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Thursday, August 30, 2007

How can I tell if he really loves me?


Last week I had the opportunity to read a blog at Cranberry Corner. Jenna's story really touched me and has stuck with me this week. Maybe because I finished the book and am looking at my family and admiring them again, but pondering her theme of finding love I was reminded of something Tristi Pinkston said a few years ago.

We were talking about romance on the LDStorymakers e-mail list and she said her idea of romance was different than most people's. Flowers and stuff like that didn't do much for her, but now and then her hubby would let her sleep in on Saturday morning and go get her a McDonald's breakfast because he knew she loved it. For her, THAT was romance. I couldn't agree more (though I like flowers too) and this morning all of this came flooding back to me as I was gagging while holding the bag for my hunny-bunny to dump the dead skunk in.

It's our second dead skunk in a week, and dang but do they stink! I really like skunks--from a distance. I don't want to trap and kill them--killing and trapping is for the raccoons--but we keep catching skunks and Animal control does not come out for skunks in our county so it is up to us. Here's where the romance comes in, though that's probably not the right word, but it's definitely love.

My husband does not think skunks are cute, nor chickens either. The chickens are my idea, my passion, but he loves me so he puts up with it. And it's because of chickens that we have raccoons, which is why I bought the trap. He could say that because the chickens and traps and raccoons are my buisness, the skunks are too, but he doesn't. Instead he dresses up like the unabomber and goes takes care of them so I don't have to, then, this morning, in his dress clothes no less (he'd forgotten we still needed to dispose before he left for work) he picks up the stinky trap to dump the skunk in the bag. And as I'm dry heaving, he offers to take it to the dumpster at work instead of putting it in our household garbage can (we did that with last week's skunk--Baaaaaaaad idea--though I feel sorry for the people at the office building).

Through it all, he does not berate me about having to do something so awful, he doesn't complain at all(in part because he thinks I make funny faces)--and that, in my book, is love. He loves me enough to deal with dead skunks. To top it off, later today as I'm running errands in the city he works in, he calls and offers to do take out at our favorite sushi place so I can meet him for five whole minutes and we can eat together. So, I did. We sat in the back seat of the minivan with our five year old and ate sushi until I had to take the five-year old to kindergarten.

The date nights are great, and getting flowers makes my day, but when he tunes the radio to my favorite station, even though he'd choose Hinder over the Eagles any day, or he offers to pick up Arby's on the way home (again) because I told him I HAD to get a scene written, I'm reminded why I married this guy, why he's my moon, sun, and stars. These are things that make my heart thump.

So, outside of candy and chocolates and snuggling on the couch, I want to know the non-traditional things you're Sweety does to show you he (or she, though very few men read/comment on this blog) loves you. Or, if he's a lump and doesn't do nice things, what do you hope your next husband does?

Monday, August 27, 2007

D-O-N-E Spells Relief

Working Title: Her Good Name


Final Length: 331 pages or 82, 580


Total Cuts: 725 pages or 191,128 words

You guys not having to hear me whine about this anymore: Priceless

And the final line (at least until my readers tell me it smells like Limburger cheese on a hot day ). . . “All it takes is a little work, a little faith, and perhaps a sturdy set of heels.”

I'm a happy girl tonight! Thanks for all the encouragement.

Summer Reading Thing 2007: Two strikes, one homer

Strike one . . .

This is the second James Patterson novel I have read, well, the second one I've picked up--I didn't finish reading it. I made it to about the 4th chapter, which was about two chapters further than I ought to have gone. I must be getting old, but I just don't tolerate the icky stuff I used to not mind so much. The thing is, I love a good mystery. I love the drama, I love the conflict, I love the intensity and the way my heart races--and yet I don't want sexual sadism or stomach churning descriptions. The crux of the 'killer' in this book was "What's the worst thing anyone has ever done?" and I'm assuming the rest of the book is his attempts to top himself after killing newlyweds. No thanks. I will likely try a Patterson again, since I liked the other book by him that I read, but I'll be more careful in the ones I spend my time and money on. I paid $8 for it and gave it to DI.



Strike Two . . .

This was my stretch book--what does it say about me that I could not reach it? The paperback I got from the library was 704 pages--daunting for me if there are no Hippogriffs--and I made it to page 43. I enjoyed those 43 pages, or at least the 20% or so that I could make sense of. The information was interesting, but the context was one I have such little understanding of that it took me hours and hours to read these pages and there was just so much I didn't understand. I felt it was written for someone that already knew the basics of Einstein, for instance it would introduce someone and add a snippet about how important this person later was to Einstein's discovering of Quantum Grifindorum--but as this happened over and over again, it led me to feel even more out of the loop than ever. So, I called uncle, but with good feelings as we parted ways. I find Einstein fascinating and love what I did learn about him. Maybe if I had more disposable time I would invest it here, maybe there is another biography that is easier to read. Either way, this book was not for me.


Home Run!

I didn't set this up as my stretch book, but since pulling a muscle on Einstein, this could take it's place. The title is 'Simplify' but that does not mean it's simple. In fact, I started this book in April and finished it in August, I followed the author's advice to read one chapter at a time, often going weeks in between so that I could really bring the chapter home in my life and make it work. When I closed the book I felt as if the things I had learned were ones I really could count on to make my life a little better, a little richer, a little easier to navigate. I loved the authors not-perfect voice, I loved her realness, and I loved the topics she chose to focus on. I am not a big self-help reader, I find most self-help books to be idealistic and guilt-driven, but this was neither of those things, at least to me. I highly recommend this to anyone that would like to simplify, and needs to be challenged, but doesn't want to feel preached to or hit over the head with it. The advice in the book is something you can fit to any life and feel good about.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Good News--Bad News

The Good News--is that I'm closer to finishing my book than I have ever been before! I've revised everything I have written half a dozen times, I've taken a few steps closer to my actual ending scene and I feel good about the book. I've lined up a few readers ready to give me feedback!

The Bad News--is that on August 27 Mars will be closer to the planet Earth than it has been for something like 6 mazillionfinite years. It will look like a full moon to us earthlings, and yet the distance between the two planets will still be 34,649,589 miles. All of this only goes to show that 'close' is a completely relative word. I still can't figure out that blasted ending.




******
The Good News--is that I finally bought a raccoon trap to catch the raccoons that are slowly picking off my poor little chickens (I'm down to 13 of my 17 batch I bought last month after my second batch of the season was massacred by said raccoons--see this post for more details.) And, I figured out how to use said trap, which means my neighborhood Raccoon's days are numbered.


The Bad News--We didn't catch a Raccoon. Instead, we caught a skunk. And how the #@#$% are you supposed to get the skunk out of the trap without needing a bath in Tomato Juice? Not to mention the fact that if he gets out of the trap alive, he'll likely come back tomorrow night.



******
The Good News--Summer is almost over. As of next Monday (six days and 16 hours from the time I post this blog) all of my children will be at public school and I will have FREEDOM. It's so close I can taste it.

The Bad News--I'm not sure I'll last that long (see the bad news about how close Mars will be to Earth on the 27th)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Really show the money!


As I explained in a previous post, publishers pay on different schedules. Some pay monthly, some pay quarterly, or bi-annually or even once a year. Many publishers in the LDS market pay twice a year and for many of us, those royalty checks showed up a couple weeks ago.

We all say we don’t write for the money, mostly because the time we put into a book isn’t necessarily equal in our minds to the money we make off of it. However, that does not mean that the money isn’t a really really really nice detail of our writing careers. Many of us hope one day to support our families off of our writing, so, yes, the money matters. But even among other published authors, the money is not something we openly talk about. For one thing, we don’t want to be seen as money-hungry, nor do we want to be seen as bragging, or make anyone feel badly that is not in the same place we are. And, there is also a demographic of readers that don’t think we should make any money off of books that have LDS elements. All of these reasons keep us pretty tight-lipped.

That’s the theory, but that’s not what this blog is about. Rather, this blog is an invitation I’m sending out to all authors—LDS or not—to share what their last royalty check was. I figure if I'm curious about it, other people are too, and, though we might not write FOR the money, up and coming authors ought to know what they can expect--both good and bad.

So, authors, here is the format I’d like you to follow.

Royalty amount: $324.20
Payment for: January 2007 (or whatever time period you are being paid for)

LDS Market (or National)

Multiple titles (or one title if that’s what you’re receiving royalty on)
Yes I had a book published within the last year (or no, I have not had a book published within the last year)


Please do not put your name, publisher, or identifiable information on your royalty information—I don’t want any publishers to be annoyed with me.

Thanks for playing

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm a mother (parent), can/should I also be a writer?

I received an e-mail the other day about being a good mother and being a writer. The woman who sent it is passionate about her writing, but concerned that the entailments of pursuing this in her life could detract from her role as a mother. I've included a brief excerpt from her e-mail to me, and, with her permission, posted the somewhat edited reply.
_________________________________________________________

Will my career as a writer, take away from being a good mother as the Lord wants me? How will being a published author interfere with the raising of my children, and meeting their spiritual, as well as their temporal needs. What will it take from them, my writing? My meeting deadlines? My conferences? My writing groups? My signings? My whatever-comes-with-the-territory with writing? Should I pursue it?

Well, first of all, the fact you worry about this is a sign, in and of itself, that you are a good mother; a very good mother. Your responsibility to your family is obviously something deeply ingrained in who you are. I don’t think you could/would do anything that put that in jeopardy. That said, being a mother was not the only reason you were sent here and I don’t believe God would have sent you a gift, and guided you as he has, if it was not part of your fulfilling the measure of your existence in some way. However, for fear that sounds simplistic, I will be very honest with you in regard to my own experience, which continues to play out every day.

No matter what you do with the time you are given, there are only 24 hours in a day. Every one of us determines how we spend that time. If we choose to spend it doing, say, piano four hours a day, we would become a great piano player, but we would have to give something up for those four hours. There are definitely times in my life where I feel that I’ve neglected my family for my writing. Usually, this is not the case, but there are times when it is true for me. I’ve come to learn I can not pursue this writing career of mine and still mother the same as someone who does not have a hobby/passion as intensive as mine—like I said, there are only 24 hours in a day. (if there was a way to find a few extra hours, I’d have found them)

There are times I’ve wondered if I’m choosing ‘fame and fortune’ over my family, there are days when this thought terrifies me. However, there are other days too when my kids come home with something they are passionate about and they KNOW they can do it, in part because they see me doing it. Part of my own success is because my dad is an artist and is passionate about his art. He had nine children and no money, but when he had some time, he pursued his art. When writing became a part of my life, I pursued it in part because I’d seen him do it. My kids are still young, and yet they are beginning to define themselves, discover their talents, pursue their dreams. I absolutely LOVE seeing this in their lives. As they get older they run into people who know me and my writing, and they are proud of me, they are excited for what I’ve accomplished. I take them with me to presentations and book signings when I can, and it’s one other sphere of the world they are exposed to, that they wouldn’t be otherwise. As I said before, your purpose on this earth is not only to be a mother. You are raising children who will one day be adults, they will leave home and have lives and families and hopefully pursue their own talents and passions. Setting an example for them is a good thing, so long as you find a balance. That is the key, but it’s not an easy one.

There are days that I feel horribly stretched. There are days when I wish my kids would just disappear for a little while (like, two weeks) so I can get my thoughts down. Every single day is a balance of ‘my’ things and their things. As the years have passed, they have learned to give me my time, and I have learned that sometimes I can’t sit down and do what I ‘need’ to do because their needs supersede my own. And many times I wonder if it’s all worth it. However, when I’m prayerful, when I request a blessing from my husband, when I sit down with my patriarchal blessing and search for answers, I can not deny that for some reason, I’m supposed to write. I do very much believe the Lord smiles on me for pursuing a gift he’s given me and making it into a talent that if nothing else, entertains some of his other children in a way that does not offend the spirit. So far I don’t have to choose between my family and my writing, so far the balance seems to be working—even if I’m frustrated by it at times.

In part through my writing, I have come to further understand that I am a wife and a mother, but before all these roles I am also a daughter of God, I have my own individual purposes and measures to fulfill in many arenas. Being a mother, or an attorney, or a salesperson, or a writer takes work and dedication—not just doing the job, but in the balancing out life to make it all fit, even if the corners get scrunched sometimes. For me, it’s worth it and though my meals aren’t as home made as they should be, and I don’t get on the floor and play like some moms do, my kids are blessed to see me working toward something I’m passionate about. I know that this is a gift I am giving them.

If for you it isn’t worth the balancing, the stretching, then don’t write. There is no shame in realizing there is not room for both in your life. Perhaps it’s not the right time for you, perhaps your writing is a gift that will manifest in another way and writing a book isn’t it. You’re ‘plan’ is not the same as anyone else’s—it’s your plan. And definitely, your children, the souls entrusted to your University, need to come first, but it doesn’t mean that writing can’t factor into your list of priorities. Only you and the Lord can figure out if writing is part of your plan, and if you seek answers, you will receive those things you stand in need of.

I wish you luck and admire your dedication to your family.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Not everyone loves Harry Potter

A couple weeks ago my husband and I found ourselves with only one child at home. The oldest was at girl's camp, #2 and #4 were farmed out to some cousins. I thought it would be great to have an evening with just #3, and since I'd been dying to see HP5 for a second time, and #3 was dying to see if for the first time, it was a no brainer. We went to dinner first, then went to the movie. About half way through the movie--when I was enraptured--my husband leaned over to me and said "I'd rather be in a two and half hour sacrament meeting than here"

Then the other night we were watching TV and Larry King was interviewing one of the Spice Girls who just had Eddie Murphy's baby, before marrying someone else, oh and Eddie's married too I guess. Anyway, I commented how there had been a lot about the Spice Girls lately, specifically how Posh Spice was making the news as some soccer guy's wife.

"Some Soccer guy?" my husband said in abject disappointment. "Some Soccer guy? You mean Beckham, who is probably the most famous athlete in the entire world?"

"Hey, " I said in defense. "I don't follow soccer any more than you follow books. You probably don't even know who JK Rowling is."

"Sure I do, she's the lady that wrote about that stupid magic kid with the lame glasses."

I don't know how it happened, really. How is it that I've neglected his cognitive development to the point that he can call Harry Potter the stupid magic kid with the lame glasses. Somewhere along the way, despite my great love for this man, I have failed him. Woe is me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

President James E. Faust Dies


At the age of 87, and surrounded by his family, President James E. Faust has passed away.

I have no special connection to President Faust other than being touched by his humility and his power. I was especially impressed with his most recent conference address about the power of forgiveness. It really struck some cords with me and was one of those talks that spoke to some issues in my life.

I was sad this morning when I heard the news, his death is definitely a loss for all of us, but I imagined what his reunion must have been like on the other side. Can you even imagine? To have lived a life such as his, to have served with his whole heart for his whole life. Wow. It must have been an amazing moment.

The role of the twelve apostles is an incredible one to me. To give your whole life to the church, to give up retirement, to 'go where He wants you to go' and to serve every single day is a monumental commitment--one I can't imagine making (luckily, there is no fear of that for me, even if I had the right chromosomes). I marvel at those that do it, that can do it, that do it with so much joy and love.

As I said before, he will be missed.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

exclusivelyLDS.com


The August 8, 2007 edition of exclusivelyLDS.com will feature my first article written . . . well, exclusively, for them. exclusivelyLDS.com a tri-weekly e-publication that will feature a wide variety of articles that are applicable to the lives we lead. My articles will be focusing on family, home, and self, and I am really excited for the opportunity. In addition to the great articles, it's also a great resource for LDS products and has some amazing giveaways. Right now they are giving away a trip to china, and everyone that subscribes is automatically included in the drawing.

If you're interested in receiving the newsletters, go to their homepage and subscribe today. You can also see my first article on how to make a summer memory at my exclusivelylds.com blog.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Summer Reading Thing 2007: A Bend in the Road


I've heard about Nicholas Sparks for years, and I own two of his books but this is the first one I've ever read. I chose it for my Summer Reading Thing 2007 All in all, I liked A Bend in Road, but I don't know if I liked it enough to read anything else of his. This sounds really weird, since I said I would probably read another Janet Evanovich book even though it was crude and not terribly well written. Sparks, in contrast, is quite clean (though there is premarital sex and some mild swearing) and beautifully well written. However, it was a sloooooooooow read, and I just don't like slow reads. I had to make myself finish this because it moved so slowly that I'd forget all about the plot, in fact I didn't think the plot itself was fully introduced until after the half way point in the story. Again, the writing was beautiful, he's mastered the use of words, but I just didn't care enough. Sparks also jumps in and out of POV constantly, and I really really don't like that. I don't mind spending a story in the heads of other people, but three people in one chapter is over the top and without any solid breaks to alert me. I have never liked that and as I've learned more about POV I like it even less. I think the book would have moved faster and I'd have been more forgiving if he'd been a bit more loyal to the heads he was in.

The best part of the book was the ending. For a book that seemed pretty straight forward and predictable, it suddenly changed all together. He made some brilliant twists that I certainly didn't see coming (though I figured them out before he flat out told us--which made me feel smart) and my attention was riveted as the final scenes worked themselves out. I was very impressed with that, and, as I've said, his overall writing. But I struggle with books that don't read quickly. Perhaps I'm a lazy reader, perhaps I'm just not literary enough to have the kind of patience I need to fully appreciate a work like this--I don't know.

I'm very interested in what other people have thought about Sparks and if his other books are worth reading.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sooooooo Close



Are you ever so close to something that you can see it, and feel it, and almost taste it and yet . . . you can't seem to get there?

I have 306 completed pages of my WIP and 589 pages of cuts for the same book. I've been working on this thing for almost a year and started it 4 seperate times. I had set a goal to be done by July 31st and I didn't make it. But I'm SO close. At most I have 10 pages left to write, then I need to do a final edit/timeline (I've already revised what I have a bazillion times).

In Music & Lyrics Hugh Grant's character accuses Drew Barrymore's character of 'holding the last verse hostage'. It's not that she CAN'T write it, it's that she WON'T. I wonder if that's what I'm doing. I don't know why I'd do it, since it makes no sense, but I'm finding so many other things to do--like blog about not being able to finish it rather than writing the actual thing.

Tomorrow we leave on a week long family vacation. I really really really really wanted to be done with the first draft. So why can't I finish?

Cause I'm a neurotic freak, that's why! It doesn't help that I've spent so much freaking time on this thing that I think it's about as exciting as a phone book.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Taaaaaaagggggggg

Four Jobs I've Had:

Dishwasher at Ding Ho--wait, I'm still a dishwasher
Waitress at Dee's--wait, I'm still a waitress
Certified Nurse Assistant--wait, I'm still helping people with Activities of Daily Life
Dietary manager--wait, I'm still planning, preparing, and cramming food down people's throats

however, my current employers (i.e. children) don't pay very well.

Four Places I've Lived:

Willard
Salt Lake
Draper

I've only lived in these three places, unless you count the fantasy world in my head--I'm there a lot.

Four Favorite TV Shows:

Law & Order
Cold Case
Without a Trace
Charmed

Four Favorite Foods:

Sausage stuffed won-tons
Hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes
Salmon
Sushi

Four Websites I Frequent:

Allrecipes.com
Bablefish (my current WIP has a lot of Spanish it in)
Deseret Books Bestseller list
Writers in Heels

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now:

Salt Lake City Library--alone
Tona’s Sushi in Ogden--with hubby
Costa Rica--with hubby
Sleeping--with or without hubby

Four Movies I Love:

The Cutting Edge
Scarlet Pimpernel
Music & Lyrics
The new Phantom of the Opera

Four Bloggers I Tag Next:

The Write Blocks--Ronda Hinrichsen (I’m spelling it wron
g)
Annapinions—Anna Marie Junus
Thouroughly Mormon Millie
Temporary Insanity--Kimberly