Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

I finally finished the third book in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. After reading the first two books, I wanted to find out how things were resolved. In this book, Bella's story continues as she tries to sort out her relationships with Edward and Jacob. As the characters in the book deal with their own feelings, there are outside influences causing other problems. Bella's life is in danger once again and the vampires and werewolves have to put aside their differences to protect her.

Like the previous books, I still had a hard time liking Bella and often found her whiney and far too dependent on both guys. Stephenie Meyer writes in a way that holds my interest and keeps me reading until the end, but in the long run, I wish she could have given me a character to root for. I liked Jacob the most and wished he could have come out happier in the end. It bothered me that Edward always spent the night, and always behind her father's back. This book is marketed as young adult fiction, but I wouldn't recommend it to my teenage daughter. But I do wonder what the author will come up with next.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life by Julie Wright

Suzanne Quincy has spent most of her young life trying to escape from her abusive mother. Her usual method is drugs or alcohol. She feels this method is working until she finds out she is pregnant. When her mother kicks her out of the house, she decides her only option is to go to Utah and see if her brother and his new wife will take her in. Throughout the book, she struggles with her brother's new religion, new friendships and her turbulent past.

This is a well-written book dealing with repentance, forgiveness and adoption. The author has managed to create a character that I started out not liking, but as she learned to like herself, I learned to like her too. The subject of adoption is also dealt with in a sensitive and insightful manner. I enjoyed this book from my Fall into Reading list and will certainly read more by Julie Wright.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Being Prepared

My dad has decided that once a month, he is going to gather any of his family that live close by and have a family council to discuss emergency preparedness. With hurricanes, fires, and other happenings in the world, it seems like a great thing to do. We spent a couple of hours last night discussing where each family is in their preparations and where we all need to improve. All of us have done a few things but we all have a long way to go.

I need these pushes once in awhile to get me thinking in the right direction. Our goal this month is to work on our 72-hour kits. At one point I had kits made for my family, but the mice got into them, I didn't fix the problem when it happened, and we are back at the beginning. (I hate mice!) The trick is to pull all of the different lists together and decide what will be the best thing for us. I guess it's always a work in progress and there are always new things to learn about the best way to put these kits together. And most importantly, I need to find a better place to store them, away from the mice.

Friday, 26 October 2007

I Love Primary

This afternoon we held a practice for our ward primary presentation. It is always an interesting experience, trying to get all those rambunctious children to sit still long enough to really understand what we are trying to do. Of course, none of our teachers came, so we (the primary presidency) were sadly out-numbered.

The oldest children sat in the back row of the choir seats. There are a few rather energetic boys in that age group. No matter where we sat them, every time we looked up, they seemed to be in different spots. The same age group also has some rowdy girls. They didn't switch spots, they just kept disappearing altogether.

The middle ages actually were very well-behaved and sat quite well through the practice. Now the youngest group was another story. With no teacher there, they were everywhere -- under the bench, over the bench, on other children, and in the hallway. At one point I had to stop two four-year-old girls from stepping over the backs of the benches, going row-to-row in the chapel.

Then the president left to go pick up the secretary who was home making fresh cinnamon rolls for the kids. That left the other councilor and myself even more out-numbered. Not five minutes after she left, her three month old baby (who was supposed to be sleeping) woke up and started fussing. So with one arm I held the baby, with the other arm I helped lead a song the children were singing in a round.

Despite all the craziness, the practice went fine. Even though they were wound up today, put them in their best dress clothes on Sunday, set them in front of their parents and it is amazing how well they do. I truly love the kids we have. But I do have to say, I am glad our primary has a mere 45 children. I can't imagine doing the same thing with the 150+ kids my sister has in her primary. The thought makes me shudder.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

They Grow Up Too Fast

I've read a few blogs today that have got me thinking about motherhood. I was horrified to read about this woman who says she regrets having children, wrote a book on it, and even gave copies to her two kids. Of course, motherhood isn't always pleasant, but I've never regretted having my three children or even marrying into three step-children.

There are many days I just want to hide my head in the sand and pretend all the responsibilities and expectations are gone. But there are more days when my children bring me joy. They are intelligent young adults. They are caring, sensitive and responsible and I know I can trust them to make good choices.

I would never give up any moment I've had as a mother. Right from the first time I held each of them in my arms until the moment I held each of them for just a minute before they went to bed this evening, motherhood has been an incredible ride. I've learned so much about sharing, having fun, and being a family. I've learned about pain, forgiveness, patience, and love.

My youngest daughter brought home the proofs for her school pictures today. She is in grade four, but in the picture she looks so much older. My other two children are both significantly taller than I am and love to tease me about it. It has occurred to me that if my baby is ten years old, and she goes to university before she turns twenty, I am on the downhill slope. It won't be long before I start sending my kids out into the world to make their way, and I will need to learn how to be an empty nester. Even then, I will still be learning and growing as a mother.

I read the article and felt sorry for the poor woman who wrote it. She's really missed the point. One thing for sure, I love my kids. If I anything about having kids makes me sad, it is that they grow up too fast.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Gearing Up for NaNo

October is almost over and that means life is about to get a little crazy. Not only is Christmas just that much closer, but National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) begins November 1st.

I first heard about NaNo last year. I stumbled across the website one day and found the concept intriguing. Starting November 1st at midnight, people all over the world start their novels. The idea is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. There is no entry fee to sign up and no prize other than the satisfaction of completing.

Even though I have always written, the last several years had been filled with weak attempts at accomplishing anything. I was aware of the LDStorymakers conference and really wanted to attend. But I decided that I couldn't travel all that way and spend the money to attend unless I could prove that I was a writer. But when I tried writing, I would get stuck on the first few chapters. They were edited to death; the stories never finished.

NaNo changed that for me. I approached the challenge with a scene in my head but no idea what the plot was. I turned off my internal editor and wrote. I wrote almost every day, during every spare minute I could find. The characters became alive in my head and their story fascinated me. My family became caught up in the challenge and asked what my word count was at every time I sat at the computer. They made dinner and didn't complain when I stayed up way too late and acted grumpy in the morning. The best thing about NaNo 2006 was the finished book. This same book is almost ready to be submitted to a publisher.

So now I am gearing up for NaNo 2007. I'm looking forward to pounding out the story and seeing where the characters take me. It is freeing to turn off the part of the brain that wants to correct every mistake as it is made. In NaNo, the mistakes don't matter. It is just about getting the story down. I can't wait.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Glad I'm Not Jane Austen.

Tonight my ten-year-old reminded me how much I really do appreciate technology. So often I complain about slow computers, lost files, and spam. It is such a part of my life, I forget how good we really have it.

My youngest daughter had a day off from school. While the teachers attended a teacher development meeting, she stayed home and hung out with me. During the morning she played with the kids I watch so I could sew her Halloween costume. After lunch I remembered that she had some homework to finish. Her teacher gave the class an assignment to write a story and it is due tomorrow.

The story is written, but she needed to correct the spelling and copy it out again. She didn't write a short story - it is five and a half pages long, single spaced, and written in tiny printing. The biggest problem is the spelling. This is something she really struggles with, so we went through the paper together correcting words. This took quite a long time. I kept wishing we could just type it into the computer and let the spell-check take care of it, but it had to be handwritten. It was painful watching her turn away her cousins who wanted to play. It took all my patience to help her correct the same words over and over again. She worked on it for hours, and finally at 9:50 pm she finished it. It was an hour and a half past her bedtime, and she'll be tired tomorrow, but the work is done.

It made me appreciate technology. I tried to imagine being Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, doing all my writing by hand in poor lighting and when a mistake is made, there is no delete key. I would have to throw the page away and rewrite it. So tonight I'm glad I live when I do and I'm grateful for technology. I love my backspace key, my keyboard, and most of all. . .spellcheck. And by the way, does anyone have any good ideas for helping kids understand spelling? I would love your suggestions.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Costume Challenge

Halloween has crept up on me once again. The event has been haunting the back of my mind for several weeks, but it wasn't until I received the invitation for a neighbor's annual Halloween Crazy Rook party. Suddenly it hit me. All three of my kids still need costumes, and I still need to come up with something for my husband and me to wear to the party on Saturday evening.

At least the kids have ideas. My son wants to be a knight in shining armor. I was feeling lazy and decided to see if I could find something in town. They don't make anything his size in my budget. (When I was in junior high, hardly any of us dressed just wasn't cool. Apparently things have changed. Not only do they dress up, but they go all out.) The oldest daughter wants to be a princess. But not just any dress will do. She was looking through my patterns and found one that has "the perfect sleeves". The youngest comes up with the most creative costumes. She is going to be a dog princess. She wants a poodle skirt and she will wear a crown. I'm sure there are other details of the costume she will fill me in on later.

The husband and I always have to compromise. One year we go as something silly or clever, and another year we follow my tastes and go as something period or ethnic. Of course we always wait until the last minute to decide. This year is a clever/silly year. We have some ideas, but we haven't made a final decision yet. It has to be something easy because I will be busy making Halloween costumes for the kids all week.

It's funny that we like to dress up so much. For me it's the perfect way to be someone else and leave behind my boring everyday self for awhile. I guess that is why I like writing. It is another way for me to be someone else for a time and leave behind the problems and stress of everyday life. It is a way for me to experience a little bit of the world without leaving my own little spot on the earth. And unlike Halloween which only lasts for one day, I can write all year long.

Friday, 19 October 2007


My husband and I both love words. I love the way words can paint a picture and evoke emotions. I love the way they sound and the way they look. I love putting them on paper and finding a story in front of me.

On the other hand, my husband loves to play with words. He is always twisting them around to make jokes and is a master of the pun. He was looking at anagrams one night and put our names into an anagram generator. It amused him to find that an anagram for Stephanie Humphreys is "I am the shy penpusher." How appropriate.

Some other amusing anagrams he found: "William Shakespeare" = "I am a weakish speller","The children's author, JK Rowling" = "Hint: Her skill conjured Howart",

There are a few anagram sites out there and it is fun to see all the strange phrases a name can spell. Of course most names can generate hundreds of anagrams and you have to sift through them to find the really good arrangements. But meanwhile, I am studying mine and wondering if someone is trying to tell me something.

Anagram Genius

Thursday, 18 October 2007

A Day Off

Every so often I get a Thursday where I don't have any children coming to my home for daycare. I really look forward to these days and usually have big plans to write for hours. Visions of word counts in the thousands dance through my mind, interesting blogs will fly from my fingers, and before I go to bed I will congratulate myself for such a productive day. It is always good to dream, right?

Then there is the reality. As much as I would love to lock myself in the office and type until my fingers are raw, sometimes other things have a stronger pull. Most days I struggle to find a few minutes to exercise and I take what I can get when I can get it -- this morning I worked out for an hour. I hardly ever do my hair. Usually it is shower, comb, move on to the next task, and maybe put an elastic in when it starts to bother me -- today I did my hair. A typical day doesn't see me leave the house very often. There are too many children coming and going at different times. That makes it hard to leave the house. After lunch I decided to go to the post office and get the mail. The beautiful fall weather proved to be to tempting to lock myself in the van, so I walked, detouring past my sister's house and the library.

I didn't follow my original plan, but I had a great day. I write in spurts most of the time, but when I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, I think I get a little giddy. I enjoyed the visit with my sister, loved the fresh air, felt good after I worked-out, and found too many new books to read at the library (and my hair looked good the whole time). So my day off from babysitting, also also felt like a day off from writing. As I did all these things, I did work out plots in my head, decide to rewrite the whole first chapter of my book, and came up with whole new ideas. So the day wasn't wasted, I just worked differently than planned. And sometimes that is good.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Sending My Babies Out Into the World

I love being a mother. I love my children and the many things they teach me every day. They keep life interesting and certainly keep me from being lonely. I remember the day each of them was born. After I held my oldest daughter in my arms, I thought, "I did it." When my son was born, I knew a little better what the future would hold. And after the birth of my youngest daughter, the thoughts were more like, "Hang on for the ride."

After three kids, the truth is clear. Giving birth is the easy part of the process. Now I hold these lives in my hands. My responsibility to teach and prepare them to go out into the world at the appropriate time weighs heavily on my shoulders. Can I teach them all they need to know? Will they remember their manners and how to treat others? Will they be able to hold jobs and find spouses? How will they do when it comes to raising their own families?

Writing a story is a similar process for me. When I write and get into the right frame of mind, the words flow and before I know it the story is on paper. That's the easy part. Then the hard part begins. All the editing and revising takes time. Much more time than I actually put into writing the story in the first place. It is like having children. The time spent expecting the baby and actually giving birth are insignificant compared to the amount of time spent raising the same child and preparing him to go out into the world.

Today, I entered a short story into a contest, and I am getting my first novel ready to submit. I don't send things off nearly as often as I should. There is always something else to check, phrases to re-word, spelling errors to look for and all the other things a good edit requires. Just like my kids, though, I have to let go sometime. I have to send the story out into the world and hope that someone will value the thing I created as much as I do. Of course, before I let it go, my stomach churns and I feel a moment of doubt. But in the end, the stories I tell aren't for me, and they are wasted if I keep them forever.

My oldest child is almost fifteen and the time is coming that I will have to send her out into the big, bad world. Like my story, there is only so much I can do before she leaves. My children aren't here just to be my children. They have things to accomplish and places to see. With both my writing and my children, I can only hope I have prepared them enough to stand on their own achieve great things after they leave my weary hands.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

It's All About Balance

I believe there has to be balance in all things. One of the greatest challenges I face in life is finding that balance. There are so many thing to juggle, and each one seems to have the capability of consuming all my time and energy.

Physically: There are things I have to do to be healthy. I have to remember to eat properly and get the right amounts of food from each of the different food groups. I need to exercise and not spend all my time in front of the computer. I need the right amount of sleep to function at my full potential.

Mentally: I need to keep my mind stimulated. I love learning and I'm always picking up new things to study and developing new hobbies. But I have to make sure this doesn't take over all my time.

Socially: This one is especially hard for me. I tend to leave my home rarely, and have few people that I keep in steady contact with. As a writer, I enjoy the solitude, when my imagination can run wild and stories spin around my head. But as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, there are people who need my attention and I need the interaction they provide.

Spiritually - this seems to be an easy one to put aside. There are so many other demands on our time, it is easy to neglect our spiritual selves because we think we are too busy. But when we remember to keep our spiritual lives in balance, everything else starts fall into place.

I apply the principle of balance to the writing I do, as well. When I finish a story, I look back over the work I have done and begin the editing process. Is there enough description to put the reader in the scene, without boring them to tears? Is the dialogue balanced by the exposition? Do I give just enough back-story without taking the reader out of the moment? I think that is part of what editing is all about - finding that perfect balance in the story I am trying to tell.

When I give the right amount of attention to all the things that are required of me, life runs smoother, I feel better, and the people around me are happier. Just like finding the perfect balance in my writing leaves me with a smoother story, the confidence to send it out, and happy readers. It's all about balance.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Counting Down

On Saturday, I picked up a copy of "Noel", Josh Groban's new Christmas cd. I love Christmas and I love Josh Groban's music, so the cd made my day. Once I got home, it occurred to me that if the stores were starting to carry Christmas merchandise, then the holidays were probably closer than I wanted to acknowledge. So I checked my calender and counted ten more weeks until Christmas.

I remember when the children were little. I could usually have the Christmas presents ready by now. Sometimes I would let them pick their own gift in the store, knowing they would forget about it before Christmas morning. But the older the kids get, the longer it seems to take me to find the perfect gift. There are always the standard things. I give the kids books every year and they usually get some pajamas. But other than that, I am stumped.

I remember Christmases when I was growing up. Our family didn't have much money, but somehow Santa Claus always left some pretty cool things under the tree. Waking up on Christmas morning seemed so magical and we were never disappointed. Now I make many of my gifts, and there are also the little things we get the kids, but I like to find one gift to put under the tree that makes their jaws drop and the magic light up their eyes. The husband and I went shopping Friday night, thinking we would get some ideas. No luck.

The oldest daughter is very frugal and her Christmas lists tend to be frugal as well. She asks for things like new socks, pads of paper, books, and other things she thinks she needs. Nothing too exciting there.The youngest daughter still gets stars in her eyes when she reads the Sears Wishbook. She lists many toys that I know look good in the pictures, but wouldn't be played with very often. She has almost grown out of the toy stage, but not quite. Then my son makes his extensive list. It mainly includes electronics that are far beyond my budget, even if I didn't think most of them were a waste of time. And then there is my husband, my step-kids, our parents, etc.

I usually have good intentions in January. But the plan to work on Christmas all year long fizzles out right around the time of my daughter's birthday in February. Now I sit in the middle of October trying to get myself into the Christmas mindset. It doesn't help that it is still so nice outside (not that I am wishing for snow quite yet.) So I guess I'll put in the new cd and get my mind focused, because I only have ten more weeks until Christmas.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

How We See Flowers

Hanging on my fridge is my favorite comic from "The Far Side" by Gary Larson. The first frame is a row of beautiful flowers with the caption "How we see flowers". Under this frame is a second frame with another row of flowers. These flowers are funny looking with goofy faces and big noses. The caption reads "How they see themselves".

How often do we see ourselves as goofy looking flowers or even weeds? So many people I respect and admire go through life putting themselves down and minimizing the great qualities they have. These same people have no problem seeing the great things in people around them. We all know that we are children of God and he gave each of us great ability and talents on different areas. But it is so much easier to see the good qualities in others and minimize the great qualities in ourselves.

I remember thinking that once I became an adult, confidence would be my constant companion and I could leave that awkward teenage years. Ridiculous, I suppose. The awkward teenage years are far behind me, but now I am right in the middle of the awkward adult years. I am still not great in crowds, or at making new friends. I still worry over how I look before I leave the house. And every time I think I have something figured out, something new comes along to stump me. It is all part of the learning and growing process. But like many people, I don't give myself enough credit for the accomplished and great person I am.

The same problem creeps up on me when I write. I can work on a story, revising over and over, and yet it never seems quite good enough to let anyone else read. I still see my writing as the funny looking flowers and yet others seem to enjoy the garden of words I plant. That is why I keep the flower comic in plain sight so I can read it every day. I need that constant reminder that we are all better than we give ourselves credit for and sometimes for a change of pace, we should try to see ourselves as others do.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


Mandi gave me this award because she says I make her smile. I'd give it back to her because her blog always brightens my day. Since she already has it, I'm passing it on to two other bloggers who cheer me up. Ali and Ajoy . Keep smiling girls.

BIAM - part 2

In September I joined up with Tristi Pinkston for a BIAM challenge. I was quite excited to join the group and motivate myself to get some serious writing done.

When I started, I knew what I wanted to write, and had even done most of the outlining on it. Well, I learned very quickly that too much outlining kills my desire to tell the story. But I kept plugging away at it. I hit about 9000 words when I realized there was more to the problem. I did some more looking at my work and realized that I was telling it from the wrong point-of-view. Once I started thinking in a different POV, the story came alive for me.

It was a little frustrating to put the 9000 words away and start again, but I think the story will be better for it. Of course, as soon as I figured that out and started working in that direction, I had to put all writing aside to be with my family while we coped with tragedy.

Now I am back and having a hard time getting into the writing groove again. (There is a lot of wisdom in the advice to write every day.) So here I am at the end of the BIAM challenge with 9000 words that I won't use, and 2484 that I might use. I didn't get as far as I wanted to, but I did learn quite a bit about the story and how I write best. So all-in-all, the month was well spent, and I think I can sit down and get on with the novel that is just crying to get out.

I will be signing up for NaNoWriMo next month, and Tristi is doing another BIAM in January that I am looking forward to. I love to keep challenging myself, and doing a BIAM is a fun way to do it.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon is the continuing story of Bella, Edward, and Jacob. I enjoyed the read, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed the first book, Twilight. I found that I didn't like Bella's character, which bothered me. When I read a book, I want to like and sympathize with the main character. Both Jacob and Edward are likable in their own way, but I found myself wishing they would both leave Bella alone.

The middle of the book dragged a bit. It felt like too much time was spent in Bella's head without anything really happening. And I did wish that there was more about the werewolves and their background. In the end, the book left me wanting to know what will finally happen with Bella, Edward, and Jacob. I am hoping that Bella will somehow redeem herself and be someone I can actually cheer for. I guess that is where Stephenie Meyer really excels. She makes us love and hate the characters enough that we forgive the weaknesses in the book because we really want to know what happens to them.

This is another book from my Fall into Reading List.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today we are celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. It is a fitting conclusion to an eventful and stressful week. Even though I have had very little time to spend on the computer in the last week, I have had plenty of time to think. Since the death of my nephew, we have been surrounded by family and friends. We have cried and laughed together. We have had time to reflect on life and death. And today,I have been thinking about the many things I am grateful for.

This year I am grateful for people. As we grieved together and family members came from as far away as Arizona, I felt so blessed to belong to this particular family. They truly are a strength and inspiration to me. I couldn't ask for better people to call my own. I am also grateful to the people in our community. So many of them offered condolences and help to my sister's family and other family members that live in town. I think all of us have had our fridges stocked, and have had many phone calls and visits offering comfort and support. The beautiful thing about this, is that my sister has only been in town for a short while. But people were still there for her.

I am grateful also for the country I live in. Canada is a beautiful place to live. It is wonderful to know that I can count on my children receiving an excellent education. I love the many freedoms that we enjoy.

I am also grateful for all the gifts and talents that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with. I used to lower my head whenever anyone would tell me I was good at something. But I have learned in the last year to accept these compliments gracefully. We are all given gifts, and I am trying to develop mine and share them with others.

There are so many other things I am thankful for. It is so important to take the time to remember them, and remind myself of how good life really is, despite, or because of the trials. So I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians and anyone else who needs a moment to stop and be grateful.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Ghost of a Chance by Kerry Blair

This is the first book I have read from my Fall into Reading List. Second in the Nightshade series, Samantha Shade, of the Nightshade Detective Agency, is busy once again trying to solve mysteries and stay alive in the process.

She has been hired to find out what seems to be haunting the San Rafael Mission. But soon, Samantha is investigating a series of murders occurring within the parish. Several young men are found executed in the same gruesome manner—and each is discovered with a marigold between his lips. The clues all seem to lead to someone at the Mission. Who could be responsible? It’s Samantha’s job to find out, especially if she wants to live.

I love the plots of this book and Mummy's the Word, but did find the writing style a little frustrating. The narrator of the story speaks to the reader too often, usually in the interest of humor. I didn't enjoy the style of writing but found that there was enough happening in the story to hold my interest. I did enjoy the second book more than the first, and hope that future books will be even better, as I do want to read more and find out what happens to Samantha Shade and the Nightshade Detective Agency.
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