Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sept Ensign page 67

Several years ago (4 and a half to be exact) some writer friends of mine talked about how they had written articles before writing books. This conversation took place on an e-mail group I belong to, LDStorymakers, a group made up of published LDS authors. As the conversation continued I realized that most of them had started with articles, either through college, or newspapers or freelance magazine writing. I had only recently learned what the word freelance meant. They all talked about how much they learned through writing articles and how it got them started. Many of them still wrote articles from time to time, using the byline to advertise their name--advertising you get paid for.

So I asked some questions--how do you submit? What do write about? How long should an article be? How long is the process? They kindly answered these questions even though I'm sure I sounded like an idiot--see, I'd written exactly one article and I can thank Annette Lyon for helping me with it enough that it was publishable in an issue of Irreantum, the AML magazine she was editor for at the time. I had four books and one article--one friend, Marsha Ward, had over 900 articles to her credit. Not only was it good diversity and getting your name out there, you got paid for most articles and therefore could bring in $$ in between royalty checks. That all sounded awesome to me.

I wanted to write an article--but on what? I still didn't have a clue how it all worked, but I read the Ensign every month and so I started looking through it, seeing if it sparked an idea. It did. We'd moved into our current ward a few years earlier, it had been a hard adjustment. We'd moved several times before and we'd found that every ward was a little different. This one was no exception and it had taken us awhile to find our place here. So, with that in mind I wrote up an article on how to find your place in a new ward. I spent an obscene amount of hours on it for it's length, teaching me that good writing doesn't have to do with the number of words, it's using the words to their best ability. Once I'd labored over and over and over it, I sent it in, received an e-mail receipt and waited.

For almost two and a half years.

I got a phone call saying they had decided to accept the article last sprint. They sent me a check ($150--sweet!) and a contract giving them full right to the article. I signed everything and waited.

For a year and a half.

Then I got another phone call a few months ago saying the e-mail address they had for me wasn't working, did I have a new one. Thank goodness I hadn't moved and they could still find me. I gave them the new one and they sent me the edited article for me to approve. I approved it--like I'm gonna find a comma splice or dangling participle, ha--and sent it back and waited.

For three months.

And then my friend Anne Bradshaw saw it and told me about it. Wohoooo! So, as you thumb through your copy, smile at my article, the first step I took into the world of freelance. I is very happy about it (poor grammar intended)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Farworld Winner & other updates

So, it's only been, what, 3 weeks since the contest? What with summer winding down I'm grateful to know where my computer is these days, let alone work on it. School starts MONDAY! Yes, I'm shouting.

Okay, back to buisness. My daughter picked up my ARC of Farworld and the next morning came to me, slapped it down on the desk and said "There's going to be another one right?" she then eyed me with that look that makes parents worry their kids might start building bombs in the basement if they answer incorrectly. I assured her there would, in fact, be another one and she relaxed significantly before asking me "When?" So I'll have to ask Jeffy if he will kindly reply here and let me know so that I can pass the information on.

and the winner of the ARC of Farworld per this bloggers blogtour contest is . . . . Jenna Consolo, who runs one of my favorite blogs Cranberry Corner. I know she'll love it and so will her kids. Jenna, if you will send me your address privately I'll forward it to Jeff and he'll send the book out to ya. Thanks everyone that played, it really is a fun book you'll really love to not only read but then reccomend.

So, other Updates.

Update #1: Dogs--I'm trying really hard to love them, I really am, but they make it difficult. They run away from home, they go nextdoor and sit in the neighbors horse water trough before coming back and jumping all over me, they dig up dead animals and chew on them, they poop all over the place, and last Saturday they both jumped into the Canal. I had to jump in and save them--I really did--cause the walls are angled and they couldn't get up. My 6 year old was crying on the side, sure we were all going to die. She did not have the trust in her father that I had, and so with the help of some bungee cords in the back of his truck he rescued us. The upside of having dogs is that they are super cute, the kids love to play with them, and I feel and added measure of security having them. But they are a lot of work and I don't know how to 'fix' their bad behaviors or train them into good ones. I've been watching the Dog Whisperer and It's me or the Dog, and I read a book Mother Knows Best: The Natural way to Train your dog, but it seems that simply reading such things doesn't cure much. Anyone know of a good video or something? Husband is even less thrilled than I am, which does not bode well for the dog's future. I'm at a loss and wish I'd stuck to chickens.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, we hatched chicks! Update #2. We bought some new hens in June and the seller told us they were very 'setty' which means they like to sit on eggs. When chickens sit on eggs they go into a funky kind of trance. They don't move, they just sit there and stare at nothing. They do this for about a month. And so we had one doing that, so I figured I'd see what happened. We now 6 of the cutiest chicks you've ever seen. I'll get some pictures, but it has been so much fun. The kids and I go out a few times a day to see if we have more. AND, another hen started setting, so both hens were setting on the same clutch of eggs, one on top of the other hen. Super funny stuff.

Update 3: Isagenix. So I've been doing Isagenix for 90 days. I did the two shakes a day thing for 30 days and then I've done the 1 shake a day thing for the last 60. I'm still six pounds down from where I started, and I've lost several inches, but I gained back a few pounds I lost initally and haven't noticed dramatic physical changes. That likely has to do with the fact that I'm back into my old habits of snacking all the time and hiding candy. It's not good, and I need to curb all that stuff, but still, I'm 6 pounds down and that's pretty good. Emotionally I feel much better. I am definitely more balanced, I'm not feeling so scattered and I'm sleeping better and have more constant energy throughout the day. Basically I FEEL better, and that's my main reason for doing the program. I plan to continue doing it and might try the kid shakes for my daughters that don't take the time to eat breakfast--we'll see how it goes. all in all, it's been a success for me and I'm glad to have done it. It runs me about $120/month now and I have not had my budget thrown off by that since I'm still buying less impulse foods and snacky stuff--so that's all good too.

Update #4: Her Good Name comes out next week! I'm so excited. I got my author copies today and it's super cute. It's a little smaller than the typical trade paper back; To have or To Hold was the same size--and I like the smaller size, it makes it look more like a mass paperback. Because it's coming out in stores a little early I'm only doing my pre-orders up until the 26th so that I'm not directly competing with the retailers. If you wanted to preorder a signed copy, you've got a few more days to do that.

Update #5: Opening Night Party for Her Good Name will be at Reflections of Utah Bookstore 47 So. Main in Brigham City, on Thursday, September 11 5:30-7:00. I won't have prize drawings like I've had in the past, the economy has been hard and I don't want to ask people for donations, but there will be door prizes for the first 75 people that show up and there will still be a grand prize drawing for those that purchase a book that night. If you're local, I'd love to see you there.

I guess that's about it . . . well, until next time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"It Worked For Me" Link list: chores

So I read Annette Lyon's blog today and it inspired me, so without her permission (repentance later) I've decided to do a link list based on her idea and I hope you guys will play along with me (and Annette whether she likes it or not). It's kinda a meme, but more a way for us to share our tricks and tips about home, family, kids, etc. I'm always looking over people's shoulders to see how they make things work. Maybe that means I'm more clueless than most--I wouldn't argue that point. Still, I wanna learn from you're brilliance. So, blog about something you do that could be a benefit the rest of us--maybe it's how you clean the bathroom without puking, or the pie you make that everyone dies over, or how you keep from running over the bikes in the garage--whatever it is that "worked for you". Off to the side of my blog you'll see a link list. For everyone that comes back here and tells me they've blogged under the title "It worked for me" I'll go to your blog, capture the link and list it here so other people can find it. Hopefully we all end up a little better off and this will be an ongoing thing.


Chore schedules have been the bane of my existence for many years--basically since I decided I actually wanted my kids to do chores. I'd come up with something, it would work for a couple weeks and then it would fizzle. I have likely tried dozens of concepts--from earning points, to earning money, to earning TV, to earning a non-screaming mother. However, I've never had one that stuck--until now. And I didn't even come up with it myself. My friend Sam did and I promptly copied it, made a couple adjustments, and since implementing it I have had not one--NOT ONE--complaint from anyone, myself included, and the house is cleaner than it's been in a very long time.

HOW IT WORKS: Instead of each kid having three or four chores every day, each kid has one day a week where they do all the chores. In addition to doing all the chores, they each have an extra individual chore only they do on their day, they make dinner (they choose one meal and make it each chore day of the month--by the end of the month they can make it themselves), clean up after dinner, read the scriptures, say family prayer, and they get to sit in the front seat. On the days they don't have chores, they only have to do 10 minutes cleaning their room. On Saturdays they each choose 3 chores from the list, first come first serve, they get assessed extra time in their room if it needs attention (3 of my kids get an extra 30 minutes every week, the other one uses her 10 minutes a day well and gets out of extra cleaning). They get $5 a week in pocket money if they fulfilled all their obligations. If they didn't, I deduct accordingly.

  • I have one child a day to keep up with. If I have to remind them several times I threaten to deduct money. I've actually deducted twice, and they were appalled and cleaned up their act the next week (pun intended)
  • On their non-chore day the kids can't do anything electronic til they've done their 10 minutes, but that's easy for me to keep up on cause it's only one thing.
  • I get out of making dinner 4 nights a week and they are learning to cook, but I only have to help one kid at a time.
  • I still get to cook 3 nights a week.
  • Although I'm not big on allowance, I've cut back on buying them treats at the store, movie tickets and other extras I used to buy because they didn't have any money. Now they buy their own treats and they haven't even noticed that I'm buying less cause they are excited to buy their own stuff. It's evened up to be about the same amount of money.
  • They are learning to pay tithing on a regular basis--fifty cents a week.
  • They only have to worry about chores one day a week
  • Six days of the week they are "off"
  • They know exactly what's expected of them each chore day (I have a list in a page protector that they mark off with a dry erase marker)
  • They get pocket money
  • Mom isn't screaming all the time
  • They don't get blamed for someone else not doing their job
  • They all got to choose the day that works best for them and they can plan it in advance.
Now my friend that came up with this idea has three kids, so they each got two days a week and the whole family helps out on Sunday. I have four kids, so I opted to take a day myself (Monday so I can clean up after the Sunday Hurricane) and each of the kids get one day. They have more chores than my friend's do because they only worry about it one day a week. Her youngest child has less chores than his sisters and gets less pocket money--my 6 year old has kept up just fine and loves that she's considered as 'big' as her brother and sisters.

These are the chores we do at our house:
  • Feed & Water dogs
  • Put Dogs in at night and out in the morning
  • Feed chickens & gather eggs
  • 5 minutes upstairs bathroom
  • 5 minutes downstairs bathroom
  • 5 minutes straighting the basement
  • 10 minutes misc. cleaning (ask mom)
  • 5 minutes straightening mud room
  • Empty red basket (this is a basket at the top of the stairs where I put all the stuff that goes in their bedrooms downstairs)
  • Empty and sort recycling bin
  • Put away your own laundry (they each have their own shelf in the laundry room)
  • child #1--fill chickens water container & do own laundry
  • child #2--bring in milk & do own laundry
  • child #3--pooper scooper (he actually volunteered for this one)
  • child #4--organize mom and dad's shoes (this one was my idea :-)
    • NOTE: My kids get a laundry sorter for their 11th birthday and are expected to wash their own clothes from that point on.
Anyway--for all of us at the Kilpack house this has worked great for the last six weeks. I've done a little workshop each week on how to prioritize their time in each room and they are improving, and I'm yelling less, the daily things are getting done every day and I'm loving it. I'll be adapting it a little bit when school starts, but not a lot as the kids love that they get it all over with in one felled swoop and then don't think about it again for a week. I do still end up with plenty to do around the house--I'm basically in charge of the kitchen, other than dinner, and I do a lot of the deeper cleaning, but I was doing that anyway AND having to do a lot of the daily straightening while yelling at my kids and trying to figure out where we were on the old chore charts. This certainly hasn't made it so I do less, only that what I spend my time on is more effective. My kids are learning to manage their time, cook, clean, and stay focused. For now, that's good enough for me.

So, that's what's worked for us. I'm anxiously awaiting what's worked for you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sleepwalking Child--Need Help!

So, as a kid I sleep walked and sleep talked. I'd sometimes find myself asleep in front of my parent's door, or on the living room couch. After sleepovers with freinds they would tease me about thing things I said. Stuff like "Oh no, I dropped the drunk!" And "I'm awake, I'm awake!" I never remembered any of these episodes.

Child #2 is much like that. We'll find her on the couch, curled up with a coat she got from the closet for a blanket, or she'll giggle and tell nonsensical jokes in her sleep. There's been times we've talked to her and she communicates with us, does what we ask, and remembers nothing about it in the morning. It's cute.

But child #4 is changing the way sleepwalking and talking is done at the Kilpack house. She gets up and starts walking around, but in a panicked state. She starts to cry, then scream, and is sometimes nearly inconsolable for a few minutes. Other times, I go running to her and tell her she's okay, to calm down, and she does--immediately. She'll get back in bed and go right back to sleep. Sometimes once she's back in bed, that's the end of it for the night, other times we go through it again an hour later. In the morning she has no memory of it, in fact I'm not sure she believes us when we tell her about it. It's been happening nearly every night for about two weeks and I'm exhausted. A few nights ago she was up three times, one of the times she came into my room crying because she needed a screen. I was in some lovely REM sleep and between the two of us we were not making a bit of sense.

"I need my screen!" she said, crying.
"You're what?" I ask without even opening my eyes--I was so tired.
"My screen?"
"A screen? You mean like a piece of paper?" I have no idea why this made sense to me.
"Yes, a piece of paper would work."
"Then why are you crying?" I'm starting to wake up now myself.
"I don't know!"

I led her back to bed and she climbed right in. An hour later she's sobbing again. In the morning when I told her she giggled about it.

So, anyway, I'm asking if anyone has some advice. Some details to perhaps help with the diagnosis (yes, you are all my panel of experts).

*She'll be 7 in a few months.
*She has always had a tendancy to wake up at night, usually 2 or 3 times a week because she has to go to the bathroom, but we've pretty much trained her to do it herself, without calling for help, so we haven't done that much in the last year.
*She's the youngest of four kids
*She has always had a tendancy to be whiny and cry over small things
*She's super affectionate and cuddly
*She recently changed bedrooms, going from a room upstairs where mom and dad sleep, to a room downstairs. She's dealt with some fears about this, even though it was her idea, but we've gotten her a new night light, we leave the door open, we say special prayers. Last week she said she wanted her old room back. Her dad (bless his little pea-picken, Las-Vegas livin heart--which means he doesn't have to do the work) agrees this is what we should do and thinks it's the reason for her night issues. I, with stark memories of packing up her room, moving her room, unpacking her room, paint-planning her room, and other uses for her old room, would much rather find a way she can stick it out. But I'm definitely the hard line parent and, much as it pains me, I accept I might be wrong about this one. I certainly don't want to put her in a situation that's somehow traumatic, but it's better for all of us (yes, I do think it's better for her to be downstairs with the other kids) for her to stay put.

So, anyway--shed your brilliance on me! I'm ready.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

My turn to give away a copy of Farworld!

I’ve been reading the other interviews on the other blogs and been very impressed by everyone’s creativity. Alas, I am not so creative at the middle of the summer with four kids at home who are driving me slowly insane . . . but that’s another blog. The good news, is that I have a couple kids who love to read, and thanks to be involved in this blog tour—I have a book for them! (and for me) So, without further ado, here is my interview with the amazingly talented J. Scott Savage, otherwise known as Jeffy. By leaving a comment on this blog you will be entered into a drawing where you too can win a copy of Jeffy’s new book, Farworld. If you leave no comment, you get no such chance.

1--Assuming that you liked to read as child, is there a particular book or series that really inspired you, specifically in regard to Farworld?

I was probably the readingest kid you ever met. I used to cut school to go to the library. (Not that I'm recommending that or anything!) I would have said that there was no book that specifically inspired me with Farworld, but when I first read the question, the first image that popped into my head was sitting on the outdoor balcony of a friend's cabin in the Sierra Nevada
Mtns, eating apples and reading Aesop's Fables. So may that is my subconscious coming into play. I loved that book, and as I think about, you have talking animals, unusual settings, strong messages. So, who knows? Maybe.

2--Who is your favorite Farworld character to write? Why?

Chet. Okay, maybe not. But it's actually really funny that you ask that right at the same time that Crystal is having me do an interview with Chet, how he was misunderstood, miscast, etc. It's been a hoot.

Honestly, it is whichever one I am writing at the same. I don't know if you feel the same way when you're writing, Josi, but when I begin writing a character it feels like I am taking them on like a role in a play. I feel myself slipping into their skin. I think it helps make them more real to me.

3--I read an article once by Dave Wolverton. He said that Mormons might be the best qualified people to write fantasy because we have a true belief in other worlds and therefore can create new ones in our imagination easier than most people. What are your thoughts on that?

Nah. I think we're all just looking for a way to make a buck. (Kidding--mostly)

I think that's true, but I think it even goes beyond that. We believe that this Earth is a temporary way station in the grand scheme of things. It makes this life seem no less important, but perhaps more less substantial. In order to be a good fantasy writer, there has to be a part of you that firmly believes that if you pulled away the curtain of what we think of as
reality, there would be whole universes of knowledge we can't even comprehend. I wouldn't limit it just to Mormons though. I think a lot of people of many faiths look at this world and this life the same way.

4--If you could have one magical gift attributed to any of the characters in Farworld, what would it be?

I want Kyja's magic. I want to be able to look at someone else's hard situation and know how to make it better. Kyja's magic makes me happy.

5--What are your plans for the future, be it with Farworld or any other projects?

Well, the one thing I know for sure is that I love telling stories. For most of my life I didn't know I wanted to be a "writer" per se. But I always loved telling stories. So I guess my goal is to get to the point where I can make a living doing something I love, be that with Farworld or some other series. I've got lots of stories to tell, but you know how hard it is to find the time to tell them all.

6--You've been married for over twenty years and you've often attributed much of your success to your wife and yet, having met her, she certainly has not 'given herself over' to your goals and ambitions, what advice do you have for anyone pursuing their own talents, and married to someone else who is. How can couples grow individually and yet together at the same time?

Wow, deep. If you're asking me how the hack I managed to get Jen to marry me, and stay married to me for twenty plus years, I'm going to have to claim ignorance. Dumb luck? She's dumb and I'm lucky? What I would say is that you have to be delighted at the other half's success. When something great happens to or for Jen, I'm every bit as happy as if it had happened to me, and the same with her. We honestly don't ever see ourselves in competition
with each other over anything (except Sudokus, which she kicks my butt at.) We are a team in everything we approach.

What? That's all? No questions about how I came to be such an amazing writer or which Hollywood hunk I'm most often compared to? Ooookkkaaay. Thanks, it was a lot of fun. Good luck with her Good Name. I'm sure it will be awesome. (And yes, Jeffy really wrote that last part, not me—but it was my decision to keep it in ☺ )