Monday, January 30, 2012

Help Me Make a Book List


Now that I have started following the blogging world, especially other writer's blogs, I've discovered oodles (is "oodles" an okay word to use here? Oh well, I guess I just did.) of books being discussed that I want to read. Today, I realized that I should be writing down the titles of all these books and making a master list of books I want to read. So I officially started my list with Family By Design by Heather Justesen.

My list is small.

Okay, it would have helped to start it weeks ago. I can't remember the names of the other books I was interested in and it's bothering me. There was "oodles" of them, I'm sure.

What are the names of some of the best books you've read recently? It might be fun to start of list of favorite books here, plus it might remind me of the name of that one book....


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Washcloths and Writing

A couple years ago, when I first starting thinking about becoming a writer, I carried a notebook with me as I followed my son around, taking advantage of any time spent waiting to write a few things. I found my notebook a few days ago, and re-read an entry I made. It's how writing while being a mom really is. I think some of you have been here too, so I thought I'd share a bit of what I wrote.

I am cooking a steak in a frying pan and writing at the table. I hope my son will play for a few minutes.
He takes a toy firetruck and spins it in circles on the edge of the table. As it spins, he sticks his tongue out and makes the noise of the engine.

When I look back up, he's stuck between a chair and the table legs. He starts crying. I free him, and he wants to sit in the chair next to me. I give him a pen and notebook. Sometimes, he likes to draw. This time, he puts the pen in his mouth and chews. Maybe he is cutting teeth. I get a wet washcloth for him to suck on. He compares it to the pen. Its a toss-up. He goes back and forth between the two. Then he drags the wet cloth over the notebook, soaking it.

I finish writing a sentence. He returns the cloth to me and asks for more water. I try to put him off, but he puts it to my mouth and smacks his lips to feed me. When I keep writing, he waves the washcloth and hits me in the head. A small spray of water shoots everywhere.

I stand up to flip the steak. The washcloth flies through the air, landing in the pan.

I grab it and rinse it out, turning in time to see him crawl onto the table and steal my pen. He tries eating it too. I save him from falling between two chairs and wonder if he knows its only been five minutes since I started trying to write.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blog Swap with Author Tristi Pinkston: Criticism


I am so excited to announce my very first guest author, who (squeal!) is none other than Tristi Pinkston. Tristi and I have "swapped" blogs. You can check out what I wrote for her by clicking here. Now without any further delay, here is Tristi's post.


The first time I was ever criticized, it was like a punch in the gut.

My mom was very doting, and in her eyes, I could do no wrong.  My first publisher did a very light edit on my first two books, so it wasn’t until I was writing my third book that someone actually said to me, “This needs a lot of work.”  Up until that point, I had believed myself to be practically perfect.  When no one ever tells you that you need to change, you will naturally think that you must be doing everything right.  Right?  To hear that I wasn’t the best writer ever, to hear that I didn’t have the author’s version of the Midas touch, was devastating.

I almost stopped writing.

I hadn’t been prepared for criticism.  And I didn’t know how to take it.

I’m going to be really honest and share something with you.  If you’re a writer and you can’t take criticism, you have two choices—you can either find another profession, or you can grow a thicker skin.  You really don’t have other options.  Authors are criticized all the time.  They get it from their editors, their agents, their reviewers, their mothers-in-law, from some random persons on GoodReads who think they are the book world’s answer to Siskel and Ebert—before Siskel died, of course.  You can’t enter this industry thinking you’re infallible.  Everyone has their off days, and believe me, people will pounce on those off days like mice on chocolate-covered cream cheese.  It’s what you do with it that makes or breaks you.

After I climbed out of bed and stopped feeling sorry for myself, I realized that the person who had criticized me had done me a huge favor.  I could now admit that I did have a lot of rewriting to do.  In fact, that book is now completely, utterly different (it’s not published yet, but when it is, I’ll tell the story again, and this time with a happy ending). 

Now I can take almost anything that’s thrown at me.  I’ve had some bad reviews and some negative comments, and each one has made me stronger.  Sometimes I shrug them off.  Sometimes I pull out what is valid and true, and throw the rest away.  But they don’t send me to bed in tears. 

And they shouldn’t you, either.

Learn to take criticism.  Understand that we all make mistakes, and we can all grow as a result. 

And never, ever, give up.

Tristi Pinkston is the author of (soon to be) eight published novels and one cookbook.  She works as a freelance editor and author services coordinator.  You can learn more about her at www.tristipinkston.com

Monday, January 16, 2012

Extended Deadline

After talking with several people who would still like to send stories for A Circle of Sisters, I have decided to extend the deadline to the end of the month (January 31.) So if you had a great story, but just not enough time to write it down, I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any trouble submitting to circleofsisters.submit@yahoo.com. Just post below, and I'll see what I can to do help you out. The complete guidelines are located at the top of the blog under "Circle of Sisters Submission Guidelines"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Call for Stories Reminder

I go to my inbox. New mail and another story. The mouse hesitates over the subject line. Some of these women I have never met. I can hardly believe that they are letting me read their stories. They write about trials, times they've said goodbye to those they love, and every time I feel the spirit, a sweet witness of a testimony in their words. They know that God loves them. They love the Relief Society. As I read, little bits of their stories leave traces on me. For a moment, staring at that brand new email, I think about what's inside and I cannot just open it.

"Thank you," I pray silently, because what I read, what I learn about these sisters, is a blessing.

It happens often now, not just in a email. I tell someone I am looking for stories about the Relief Society, and without prompting, tears fill their eyes.

"There was this one time...." they start.

They tell me how the Lord filled their mouths when they didn't know what to say. They testify about the moment they were led with shaking hands to a sister and found in her a friend. As I listen, I think, "Why do I get to be the one to hear these miracles?" Because I know some of these experiences no one else will ever hear.

I don't know the answer to that yet. All I know is that I'm grateful. Grateful for the emails, the unexpected stories told in cars, the phone call from a neighbor, and most of all, the testimonies born.

Keep writing. I'll never be able to fully explain it, but every sweet story you send will make a difference. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year With Some Old Goals

Well, I can plainly see its time to write a new blog post. Its been two weeks of fun and festivities but now I am starting to feel the pull of the real world and that crazy unexplainable feeling that comes with a new year. You know, the one were you feel an uncharacteristic urge to start everything new, put all failure behind you, and fix everything by setting goals.

It was a strange mixture of hope, dread, and adrenaline that got me out of bed at six this morning. I hope that this will be the time my life changes stick, I dread that in actuality I'll just fail, and I was in-cable of sleeping a minute longer. I wanted to find out which one it will be.

In the practical part of my mind, I know that will be be a little bit of both. I can live with that. I think giving myself this allowance-that I might not do everything perfect and I'm going to slip up-is what will help me to go back to the goals I've made and try again, even after all the hype of the new year has past. What is that saying? "Reach for the stars. That way, even if you miss, you still get the moon."

I feel like I got the moon last year. I didn't publish my novel, I didn't become the perfect house keeper, and I didn't handle every situation with calmness and clarity. But I finished my first draft, something I've never done before. I started a blog. I got two critique groups, took a very helpful class on household organization, and even if I still leave dishes in the sink, my feelings toward the mundane chores are evolving. I think that I actually don't dislike them as much as I used too. (I'm sure my husband would not agree with this statement, but since I get to give myself the grades on how last years goals went, that's not an issue.)

As far as my personal ability to handle situations, I think I might have made some small measure of progress. That is a lot harder to judge, but for sanity's sake, I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt and say I'm better this year than I was last.

The funny thing is, as clique as writing about goals is, reflecting on the things I actually did right last year makes me feel good, like I can do anything now. So even if every blog I follow does the same thing this week, it's worth it. In fact, finding a few good things about the old year could be the best way to start the new one.

Now I have to go. Since I am sharing my chair with my four year old and two rather large stuffed animals, I think it might be time for breakfast.