Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Parable of Ted Durgeon

Last Monday night our family gathered for family home evening. Gathered is a not an all together accurate way of describing how our family assembled for our weekly night of togetherness, since what preceded our gathering when something like this:

Okay, kids! It’s time for family night!
(Groan of agony from teenager)
Can I go on the computer for a few minutes first?
I’m already on the computer!
Not any more we’re having family night. So get off. It’s my turn.
Dad, lemme just finish this text.
(Screams from two toddlers running up and down the hallway)
Why do we even do this. Mitch’s family doesn’t. And why did you have to have so many kids? You got it right the first time when you had me. You should have stopped then.
Has anyone seen my biology folder?
I want to sing snow man
Why do you love that song so much? We live in Florida. You’ve never seen a snowman.
No, you’ve never seen a snow man!
I’ve got to find that biology folder.
If I don’t go on Webkinz my pet giraffe is going to die.
I want snow man!
Snow man!
Don’t sit there, that’s my spot.
Seriously, who stole my biology folder?
Come on, let’s just get this over with!
Who farted?
Welcome, everyone to family night.

I think you get the picture. But despite a fair amount of opposition, our family did gather for a night of family home evening. To imagine our family at this point all sitting upright on unstained and unbroken living room furniture quietly listening to a gripping lesson, complete with laminated cutesy figurines to draw in the youngest members of our family, would stroke my ego as a parent, but would be far from the truth. What actually happened was that when we gathered for family night, the chaos in our home gathered with us, making it a noisy, obnoxious frustrating affair, and the perfect setting for our family to hear the parable of Ted Durgeon.

When Christ taught his apostles, he made sure that the setting allowed for him to teach well, and for his words to be absorbed into the minds and hearts of his disciples. Our setting didn’t exactly fit that profile, but my husband had a lesson and it was time to get started, and so he asked the general question, "Does anyone remember the story of Ted Durgeon in the New Testament?"
Sitting forward on our couch to give our two-year old room to crawl behind me, I pondered my husband’s question. Ted Durgeon? Was there really a Ted in the Bible? It didn’t sound like the place you’d find a Ted. Ted in accounting. Ted in customer service. But Ted in the Bible?
That’s when, through the confusion and chaos, I heard my ten year old say, "Yes, Dad. We learned about the parable of the ten virgins in Primary.

Ten Virgins, I thought. That makes a lot more sense.

Okay, despite the nonexistence of a parable about a guy named Ted, I still feel there is something to learn from our experience, and here it is: even the worst family home evening is better that no family home evening. Why, you ask? Lemme splain.

Yes, my husband’s lesson was highly forgettable and refreshments were a tad stale, but here’s why Ted’s important. After the younger ones had scrambled off to the kitchen, my older kids and I stayed there, and we started talking. The conversation ranged from funny things we’d seen on television to recent drama at their high school. It was nothing earth shattering. No vows of chastity were sworn. No oaths against drug consumption taken. But what did happen is we talked, and that talking led to laughing, which led to good night hugs and I love you’s. It was good stuff, and it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t gathered together. So what is the moral of the parable of Ted Durgeon? Simple. It’s that we should have family home evening, even bad ones, because when we do, even if we’re not hearing what we’re supposed to be hearing, we’re still together, and that is a good thing.


Abel Keogh

Book lovers unite!

Whether you love to read books, write them, or both, check out – a social networking site for those who love books.

GoodReads is a great way to list the books your reading (or have read), review them, and talk with others who have similar interests, discover new authors, and see what others are reading and saying about books.

If you’re a published author, you can notify GoodReads that you’re an author and they’ll turn your regular account into an author account. This gives you a great way to connect with readers, list upcoming events, link back to your website, and more.(You can see my profile here.)

Personally, I’ve found the site a great a great way to promote my book connect and with those who have read Room for Two. This week I’ve already received several messages from GoodReads members who read it and wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed it.

Both readers and authors should check it out.

Tuesday Night is Half Price Night

by Tracy Winegar

My husband and I look for the simple pleasures to get us through. For instance, we enjoy renting movies, spending our evenings together with a bowl of microwave popcorn, or if I'm really ambitious some homemade brownies. So when we found out Sonic had hamburgers half price on Tuesday evenings, we were all over it. Here's the thing, we saw the sign but didn't believe it. There is was handwritten with a marker, on a regular sheet of paper, taped to the menu. We thought maybe someone had posted it there as a joke.
My husband asked, “Is this sign right? Are your burgers half off ?”
The kid replies, “Yes, Sir,” as if he's put out that Ben asked such a moronic question.
So Ben said, “Half off?”
The kid said, “Yeah, half off. Only on the single burgers, though, not on the doubles.”
My husband got a kick out of that. He asked, “So, can I buy two singles at half price and put them together to make a double, or would you charge me full price for that?”
There was silence on the other end, because the kid didn't understand what the heck was going on. I couldn't quit laughing. Finally the kid said, “Uh, I guess you can do whatever you want with them once you pay for them.”
Not only were the hamburgers a simple pleasure at half price, but the joke was a simple pleasure too. I had to remind my husband that teasing someone who is preparing your food is maybe funny but not very wise.

Permission Not to Clean the House

By Marcia Mickelson

I've been granted permission not to clean my house. Well, not really, but that's the way it feels. Our house has been on the market since January because we are moving. So, I've had to keep it immaculate for when people come to see it. It could be any time of day, with little notice. I have been making sure it's super clean before I leave the house each morning. That includes: no dishes in the sink, vacuum, make beds, no stuff on the bathroom counters, clean the table and counters, clean the toilets, pick up stray toys. The list goes on and on.

Well, last week, we received an offer and it is now under contract, so I don't have to clean my house under anyone else's timeline anymore. Now I can clean when I want. I even left the house this morning without making the beds. I'm a big-time bedmaker, and I can't leave beds unmade, but today I did. Just out of sheer rebellion because I can. Of course, I will make them today, but when I want. And there are two train layouts--one in the living room and one in the kids' room. And, I'm not even going to make them clean them up. I will let them stay out a few days because I can.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Wallpaper Way of Writing

by Lee Ann Setzer

This is not exactly a writing tip. If it's a character quirk, it's a new one.

I seem to be wallpapering with my latest story. A friend and I are writing together, and we're generating copious amounts of random notes: sketches, lists of synonyms, timelines, webs, writing in all directions on the paper. A new paper always starts out as a tidy little task: "Timeline," or "Outline." Then it turns into yet another square in the crazy quilt on the wall. One piece of paper says "Map." It's blank. Whenever we need the map, we get it down off the wall and draw on it with our fingers.

Each brainstorming session generates a couple more pieces of paper, and at the end, I feel happy when I tape them all to the wall. I'm on the second wall now, and we're not half done yet.

Possibly, this only means that my lead eye for decorating has hit a new low: Early American Crazy Lady. I hope it's a sign that the inner Creative Chick is feeling more free to experiment without worrying what the neighbors think. In my dreams, the Wallpaper Way of Writing is the key to unlocking vast reservoirs of potential, the secret the world's been waiting for.

I'll keep you posted.

5000 Hits

Our blog started in Mach of this year, and today we hit our 5000th hit. We could not have done it without each of you.

When will we hit 10,000. I will send a book of any of our bloggers on this site to the person that guesses the closest to the day we will hit 10,000 hits. Just leave a remark to this note. You can only enter once, and you have to do so by May 15, 2008.

So get your calculators out, and guess. And, THANK YOU from each of us on this blog!

Nothing Like Self Promotion

A Simple Hug

by Shirley Bahlmann
It's Mr. Bahlmann's and my 30th anniversary next month. You'd think after 30 years we'd know each other so well that we could communicate without words. Well, I love my guy, I really do, but human-ness comes in and makes us less than perfect.
I tend to be sensitive to anger. Even mild disapproval makes me want to leave the room and go find the dog to hug. This morning Bob and I had a misunderstanding just before I left for work. But I've recently determined that no matter what, whenever I leave and Bob's still at home, I'm going to kiss him and tell him goodbye. So I walked in to where he sat at his computer chair, said, "Good bye," and bent over to kiss him. That's when he surprised me by reaching up and giving me a hug that told me without words that he still loved me.
So my message to you is to go out and do a simple act of kindness. Don't hug everybody, because even though that's one of my favorites, not everyone likes it, but go ahead and smile at someone, pay them a compliment, or pass along some words of appreciation. It won't kill you, and it might just save their sanity. What power you hold in your decision to simply be kind!

Lego-Inspired Design

Lego-Inspired Design

By Kimberly Jensen

I have a different definition of a model home than most people. Most people get their ideas for decorating their abodes from home design shows, television programs and the many magazines that inspire everything from French to Country to Danish design.
I have torn pages out of magazines and put them in a folder for ideas on how to decorate my mantel, my entryway and my bathroom. I’ve used some of the ideas over the years but lately, my home has taken on a new motif. It’s called Lego Model Home Design.
When you walk into my home, on the left you will find the “Crabby Patty Spongebob Lego” The Bennett-inspired work gracefully sits on the coffee table in the front room, complete with Patrick, Spongebob and Squidward. As you enter my family room you will come across Bionicle Haven where you can cozy up to two of my end tables and gaze at the shapes. They are covered in Bionicles in various fighting positions. Enter my kitchen and you will see the lovely hues of Indiana Jones and his crusaders as they battle on my kitchen table.
Upstairs, on my window seat (I really had planned on buying cushions one day) is a Batman Lair, complete with every Batman Lego set that has ever sold, put together especially by mom for months and months and months after Christmas. The bedposts are donned by colorful Bionicles and the windowsills throughout the home are Lego inspired as they are lined up with Joker, Catwoman, Two Face and Robin.
I owe the beauty of my Lego inspired home to my son Bennett and to those good friends out there who at the early stages of motherhood taught me to enjoy the moment and the toys on the floor, for one day my house would be organized, clean and quiet …..and empty. I’ll keep the Legos!

Editorial's Tip of the Week: Dashes

Correct punctuation can help your writing in communicating the intended meaning, emotions, and actions. From what you read every day, you have seen small dashes in words [-] and big ones in sentences [—]. We want to elucidate hyphens’ and dashes’ uses and differences to help keep your meaning clear and your punctuation under control.

-Hyphen- (the minus key next to 0 or on numeric key pad)
1. Used in compound words to clarify meaning. Because the hyphen connects words to show they relate, they are often used with adjectives before nouns to keep the meaning clear. What is the difference between a small animal hospital and a small-animal hospital? The first says the small hospital is for animals, the second that the hospital is for small animals, which is differentiated because of the hyphen (example from Chicago 6.80–6.94).
2. Used in writing out numbers. Fifty-three twelve-year-olds went to the small-animal hospital.

–En Dash–(This is longer than a hyphen, but shorter than an em dash; on a Mac: Option + -; on a PC: CTRL + -)
1. Used for inclusive numbers. What are those? Dates and page numbers and such. I went to school 2006–2007. Please read pages 6–21.
2. Means “to” or “through.” However, if the sentence uses “from,” don’t use the en dash for the “to.” BYU beat U of U 21–7. From chapter one to chapter three, she used the em dash correctly. Incorrect: From chapter 1–3…

—Em Dash—(On a Mac: Command + Shift + -; on a PC: CTRL + ALT + -; or type a word, two hyphens, and next word, with no spaces)
1. Used for interjections—it interrupts the sentence. When two em dashes are used in a sentence, they are a stronger interruption than commas, but also more informal. If—this has happened before—you use this too much, it loses—heaven forbid—much of its effect. Using more than two em dashes in a sentence muddles the sentence, so stay away from it.
2. Sets off a definition or list; amplifies or explains. To be or not to be—that was the question, wasn’t it?

These may seem somewhat subtle, but using them correctly can help readers understand what you mean without second guessing.

The Importance of Writing Down Things to Remember

My step father was in the military so we moved a lot. When I was almost ten we moved to a wonderful place called Zaragoza, Spain. I LOVED it. The base is no longer an American base, but I can tell you where everything on that base was. From the theater to the swimming pool, to the school. I remember everything about that base, but I can not tell you how to get to where we lived off base. I remember what the place looked like, but I can not tell you the address or where it is today.
Next we moved to Madrid Spain, to a military base called Torrejon. We lived about 20 miles off base in base housing, and if you took me there today, I could drive you to the house we lived in. But, here we go again, I can't remember anything about the base. I had a chat with my sister who is four years older than me and she can't remember much about it either. I can't tell you if our school was all in one, like in Zaragoza, or if they were split up by elementary, middle school and high schools. I can't remember the theater, the commissary, the base exchange or anything. I can't figure out why.
What I can figure out is that if I would have keep a journal, or taken good notes, I wouldn't be writing this right now. So, take some notes, and when you take photos, write on the back of them who they are, when you took them and where it was.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

You know you're a writer when...

Carlene Duda
I found this in my file cabinet. I thought you could relate. I'm 9 for 9. Let me know if I nailed you!
You know you're a writer when..... sleep with a note pad and pencil by your bed. can write in the dark with the lights off. carry a note book with you all the time. write on the back of receipts.
...ideas just pop into your head.'re talking to someone about something and they say to you - you should write a book about that. mumble-I already have.
...everything sounds like a book title. have a file drawer of "want to be books".

P.S. See you all at Women's Conference this week.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Same Old Jokes at the MTC

By Christine Thackeray

This week I brought my second son to the MTC. As we sat in the big room, preparing to say our final good-byes, I listened to the final talk and was struck by the fact that the same three jokes that were told when I went through over twenty-five years ago were still being used today.

At the time I thought, why can't they come up with some new material. So I started looking and read through pages and pages of missionary jokes, determined to come up with substitutes. Many of the jokes I read portrayed the Elders as stupid or naive. Other jokes were slightly off color and had no point to them. A few were cute but would not have worked in that setting. After wasting far more time on this effort than I should have, I sat back and had to admire the appropriateness of the jokes they use and how applicable they are without being silly or cruel.

So I conclude admiring the very thing I scoffed at, because, frankly, I can't come up with anything better. I suppose that I should look at the MTC jokes like I do at fairy tales. Every young child is told the story of "The Three Little Pigs" or "Goldlilocks and the Three Bears." We don't expect new stories, but relish the comraderie of the shared experience of all knowing the same thing. That is the essence of tradition and I would be the first to admit the MTC is a great tradition for my boys.

So what are these jokes I'm talking about? I decided not to share them, so for some of you it can be a new experience.

7 Things

By Rebecca Talley

I've posted 7 things about me on my personal blog, but I'll post 7 more here (unless I really am as boring as my kids say I am and can't think of 7 more).

1. I love ice cream. My favorite flavor is Chocolate Seduction--doesn't the name just tell you how great it is? I could eat it every night for dinner.

2. When I was a little girl I was exploring a big rock at the beach. I didn't notice the tide come in until sea water surrounded me. I started screaming my head off because I thought I was stranded. My mother came and rescued me (I'm sure she was embarrassed at how much I was screaming). And, the water was only ankle-deep.

3. I love to take pictures. Thank goodness for the invention of the digital camera (the cost of developing film was breaking me). I usually have my camera with me and take thousands of shots each year. My kids always complain when I make them take family photos each year (my husband actually hates it the most) but I ignore all of them and make them sit through shot after shot until I find one I like.

4. I'm very tall. I've always been tall. It was a bummer being so tall at the dances during junior high because all of the boys were so short, especially the cutest ones.

5. While at BYU, my roommate and I bought mistletoe one year from some kids at the grocery store. We promptly went back to our apartment and made a bet to see how many guys we could kiss under our mistletoe. Who won? My lips are sealed.

6. I don't can. I never learned how. I'd be a complete failure at being a Mormon pioneer woman. (That's why I wasn't born back then). I don't quilt, either.

7. I was inducted into the National Honor Society at BYU during my freshman year. Since then, I've lost all the brains I ever had while raising my kids. (I'm quite sure that each time I delivered a baby they secretly performed a lobotomy and sucked out part of my brain--I have 10 kids).

Shirley B.

JoAnn Arnold

Sorry, Shirley, I misspelled your name and I know your name like I know my own sister's, but complicated things like trying to remember my password threw me into a mode of mistakes.

Tall is Beautiful

joAnn Arnold

For Shannon and all you beautiful tall people who I continually look up to, you might want to know that there has never been a Miss America or Miss Universe, under 5'6" tall, (to my knowledge). Petite women are "Cute" while tall women are "Beautiful". I'm working on a poem for you.

I'm just glad it doesn't matter how tall you are to be a author. I'm happy to tell you that my newest manuscript, "A Step Beyond the Tree" has been accepted for publication by Cedar Fort.

Friday, April 25, 2008

About Book Covers

by Janet

Here is some great advice from ldspublisher. I highly recommend her blog for regular reading, too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tagged, Dazed & Confused

by Terri Ferran

I was tagged a few days ago. I was dazed and confused a few days ago and that condition has not abated! I've just become a granny for the second time on Monday (Tayvree Lynn 9 lb 1 oz, 21 in) and have been taking care of little Alivia Belle who is 2 1/2 (aka Hurricane Alivia).

I've put off responding to the tag because I couldn't follow the rules--meaning I don't know who to tag! So you get the facts and I guess I'm breaking the chain (gasp!)

1. My name is Terri. My siblings are Gary, Sherry, Carrie, Barry, & Jerry. My mom's name was Mary and Sherry married Harry!
2. I hate pickles and all things vinegar; love diet Coke and all things chocolate.
3. I grew up in a town called Dinosaur.
4. I am a licensed CPA without a degree.
5. I was 45 when my first novel was published.
6. I've been poked in the eye with a sharp stick.
7. I am a convert to the Church.

I had an awesome writing week last week, cranking out 10,000 words. I've just been cranky this week. The fount of inspiration has dried up! But I have Tayvree and Alivia (and can send them home when I'm done with them)! Hurray for granny-hood!

Short poem for petite people

JoAnn Arnold

Kammi, and all who are petite. When I was a little girl, my mother taught me a poem because people would always say, "Oh, she's so tiny. (Right!) It goes like this:

I met a little elf man once,
Down where the lilies grow.
I asked him why he was so small,
And why he did not grow.
He slyly winked and with his eye,
He looked me through and through.
"I'm quite as big for me," said he,
"As you as big for you."

Through the years I've had to recite that poem, now and again.

That versus Which

Another week, another editorial tip. And this week’s is about something that has driven editors crazy for years: that versus which. These two words have been abused, misused, and generally misrepresented in all types of writing. So let’s see if we can simplify things. Take a look at the example below.

  • The judge’s comment, which was very nasty and uncalled for, destroyed the contestant’s confidence.
  • But the next judge made a good comment that helped the contestant move to the next round.
What’s the difference between the two? It’s all about essential versus nonessential information, or in editorial speak, restrictive versus nonrestrictive clauses.

That tells us essential information is coming up, information that further defines an item to a specific category or definition. In our example, that shows the importance of the comment made by the judge. It’s not just a comment, it’s the kind of comment that helps contestants move to the next round. Notice the lack of commas. Restrictive clauses do not use commas.

Which, however, tells us nonessential information is coming, information that adds to or comments on an item that’s already identified. It does not further classify the item. In our example, which gives us additional information about the comment but could be taken out of the sentence without harm to the sentence. Notice the commas. Nonrestrictive clauses use commas.

So here’s our rule of thumb:
Determine the type of information—if it’s essential information, use that without any commas; if it’s nonessential, use which with commas. For more information, refer to The Chicago Manual of Style or a usage dictionary.

Weird Award

by Shirley Bahlmann
The principal I work with walked into the office, carrying something with extra care. I moved closer and peered through the clear plastic wrap printed with red stars. I could make out some kind of silver emblem in the center, but no details. "What is it?" I asked.
"Our school won the Community Partner Award," the principal answered proudly.
I reverently took the award from him so I could see it more closely. The silver thing inside was sliding around. I hoped I hadn't broken it. Finally, I made out what the blob of silver was. A shiver ran down my back.
It was a disembodied hand.
I was instantly and unwillingly taken back to the night of my youth when my brother's friend told a story on a dark and stormy night about a hand severed from its owner that crawled around choking people. Creepazoid! Now I held in my own two hands an award that had memorialized the nefarious hand in metal.
"I like it," said the school counselor, looking over my shoulder. "I think that free-form art stuff is really interesting."
She'd obviously never heard the same story I did.
I'll admit, I would like to win an award before I die. Or two or three. But if it's going to be the creepy hand award, then I'll pass, thank you!

I Got Tagged!

Suzie Roberts

I got tagged. I can't remember the exact rules, so I'll do my best.

I have 5 children

I am half Australian (my mother is from Australia)

My children are half-Korean. (My husband was adopted from Korea when he was 5)

I have done cooking segments on 2 television shows promoting my cookbook. Good Things Utah and Good Day Arizona. On Tuesday the 29th of this month I will be doing one on Studio 5.

I have never had a speeding ticket.

I had my first cavity when I was 31. (Just last year, i cried)

I just sold my house and will be moving on June 6 and 7th (which is why I can't be to the writers conference, I'm sad about that.) We are building a new home.

I don't know how to gargle. Never figured that one out!

Love yard work, Hate house work.

Favorite foods: Lasagna, Black Olives and Banana Squash

I am tagging:
Nancy Moyle
Rebecca Talley
Abel Keogh
Emily Kushing
Christine Thackary

Questions from Weber State University Students

Abel Keogh

Weber State University

Tuesday I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to a literature class at Weber State University that is using Room for Two as one of their books. I was very impressed with the students and their questions, comments, and insight they had. The following are some of their questions and my answers I thought others might find interesting.

Q: What audience did you have in mind when you wrote Room for Two?

A: I was trying to write for a very broad audience. I wanted to tell my story in such a way that even those who have never lost a spouse, child, or had a friend or loved one take their own life could enjoy it. It seems to have worked. Though I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from young widows, young widowers, and suicide survivors, most of the emails I receive have been from people who don’t fall into any of those categories. No matter what group the reader falls in, however, the vast majority of respondents tell me the book has touched their lives in very positive ways.

Q: Why did you write Room for Two?

A: The biggest reason was that I read or, rather, tired to read a lot of “memoirs” about losing a spouse soon after my late wife’s death. I found most of them to be completely worthless. Most of the time the writer would try to make him or herself out as a “wronged hero.” I felt authors were being less than honest about their experience and were hiding their own faults imperfections. Because of this, I had a hard time relating on any level to the story they were trying to tell. I wanted to write a book that, in my opinion, showed the human side of the surviving spouse as well as the pain that that accompanies the death of a loved one.

In the case of books that dealt specifically with losing a spouse to suicide, I thought the authors were trying to make excuses or justify the actions of their loved ones that killed themselves. Some of the books went as far to romanticize suicide. I find that to be extremely dangerous. The reasons people take their own life is very complex and trying to rationalize or validate their actions is impossible without being able to talk with that person. And since they’re dead, that impossible. Instead of justifying the actions of my late wife, I tried to portray the devastating effect suicide has on those left behind.

Q: There’s a strong religious undercurrent in Room for Two. After reading the book, one can tell that you’re very religious but you don’t much in the way of specifics about what faith you belong to. Was that intentional?

A: Yes. Outside of the mountain west, most people don’t know much about the LDS (Mormon) Church. I didn’t want to alienate or distract readers who are unfamiliar with the church. Hence the reason I used very generic terms to describe my religious affiliation. Those who are familiar with the LDS church will, I think, know what faith I’m a member of rather quickly.

Q: If you were to rewrite Room for Two for a Mormon-only audience, what would you change?

A: Nothing.

Q: How did you come up with the title for your book?

A: The working title of the book was Running Forward. However, that never seemed to fit with the story I was telling. One day I was editing a part of the book where I was struggling with making room in my heart for another person. Though the exact phrase “room for two” doesn’t appear in the text, while reading that paragraph, those words formed in my mind as I read it. I immediately knew I had the perfect right title for my book.

Q: I really enjoyed reading your late wife’s poem “Ten Toed Children of Eve” that was in Room for Two. Have you considered about publishing the rest of your late wife’s poetry?

A: I’ve thought about putting a website up that contained her poetry and some of her other writings. Right now it’s more of a time issue. I have other writing projects are more pressing.

Q: Which writers have influenced you the most?

A: Orson Scott Card, Ethan Canin, and my dad.

Q: How do you find the time to write?

A: I make time. Once my kids are in bed, I spend some time with my wife and then write until I can’t keep my eyes open. It’s easy to talk about being a writer but hard to actually put in the hours required to write something worth publishing. I went to school with a lot of “writers” that were more talented than me. However, I’m the only one with a book. Though talent has something to do with getting published, most of it has to do with dedicating the time to writing, editing, and rewriting your manuscript.

Q: Are you writing more books?

A: I’m currently writing a work of fiction. If I can hold to my self-imposed deadlines, I should have a publishable manuscript sometime this summer.

Q: Do you have any plans to write a follow-up to Room for Two?

A: Yes. After I complete this work of fiction, the plan is to write another book that picks up where Room for Two left off. The main focus will be on the early years my marriage to Julie. The working title is Seconds because the book is going to focus a lot on second chances, second marriages, second loves, etc.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not Just A Parade

By Marcia Mickelson

This Friday, in San Antonio, we celebrate the Battle of the Flowers. Every April, there is a Battle of the Flowers parade in memory of the fallen heroes at the Alamo and to commemorate the victory at the Battle of San Jacinto.

We've never been to the parade before. In fact, we don't really do parades. Since my oldest son was a baby, loud noises really have bothered him. When he was one we went to a small, town parade, and the band playing really set him off. He started screaming and wanted to get out of there. We left right away. We tried going to see fireworks, but it was always the hysterical screaming. We took him to a BYU football game, and even the noise there was too much. He hated the vacuum, blender, hairdryer. All of those noises made him cry. From early on, we could tell that he had sensory issues, and it sort of threw up red flags that would eventually lead to his diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome.

Thankfully, he has overcome a lot of those sensory issues and loud noises don't bother him as much anymore. We still haven't gone to any fireworks shows, but I'm just glad we don't have to drive an hour out of the city each New Year's Eve when our neighbors do fireworks, like we used to. He's okay with just staying at home now. In fact, last Fourth of July, we even did some fireworks ourselves, and he was fine. Such a huge step for him.

Well, I was happily surprised when he suggested we go to the parade this year. That's huge for him. He's come so far. So, I spent all morning driving around the city tracking down tickets for the parade on Friday. I'm thinking it will go well. For us, it's not just a parade, it's a huge step.

I got tagged

JoAnn Arnold

Did I get tagged? Thank you Carlene. Does that mean I have to tell seven little-know facts about myself? Okay. Let's see:

l. I've shrunk 1 and 1/2 inches in the past year. I was only 5'1/2" to begin with.
I know, it's scary.
2. I like Golden Spoon's Orange 50/50, Just Chocolate, and Irish Mint frozen
3. I was a tomboy, and only found how much fun it was to be a girl when I started dating and the boy had to pay for the date.
4. I love horses and dogs - I'm alergic to both of them.
5. I tried to touch my nose with my tongue and it wouldn't reach, but it will roll.
6. When I was 5 years old, living in Climax, Colorado, the snow was so deep that on my way to kindergarden, I fell into a snow drift that was deeper than I was tall and had to be rescued.
7. I'm still waiting for my brother to come and help me set up my website.

I Got Tagged Too

By Tracy Winegar

I got tagged. Let’s see, so many strange and bizarre facts it’s hard to choose from them all, but I’ll at least attempt to.
1. I had plastic surgery. At the tender age of nine I had my ears pinned back. Fortunately for me they had such a surgery because I was sick of answering to Dumbo.
2. I played Coco in the play FAME, changing my physical appearance from strawberry blond to black hair and pale white skin to bronze. No one recognized me.
3. I can touch my nose with my tongue. I can also roll it, fold it, and flip it.
4. I wear socks ALL the time, even to bed. (Only exception being the shower) If I don’t have a clean pair I panic.
5. After taking the sixth grade class to a Shakespeare play which ran over, a parent called the police on me for being late. The first and hopefully last time I had a run in with the law.
6. I have a wretched singing voice. I’ll sing in my kitchen but not anywhere public.
7. I have always wanted to garden but unfortunately I have a black thumb. I kill everything.

I tag:
Marcia Mickelson
Kimberly Jenson
Suzie Roberts

Within An Arm's Reach

Within An Arm's Reach
by Kimberly Jensen

"Go away, stop following me," Bennett said as he pulled himself out of the swimming pool and marched over to the line of children standing behind the diving board. He wiped the water from his face and stood in line, looking straight ahead, ignoring the children around him as they giggled and chatted about the next 'big dive' they were going to perform.

"I can't stop following you. I have to keep you safe." I whispered to myself as I watched my 9-year-old attempt to be independent of me, his mom, who is always just two steps behind and an arm's reach away.

I tried to stay far enough behind him so he wouldn't stand out in a crowd of children whose mothers were nowhere to be seen. They didn't need the constant mother shadow, like Bennett did. But as mothers of autistic children know, thier kids stand out anyway. Bennett brought stares and smiles as he mimicked his favorite cartoon episode, complete with sound and action at the back of the diving board line.

As we ventured through the water park that day, I noticed other special needs children splashing in the surf and playing in the sun. I scanned the area around them and within an arm's reach, was of course, their mother, carefully watching, admiring and smiling at her child who was playing alone in the water, oblivious to his mother's constant guard.

Like all mothers, we go through the natural tug-of-war between mother and child. As our children grow up, they want to pull away,we want to pull them closer. As mothers of special needs children, we know we are more than just mothers, we are their protectors, their teachers and their friend, oftentimes, their only friend.

So while other children lose their shadow mothers early, we mothers of special needs children are called to stay within an arm's reach for many more years, sometimes forever.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Recipe for Mother's Day

Carlene Duda

With Mother's Day just two weeks away, I wanted you to have another recipe to compliment the Orange Glazed Blueberry Scones from "Completely Breakfast" coming this summer '08. This is a must try. A perfect addition to complete your Mother's Day brunch.

Tex Breakfast Casserole
2 pks. (12 oz.) breakfast sausage links
9 eggs
3 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. mustard
2 pkgs. (20 oz. each) shredded hash browns, refrigerated
1/2 c. sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 c. green onions, thinly sliced
2 c. (8oz.) cheddar cheese, shredded
2 c. salsa

Place sausage on a 15 x 10 baking pan. Bake at 375 F. for 15-20 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink, turning once; drain and slice into 1/4 inch coins. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and mustard. Add the hash browns, sausage, red peppers, green onions, and cheese; mix well. Pour into a greased 13x9 baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F. for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. until set and golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with salsa. Serves 12-15.

Scripture for the Passover Season

by Lee Ann Setzer

Exodus 12 tells the Israelites how to observe the Passover—how to prepare the meal, what to teach the family, what to serve for dinner, how to eat it. Then come two important verses:

26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.

Even if you don’t know much about the Passover, you know about bitter herbs, and perfect lambs, and unleavened bread. This incredibly complex ritual, complete with family participation and unusual sights, smells, and tastes, exists, at least partially, to make children ask questions. And the reason for them to ask, is so that their parents can teach them the gospel.

Our leaders frequently advise us not to confuse entertaining with teaching. But, in this case, the opposite of entertain isn’t bore—we have a responsibility to engage our children, our classes, our learners. When they are asking us questions, that’s an excellent place for learning to begin.

The Passover has endured for more than 3000 years. How can we engage our children in ways that will plant the gospel that firmly in their hearts?

Carlene got tagged!

Carlene Duda

I got tagged by Doug. I am suppose to give 7 facts about myself.
1. I have a twin sister. A good thing about being a twin is you always have a best friend. Bad thing about being a twin is being accused of being seen with another man at the fair. (It was my brother-in-law and we were holding the coats while my husband, twin sister and our 9 kids were on the rides). Thou shalt not judge!
2. I am a certified scuba diver. I love the water.
3. I am a member of a performing clogging group. My kids say it's embarrassing. Yet I can hear them yell from the audience, "go mom go".
4. I don't like cheesecake.
5. Met my husband at home after four years at Ricks and BYU. I should get my money back.
6. I have listened to over 262 books on tape since I started counting.
7. I have been to BYU Women's Conference 14 times. I live in Washington.

I tag
JoAnn Arnold
David Stitt
Vickie Hacking

A Huge Hook

Emily Cushing

In June I am running in the Wasatch Back. It is a 175 mile relay race from Logan to Park City. On KSL’s television show Studio 5 they are going to spotlight a participant who is running in the race. It has to be the runner’s first time running the race and the runner must be running the race to lose weight. I fall under both of these categories. Therefore, I am being considered as one of the people they may spotlight. I have to admit, I think it would be really fun to be on the show; however, how much more fun would it be if I were going on the program to promote my book?

So fellow authors, that leads me to a question. If I get chosen, would it be terribly inappropriate if, in the middle of the segment, I discreetly pulled out a copy of my book One Heart, Many Voices and said, “Yeah, yeah, I’d love to lose twenty pounds, but more importantly, is there anyone out there who is looking for a great Mother’s Day gift? If so, One Heart, Many Voices is the perfect gift for you…..” How many seconds do you think I would get before a huge hook dragged me off the stage? I wouldn’t kick or scream. I would just continue to smile and hold up the book until I disappeared out of camera’s view. Because after all, isn’t any publicity good publicity?”

So that leads me to my second question. What are some good, interesting, or creative things that you have done to help promote your book? I figure with 22 of us, we may learn some good new promotion tactics, tactics that hopefully don’t involve a huge hook.

I got tagged!

By Kammi Rencher

Janet Jensen tagged me, which means that you all have to read seven random and perhaps wacky things about me. (Or you can all skip this post--problem solved!) :)

1. I’ve been married for 3 ½ years. Both my husband and I are from southern Utah. We don’t have any children (yet) but we do have an extremely smart, gorgeous, vain cat.

2. I’ve hiked Angels Landing in Zion National Park four times, without touching the chains. (Don’t know what Angels Landing is? Go here: (Warning: do not try this hike if you are afraid of heights!)

3. I play 4 instruments and was the band president in both high school and college. I was in the marching band at BYU. (Yes, I was a band nerd.) Any guesses as to what I played?

4. None of the men in my family like to go fishing with me, because I always catch the most fish and the biggest fish. It really irritates them when people start coming over to ask my advice on fishing. (The truth is I don’t know what I’m doing right. I figure as long as I don’t become too knowledgeable about fishing, I’ll have permanent beginner’s luck.)

5. I won a gold medal in a national Judo tournament.

6. I almost got eaten by a shark in Hawaii (well, a big fish anyway…well, a fish…it wasn’t REALLY a shark…but some fish look a lot bigger and scarier than they really are if you come nose-to-nose with them while snorkeling for the first time).

7. When I was young, instead of being a normal kid and wanting to be a ballerina or a firefighter or a rock star, I wanted to be an accountant. (Ridiculous idea! Can you imagine spending all day doing math? What was I thinking?)

Now I’m tagging:
Elodia Strain:
Shirley Bahlmann:
Randal Chase:
Lisa McKendrick:
Christine Thackeray:
Rebecca Talley:
Tamra Norton:

And here's what they're supposed to do:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Got Tagged?

By Sidne O'Reilly

Doug tagged me so I get to explain seven facts about myself and tag seven others –

Here goes:

I have lived in American Fork, Utah for 4 years. (Three of those years we shared a home with my daughter and son-in-law and their four children I talked about in an earlier blog.)
I spent 5 weeks in the hospital for depression 20 years ago. I became depression free a couple of years later.

I was one of the hidden homeless for a year. ( I will explain that in a blog one day.)

I am married to a wonderful man, Leonard, who plays the vibraharp and sings in the Mendelssohn’s Men’s chorus. (This is the oldest chorus in Utah besides the Tab.

I am currently re-working on “The Positive Peer Group – A Leadership Training for Teens.” This program is compliments “The Twelve Week Challenge” which is currently in print.

I have taken 30 credit hours towards a degree in Alternative Energy. I was in my fifties taking classes like construction I and II. The only female in many of my classes. One day I will explain my passion for this subject also.

I am collecting widow’s mite stories. These are stories of people who have very little who somehow manage to share, do things or raise money for others. If you know of one please forward it to

Doug this was actually fun! Thanks for the opportunity.

Here are who I am tagging:

1. - Mechelle's Blog

2. --Tristi Pinkston

3. - Heather Burguess Justesen

4. - Darvell Hunt

5. - Karen Hoover

6. - Josi Kilpack

7. - G. Parker

Sour Cream and Lime Chicken Soup

Suzie Roberts

In my cookbook, Girlfriends on the Go, it gives you tips and ideas on how to make dinnertime in your home run more smoothly. There are also many recipes that freeze well if you choose to do make-ahead meals. I will never cook any other way. It has saved me time, stress and money. Here is a new favorite recipe that a friend gave me. Now your friend is giving it to you!

Sour Cream and Lime Chicken Soup

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 cup water
32 oz. Chicken Broth
16 oz. Salsa
1/2 cup instant rice
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 can corn
1 can black beans
4 oz can green chilies
1 16 ounce tub sour cream
1 lime

Cook chicken, garlic and onion in a little olive oil. Pour in water and chicken broth. Bring to boil. Add salsa, instant rice, oregano and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add black beans, corn and green chilies. Heat all toghether.
Squeeze lime into the tub of sour cream and mix together. Top each serving of soup with the lime/sour cream. Yummy!

White Robes

By Rebecca Talley

For graduation ceremonies each year at our high school those students who earn a 4.0, or higher, GPA wear white robes. This distinguishes them from the rest of the student body and recognizes their hard work, sacrifice, and dedication over the last four years.

Our new principal wants to abolish the practice of wearing white robes at graduation because she doesn't want to make the other students feel bad. She doesn't want to make any distinction between those students who are graduating with a 1.5 and those who have earned a 5.0 (this can be accomplished when students take college level courses during high school).

What is wrong with recognizing students who have worked so hard to achieve such a goal? It doesn't diminish the efforts of the other students because not everyone excels in the same thing. Some are athletic enough to play on the varsity team, others do well in theater and are cast in the plays, and others are leaders that serve in student government. Isn't it wonderful that we all have different strengths?

We should celebrate each others talents and gifts. We should encourage excellence and hard work. We should find joy when someone accomplishes a goal.

Heavenly Father has not only blessed us with different talents, he's also blessed us with the ability to improve those talents. It's up to us whether or not we do so.

Here's to recognizing all the white-robed moments of our lives!


by Lyman Rose

Someone was telling me yesterday that it was becoming difficult to buy rice in California. It was being "rationed" at Costco, only allowing one bag per customer. That is a bit frightening. I also read that last year, the U. S. had to import wheat for the first time in decades. Another scary thought. What can we do and where can we turn?

We are told that if we are prepared we shall not fear. That is very true! So how do we prepare for such potentially global problems? We simply prepare ourselves and our families in every way we can. It is our responsibility to obtain some storage and to get out of debt as soon as possible. It can seem overwhelming to think that we need not only to get out of debt but we have to spend money on storage as well! How can we put money toward debt and at the same time put money toward storage when we are living pay check to pay check?

In my book "Winning the War Against Debt" there is a method described in detail complete with a free CD in the book of the program that helps you to get out of debt without paying any more toward your debt than you are now. There is also information on budgeting and saving that will help you to have enough money to do whatever you need to to prepare for anything that may be coming.

In times of difficulty, having no debt is not only a comfort but may be essential.

There is no reason for doom and gloom! Let's just get prepared so we feel secure and look forward to the future with all of the marvelous potential it has to offer.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nothing Special About Multi-tasking

by Mary Stosich

Multi tasking is the grief of my motherhood. Rarely did I take enough time to enjoy the minute with awareness and appreciation.

One night, our first-grader Danny was in bed crying. He refused to tell me his problem. I coaxed and pleaded. Finally he gave it up:

“Mommy, our teacher asked us to think of a special memory of our mother, and then she will write it down and we can make a card for you.”
“Why are you so upset about that?”
Then Danny replied with this shocking, devastating, horrifying statement, “Well I don’t have any special memories of you!”

Frantically I started naming off some memories, any memory! “What about reading together?”
“No, that’s not special.”
“What about your birthday party?”
“No, that’s not special.”
“What about teaching you to ride a bike?” He was the only kid I knew whose mother could or would run 6 miles along side the bike. Impressed? Never-mind. I was still multi-tasking by exercising while I taught him!
“No, that’s not special. See what I mean? We don’t have any special memories!”
More tears.

I resisted the urge to shake him and say, “Listen here! I love you!” I also resisted the urge to crawl in bed and bawl.
I finally asked, “Well, my special son, what would a special memory be like?” His clincher question that helped me with some perspective:
“Did you ever save my life or anything like that?”
The closest I could come to that was still way beneath his expectations—something about holding his hand after his tonsillectomy. (I might have been reading a book also.)

Well, I didn’t say everyone else had to be aware or appreciative of our experiences, but we need to be. You see, about that same child, I have one of my precious memories. I have it because during one quiet moment of his babyhood, I put it there on purpose. I wasn’t multitasking. I had lost so many other pictures during my motherhood. I couldn’t bear to lose this one too.

I shut out the rest of the world for just a minute and leaned over the side of his crib where he was cuddled with his blue blanket, blissfully asleep. I memorized his soft face, the way his skin looked, the perfect profile of his little forehead, nose and lips. I touched his fat little hands and traced around his fingertips. I listened to his soft breath and stroked his dark curly hair. My tears fell on his blanket.

Twenty-two years later I have that memory because I was aware. I thanked the Lord and asked him to help me never forget it.

May 15th: An Answer To Everything

May 15th: An Answer to Everything

By Kimberly Jensen

It seems the older I get, the more questions I have. When I was 16 years old I thought I had most of the answers; when I was 25 I thought I knew where to find most of the answers. I turned 41 over the weekend and I realize I don't have any of the answers. However, my son has the answer for just about anything and I marvel at his simplicity. My son Bennett has Autism and I love how literal everything is to him. If you say, "It's raining cats and dogs," he says "where?" and he is actually looking for cats and dogs. If you say "keep off the grass" he will ask "which piece of grass and for how long?" and if you ask him not to pull the dog's hair, he will say "which hair" and pull the one he didn't pull before. He also has a pat answer for everything. If you ask him how old he is, he says, "May 15th," If you ask him his address he says "May 15th," and if you ask him what his birthday is, he will say, "May 15th." On this answer, he is right. So when he answers "May 15th," it means he is finished answering your question and you can now go away and leave him alone. He doesn't elaborate and he won't take another question. He's given you the answer and that it that. Don't you wish we all could be so simple and give a quick pat answer and have the rest of the world (even teenagers) just deal with the answer, whether they like it or not and move on. What would your answer be? I think Jesus has the best answer of all, "Love One Another."

I Got Tagged!

Doug Johnston

Alison Palmer and Janet Jensen both tagged me and then someone had to tell me what that meant. I'm supposed to reveal seven facts about myself. So here are seven facts about me:
1. I have 5 children, one married (Two Days Ago) . I have 2 step-daughters and 4 step grandchildren.
2. I lived in Spain for four years, and Mississippi for two. I loved both of them. I would love to go back to both places sometime with my wife.
3. I have bowled 15 strikes in a row and didn’t get a 300. I had five strikes in game 2, followed by 10 strikes in game 3. That game ended with a 288. I worked at a three different bowling centers when I was younger also.
4. I coached high school soccer for two seasons.
5. I carried the Olympic torch.
6. I have eaten dinner with 3 Utah Governors, met personally with four U.S. congressmen, and two U.S. senators. (It helped that I ran a newspaper)
7. I played baseball for 15 years and only hit one home run. I was called out when I did so. I was 12. I lived in Spain and Mr. McGinnis was the umpire. He said I stepped out of the batters box when I hit the home run. I knew him well, and told him after the game, I would never forgive him. I HAVEN”T! I know, I should forgive everyone.

And now I am tagging:

Abel Keogh
Terri Ferran
Tracy Winegar
Lee Ann Setzer
Carlene Duda
Camille Funk
Sidne O'Reilly

And here's what they're supposed to do:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Low calorie, high cardboard

Lee Ann Setzer

Like Doug, I’m 42 and appalled at what my body did to me while I wasn’t looking. And, like Doug, I’m not going to take it sitting down (since sitting down caused the problem).

So I joined the gym, and they advised eating a serving of protein after exercising. For some reason, it seemed like a good idea to try making these myself. Found a recipe involving whey, egg whites, and copious amounts of powdered milk. The critics were not impressed:

Number one son: Tastes like dark matter.
Number two son: Tastes like absolute zero. (We have a scientific turn of phrase around here)
Daughter: Yuck!
Husband (who’s usually not too picky): Umm...better try again.
Mother (who happened to be visiting): Wow. If I had to eat that after exercising, I’d never exercise.

So there they sat, mocking me (the protein bars, not the family members). Decided after a couple of days to exact revenge. I put them in the food processor, added butter and brown sugar, ground them up, and baked them again, this time with apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Presto! Cardboard crisp! Everyone ate it, and it’s gone now. I win.

Doug, the sad moral of the story is for you: There is no problem so great that a little cholesterol and sugar can’t solve it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Mormon Boys" Gets Notice Down Under

Janet Jensen

Apologies in advance for the long post.

Well. Last week Doug, CFI's hardworking publicist, sent out emails about my book to a number of newspapers, thinking that the timing of the polygamous sect's news might increase interest in my novel.

Somehow one email landed in Australia, and the editor wrote back to me. Polygamy is quite rare in his country, he said, and his paper would be more interested in information than a review copy of my book. So I thought it over for a week and carefully formulated my reply. Only a few hours later it was a lead article in the Australian paper, with the headline: "Mormons aren't Polygamists and Polygamists aren't Mormons."

Here is the URL for the article:,25197,23040466-981,00,00.html

I am in shock, but very glad to have this exchange of information with the editor. Here is my entire email to him:

Thank you for your response. I am sure the subject of polygamy is foreign to you, so the publicist’s email must have been something of a puzzle.

A brief summary: During a period of about 40 years, early in its history, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (often called Mormons) did practice polygamy. Less than 10% of the members did so. The practice was seen as a way to accommodate the fact that there were more women than men who joined the church and participated in its western migration to the area now known as Utah. The LDS church officially discontinuied the practice in 1890, and at that point several splinter groups formed, believing that the church was in error for discontinuing polygamy. The LDS church does not practice polygamy now and excommunicates members who do.

The most notorious of the offshoot groups (at least in terms of recent news coverage) is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (FLDS) led by Warren Jeffs. They lived in a small community in southern Utah which he led, and most people would describe the lifestyle as a cult led by a power-hungry man. Jeff was recently convicted on several counts in Utah, the most serious being named as an accomplice to rape, in the case of a 13-year old girl he forced to marry an older man. It is believed that this practice of marrying underage girls to older men is common within the sect, and is of course illegal as well as immoral. Jeffs is also facing charges in the neighboring state of Arizona. Before his arrest, he established a new compound near Eldorado, Texas, where he moved his “most faithful” followers and young children “who hadn’t been contaminated by worldly influences.”

Several weeks ago a 16-year old girl from the Texas compound phoned Texas authorities and told them she was married to an older man, subjected to marital rape and physical abuse, was the mother of an 8- month old baby, and was pregnant again. She requested assistance as she could not leave the compound with her baby. The compound was then entered by law enforcement officers, and more than 400 children and many of their mothers were removed to a different location where they could be questioned to determine if abuse has occurred within their families.

The girl who called for help has not yet been identified, and now the state of Texas has the daunting responsibility to determine the fate of these children, many of whom have given multiple names to authorities or have refused to name their parents at all. It is turning into a legal nightmare at this point, with so many young children and their parents facing separation due to a lifestyle which is not only illegal, but may have abused some of its weakest members, women and children.

The above URL chronicles some of the recent events in regard to this case and has some related articles.

My book, which was released in November, is about the relationship of two individuals from two opposing cultures – a girl raised in polygamy, in a large and harmonious family, and a boy raised in an LDS family - who meet at medical school. Though they have feelings for each other, they know that polygamy presents an impossible barrier to their future. She is expected to return home to take care of her people, and will eventually become a plural wife, and he cannot embrace that lifestyle. How they continue to develop in their practices after medical school, and how they reconcile their differences after a chance encounter gives them another opportunity to be together, is one major theme of the story.

One of my other purposes in writing the book was to clarify that Mormons are not polygamists and polygamists aren’t Mormons, and that abuse and mistreatment can be found in any culture. In the end, the families of both young people must learn about tolerance and acceptance, and discover that what they have in common is much more important than their differences.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about this current situation as I have described it, or my book, which does not seek to sensationalize polygamy, but to provide a compassionate look at individuals from both cultures. You are welcome to quote any of the above statements in your publication.

Best wishes,

Janet Kay Jensen

Are We Lost?

By Tracy Winegar

I have a unique perspective that few people can claim. I have worked extensively with mentally handicapped children, including my own, and I am currently the teacher for the gifted students at an elementary school. It certainly makes you appreciate both ends of it. I think that I richochet between the two extremes like a ball on a tennis court. While running copies one day in the work room, my friend, who's job it is to take care of the need of teachers and staff for anything of that nature, teased me when I was unable to figure out how to run the copier machine. She said something along the lines of, "And you teach the gifted students?" in mock horror. I replied that they were third through sixth graders and hopefully I was able to compete mentally with that age group. Funny thing is, they are constantly keeping me on my toes.
For instance, last Tuesday a fellow teacher and myself took a group of thirteen children on a field trip to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The bus driver dropped us off at the bottom of a low hill and told us that she was not allowed to drive the bus to the front of the museum. She then informed us that it was a loop and if we just followed that loop around, we would find ourselves right at the front door. She said that she would pick us up at this same place in two hours time and drove away. I am not from around here. I naively was beguiled by her credible story. So my fellow teacher and myself lead this group of elementary age students around the loop, only to find no Utah Museum of Fine Arts. We suggested a short rest, right next to the map of the University of Utah's campus. We located the loop to which we had been dropped - No Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
At this point my colleague went in to the nearest building to seek advice and perhaps acquire directions. I was left with the thirteen children, all good kids mind you, although some are a little more subdued than others, that bore stickers stating, "I Belong to Lincoln Elementary, if found please call 000-0000(You didn't think I would post my cell phone number now did you?). It didn't take long for them to began to ask, "Mrs. Winegar, are we lost?" To which I blatantly replied, "Of course not, I know just where we are," and pointed our loop out on the map. What a surprise when my fellow teacher returned with a map and directions to the museum, which was only about a half an hours walk away! I like to fondly think of it as the day that I lost ten pounds. I told the kids that we were taking the scenic route, which led to only a few snickers. I don't think I will ever trust another bus driver again.

Leprosy Legs

by Shirley Bahlmann
As the weather warms, more of my marshmallow white skin shows. I'm not a fan of tanning, not only do I think it's bad for my skin, but it's boring. So when I want to wear a kicky pair of capris, I shave my legs and rub in the "fake bake"(self tanning lotion). I've done two applications this week, one for Sunday, and another one today. When I was standing outside this evening, my 14-year-old looked down at my legs and said, "Mom! What did you do?"
"What?" I looked down, too, wondering if I had some horrendous wound that was spouting blood all over our nice new green grass.
"You look like you have leprosy," my son said. "Your feet are all... splotchy."
Well, he was right. The Sunday fake bake was wearing off underneath the fresh application, and I'm never very particular about my feet. That's what shoes are for, right?
I'm sticking with the tanning lotion. I'll just have to walk faster so the blotches blur together.
But in writing terms, it helps to have an outsider's point of view. Now I have a new description that I just might fit into a book one day! (I'll have to ask his opinion more often!)

As Unique As a Fingerprint

David J Stitt

In my last blog I wrote about the number of rewrites it takes for me to produce text that is clear and accurate. Not wanting to leave you with the impression that writing makes me sad, even though I would like to be able to write faster, with fewer iterations, I really do love the process of developing each passage. I have found that there are two critical ingredients to this evolution. The first is the process of clearly developing the idea, and the second is that difficult-to-define element that draws the reader into the text. For me the goal is to produce wording that will completely hold the readers attention, such that they will even forget that they are reading – as if the concept is directly supplied to the mind. Let me explain; there are rare times when I have been so caught up in a scene from a movie that I realize later, because it seemed so real, that I forgot I was watching a movie. This is a lofty and difficult writing goal – one that I don’t know if I have ever reached. However, when it is achieved it has more power to change lives. I believe that writing style is as unique as a fingerprint, so when this level of writing is reached, the new textual creation is something that is rare, lasting, and one of a kind.

One of the nicest writing compliments I have received was by a friend who told me that he can hear my voice as he reads what I have written. I find it fascinating that personality is so distinctly revealed in writing.

Personality is a complex thing and writing is only one small part of it. However, I think in a small but important way we come to know each other just a little because we read each others words.

Signing advice, plz

Janet Jensen
I will be signing on May 1 at the BYU Women's Conference. This will be my first experience on the BYU campus since . . . . I don't know, maybe a football game 10 years ago? Anyway, can you experienced people tell me what to expect, where to park, etc. and other hints about a successful signing? I plan to have bookmarks and Hershey's hugs and kisses to give out (well, my book IS about marriage) and business cards . . . . . any other advice would be most appreciated.

What Made You Want to Be A Writer

By Christine Thackeray

A friend of mine called the local newspaper about my new book and they asked me for an interview. It was an interesting experience. The reporter asked about my background and several general questions and then asked if I had always wanted to be a writer. I thought about it and then shook my head.

For me, I had a very traumatic personal experience that hurt my feelings. I couldn't stop thinking about it and finally decided to "rescript" the event with fictionalized characters to "fix it." I plowed through the initial draft and then threw away most of it, coming out with something far different. I do think, however, that stories sometimes haunt us until we write them. Something will strike us as interesting, unfinished or just wrong and we must "right" it by writing it.

In reaching for my next story, it has been interesting coming up with experiences with raising toddlers that were frustrating, satisfying, hair-raising or just wrong. Being able to take characters fashioned after women who never "got it" and having them come to the light is heady. I love writing fiction- it is satisfying on so many levels. But I suppose if I weren't writing, those stories would be constantly pricking at me until I finally took out the keyboard and began clicking away.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Deal or No Deal

Suzie Roberts

Saturday morning, my cute hubby got up and decided he was going to go to R.C. Willey and wait in line with 6000 people whom he didn't know. He is a big fan of the show Deal or No Deal, and they were having open casting. I thought about what my day would be like without him. My oldest son had a soccer game at 10:00 which meant I would have to have my other 4 children up and ready (on a Saturday) by 9:30. We made it to the soccer game, which they won, and got my oldest daughter to softball practice. My other son had a birthday party to be to at noon. The plans for the day were supposed to be to work in the yard. We are trying to sell our house and we have used every extra minute getting the yard perfect. I finally got out to the yard, thinking about my Dave sitting, doing nothing while I worked my tail off all day. He called me periodically throughout the day and I would just chuckle at the thought of him sitting there. After he had been in line for 8 hours, he finally got his 20 seconds. He called me after and said "Well that was a waste of time". I was about to say "I could have told you that", when he continued "because now I have to come down Tuesday for an audition!". He got chosen, among approximately 80 other people out of 6000. He seemed suprised, but anyone who knows my husband is not. He is a energetic, charismatic, and funny. He is a hoot to be around. He auditioned Tuesday and they say if he is chosen, he will get a call maybe in the next year, if not, he will just never get a call. I decided it was worth not having him around Saturday for him to maybe realize what a great guy he is! I love him!

Be True

By Rebecca Talley

Part of writing means studying the market and trying to understand it. We sometimes hear that this kind of book or that kind won't sell and we shouldn't waste time working on something that won't have a market. Writers try to guess what the next trend will be. Who knew that Harry Potter would have such an impact, especially after it was rejected so many times?

While we can study the market, analyze sales trends, and even consult a crystal ball, in the end, we must write the story that's inside of us. Whether it's a picture book, an essay, or a novel, we must be true to ourselves in what we write. It is that truth that reaches people because readers can spot insincere writing. We do ourselves a disservice when we try to write something that isn't in our heart.

We should continue to study and hone our craft so that our stories can be the best they can be, but we should never try to make them something they aren't. We must be true to that story within our heart, the story that only we can tell.

So how do you write a book? Part One

by Janet Jensen

April 3-5 I attended the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers Workshop in Dayton, Ohio. It was inspiring, friendly, jam-packed with great information, and, well, funny. Writing is a solitary profession and we truly need each other to keep going.

The evening after I arrived home I presented to a local book club. The members were articulate and well-read, and the discussion was lively. Several of them confided to me afterward that all their life they've wanted to write a book. "How do you write a book?" one of them asked. "I mean, how do you just sit down and write a book?"

It's an overwhelming prospect. I'm hardly an authority, either; I co-authored a literary cookbook and recently published my first novel, Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys. I'm working on the sequel. But I gave my usual advice: "Join a writers group. Hang out with other writers. You'd be surprised how many are out there. Attend workshops. Read books on writing. And start small. Begin with essays, small chunks that you may later work into a book. It's so important to have the support of other writers."

"And where do you find these writers and workshops?"

"Look up the League of Utah Writers on the Internet and find the chapter that's closest to you. Attend some meetings and you'll meet other writers. You'll hear about workshops, and you'll learn from each other."

That's what I did, and it was terrifying to attend my first meetings, not knowing a soul, having written very little outside of my profession. I was a competent writer at my job, but I wanted to be creative. And that's truly how I started becoming a creative writer, about ten years ago. Over time I began to produce small pieces of work and found competent and patient mentors in the group, who kindly pointed out some of the very basic skills I needed to learn. When you join a group you'll feel very inadequate at first in the presence of "real writers" because you don't realize you are one, too. That will pass.

Until then, though I am an avid reader and have a master's degree in my field, I really didn't know what I didn't know about creative writing. You've got to be willing to take a little humiliation now and then. When you start to submit your work - - well, those are additional experiences in humility and humiliation, and you'll never escape those two demons, so you might as well make friends with them now.

As to the process of writing a book, it's all about line upon line (literally), precept on precept. But forget the book for now. Learn the craft and discover your own talents. Give yourself encouragement. Sit down at the computer or at your legal pad and write small anecdotes, short essays, or jot down ideas for future essays. Write a letter describing something you've done. It's a start.

More thoughts in a future post.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Need You, Each of You!

I need each of your help. I have a problem and I started a blog that I will post at least 7 times a week about. I can not do it without your help, so please go to and lend me your support. I can do this, but it will take friends, family and strangers to help me keep motivated.
Spread the word to your friends and family to help support me also.

Our Goldendoodle, the Non-Shedding, Shedding Dog

Our Goldendoodle, the Non-Shedding, Shedding Dog

By Kimberly Jensen

It was a cold February day and the skies threatened another storm, but that didn't stop my family or my neighbor's family from piling into the car for a road trip. Sometimes I have no idea how I get roped into things but I do, and I think I agreed to this one. My neighbor and good friend Lisa had called that very morning saying she had found Goldendoodle puppies on the internet and they were just a short three hours away (yes, it is a mix of a golden retriever and standard-sized poodle) So we drove three hours south with five kids in the car to go check out puppies. I had just said "I will think about it" less than 12 hours before when my kids asked if they could get another dog. I had several requirements; it wouldn't be a yap-yap dog, the kids would take care of it, clean up after it and feed it and it couldn't be a breed that shed. So we arrived at the puppy mill-yes it just like the ones you see on a raid on 60 minutes-and we fell in love with a fat little guy. We selected him and two weeks later he came to our house to live full time. One year later he is 75 pounds and has turds about as big as our neighbor's weiner dog. He slobbers, he sleeps on my pillow and thinks he is a lap dog, and he sheds! But you should see his face! So I deny that I ever agreed to this monster-sized dog and I refuse to clean up after him or feed him, but when nobody else is around I fuss over him like a newborn baby. Shhhh....don't tell my family that I love him to balls and all!

The Bulgarian Ken Lee Phenomenon

Abel Keogh

When I lived in Bulgaria, bored teenagers would occasionally try to start trouble by swearing at me and my companion in English. Most of the time they had the swear words down pat – even if that was the only English they knew.

The best way to handle these situations was to pretend like we didn’t know what they were saying. In Bulgarian we’d ask them what language they were speaking and what they were trying to tell us. More often than not, this would frustrate the potential troublemakers and give us an in to befriending them – thus avoiding any future problems or confrontations.

I was reminded of this when I saw the following YouTube video from the Bulgarian knockoff of American Idol. Here a wannabe Bulgarian Idol contestant trying to sing a Mariah Carey song “Without You.” However, her English still needs some work. (For those who don’t understand Bulgarian, this version has English subtitles.)

And for those who want to see a Bulgarian news follow up (with English subtitles) of the “Ken Lee” phenomenon she started, you can watch that below. (Her English still needs some work.)

Cross-posted at Abel Keogh's blog.

Editorial Tip of the Week: Homophones

In order to ensure that your word usage doesn't affect the overall effect you want your book to have on your readers, we'd like to pique your interest by giving you a small peek at some of the commonly confused homophones in the English language. (Homophones are words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings.)

aisle; isle
The cake mix at the grocery store is on aisle 7. Gilligan and his friends were stranded on an isle.

allude; elude
Are you alluding (referring) to the time you tried to elude (avoid) getting caught?

capital; capitol
If you visit Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, make sure to stop by the capitol, which is just a few blocks away from Temple Square. (By the way, the word capital has a few other definitions, but capitol does not. Only capitalize capitol if you are referring to the U.S. Capitol.)

compliment; complement
It's quite a compliment that you think my husband and I complement each other so well.

elicit; illicit
The teacher tried to elicit responses from her students when she asked who was at the school Saturday night; she was suspicious that some of them were involved in illicit (illegal) activities.

ensure; insure
If you want to ensure that your care will be insured, you'd better pay your bill on time.

foreword; forward
Once you read the foreword of a book, you can go forward with your reading. (FYI, a foreword is written by someone other than the author; a preface is written by the author.)

prophesy; prophecy
Lehi prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed; his prophecy was fulfilled after he and his family fled.

Of course, this list is just the beginning. To see a more complete list of homophones (and other commonly confused words), refer to Chicago 5.198.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Family Calling

Carlene Duda
I am not trying to brag, however my husband and I have the best Calling in the Church. Every 2nd Saturday night of the month we get home from our calling usually around midnight. Our ears are ringing, feet swollen and head swimming from too much sugar.
We were called last December to be the Stake Youth Dance Coordinators. At first our reaction was, "is that really a calling?" We had one dance of on-the-job training and given an external hard drive of more than 17,000 songs and off we went.
Scott, my husband is the DJ. Ryan, 19 is in charge of equipment set up and song editing. Kyle, 17 and Carson 14, are told who to dance with by their mother who keeps an eye out from the stage of girls who are not being asked to dance. (At first they hated it, but they are good about it now, and a promise of cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Sunday morning. Oh, the recipe is in my book, Beyond Oatmeal) Sierra 12, is in charge of keeping the DJ and his assistants supplied with refreshments, and looking up approved song requests. I approve song lyrics and skirt lengths.
We are fortunate that Scott's job provides him with Satellite Internet on his lap top. This allows us to be connected to song lyric sites so we can read the words to any song the dancers request. Any request can be approved or disapproved in minutes.
We have brought the dances to a new level and the attendance is up. This calling has been a wonderful experience for our whole family. We are grateful for the time we get to spend together as a family and a great team. The best part has been teaching our children the value of good music. Not only about the words but also the context. Actually the best part is that the youth know the DJ always asks his wife to dance a wonderfully romantic slow song on the dance floor with them. We have great youth in this church. This is a calling making family memories.

Don't Kick a Box in Flops

by Shirley Bahlmann
It's nice to have a fresh start; in writing, in clean sheets, and in raking your yard after a winter pileup of late-dropping leaves.
That's what we did last Saturday, we went outside and cleaned our yard - as much as wasn't frozen in the snow piles that clung to the north side of our house. Part of my self-imposed cleaning was moving boxes back to the shed. When I set one down partially in the doorway, I gave it a kick to nudge it into place.
I neglected to mention a favorite fresh spring fashion accessory. I love to wear flip flops, but they are not good for kicking boxes. It can really mess up your toenail polish, not to mention your toe.
If you don't believe me, I'll peel back the bandaid for you to see for yourself. So wear shoes when you do yard work, and don't forget to get your writing in afterward!