Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Cloud Nine with My Dreams

Last weekend I attended my favorite writer's conference, LDStorymakers. It was held in Provo at the Marriott and can I say, it was awesome!!

I always learn new things and refresh on lots of others. It's great to be able to speak with some of my favorite LDS authors and meet many others. The bookstore is a hit for me because every book I buy, later gets signed by the author in person. I usually get to meet a few editors and/or agents and just generally have a great time filled with super opportunities.

One of the ways I first heard about the LDStorymakers conference was because Rachel Ann Nunes posted info about a writing contest. I entered in 2006 and again in 2007 when I took second place in the Suspense category. Last year I entered as well, but didn't place in anything, but I received tons of great feedback to improve my writing.

This was my 4th year attending the conference and I was eager to enter the "First Chapter" writing contest. I submitted two of my first chapters after careful critique and revision and hoped for the best.

One of the chapters I really loved because I felt like my "writer's voice" really came through, but I told my parents that I didn't think it would place because it was so different.

So the big day arrived and at lunchtime on Saturday they announced the winners for seven different categories of writing. I listened carefully and when they got to the "Women's Fiction/Romance" genre my ears were tuned because there were four awards given away. I thought, hmm, maybe I'll have a small chance, but as they continued to call out names and I didn't see mine I relaxed. Then they announced the first place winner and put up the title of the entry "Wind Song" written by Rachelle Christensen!

I was so excited I had to swallow tears of joy as I went to the stage to pick up my prize and certificate. My husband, Steve, arrived shortly after with our baby Dawson (he was coming for his lunch break) and Dawson even got to pose with me on stage with all the winners.

This was a fantastic moment for me and yes, I understand that not everyone feels the same way. It's just a contest after all, but I want to tell you about why I appreciated it so much.

I have three kids-- ages 5, 3, and 7 months and it's hard for me to find time to write. I know it's hard for everyone, but this is my blog so I'm telling you that personally, it's a challenge. I love to write and I love my family so I try to be careful with how I spend my time.

I talk about my writing successes and failures with my whole family. Just a few weeks ago, I got another rejection for a book and I told my five-year-old, "Remember, that book I told you about that I wanted to get published? Well, the editor didn't like it."
She frowned and said, "Poor Mom."
She knows how important this it to me. My husband knows how important it is to me and reads my work, supports me when I get rejections, and encourages me to keep trying.

When I arrived home from my writer's conference on Saturday I was thrilled to show off my "First Place" ribbon to my little girls. They squealed and clapped for me and it was like I won all over again. As I tucked them into bed, I said, "See, sometimes dreams do come true." and my five-year-old said, "Yeah, cuz you worked hard, huh, Mom."

And I paused and smiled at her and said, "That's right. If you work hard, you can do anything!" and that moment was like another reward in itself because my daughter, at age 5, already knows the secret that many people ten times her age do not know.

Luck, isn't going to get you anywhere and neither are dreams alone. You have to be willing to work hard, dream, set goals, and work harder. I want my family to know this because I really believe it. I have one book under contract to be published, but I'm not stopping there. My dreams are big and my work ethic was honed on a farm in Idaho and I think it can take just about anything I can dream up.

I hope if you have a dream tucked away, that if it's really important to you, you'll pull it out and publish it and find a support system. Make goals, work hard, and achieve your dreams.

"A dream is a wish your heart makes," Cinderella sang--but you have to work at that dream to make it come true.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rachelle’s Book Club Review: Strangling Your Husband is Not an Option by Merrilee Boyack

Today I'm excited to add another book to my list of reviews for one of my favorite forms of socializing--that's talking about books in Rachelle's Book Club!

I just finished reading, Strangling Your Husband is Not an Option for the second time and I will most definitely read it again. Now don't run for cover husbands and wives, this is an excellent book on improving your marriage and the only other options to strangling Merrilee provides are how to be a smart wife.

I haven't been able to finish very many marriage books because, *gulp* they're too boring and preachy and unrealistic. Okay, so maybe I haven't picked up the right books until now but I'm telling you this in case you're a little gun-shy of marriage books. Merrilee is absolutely hilarious and fun!! This book has wonderful ideas and she puts the concepts in such a great format that instead of feeling discouraged, you're left feeling energized and excited about how you can make your marriage great.



Merrilee Boyack has written this "Practical guide to dramatically improving your marriage" using her own experiences and many others, including some timeless advice from prophets and other general authorities.

This book is an easy read at only 177 pages and it's one you can pick up and read a chapter here and there when you have time. Every page has wonderful insights and tidbits of information to help you improve your marriage. What I love about the book is Merrilee gives the old "I'm gonna fix my husband trick" a complete turnaround and instead tells us what we can do to improve the marriage by improving ourselves first.

The Five Don'ts and Do's of Wifehood are excellent tips and I'm certain that if people only read those two chapters and followed the advice, there would be many more happily married couples.

This book is a repeat offender in my book list, which means I will be reading it again and again over the years to remind myself of how to be a smart wife, a happy wife, and one who knows the worth of her husband.

If you are a wife who has ever considered strangling her husband or pulling her hair out or myriad other things--then you should read this book.
It's tricky to be married, it's hard work! But after reading this book I love my husband more and I realize all the wonderful things he does for me and our children and what a good man he is. I realize that even though he forgets to take Kleenexes out of his pockets before the wash, there are many more important points--good points--in our marriage and I love him.

Here's hoping you'll enjoy this book and enjoy your husband even more after reading it! Happy Reading!

yourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood. And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Social Kindergartners and Kittens

Today I just had to share one of those moments where I'm thankful to have a kindergartner!
We love cats around our house and are lucky enough to have four adorable baby kittens right now.
I took all four of them to my five year old's class for baby animal week. If you've ever been around kindergartners, you know they're a social bunch. They are always talk, talk, talking about anything and everything at once.
Ever heard of going off on a tangent? I think Kindergartners invented this social mishap of conversation.
Let me give you an example.

When I took the kittens to show the class, Gracie's teacher had all the kids gather in a circle on the carpet. As they passed the kittens around, several students were excited to share their thoughts and so the teacher called on a few to speak.

First little girl: We had a cat named Pumpkin and it died and so now we have a new cat named Mrs. Kitty.

Teacher: Oh, that's nice.

Second little girl: We have a dog.

Third little girl: One night, in the night, I threw up.

Teacher and I are now laughing.

Then I hear a little boy telling his friend, "We had a cat and she was pregnant and she got ran over by a semi."
The other boy says, "Oh."

And this is how kindergarten conversation happens--anything goes--and it's interesting that the kids mostly take stuff at face value and just say, "Oh."
Whereas adults would be like "Oh dear," or "Gross!" or "My goodness that's terrible!"

Yet another thing we can learn from kindergartners: Life isn't always as serious as we make it out to be.

I hope you have fun with your life today and if you're feeling down in the dumps, take advantage of one of the best forms of socializing--go say hello to a child. Let them run with the conversation. I'm sure within minutes you'll be laughing and they'll be talking and asking questions about anything from "Can giraffes do someraults?" to "Where do blueberries go after I eat them?"


yourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood. And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What is Twitter?

Twitter. I'm sure you've probably heard of it, but what is it?
Twitter is yet another branch of social networking, but it's a little different from the rest. I've been researching this a little bit before I set up my own account and I'd love to hear any feedback from you too. This blog will be a general overview of Twitter and then I will follow up with more specifics about this popular internet site which has everyone "twitterpated"!

It's easy to sign up for Twitter, just visit their website. and pick a username and password. Twitter has lots of support and helpful ideas to get you started.

As far as I can tell from watching the nifty little movie on Twitter.com, the point of this little social networking gadget is to post short "tweets" answering a simple question, "What are you doing?" These tweets keep you connected with your friends and families. I liked the example they give on their homepage, that Twitter is for the space between emails and blog posts--the things you wouldn't necessarily email or blog about, like I just finished reading a great book called "The Midwife's Apprentice." Or I'm craving one of my favorite peanut butter graham cracker snacks right now.

Tweets are only 140 characters long, which is long enough to give a soundbite of your life in the moment, but short enough for your friends and family to easily follow.

Following is also popular on Twitter. You can select people you want to follow and see each tweet they post. Twitter seems to be widely popular among mobile phone use as it works well with texting.

While caring for my sick baby a couple weeks ago, I caught some of Good Morning America and during one segment they mentioned that over 100,000 people were following the topic on Twitter.

To find out what's happening right now on Twitter, you can visit their home page and search any name or topic and see what conversations pop up. I typed in the name of some of my favorite authors and other things and it was interesting to see the thread of comments that came up.

Of course, you can choose to have your account be private instead of public on your Twitter account and this will go back to the question I've asked before, "What is your goal with social networking?" If it is just to stay in touch with family and friends, then there is no need to go public. If you'd like more information and tips on this and other subjects to have an enjoyable and safe experience you can click here to visit a comprehensive list of my blogs on this subject.

Stay tuned for more information on my experiences with Twitter and please share your stories. Why do you like Twitter?


yourLDSneighborhood has added exciting new things to its website. Please drop by and take a look, browse around, check out our vendors, our radio station, our authors, our musicians and more. Check out the Neighborhood. And while you're there, subscribe to the yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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