Saturday, February 26, 2011

Critique Groups

There are many reasons I love getting together with my critique group. It's wonderful to be around other people who understand a writer's life, I love the input I get on my manuscript, but my favorite part is the exitement that returns to my writing. I'm on a writer's high for at least a week. It is definitely worth the hassle of leaving the family for a night. What do you love about your critique group (or any other group you meet with - book club, cooking, quilting, etc.)?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't Think About It

As a writer my brain is constantly swirling with ideas and plotlines. My gray mass is so busy thinking that sometimes it gets me into trouble - not paying attention to my driving and pulling in front of a bus, I didn't even notice the yellow beast until he took out my passenger side, didn't he know I needed to get home and write down my latest idea? And we won't even get into the story of the fabulous scene I'd concocted when I absentmindedly stuck my fingers into the lawnmower, maybe someday that will make a good story. A huge problem with my super-crazy brain is when my family and friends need me for a sounding board. Instead of just listening (like I know I should) I'm dissecting, scheming, and coming up with all kinds of ideas to solve their problem. What I really need to do is shut my brain up, listen, and love. Do any of you have trouble turning your brain off?
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reading Outside the Box

My oldest son loves to read and has cruised through many YA paranormal books. Lately I've been bringing him books that I've loved. Suspense novels by Davis Bunn and Robert Marcum. Historical fiction by Gerald N. Lund and Ron Carter. I haven't dared share my favorite romance (they're clean but he is a 12yo boy) but it's been fun to see him reading in different genres and loving the books. My boys have also helped me read outside my comfort zone. I wouldn't choose a paranormal or fantasy book on my own but I've read plenty to my 8 & 12yos. My 8yo also loves nonfiction. The only nonfiction I read are fitness, writing, or religion, but I'm now learning about trains, submarines, animals, and all kinds of weaponry. I'm grateful my boys expose me to new things, maybe someday I'll pick up a book about giraffes on my own. Then again, maybe not.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Issues with Electronic Entertainment

"Mom, can we play the Playstation?" Like most moms, I only hear this question a dozen times a day. Every once in a while I smile and say, "Sure." Thinking, "He's done his chores and homework and only hit his brother a couple of times, why not reward the kid?" But most of the time I curse Santa and wish the North Pole had a better return policy. Santa is the one who got us into the video game mess. Two years ago the boys wrote letters and e-mails and even prayed for a Playstation as they were the "only kids in the whole world without one." So we had a very fun Christmas morning, all faith in Santa was instantly restored (they knew their mom would never buy a Playstation), and I have been wishing we could redo that Christmas morning every day since. My boys often ask what I have against video games. The boys are good to not play violent games and they only fight over the two controllers and claim they could beat the level better than their brother every five minutes or so. Basically video game time at our house is a pretty peaceful stretch of thirty minutes where Mom can run around and catch up on chores or Facebook uninterrupted. My issues with video games (or computer games, television, texting, etc.) only comes into play when an excessive amount of time is spent on said activities. I'm afraid if I don't limit electronic time my boys won't learn to work hard and improve themselves during their time here on earth. "Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause." (i) This includes children. The best time to teach correct principles is when they are little. I want my children to learn so many things: how to interact well with others, a great knowledge of the scriptures, faith, how to be hard workers, how to serve others, how to love to read and do well in school. My list, like yours I'm sure, could go on and on. But how am I going to teach them all these things if they are so busy with school, athletics, Scouts, friends, and electronic entertainment? You'll probably agree that most of the things on my sons' lists are good activities. About the only one I want to cut back on is the electronics. Now I'm not saying the boys will never play another video game (if I tried that they'd run away to Granny's). But I might say no to the Playstation a little more often and actually stick to the thirty minute time limit. The church I belong to (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) has asked our local leaders to have fewer meetings and place less demands on families. Our general authorities have asked us to slow down and eliminate excessive extracurricular activities so we can spend more time together at home. (ii) These are wonderful ideas if the family takes advantage of that extra time to teach, love, and play with their children. But if my boys use that extra time to conquer more levels on Star Wars Battlefront and I use that extra time to surf the blogosphere, we would be better to be off playing more basketball games or doing more Scouting activities. I believe our leaders are encouraging that extra time at home so we can build better family relationships and prepare our children to succeed in an increasingly evil world. These things won't happen if we are all plugged in. So what's my solution? I have to be a more involved parent. It's easy to be a lazy Mom. Children can be endlessly entertained, they can make their own food in the microwave, and they can put themselves to sleep watching television (we've only done that a few times, promise). I have to work harder. It's hard to say no to Playstation, get myself away from my computer, and go outside to play a game of Lightning with the boys, read the latest 39 Clues book to them, see if I can finally beat them at Monopoly, or go pick up some of their friends for a fun late night. I'm so busy right now I've given up on folding laundry (it works if you just throw it all in a basket for each child and they somehow find what they want to wear), but laundry, housework, and even writing can wait. Teaching and enjoying my boys has to be the first priority. Maybe if I do a good enough job I'll only hear, "Can I play the Playstation?" five times today. (i) Doctrine and Covenants 58:27 (ii) "Good, Better, Best," by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October, 2007
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Starless Sky by Paige Agnew

Starless Sky is about a girl, Kahlen, who is experiencing the loss of a friend. Kahlen feels alone and lonely, but she also gets tired of people feeling sorry for her and giving her sympathetic looks. Going to Dean's Creek is the only place she finds solace. Well, at least it WAS the only place until Kennley showed up. Now she can't even find solace there...or can she? In the midst of loss, there is life; a sentiment Kahlen was not quick to accept. But in the process of the daily routine of school, dropping grades, frustrated parents, and pain, Kahlen begins to gain insights (the kind that comes from fortune cookies or good friends). Her new found wisdom and the strain of dealing with Kennley and his troubling past lead her to an exciting new phase of life. Starless Sky is a genuine portrayal of grief and loss, yet comforting and filled with hope and expectation. It is a book of encouragement through following the lives of high schoolers.
Starless Sky is a great young adult novel. I loved that the characters dealt with real issues of loss of a best friend, drugs, and staying morally clean. Starless Sky is a story of second chances, love, friendship, and humor. I will recommend it to the young people I know.
What I liked: I loved the interactions with Marissa. Kahlen thought she was annoying at first but then when she gave her a chance she realized what a great friend Marissa was. Whenever my boys tell me that someone at school is a "jerk" I tell them to give the person a chance. The other day my oldest told me that he'd made a new friend who he once thought was a "jerk." He said I was right about giving him a chance.
What I didn't like: I felt some of the scenes could've been shortened or deleted. I found myself skipping a few times, but I'm big on brevity so this probably wouldn't bother other readers.
Audience: Young Adult
Available at
Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unlearn Your Pain by Howard Schubiner, MD

Do you suffer form chorinc pain that appears to have no medial cause? So many suffer needlessly from pain diagnosed as migraines, tension headaches, fibromyalgia, or chronic neck, back, abdominal, and pelvic pain, when the real cause is Mind Body Syndrome.
Using cutting-edge research, this book demonstrates that the underlying reason for much chronic pain is nerve sensitization and learned nerve pathways, rather than actual tissue destruction. Dr. Schubiner has used this new understanding to develop a unique program to actually reverse pain - research studies support the effectiveness of the program. By reading this book, you'll be able to deterimine if you have this syndrome and how to overcome it. The program in this book gives you therapeutic writing exercises, a meditation CD, and everything else you need to unlearn your pain.
I have dealt with a few episodes of chronic pain and after reading this book I realized how to overcome my issues (well, not all of them but the ones that caused me physical pain). My chronic pains aren't a big deal - a neuroma in my foot from running, upper back pain from holding a chubby baby day and night, but reading this book helped me realize why I was having these pains and how to stop them.
This program truly can reprogram your brain and help you get rid of unnecessary pain. I realize that sounds a bit overzealous, but I hate to see people suffering needlessly. This program is safe, effective, easy to understand and implement, and inexpensive. I recommend everyone read this book and see if it couldn't help you.
Read more about Mind Body Program
View Dr. Howard Schubiner's invitational video

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