Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reading for the Dead

My mom and I have had a tradition for years that when I finished writing something, or even sometimes if it was just a snippet of a scene, I would come downstairs and read it aloud to her. I knew when my writing was good by the emotional response I got from her. Laughter was good. Nodding head definitely good. Tears were best of all. I knew if I could make Mom cry that I'd done some darn fine writing.

I didn't write for a year after she passed. I couldn't. It was our dream. How could I carry it on without her? She was the one who dreamed of writing long before I was born. It was a dream and a love she passed on to me, but it didn't feel right to do it without her and how could I gauge if my writing was any good or not without her there to show me?

I was bemoaning this to my sweet friend Laura one night that one of the things I wanted to do the most was impossible. I wanted to sit down with my mother and read my ARCs to her. I wanted her to see this finished thing we'd done. Laura's response? "Then do it! My grandma talks to her mom all the time. She sits down with her picture and tells her all about her day."

It really got me thinking. Would it really be so crazy to read my story to my mom? The picture above was so her, it's almost like she's sitting in the room with me listening. It's so real it almost moves. I can imagine her nodding at me. Can feel her hand on my own telling me I'd done a good job, just looking at it, so why not give it a try.

Tonight, I did just that. I opened up the picture of her on my desktop and put my ARC right next to it and started reading aloud. It has been one of the most therapeutic acts I have performed, aside from writing letters to her. See, it doesn't matter if she has a body or not. I believe in an afterlife and I know with all my heart that she's not far away, and though she may not be able to sit through all of my reading, because I'm sure she's a busy lady, I know she hears parts. I can feel as if she is here as I read.

That may sound completely wacko to somebody else, but I don't care. It makes me happy to read to my mom and that's all that matters to me. It's just one more way I can connect with her and ease the ache of her loss, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Quote of the Day: "The pen is the tongue of the mind."
Miguel de Cervantes

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Change in Perspective

My blog today consists of two videos that have really touched me in the last couple of days and I wanted to share them with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. They've changed my perspective in some big, big ways.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've mentioned my writer's retreat several times, so thought I'd finally blog the details about the amazing week I had in Park City with some (not enough) of my best friends. It all began when I realized we had one more week to use in our vacation club before mid december and an idea began to form.

I went to the hubby and said," Hun, I don't want a present for my birthday this year." He looked at me like I was nuts, which, basically I am, but that's beside the point. "Instead, I want TIME." Now he looks at me like I'm even crazier, but I continue. "We've got this week we have to use and it's already paid for so I'd like to use it as a writing retreat with my writing friends and see if I can't come home with 50,000 words written."

His answer? "Ooooooookay?" But he followed through and let me go, even knowing he would have the boys to himself for seven full days. I packed my bags and a TON of food, my laptop, a whole box (and I mean a pencil case) of pens, paper, my laptop, and hit the road on November 6th.

I drove up to meet my friend Lizzie in Bountiful, since that's about half way for both of us, picked her up, and after walking around the temple grounds for a bit, we went to lunch, then headed to the Bountiful library to write for a couple of hours. I was so excited I was having a hard time concentrating, and realized I had left the flash drive with the beginnings of my story on it at home. Home was about 50 miles away at this point, but thank heavens the library had internet access, even if it was slow, so I Instant Messaged my sweet husband, who found the flash drive, found the file, and e-mailed it to me. I could have kissed him.

After the library we finally headed up to Park City. I couldn't get there fast enough, though I did stay (mostly) within the speed limits. We finally found the place, the Sweetwater Lift Lodge, and checked in. The place was HUGE! I had asked for a one bedroom unit that would sleep four. We ended up with a one bedroom unit that slept six. It had a gigantic family room, a fireplace, two bathrooms, a bed that pulled out of the wall, and a teeeeeeeny kitchen, in addition to the ginormous two bed bedroom.

I was in heaven. The first thing I did was turn on the fireplace. That night, Lizzie wrote her heart out. I wrote a little, but not nearly enough. 1800 words. I was disappointed with myself.

Saturday was my birthday and I was struggling a bit. 39 is only one year from 40 and I was a little sad over it. I tried to write but had a really hard time getting into it. Finally that evening Lizzie offered to say a prayer and I won't go into details, but the spirit that was there freed me up and I finally was able to write. I got over 5,000 words done that night. My husband and sons showed up in the evening with my friend (who asked to remain nameless, due to playing hookie from work to come up), and two of my other friends Ali and Laura came up for dinner. We have a lovely evening together and good food and delicious cake made by my friend Shari (who couldn't come up but sent the cake anyway. She's a doll!). Ali and Laura had to leave after that, but everybody else stayed, including my family. They slept in the family room and I stayed out there with them.

Sunday we'd planned to go to church, but due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to attend and my family had to go home by noon. No writing on Sunday. We just enjoyed each other's company, talked, had a pillow fight (which my nameless friend recorded on her iphone, dang her!) and just chilled.

Monday we got back to work, Lizzie and me on writing, and the nameless one on edits. It was rather quiet around the place. We wrote and ate and slept and wrote and ate and slept for days. It was amazing. In 3 days I wrote almost 30,000 words.

Our nameless friend had to leave Tuesday evening, but we stuck it out until Thursday night.

My friend Lizzie made her 50,000 word goal while up there. I was so proud of her. I, on the other hand, was about 15,000 words short of my goal, but still, 35,000 words in 6 days of writing is pretty amazing.

The retreat taught me three amazing lessons. First, time is precious. Use every minute of it you can for the things you love, whether it be your family, your passion, or something else. Make use of it and don't let a second go to waste. Second, good friends are hard to find and more precious than gold. I have some very amazing friends. Third, you can do anything if you are willing to put in the work to do it and pray hard for help. Lizzie hit her goal because she wrote every spare moment she had, rather than messing around on FB or other random things like I did.

I learned other things as well, but I'll save those for another blog. This one is long enough as it is. Needless to say, my writing retreat was a fantastic experience and one I hope to repeat annually for many years to come.

Quote of the Day: Being an author is having angels whisper in your ear - and devils, too.

~Graycie Harmon

Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm a Winner!

So, one of my online writing groups, Authors Incognito, had a contest this week for NaNoWriMo for the most words written and I won! The writing retreat helped a ton, of course, since I was able to get away from it all and write my little fingers off. Anyway, here's my award. Pretty, isn't it?

Oh, and just a little FYI--Four months from today will see the release of The Sapphire Flute! Time is just a flying!

Quote of the Day: "People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it."
Harlan Ellison

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Birthday Drawing Results

Well, hello again, peoples! As promised, I've done the drawings, pulled out three names, so now just need addresses so I can send out packages of some of my favorite things. And the winners are . . . . . . . .




Send your postal address to me at luv2writepoems@msn.com within the next 24 hours so I can get those out. That means, folks, you've got until tomorrow night before I draw another name. :) I know, I'm such a meanie.

Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful comments and memories. They have truly helped to make this one of the best years yet.


Everything Changes

I've discovered something rather odd recently, something I'd never believed to be true until it started happening to me. It has taken me completely by surprise, being the sensitive true-blue kind of gal that I am, and I'm not quite sure how to handle it.

People treat you differently when you find some success.

Seriously. I mean, how weird is that? Writing a book didn't make me a different person any more than changing my sheets makes me a different person, but suddenly, just because I have a book coming out next year and people (my publisher) are calling me "the American answer to J.K. Rowling" suddenly I am being treated as if I am somebody special. Somebody important.

It is a very odd feeling. How does getting published or becoming a recording artist or a movie star make you different? When did society start to place people on pedestals just because they are being thrust into the public eye?

The people who should be on the pedestals are the ones who get the least recognition. The teachers. The volunteers who read to children. The Librarians who direct us to books and take such good care of them. The Police Officers, the fire fighters, the ambulance drivers. All the people who are there throughout our lives and make such an impact on who we become.

Of course, as a writer, I hope to make an impact on people. I pray that my words will reach and touch someone when they are in need of a friend or some comfort. I want to write the kinds of books that people keep with them and treasure for the rest of their lives, but in the end, they are just words on a page.

And yet those words have changed how people treat me. I co-teach a writing class with my friend Shanna. This is the second year we've done it and she has said several times that the kids treat me differently this year. Why? What is it about becoming an "author" rather than a "writer" that makes me different?

I guess this is one of those questions I'll just have to let go of and enjoy the ride, but it's not easy to do--when everything changes.

Quote of the Day: Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.
- Rod Serling

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Final Day for Birthday Drawing

I'm extending the drawing until tomorrow as there are a few people who haven't known where to enter. All you have to do is this: at the end of this post, comment on something you either admire/like about me or a fond memory of me. You can enter as many as you wish and each one counts as an entry in the drawing. I'll pull names by tomorrow evening and announce the winners here on the blog.

Thanks, everyone, for making this a birthday to remember. Your comments have lifted me up as I've read them.

Hugs to you all, and best of luck!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It dawned on me this week that I have yet to introduce you to my book cover! Let me just say I LOVE my cover. At first, I thought, "wow, it's a little . . . bright . . ." after walking through the teen section of Barnes and Noble, but then I heard Candace's explanation. Basically, if you see an entire section full of books with dark, simple covers, and then you see this, which one is going to jump out at you?

Exactly. Thus, the beautiful, bright color.

Another odd note that the brilliant artist Cash Case, did NOT know is found in looking at the book title. The top blue, the dark, sapphire blue color? That's my VERY favorite color. But if you look at the bottom half of the title it's a much lighter, almost aqua shade of blue. That is my mom's favorite color and that color is peppered throughout the entire cover. It's like having a piece of my mom right there with me on the front.

I love it. Thanks, Cash, for creating something so beautiful, something I'll be proud to have represent all the years of words in the story. You rock, man!

Quote of the Day: Unless one is a genius, it is best to aim at being intelligible.
Anthony Hope Hawkins

P.S. It's not to late to enter the birthday drawing by adding memories or stories of me, or qualities you admire. Add them to this post. Or add them to the end of the current post. I'll be doing the drawings on November 14th.