Showing posts from June, 2007

Big Sister Icons

I recently came across a blog that talked about older sisters' influences, and boy did it ever transport me back in time. The author of the post has a sister seven years her senior who molded the younger into a devoted Duran Duran fan.

I know from personal experience just how powerful an influence older sisters can be. In fact, my being a writer is essentially because of her.

Mel is about four years my senior, and while I’ve heard her scoff at the idea that she should be held on a pedestal, for most of my childhood, she not only was on one, but I buffed said pedestal daily.

If asked which flavor of ice cream I wanted, I’d have to think, Hmm. What flavor would Mel want? If she was present, I’d take a peek. Pralines and Caramel? Make that two, please.

She was so grown up, and I wanted to be just like her. She took advantage of this.

Such as when, in third grade, she learned the multiplication table and cursive. Ever the vigilant devotee, groupie, and/or apprentice, I wanted to know what …

Snicket's a Nerd Too!

The latest issue of Writer's Digest (August 2007) has an article about various famous writers' offices, complete with descriptions, photographs, and interviews that describe some of their habits.

I discovered a fun thing reading it regarding Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket. I've read all of The Series of Unfortunate Events to my kids, and I've loved all thirteen books. My kids have mostly enjoyed the wacky stories, but part of my personal enjoyment has come from the humor based on the author's (or the "Snicket" persona's) discussion of words.

I'm a word nerd, pure and simple. One of my favorite writing toys in the world is my Oxford English Dictionary on CD, which I got for my birthday a couple of years ago. The thing rocks. I love browsing through it. My father, a retired linguistics professor, has a condensed version in his office. It's not condensed in the sense of less text; it's condensed in the sense of othe the text bei…

Peanuts Quiz

While strolling through blogospere today, I stumbled upon a fun quiz that was a great waste of time. Through the hugely scientific questionnaire, I discovered that of all the Peanuts characters, here's the one I'm most like:

Which Peanuts Character are You?

You are Schroeder!
Take this quiz!


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If I've ever pictured myself as a Peanuts character, it's been Snoopy, but mostly because whenever I want to celebrate something (like finishing a book or a deadline) I imagine dancing through the tulips like he does. Maybe it's also because I had a Snoopy stuffed animal as a kid.

Regardless, I suppose Schroeder's an apt character to describe me. He's quiet, shy, and creative. (Check, check, and check.)

From the description, I'm also apparently neurotic. Um, well . . .

He's a musical genius (playing Beethoven on that teeny tiny piano), so if I get to compare myself with that, I'll take it. :)

Grimley Fun

In high school I had a bit of a weird infatuation with the animated television show Ed Grimley.

For those not of the slightly distorted humor persuasion, Ed Grimley began as as character created and acted by Martin Short on Saturday Night Live. I didn't know this when I first discovered the cartoon show.

All I knew was that the Saturday morning show was hystercially funny. Everything from Ed's pet rat Sheldon to his neighbor Miss Malone to the Gastoff brothers (the scientists who interrupt when Ed's about to be smooshed by a piano or tossed out of a wrestling ring and then explain scientifically what is happening to Ed through the force of gravity, etc.), or Ed's favorite television show, which he always finds time to watch, whether he's in prison or in Europe: Count Floyd's Scary Stories, the one live-action portion of the show.

The whole thing is ludicrious and silly and, well, Martin Shortish.

I used to watch it religiously in high school, especially with one fr…

How Do You DO It All?

This is one of the most common questions I get from readers and writers alike.

What made me decide to actually answer the question here was when a friend (we'll call her Blondie) happened to let drop the fact that neighbors were asking her how I did it all, trying to get the scoop on me.

See, Blondie has known me most of my life. As in, I attended her fifth birthday party, we went to Girls Camp together, and we have pictures of one another and stories that we could use to black mail the other from high school and college. (Scary, huh? Good thing we really like each other.)

It so happened that about two years ago she moved into a house right around the corner from me, and ever since, her daughter and my youngest daughter are now best buds. So the ladies in our neighborhood went to Blondie asking her to unravel the mystery that is supposedly me. "How does she do it all?"

I laughed and laughed and laughed.

If I were being completely ridiculous, I would smile and make up somethin…

The Whitney Awards

Writing is such a solitary endeavor. You sit at your computer in a little bubble and peck away at your keyboard. Every so often you look up and realize that, oh yeah, there's an entire world out there aside from the one in your head.

And sometimes your family doesn't quite "get" you. They try. They really, really do. But sometimes only another writer can understand. That's where the LDStorymakers came in for me. They began as a small e-mail support group which, at the time, consisted of maybe 20 LDS writers that shared their writing celebrations and angst with one another.

Fast forward several years, and we number nearly sixty. We're no longer just a support group; we're a force to be reckoned with. We sponsor a number of events, including an annual conference, of which I'm the co-chair next year. We're practically a writers' guild.

Our latest innovation is actually the brainchild of novelist Robison Wells, who, at last spring’s writing conferenc…

Tag! I'm It

My virtual blogger buddy Luisa tagged me for a new, sort of a chain-letter, getting-to-know you Meme. I'm playing along.

I'll be blogging about a very exciting development in the LDS fiction arena soon. Keep your eyes peeled for that!

In the meantime, here we go:

Remove the blog from the top, move all the blogs up one, and add yourself to the bottom.

Twas Brillig
Ennui in the Grocery
The Lyon's Tale

What were you doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago was 1997, which means that S. was just a few weeks old. She didn't have much hair, but what little she did have was bright red, and I always made a little curl out of it and KY-ed a little bow on the side. D. was almost two. We were living in Spanish Fork in our cute little split-level starter house, and I was in the YW presidency. This is about the time that my article stint began.

What were you doing one year ago?
Like Luisa, I figure out time by calculating my kids' ages. A year ago D. was closing in on his 11th b-d…

A Friend's Success So Sweet

There's almost nothing as exciting as holding your first book in your hands for the first time.

So it was a little weird to be feeling as giddy and excited as I was last Saturday when I held Counting Stars by Michele Paige Holmes in my hands. I mean, it wasn't my book.
And yet, in some ways, I felt a tiny bit of ownership in it, sort of like a midwife might feel. No, that's not right, either. That implies that I had more to do with the book than I did. Cheerleader, maybe? That's not enough. I watched this baby grow, develop, take its first steps. I feel like its mother, but I'm not. Great aunt, maybe? I tend to wax long when I back-up too far in my stories, but this one goes back a long ways. Bear with me. :)
I met Shauna Andreason (hi, lady!) in a social dance class at BYU back in, well, the Jurassic Era, maybe. I had no idea at the time that our husbands had served their missions together. I also didn't know that we'd end up living next door to each other as …

LMM 2nd Generation

It happened! I did it!

Or something.

At our first summer vacation trip to the library, Sammy, my oldest daughter, informed me that one of her friends at school was reading the simplified version of Anne of Green Gables, and she wanted to try it out.

My first reaction was mixed. Simplified? Ick. That's like saying you wanted to eat some dark chocolate, but on second thought, make it white.

On the other hand, Sammy knows I have always loved Anne and her creator. To have her mention the idea of checking out such a book was likely an attempt to win favor with Mom (yeah, it worked). I couldn't deny that it was tantalizing to think that my almost fifth grader (FREAK! My SECOND child is really that old?) might actually find a love of Anne and L. M. Montgomery.

We searched the library shelves and did indeed find a simplified version of Anne and checked it out. Sammy spent the next couple of days glued to it. She'd come in and show off how far she was into it. Then I'd gush to her a…

Month of Beauty

I've spent the last little while hopping over to one of my dear friend's blogs almost every day. She's spending four weeks focusing on the beauty in her life and letting those of us in cyberspace share it with her.

It's been a wonderful reminder to look at the beauty around me too. It's all too easy to forget to notice the small wonders in your life when you end up pulling an all-nighter like you did in college to meet yet another editorial deadline--but you no longer have that college brain or that college body that lets you pull out of such a marathon.

So I thought I'd point any blog readers I have toward my friend Emmelyn's blog so they can take a mini vacation during the day with her month of beauty right along with me.

It's been a good reminder to relish the hugs and kisses from my children, to notice the sweet things my husband does for me each day that could otherwise go unnoticed, and even to simply take a minute and look around and think, "Yo…

Article Writer's Hat

In spite of the fact that my first foray into writing was a never-completed novel called Mean Marvin the Mouse, inspired by another fictional mouse while I was in second grade, my first completed work was a screenplay I co-wrote with a close friend (Hey, Sam!) based on one of my favorite books of all time.

And in spite of the fact that fiction is my first love, the first several items I ever published were articles. As I wrote novels, submitted them, and had them summarily rejected, I also tinkered with articles on the side. This is thanks to the fact that I attended writing conferences and subscribed to Writers Digestand read the magazine cover to cover. I soaked up every word and wanted to know everything there was to know about writing. Not just fiction, not just novels. But WRITING.

I bought writing books and read them. Yes, they included plotting, characterization, and structure, but they also included research, hooks, pitching articles, queries, and freelancing. Every so often, I&…

I Hate Faulkner

So that's a slight overstatement. I don't completely hate Faulkner. He has some works I like, and I do appreciate his skill and, yes, even his brilliance (hard not to as an English major, when you've read so much of his work). My personal favorite is "A Rose for Emily," one of the best short stories in existence.

But there are moments when I've had to wonder what the heck he was thinking and wish I could slap him upside the head.

Such is the case with The Sound and the Fury. With apologies to Oprah and everyone else who puts that book on one of their top five, such as a good chunk of literary scholars and university people (including English majors—so I hope my own don't disown me), the book sucks.

Here is my never-quiet opinion as to why.

I know some people think Faulkner was downright brilliant with it, as if he was seeing how far out on a limb a writer could go before the branch itself broke off.

But explain to me how it is brilliance to write a book where …