Monday, May 25, 2015

In Memory




K walking through the headstones of Leavenworth National Cemetery where her great-grandparents are buried. Memorial Day 2015.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Going Paper and Ink

I love my book that still isn't. I have three books I'm working on, but hands down my favorite is TFFP. While April's writing spree helped, I still feel immobilized by this story. I know what I want it to be. My vision of what this book is to be is so much greater than my last book. I guess I'm afraid of not getting the story out right. I'm afraid of it being sub par. 

But fear isn't going to get me anywhere. I'm trying a new tactic with this book: paper and ink. I've gone paper and ink before, but typing seems to connect my brain better to the manuscript. It's what I'm used to. However, I'm not going paper and ink so that I can actually write the manuscript like I would in a word document. I bought a journal so it could be the ideas and brains before the rest of the manuscript is drafted. This is (some of) what I wrote on the first page, as a sort of memorandum to my writing self.

Fill this journal with a load of back story, character sketches, and scenes that will never be. 
Fill it with ideas that make no sense. 
Edison found 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb work before he succeeded. 
You will find 2,000 ways to not make this manuscript work. 
Nelle and Mr. Snodgrass--their story will one day reach what is in your heart and mind. 
And this journal will get them there. 

Most of all, it will be Messy. And there will be doodles.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hands without Reproach

Last Sunday during Primary, a handful of us mothers with our dresses covered in bathrobes and paper bags over our heads, answered questions posed to us in disguised voices. (The bags were decorated like faces. Truthfully, it had a pretty--unintended--creepy effect.) The children were to guess which mom was their mom.

Our answers weren't always clear, especially mine. I used a southern accent when I spoke--a bad southern accent but an accent that wasn't mine, nonetheless. And still, my son figured out who I was. Afterward, I asked him how he knew, and he said he recognized my hands. Well actually, he said he recognized my chappy hands. (So, I have old hands and a much younger face. I don't match.)

This made me think about my mom's hands. I could pull them up into my mind's eye in a minute. And I think I always could. If I were to look at a hundred mothers' hands, I'd recognize my mother's hands. Same with my dad. Isn't it beautiful that we know these people so well in our lives, down to the contours of their hands?

I pray that with these hands my children know so well, hands they will forever know from other hands, I can always do worthwhile, uplifting things. I pray I can have hands without reproach.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Skies Like These

Tess Hilmo's Skies Like These was a great library find. Her first novel, With a Name Like Love, has been on my TBR list so naturally I picked this one up when I saw it. It was a quiet book, but I'm finding while I love all books, I lean more toward books with less action and more people. This book was very much about the people.


Jade spends a few weeks one summer with her eccentric aunt in Wyoming. There, she befriends "Roy" Parker, a boy who swears he's descended from Butch Cassidy. He's all cowboy and filled with plans on getting his dad back on his feet again after losing the family business. He tries to talk Jade into a few crazy schemes such as robbing a bank or posing as undercover spies on a ranch. Jade's always there to talk reason to Roy's lawless side, yet she's also filled with ideas (...more lawful) on how to help Roy's family.

It seems the book is more about Roy and less about Jade. Jade's internal struggles really center around Roy's struggles instead of her own. There are some beautiful scenes in this book--the nights spent on her aunt's roof looking at the stars and floating her "worry" boats down the stream. What I loved about this book was how real it felt. Circumstances didn't tie up nicely at the end, but it ended just as it should have--still leaving me with hope and a sense of completion.

And finally, this book was filled with setting in an amazing, transcendent way. Wyoming is beautiful, and I've been there a couple times. But I want to go back and see it again through Jade's eyes. Of course, this time I'll pay more attention to the skies...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Outside the Kitchen Window

We have this lovely courtyard outside our kitchen window. (I could just call it a side yard, but doesn't courtyard sound so much nicer and more proper?) We also have a larger yard behind the house, but the smaller courtyard has become our outside area. Here we barbecue, play basketball, get wet, and garden. Here the birds come.

There's a bird feeder attached to a tree here in the courtyard. We've enjoyed filling it with birdseed and watching the nature show from the kitchen windows. Today my kids were enraptured by the tiff going on between a squirrel and a dove as they both vied for the feeder. By the time I grabbed my camera with its long lens, the squirrel was retreating. He ended up prowling the ground for dropped seed. Who knew the dove was the more dominant creature?

Enter squirrel.

The dove declares it is HIS feeder. The squirrel retreats.

Dove triumphant.

The second time I put seed out, the birds had a feeding frenzy. At first I thought the sound of the feeding birds was sweet, but honestly it started reminding me of the movie Birds which once sufficiently freaked me out. It started out like this:


and soon became this:

Watch out. We're coming to get you. Chirp.

That evening I sat outside and took a few pictures of the birds that dared come near.




Aside from the moment I thought they wanted to attack my family, the birds have been a welcome sight. My son has even learned a certain birds' call (not sure which bird...) and has called out to it over and over. The girls have followed his example with their cute little imitations. We've looked up a few bird names of these visitors outside our kitchen window. All in all, nature has been an excellent classroom.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Thought for Mothers

Mother's Day is Sunday. Last Mother's Day my children bought me a waffle iron (with their dad's help of course) and asked me to make them waffles. Funny, right? But we have made some good waffle-making-mommy memories with that gift. We'll see what they have in store for me this year.

And of course, I can't blog about Mother's Day without mentioning my own. My mother has an amazing story of how she became a mother. I believe it's too personal to share in a public forum. However, I'm so grateful that she chose to be a mother and have all the children she had and make us an eternal family (...with my dad's help of course).

In closing here is a thought for all mothers because motherhood is wonderful...and hard. This from our dear, departed prophet, the prophet of my youth, Gordon B. Hinckley.


graphic found here


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sci-Fi Unexpected

I'm not traditionally a sci-fi person. Yet, now I have two middle grade sci-fi works in progress (or in writer's speak: 2 MG SF WIPs). Time travel must be excluded from that claim. I've always loved the idea of time travel. My first novel ever, Pieces of Moon, was a time travel novel, and I read most time travel novels I come across. (Okay, and clones. I love clones. But I don't want to be a clone, unless my clone cleaned my house.)

But outer space sci-fi has not long been on my radar. I suppose it was Super 8 and Doctor Who that officially sent me spinning in that direction.

I've always had a more fantasy and supernatural leaning, so outer space...it's new for me. But I'm loving it. I'm fascinated by the immensity and eternity of the universe. How unexplored and unknown it is. It reminds me of the ocean, but on a much grander scale, of course. My novels are still based on the earth, but with interaction with outer space and extraterrestrials. And the books are so very, very different from each other. I'm fickle, too. One day I'm convinced my funny, quirky book is going to be IT for me. Other days it's my sci-fi novel with a more literary bent.

So the moral of the story? Writing preferences change. My five-year-ago self would not have expected science fiction.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Music and the Boy

About a year ago, my son began piano lessons. Thus began his love/hate (probably mostly hate) relationship with a musical instrument. Somedays, especially when it means showing off for someone, he sits down and zooms through his memorized pieces (much too fast). Most days--usually when he's practicing--he wants to quit. I tell him he needs to stick with it, at least for now.

I remember hating piano. My mom made me stick with it, and when the time came that she would let me off the hook--I wanted it. So I stuck with it, and I'm glad I did. That would be great if J chooses piano, too, someday...even if now, he declares:

I don't want to practice piano right now! You can't make me. I don't need to practice the piano because when I grow up I'm going to be an NBA player, not a music player! 

(One day you'll thank me, J.)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Why I am a Mormon

This is the conclusion of my "Why I..." week. So why am I a Mormon? It's more than just identifying with a particular faith. It's the truths that particular faith offers, the truths that enrich my life.

The button below (which is also on the sidebar) links to my personal testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'm a Mormon.