Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The measure of my creation

Just this morning in my journal I was writing about the "measure of my creation." What is it? How do you discover/uncover it?

Is mine writing (which I've dreamed of doing since I was 10)? Or is it polishing the writing of others? Is it teaching? Publishing and distributing? All of these things pull at my heart.

What if you think it is one thing and spend all your time and energy pursuing it, only to discover it was something else entirely? This question has plagued me for the past three years.

I want it to be writing. I want to write. But what if that is not what God wants me to do? What if He has something else in mind? This morning I prayed that God would help me to see clearly, to discover the answer of the measure of my personal creation.

I opened the book, Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, to work on my class assignment. This is the very first thing I read:

"Everyone is a writer. YOU ARE A WRITER. [emph. added]...

"When we write, we create, and when we offer our creation to one another, we close the wound of loneliness and may participate in healing the broken world. Our words, our truth, our imagining, our dreaming, may be the best gifts we have to give." (p. xix)

Many years ago when I was released from the position of YW president (working with teen girls in my church), my heart was sad and heavy because I loved working with the youth. I felt the Spirit comfort me and strongly witness to me that this was not the end of my interaction with the youth; that at the end of my life, when I look back the majority of my service would be spent with the youth, the teenagers.

That was nearly 20 years ago and I have not had a church calling to work with the youth since then. Sometimes I have wondered if I got it wrong, but no--that confirmation was so strong, I cannot doubt it, even as I grow older and the calling never materializes.

When I read that quote, following so immediately upon my prayers and thoughts on the measure of my creation, it was as if I'd been standing in a dark and empty stadium and suddenly the bright white lights had come on, illuminating the entire area.

What does my heart long to write?
Stories for teenagers!

Of the 20 or so novel outlines I have in my files, how many are YA?
18!

What do my stories all have in common?
Themes of navigating the world with integrity; choosing the right no matter what; facing your fears, even if they may destroy you; learning to trust a "higher power" (even if it's a unicorn)!

Do you see where I'm going with this? The clues have been all around me for years, waiting for me to notice them.

I am a writer.
That is the measure of my creation.

I write for youth--teens and young adults.
That is my calling. (Not all callings come through the Church, perhaps the most important ones do not.)

When I have completed the stories bouncing around in my mind, it will represent my "life's work,"
the majority of it aimed at and written for teens, youth.


Now I have to go be flabbergasted for awhile.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm writing

At the beginning of September, I enrolled in a BIAM with latterdayauthors.com. I've participated several times before and it's been great fun and the support and accountability have made me very productive.

I was also tempted to join the BIAM that Tristi started on September 10th. However, since I've been traveling and packing up my parents, doing extra work before I left on the trip, doing lots of UB parties while here in KY (to pay for my trip) and dealing with the day-to-day of life stuff, I decided to drop out of the first BIAM and catch Tristi on her next time around.

Life has a funny way of looking out for you and when you turn your back on what you really want to be doing, what you were "meant" to be doing, it gives you another chance to change your mind.

I have a friend who has been threatening to start a writing class for years. We made a run at it about six years ago, but then it sort of dwindled to nothing. I promised her that when she was ready to do it, I'd take the class. She woke up inspired last week, pulled the class together, and started it with just a few days notice to those of us who had told her we were interested. Not the best timing for me, but a promise is a promise.

We're studying from a book called Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider. The class is online so I could do it at my convenience. I figured I could at least read the book and make a half-hearted attempt at the assignments.

Well. I'm only on the first chapter of this book and I am so inspired my typing fingers itch! It's like someone lit a fire under me, then turned it all the way up on high. I couldn't NOT write.

So I went back to latterdayauthors and they graciously let me back in to the BIAM. Then I begged Tristi to join her for the last few weeks of her BIAM. Why? Because I know myself. I need the accountability. The harder it is for me to do something, the more support I need. If I have the support and accountability of reporting back to the class, two BIAMs, blogging about it here, AND tracking my progress on my sidebar, I will probably actually do it.

Since I am really busy with prior commitments, my stated goal is to write for 15 minutes per day. I know that's an itsy-bitsy goal, but I believe in "the power of the litte bit"—and something is better than nothing. I started today and exceeded my 15 minute goal—stretching it to nearly 30 minutes.

This feels really good to me. Better even than chocolate.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fall Into Reading Book List

I've been working on my Fall Into Reading book list. There were so many books that were read and reviewed for the Summer Reading Thing that looked so interesting.

My goal is to read at least 12 books. I'd love to match or exceed my summer challenge of 16 books but I'll have to wait and see how it goes. I have a lot going this fall (including the arrival of grandbaby #2 who I'm so excited to meet).

So, here are the ones I know I want to read for this challenge. I'll be adding more later. I also reserve the right to delete, add, and replace titles as I please.


1. Specials by Scott Westerfield (4.5)
2. Serpent Tide by K.L. Fogg (3.5)
3. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (3)
4. Blood Lines by Tanya Huff (3)
5. Blood Pact by Tanya Huff (3)
6. Extras by Scott Westerfield (5)
7. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (4.5)
8. Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn (4.5)
9. Dragon and Soldier by Timothy Zahn (4.5)
10. Dragon and Slave by Timothy Zahn (4.5)
11. Out of the Shadows by Candace Salima (3.5)
12. Spires of Stone by Annette Lyon (4)
13. Young Merlin Trilogy by Jane Yolen (3.5)


* I made my goal. There were four other titles on my original list that I started but just couldn't get into them.

**Note, I have read every book on this list. I just have been very remiss about writing reviews on them. I may or may not get around to that.... In the meantime, here's a quick rating system:

0 = HATED. Could not even finish it. (These books I don't bother to put on the list here.)
1 = Didn't like. Cannot recommend to other.
2 = Didn't like—but other people might.
3 = Ambivalent. Liked some things about it; not others. Probably won't read again.
4 = Liked. May read again sometime.
5 = Loved! Own or want to own; will read again and again.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The End of Summer Reading Thing 2007

Summer Reading Thing 2007 officially draws to a close at midnight tomorrow. Thank you to all who participated. It has been such fun for me, sharing about books I've read, reading all of your reviews. I now have a long list of books to read, thanks to all of you.

Those of you who met the original criteria for the Grand Prize have until midnight, September 29th to post your recap. Those who do will be entered in the drawing for the Amazon.com gift certificate.

I know I've said this before, but I do hope that all of you will join me over at Callapidder Days for Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge. Then come back here for a yet to be announced winter reading challenge beginning December 22nd.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back in KY

Flew out to beautiful Kentucky today. This flight was singularly uneventful, almost boring compared to the last one.

I've come out to help my parents pack up their house to move to their new one next month.

And also to do a few (eight) Urban Botanic parties.

Just to make you a little envious, this is the environment I'm in...


Kentucky Horse Farm - Fall


Country Road near Lexington Kentucky Horse Farms

Beautiful colors at fall time  on the farm

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Summer Reading Thing Recap

1. How many total books did you read? Were you surprised by that number?
I read a total of 16 books. Yes, I it was a surprise because the past two years I've been a pitifully poor reader; able to count the two year total on one hand, with a couple of fingers left over. This challenge kicked me back into my normal reading habits. I loved it!

2. How do you feel about what you read?
I really enjoyed it. I read some great books that will now be part of my permanent library.

3. Which was your favorite book, and why?
Hands down, Harry Potter. I love the genre; I love the story; I love the writing. I'm not so fanatical that I stood in line at midnight to get my book, but I did hit the store first thing the next morning.

4. Which was your least favorite, and why?
I can't decide between Princess Academy or Book of the Dead. Princess Academy was fine, but I just wasn't into it. Book of the Dead was a little too violent and part of a series that I hadn't read the earlier books.

5. What about your stretch book? Did you find that you enjoyed it after all? Are you planning to read more of that genre/author?
My stretch was Counting Stars because 1) it's a romance, and 2) it's an LDS romance. I didn't think I'd like it at all. But I really, really did like it. Yes, I absolutely will read her next book and I'm even considering reading more LDS romance. (In fact, I just checked one of Annette's books out from the library, but don't tell anyone I admitted to that.)

6. Did you discover a new author that you're excited about?
Michelle Paige Holmes (Counting Stars) and Scott Westerfield (Uglies, Pretties). I want to read more by both of them.

7. What did you learn about yourself through this reading experience? Was this fun? Do you want to continue (if so, sign up for Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge.)
I learned that I NEED to read. It's a part of who I am and I lose touch with parts of myself when I don't read. I also learned that I can't ignore an entire genre (romance) just because I dislike most of it. I need to be more open-minded. I also learned how much fun it is to share about books I've read and to read the reviews of others. I did this challenge concurrently with the Read Together Challenge and I absolutely loved reading books with my daughters and then talking about them later. I hope we continue to do that for a long time to come. Now, if I could just get my son and my husband to join in...

And yes, I've already signed up for Katrina's Fall Into Reading Challenge. Hope to see you over there! And then come back here for a Winter Reading challenge.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Summer Reading Thing Recaps

Summer Reading Things 2007 officially ends next Saturday, September 22nd. Some time during the next two weeks (before Saturday, September 29th) do a recap post on your blog.

Consider answering some of the following questions in your recap post:
  1. How many total books did you read? Were you surprised by that number?

  2. How do you feel about what you read?

  3. Which was your favorite book, and why?

  4. Which was your least favorite, and why?

  5. What about your stretch book? Did you find that you enjoyed it after all? Are you planning to read more of that genre/author?

  6. Did you read as many books as you intended to? Or more? How do you feel about that?

  7. Did you discover a new author that you're excited about?

  8. What did you learn about yourself through this reading experience?

  9. Was this fun? Do you want to continue (if so, sign up for Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge.)
When your recap is posted to your blog, come back here and put yourself on the Mr. Linky (below). Use the URL specific to your recap post, not your main blog URL.

Click on any of the participants listed below to read about their experiences. Let's congratulate each other in our successes by posting comments to everyone's recap posts.

Prize Winners!

Anna Maria Junus won The Kaleidoscope Season.

Stephanie Humphreys won Dying for Chocolate.

Send me your mailing addresses and I'll get those books right out to you.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Prize Time!

Only one week and one day left of the Summer Reading Thing. That means it's time for more prizes.


Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson. This is #6 in a series of murder mysteries, but you don't have to read them in order.

Meet Goldy Bear [I know. It's okay, really]: a wildly inventive caterer whose personal life has become a recipe for disaster. She's got an abusive ex-husband, mounting bills, and two men courting her favor.

Goldy moves to ritzy Aspen Meadow, where she accepts a job as a live-in cook. Just as she's beginning to think she's got it made, the handsome local shrink (and one of her beaus) inexplicably drives his BMW into an oncoming bus.

Convinced his death was no accident, Goldy decides to investigate on her own—an investigation that almost gets her and her son killed!



Kaleidoscope Season by Sharon Downing Jarvis. Jarvis is probably best known for her Fairfield series, but I liked this book much better. The copy I am giving away is from the first printing and has a different cover.

Emily Jean Knowles is determined to discover the truth about the past. She is an inquisitive 12 year old orphan who lives with her Granna in Tatum, GA. The summer ofr 1948, send Emily Jean's life into a kaleidoscopic tumble when she is allowed to visit her other grandmother—her father's mother, and someone she didn't know existed. Since her birth, Emily Jean's Granna has spoken disparagingly of her father. Will she find out why he has caused such grief in her home?

Just as significant is her new-found friendship with a young Mormon missionary. She and her Unble Bob, who is studying to be a minister, must make Christian decisions concerning this "un-Christian" religion. Can they find the truth each is seeking so desperately.

Eligibility:

1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2007. (If you're not, sign up now.)

2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST in the next 24 hours. (Before September 15th, 11:30 A.M.)

P.S. Both books have been gently read.

Fall Reading Thing!


Hey! Katrina over on Callapidder Days has announced the upcoming Fall Into Reading 2007. I hope all of you who participated in the Summer Reading Thing will choose to follow me over there to keep the reading momentum going.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

And the winners are...

Sandra won Unsung Lullabye.

Tristi won Sepent Tide.

Keep coming back because I have several more books to give away as prizes in the next two weeks. :)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Summer Reading Thing Prizes!

Time for more prizes! Again, I will choose two winners. The prizes are:


Serpent Tide by is a children's fiction book, ages 10 to 12. Back promo reads:
Wesley Vandergrift wonders why he isn't like the other boys in his coastal South Carolina town. It's not easy being the son of an eccentric billionaire mother. His life consists of big secrets in a big mansion and only one friend. Overprotected and insulated from the rest of the world, Wesley yearns for the kind of exciting outdoor adventures he sees on "The Snake Stalker"—his favorite TV program, starring Jack Mackey.

Now through a twist of fate, Wesley meets someone who know his hero Jack Mackey—a real-live relative. Soon Wesley finds himself in more of an adventure than he bargained for...an exciting journey of shipwrecks, venomous snakes, and kidnappers...and the legendary curse of the Serpent Tide.

AND


Josi Kilpack's Unsung Lullabye is an LDS romance.

Stepping over the threshold seemed symbolic of a certain level of acceptance—a joining of the hopes and dreams formed within these walls to the bitter reality that those dreams were dead. They would not have a child-not ever.

For years, Matt and Maddie have held onto their hope of becoming parents. Now, suddenly faced with the reality that they will not have a child together, Matt is shocked to discover that the consequences of a past mistake may change their lives forever. Having completed the steps of repentance years earlier, Matt has chosen not to tell Maddie about his prior misuse of intimacy. But how can he tell her now- especially when she seems locked inside her own sorrow? In this story of loss, forgiveness, and perseverance, a romantic beginning transitions into a true love story made stronger through the trials the characters face and overcome together.


Eligibility:

1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2007. (If you're not, sign up now.)

2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST in the next 24 hours. (Before September 9th, 1:15 P.M.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Almost as good as new

Well, it took HOURS, but I've got most of my template back, with a few changes. I don't have all my Blog Roll links up yet. I can't remember who all I had on there.

And I lost my quote about authors banging their heads against the wall. If anyone has that one, please post it in the comments section.

I would say that I learned my lesson and I'll back up my template before making changes—except that I did. It didn't help. I couldn't get it to accept the previous html. Grrr.

But it's over now. I think I like this three column look. What do you think?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Oh. My. Gosh.

I don't know what I did to my template. I downloaded the previous code before I started messing with it. Then I tried a new template and clicked PREVIEW. I was very careful not to click SAVE. I didn't like it, but it wouldn't let me go back. I think somebody had some nasty code in there.

Anyway, don't have time to fix it right now. Sorry for the mess. Come back again tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob -- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

I've liked this whole series. As a writer, she's not the best, but she's getting better with each book. I still think Bella is an idiot. In book three, I lost a little of my enthusiasm for Jacob, but I still prefer him over Edward.

My 17 year old daughter and I have a mantra, "Bella is an idiot." We don't understand her motivation sometimes. And I really don't get this relationship. Why does Bella love Edward? Because he's beautiful. Why does Edward love Bella? Because she smells so good he wants to eat her. Now that's what deep and lasting relationships are made of! (That was sarcasm, just in case you didn't catch it.)

Also, again, I have an issue with stories where the girl changes to please/get the guy. I'd really like to see Edward changing more for her. Although, I suppose NOT eating her is a big compromise on his part.

I don't like the fact that Edward comes in her room and watches her sleep every night. Nor do I like that Bella practically begs Edward to have sex with her in this book. However, I will say that I do like that they resist that temptation, as great as it is. And it also is consistent with their characterization.

I have no problem with adults reading the series, as they should be mature enough to separate fantasy from reality. And if parents will read the book with their teenage girls and DISCUSS it, then I'm okay with that. It does bother me a little when I see 11 and 12 year olds reading it.

So, even with all this negative commentary from me, I have to say that I do still like the series. I liked it so much, in fact, that I'm creating signature fragrances for Bella, Edward and Jacob (available soon at www.customscentsonline.com) and I'm greatly anticipating book #4.

Rating: 3.5.....................BUY NOW

Monday, September 03, 2007

Well, duh.

Some people think that because I do a lot of stuff on the computer, that I'm a techno-geek and know all about this stuff. I don't. I know software. I don't know a thing about hardware. And it's hard for me to keep up with all the little gadgets--PDA, iPod, cell phone, etc. So when my digital camera broke, I was sad that I couldn't share photos of my clean living room.

Then the light bulb went on--I have a camera on my cell phone!




And speaking of broken cameras, can I just rehearse to you the things that have broken in the last six weeks alone?
  • my car (fixed)
  • husband's car (fixed)
  • digital camera battery (replaced)
  • titanium laptop (replaced)
  • new laptop (repaired)
  • shower knob (replaced/repaired)
  • digital camera (still dead; no replacement in the near future)
  • vacuum (replaced)
  • garbage disposal (repaired)
  • fish tank lid light (replaced)
I think it's someone else's turn.