Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Blog on a Widescreen

Because everybody looks HUGE. My regular computer monitor isn't working, and lately I've been using our TV instead. Now everyone I know, including myself, is a little stretched out, a little wide in the face. When I finally get a new laptop (the last two died due to my really bad luck with laptops which is why I'm buying another)(makes sense)...when I FINALLY get a new laptop everyone will look much healthier.

Which leads me to my post. Actually, I'm a little bit of a cheater because I'm spinning off Natalie's post on blogging today. I liked her Truth #3, in which she discusses the authenticity of our bloggy selves.

How much are we really like the person we portray on our blog (stretched out or not)?

I like to think that I'm pretty sincere and authentic. But...sometimes I delete. And sometimes I add something. And sometimes I sit there and stare at the screen and think about what I want to add. (And sometimes I sit there and stare at the screen and think of nothing at all.) (Can you imagine a conversation along these lines. "Please don't be creeped out by my staring, but I'm thinking of a witty response and these things just take time.")

Spontaneity is part of being sincere and authentic. And face it, we are all writers. As much as we'd like to say we are spontaneous in our blogging, don't most of us read through our post at least once before publishing? Spontaneity is something we get only in real life. Some of us have been blessed to meet one another in real life, but I know that my real life self is different. While Natalie claimed to be a little shyer, I'm actually the opposite. Maybe a little too much personality. My dad once described me as verbally vomiting on people. (For the record, I love love love my dad. He can tell me things like 'you verbally vomit on people' and I can laugh because he is right.) (The last time he told me this was in college ten years ago. I'm a little better now.) (He totally coined the phrase before Mean Girls.)

What about our profile pics? I'll be the first to say that I put up my best. You know, the one that catches you at your best angle with your best smile? Actually, the above picture is three years old. I look much more tired now and have wrinkles around my eyes. (You remember the part in (the newest) Freaky Friday where Jamie Lee Curtis looks in the mirror and says, "I look like the Crypt Keeper!" Yes, well...that.)

On the OTHER HAND, I share things on this blog about my writing that I don't share with those closest to me. Because they don't get it (and that's okay) but we do. We get the exhileration over A New Idea. We get the constant struggle to balance creating make-believe lives with our Real Life. We get the giddiness of finding that YA book at the library you've been waiting and waiting for and then staying up late reading it. (My husband doesn't get the whole reading YA fiction, but to this I say...Sweaty men running up and down a room full of thousands of people and bouncing a ball???) (However, my husband does support me in writing more than any real life person, next to my mom.)

So my point is, perhaps I am not my complete self. But you have part of me that nobody else has.

Bloggingly yours forever,


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Pretty Pirate Pickle

A new middle-grade idea. 6500 words in 4 nights (but not 4 nights in a row because I'm not that awesome). First drafting always gives me a little bit of a high because who cares about mistakes?

Okay, so I needed another break from that book. This idea has been sitting with me for awhile, and it suddenly exploded. It's been fun, though, because I'm writing in the voice of a ten year-old which is much different than writing as sixteen year-old Tess. It's also a challenge because I think at any given point I sound like I'm eight instead of ten. Or thirty instead of ten.

But I love it. However, what am I thinking writing middle-grade? I write YA, YA I tell you!

Anyway, I give you the first paragraph of A Pretty Pirate Pickle (the first paragraph for now) (because we all know how much that beginning changes)...

I have one of the best jobs on the cruise ship—every morning at sunrise I stand starboard and check for icebergs. I know the damage these killer popsicles can cause because I read about the R.M.S. Titanic last year. It’s not that I’m afraid of drowning—because I’m not. I’ve run the emergency drills since I was four. I know exactly which deck to meet at and seven ways to get there. I even know which seat is mine on the lifeboat. No, it’s just that I’ve also read that the Captain goes down with the ship, and I don’t want to lose my daddy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LDS Writer Blogfest:Establishing a Christ-Centered Home

I don't often share my faith on this blog. Maybe because it's so intensely personal, but perhaps more so I'm afraid of turning people away. Which is silly. After all, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said at this last General Conference, "we have a glad message to share, and we have a message of joy." Why not share my message of joy?

I was very glad when Krista Van Dolzer organized the second annual LDS (aka Mormon) Writer Blogfest. This year everybody participating (see link list below) is sharing their favorite General Conference talk. Twice a year the leaders of our church address us for two days: a beautiful two days when members of the church can gather in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and listen to counsel and feel the Spirit. An uplifting, happy, renewing two days when all 14 million members of our church worldwide can watch the same conference by live broadcast. (In my case, in my own living room. Thank you BYUTV.)

The conference talk I've chosen was given by Elder Richard J. Maynes regarding Establishing a Christ-Centered Home. Now, if I was to discuss his entire talk, this would be a very long blog post. So I'll narrow my focus just a bit.

One thing, among many, I love about this gospel: a forever family! We believe marriage is forever, not just in this life. When I looked into my husband's eyes in the temple and agreed to marry him (and he to me!) we were agreeing to eternity. We believe that when we die and return to our Father in Heaven, we will still be married and we will still call our children our own. This family relationship is infinite, and our entire lives and beings are focused on returning to our Father in Heaven someday so that we can be together forever.

And that starts at home. It starts with teaching our children about Jesus Christ. Elder Maynes said, "Learning, teaching, and practicing the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes helps create a culture where the Spirit can dwell."

A pretty straight forward formula for a Christ-centered home seems to be reading the scriptures and praying together. Also, in our church, families set aside Monday evenings for "Family Home Evening," an evening the family gathers for a lesson, song, prayer, and activity. Right now, our Family Home Evenings are brief because our four year-old is well...four years-old. Last night, for instance, we talked about the Resurrection of the Savior, and how we can return to live with our Heavenly Father, that our bodies will also be re-united with our spirits one day because of what He did.

We try to read scriptures with our son every day. And pray with him every day. And TALK about Jesus every day. However, lest you be confused, I'm not perfect. In fact, I am the perfect example of an imperfect person. Some days it's late and by the time my son is lying in bed in the same room as his slumbering sister, I say, "Hmmm, a bedtime prayer might wake her up." And sometimes I forget who gave me life and who gave me the possibility of forever...and who gave me everything beautiful in this world. And sometimes I forget to tell my son. But I try, and I hope it's enough that he remembers. I want him to grow up with the knowledge that his parents loved their Father in Heaven, loved Jesus Christ (and were infinitely grateful for His Atonement), loved him (our son!) and his baby sister and each other, and that we are looking forward to forever with all of the above.

Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Tamara Hart Heiner: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Totally Cliche Contest!

Over at MMW (Mormon Mommy Writers) we are holding a contest, which ALL may enter. Starting this week through May 31, we are accepting short story submissions in which you MUST use some kind of writerly taboo. The prizes will be a mix of free ebooks and Amazon giftcards. Plus, we are running a mini-contest to spread the word. In the end, the three winners (plus more) will be published in an ebook we put together.

These are the small details. For more details, you can click on the button in the sidebar. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Other Jessie

No, this is not a post about the many sides of myself. This is, in fact, about The Other Jessie.

Many years ago (or eight, but I'm not counting) while in college, I lived next door to two funny sisters: Sarah and Jessie. I'd go over to their place whenever I wanted to laugh which may have also been every day. We had fun. We made jokes. We talked about cute boys. I ate their food.

However, we all married (and had our bridal showers within just months of each other), life happened, and we lost touch until we found each other again on Facebook. (Well, I lost touch with them and they with me, but being sisters, I think they managed not to lose touch with each other.)

When I announced my BIG MOVE on Facebook, Jessie wrote..."You know that's where I live, right?" This was very good news for me because I had a new-old friend in a strange city, and happily our children were the same ages.

Before we got together for the first time, I thought, "Jessie is so funny and so smart. She should write. I'm going to tell her that." I never did get to tell her that. When we met and marvelled that we are still both Jessie and caught up on the last seven years, I found out that she got her Masters Degree-in Creative Writing.

Not only that, but she is also writing a Young Adult novel.

Amazing coincidence? Now we meet every week, and while our children scream (and sometimes my son melts down), we read each other's pages. And Jessie (he-hem, the Other Jessie) is very good at making my book better. Lately I've been writing more because there is something about having the pressure of giving pages to a real person by next Tuesday.

Here is The Other Jessie. You should meet her.