Monday, December 27, 2010

12 Days of Christmas is Like Writing--Sort Of

Well, so much for keeping up with the 12 days of Christmas. I couldn't even keep up online with the poem.

Our family also did the 12 days before Christmas for a couple of families in our neighborhood. It started out fun. My oldest son home (2 oldest kids, a girl and a boy, are on missions) got busy and made some goodies. The kids were so excited about leaving a small gift, ringing the doorbell and then hiding. By the time we got to about day seven, the novelty had worn off and we were begging (read-threatening) the kids to do the task. We also had run out of gift ideas, and had to get pretty creative. My oldest son home loves to bake, but sometimes he planned to make something but never did, leaving us without a gift to leave. My husband pitch-hit for me one night, while I was at a dinner party. He bought root beer and ice cream and left them on our friends' doors. The whole thing was fun, but more stressful than it ought to have been.

We learned some lessons from the experience, though. Mostly, we learned the importance of planning ahead. When we had done the 12 days years ago, we planned the whole thing out, even purchased all the gifts up front and wrote clever poems for each day, so that we knew exactly what we were giving on what days. We also went as a whole family (9 of us) to deliver the gifts, rather than relying on 2 or 3 swift-footed children. Probably the likelihood of getting caught was higher, but we all got in on the fun.

What does this have to do with writing? Believe it or not, I can see some parallels. Planning ahead in writing would include things like outlining and setting a time to write. Outlining a novel is like purchasing all 12 gifts ahead of time and knowing what gift to give on what days. Setting aside time is like deciding who will ring the doorbell each night, and making sure you go before it gets too late (one night we cut it pretty close at just after 10). Without a good plan, time gets wasted and the task becomes more stressful than it needs to be.

The good news is that our friends had no idea how much effort and stress went into leaving a gift on their door each night. They loved the nightly surprises and it made their Christmas that much merrier. I think the same can be said about a completed novel. Your readers will have no idea how much time and stress went into creating the book, but it will bring them joy and make their lives more meaningful for having read it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

Oops. I got behind. Okay, here are days six and seven:

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Seven hours of sleeping,
Six custom edits,

Five blogger comments,
Four sharpened pencils,
Three conference tickets,
Two mugs of cocoa,
And a ream of paper under my tree.

Friday, December 17, 2010

On The Fifth Day of Christmas...

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

Five blogger comments!

Four sharpened pencils,
Three conference tickets,
Two mugs of cocoa,
And a ream of paper under my tree.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On The Fourth Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Four sharpened pencils,
Three conference tickets,
Two mugs of cocoa,
And a ream of paper under my tree.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas...

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

Three Conference Tickets!
Two mugs of cocoa
And a ream of paper under my tree

Happy third day of Christmas. Keep writing!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Days of Writerly Christmas

Hey, just for fun, I want to do a 12 days of Christmas for writers. Today is actually the second day of Christmas, so we need to come up with the first and second days of Christmas.

What would you give a writer on the First and Second Days of Christmas? If it rhymes the way the original song does, so much the better. Let's see what kinds of fun things we can come up with.

Here's my contribution: On the first day of Christmas my writing friends gave to me a ream of paper under my tree.

On the second day of Christmas my writing friends gave to me two mugs of cocoa and a ream of paper under my tree.

What are your ideas? Leave a comment and let's see who can come up with some really creative ideas.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Busy Time of Year

I keep thinking life will slow down and I'll have plenty of time to do the things I enjoy and want to do, but never seem to find time to do. Unfortunately, life never does slow down.

This is a busy time of year for my Etsy store. I have been knitting hats every spare moment, and I am still stressing about whether I can get them all done before Christmas. I sent 9 hats to Canada a few days ago. Now I am working on the next projects.

Meanwhile, I entered several of my items in a 3-day small boutique over this past weekend and made $200! I was thrilled. I even got several special orders--which are due before Christmas.

The thing I have not been able to make time for is writing. I have completely stopped working on my writing projects. Maybe I need to get up earlier. I just don't seem to have enough hours in the day for everything I need to do.

How do you make time for writing?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Writers' Retreat in Park City

Whew! I just got back from an exhausting three day writers' retreat in beautiful Park City, Utah. I was stuck in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere with the deer and a dozen or so writers and we never said one word to one another--we were writing that furiously.

Okay, really that's not how it was. Everything was like that except we did socialize a little--like an hour during mealtimes. The rest of the time, we all were very well behaved and wrote like crazy. I can't wait to see the pictures of the table full of laptops and Danas. We had a great time, thanks to things like Ipods and earplugs.

I started a new project, a story about a teen-aged girl who learns about beekeeping with her dad. I wrote 17,245 words of it at the retreat.

I couldn't believe I could write that much in so short a time. I also wrote two picture books and my blog post for the Authors Incognito blog. A very productive few days for me for sure.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Is Your Character Really Nauseous?

The above picture is from

Today, boys and girls, we're going to take a lesson from the grammar book. Today I'm going to discuss the difference between the words nauseous and nauseated. I've seen these two words used incorrectly more times than I can say, mostly in published books. So, for your enlightenment and to make people like me a little happier, here is the difference.

Nauseated means to feel queazy, like you want to vomit. Example: Susan felt nauseated after spinning in circles for ten minutes.

Nauseous means to cause one to feel nauseated. In other words, if you say you or your character is nauseous, you're actually saying that you or your character make other people feel nauseated. Say it isn't so! Example of correct usage: Susan recoiled from the nauseous smell emanating from the garbage can on the curb.

So, let's clean up our speaking and our writing and use these two words correctly, shall we? I think we'll all feel a little less queazy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing Non-Fiction Online Articles

I have recently been accepted as a free-lance writer for Demand Studios, who recruit articles on many different topics for several online information sites. Calling upon my experience as a Utah master gardener, and doing a ton of research, I spent many hours working on a pretty short article about appropriate shrubs for zone 9 areas. It was a whole lot of work for a small amount of money. I wondered if it was a worthwhile use of my time.

However, I have learned a lot. I have learned the strict structure for the type of article I wrote, and I learned do's and don't's of the tone of writing for this company.

Hopefully, subsequent articles will be easier and progress faster than this first one. I've signed up for a couple more articles already, and am getting started on them. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

50th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my parents' Golden Wedding anniversary. They are wonderful people who have managed to hold their marriage together through all the normal ups and downs of life. They have always made their marriage more important than either of their individual needs or wants. Many of today's marriages could take a lesson from their devotion to one another and their determination to work together.

Mom and Dad raised 8 children, plus dozens of foster children over the years. They have touched many lives for good. They have 30-some grand children and one great-grandchild. We are lucky enough to live just four blocks away from them now, after living in different states for many years.

They taught their children correct principles like honesty and obedience. They complemented one another well as parents. Now that Dad's retired, they spend much of their time researching their family history.

Here's to you, Mom & Dad. May you have many more happy years together!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Review of Taken by Storm & Unbroken Connection

I recently read Angela Morrison's Taken by Storm, and the sequel, Unbroken Connection. You can read my review of the books on the right side of this blog. Scroll down a bit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dare to Be a Writer

I had the privilege of attending the American Fork Arts Council's Semi-annual Writers' Conference yesterday. Loved it. One of the presenters was Caleb Warnock. His opening speech was called "Dare to Be a Writer." Here are my notes from the talk:

Caleb asked for audience volunteers to come and play a concert on the piano and draw a masterpiece on paper that would sell for thousands of dollars. Of course, neither of these untrained participants could do it. After dismissing his helpers, Caleb explained the difference between liberty and freedom. He said those volunteers were at liberty to try and play a concert or create a masterpiece, but neither of them was free to do it because they were not trained. Freedom, he said, comes from hours of work. In terms of writing that means hours of work learning the craft of writing. He said (and I love this) that talent is naturally immature. He gave the following three steps to mature our talent as writers:

1. Learn to respect your talent. Acknowledge it. Call yourself a writer. Don't apologize.

2. Realize writers have a voice and a culture. You will have an influence over your readers and you cannot control how they will respond to your work. Some will love it. Some will hate it. They both will tell you.

3. Refuse to compare yourself to anyone else. Only compare yourself to yourself.

He went on to say write the book that only you can write. Train your talent. Stand your ground in the face of mounting pressures. Talent sticks around. Find a safe place to learn how to write. Surround yourself with people who are better than you and will tell you the truth. Invest in your talent. Don't be afraid. Send your work out and then immediately start a new project.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Loved General Conference

As always, I loved listening to General Conference. At our house, the Saturday sessions are attended to just as much as the Sunday sessions.

I always watch for recurring themes, figuring that the messages that are repeated are most likely what the Lord really wants us to pay attention to. I heard the following topics covered several times: faith, following the prophet, the Holy Ghost and battling Satan's influences in today's world. Those sound like pretty good topics for our time, don't they.

We had an area conference a couple of weeks ago. It was a broadcast from the BYU Marriott Center. President Packer was one of the speakers. He spoke about the pioneers and some of the trials and difficulties they faced in their time. Then he made the statement that, while the pioneers faced some really difficult times, the worst is yet to come. Oh, that made my heart sink. What are we in for?

Once, when I lived in Salt Lake City, we had a drive-by shooting near our house. When the police arrived they found bullet casings in the driveway of the house next door to where we lived. For a couple of days, I felt very vulnerable and traumatized by the event. It was as if I lived in a house made of paper. I had several small children at that time and I realized that we could not prevent horrible things from happening to our family. The police were no good, having gotten there too late to do anything useful.

A few days later, after much prayer, I finally felt peace through a scripture quoted at a high priest meeting. It is John 14:27, "peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." I realized that, although we cannot control what evil may come to us, as long as we are doing our best to live the gospel and keep the commandments, it doesn't matter what happens to us, we will be okay. I was given a great feeling of peace through the Spirit. That concept still brings me peace and comfort.

So, whatever lies ahead of us, we can take comfort in the promise contained in John 14:27. We can go forth with courage, knowing that all will be well if we do our best to live righteous lives.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Does the World Need Another Book?

Sometimes, when I'm at the local library, bookstore or even thrift store, I look around me at the thousands of books and I ask myself, "Does the world need another book?" I see so many books on the shelves, some good, some bad, some well-written and some poorly written. There are more books than anyone can read in a lifetime. No one would even want to read them all. So, it begs the question--does the world need another book?

It's a rather negative question, but one I think every aspiring author ought to ask him or herself. Is the book I'm writing going to contribute to society? Is it going to end up being the kind of library book folks wait in line for? What about when pretty much everyone who is going to read your book has read it? It will sit on a shelf in a thrift shop or in the library, gathering dust and everyone will forget about it. Is it enough that you've made your money from it? Will you still care about it? Will anyone else?

My biggest question related to this is: "What does my book contribute to the good of society?" Am I writing a book just to tell an engaging story or is there some other reason people should read my book? Will they come away from their reading with some greater understanding? Will it make them think, analyze their lives? Maybe even make changes?

For me, it is not enough just to write a book. There are so many books out there that do little more than entertain. For me, with such a glut of books already out there, there ought to be a good, compelling reason to write mine.

Lest I leave you depressed and questioning why you should continue the difficult task of writing your book, here are what I would consider good reasons to write a book:

The book will be of value if it not only entertains, but educates in a clean, uplifting way. It tells of good triumphing over evil. It is of value if it helps people learn to deal with their struggles in a healthy way. A worthwhile book will speak of real love, the kind that is selfless and causes one to want to become better for another person. We have so many examples in not only literature, but real life of how to do things the wrong way. There are plenty of sources showing Satan's influence over people. We need to read about people overcoming Satin's influence. That would be uplifting.

If you think about the classics, they do this. They speak of good overcoming evil--after a struggle, of course. They speak of love that seeks the well-being of another before self. That's why they are classics.

So what do you think? Does the world need another book? Aren't there enough already? What is your book going to contribute to society? What unique perspective do you have to offer that will make people's lives better? Or, are you only interested in what sells?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caught in the Rain

"It's going to rain today," my 8-year-old son said. It was 9:00 a.m. and we were walking up the hill from our house, on our way to drop him and his sister off at school.

"How do you know it will rain?" I asked, "Sometimes it's just cloudy and it doesn't rain.''

"Oh, it will rain. See, the wind is coming from that way, and there are big rain clouds over there. It will rain."

I was skeptical. Having grown up in Portland, Oregon, I'd seen a lot of rain, but I'd also seen a lot of clouds that didn't produce rain.

I gave my two kids their goodbye, have-a-nice-day hugs and continued my walk. I have been walking every weekday, going a little further each day. The city installed a nice walking/biking path not far from my home, complete with convenient mile markers so I could tell how far I actually walked. I was determined to go a full five miles.

I reached the mile marker that indicated I'd gone 2.5 miles--time to turn around and head toward home. It was going to be downhill most of the way. I smiled, knowing I was going to accomplish my goal. That's when I heard the thunder. I mentally reviewed what I knew about lightning safety, picturing the crouching position on tiptoes that was considered the safest stance in a thunder storm, hoping I won't actually have to assume that position.

I am still a good 1.5 miles from home when the first raindrop hits the ground in front of me. I hear the pattering drops on the pavement and brush around me. At first it is a soft pop here and there, like popcorn starting to heat up in the microwave. More lightning and thunder. Soon the rain falls with greater frequency and I not only see the pavement becoming more spotted, I feel the drops on my clothes. I pick up my pace.

Soon I'm jogging through a rainstorm. Ben was right, I think to myself, it was going to rain. A woman passes me, pushing a jogging stroller. We exchange smiles, knowing we'd both rather be inside our homes. I remember my cross-country runner son, now on a mission. His favorite time to run was during a rainstorm. I smile.

By the time I am about one-half mile from home, the heavens open and the rain turns into a torrent that swells rain gutters and turns my jeans heavy, wet and cold. My shirt is completely soaked and I can feel the wetness creeping into my innermost layers and I feel the rain against my flesh. That's the point when I remember Them. I remember my pioneer ancestors. I've been thinking a lot about them, as I will be spending the weekend at Martin's Cove. I wonder how they handled rainstorms. Did they keep walking? Did they crowd into their wagons? Did they shelter under trees? Did they have dry clothing to change into? I knew that as soon as I could make my way home, I would step into a warm, dry house, take warm shower and change into dry clothes. The pioneers had no such luxuries.

About 3 blocks from home the rainfall takes on a different sound. Louder. More forceful. I feel a sting on the back of my neck. Hail. Soon the hail has replaced the rain and I am being pelted with gravel-sized hailstones, each one a needle-prick on the bare skin of my neck, arms and legs. Hail hurts. My shoes make a sloshing sound as I jog; as wet inside as they are on the outside. I take temporary shelter under a tree to catch my breath, hoping the hail lets up. That's when I notice that my mascara has melted down my face and onto my white shirt, making gray streaks. I hope nobody I know sees me before I can get cleaned up.

My fast pace and the unexpected weather have taken a toll on me. I am exhausted. My breath comes in gasps, but I want to get home as quickly as possible, so I leave the tree and jog some more. As I finally round the corner to my block, I notice that the water in the gutters has reached the level of he sidewalk and is rushing like a small river. My neighbor pulls into her driveway and sees me. The water has run down my face into my eyes, coating my contacts and making it hard to see. I blink and smile at her. She says something like, "Oh, you're out in this mess. Get inside. Hurry." Yeah. I finally reach my front porch and lean against the side of the house, panting, dripping, shivering. My son was watching for me. He brings me a towel. It is good to be home.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ANWA Meeting Notes

We had our local ANWA (American Night Writers' Association) meeting last Thursday at Kari Pike's house. I went with some amount of nervousness because I had made copies of a few pages of my writing that I wanted my group to critique. It was my first time and I was fearful of what might be said about my writing.

The lesson was presented by--okay, I'm really bad with names, so I might have this wrong--Gail, who had attended a writing conference by Orson Scott Card. I love these kind of reports because so often I can't go to these conferences. One idea was to ask "what else" when you get stuck in a story. You can even ask other people to help you decide "what else." You might get some great ideas that hadn't occurred to you, but takes your tale in a new, exciting direction.

Other tips were things to avoid having your reader say: "Oh yeah?" - make it believable; "So what?" - make the reader care about your characters; and "Huh?" - make it clear. Even if you already explained it before, if your readers aren't getting it, you need to explain it again or explain it better.

I was talking to my Mom last week about the "oh yeah?" factor of writing. She is heavy into family history research and has been for years. She has seen many amazing miracles happen in the course of her research. She made the comment that truth is stranger than fiction. I told her that not only is it stranger, but the same experience, if written in fiction would not be believable and would make for bad fiction. Instead of "how amazing," the reader would say something more like, "Sure, like that would really happen." It means fiction writers must walk a fine line between making something unique and interesting without making it unbelievable.

The last part of Gail's presentation was a strategy she picked up from a class at the University of Utah. She called it "Steal a Plot." I think I'd call it "Borrow a Plot," but the result is the same. She recommended changing a plot idea until it is no longer recognizable, plugging in your own characters, location, etc. She said that she uses this technique in scenes too, where she wants to show a certain character trait. She will think of a scene from the scriptures or historical sources that show that character trait and borrow the scene into her own work. She had us practice writing a plot summary from a favorite movie, then tell how we might change it to use it in a novel. It was a fun exercise--go try it!

After the lesson, it was time to critique members' work. I was the only one that night who brought something to be read, which added to my nervousness. I passed around copies of my print-outs and read it aloud. And, I am happy to report, I survived! It wasn't as painful as I'd feared. In fact, I got some wonderful suggestions and some mistakes were pointed out that I really should have known better than to make, but didn't see. This was all done gently and encouragingly. The group showed great interest in my story and seemed excited to hear more of it. What a relief! I went through my first critique session and I did okay. I am really glad I did it, and I will be much less fearful next time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Letter to Happy Camper Camp Chair Company

Dear Happy Camper Camp Chair Company,

I wanted to write you this letter to express my thanks for your Happy Camper Camp Chairs. My family purchased four of these delightful chairs. Thank you for making such an affordable, portable chair. Kudos to your marketing department for placing them in front of our favorite grocery store, next to the bottled water. Between that and the $8.99 sticker price, they were practically irresistible. The little draw string pouch they came in was charming, even after we lost all the cord clamps to them and one of them sprouted a cute little hole so you can see what's inside.

The thing I like the best about your chairs is the entertaining ways they break. For instance, once my daughter had a plate full of food at a picnic and went to sit down on one of your Happy Camper chairs. When all her weight rested on the seat it gave way and up went the plate of food. It landed like chunky rain on a few other picnickers. My daughter said, "Oh!" It was quite entertaining.

And then there was my son's experience. He had finished his food and had gone back for a second cup of water. He sat down on the seat and this time both of the rivets gave way and his rump fell right through to the ground, his knees up by his eyeballs and his hands in the air, still clutching his cup of water. He was quite stuck and looked like some kind of weird spider trying to untangle himself from the legs of the skeleton, which was all that was left of what had been a Happy Camper Chair. I have paid more and been less entertained at a comedy show, so I just want to say "thanks."

Karen Dupaix

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back To My Roots

We recently returned from a vacation to the beautiful Northwest coast. I was able to take my children to Portland, where I showed them my home, the elementary school, and the high school I attended, where I first fell in love with literature and decided I wanted to be a writer.

I loved the green trees in our campground, thick and fuzzy with moss, the light filtering down through needles and leaves. The air seemed rich with oxygen and smelled green--can you smell green? If so, it would smell like Oregon.

We built a big family sandcastle at the beach and did a lot of beach combing. I wiggled my feet down into the soft, fine-grained sand, as if I could root myself to the beach and stay there forever.

The water was too cold to swim in so the children gathered treasures of broken shells and limpets. They watched small crabs skuttle for shelter when dislodged from their homes under large rocks.

Something about being back where I grew up made me feel whole, filled, at home. It was as if the trees and moss were welcoming me back. I think a part of me will always be there, in the coastal forest, breathing in the rich air, so different from the dry mountain desert I have lived in for the past 23 years.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Brevity of Lyrics

I was thinking recently about some of my favorite songs and how well they get a point across in very few words. For example, consider these words from one of our hymns:
There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin.
He only could unlock the gates
Of heaven and let us in.

I could spend an entire 45-minute lesson talking about the life and mission of our Savior and not come close to explaining it as well as these few lines do.

There are plenty of other examples in all kinds of songs. I suppose that's the beauty of poetry--it's ability to portray thought beautifully and succinctly.

I would suggest that studying lyrics and other poetry can help us tighten up our writing and eliminate unnecessary verbiage.

So, grab your favorite hymnal or poetry book and enjoy some creative, tight writing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Short Story - 2nd Place Winner!

To re-cap: I entered a birthday contest sponsored by Christine Bryant. She put a list of things she's gotten for her birthday over the years and challenged us to create a story using as many items from the list as possible in 1000 words or less. The following is my humble offering, which was awarded 2nd prize.

First, the list of items:
pink fuzzy bath slippers
.22 rifle
glass horse
sleeping bag
a journal
white bean bag chair
a kitten (Sheba)
a bouquet of flowers
a Barbie doll
Roller skates
a book (How to Draw Animals)
a 10-speed bike (white)
A stuffed alligator
A Donny Osmond poster (stop laughing)
a lamp for my desk
flip flops
a jewelry box
a cedar chest
a heart locket
a used stereo (with record turn table)

Barbie’s Dilemma
By Karen Dupaix

Barbie sat at her desk and switched on the lamp,. “If only I had some friends who could help me with my dilemma,” she thought. She wondered how to attract new friends to her home. Her eyes wandered to the bookshelf above the desk and scanned the titles of the row of books.

“Perfect!” she said, as she read How to Draw Animals. She pulled the book down and opened it to the first page and read:

“To attract animals to your yard, supply food that is attractive to the breed of animal you wish to attract.” Barbie replaced the book and turned to her kitchen with new purpose. She opened her refrigerator and peered in.

“No,” she thought, “I don’t think diet Dr. Pepper will attract animals. I need meat.” She dug a little further.

“Horse meat might work,” she said to herself, and then realized that the horse in her fridge was made of glass. She kept searching.

“Aha!” she cried, seizing a large package of bacon and a carton of eggs, “Who doesn’t like bacon and eggs?” She quickly got out a large frying pan and went to work. Soon the irresistible smell of frying bacon and eggs filled her small, cedar chest home.

A knock came at the door.

“Right on schedule!” said Barbie, “I wonder what animal I’ve drawn to my home.”

Before she could reach the door handle, another knock sounded on the door, loud and impatient.

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” said Barbie, “Don’t get your feathers ruffled.” She yanked the door quickly open and let out a little gasp. There, on her front stoop stood a very large alligator and a little black and white kitten.

“Why hello there,” said Barbie, “What are your names?”

“I’m Ralph,” said the alligator

“Sheba,” said the cat.

“Won’t you come in?” said Barbie.

“Thanks, I’m starved!” said the alligator, his voice deep and gravely.

“Meow,” said the Sheba, “bacon and eggs are my favorite.”

Barbie ushered her guests into her kitchen and set out plates. The kitten settled on the tabletop in front of her plate. Ralph pushed aside the chairs and stood up to the table, which Barbie thought was extremely rude. She shoveled great quantities of eggs and bacon onto the alligator’s plate and a smaller portion for the kitten.

Ralph made growling, smacking sounds as he ate but the Sheba made very little noise. Soon, they were both finished and the kitten was licking the last remnants of eggs and bacon from her whiskers and paws.

“Would you like something else?” asked Barbie.

The kitten politely declined.

“No thanks,” said the alligator, “I’m stuffed. Couldn’t eat another bite.”

“In that case, said Barbie, “Please come into the living room. There’s something I’d like to discuss with you.”

Barbie and her animal friends settled themselves in the living room. Barbie fluffed up a plastic bag full of white navy beans and gestured for Ralph to sit on it.

“It’s the most comfortable seat in the house,” she said. Ralph sat there and Sheba curled up on a sleeping bag in the corner.

“I wanted you to come because I need your help,” said Barbie, “You see, my friend Chris is having a birthday soon, and I need to figure out what to get her.”

Ralph and Sheba nodded their heads.

“I’ve been thinking,” said Barbie, “that what she’d like is a visit from this guy.” She reached behind the couch and unrolled a large poster of Donny Osmond.

“Great idea,” said Ralph, “He’s got great teeth.”

“We should ask him,” said Sheba.

“That’s what I thought too,” said Barbie, “I’ve done some research, and I have learned that Donny lives right here in Provo!”

“Let’s visit him,” said Sheba.

“Yes,” said Ralph, “maybe if we catch him off guard, he’ll agree to be Chris’ birthday surprise.”

Barbie got out her laptop and Googled Donny’s address, then she and her animal friends walked out to Barbie’s garage.

“I’ll wear these roller skates,” said Barbie, taking off her flip-flops and pulling on the skates, “You can ride my 10-speed bike.”
She gestured to the bike, white and dusty, hanging from hooks attached to the beams of the garage roof, next to an old .22 rifle.

“Sure,” said Ralph, “Are the tires good?”

“They’re fine,” said Barbie, “Sheba can ride in the basket.”

In no time at all, the three friends made their way to Donny’s house, where they knocked on his door.

“Well, hello there,” said Donny, opening the door, the sunlight glinting off his teeth, “To what do I owe this great privilege?”

“We need a birthday present for Chris,” said Barbie.

“And you’re it!” added Ralph.

“Lovely. Perfect. Please, come in,” said Donny.

Donny led them into a comfortable living room.

“You know,” said Donny, “I did this once for a woman named Susan.”

Donny picked up his journal, which had been lying on the coffee table, and leafed through the pages. “Ah yes, here it is. I arrived with a big bouquet of flowers and sang songs to her. Would that work for Chris?”

“I think,” said Barbie, “Maybe you should bring a gift, too.”

“Sure,” said Donny, “Maybe a pair of pink fuzzy bath slippers?”

“Or a jewelry box,” suggested Sheba.

“With a heart locket,” added Ralph.

“Hmm,” thought Donny, “Chris is a big fan?”

“Oh yes,” said Barbie, “for years.”

“Then I think I might have just the thing for her,” said Donny. He walked to the hall closet, where he rummaged around several minutes before coming back with a large wooden box.

“What is that?” asked Ralph.

“It’s my old stereo,” said Donny, “It has a turntable on it so she can play her records.”

Barbie clapped her hands. “It’s perfect!” she said, “Problem solved.”

The friends made plans to meet and deliver the gift on Chris’ birthday, had a big group hug, and went their separate ways.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Crickets and Bees and a Short Story

Wow, who knew you could hear crickets by writing about bees? Not one response to my last post. I wonder if anyone read it. Maybe it's one of those things that is only exciting if you're the one surrounded by angry bees. Oh, well. Time to move on.

I have been writing every day lately, which is my goal. I am 18,435 words into my YA novel now. It isn't always easy and I don't always get a lot written, but I think overall it is getting a little easier, and hopefully better.

Christine Bryant is hosting an exclusive writing contest for AI members. She listed several items she's gotten for birthday presents in the past and challenged us to write a short story, 1,000 words or less, using as many of the items as possible.

I wrote my story yesterday. I can't reveal it until the contest is over, July 14, but I will post it here after that. In the meantime, here is the list of items she gave us to work with. And, I am proud to report, I used them all in my little story.

pink fuzzy bath slippers
.22 rifle
glass horse
sleeping bag
a journal
white bean bag chair
a kitten (Sheba)
a bouquet of flowers
a Barbie doll
Roller skates
a book (How to Draw Animals)
a 10-speed bike (white)
A stuffed alligator
A Donny Osmond poster (stop laughing)
a lamp for my desk
flip flops
a jewelry box
a cedar chest
a heart locket
a used stereo (with record turn table)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beehive Tipping on the Fourth

Since it is close to the 4th of July, I thought I'd entertain you with a story from one of my most memorable July 4ths. Enjoy!

July 4, 2006 dawned bright and hot, with the promise of everything Independence Day should be: playing in the park, eating ice cold watermelon and grilled hot dogs, water fights, and fireworks. But first, there was work to be done.

My husband had risen early to help the scouts put flags in front of every house in our neighborhood. He came in where I was lazily sleeping in and reminded me that we were going to work the bees that day,

After a hasty breakfast Paul and I loaded our pickup truck with empty hive boxes and frames and the “bee box,” where we kept our beekeeping suits and equipment. We backed out of our driveway and made our way to Gary’s place in Grantsville.

Honeybees need two things to be good producers. They need a constant water source and a good supply of nectar. Gary had the perfect setup for bees. His land was next to an alfalfa field and included several natural springs. When he bought the property it was nothing but a swampy weed patch. Gary had turned it into a paradise. I was thrilled when he asked if we could put bees on his land.

Early in the spring we came with packages of Minnesota Hybrid bees, bred for their ability to produce large quantities of honey. Gary mentioned then that there were skunks in the area. Skunks like to eat bees. They will sit at the entrance to a hive and tease the bees out, then grab and eat them. They can destroy a whole hive of bees that way.

To prevent the skunks eating the bees, we asked Gary if he had some kind of bench or platform that was raised up about 18 inches that we could put the hives on. At home we used cinder blocks and small thrift store tables. Gary disappeared into his workshop, telling us he’d come up with something. We could hear him in there, sawing and hammering. He came out with two makeshift benches fashioned out of scrap lumber. I wondered if they would be strong enough to support the hives and voiced my concerns. Gary said he could brace and stake them as needed, and Paul said maybe we could switch them out for something better before the hives got too heavy. We put three hives on the first bench and four close behind them on the second bench.

Now, several months later, we parked down the drive from where our bees were located. We got out of the truck and put on our bee suits. I asked Paul if he wanted me to light the smoker. He said that we wouldn’t need it. We would just quickly switch the boxes and be on our way. The bees would hardly know we were there.

We approached the first hive from the back so we wouldn’t disturb the bees’ flight path. My husband pried off the lid and lifted a frame out of the box. To our surprise, the frame was full of capped honey. The bees had been busy and were taking full advantage of their ideal location. We smiled.

Our goal that day was to switch the order of the brood boxes, to keep the queen bee from laying eggs in the honey boxes. To do this, we would be switching positions of the bottom and second box, and then add a honey box, or super, to the top of the stack.

I busied myself getting the empty box ready with frames while Paul did the heavy lifting. A full honey box can weigh 50-60 pounds.

I looked up when I heard Paul say, “uh oh.” I saw the entire row of four beehives shift dangerously, my husband trying to steady them. I stood dumbfounded, with my mouth open as my husband wisely got out of the way and the bench collapsed in slow motion. The entire row of boxes, full of thousands of bees, tipped backward and fell against the second row of hives. Like dominoes, the second row of hives gave way and the boxes tumbled over to the ground and down into a ditch. Clouds of angry bees were flying everywhere, their homes completely upended and broken apart.

My husband and I looked at one another, eyes wide with shock. I decided it was a good time to leave the area, and I ran as fast as I could down the drive. My husband chose to stay and put the boxes back together as best he could. I watched him from inside the cab of the pickup. I gained a lot of respect for him and, shamed at my cowardice, eventually went back out to help him. Remarkably, we both came away from that experience without a single sting.

We managed to save most of the hives, and we came back with better platforms to put them on. We got a lot of honey that year, but those bees became the most aggressive hives we ever had. They never forgot us, and they taught their children to hate us.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reading About Writing VS Writing

I have (too) many hobbies, one of which is knitting. Sometimes, when I really am too busy to spend a lot of time knitting, I find myself in a yarn store, buying yarn. In my mind, buying yarn is somehow productive and contributes to my knitting goals. However, all it really does is clutter up my storage space and make me more frustrated because the knitting isn't being done, but the yarn is accumulating.

I think sometimes as writers we do a lot of research about writing. We browse the internet, learning about others' successes in writing, learning new techniques, and "networking." This all feels quite productive and makes us feel like we're doing something about our writing projects. What we really should be doing, though, is actually writing. I'm as guilty as the next person in this. I spend much more time than I ought to on the internet rather than the word processor.

So, here's this week's challenge for you and for me: 1. set a time limit for how long you will spend on the internet. You can set an alarm on your cell phone or set a timer to help with this. 2. Allow a chunk of time for writing each day and stick to it. 3. Don't allow yourself to become distracted with networking while you are in your writing time.

Okay, ready...set..write!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Theory About How The Skull Got There

Okay, here's the last installment of the skull in the attic story. The previous owner of our house was a dentist--one of the old school dentists who never used Novocaine. I've heard horror stories of his dentistry from the long-time Tooele residents. Anyway, Doc, as he was called, was on the town's Search and Rescue team. He had an old Jeep that he would get in and go exploring all over Tooele county by himself, whenever he had some free time away from torturing people (that is, working on their teeth).

My theory is as follows:

Doc was out one day, driving in a remote area of Tooele County. From a distance, he sees something that catches his interest. It appears to be a shallow cave in an outcropping of rocks. He drives as close as he can to the site, then gets out and proceeds on foot. Upon reaching the cave, he peers in. He is a big man, and can't squeeze himself into the narrow opening. The cave is dark, but not very deep and he sees something back inside. Looking around, Doc breaks a limb off of a dead tree. He sticks the branch into the opening and tries to sweep out what he can only dimly see. Much to his surprise, what rolls to the front of the cave is a human skull!

Doc looks over the skull carefully. The jawbone is missing, but it is surprisingly well preserved. It has skin tissue and hair still attached, and a tooth! Ah, thinks Doc, if only I'd gotten to this poor fellow sooner, maybe I could have saved the rest of his teeth. He chuckles to himself. What a fine old relic, he thinks. I think I'll take this home and show my wife. We can add it to our collection of oddities.

Doc wraps the skull in an old burlap sack he keeps in the back of his Jeep for just such an occasion, and sets it gently down next to the wheel well cover. He has gone quite far from home, he realizes, and by the time he gets there it will be dark and the children will be asleep. Maybe that's for the best, thinks Doc, I wouldn't want to scare them.

By the time Doc arrives at his home, it is dark. He lets himself in through the back door. His wife is sitting in the living room reading.

"Look what I found out in the desert!" he says, holding up the burlap sack with the skull inside.

"You found an old burlap bag?" his wife asks.

"No. Look." He gently pulls the skull out of the bag and presents it to his wife, dropping the bag to the floor.

"Ugh! That's horrible," says his wife, "Where in the world did you get it?"

"I found it in an old cave," says Doc, "I think it's an Indian skull."

Doc's wife backs away from the skull, her eyes wide and lips drawn tight against her teeth. She knows there's only one way to handle this situation.

"Doc, you've got to get rid of it. I don't want the children to see that horrible thing, and I'm not even sure if it's legal to have it in the house."

Doc is very disappointed in his wife's reaction, but he can see the wisdom in what she says.

"All right, Dear," he says, "I will put this skull somewhere where the children will never find it. In fact, nobody ever need know that we even have it. You and I are the only ones who know about it."

Doc takes the skull and carefully climbs the narrow, steep stairs to the attic. He surveys the attic, thinking about where the best place would be to hide it. When the weather is mild, the children come up here to play, he thinks. It will have to be somewhere that they won't accidentally discover it. His gaze stops on the new cupboards he and his son built last spring. Yes, that might work, he thinks. Doc walks over to the furthest cupboard from the stairwell, up near the front of the house, just on the other side of the chimney. He opens the cupboard door and puts the skull inside. That's not going to be good enough, thinks Doc, All they'd have to do is open the cupboard and they'd see it. He remembers the triangular space under the slope of the attic roof, which he has closed off with the back of the cupboard. If he could pry one of the boards loose and cut it in just the right place, that would be the perfect place to hide the skull.

The next day, Doc leaves the office early, arriving home before the children come home from school. He goes to the garage and gets his hand drill and a bow saw. Then he grabs some nails and a hammer. Thirty minutes later, Doc climbs down the attic stairs, sweating from the exertion and the heat in the attic.

"Okay, Dear," he says, "That old skull is in a place nobody is going to find it. It wouldn't surprise me if it's still there when the millennium comes."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More On the Skull in the Attic

The police were very kind to us. We were never treated as suspects, and they were good about updating us as they discovered more information about the skull. Here is what we learned:

The skull belonged to a native American female, who died in her early 20's. They estimated the age of the skull to be between 200 and 400 years old. Wherever it had originally been buried must have been warm and dry because the skull was very well preserved--basically mummified. It was suggested that perhaps it was in a cave.

The skull was shipped to Florida, where there is a lab where they do genetic testing to determine which native American tribe it belongs to. Once identified, the plan was to return it to that tribe for proper re-burial. That is the last we heard of the skull.

How this skull got in our attic remains a mystery to this day. I will post my very plausible theory on how it got there next time. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lehi City Park Boutique

Just a heads up. I'm going to be at a boutique in Lehi at Wines Park (500 N 100 E) Wednesday afternoon/evening and all day Thursday. Come see me and all the cute stuff I make!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Skull in the Attic

June 23, 2008 found me resting on my bed, trying to get over a bad headache, most likely caused by the constant overhead noise the roofers had been making for days, taking off the 3 layers of old roof. We'd lived in the 98-year-old Tooele home for about 8 years, and February's big wind storm had finally ripped off enough shingles to inspire our homeowners insurance to buy us a new roof. First, though, the old roof had to come off. The bottom layer of roofing material was wood shakes, and beneath them were narrow slats, set about 3/4" apart.

My husband, Paul, came in where I was unsuccessfully trying to rest and said, with an odd look on his face, "They've found a skull in our attic."

I was not alarmed. The previous owner had been a dentist and had owned the home for some 64 years before we bought it. I thought the skull was probably some kind of dental school relic. I said as much to my husband.

"No," said Paul, "It has skin and hair on it, a tooth, and I think even an eyeball!"

"You're kidding," I said. It would not surprise me. One of the things that had attracted me to my husband in the first place was his humor.

"No, I'm not," he said, "Wanna come see it?"

"Yeah." Of course I did. I've never been squeamish and in spite of having a headache, I wanted to see this skull for myself.

I followed Paul outside and around the house to where the roofers had leaned a tall ladder against the side of our house. I climbed the ladder and peered between the slats. It was a bright, sunny day, and the area under the slats was dim, but sure enough, I could see the skull in there. It was resting amid debris from the roof demolition, on top of fluffy gray insulation material. Its lower jaw was missing, as were all but one of its teeth. The way the skin had shrunken around the eye sockets made it look like a laughing Asian man. Strands of black hair still clung to the sides and back of the skull.

The roofers were all on their cell phones, making various calls, one of which was to the police. The next few days were a police and media fiasco, but that's another story.

How did the skull get in the attic? It's anybody's guess, really. The police contacted surviving family members; the children of the old dentist. Nobody had any idea of the skull's existence. And, the skull was hidden so that it could not be detected from inside the attic. Cupboards lined the sides of the attic, with walls in the back that closed off a triangular shaped space where the slope of the roof met the eaves. The skull had been placed in that small, triangular space. The only way it would ever have been discovered was to have the roof taken completely off, or the cupboards demolished.

I have my theory of how and why the skull ended up in our attic, but I want to hear your creative ideas. I will post later what we learned about the skull and my theory about how it got there.

So, let's hear some feedback. How would a skull like this get into our attic?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Daughter, a Missionary

"I'm going on a mission,"
She said
And I had something of a
'Father of the Bride' moment.
How swiftly the time
Has gone.

I didn't worry too much
About her announcement.
She is young and cute
And sweet and vivacious.
I thought
Surely she would be
Snatched up
By some handsome prince
And carried off
Into the sunset.

I've seen it all before
Even after the call--
The girl falls in love
And goes to the altar
Instead of
The MTC.

Yet, here we are
Just a week away
From our drive to Provo
Where we will pull up to the curb
In front of
The MTC.

She will be a good missionary.
I wish I
Could go with her,
Not because
I will miss her,
(Though I will)
And not because
She needs me
(She does not).

I want to go
Because I have gone.
I was once
Where she is now.
I know a little
Of the journey she will take,
And of the joy,
Oh, the joy,
That makes it all
More than worth it.

But, I had my turn
And I'm on the other side
Of the fence now.
I'll stay home.
I'll write letters.
I'll pray every day
For her success.
That will be my mission
This time around.

Some future day,
I may get
A second chance
With my best companion.
And together
We will relive
The joy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Kids' Imagination as Inspiration - Contest!

My kids, especially the youngest two, have great imaginations. I like to listen in on their imaginative play. Yesterday we went to the zoo and on the drive there, my youngest two kids and a cousin were making up this scenario where, when characters ate certain things, they exhibited unusual traits. For example, when they ate a particular food, it made them turn a certain color (hopefully not blue from asphyxiation). My author's brain got going on that idea. Maybe instead of a certain color, the eater could gain a certain strength or skill or magical trait.

Today the same two kids came home from swimming at a neighbor's house. They were talking about games they'd played at the pool. I caught the word, "quarter-breed." I had to ask them what that meant. I was told that when someone is 3/4 human and 1/4 mermaid, for example, they were a quarter-breed. Or, they could be 3/4 mermaid and 1/4 human. Hmm, I thought. That has possibilities....

So, I thought I'd run a little contest. Using these two ideas, post a reply giving a short idea for a book. You can use one of the ideas or both of the ideas. You can come up with one book or two books. Your choice. After a week, I will choose the idea I like best and award that person a hand-knitted and felted cell phone cozy, pictured below (Cell phone not included).

So, put on your best creative thinking hats and give me your best story ideas!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Finishers Wanted

I am a craftsman, or craftswoman, if you will. I love to create things. I have started many, many projects. I am not so good at finishing them, though. I have lots of unfinished objects in my studio. In knitting and quilting terms they're called UFOs. I don't want to give the impression that I never finish things. I do finish things, just not all the things I start, and I often start new projects before the old ones are finished. I am trying, rather unsuccessfully, not to continue this trend in my writing projects.

I also have trouble finishing cleaning up the house and the laundry (really, it never gets done at our house, as we dirty two loads each day). I am sure it doesn't help that I have seven children. My mom claims that the best way to keep your house clean is to marry off all of your children. I'll have to try that some day.

At any rate, I was thinking about reading in the want ads once the term "finishers Wanted," and I decided that it would be very nice to have someone come and finish all my well-begun projects. I could have all the fun trying new things and someone more responsible than I care to be could come and finish them for me. I know it's not going to happen, but it is a nice dream.

I have also lately been a bit down on myself about all the ways I don't measure up to what I should be. I'm sure we all do this. I wish I were a better mother, wife, writer, friend, etc. I am unfinished in these areas as well.

Fortunately, there is help for this latter state of needing finishing. I found it in the scriptures. It says there that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. To me right now, that means if I do my very best, my Savior will make up the difference. So, I actually do have a finisher in my life, and as The Creator and the son of a carpenter, I am sure He knows how to finish things very well. I think the real trick for me is making sure I do the very best I can.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shyness and Writing

When I was young I found that writing was the very best way I could express myself. I was painfully shy; scared of strangers, the telephone, crowds, new situations, you name it. I hardly spoke at all to people I didn't know well. I really believe this is what started my writing journey.

For many years, I faithfully kept a journal as a teenager. It has been fun, recently, to revisit these journals and rediscover my teen-aged self. It was much less embarrassing than I feared it would be. I read one entry that spoke of being complimented by a high school English teacher, who said I expressed myself well in writing. I wrote in my journal that I wanted to become a writer when I grew up.

After graduating high school, I went to BYU, where I majored in English. I had this idea that someone had to give you permission to be a writer, and I hoped that by earning a degree in English, I would have that permission. I loved all the classes I took, from English literature to creative writing.

Fast forward a few years. I did the unthinkable and served an LDS mission. To this day, I can't believe, as shy as I was, that I actually did it, but it has been a tremendous blessing in my life. One thing it forced me to do was talk to people--even people I didn't know. For 19 months (I extended) I actually talked to strangers on a regular basis--and survived! I didn't melt, throw up, pass out or die. I found I could actually talk to strangers and verbally express my thoughts. I was, however, still a faithful journal keeper on my mission.

After my mission, my main focus was marriage and motherhood preparation. So, I went back to BYU and changed my major to Human Development. I learned some very valuable skills that I have been able to use as a parent. I met my husband before I graduated, and decided to quit school and get on with the business of marriage and raising a family.

22 years and seven children later, I find myself with a little bit of quiet time during the day. When my children grew old enough to begin serving missions (last December), I re-read my mission journals and felt a burning desire to write my mission memoirs. I started a few times, switching from first person to third person, and from memoir to fiction. Maybe, I thought, I need a little writing refresher course to figure some of these things out. I found a community class offered by UVU. Turns out, the class was designed mostly for writers of fiction, and my memoir plan didn't seem to fit too well with that. I came up with an idea for a novel, and have been working on it ever since.

Now, back to the shyness issue. I learned on my mission to put myself out there, to speak to people in spite of feeling shy. But, it is still not my nature to be outgoing. Deep down inside, I'm still the shy little girl who doesn't like to talk to strangers. And, maybe that's good, because it means that my best method of communication is still writing. I can save the other skills for promoting my book, right?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

League of Utah Writers Spring Workshops

I just got back yesterday from the spring workshops sponsored by the League of Utah Writers. It was awesome! I am learning so much.

Clint Johnson (author of Green Dragon Codex) told us anyone can write and get published. He taught us that story writing is comprised of the inter-connectivity between these of three things:
  1. Setting the scene
  2. Revealing Character, and
  3. Advancing the plot.

He went on to explain what each of these things were and how any one without the others makes for boring reading. He referred to the blending of these three concepts as "Triple-Duty writing."

For the hands-on portion of his presentation, Clint gave us a choice between I think five different writing prompts and had us take about 10 minutes to write about that prompt, trying to use triple-duty writing.

The writing prompt I chose to write on is a father taking a child to a baseball game and it's the first time the two have been together since a divorce. For me it was quite a challenge, especially with the time limit. My perfectionism kept getting in the way and I kept wanting to go back and change the way I said something, but then there was that time limit to deal with.

But, no excuses. This is what I wrote. Yes, I would change some things on re-writing it, but I'm giving it to you the way I wrote it:
Cindy held her father's hand tightly as they walked from their car to the stand at the baseball field.

"I wish Mom were here,"Cindy thought, "What if I need to use the bathroom?"

Dad got the two of them settled on the bleachers.

"Are you hungry?" Dad asked, "I can go get us hot dogs."

"No," said Cindy, even though she had missed breakfast because she had to be ready so early.

"I'm starving, but I don't want to be left here alone," she thought.

Cindy looked up at her dad, tall and strong, with his favorite New York Yankees baseball cap on. She remembered how he always used to wear that cap when he mowed the lawn at home. Mommy hired the teenager next door to mow the lawn now.

"Daddy?" said Cindy.

"Yes, Hon?" said her father.

She wanted to ask him why he didn't live with her and Mom anymore. Instead she said,

"Do you miss us?"

"Of course I miss you," said her dad, "That's why I wanted us to spend time together today. Are you having fun?"

Cindy put on her best smile and looked out to the ball field where men in tight pants and dark shirts were throwing balls back and forth to each other.

"I hope it gets more fun than this," she thought, "I wish I were home with Mom.

"Sure Dad," she said, "This is great."

Soon the announcer made everyone stand up for The Star Spangled Banner. Dad took off his cap and held it over his heart. Cindy looked at his hand....

So, that was my little attempt. He then made us go back and re-create the scene from the Dad's point of view. That was harder because it was not the natural choice for me. Clint said that doing exercises that stretch us in that way is really good practice and helps us become better writers. He also said that all writing is self-discovery.

As I have time, I'll report on the other workshops. The other presenters were Dan Wells, Elana Johnson, Ben Behunin, Bert Compton and Angela Eschler.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mystery and Action

I've subscribed to Dave Wolverton's Daily Kick in the Pants emails. I am getting a lot out of them. Yesterday's was about the first chapter. He said if there is no mystery or action created in the first chapter, nobody will finish the book. Now, I've known my first chapter needed help, but I thought I'd deal with it in the first re-write. Well, Dave's kick made me change my mind. I added a chapter before the chapter, which will add some intrigue into my story from the get-go, and hopefully leave the reader wanting to know more.

Today I signed up for the League of Utah Writers' Spring workshops, happening this Saturday in Orem. I am way excited for this! It looks like a lot of fun. I kind of feel like an interloper, though, since I haven't joined the league yet. They meet on Wednesday nights and that's the night I have mutual. I'm the Mia Maid advisor in my ward. So, chances are I wouldn't be able to attend the meetings. There are other chapters whose meetings are on a more convenient night, but I'm not sure I want to do the extra driving. Hm. Decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile, I have become quite enamored of the lyrics to the song, "One Clear Voice." Here they are for your enjoyment and inspiration:

The whole world is talking
Drowning out my voice.
How can I hear myself
With all this noise?
But all this confusion
Just disappears
When I find a quiet place
Where I can hear

One clear voice
Calling out for me to listen
One clear voice
Whispers words of wisdom
I close my eyes
'Till I find what I've been missing.
And if I'm very still, I will hear
One clear voice.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Transitions in The Storyline

I've been plugging along with my novel, Bookgrinders, and have often found it to be very hard to get from one scene to another. Does anyone else have that problem? I know where I want to go, and I have the ol' outline, but getting from one scene to the next is just kind of like torture!

How do you other writers deal with this?

One thing I've done to break up the torture routine is to start a second project. This one is more autobiographical. It's called The Beekeeper's Wife. Yes, we used to keep bees and have some great stories about that time in our lives. It so far is flowing much easier, so it gives me a little bit of a break.

Still, I always make sure I write some every day in my first project. I'm quite proud to have started chapter three, and the chapters are working out to be about 10 pages, which is a nice length. I do have to curtail my editorial side, though. I keep wanting to go back and re-write everything, but I force myself to continue because I've gotten in trouble with that tendency before and got stuck. Not going to happen this time. I will persevere!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Finding/Making Time to Write

It is my understanding that finding time to write is not the right approach. We have to make time to write. At the Storymakers Conference, Dave Wolverton suggested writers get up early to write. He sited evidence that the creative side of one's brain is most active during the early morning hours. I decided I would give it a try.

Mind you, I don't get up that early, but I have been getting up about half an hour earlier than I customarily do. This is my writing time. It seems to be working, though I might have to get up even earlier so I have more than just 1/2 hour. My writing is going very slowly, and it seems I'm just starting to get into the flow of things when I have to stop and get my kids off to school.

All of my children are now in school, which means I have the house to myself for several hours most days, and I should have all the time I want to write, right? It never seems to work out that way. Something else always seems to demand my attention. Perhaps I need to simplify my life a little, or maybe I should do as I suggested in the paragraph above, and get up earlier.

I admire all the young moms I see who write. I have no idea how they find time. Having seven children myself, I don't think I could have done it when my kids were young. Perhaps, though, it is for them the way knitting, gardening or reading has been for me; it's an escape and a break from the stress of being Mommy.

So, here's to all you busy mommies out there who write against all odds and are successful at it. My hat is off to you and I hope I can find what works well for me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


We had cheesecake for dessert tonight. My husband texted my cell phone to tell me it was time to come downstairs and enjoy some. Only, what the text actually said was "cheesecale." His phone, like most, has a feature that finishes words for you as you type them. I have no idea what cheesecale is, but that's the word that came up. Cheesecake is not in the phone's dictionary. I thought this was odd, so I tried it on my phone. So did my son. And my daughter. All of our phones did the same thing! They all finished the word as "cheesecale."

So, here's your challenge for the day. See if your phone does the same thing. And, if anyone knows what in the world cheesecale is, please enlighten the rest of us, will you?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LDS Storymakers Conference

I kind of stumbled on the LDS Storymakers' website. I know one of the authors who is a member of the LDS Storymakers group, and found a link to the website from her Face Book page. From there, I found out about the conference and just barely managed to get registered in time. I missed all the early sign up classes, but there's always next year.

I am so glad I went to the conference. It was excellent! I learned so much. Since I'm relatively new to fiction writing, pretty much everything I heard was useful. Not only did I learn a lot about many aspects of good writing, I got ideas for my story while I was basking in the aura of all those great writers. My kids couldn't believe it when I came home Friday and told them I had met (or at least seen) many of their favorite authors.

I will definitely go again next year, and I've joined the Authors Incognito group, which is great. I am learning so much.

Oh, and I won this really cool door prize from the Authors Incognito group. They even pronounced my name right when they called me up to get it. It was a basket full of puppets, complete with outfits and accessories, and a Family Record Keeper for keeping things in order. My kids love the puppets, even thought I thought they'd be too old for them.

My last name, Dupaix, is pronounced "do pay."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Blog!

I decided I needed a blog where I can post all things related to writing. I'm thinking I will keep updates on my novel here, and mini-essays about whatever is relevant to me at the time.

Not much is here yet, but keep checking back. I will be adding more!