Tuesday, 27 January 2009

You Can't Have Rain Without the Mud

I attended a women's conference on Saturday - an annual event put on by our church. It starts out with a light breakfast and then we split into classes. The first class I attended was called "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today". One of the points the teacher made really touched me.

She related this experience to us. There was a lengthy drought in our area that lasted three years and of course it was affecting her family's crops and gardens. Everyone prayed and prayed for rain, but the drought continued. Finally after a region-wide fast, the heavens opened. The local reservoir filled in three days even though the experts had said it would take a few years of good rain to get it back to normal levels. This sister said it was a miracle and everyone including her was so grateful for the rain.

Then she started noticing the mud - in the yard, the driveway, on the carpets, the kitchen floor, and the kids feet. She complained about the constant mess and the constant cleaning that resulted from the mud. One day she said something about the mess to a friend and she got this response. "You prayed for the rain. You can't have the rain without the mud."

How often do we pray for specific blessings and then complain about the side-effects?

I started thinking about this again today as I listened to the wind blow - not just little breezes, but 70 mile-an-hour winds. They seem to push through the house and I have the hardest time getting warm. I took my daughter into the city today for an orthodontist appointment and on the way home I stopped at the gas station to put gas in the van. While I stood there filling the vehicle, I had to brace myself against the wind and lost my balance a time or two. And I think my legs got a good workout as I walked against the wind on my way to the school this afternoon.

The thing is, I've prayed for years that I would be able to raise my children in this wonderful community. I love living in the same town my family helped settle 110 years ago and being able to teach my kids about their heritage. But I can't have my home in this area if I don't take the wind as well.

It's something I need to think about more as I look at the blessings in my life. Even the mud and the wind have their place. Without the wind we'd never fly a kite. An when was last time you let the mud squish between your toes?

Monday, 26 January 2009

Picture Tag

The rules of this tag are that you open your picture file and pick the sixth folder and then the sixth picture in that folder.

This is a picture taken at my oldest daughter's birthday three years ago. (I can't believe we are gearing up to celebrate her sixteenth birthday in three weeks. Time sure flies.) Anyway, her teacher had been reading the class The Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathryn Lasky. Both my daughter and son loved the series so she got the boxed set of books 1-6. These are books I keep saying I'll get around to reading, but I just haven't picked them up yet. Maybe I still will at some point. Considering how much we love books and reading at our house, it's appropriate that the picture is of a book, although I'm not sure why we took this picture.

Anyone who hasn't done this yet may consider themselves tagged.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Editing Tips, or, Things I Need to Watch For

I offered to edit a manuscript for a blog friend of mine just before Christmas. Over the last month I've been working on it quite a bit. My husband wonders if my time wouldn't be better spent working on my own manuscript, but since I started reading through the book, I realized I was working on mine at the same time.

As I read through the book the first time, I became quite aware of the flow of the story and how the plot lines wove together. I ended up with two notebooks next to the computer. One with detailed notes about the manuscript I was working on, and another with brief notes reminding me to check on the same problems in my own work. After a second slower read through, I realized I was learning more about good writing in general.

Some of the things I caught that I need to go back and check for in my own are:
  • Repeated words. Sometimes it is so easy to use the same word over and over again without even realizing it. After all, a dance is a dance. But with careful rewriting the same section can be written to use the words fewer times and will actually be more interesting to read. There are also an author's 'pet' words. As I read over mine this afternoon, I realized I use the words 'really' and 'finally' way too often. I have some work to do there.
  • Show don't tell. It is so easy to get caught in the trap of just telling the story. In some ways it is more natural since that is how we often tell others about the things that happen in our lives.
  • Dialogue. Written dialogue doesn't sound like spoken dialogue. When we talk to others we often throw in words like, 'uh', 'oh', 'um', but when those are used in a story, they slow down the flow of the conversation.
  • Include all the important information. Often when I tell a story, I forget to put all the necessary facts in. I know all the background and forget that the reader doesn't. Sometimes I reread what I've written, I realize there are big holes that will leave the reader confused.
These are all reasons why it is a good thing first drafts aren't published and every book goes through multiple revisions. Working on this friend's manuscript was a great exercise for me and makes me even more anxious to get a critique group going. But that's another post for another day.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Righteous Desires

For the last two weeks, my oldest daughter has been talking about Especially For Youth. She has never attended before, but this year her friends have spent many hours trying to convince her to go. Last summer we told her to wait until she was sixteen. Since money is always tight and our small community doesn't have many opportunities for teenagers to earn money, we knew she might only get one chance to go. This year she is going to be sixteen, but every time she brought it up, I put her off. I told her she needed to sit down with me and her dad so we could discuss whether it was actually a possibility.

I think EFY is a wonderful program and wish I had had the chance to go when I was her age. For me the issues were the same - money. It wasn't such a big deal though since hardly any of my friends went. Now it almost seems like something all the kids do.

We sat down one evening and discussed with her all the issues we were concernced about. First, there is drivers ed. She needs to take this course soon so she can get her license and possibly get a job in the city. That will set us back many hundred dollars. Then there is the EFY factor - several more hundred dollars. She has also been hinting that she needs a dancing kilt for her highland dance. I agree with her, but that is several more hundred.

That's when we get to the issue of righteous desires. All these things are good and will benefit her in the long run, so how do you decide where the little money you have goes? She offered to pay for all of EFY on her own, but I was concerned that she wouldn't be able to replace it, not having a job, and then what would she do the next time something came up?

In the end, her dad and I talked and agreed because she doesn't spend money lightly and almost never asks us for a single penny, we would pay half of the EFY costs. All three of us felt good about this decision, so last Friday I let her register. Let's just say she was a little excited. Actually, I've never seen her so hyper.

Then yesterday she came home from school and asked me if I remembered an assignment she'd been given in her computer class before Christmas to design a poster for Crimestoppers . I didn't. She went on to tell me the teacher had encouraged them to enter the finished poster in a contest the Crimestoppers association was having. So in class yesterday, the teacher received a phone call informing her that my daughter won the contest. The prize is $500. Almost exactly what it was going to cost to go to EFY.

Amazing how things come together when we have righteous desires. We'll still pay for half of the EFY, but guess who gets to pay for half of drivers ed.? It's a win-win situation for everyone. (Another bonus - the teacher told the class that if any of them happened to win, they would receive 100% on the project.) Can I just say what an awesome teenager she is and how proud I am of her? I love these moments!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Patience is a Virtue

I'm not very patient. I try to be and when it comes to my kids, I don't do too badly. When it comes to my writing, it's a different story altogether.

I wrote my first manuscript quickly, as it was my attempt at NaNoWriMo in 2006. When I wrote the last word, I put it away for a month before I reread it and started on the revisions. It was a long month. When I did finally pull it out, the work seemed to take much longer than it should. Having never revised anything of that length before, I had to figure out what sort of revision process would work for me and how to go about it.

Once the revisions were completed, I handed it out to several people to get opinions on it and unearth further problems to solve in future revisions. I'll admit, I wasn't very good at waiting for people to read the book. On one hand, I didn't want to know what they thought. On the other hand, how could I keep working on it if they didn't get back to me?

If I thought that was bad, there is the whole submission game. Waiting to hear from publishers has turned me into a compulsive checker of email and phone messages. So if I didn't have patience before, the whole writing process is teaching me to sit back, take a deep breath and move on to the next project.

In the last month I've exchanged a few emails with one publisher and now I'm waiting to hear more from them. During this month I'm discovering I haven't developed as much patience as I thought I had.

Since I've done my revisions on my current WIP for the day and finished editing a friend's manuscript, it's time to walk away for awhile. I'll have to work on this virtue for one more day. It's just another way I get to grow as a writer.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Now What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

We love music in our home. All of us are musical - from playing instruments in band, playing the piano, and singing. My youngest daughter has taken piano lessons for a few years, takes guitar lessons from my dad, sings in the school choir, and now is trying to learn how to play the drums. She is hoping that we will get her a harp someday. Now this would all be wonderful if she would actually practice.

She likes to spend her practice time writing her own music. She'll write guitar chords down, make up lyrics and then sing her little heart out. The most interesting is when she decides to write drum music. Her favorite right now is called "Crazy Girl". You can imagine what that sounds like. She needs to learn some real drum technique so it isn't just banging. (Her dad gets to teach her that.)

After Christmas the kids all quit taking piano lessons because the teacher retired. My oldest daughter has moved on to voice lessons, my son is just being encouraged to play every day, but I told the youngest she wasn't done yet. So guess who the new teacher is going to be? That's right...the mom as piano teacher thing. Should be interesting.

Last night she wasn't practicing her guitar very effectively, so when she was done, I sat down and took it from her. (My dad tried to teach me as a teenager, but I really wasn't that interested.) I opened her song book up and picked a piece of music. Using the chord chart at the top of the page, I stumbled my way through "Home on the Range". She sat and helped me get some of the chords right and informed me I would have to cut my fingernails if I wanted to be any good. I agreed, then challenged her, promising I would learn the song before she did.

The challenge must have done some good. When I got home this evening, she was playing the guitar with my dad, and that's the song they were working on. She's determined to learn it before I do. So I guess if I want her to work harder on the guitar I need to appeal to her competitive spirit. I don't think I really wanted to play the guitar, but it's just one of those crazy things I do for my kids.

So what have I gotten myself into? Not only do I have to teach her piano lessons, I've got to teach myself guitar lessons. It's all worth it if she can use the skills to develop her songwriting talents. I'm excited to see her develop her musical abilities. And maybe I'll actually learn a new musical skill in the process.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Back on Track

I've spent the last week reading the manuscript of a friend and fellow blogger. It's been great to work on and hopefully the comments I've made will be helpful. More importantly, it's been helpful to me.

For Tristi's challenge this month, I signed up with the intention of editing my current WIP. The first day of January came and went. My excuse for not starting anything was that we were still having holidays. That excuse carried on for about five days. Then I had to work at the school a few days. Basically I was just having a hard time getting my mind back on track.

Then I started working on this manuscript. As I read through someone else's work and notice things, I make little notes to myself. There are things I read that need to be fixed and I know if I check my own work I'll find the same mistakes. It seems to be so much easier to find the errors in someone else's writing. That is why it's so good to have others read your writing before you send it out to the publishers.

So it's all been good. I'm back on track, I'm almost ready to send the manuscript back to my friend and mine should be ready to get out to readers before the end of the month. It feels great to finally be out of my funk and getting work done again.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Something to Think About

ali over at Girl in a Whirl challenged her readers a few days ago. Here is some of what she had to say:

"Sometime in November I was listening to the Glenn Beck show when he spoke on several things we should do to personally be prepared for what is to come. Not so much as physically prepared as spiritually, personally, prepared.

"Glenn said that we need to find ourselves. He said,

"Who are you really? What do you believe? Have you been pushed and challenged? Do you know where you stand? Can you support it with real facts?

"I would like to challenge you to answer these questions, as they come, on your own blog, and/or in my comment trail."

So here goes.

Who am I?

My first response is that I am a Daughter of God. Knowing this gives me the courage to go forward in life with my head high. I know He is behind me and like any good parent, will be there to pick me up when I fall - which is probably far too often. Knowing who my Father is gives me the perfect example to follow in everything I do. It helps me be a better wife, parent, and friend. And because I know I am the daughter of a divine being, I know I have the potential to reach great heights. How reassuring that is during the dark times and how empowering it is during the good times.

What do I believe?

I believe God loves all of us. I believe we are his children and I believe he has a plan for us. He wants every one of us to learn and grow. He wants to to stretch ourselves and become the best we can be. The potential for great and marvelous things lie within each of us. And most of all, I believe He will never leave us to do this on our own.

Have I been pushed and challenged?

Yes. Often. Many times it's as a result of the decisions I've made and many times it's just because life happens. But every challenge has brought great growth and increased strength. I can honestly say that I appreciate all the difficulties I've had. And over the years as I've learned to like myself more, I realize that the person I am today is shaped by the challenges of yesterday. I wouldn't change a single moment.

Do I know where I stand?

Definitely. I have a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have strong beliefs about the type of community and country I want to raise my children in. Too often, I let opportunities to state my position pass me by because I don't speak up enough, but I am firm in my beliefs.

Can I support my position with real facts?

I believe I can support my position with real facts, but I am always reading and adding to my knowledge because I love to learn. I do need to be more consistent in my study of the gospel, but I'm working on it and I know that every little bit helps. Every morning I get out of bed with a thirst for learning and growing. Hopefully, I know who I am and have clear enough goals that the things I do each day will help strengthen my resolve to be a better person and stand firm.

I'm not nearly so eloquent as ali - her post is definitely worth a read - but it is certainly a good exercise in examining ourselves a little. So how about you? Who are you?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Books Eligible for the 2009 Whitney Awards

Here is the list for the 2009 Whitney Awards. I will keep adding to the list as I hear of new books. If you know of any books released in 2009 and by an LDS author, let me know in the comment section, or email me and I will get them added to the list.

  1. Abramson, Traci Hunter - Lockdown
  2. Adair, Liz - Counting the Cost
  3. Allen, Joseph - The Phoenix: Firestorm
  4. Anderson, Brenda - Abish: Faith Among the Lamanites
  5. Ashley, Amanda - Immortal Sins
  6. Ashley, Amanda - Night's Pleasure
  7. Aylworth, Susan - Right Click
  8. Bahlmann, Bron - Bone Warriors
  9. Bateman, Anya - I Just Got a Letter From Allyson Pringle
  10. Berry, Julie - Amaranth Enchantment
  11. Bingham, Laura - Alvor
  12. Black, Stephanie - Methods of Madness
  13. Borrowman, Jerry - One Last Chance
  14. Brown, John - Servant of Dark God
  15. Chadwick, Linda - Second Chances
  16. Checketts, Cami - The Sister Pact
  17. Clark, Linda Weaver - David and the Bear Lake Monster
  18. Clark, Linda Weaver - Elena Woman of Courage
  19. Clements. Jillayne - Deadly Treasure
  20. Cole, Frank L. - The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters
  21. Collings, Michael R. - The Thousand Eyes of Flame: Wordsmith 2
  22. Collings, Michael R. - The Veil of Heaven: Wordsmith 1
  23. Dashner, James - The Hunt for Dark Infinity: The 13th Reality 2
  24. Dashner, James - The Maze Runner
  25. Daybell, Chad - The Rise of Zion
  26. DiPastena, Joyce - Illuminations of the Heart
  27. Dye, Anna del C. - Elfs in a Conquered Land
  28. Edwards, Wendie L. - Babylon (Millenial Glory IX)
  29. Ellis, Ann Dee - Everything is Fine
  30. Farland, David - Chaosbound
  31. Farland, David - In the Company of Angels
  32. Farland, David - Ravenspell: Freaky Flyday
  33. Feehan, Christine - Burning Wild
  34. Feehan, Christine - Dark Slayer
  35. Feehan, Christine - Hidden Currents
  36. Ferran, Terri - Having Hope
  37. Fitzpatrick, Becca - Hush, Hush
  38. Ford, Jamie - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
  39. Forman, M.L. - Slathbog's Gold: Adventures Wanted Bk. 1
  40. Galli, Guy M. and Galli, Jeffrey R. - Shadow Hunter
  41. Gardner, Lynn - Pursued: a Maggie McKenzie Mystery
  42. George, Diony - Torn Apart
  43. George, Jessica Day - Dragon Spear
  44. George, Jessica Day - Princess of the Midnight Ball
  45. Gowen, Karen Jones - Uncut Diamonds
  46. Grandhi, Preetham - A Circle of Souls
  47. Green, Betsy Brannon - Code of Honor
  48. Green, Betsy Brannon - Murder by the Book
  49. Grey, Sandra - Tribunal
  50. Grossman, Jeni - Missing Pieces
  51. Hale, Shannon - The Actor and the Housewife
  52. Hale, Shannon - Forest Born
  53. Hanks, Leeanne - Within the Flame
  54. Hansen, Jennie - High Country
  55. Hansen, Jennie - Shudder
  56. Holmes, Michele Paige -All the Stars in Heaven
  57. Harrison, Mette Ivie - The Princess and the Bear
  58. Henham, R.D. (Clint Johnson) - Green Dragon Codex
  59. Henham, R.D. (Rebecca Shelley) - Brass Dragon Codex
  60. Hinrichsen, Ronda Gibb - Missing
  61. Horrocks, Heather - How to Stuff a Wild Zucchini
  62. Justesen, Heather - The Ball's in her Court
  63. Kent, Steven L. - The Clone Betrayal
  64. Kilpack, Josi - English Trifle
  65. Kilpack, Josi - Lemon Tart
  66. Kurland, Lynn - Princess of the Sword
  67. Kurland, Lynn - Till There Was You
  68. Langford, Jonathon - No Going Back
  69. Luke, Gregg - Altered State
  70. Lund, Gerald - The Undaunted
  71. Lyon, Annette - Tower of Strength
  72. Mace, Aubrey - My Fairy Grandmother
  73. Mace, Aubrey - Santa Maybe
  74. Mangrum, Dennis - The Mystic Cipher: The Story of the Lost Rhoades Gold Mine
  75. Mangum, Lisa - The Hourglass Door
  76. Mathews, John Holbrook - The Light Above
  77. McClure, Marcia Lynn - A Crimson Frost
  78. McClure, Marcia Lynn - Saphyre Snow
  79. McClure, Marcia Lynn - Shackles of Honor
  80. McKendry, Kristen - The Ties that Bind
  81. Mickelson, Marcia - Pickup Games
  82. Moore, H.B. - Alma
  83. Morgan, K.L. - On the Jericho Road
  84. Morrison, Angela - Taken by Storm
  85. Mull, Brandon - Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary: Fablehaven 4
  86. Nunes, Rachel Ann - Saving Madeline
  87. Noehren, Riley - Gravity vs the Girl
  88. Owen, James - The Shadow Dragons
  89. Perry, Anne - Execution Dock
  90. Petersen, Todd Robert - Rift
  91. Peterson, Kathi Oram - The Forgotten Warrior
  92. Pike, Aprilynne - Wings
  93. Pinkston, Tristi - Agent in Old Lace
  94. Poulson, Clair M. - Dead Wrong
  95. Poulson, Cory - Reiyalindis
  96. Rager, Rachel - By Love or By Sea
  97. Rallison, Janette - Just One Wish
  98. Rallison, Janette - My Fair Godmother
  99. Sanderson, Brandon - Alcatraz versus the Knights of Crystallia
  100. Sanderson, Brandon & Jordan Robert - The Gathering Storm
  101. Sanderson, Brandon - Warbreaker
  102. Savage, J. Scott - Farworld: Landkeep
  103. Sears, Gale - The Route
  104. Shurtleff, Mark L. - Am I Not a Man? The Dred Scott Story
  105. Skye, Obert - Leven Thumps and the Ruins of Alder
  106. Sowards, Joan - Haunts Haven
  107. Stansfield, Anita - The Best of Times (Dickens Inn #1)
  108. Stansfield, Anita - Shelter from the Storm
  109. Stansfield, Anita - The Silence of Snow
  110. Stansfield, Anita - Winds of Hope
  111. Stephens, Berin L. - The Dragon War Relic
  112. Strain, Elodia - Previously Engaged
  113. Talley, Rebecca - Altared Plans
  114. Thayer, Douglas - The Tree House
  115. Thayne, RaeAnne - A Cold Creek Homecoming
  116. Thayne, RaeAnne - Fortune's Woman
  117. Vandagriff, G.G. - The Hidden Branch
  118. Vandagriff, G.G. - The Last Waltz
  119. Ward, Marsha - Trail of Storms
  120. Weikel, Deborah L. - Under a Lakota Moon
  121. Weis, Margaret & Hickman, Tracy - Bones of the Dragon
  122. Weis, Margaret & Hickman, Tracy - Dragons of the Hourglass Mage
  123. Weyland, Jack - Brianna, My Brother and the Blog
  124. Weyland, Jack - The Samaritan Bueno
  125. Wilhite, Becca - Bright Blue Miracle
  126. Williams, Carol Lynch - The Chosen One
  127. Wright, Jason F. - Christmas Jars Reunion

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

It Shouldn't Be This Hard

I'll be the first to admit that I've been blessed with many talents, and I am extremely grateful for each one of them. But there is one area in the talent department that I am lacking. I wish I could design a space, carry out my plan, and love it.

My whole life has been beige. Living in rental homes and using hand me down furniture, I have become used to making do with what I have and truly appreciating not having to spend precious funds on a place to sit. When I was a kid, my mother didn't really do anything with the house. The walls were white and the furniture quite neutral. Even now, when I consider painting a wall or making new curtains, I decide the money could be better spent elsewhere. It's just an excuse so I don't have to pick paint colors, curtain styles, or flooring.

This year my husband and I decided to put a wood-burning stove insert into the fireplace. We should be able to cook on the surface that extends from the wall, and it will provide heat for our home much more efficiently than the fireplace. (We also consider it part of our emergency preparedness plan.) It should be that simple, but it isn't. To be able to have the insert be up to code, we need to put in some tile. It should be easy enough to pick the tile we like, get it put in and love it - right?

We went to the tile store this afternoon and showed the salesperson pictures of the room. She decided we should go with black slate. My immediate reaction was "not in my house." I kept it to myself and listened to her reasoning, which all made sense except I really didn't like the black. Our whole living area is beige, furniture, walls, everything except for the red brick of the fireplace. It just felt like the black would overpower the room.

When we came home, I found a piece of black fabric and put it on the floor where the tile will go. Decision made, I don't like it. I can see how it would work if the room was darker and richer in color, but as it is the black tile and the black stove would become the focal point of the entire space, and not in a good way. Now the dilemma. The parquet flooring in the room is quite yellow and I have never liked it. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace it anytime soon, so it has to stay. Therefore, the tile needs to match that floor, but I don't really want to match the tiles to the yellow, because I keep hoping I'll be able to replace the floor sooner rather than later.

Any decorating in our home has to happen in stages, so I'm trying to see the big picture. This is where the decorating talent would really come in handy. In my head, there is a vision of how I want the space to look. I have a few paint swatches put aside, but I'm too worried about putting the wrong colour on the wall and then having to leave it there because we wouldn't be able to repaint too soon.

It shouldn't be this hard. I wish I could walk into a store, pick something and have at least one person (with good taste) approve and tell me how good the room will look when finished. I still don't know how I'm going to pick the right tile, but I need to decide soon so the stove can be installed. I think I need a fairy godmother who is an interior decorator.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

LDStorymakers Conference and Whitney 2009

The registration for the LDStorymakers conference opened up in December. It's a great writer's conference and one I try not to miss. I remember the first time I attended, feeling a little like an imposter - a writer wanna be. Being one of those classic introverts who doesn't handle crowds well I worried about whether I would even get anything out of the conference since I knew my tendency to fade into the woodwork and observe rather than take part. But I wanted to reach my dreams bad enough so I swallowed the fears and went - although I did have to talk my sister-in-law into coming with me for moral support.

That first conference I attended was amazing. I've never felt more at home in a crowd of strangers than I did in that room full of people who understood the way I think. They understood the feeling of having a character wake you up in the night just so their story could be told. They understood the frustration of trying to decide which book to write next. They understood the absolute drive to put pen to paper and rewrite until the words flow in exactly the right way.

Since then I've looked forward to the conference every year. I've met incredible people, received encouragement and advice from authors I admire, and discovered many I call friends. Really I just went to learn a little more about how to be better at what I do, but the benefits that came on the side have changed my life. So if you're a writer and haven't attended the LDStorymakers conference, I encourage you to go. I'll be getting my registration in this week.

Last year the experience became even more incredible as they added the Whitney Awards Gala to the two day conference. It was amazing to attend the first ever awards and see wonderful LDS writers being honoured by their peers. As much as I enjoyed the Whitney Gala last year and would love to go this year, I've decided not to purchase a ticket, in the interest of saving money, since the drive from Canada to Utah eats up a large portion of my budget, and money's tight this time around. But I'll be watching online that night to finally hear who the winners are.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting impatiently for the finalists for the 2008 Whitney Awards to be announced. I know those responsible for putting the list together are hard at work and will announce the titles as soon as possible. Even though the finalists for the 2008 year aren't out yet, there are already a few books to add to the list for the 2009 awards. I love keeping a list here as it helps me keep up with what's new and I love trying to read as many as I can. So once again, I'm planning on keeping a list of books eligible for the 2009 awards.

I do have one question for you. Which type of list do you prefer - alphabetical by author, or alphabetical by title? I'm also asking for the names and authors of any books you know of, written by an LDS author and published in 2009 that need to be placed on the list.

Monday, 5 January 2009

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

"After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy."

I've read and enjoyed several of Janette's books but this one added a new twist by throwing the characters into the middle of a fairy tale. Each time I thought I had the story figured out, a new problem would get me thinking again. Many girls dream of a fairy godmother to solve their problems but the one sent to help Savannah is a great twist on the classic character and not what anyone would hope for in a magical helper. Throughout the story, Savannah learns to think outside herself and consider others as she tries to put to rights the wishes that her fair godmother messes up.

The thing I love about Janette's books is that I can give them to my daughters knowing they will love the story and also knowing I'm not handing them something filled with bad language and inappropriate content for teenagers. It is refreshing. This twisted fairy tale is a great fun. My Fair Godmother will be released tomorrow and I'll be first in line to by copies for the girls in my family.

Friday, 2 January 2009

As Promised...

I mentioned early in December that I would post pictures of my projects. So here is where my creative energies went for the last month...

Handmade books for friends and family. This was the first time I'd tried this technique and I'm addicted. They are so much fun and fairly quick to do. And the possibilities are endless. I learned how from this blog. I think I may make a bigger one for all my blog posts from 2007 and another one for my posts from 2008. I been wanting to print them off as a sort of journal, but wanted to find some other way to store them than in a binder.

Another project was Christmas dresses for the girls. I don't do this every year, but they both needed something new. I thought it wouldn't be so complicated when I first mentioned it as they both tend to go with simple styles and fabrics. Imagine my surprise when they both wanted fancy this year. My older daughter picked this style. The jacket is out of sari fabric - satin with gold threads woven in, and the dress is chiffon lined with crepe-back satin. Let's just say shifty and slippery, but the final product turned out quiet nice. She looks so grown up and beautiful in it.

Without knowing what her sister picked, my younger daughter decided on a jacket as well. She loved this shiny blue fabric I had, so her dress hardly cost me anything. The blue was just too much for me, so I broke it up a bit with some silk ribbon embroidery and swarovski crystals across the front of the dress. With only a little stress I managed to get both dresses done to be worn the Sunday before Christmas.

The next things that had to be done were the things for my brother's family. We rotate families every year and so I got to sew for them. The girls and I decided to make the gifts for my niece and nephew to use up some of the things we had around the house. The leopard was fun and so soft that I almost had to make another one to keep at the house for my own kids. I also made the bookmark to go in one of the handmade books for my sister-in-law. I haven't done a lot of embroidery in some time, but even when I stressed a little over cutting fabric threads (and accidentally did cut one and had to reweave the fabric) it was relaxing and I remembered how much I enjoy doing it. The actual bookmark is only about 2 inches wide and 6 inches long. There's better detail if you click on the picture.

The last things I had to finish were the pajama pants for one of my girls and the robe for my son. I stayed up until 2:30 am the night before Christmas eve to finish them. I'm not as young as I used to be I guess. In college I would do all-nighters all the time to get school work done, but that late night really set me back. I did get a nice nap the next afternoon while my husband was setting up the tables for Christmas dinner.

I had fun doing all this. Making things with my hands has always brought me great pleasure. My only complaint is that people don't say thank you for anything anymore. So many times we give gifts and then wait to hear if the recipient liked it or if it was just another gift that got lost in the shuffle of Christmas. Of course, we don't give just to have people tell us how wonderful we are, but it would be nice if people remembered the basics of good manners and did the whole thank you thing.

I sometimes wonder if it is because we all receive too much. When I had my kids call their grandparents to thank them for the Christmas gifts, they had to get it straight in their heads who gave them what. When people received less maybe they appreciated it more. Anyway, most of the things I made I will never see again, never really know if the person received them and certainly never know if they liked it or not. It doesn't change anything. Next year I'll make myself busy with projects again, because I love doing it.

Of course, I'm starting out with all sorts of good intentions to get going in January, but with renewed focus on writing, several prom dresses to sew and sewing for my daughters ballet classes spring recital, I'll most likely be frantic next December as well. What's December without a few late nights anyway?

P.S. My husband noticed in the pictures that the girls had blank faces. He's wondering what side of the family that comes from.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

Christmas has come and gone and 2009 taken off. There will be no list of resolutions here as I tend to just make on-going goals all year long, but I will re-vamp my writing goals for the year and post them on my bulletin board for a constant reminder of where I need to be. Last year, I didn't do as well as I wanted to, so it's time for a fresh start.

I'm starting out the new year with another of Tristi's challenges. I'm going to write something every day, but for the challenge I'll be editing my book Double Deceit. The plan is to have it ready for my readers by the end of the month. That also gives me a month to figure out who those readers will be.

Today I had to reorganize and find the desk in the office. I usually end up shuffling something around over the holidays and this year the office and family room got the attention. The job is almost done and then I can get back to the real work of writing and making decent meals for the family - it's been too many days of snacking and goodies.

Some things I'm looking forward to in 2009...
  • LDStorymakers conference - still haven't registered. Hopefully I'll get some of the logistics figured out and take care of that soon.
  • The Whitney Awards - I don't know if I'll make it to the awards ceremony this year, but I can't wait to see who the finalists are and then find out who the winners are.
  • Finishing Double Deceit and submitting it - and this is the positive thinking coming in to play - getting it published.
  • Hearing back on Finding Rose - and getting it published (again with the positive thinking).
  • My 20 year high school reunion. I still live in my home town, so I see a lot of these people on a regular basis, but it is so much fun to get the whole group together.
  • My daughter's 16th birthday. I'm excited about this and trying not to let it make me feel old.
  • My youngest daughter going to Young Women's in the fall.
...and so much more. Stick around and see what happens. I'm sure interested in seeing how 2009 turns out.
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