because you're being honest doesn't mean you need to be cruel. Point out all the things that need fixing, yes, absolutely. But then point out all the things that are working, too. Even if it's something small, point it out. Those little things might make all the difference to a writer's fragile ego.

Also, saying things in a nice way helps a lot. Compare:

"This is stupid."

versus

"This doesn't feel believable to me."

Both phrases point out a logical fallacy in the story, but the second one is specific and not accusatory towards the writer's intelligence. We all make mistakes. No need to be mean about it.

5. Be as specific as possible. Sending back a MS with whole lot of "this is good" and "this is bad" doesn't help anything. But commenting on WHY something is good or bad or funny or confusing is incredibly helpful.

Use Track Changes, Comments, and even highlighting to address specific issues and really talk about why something does or does not work for you. Compare:

"Your voice is weak."

versus

"In these 136 instances, you used passive voice or -ing verbs that weakened your action and emotions."

Which one is more helpful? Which one would YOU be able to implement more easily if you were the writer?

6. Be willing to brainstorm.  Offer ideas on how to tackle a specific problem, but treat it like you're throwing spaghetti at the wall, just watching to see what will stick. Offer up several, if not dozens, of ideas on how to address an issue. Offer up serious suggestions and absurd suggestions and boring suggestions and cliched suggestions - your job here is to just get the wheels turning.


7. Let it go. It's not your work. After you've made suggestions and after you've helped to brainstorm, it is not your job to convince the writer to use your ideas.

Let me repeat that:

It. Is. Not. Your. Job. to convince the writer to use your ideas.

Yes. They might make the wrong decisions. It doesn't matter. It's not your work, it's not your name on the cover, and it's not up to you. Let it go.

8. Provide emotional support. Writing is hard. Writing is also full of rejection and rejection is hard. We can't realistically whine about it all over the internet, and we all need someone we can lean on emotionally. Someone who gets it. When your CP gets a rejection, it's your job to bolster her up. Provide encouragement, remind them of what they do well, and point them in the direction of their next effort. ("That sucks that this agent rejected you. But your novel is so cute and romantic, people will love it. Query that other agent instead.")

What else do you think is your job as a critique partner?

Monday, February 10, 2014

I have a GREAT idea!

    As a writer, where do you get your ideas?  This is a question a lot of writers get tired of answering, but I always find the answers so interesting.  Do you get them when you are overloaded with work, so your brain wants to wander and think of everything else BUT what you are working on?  (This is a daily reality for me.)  Do you get your ideas on the porcelain throne or in the shower?  I heard this one when I was serving my mission.  :)  Or are you one of the few that can just sit down, and come up with ideas on the spot?  I have a few sources that I like to go to on a regular basis.  I’m not sure how common they are, but I’ll list a few of mine for you. 

    One of the funnest places I get my ideas from is from my dreams.  I’m one of the lucky few who remember their dreams 90% of the time.  I also have very vivid dreams.  It’s amazing what your mind can come up with when there is no filter.  This can be good or bad, but it’s better to have a lot of material to sort through and choose from than having only a little.  I have often had dreams where it had a beginning, plot and ending and all the little details in between.  I woke up feeling like I had just watched a movie!  I love those nights.  I still remember one particular dream I had years ago that was so awesome that I not only remember it, but I have a goal to turn it into a story. 

    Similarly, daydreaming is a great place to pull ideas from.  As one writer, Neil Gaiman said, “When I was your age, people told me not to make things up,' I told them. 'These days, they give me money for it.”  You almost have to retrain your brain not to push thoughts out of your head. (except for negative ones of course)  Have you ever sat down, with the intention of just letting your mind wander?  Would you be able to do it, or would you be like me and struggle not to think of all the things that need to get done?  Have you ever talked to someone with A.D.D.?  It’s kind of like that in a way.  You don’t have to follow any kind of thought path, and it doesn’t have to make sense.  By practicing this exercise you can train your brain to let more ideas in.

    I also get my ideas from my experiences and the experiences of the people that surround me.  This is common, because we pull our thoughts from the things we know.  I like to pull my ideas from my kids.  It seems like a concentrated area, but if you don’t translate what they say and do literally, you can really pull some fun ideas.  And they can help us remember what it’s like to let your imagination go!  It can also give a new perspective on common subjects.

    One of my favorite sources is spiritual inspiration.  I find that when I am looking for an idea or trying to find a way to express one, by getting down on my knees the ideas just seem to come to me.  The Lord has quite often opened my mind.  There has been many times where I almost felt that I couldn’t take credit for the ideas because of it! 

    The last one that I wanted to mention is personality.  I know this seems like a strange place, but I have met some people that are so fully of personality, that they just make your head spin!  Just like Holly from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, they ‘always have something smart to say on every subject’.  They are ‘better than a radio’.  I love to listen to people like that, as long as it’s smart.

    There are so many places/people that you can pull ideas and inspiration from.  Are there any that I haven’t mentioned that you have?  Please share them!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Makeover Story

Once upon a time there was a mom.  She was just an ordinary, every day sort of mom.  She lived a pretty ordinary life.  Then one day a very skilled up-and-coming stylist asked if she could do the mom’s makeup and hair.  This wasn’t the first time the young beautician had asked.  The mom thought for a moment and decided that perhaps it was time for a makeover, and agreed to the stylist’s request.



At first the mom had some serious doubts and thought that perhaps the whole idea was a big mistake.  However, she decided that life was meant to be lived and realized sometimes you just need to throw caution to the wind. 

After quite a few minutes the stylist handed the mom a mirror.  When the mom looked in the mirror she realized her new makeup would take some time to get used to, but when she saw the look of pure joy and satisfaction on the stylists face she new it was worth it. 



Next it was time for a new hair-do.  The stylist began to sing softly to herself as she pulled and tugged on the mom’s hair, pinning it here, clipping it there, until the stylist chirped out in a cheery voice, “All done!”

Then it was time for a mani-pedi.  The stylist began searching her collection of polish for the perfect combination of colors.  The mom gingerly rolled up her sleeves and pant legs and held her breath as the stylist dipped the tiny brush into the bottles of colorful paint. 



Finally it was time for the final touches of makeup.  The tiny beautician smiled and fluttered about adding bits of color for the perfect finishing touches. 
At last she once again handed the mirror over to the mom.  The mom stared into the mirror and could only smile.  She took her baby girl into her arms and squeezed her tight as she kissed her cheeks.  She thanked her daughter for the wonderful makeover.  The little girl's eyes lit up.  She clapped her hands and asked repeatedly, “Do you like it?”  The ordinary not so ordinary mom responded, “Yes, I love it.  Thank you.” And again she hugged her little girl.  


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Getting Yourself Out There

By Lacey Gunter

Shout out to all the moms with a mountainous pile of laundry. I feel your pain! This past month my writing soul has been wonderfully enriched, but it has not come without a cost. Visitors beware, my house is a disaster zone and I am more than a wee bit sleep deprived. My only hope is that my hubby and kids are feeling an extra dose of Valentines love and will forgive me of my shortcomings.

Amidst all this progressing mess and chaos, I am happy.  I recently signed up for my first writer's conference and I am very excited! It will be in the summer and I welcome all your advice. I have also had the chance to participate in several new writing and critique activities that have buoyed my writing resolve and helped me to meet people who have encouraged me and helped me grow. I feel very blessed.

So here is what I have learned this month. A lot of writing advice talks about getting your work out there, participating in critique groups, doing lots of submissions and getting lots of feedback. This is sound advice, for sure.  But it is also really beneficial to get yourself out there, and I don't mean just digitally.

Getting out and meeting other writers and sharing your experiences with each other helps you to feel
more connected and can give you the strength to weather through the difficult aspects of trying to get published. With all our busy schedules, this takes time, I know.  But if you are really serious about writing, it is worth the time. And you may be surprised at how friendly and kind the people you meet are. I know I have been.

Rejection letters, difficult to swallow critiques and a sea of internet literature emphasizing how unlikely it is you'll get published, can make this industry feel like everyone is against you. But as I have met and talked to people personally, all I can seem to find are down to earth people who are happy to be a friend.

So, get yourself out there. Your laundry and house cleaning may suffer. But all that means is you'll just have to meet up at your second favorite place, the library. =)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Valentine's Day Gift Idea - Sweet!

by Mare Ball at ADVENTURES in the BALLPARK

Valentines Day is around the corner, and I have a cute craft to show you.  You can make it for your hubby, his office, your office, your child's teacher, a doctor's office, anybody to whom you'd like to say "I love you" or "I appreciate you."  I saw one in my dentist's office yesterday.   I finished my own tonight.  It's that easy and quick.


This sweet candy jar is made from a Terracotta flower pot with saucer and a glass bowl I got at the dollar store - for a dollar.  The flower pot was 59 cents, the saucer 77 cents, both at Home Depot.  The top knob was three dollars.  I used paint and ribbons I had on hand, so my total for this was $5.36.

Here's the back side, which exhibits a smaller bow, if that's what you prefer. 


As this is not a craft blog, I demonstrate how to make this candy jar on my blog here: DIY CANDY DISH.  Check it out if you're looking for something fun and easy and sweet for Valentine's Day.   I'm already working on another one.  By changing the ribbon and the type of candy inside, this little gem can be used all year 'round.

I won't be posting until after Valentine's Day, so I'm hoping you are blessed on the 14th.  I hope you get some hugs and some chocolate and maybe some surprises.  There's nothing wrong with a holiday that forces us to be thoughtful and kind for a day.

I thank God that He first loved us.  Without His investment in the human heart, we would never know what love truly is.

 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ponies, Bats, and Naan: the Post So Boring You Might Want to Skip It

Another hat
-a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

It is Tuesday afternoon. I am faced with a small amount of time that I have suddenly decided to be productive within (as opposed to watching something on Netflix, which is what I really want to do and probably exactly what I’m going to do next). It is also two days before my next MMW post.

And I have absolutely nothing to write about.

I suppose I could write about My Little Pony, which is what my children are watching right now. When I first discovered the reboot (since I grew up with it in the ‘80s), I thought, “Oh no. My kids are going to love it and I’m going to suffer through every nauseating moment.” Happily, this was not the case. My kids do love it, but I actually find it reasonably entertaining as well. And even when I don’t love it, I don’t want to rip the tv out of the wall and throw it out the window, like I do when the kids try to watch, say, Phineas and Ferb, Adventure Time, or SpongeBob (which have all been pretty much banned on account of the way they inspire my homicidal rage).

But I have nothing smart to say about My Little Pony, so I’ll move on.*

I could write about naan. I made naan this week, for the very first time. It was yummy and not too hard—though it took a long time, what with rising and all. But my ability with yeast breads is pretty much zilch, so when this one turned out I was thrilled. Granted, it didn’t taste exactly like naan the way I was expecting, but it was still delicious.

That also has nothing to do with writing or anything else.

When I lamented yesterday that I had nothing cool to say this week on MMW, my husband said, “Write about the bat!”

We ended up with a bat in my daughters’ room on Saturday night, and it was quite surprising. We think it flew into the attic through an attic vent, then when my hubby went up into the attic on Saturday afternoon, it flew down and hung out (har har) in the girls’ room until bedtime. They suddenly rushed into my room declaring that there was something “flying around in our room—we saw its shadow and we think it’s a bat.” I, of course, being the very supportive and perfect mother that I am, heaved a huge, put-upon sigh, said, “There is not a bat in your room,” and proceeded to explain how that was impossible. Finally I took them back into their room, where I just about had a heart attack when a bat swooped down from the curtain and flew around the room. (The hubby put on his shining armor and got it outside for us. Whew.)

“What would I say about the bat?” I asked my husband.

“You could talk about how sometimes you have an idea just swooping around and flying through your brain, and you can’t sleep until you get rid of it.”

“Really? That’s what you think I should write about?” I asked, disbelieving.

Okay, I know I like metaphors, but really?

It turns out, however, that I have nothing better to say. So . . . I dunno, go catch some bats or something. And write something, even if it turns out pointless (like this post). And may you have more successful ideas this week (and fewer bats) than I have had.**

*Originally I typed, “I have nothing else smart to say about My Little Pony,” but I realized that would imply that I’d actually said something smart in the first place.
**Today’s completely uninspired MMW post brought to you by Week Something-Teen of Pregnancy. Oh, and also, the stomach flu.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's the little things...


By: Kristi Hartman

I don't know how the weather is where you live, but here in Northern Colorado it feels like it has been snowing for days.  And days.  With temperatures dropping below zero, all I want to do is keep my head down in a freshly opened book and wrap my soft blanket around me. But, life happens and early morning school runs and errands always prevent this. 

*sigh*

A few days ago I was standing in my home, looking out at the snowy day in front of me.  I was struck by the blanket of white that covered the ground, as well as the overcast white sky with white flakes gently floating to the ground.  It was beautiful.  I then saw two jet-black crows swoop into the scene, and fly away as quickly as they came.  I wanted so badly at that moment to capture it, to lock it away forever.  The contrast of the deep black birds against the gentle white snow was breathtaking. It deserved to be memorialized somehow. My hands were aching to break out some brushes and paint the scene before it quickly faded away.  

I realized, however, that even though I didn't have a camera handy or my messy oil paints at my beck and call, I could log it away in my notes or journal, to possibly use in my writing.

Over the last couple of years I have tried to be a little more aware in life.  More aware of the way things look or sound or smell.  How can I help my readers to experience the story through their senses?  Sometimes it's so easy to go through our daily lives, and forget the wonder of the stormy weather, the beauty of the plant next to the kitchen window, the soft clapping of the leaves on the trees, the gentle noise of a door shutting softly, the satisfying clacking sound of a closing plastic case, the achieving sound of fingers on the keyboard, typing away all of our ideas.  

How can we more fully experience the little things?

After I had made it a goal to try to be more aware, I felt like my eyes had been opened to more beauty around me than I ever noticed before.  Just a few days ago I couldn't help but grab the camera to take a picture of the striking pink and purple sunset just outside my bedroom window.  The colors were so beautiful, and I thought how lucky we were to be able to see these things occurring naturally right before our eyes, every day.  

Having little ones in the home definitely helps to see the beauty in the little things.  Kids are notoriously good at appreciating and noticing the small stuff.  
Almost every day last summer we saw wild bunnies hopping around our neighborhood, and every single time my kids would squeal and smile with delight, then watch in awe as they hopped around. It never got old for them.  They enjoyed and appreciated it every time. 
But seriously, is there anything cuter then a little bunny running down a sidewalk??  

Seriously.

Whenever I am reading a story, I love to be able to feel the story.  I want to know the sights, sounds and smells the MC is experiencing.  I want the author to show me what's going on.  By us looking for our own little things to appreciate in life, we can try to log these away for future use in our stories to make them vibrant, rich and oh-so-visual.

What do you do to notice the small things?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why I’m Afraid of my WIP...and why I need your advice...AND some exciting news!

by Kasey Tross

How 'bout that title? Didn't know you'd get so much from ONE little blog post, didja? ;-) Okay, on to my post...

I’ve talked about it before- how our WIPs can turn into monsters under the bed.

It’s happened again.

I stayed away from it for too long, and somehow over time it has mutated in my memory. It is no longer a shining pillar of hard work- it has turned into a fearsome beast, terribly written with a weak plot and shallow characters.

It is ugly.

Of course, I don’t know this for sure- this has all happened in my mind. What I imagine in my head is so terrifying I can’t bring myself to actually open the document and look at it.

And then this happened:


I was going through my e-mail, trying to get rid of unnecessary junk, and I came across a message from an editing firm. I had won a 1,000-word critique from them at the writing conference I attended in the fall and they had just returned my work, an excerpt from my WIP. (I sent it back when it was that shiny pillar thingy.) I decided to go ahead and download the edited document so that I could ditch the e-mail.

Do you see all that blue? Those are the tracked changes. It’s the WHOLE FREAKING MARGIN.

Oh, huh-uh. There’s no WAY I’m going back to my WIP now. Clearly, it’s not all in my imagination.

Does this happen to anyone else or am I the only one? How is it that something I made can morph into something so bloodcurdlingly fearful? How do I get over it?

Okay, scratch that last question. I KNOW how to get over it. I have to face my fears.

But I’m scared.

But I have an idea...it's always easier to face your fears when you aren't alone, right? I was thinking the other day that I really wish there was a writing/critique group I could join, but they're all in the evenings and my husband's work schedule is so crazy that I just can't reliably get to any of them.

So....

What if I made my own writing group during the day? And what if it was for moms, and what if we could just bring our kids with us? 

Would that be completely crazy or completely genius?

So, I need your advice. My plan would be to reserve a room at one of the local libraries- it's free to reserve rooms, and they would be large enough for the moms to have a table to sit around and for the kids to have plenty of room to play. We would meet on a weekday morning and we would all bring some toys to occupy the kids. The moms would sit and discuss writing and the kids could play. There would be distractions, I know, but we're all used to distractions, and most of us are very good at still being able to focus on a conversation while distracted, right? Would this sort of thing be something you'd go to? Should I give it a shot? Do any of you live in or around Richmond/Chesterfield Virginia who might want to join me? ;-)

As awesome as MMW is, I just feel like I need a face-to-face outlet to help motivate me and keep me on track. And, you know, face that monster under the bed. Yikes.

Now for the exciting news: I have finally gone and done something I have been thinking about doing for awhile, but never thought I should because I couldn't do it perfectly. And then I realized that the fact that I couldn't do it perfectly was probably the very reason I should do it.

I made a style blog.

It is called [Wearing My] Art on My Sleeve, and it's a place where I can show what I wear. My tagline is: "a style blog...because crafting is too messy and I have to get dressed anyway." For me, fashion is another creative outlet. And while I enjoy looking at fashion blogs, I struggle with them because the lighting is always perfect, the clothes are always brand-new name brands, and the styles were always a little too trendy. I'm one of those people who will do a trend if I like it, but if I don't then I won't. My clothes come from thrift stores, stuff I find on deep discounted clearance, and whatever I can get with the gift cards my family gives me for my birthday. It's classic, it's a little bit romantic, slightly urban...it's just what it is.

Me in one of my contemplating-the-floor poses for my blog. And Paper Bag. He always photo bombs my posts.

My hope is to connect with others who share my style, to have a sense of humor (kid photo bombs anyone?) and to show that style can be fun, functional, and not always too serious.

So, if you'd like to stop by and say hello, come check it out- [Wearing My] Art on My Sleeve

Many questions for you today:

Are you ever terrified of your WIP?

What do you say about the writing group idea, yea or nay? Would you go to a writing group where you could bring your kids?

Are you into fashion too? 




Sunday, February 2, 2014

Submitting your Story


As I have said before I am almost done with my first story. I made a deal with my friend last year at LDStorymakers that we would both submit our current WIP in the First Chapter Contest. I remember thinking, “No problem, I will have it finished in no time. Of course life can get in the way. For me, I always make family first. Unfortunately I even sometimes make laundry and dishes first as well. (I am working on that). If I am going to succeed and accomplish things I have to make more sacrifices. I just realized how soon my submission has to be in so this week I have been working really hard on that first chapter. I am submitting it on the deadline date, Monday (tomorrow). I am not entering the contest because I think I am going to win. I want advice and feedback by doing the contest. I want to say that I tried. One more stepping stone to that goal of having a published story. Have you entered any contests? Any advice for me?

I thought that I would post a few of my paragraphs from my first chapter and I am open to any advice or tips. This is a historical fiction that is based on my grandparents. I would love it to be Non-Fiction, but I had to fill in the gaps from my grandparents’ memories. Thank you! I appreciate any feedback and experiences you can share. 

The Hope Chest

A WWII Story about Faith, Love and Hope

1

Dreams

Jerry  1945

At the foot of  Mount Surabachi, I was afraid to dream.

            “You have two orders,” My commanding officer told us. “Stay awake, and fire at anything above ground that moves.”

            Unholy sounds of gunfire and mortar echoed overhead. Crammed into a little hole, I realized trying to keep my eyes open was a horrible torture. It had been three days and three nights since I slept. My hole-mate and I wanted it to be over. It was to a point that I had to sleep.  I had nothing more to lose.              

            Nightmares were a constant and torturing reality for many soldiers. We were already living a nightmare, why should we have to suffer in our sleep as well. On the other hand, perhaps, with some luck and a blessing from heaven, I might actually get to dream about Merle. I missed her so much. I gave in. An instant upon closing my eyes, sleep overtook my body.

                                                                        ******

Our Story begins

Jerry  1940

            The summer of 1940 ended; the delicate leaves changed from green to the deep red and gold hues of autumn. Several serene trees enveloped the area at Fairmont Park, but it was the glowing Cottonwood trees that really made the park so glorious. It was our place to go and get away from the world to feel safe. Fairmont was very different from the hustle and bustle of Liberty Park. I don’t know why, but I preferred the tranquil nature of Fairmont best. Although we were surrounded by members of Merle’s church ward, I still felt secluded, like we were the only two people in the world. The soft warm breeze tickled my cheeks, as a gust of air blew by us. My nerves jumped even more, if that was possible.

Thanks so much for the comments... For some reason it is not letting me comment back. I love every piece of advice. :)
 

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