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Showing posts from June, 2009

Your Perfect Summer Read

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Almost exactly ten years ago, a woman I had met but barely knew, Lu Ann Staheli, called me. I remember where I was during that call: sitting on the lid of the toilet as my two children took their baths. Lu Ann had found my name in the League of Utah Writers directory as living near her and wondered if I'd like to be part of a new critique group.
Heck, yes! But see, I was also 8 1/2 months pregnant and serving in the Young Women presidency. I couldn't, not right then. The presidency had been in almost 3 years, so I was pretty sure we'd be released soon, and I thought that when baby was a few months old, maybe I could swing it, so I asked if they'd hold me a spot. They did.
I joined up in January of 2000. It was terrifying, to say the least, but the group wasn't quite full. A dear friend mentioned an aspiring writer she knew, and we met at a League chapter meeting. She became the next member of our group.
To this day, Michele Paige Holmes seems surprised that I was so …

Writing Journey: Part XIX

I had gotten into a rhythm of turning in manuscripts mid-December and having the book released the next September. I turned in Tower with the same time frame: I submitted it December 2007 and assumed, should it be accepted (with it being the fourth in the series, I had faith it would be), that I'd see it on shelves fall 2008.
A good friend and I shared the same publishing time frame for several years; we often swapped manuscripts each fall to edit one another's work before we both turned in our stuff. Then each fall, we both had our new releases at the same time.
She got her September 2008 release. I didn't. Mine was pushed back to the next "spring," whatever that meant (a window of about three or four months: February through May).
It also meant I wouldn't have a book out in 2008.
For most of my career, I'd worked hard to get that book out every year, and except for the gap between books 1 and 2 (which, if you've read this entire series, you know wasn&…

WNW: Subjunctive Mood

FIRST, AN ANNOUNCEMENT:
Tonight (Wednesday, June 24) I'm speaking at the Provo Library, 7:00 pm. It's for the Utah Valley Chapter of the League of Utah Writers. Copies of my grammar book will be available at a discount.
I'll be talking about using archetypal characters and plot concepts to create fresh stories using what's called "The Hero's Journey." Whether you're a League member of not, please come! Everyone is welcome.

Now, back to business:
I'm sort of cheating on my Word Nerd Wednesday post today, but for good reason: I've been buried under crazy busy stuff. (Summer slow-down? Ha!)
As a result, we've got a double-dipper post.
You know how sometimes you wonder whether to use was or were in a sentence?
Like:
If she was/were home, she could tell her mom about it.
He wondered if his date was/were cold.
One of those sentences needs was and the other needs were.
Do you know which is which? AND why?
If not, take a gander at my Writing on the Wall po…

Would You Take the Pretty Pill?

Pretty matters. It's a reality that's unfair, but it's real.
The first encounter with it that I recall was around eight years old while taking dance classes. One girl, Erin, I think her name was, was the teacher's pet. He treated her better than anyone else, always putting her on the front row and fawning over her, giving her far more compliments and attention than anyone else.
She was a good dancer, sure, but there were plenty of other great dancers in the class. I remember thinking how unfair it was that we didn't get anywhere near the same adulation, nowhere near the same encouragement or commentary. And even with the hindsight of almost thirty years, I can honestly say I was as good as she was. It made no sense.
I complained to my mother. I described Erin. Mom raised an eyebrow, having a clue as to what what going on.
See, Erin always arrived at class with really cute dance clothes, hair in curls and ribbons. I think she had earrings, and quite possibly a thin laye…

WNW: The Ellis Island Myth

One of my favorite Word Nerd books I borrowed from my good friend Lu Ann Staheli, who knows just what a freak I am about these things. She knew I'd love it, and I did. I still haven't bought my own copy, but I really, really need to, because the book is so dang cool.
It's called Word Myths, by David Wilton.
The author did a ton of research to track down the sources of many things we think we know about English and English phrases, but many of which are downright wrong. Some of these are often seen in e-mail forwards and some of which even get passed down in university English classes as truth.
He digs around and then find the truth, where possible. In many cases, he debunks the myth. Then he tells us where a phrase really came from.
In some cases, he debunks the myth and then has to admit that we really don't know where a phrase originated. Such is the case with phrase, "the whole nine yards." There are a good dozen possible explanations, and he debunked every…

The Clueless, Smart Girl

To this day, I'm somewhat surprised I got married, let alone at the age of 20.
Back in eighth grade I was convinced I'd never marry because I was painfully shy, and see, marrying a guy would entail speaking to one first, and like that was ever going to happen.
Fortunately, I broke out of my shell a bit in high school and ended up with lots of guy friends. So that issue resolved itself.
But I never, ever learned to flirt.
It's this void in my female psyche. A gene I lack. Or something. I seriously don't get it and never have.
I had a friend back from our high school years (rival high school, but I loved her anyway . . . bulldogs, schmulldogs . . .) who was so brilliant at flirting to the point that she often didn't realize she was doing it.
We were both in Into the Woods together. She had a boyfriend. Yet she constantly flirted with the guy who played Jack. Jack, poor kid, had no prayer of ever winning her heart, but she flirted with him so much that he hung on for the…

Writing Journey: Part XVIII

Catch up on the rest of this series HERE.

After publishing that military wives article, the topic wouldn't go away. I had pages and pages of thoughts and feelings and events these five women had poured their souls into. I felt as if they'd let me into a corner of their hearts and lives. It was an honor that a mere 1200 words didn't do justice to.
It just wasn't enough. I had to do more with it. I was driven to do more. Other people needed to understand what deployment was like for those at home. I hadn't had a clue until I interviewed these remarkable women.
Maybe I could write a longer version of the article and sell it to a bigger magazine, I thought. But even that didn't quite sit right. I wasn't sure what I should do, but I had to do something.
About that time, I had difficult moment during a Christmas Enrichment night. I ended up in the lobby feeling a bit sorry for myself, and what happened over the next few minutes turned on my writer brain.
I suddenly …

Kicked out of the Young Club

I'm not sure how it happened. One minute I was a mommy with a bunch of little tykes. I regularly read parenting magazines and books and could tell you exactly at what age each of my kids got every tooth, when they sat, scooted, crawled, and had their first tastes of different foods. I lived and breathed the baby years.
Those years are gone, yes, but I'm still a mommy, right?
Okay, fine. I do throw my head back and cackle with glee when I push my grocery cart past the diaper aisle. No more of those. Bwa-hahahaha!
But apparently, I'm not really a mom anymore.
See, I signed up at a site that links to giveaways and deals for moms. (Note that it's not for "mommies." MOMS.) Right up my alley, right? I'm a mom. (I've got the strewn backpacks, mountains of laundry, and stretch marks to prove it.)
But then I started getting their e-mails.
Um, I have no need for a stroller anymore, thanks. Same goes for hair bands (you know, the kind bald baby girls wear)? Last tim…

Writing Journey: Part XVII

Catch up on the rest of this series HERE

I opened up the hard-copy edit, grabbed my trusty red pen and stack of sticky flags, and settled in for what I thought would be several long sessions of going over the revised and now edited manuscript of Tower of Strength. (By this point, it had a title!)
Two and a half hours later, I was done.
What?! I could hardly believe it. I'd never gone through an edit so fast.
For days (weeks?) I ping ponged between two reactions:
1) Crap. Kirk has a light touch as an editor, and he doesn't want to hurt my feelings, so this thing really sucks, and I'll never know it.
2) Wow. This must be the most brilliant thing I've ever written. It hardly needed an edit.
The reality, of course, was neither end of the psychotic-writer emotional spectrum.
The book had been quite thoroughly gone over by members of my critique group. The rewrite process was majorly streamlined with that phone conference, so at this point, there was less to worry about. And Kirk an…

WNW: Why "Second"?

Last night I had this thought that I should write up my Word Nerd Wednesday post then just in case I didn't have time for it today. I didn't. I should have. But it's still Wednesday, right?
Some time ago, a writer friend from the LDStorymakers e-mail list asked a question that made me start digging in my happy Oxford English Dictionary on CD (again, I say it's one of the best birthday presents I've ever gotten!).
For those who aren't familiar with the OED, it is the ultimate English-language dictionary. In printed form, it takes up over two dozen volumes unless you get the condensed version that has four pages printed on one. (They send along a magnifying glass so you can read it. Not kidding.)
Among other things, the OED cites the earliest known printed instance of a word, so it's particularly useful for writers like me who need to know if a historical character can eat a "cookie" in 1889 or whatever.
It also has a fun word-of-the day feature. (Tod…

My Visit at Mormon Woman

There's a relatively new site that is really neat. It's called Mormon Woman, but it's not for LDS women. It's for those outside our faith to get a glimpse into what real LDS women's lives are like.
Here's why I'm mentioning it: my own spotlight will be up tomorrow. Be sure to drop by there!

Mormon Woman was put together to combat the huge number of misconceptions out there. The founders hope that this site might be some people's first impression of Mormon women instead of something akin to the FLDS polygamous compounds and the women wearing pioneer garb and poofy hair (um, no . . . that's not us, and that's NOT my life or my beliefs!) or any of the many, many, other anti-Mormon sites that are so easy to land on.
Mormon Woman is a site geared toward non-LDS people to see, even just for a moment, what real Mormon women are like. The whole purpose is to just show the truth as to what we are instead of having our critics define us.
The majority of the …

Locks of Love and Cuteness

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It's no secret that my three daughters all have gorgeous red hair, that if we go anywhere with all of them, we pretty much stop traffic.

My middle daughter has had the longest of the hair this school year, and there's a reason for that. She had plans to donate her hair to Locks of Love.

I felt split in half over the decision: I was very proud of her wanting to do something like that for children who have lost their hair (and guessing that red hair is probably in high demand, that it would be a very welcome donation), but on the other, she has such pretty, pretty hair!!!

Thursday was the big day. She picked it because Friday was the last day of school, and she wanted to show off her new 'do to her friends before summer vacation.

Before pictures:




And after:



The hair they cut off:


I still have a tiny ache when I see all the hair missing, but her bob is so darn cute that it's hard to not love it anyway. And it will grow back.
One slight problem for this mommy: She looks older with…