Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Will Call for Readers

I finally finished the rough draft of my next visiting teaching adventure. It has been a long hard process. I've heard that a second novel is one of the hardest things to produce.

There are many reason for this.
1. You want it to be better than your first.
2. The first is done out of passion for the plot or subject. This second is done out of a sense of obligation so writing becomes work.
3. There is a little bit of fear of failure which induces writer's blockage.
4. It was a more complex plot so I was swimming in brand new territory.

So enough of the excuses. Here it is.

Lipstick Wars: A Visiting Teaching Adventure
Lindsay is a young mother with a toddler who keeps escaping. One day he runs to the home of a reclusive artist who changes their family forever. Meanwhile a vindictive neighbor across the street is doing everything in her power to get rid of Lindsay and her family. The state gets involved but so does the entire ward.

If you'd like to give it a read, leave a comment or email me and I'll forward you the file. Thanks.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Weekend Women's Writing Retreat

This weekend was seriously heavenly! I spent it at Silver Lake with about twenty other brilliant ladies who all had one thing in common- the love of the written word. It was a wonderful experience and almost more than one blog can hold so I think I'll piece meal it, touching on a point each time.

Today I'll just give a taste of the experience and a brief overview of all that I learned. Then I'll get into the nitty gritty later.

After six hours of driving with Julia(goofyj) and Donna and her daughter Mandy, the four of us arrived at a gorgeous cabin right on a picturesque little lake surrounded by mountains and evergreens. You felt like you were living on a postcard.

Right away we met Liz Adair who organized the entire ANWA event. It is so interesting to finally meet someone that you only have an internet relationship with. Her sky blue eyes and sparkling personality were a joy. How grateful I was to be included and considered her friend.

We were one of the first to arrive. I assumed that everyone would know each other but me, yet the truth was many of the people had not met before but something amazing happened. It only took one question, "Tell me about you work in progress" and an automatic connection was made. I heard brillant stories, plot ideas and personal ambitions, most being balanced with motherhood and other responsibilities.

It was invigorating to be around so many women of creation and vitality. I laughed so much that my sides ached and I talked so much I became hoarse. Each night I got to bed far later than I should have not wanting to sleep and miss a single word of the lives, thoughts and future dreams of these fabulous ladies.

There were a number of lessons and writing exercises which I'll review later but I'll end with two great things I learned.

When I left the retreat, I was on a high because the entire weekend was overflowing with such unity, love, sisterhood and support. I mourned a little because in our ward I don't always feel that same connection and I wondered why. Then it hit me. At the retreat we all had a common dream that was important enough for each of us to sacrifice to be there. That dream or goal connected us from the moment we met.

In the church if we could remember our common goal with more clarity, I believe that same unity would fill our hearts and encourage us to naturally reach out more than we do. I am so guilty because I have been very withdrawn since moving into my new ward and I plan on repenting of that immediately.

The truth is I worry alot that I am weird. I love to come to new plateaus of understanding, I love expressing complex ideas, I often open my mouth and look around to see people blankly staring at me not understanding a word I said. I also HATE my body. My thyroid went out a number of years ago and the weight gain is my nemesis.

This weeked I suddenly was in my element. Like the eagle among chickens that can't understand why he craves more, I was able to finally soar to the highest mountain crags and rub shoulders with others of my kind- writers alike.

On the way home my two friends and I (and Mandy) went to the outlet Mall and went shopping together at Dress Barn for Women. It was incredible. Because I wasn't going with my size 7 daughter, I felt totally comfortable as we all tried on the same outfits and laughed at our flaws and complimented our strengths. Going home, I felt comfortable in my own skin for the first time in a long time.

What a gift this weekend was of friendship, learning and joy. Life is good--- and I haven't even told you about the writing stuff yet.

Thank you again Liz!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Santa Letters," A Pleasant Surprise

At the request of a friend I agreed to review The Santa Letters, a story about a young widow struggling through her grief to find the joy of Christmas. Although the book is beautifully constructed, the cover blurb seemed to tell of a trite plot and I put off reading it. When I finally did, what a pleasant surprise! Stacy Gooch-Anderson reaches beyond the over-used real meaning of the season and gives illustrations of how we can celebrate this holiday with a depth seldom thought of or remembered.

Emma, a recent widow, is surprised by a letter on her front porch sealed with the initials "SC." The children are certain they are from Santa and thus begins a series of gifts that take them through the Christmas Season. With each letter comes a gift at first but as the story continues, the family begins to give far more than they receive. As the last box arrives, I find myself still touched by its sweet message and looking forward to making our Christmas a better celebration than ever this year.

There is a reason this book is getting so much buzz- it deserves it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In the Spirit Zone

This has to be short but it's wonderful. At the RS Broadcast another point that was brought out was that if we have the Spirit, we will have the power to be more creative. In order to have the Spirit I've found I have to earn it by doing first things first. I have to get my kitchen under control, read my scriptures, work on my personal goals and reach for charity. With what is left, I'm free to fly.

So I decided Monday to put the Lord to the test. I worked all day doing the things I had put off for weeks and ended up with NO time to write. I went to bed in tears feeling cheated somehow but in the night I had a dream. In my dream my husband was suppose to come home at a certain time but something came up that was really important. When he didn't come home at the time I planned, I was furious. He explained the delay and I told him I wasn't mad because he was late, but because it wasn't what I had expected. He promised that tomorrow he'd come home early and we'd play all afternoon.

When I woke up, I had great hope. The house was in great order. We read scriptures as a family at the breakfast table and when the kids left it only took me an hour to pull things together, unpack two boxes and get to writing. And the words just flowed!

That night I had a scout committee meeting, a critique group and practice for the kids; the next day I had to make birdhouse kits for scouts and was going with a friend to a doctor's appointment in the afternoon and had cubs after school. I was so bummed because there was no way I'd even get in a word edge-wise. But as luck would have it, the first place I went to look for the wood had birdhouse kits and they sold them to me at a discount because it was for cubs. I spent the rest of the morning writing and had a small miracle happen at the doctor's office. Good stuff.

So this morning I've got to run. My kitchen is a shameful mess and the dog pooped in the apartment again. I've got loads of wash, still have boxes to unpack and I've got to read my scriptures but if I boogie and earn it, I believe my writing will be sharper than ever 'cuz I'll be in the zone- the Spirit Zone.