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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Last Day

Don't forget to make your nominations for the Whitney Awards. Today is the last day. If you've read any new books written by an LDS author head over to the Whitney site and make your nominations. Here is a list of the eligible books. I've entered a few and wish I'd had time to read more. I can't wait to see who the finalists are this year.

Friday, 19 December 2008

A Needed Break

I think about this blog often and even try to think of things to say, but I'm still trying to catch up on the Christmas things and not spending much time at the computer. I'm getting closer to being ready for next week and the girls may actually get to wear their new dresses this Sunday instead of in February. This happens more often than not - Easter dresses in August are not uncommon. Although if they get them in August I guess they're not really Easter dresses anymore.

Anyway, I spent the evening away from the sewing machine and the computer and went to an elder's quorum party with my husband. It sure was good to relax for a few hours. Good company, Chinese food, and a few games made for a great evening. We played one of my favorite games called signs. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. I needed a good belly laugh. Now I'm off to bed and I plan on sleeping in until at least eight before I get back at the sewing. I feel more refreshed already and I'll be able to tackle the chores tomorrow with renewed energy.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Keeping it Real


Josi at What is a Sundial in the Shade? gave me an award on Monday. It is an award for bloggers who "keep it real". She gives a great explanation for the award and why it is named for Marie Antoinette, so I'm not going to try to say it better. Here is what she said about me:

"I really enjoy Stephanie's blog because she also blogs about real, every day life, but the more I read, the more depth I find. I assumed for the first few months that she had lived a very typical, traditional life. Then I discovered a twist, and then another one, and then another one. It's intriguing to me that she does not simply put it all out there at one time, rather it's all just part of the life she lives. She also has an inherent goodness that reminds me that being good is strong--I need those kinds of reminders in my life and her posts always do that for me."

I'm not sharing this to blow my own horn, but because it made such a difference to me. I keep things as honest as I can, even though I don't share the names of my family, or pictures of them, I do blog about them occasionally because they are my life and they influence what I write and if I write. I'm also fairly open about my life, past and present, because I can't talk about my struggles, goals, and dreams without exploring the experiences that have made me the person I am.

Since we are talking about keeping it real, let me share some of my recent thoughts. Starting a blog took a huge leap of faith for me. I remember wondering if anyone besides my husband would read it. It never occurred to me that I might make friends through my writing and find support from others who understand the bizarre inner workings of a writer's mind. Imagine my surprise when I attended the LDStorymakers conference last year and had so many people approach me and want to say hello because they recognized me from the blog.

Despite all the positives, I've been wondering if I should keep it up. Lately, life has almost plowed me under a few times and I've had a difficult time getting back on my feet which is silly since the most recent upset doesn't begin to hold a candle to other incidents. Even the title of the blog makes me feel like an impostor since I haven't written anything for too long.

There are days when I wonder if anyone reads what I write. There are days when I wish I was one of those blogs with many comments everyday. Then there are the days when I am completely honest with myself and admit, I write this for me. The writing gives me an outlet and the few comments I get are enough to keep me going. The friends and contacts I've made are invaluable.

Then there are days like Monday. Josi's comment made my day and actually brought a tears to my eyes. I needed to hear what she had to say. And if even one person, appreciates what I have to say, I guess I'll stick around.

I'd like to pass the award onto ali at Girl in a Whirl. She is another blogger who says it like it is and I always appreciate what she has to say. I've missed her lately as she recovers from eye surgery, but I can't wait to hear more from her in the new year.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

This 'n' That

First of all, Happy Anniversary to my sweet husband. It's been eight interesting and wonderful years. He keeps us all laughing and takes such good care of us. I love him more all the time and can't wait to see the interesting things we get up to this year.

I can't believe how close Christmas is. Every day the kids remove another day off the advent calendar and I get a little more worried about getting everything done in time. Somehow I always manage though.

The sewing room is filled with projects. It looks like a fabric snowstorm in there, but everything is organized in piles and it is slowly but surely getting done. I told the girls I would make them Christmas dresses and that has added more than I planned on. Usually they both opt for simple, but this year they are looking at fancy, which is so much more fun to do, but much more time consuming. The girls and I have also been working hard at some other crafts for Christmas presents. If I can get everything done, I'll post pictures.

I haven't started much in the way of baking, but I did make fudge tonight. Usually it is easy and delicious, but some years it doesn't set properly. I'm still waiting to see if this is one of those years. If it doesn't set, I guess the kids will really enjoy it on some ice cream.

The kids are trying to figure out when we can take them shopping. Everything has been so over-booked this December that we are having a difficult time finding the right time. I still haven't even done the grocery shopping for the month. I'm hoping to get that done tomorrow and then the baking can begin in earnest.

Funny how all those things add up to make for a busy, crazy month. I sometimes sit down and wonder how to simplify everything so we can actually relax a little. The truth is, I enjoy all the sewing projects. I only do such a wide variety of baking at Christmas and the kids look forward to it. They are also getting big enough to take over some of those projects. My biggest problem this year is not knowing what to get the kids. That's right. Two weeks until Christmas and I still don't know what to get the kids. I'm hoping inspiration will hit soon.

And just for fun, I took the "Blog Readbility Test" - genius, I have my doubts, but I'll take it.
blog readability test

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Abinadi by H.B. Moore

Most readers of the Book of Mormon seem to picture the prophet Abinadi as an older man, like we picture most scriptural prophets. Moore has put her own twist on the story and made Abinadi a young man in his twenties who still has a full life ahead of him. Throw in some romance, danger and impeccably researched details about ancient South American life and you have the formula for a great story.

By giving Abinadi a family and problems other than just preaching, the story becomes more rounded and the sacrifice Abinadi makes for his beliefs becomes more powerful. Moore also introduces us to other familiar characters, painting a detailed image of King Noah's court and the high priests and following the conversion of Alma. The fictional characters of Abinadi's mother, brother, and new wife add depth to the story and got me thinking about the sacrifice the families of prophets make.

I enjoyed reading this book. The characters were well written, the plot moved along at a brisk pace and the details of Book of Mormon life were fascinating. I also enjoyed the prologue which included chapter notes and references for her research.

This book would make a great Christmas present. You can learn more about H.B. Moore at her website and you can order the book here or pick it up at your local LDS bookstore.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

A Drive-in Movie


Last week at Family Home Evening. My husband and son informed the rest of us that they were planning something special for the next week. We were to be ready to leave the house at 6:15 p.m. So last night we ate dinner early and piled into the van for our F.H.E. adventure.

We drove through town to the Fish Pond (I think this park has a more official name, but I can't remember it). On the way my husband informed us that there was a movie showing there at 6:30. Unfortunately, he had forgotten that they lock the entrance during the winter months. So we drove a little further until he parked outside of town at the edge of a farmer's field. Then he told us the feature movie was Kung Fu Panda.

Pulling down the screen in the van (new to us and still a novelty to the kids) and inserted the dvd. Before starting the movie, he went around to the back and proceeded to offer refreshments - juice and tortilla chips with salsa.

Luckily, the weather cooperated and we were able to sit in the van and watch our "drive-in movie" with a few blankets and still keep warm. It is one of those things the kids will probably always remember as one of those crazy things we used to do.

I found it amusing on the way home when the kids started discussing the movie. The conversation started when one of the kids asked the others which character they liked the best. My oldest daughter commented on the lack of character development. "How am I supposed to pick a favorite character if I really don't know anything about them?" Then they proceeded to dissect the characters and plot line. Whose kids are they anyway? After this conversation, they agreed that the movie was fun and they would definitely watch it again, so the evening was a success all the way around.

Monday, 1 December 2008

A Busy Life

Every so often I get asked why I haven't been blogging as much as I used to. There really are a lot of reasons why I've spent so little time on the computer lately.

With Christmas coming, I've been trying to get as much sewing done as possible. It would be easier to just buy gifts, but since I have so much fabric left from the store I used to own, it is much cheaper to make something - and in the long run, hopefully the homemade gift is much more appreciated. I'm a little behind where I want to be, but the projects are coming along, although I will probably be looking at some late night sewing sessions, depending on how much work I get this month. Maybe I'll post some pictures of the finished projects when they are all finished.

Another reason I haven't been around as much lately is the work I do at the school. It's been many years since I worked out of the home and I am still trying to get used to the whole balancing act. In fact, I'll be working tomorrow and possibly the rest of the week. That is going to cut into my sewing time, but we need the money and I'm grateful I can work so close to home and walk to school with my kids.

Then there is the whole Christmas season which has crept up on me. I'm amazed at how quickly my calendar has filled up. Between elementary school concerts, high school band and choir concerts, staff dinners, church functions and community events, my month is already pretty full. Since my kids are involved in half of those and I'm involved in the other half, I can't just skip out and stay home no matter how tempting it is. I miss the days when the kids were really young and our evenings were spent at home making Christmas cookies and reading stories.

I haven't even been doing much reading which is quite unusual. Sometime this month, I will be reviewing Abinidi by H.B. Moore and My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison. Both are great but I won't say anything else until the actual review, so stay tuned.

I guess none of those things are good excuses for not blogging. In fact, they should give me lots of ideas to write about. But since I seem to be suffering a serious lack of coherent thoughts, if any of you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

I Hate to Say It...

I need snow. I know. The minute it snows, I'll wish the roads weren't icy and it weren't so cold. I'll wish the kids didn't leave boots, mittens, scarves and coats all over the floor. Despite all that, I wish it would snow...just a little.

This morning I took out all the Christmas decorations and put them up, which I normally don't do until the first of December. We always do a real tree, so that isn't up yet, but I put everything else out to see if I could convince myself it really is coming soon. No such luck. It still feels like spring outside, which in other parts of the world might be normal for this time of year, but it's just weird here. I went to church Sunday without even a light jacket and the last time I talked to my mother, it was warmer here in Canada than where she lives in Arizona.

Last week, I kept thinking about Christmas being only a month away. Usually I have my Christmas shopping done by the end of November or first week of December. I got a few things yesterday, but I really haven't even started yet. To be honest, I don't even know what to get people this year. This is raising my stress level substantially.

My kids have only asked for books and CDs which isn't terrible unless the book or CD won't even be released until after Christmas. I always give each of the kids a book for Christmas but it would be nice to think of something else. (On the other hand, it is nice to have kids who don't ask for a lot and are satisfied with so little. Comes from years of having nothing...but that's another story.)

Anyway, I guess I'll be spending the next several weeks catching up on my sewing, baking, and shopping. And I'll probably sing "White Christmas" enough to drive my husband crazy.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Contest

(click on image to make it easier to read)

"January 11, 2005: A massive storm rages throughout the western states. Angry, churning water spills over the banks of the Virgin River, already at twice its’ normal capacity, resulting in what will become known in the area as the flood of the century.

When Carmen Anderson returns to the tiny town of Prosper, Arizona that she fled as a teenager, she has no idea that a devastating storm is on the way.

While struggling to get to her teenage daughter, who is stranded in the small town by flood waters, Carmen realizes that her biggest challenge lies in facing the secret that has been locked away in her heart for the past fifteen years –
a secret that has kept out a family who loves her, and the man who would do anything to be by her side."

Here is a fun and easy contest from new author Suzanne V. Reese. Her book sounds like an interesting read and I can't wait to get a copy and read it myself.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Weirdest Thing

The weirdest thing happened this morning.

As you can see from my picture, my hair is curly. In fact, it's extremely curly and maybe the picture doesn't even do it justice. Having squiggy hair (my husband's term) comes with it's own set of problems. There's frizz and the constant tangle. I never even use a brush because that is just a mess waiting to happen.

This morning I washed my hair and conditioned it as I always do, squishing the soap all the way to the ends and using my fingers to work the conditioner out. After I turned off the shower, I started at the top of the hair and squeezed the water out with my fingers. When I reached the bottom two inches of hair, I squeezed and winced as something sharp jabbed my finger.

I carefully pulled my fingers through the wet hair again, looking for the offending object and pulled out a small brass safety pin! I must have slept with it there and washed my hair with it there. I don't know how I missed it in the first place and I really don't know how it got there. It really was the weirdest thing and thinking back, I can't even begin to imagine where it came from.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Going Back to Grade Three

I've started subbing as an educational assistant at the elementary school. For the past two weeks I've been working with a little boy in one of the grade three classrooms. This should be easy right? Most of it isn't too bad, but then we get to math. Math has never been one of my strengths but grade three math - we are just adding and subtracting so it should be easy.

So the teacher writes a question on the board. Something basic like "36+27=" then says to the kids, "Show me three ways to solve this problem."

Okay, I know it has been a very long time since grade three, but I could only think of one way. With a little time, I managed to come up with two, but that stretched my brain and left me stumped. Luckily for me, the little boy I'm working with took long enough doing the first two ways, that we didn't have time for a third way.

Then the other children in the class took turns going to the whiteboard to show the methods they used to solve this problem. (What ever happened to a good old-fashioned chalkboard? This is making me feel older all the time.) Here is what they came up with.

36+27 = 63

III 000000 + II 0000000 = 63 (where each line represents ten and each circle represents one)

36+27 = 50+13 = 63 (Instead of carrying numbers, you add the tens column, add the ones column and then add the two answers together.)

40+23 = 63 (huh?) (The student explained she borrowed 4 from the 27 to make the 36 into a 40 and then it was easier to add 23 to 40).

There were more solutions and all of them ended up with the same answer.

When I went to elementary school we were taught one way to do problems. We had to show our work. If the method used to come up with the answer didn't match the teacher's method the question was marked as wrong. It seems in those days there was only one way to add. Today, these students learn the rules that 36+27 always = 63 but then they learn different strategies to make the math easier for them. When they come up with a different way to do the problem, as long as the method gives them the correct answer and still follows the rules, they are praised for using the "natural calculator between their ears."

I really do think I need to take math all over again. Maybe I could get over some of my insecurities when it comes to numbers. Maybe grade three is a good place to be.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Eight Things About Me

Ali tagged me with this "Eight Things About Me". Its taken me awhile to get to it, but here goes...

Eight things I'm looking forward to:

  • The LDStorymakers Conference in April. Okay, I know its really far away, but I'm watching for the registration to come up and then hoping I can afford to go. It might not be feasible this year if I can't get other people to come to Utah with me and share the gas, but I'm still working on it.
  • Christmas. Of course. The kids are already listening to Christmas music. I really look forward Christmas when I don't have to plan anything else and I can just relax for a few days.
  • Losing all this extra weight. I haven't made it work yet, but I'm still trying. I can't even remember what it's like not to carry 50 extra pounds around.
  • My anniversary. December 9th it will be 8 years. My husband and I alternate years planning something. Usually we stay pretty simple and go out to dinner. This year he is hinting at something bigger.
  • Getting an insert for our fireplace. Not doing it for sure yet, but we are talking about it. It would make the house warmer and also help with our emergency planning, giving us a better way to heat the house.
  • The first real snow of the season. I don't want it to be bitterly cold, but I do like a fresh layer of snow. Anyway, if this warm sticks around much longer, I'll be able to cut fresh parsley and lavender next week. The plants have started growing again!
  • and of course...My books being published. Don't know how soon this will happen, but I do believe it will and I'm still working on it.
Eight Things on My Wish List
  • A writing critique group.
  • More time to read and sew.
  • A Bausch kitchen mixer.
  • To have my years supply of food in place.
  • An interior decorator to give me some ideas for my house.
  • A vacation to Scotland.
  • To have my mother live closer.
  • A new wardrobe.
Eight T.V. Shows I Like to Watch
  • Criminal Minds
  • Survivor
  • American Idol
  • The news
  • Dancing With the Stars
  • The Muppet Show (on DVD).
  • I honestly can't think of anymore. I watch so little television these days.
Eight Things I Did Yesterday
  • Attend the Remembrance Day services at the school and heard my daughters perform.
  • Attend the Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph.
  • Did two loads of laundry.
  • Cleaned out the cold storage room.
  • Emptied the water jugs downstairs and replaced with fresh water.
  • Wrote on my NaNo project for awhile (not going well by-the-way).
  • Had two of my oldest daughter's friends over for dinner. Learn lots listening to them talk to each other.
  • Hung some pictures in the kitchen.
Eight People I am Tagging

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Most Patient

Unusual for me, but I think I can finally claim to be the most patient - at least when it comes to getting published. Don't get me wrong. I think about it and work toward it and check my telephone and email messages every time I get home from work, hoping to hear something from the latest publisher looking over my book. But I also understand it takes time. Lots of time.

Everyone else is about to drive me crazy. Since they don't get the time factor no matter how often I explain it to them, I get asked everywhere I go about the book. My chiropractor asks every time I have an appointment whether the book is published yet. My visiting teachers want to know when they can buy it. And others ask why I haven't heard from anyone yet.

I wish I knew a publisher wanted it. I wish I had a release date. I wish I could tell them all it is at the local bookstore and I'd be happy to sign a copy for them. Meanwhile, I'm working on the next one and trying not to think too much about my other baby in the hands of a faceless editor. But who knows, maybe I'll hear something tomorrow.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lest We Forget

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
    In Flanders fields.
    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    -Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D. (1872-1918)-
This morning we attended the Town Remembrance Day Ceremonies at the high school. My daughters were both part of choirs that performed and my oldest daughter also played the national anthem with the high school band. As always, I shed tears during our national anthem. I find it such a stirring piece of music that truly helps me remember how blessed I am to live in such a great country.

Then we walked up to the cenotaph where the flag flew at half mast and we observed a moment of silence. We always insist our children come with us each year so they will understand that this isn't just another day off of school. It helps us all remember..

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

How to Carry Yourself

Tonight I attended our ward's Young Women in Excellence. As always it was entertaining and the young women in our ward amaze me with the scope of their talents. Each of the girls got to walk out on stage while we were told a little about them.

One thing I really noticed is how awkward most of the girls were walking in high heels. The same thing came to my attention last year at the school's graduation ceremonies. So many of the girls walked the processional holding their long skirts quite high off the ground and clumsily walking in their beautiful dresses. This is a pet peeve of mine partly because I have made so many beautiful gowns that somehow don't look quite as nice when the girl is slouching or stomping down the aisle.

I remember as a girl being taught how to act like a lady and how to carry myself. Remember the walking with books on the head trick? My great-grandmother always told me to stand up straight, walk gracefully and dress appropriately for the occasion. I've already promised my daughters that they will get to learn how to carry themselves before I ever let them wear a formal gown. My oldest daughter has it down and the youngest is learning.

I've suggested to the Young Women leaders in our ward to have an evening teaching the girls how to walk and stand so they look the best they can. They are excited by the idea, and the girls could all use the practice. A little refinement will be good for them.

A little refinement would also help my current manuscript. Still working on that, but like trying to teach a bunch of slouchy teenagers to walk like ladies, it is a long road. Certainly worth the effort thought. Someday we'll all be polished and ready to present to the world.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Whitney Award Benefit Auction

The Whitney Award Benefit Auction is taking place throughout the month of November. This is a great way to support the Whitney Awards and also to do a little Christmas shopping. Everything in the auction is donated and new items are being added daily. A variety of items are available, including clothing, signed books, and author servies. The proceeds will go directly to the Whitney Academy. Please take advantage of this opportunity to support LDS literature.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

National Novel Writing Month

Here we go again...I think? Nano started this morning at 12:00 a.m. I didn't. I went to bed still unsure whether I really would participate. Most years I can't wait. A glimmer of a story swirls around in my mind waiting to burst forth. Not this year.

I've started several things and jotted down many ideas. But right now none of them are holding my interest. The last few months have been hard for me. I've had a lot of things of my mind and my focus has been missing in action.

Well, it's time for me to get it together again. I'm not sure how successful I'll be this year, but at least I'll try. There is one paragraph I jotted down several months ago. It just came to me as I woke up one morning. It intrigues me and I want to know the story behind the few words I captured. I feel like this story will be a real departure from anything else I've written, which is odd, since I don't even know what the story is or who it's about. So stay tuned. I'm giving NaNoWriMo a with nothing more than a hope that I can extract something coherent out of my scattered brain. Should be interesting.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Trying to Enter the 21st Century

In the last week I've learned that my family isn't as firmly planted in the 21st century as I'd thought. Sure, we are pretty computer savvy, but we use it mostly as a tool for work and school work. I hadn't considered how it has become such a tool for communication among the youth. They don't call each other on the phone, but they text, or send out a message on Facebook. None of my kids own a cell phone and they couldn't be bothered with facebook. But after a recent conversation with my neighbor, we've realized that if the kids want to be involved in the social circle at school, they need to take advantage of the technology available. They still won't get cellphones, bit I think we'll see a little more social use of the computer from now on.

Who ever thought kids would move on from talking on the phone all night to typing on the computer or texting their friends. I can remember visiting on the telephone for as long as my mom would let me get away with it. She always wondered why we could talk all day at school and then half the evening on the phone. I still love a good visit with a friend, but the kids now love a good session on facebook. I have to admit, I just don't get it.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Halloween Countdown

Most years Halloween creeps up on me and I spend the week before the big day trying to get Halloween costumes sewn. This year the kids took it easy on me and I haven't sewn anything yet. The youngest decided to wear a costume that her sister wore four years ago. Good choice.

My son decided he wants to be a pirate - actually, that's a pie-rat. So a gray sweatshirt, gray sweatpants, rat ears and tail, an eye patch, and some mini pie tins attached here and there and we have a pie-rat. What can I say? He comes up with some interesting ideas.

Then there is the oldest. She just wants to be pretty. Since she will probably only ever get one formal gown, she likes to use Halloween as an opportunity to dress up. One of the neighbor girls is lending her a dress, but you can only be a princess so many times. She thought about going as a beauty queen, but then found out another group of girls are doing this. Now she is trying to figure out what she can be and still wear the pretty dress. I've suggested the tooth fairy, Rapunzel, and an Oscar Award winning actress. She likes the Oscar idea, but I'm not creative enough to figure out how to make an Oscar statue in the next few days.

So this is a call for ideas. If anyone has any other ideas of costumes involving a pretty dress, or any ideas of how to make an oscar statue, I'd sure love to hear them. Meanwhile, I'm just counting down the days till Halloween is over and I can start enjoying Christmas.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Counting

In the last month, I've been trying to be more consistent about wearing my pedometer. My goal is to get at least 10,000 steps every day. Now that I'm not babysitting and I have the freedom to take a little more time to get places, I've decided to try and walk and only drive when I have to. I'm excited about this and know it will make a difference. (I'll have to see if I can keep that excitement up when it is -25 C and the wind is blowing.)

Because I don't go anywhere most days, it is a struggle to get that many steps. Going up and down the stairs to the basement doesn't add up very fast. Yesterday I found out that it takes about 300 steps to walk the length of a block, so even just walking the eight block round trip to the post office only gives me 2400 steps. Sometimes it is discouraging how slowly the number creeps up.

When I'm not counting steps, I'm counting words. Some days my word count soars and other days I struggle to reach my goals. There are days when I feel like I've really gotten somewhere and then I check my word count. Usually a big mistake. There never are as many words as I think there should be.

Why do I put so much effort into counting? When those steps add up and I keep at it every day, I feel better and the pounds start to melt away. And when those words add up, I see my novel grow and know that I am that much closer to the end of the story. Someday I'll get a treadmill and type and walk at the same time. Too bad it all has to do with numbers. I was never that good at math.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Book List Growing

This is just a reminder to check out all the books eligible for the 2008 Whitney Awards. The list keeps growing and I am sure there are several I've missed. If you know of any authors that should be on the list let me know. As for the books, I've read 15 of them, there are four more I purchased, sitting at home in my reading pile, and I have several more on hold at the library. There are many I've enjoyed and I'll be nominating a few before the year is over. So check out the list and curl up with a good book now that the weather has grown colder. Don't forget to nominate your favorites.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A Manuscript and a Calendar

On Saturday, my husband and I were sitting in Subway eating sandwiches. I was looking out the window and noticed two interesting looking men walking toward the corner. As I often do, I watched them and made up stories about them in my head (all the while listening to my husband of course.) At one point I looked down for a little while. When I looked back up I experienced a moment of confusion. The men were still in sight, although my mind told me they should be long gone. It took me a second to realize they had stopped at the corner and waited for the walk signal. It was a strange moment of disconnect. I mentioned this to my husband and he pointed out how similar that was to the story I'm working on.

I've been going back over the manuscript looking for those points of disconnect, when the time frame of the story doesn't line up and leaves the reader disoriented. It's important to make sure there is consistency in the story so the time-line fits and things happen when they should. I'm putting all the events on a calendar so I can make sure everything happens in the right spot. The calendar goes back several years so when people mention important parts of the back story, everything matches up. It's taking a little time, but in the long run it should make the story more readable and less confusing. I want my readers to get caught up in what they're reading. They shouldn't need to stop to figure things out. As I'm doing this, I'm also finding other things that should go in the manuscript to make the story better. I guess this could be a good reason to save old calendars...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Another Week

It's been a week since I last posted. I think about blogging something every day - I guess that's not good enough though.

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. On Saturday my mother-in-law, three step-children and daughter-in-law came for dinner. We had a wonderful meal and played a few games together. The kids left soon enough that we were still able to go to the Saturday evening session of Stake Conference. Sunday was Stake Conference and then Monday we did the whole Thanksgiving dinner thing all over again.

We held the Monday meal at the stake centre and served 34 people. Several years ago we started having the dinner at the church so the kids could run around in the cultural hall and the adults could sit in the other room to visit and still hear each other. This year all the young cousins got together and decided to put on a play for us. We were treated to a skit detailing the first Thanksgiving, another skit about the Thanksgiving food and a lip-sync number to "Once There was a Snowman" by Inside Out A Capella. The good food, company and entertainment made for a fun afternoon.

I left the dinner early so I could get home and do some studying and as I sat in the chair listening to the wind, I started thinking about some of the things I have to be thankful for. Of course, family came first on my list. I love my kids and my husband and everyday I grow more grateful for them. Then I thought about all the comforts we enjoy, living in Canada. So many people in the world go without, and even though our finances are very tight right now, we have a roof over our heads and sufficient food. The odd thing I thought of was the wind. I sat in my chair and listened to it blow and decided I am even thankful for the wild Southern Alberta wind. When I lived in Idaho I missed it and I realized, for me it is the sound of home. At 4:30 yesterday morning I about changed my mind when the wind woke me up by pelting buckets of rain at my window. Not appreciated since I had to be up at 5:30 and hadn't slept well to begin with.

Yesterday was our Federal election. This year I served as a poll clerk for the first time. It was a long but interesting day and I got to see lots of people I haven't seen in a long time. The biggest downside was when the return officer I was working with started feeling sick part way through the morning. By the end of the day she could hardly keep upright. I kept telling her she should call someone else in, but she was the boss and I couldn't force the issue. Meanwhile, I got to sit next to someone with the flu all day long. Now I'm doing everything I can to keep from getting sick. I just don't have time for that.

This coming week doesn't look nearly so exciting, but how do you beat two turkey dinners with all the trimmings, stake conference, and a federal election?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

How to Focus but Not Too Much

Do you ever have those days when you want to do everything but what you should be doing? There are so many things I could do in a day and so many of them are good things. But I have a 250 page manuscript that needs editing and a primary program to edit. Instead I want to go sew.

I think a huge part of the problem lies in my ability to become completely immersed in a project. Whatever I start doing I probably won't put away until it's done or a child starts begging for food. This has served me well when I am under deadlines for prom dresses or writing submissions, but the self-imposed deadlines I have right now aren't nearly as motivating as those set by someone else.

There are days when I wonder if investing in a timer might be wise. Maybe if I give myself an hour to do something and then when the timer goes off, I can move to the next task. (The timer is necessary because otherwise I'm bound to lose track of time.) I think this could be good for the quality of the things I work on as well. If I stop sewing before my back gets sore and my wrist goes numb the sewing project is sure to look more professional. If I stop writing before my brain goes fuzzy and I fall asleep at the keyboard I would probably need to make fewer corrections.

Since I'm so good at focusing on one thing, it seems a little counter-productive to try to learn not to focus as much. Hopefully more will get done and I can do more of the things that pull me every which way. How do you divide your time among all the things you need to get done in a day?

Monday, 6 October 2008

Birthday Flowers

Last Wednesday was my youngest daughter's birthday. I put much more time into her party this year than I normally do, since I have so much time on my hands lately. She picked a cake picture from a book and decided no other cake would do. I just smiled and agreed it was beautiful, all the while wondering how I would manage. I had to teach myself a whole new technique, but I think it turned quite well.

The flowers on the top are made from sugar paste and then hand painted. (I know - crazy. Sprinkles would have been pretty too.) The ruffly disk in the middle had her name written on it. Now that I've figured out the sugar paste thing, I'd like to give it a try on other cakes. The next birthday in the family is in February. I might change my mind by then.

I also spent quite a bit of time making invitations for the party. Usually I let the kids make their own, but she ran out of time, so I did it for her. They turned out well and oldest daughter wants duplicate invites for her sweet sixteen in February.

By the time youngest daughter's party ended on Friday, I felt the need for a long nap and I wondered if all the effort had been worth it. Other years had been just as fun. But when I tucked my little girl into bed that night, she informed me it was the best birthday party she's ever been to. All those hours and flowers were worth the effort after all.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

What's Your Favorite Time of Day

Since I've been unemployed and there isn't anyone else directing my day, I'm having to learn how to manage time better. I'm working on getting on the educational assistant sub list at the school, but I have to wait for a child welfare check to come back, so until it does, the days are mine. In the last fifteen years, there hasn't been a day when kids or work fill my waking hours. Now I send my three children off to school in the morning and look at the hours stretching ahead of me. It's a huge task just to decide what to do during that time.

There are chores around the house, volunteer opportunities, church responsibilities and of course, writing. My husband is encouraging me to take more time to write, which is important to me, but I'm quickly discovering that if I don't do it first, all the other things push it aside.

To write well I need to be clear headed and awake. This afternoon I was trying to re-type some minutes from the elementary school parent council I am secretary for. It didn't go so well. My lead fingers and fuzzy head made for interesting notes. I finally put my head down on the desk for ten minutes and took a little power nap. It made all the difference in the world and the notes made so much more sense with my eyes open. Often when I try to write in the afternoon, I end up closing my eyes and not getting much done.

So knowing this, I need to rearrange the way I do things. I don't think I'll be breaking any laws if I decide to do more writing in the morning after the kids go to school and more housework in the afternoon when I have such a hard time focusing. Evenings are also a good time for me to get writing, and I seem to be at my most creative after everyone else has gone to bed.

The hardest thing is just getting out of the rut I'm in and convincing myself I will do the housework if I save it until after lunch. In the long run, I think I'll get more done throughout the day. So what is your favorite time of day? When do you do your best creative work?

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Another BIAM

Tristi is holding another Book-in-a-month challenge. I decided to sign up for this one, but I will be taking a different approach. Instead of writing a book this month, I am going to edit the one I finished during the July/August challenge. I've already started on it, so I figure if I continue on at about a chapter a day, I should have it ready for readers by the end of October.

I also want to do a rough outline of the book I want to start for this years NaNoWriMo. Still trying to decide if I really want to take part in the challenge, but even if I don't, the next book needs to be written. (Yes Kristi, it is the sequel to Finding Rose.)

This all sets me up for a lot of work, but these days I have a lot of time and if I can just get myself organized and motivated, I should be able to do it.

*****
Life isn't about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.

-George Bernard Shaw-

Monday, 29 September 2008

6 Quirky Things Tag

My friend Ali tagged me, and I'm supposed to list six unspectacular things about me. There are so many to choose from, I don't know where to start...
  • I make really good pie crust. Light, flakey, and totally fattening. That's why I don't do it very often, but it is really good. Even though most people think it is too much work, I don't mind doing it.
  • My brain has been on holiday for the last few weeks, thus the lack of any meaningful blogs. I'm trying to get things under control and get back to business. Seems to be a lot harder than it should be.
  • I'll be applying to be a teacher's aid sub at the school. For some reason, that's a little scary to me. Maybe I just don't like change.
  • I've been in the primary presidency in my ward for four years. I think I can almost do the job with my eyes closed. Right now I'm supposed to be writing the script for our sacrament meeting presentation.
  • I have another blog where I just post book reviews. I haven't posted anything in quite some time. That's because I haven't read any books for awhile. I really need to get life organized again.
  • Tomorrow I get to make a backpack for my youngest to take her things to ballet. I found the best fabric - pink flannel with embroidered ballet slippers. It's perfect. Youngest daughter's birthday is on Wednesday, so it will be a birthday gift.
I guess it doesn't get more unspectacular than that. Now I get to tag six people. Mandi, Amy, Autumn, Melissa, Don, and you.

Here are the rules:

Link to me in your post.
Mention the rules on your blog.
List six unspectacular quirks about yourself.
Tag six other bloggers by linking them.

...and have fun.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Easier and Easier

I've had one little boy to babysit during September but tomorrow is his last day. He just turned four. Over the last four weeks, when he's been here by himself every day, we have been walking to the post office after lunch to get the mail. With just the two of us, the four block walk to the post office is quite pleasant.

He is the youngest in a busy family and they don't walk very many places. The first couple times we walked, he would whine a little. "It's too far. I'm tired."

Then he tried a different tactic. "If you go without me, you could go faster." He even had it figured out. I could leave him with my kids for a few minutes while they were home for lunch. I told him we didn't have to go fast. We were just going for a little exercise and fresh air.

Next he made some effort to convince me he could stay at the house by himself. He said he'd be fine and his mom lets him stay alone. (I know that never happens).

The last two days he resigned himself to the walk. Today as I was finishing my lunch, he said he would go to the bathroom so we could go get the mail. With that kind of enthusiasm I hurried and got ready to go before he could change his mind.

At the end of the first block he decided it was too far. But as we finished the second block, he informed me the post office wasn't that far after all. In fact, he announced that he would tell his mom they had to always walk because it was easy. I laughed and told him I thought he might be getting stronger.

This reminded me of writing. When I wrote my first novel, it seemed like I had to come up with so many words. And when I did find the words, the revision process seemed so hard. And then giving it to readers and eventually sending it off to publishers to be rejected, again and again, really tested me. The journey seemed so long.

Every time I start a new story, it's the same. I look at the distance to the end and wonder if I'll ever make it. Yet, each project gets a little easier. It's still difficult to find the words some times but I know they're in there somewhere. I still struggle with the revision process, and giving it to readers and publishers still takes a giant leap of faith.

Just like my little friend walking to the post office, I know the path and I know I can get to the end. The distance doesn't change. The steps are still the same. But my confidence in myself continues to grow and the journey doesn't seem nearly so hard anymore. I think I'm getting stronger too.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Now What?

So I didn't get the job. It came down to me and one other person. How depressing to come in second place.

Okay, I'm over that now - no use dwelling on something I can't change.

Now what? After the phone call this afternoon I had a brief panicky moment until I reminded myself that things always work out somehow. Now I'm researching this idea I have and trying to figure out if it will work.

On a happier note, I sent a query letter to an editor on Monday and had a request for the full manuscript an hour later. That's kept me happy all week, despite all the other worries. I had it in the mail a few hours later and now I wait.

So life continues on despite my uncertainty about the future and what it holds. But there is always something exciting around the bend. I just wish I knew what it was.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Only Thing Constant is Change

Since the babysitting gig has come to an end, I've been trying to figure out what's next. The options seem endless until I break them down into pros and cons. So often the cons outweigh the pros and the list shrinks as some things are eliminated. But after much thinking and praying, other things are starting to stand out.


When I began exploring the world of employment again I quickly determined that the idea of leaving the home to re-enter the work force was seriously scary. I’ve become quite a homebody, but that is only part of it. Even though my children are getting older, I still like to see them off to school in the morning, eat lunch with them, and be there when they return home in the afternoon. There is also the difficulty of trying to find a job that pays enough to make up the income we need and also pay for the insanely expensive gas I would need to drive to the city to work.


I also looked at the possibility of returning back to school. Getting a degree is something I’ve toyed with over the years and I always like the thought of getting that piece of paper that says I worked hard and I know something. But once again, after much consideration, it didn’t feel like the right thing.


Yesterday I interviewed for a job here is town and I’m still waiting to hear back from them. I spent much of the last three weeks worrying about even getting that interview, but now that it’s over, I’m not worried about it at all. Que cera. Stressing about it won’t get me anywhere at this point.


The biggest change I’m contemplating is one that scares me and yet leaves me oddly calm at the same time. It would leave us without the extra income for at least a little while but maybe it is the right time to make some big changes. Things looked pretty bleak even just a few days ago, and yet as this idea forms in my head, a lot of things are becoming clearer. I won’t say much more about what I’m contemplating right now as I am still trying to work it out and decide how to approach it.


Everything falling apart, or coming together as it did, leaves me marveling as I often do at the way things slide into place at the right time. It all leaves me wondering if this is one of those leap-of-faith moments. And if I do, maybe this time I’ll be able to fly.

Monday, 15 September 2008

It Works Out

"It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers."

-Gordon B. Hinkley-

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Busy Day

28 quarts of applesauce
7 pints of ketchup
1 batch of banana cookies to use up the over-ripe bananas
5 72-hour kits reassembled
1 cleaned bathroom
3 kids supervised while doing chores
1 organized cold storage room
1 blog written
1 tired mom

...yawn!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury

"Over the past six months, Rachel Forsythe's perfect life has descended from the ideal to the tragic. The younger of her two daughters is dying of cancer. Despite her standing as the wife of a respected Mormon bishop, neither God nor medical science has blessed her with a cure. Or has He?

"Milada Daranyi, chief investment officer at Daranyi Enterprises International, has come to Utah to finalize the takeover of a Salt Lake City-based medical technology company. Bored with her downtown hotel accommodations, she rents a house in the Salt Lake City suburbs.

"And then the welcome wagon shows up. Her neighbors perceive her to be a beautiful, intelligent, and daunting young woman. But Rachel senses something about Milada that leads her in a completely different-and very dangerous-direction.

"Rachel's suspicions are right: Milada is homo lamia. A vampire. Fallen. And possibly the only person in the world who can save Rachel's daughter. Uncovering Milada's secrets, Rachel becomes convinced that, as Milton writes, "all this good of evil shall produce."

"As the two women push against every moral boundary in order to protect their families, the price of redemption will prove higher than either of them could have possibly imagined."

Angel Falling Softly examines human nature at its most basic level. What lengths would you got to to save the ones you love? How strong is your faith when pushed to your limits? Rachel has to answer all these questions for herself when her daughter lies at death's door. She knows death is not the tragic event the world may make it out to be, but it doesn't change her desire to have her daughter around longer. She knows what she is doing is wrong and won't even talk to her husband about it. Milada also has to take a look at the direction her own life is going and how she got there.

The author didn't provide enough background for Milada and her sisters and it would have been nice if the virus that caused them to become vampires was a little more fully explained. It was a little confusing at times. I also found the sex scenes a little graphic for my taste. Compared to the national market, they were very tame, but still not something I enjoyed reading - especially the two scenes with lesbian overtones. In a book written by an LDS writer about LDS people, the scenes seemed horribly out of place.

As for the story, it was interesting and I thought the characters did change and develop over time. We all make decisions and have to live with the consequences. In the end, Rachel gets her wish, but at what price?

This book has good storyline and fascinating characters. It's just a story but it raises interesting questions about our behavior in extreme situations.

Unfortunately, even though I thought the plot line was interesting and the story brought up some good questions, because of the sexual content and some bad language, I won't recommend this book to my readers.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson

"One year ago on Christmas Eve, William died. For Emma, the hit-and-run driver killed more than her husband; he killed her joy in life itself. Now, as Christmas approaches again, Emma Jensen finds herself sinking into a depression that nothing can breach; not her job, not her love for her children, and certainly not the season. Money is tight, and emotions are taut, and this year Christmas will be a meager, empty, and painful experience. Only six-year-old McKenna believes in miracles and the magic of Christmas. The rest of the family knows that Christmas can never be the same. But when a mysterious package and an ornate letter arrive on the doorstep, things begin to change. Each day, a package and a letter signed Santa arrive for the family, and together they come to understand that the joy of Christmas does not have to be lost forever, and that God s love can heal any wound, no matter how deep. The Santa Letters will take the Jensens on a journey through a Christmas experience that will have the power to heal them all."

Every year I find a new Christmas book to add to my collection, so when I was asked to review this, I knew what the book would be for 2008. This story tugs at the heartstrings and gives the reader reason to look inside at their own feelings toward the holidays. The principles in the letters are timeless and something every family should take the time to review and remember.

As for the story, I was a little disappointed in the lack of anything other than the letters to drive the story forward. Everything goes along smoothly once the letters start arriving. The kids came across as a little too perfect, especially after suffering the loss of their father. I expected to see more conflict that had to be resolved. The letters seemed to take up a good portion of the book. It would have been nice to see more real conversation between the characters and more description of what the family did when the letters came. Much of the story seemed to take place in the letters and in Emma's thoughts rather than in the characters interactions with each other.

Despite this, the book is pleasant and is a good reminder of all the things we take for granted in our lives and would be a nice addition to any Christmas library.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Banana Butter

I didn't write anything today, but I did make several batches of banana butter since I found bananas for more than half of the regular price at Walmart. Here's the recipe. It's great on toast or muffins or even as a topping on cake.

Banana Butter

1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
2 tsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp chopped maraschino cherries
1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine bananas, pineapple, lemon juice, sugar and maraschino cherries in a large pot. Cook over medium heat, bringing to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add pectin. Stir and skim foam for 5 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Makes 4 half pints.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage (win a copy)


"Magic is not just spells. The magic you see on the outside is but a tiny
fraction of
the power of true magic. The real power of magic lies within you. Who you
are,
what you do, and most importantly of all, what you may become."

Master Therapass, Farworld Book1 Water

"Other people may see thirteen-year-old Marcus Kanenas as an outcast and a nobody, but he sees himself as a survivor and a dreamer. In fact, his favorite dream is of a world far away, a world where magic is as common as air, where animals tell jokes and trees beg people to pick their fruit. He even has a name for this place- Farworld.

"When Marcus magically travels to Farworld, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms, and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for thirteen years, a secret that could change the fate of two worlds.

"But the Dark Circle has learned of Master Therapass's secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Farworld's only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals- water, land, air and fire- and convince them to open a drift between the worlds.

"As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst the evil Dark Circle can throw at them- Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creatures that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S'Bae.

"Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers."

I've been looking forward to reading this book for some time and I wasn't disappointed. The characters of Marcus and Kyja are well developed and unlike some other books written for children, they seem to act their age. They both struggle with feeling inadequate in their world and have to learn to find the magic within themselves.

Now for the contest. Everyone who comment and tells me what their favorite book was as a kid will be entered in the draw for a copy of Waterkeep. I know there are a bunch of people lurking who never comment, but this would make a great Christmas gift or a great bookto keep on your own bookshelf.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

A Compilation

I've been thinking lately about how little I write in my journal. Years ago, I was a compulsive journal keeper. I rarely missed a day. It is something I should still do, but somehow life has become busier and it gets harder to fit everything in. Then I read something Kimberly said in her blog. It reminded me about a project I started and quit several months ago.

Even though I don't write in my journal as often as I should, I've become a fairly regular blogger. So I spent the afternoon capturing all my entries from 2007 and formatting them in a word document. Nothing fancy. But at least I'll have a copy, once I replace the ink cartridge in the printer. Maybe I'll have to get some advice from Autumn on how to fancy things up and make a pretty binder to put them in. I figure I can continue to add new entries and keep the binder up-to-date. I should still write in my personal journal more often, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Where'd That Rug Go?

I haven't said much for a few days because I've been having something of a rough week and feel like I'm just trying to stay afloat. Nothing too terrible, as far as terrible things go, but enough to make me feel like I've had the rug pulled out from under me and I'm busy trying to get my footing again.

For the past three years I've been babysitting in my home to help bring in the extra income we need to support the family. I didn't make much, but it was enough. The number of kids I tend was going to decrease this year as several of them are starting grade one and one is going to kindergarten. Still, it left me with enough and I could add to those numbers from there.

Meanwhile, I am always on the lookout for something else to replace the babysitting. It has never been my choice of careers but I haven't been able to find anything else. Options are limited in the small town we live in and the cost of gas makes finding a part-time job in the city not very feasible. There is also my pitiful lack of formal education, which leaves me not qualified for very many things.

Last Wednesday, the mom of two of the kids I watch told me she wouldn't need me anymore. There went that rug. Without those two kids, I'm left with one little boy who is only here ten hours a week and no one on my waiting list. Anyway, the kids started school today, so I have lots of time on my hands to figure out what to do next. As they go back to school and no little children arrive at my door in the mornings, I need to remember what to do in a quiet, kid-free house. There's lots of time to write, and that's a good thing. Too bad it doesn't pay the bills. (I still believe it will happen someday.)

I know things will work out somehow, but with the price of groceries constantly on the rise, I hope we figure it out sooner than later. These last few days I have spent so much time trying to figure out what my skills are and how to present them to people without the little piece of paper telling them how smart I am, that my head hurts. Hopefully, my own girls will learn from their mother and get the good education I wasn't able to.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Summer Book Trek Wrap-up

It has been a busy summer of reading. My list grew as I became involved in blog tours and read reviews on other blogs. As always, I enjoy a reading challenge and found myself reading a variety of genres and styles. It's a good thing I read quickly as my reading list is always growing. Here are some questions from LDS Publisher about the book trek.

1. How many fiction books by LDS authors did you read?

-Fifteen

2. Did you read more than you would have read if you hadn't participated in this book trek?
-No

3. Did the reviews posted by other participants influence which titles you read? How?
-Yes. I love getting suggestions from other readers.

4. Did the Whitney awards influence which titles you read? How?
-No. I had already read all the Whitney nominees.

5. Did the many, many virtual blog tours that happened this summer influence which titles you read? How?
-The virtual blog tour influenced me because I was involved in many of them and ended up reading books I might not have picked up otherwise.

6. Did you finish all the books you had planned to read? If not, why?
-No. I didn't get to the Red Dragon Codex because I am waiting for my youngest daughter to read it and she isn't quite as fast as I am.

7. Did you discover any new authors whom you now love?
-Yes. I'm really looking forward to more by Janet Jensen and Stephanie Black.

8. Did you nominate any of the books you read for Whitney awards?
-Yes.

9. Would you be interested in another LDS themed reading challenge either this winter, or next summer?
-I love any reading challenge.

Monday, 25 August 2008

When to Give Up

I read a sad post from another blog friend today. She has been writing since high school but has struggled without support and friends in her area, struggled with rejections and felt alone in her uphill battle to be a writer. She is, as she puts it, "throwing in the towel." This saddened me because it could be me. Every so often I re-examine my goals and priorities and wonder if the writing life is really the life I want to pursue.

I certainly can't judge her decision. Everyone has their limit. I wonder where mine is. Like all women, there are so many things I have to keep up with and so much expected of me, it seems impossible to do the things I have to do let alone the things I want to do. Usually I find I can do so much better. But that's good, it gives me direction and something to focus on.

Today I've been thinking about the writing aspect of my life. Ever since I could hold a pencil I've written. I used to ask my mother to tell me how to spell the words so I could write them down. I probably drove her nuts. Once I learned to read and write, I used up scraps of paper and notebooks writing silly stories and poems down. I didn't I shared them with many people. Not many showed any interest. I had one great-grandmother who encouraged me to write and develop those talents and I still treasure her words today.

In junior high I wrote the required stories for English class but most of my personal writing was poetry - stuff filled with the standard teenage angst. High school was more of the same. As an adult, life took over and the creative writing I had always thrived on was put away.

I remember deciding to write something when my two oldest children were very young. I sat at the table and stared at the lined paper in front of me. That is really all I did. Sure, I wrote a few things down. Then scribbled them out. I wrote a few more things and finally threw the paper away. It seemed I had let the talent lie dormant for too long.

In the last ten years I have felt a renewed energy to write. I still don't know if the time is right, but I do it anyway. Maybe I'll never be published anywhere other than our local newspaper. Maybe I'll end up with a box of novel manuscripts under my bed. Maybe someday I'll actually be able to find my book in the bookstore. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I find myself wishing I could live closer to the center of the LDS writing community and belong to active writing groups and attend all the conferences available in Utah, but I love my home and will have to learn to be an LDS writer on my own. Sometimes the pressures of daily life are overwhelming, I feel isolated and lonely, and sometimes I think about "throwing in the towel." Maybe someday that will be the right thing to do. But when I give any serious thought to the direction my life is taking, even looking at other options, the same phrase keeps running through my head. "You are supposed to write. Just write." So I do.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Highland Games


Today we woke up at 5:00 a.m. My husband, my oldest daughter, and I headed out the door to High River. I couldn't convince the other two kids that a day of bagpipes and kilts could be any fun. We've been to dance competitions before, but never to an actual highland games.

When we arrived, we heard the bagpipes before we even entered the gates. Men in kilts and little girls in dance costumes with buns in their hair were everywhere. The dance competition got underway soon after we arrived so I spent most of the morning watching the highland fling, the sword dance, the flora, and the lilt.

We also spent time watching the heavy events. Men in kilts throwing large stones, cabers (logs) and even little kids got their turn at this. There was also a sheep dog demonstration and a cannon demonstration - all of this accompanied by the constant drone of bagpipes (which my daughter and I love but we are still trying to convert my husband to).

The highlight of the day was watching my daughter be awarded a silver medal in the sword dance, and a bronze medal in the lilt. She is already planning to return next year. So am I. Right now I am just tired though. 5:00 is just way too early.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Olympics and Writing

Like much of the world, I've been catching some of the Olympics over the last week and marveling at the strength and dedication of the athletes. These people have spent years of their lives training and working and perfecting their skills. Injuries and set-backs happen, but the athletes persevere. They are there to win but what really impresses me are those who may not win but end up beating their own personal records. It's about growing and getting better.

Closer to home, I watch my oldest daughter, who is a highland dancer. She's been dancing since grade one and is now entering grade ten. Whenever we talk about extra-curricular activities at the beginning of a school year, she makes it clear that quiting highland dance is not an option. She will take it no matter what else has to go. Her skills grow every year and she has set a goal to test for and receive her teacher's certification when she is old enough. But highland dance is not easy for her. She has knee and ankle problems that often make the dancing painful and this week as she is preparing for competition, the pain has prevented dancing altogether. Yet despite the pain, she loves to dance. She loves beating her own personal best.

My own sport is writing. I know, I won't lose much weight that way. It's a mental sport. And just like any athlete who works hard to perfect their skills, I work hard to improve my writing. Today I received a rejection in the mail. As always, it set me back a little. But my coach (husband) pushes me on and won't let me quit. When I wonder if the time and expense invested are worth it, I remember the athletes who physically push themselves to the limit to be better. They have no guarantee of winning a medal and my daughter isn't guaranteed a medal at her competitions. Yet they all continue because they love what they do. Somehow it is part of who they are. Writing is the same for me.

As I read the words I labor over, I can see the improvement in them. I'm reaching and passing my own personal bests, and maybe someday I'll even get published. For me, that would be better than any medal. Until then, I continue training and competing in the writing world. There is no guarantee that I'll ever reach my goal but I'll never know unless I keep trying, and anyway, writing is part of who I am.
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