Saturday, April 30, 2011

First Draft Finished

At 48,324 words, my first draft of THE BINDER'S WEB is finished. *throws confetti and goes to bed*

National Poetry Month

I can't sleep because I slept most of the day. Stomach flu. And Gwen's on my lap because a nightmare woke her up. I won't be sorry to see this month of perpetual sickness end, but I would like to throw contribute something to National Poetry Month.

On Monday, April 4th, I taught a haiku workshop to a class of third graders. We read ONE LEAF RIDES THE WIND, by Celeste Mannis,
One Leaf Rides the Wind

and I showed them how I try to convey emotion through images. Apparently, I was more successful at conveying humor (through discomfort) in the first poem than I was at conveying fear or caution in the second.

A herd of horses 
turn long tails to the wet wind.
Rain pelts their behinds.

The metallic wasp
flickers blue in the sunlight
and works undisturbed.

It's always interesting to get reactions and questions from a large group. I've never taught a workshop on haikus, partly because I've never sold any of mine, but that's what this teacher asked for. Well, that's not true. At first, she asked me to teach free verse because she thought that was my specialty, but when I explained which forms I liked using, she jumped on haiku.

Then I turned them loose (with nature magazines) to write their own haikus, making little suggestions here and there, mostly just enjoying what they came up with.

I wish I could share the poem I wrote earlier this week, but if I did, I couldn't sell first publication rights. So, I'll leave you with Christopher Walken's reading of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven."

Did you do anything fun for National Poetry Month? And if you're feeling the urge, your haikus are welcome in the comments!  

Monday, April 25, 2011


This week's Marvelous Middle Grade is one of the few books that I've flipped back to the beginning when I finished and started reading again. I've read Gail Carson Levine's ELLA ENCHANTED at least a half a dozen times. I can't stand the movie, though, because they ruined the characters, especially Prince Char. The movie lost ground right at the beginning, when it started with this cutesy rhyming narrator, instead of Ella's "That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift." My sisters and I were so excited to see it (because we loved the book) that we actually met in a sort of halfway place and went to the movies together. None of us loved the movie.
Ella Enchanted (Newbery Honor Book)

ELLA ENCHANTED is a Cinderella retelling, but I didn't realize it until near the end. Lucinda's "gift" of obedience forces Ella to be obedient. Even with as many times as I've read it, this book makes me laugh and cry. Ella and Char both have flaws I can relate to, though my reasons for having them might be slightly different (no mad fairy at my birth that I know of). And Ella suffers so much at the hands of Hattie that her little triumphs/defiances are also freeing for the reader. Having to do things we'd rather not is something all of us can relate to. I love, LOVE her solution to being captured by ogres and how Char can't stop laughing while he's offering his wedding congratulations to Ella's father and step-mother because her family catches them . . . well, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you should just read it.

Most of you probably have. Did you like ELLA ENCHANTED? And if you have read it, did you like the movie? I'm totally fine with people expressing opinions that differ from mine. If we all liked the same books and movies, the world would be a boring snoring place. I actually picked up the book this weekend because my nieces were watching the movie, and my nieces (and nephews) are some of my favorite people.

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, the following people would love to oblige you: 

Shannon Whitney Messenger (our founding mother)

Have a Marvelous Monday!   

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I'm unplugging for Spring Break to play with the fam and get some stuff done. Have a great week!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Clark County Fair

Instead of writing two posts about the same thing, I'm linking to my post on our extended family blog. If you'd like to see pictures of my children and read a post that has nothing whatsoever to do with writing, you're welcome to pop over there and comment. Thanks! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LDS Writer Blogfest: "Opportunities to do Good"

Twice a year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints broadcasts General Conference all over the world so that we, as church members, can listen to messages from our prophet and other church leaders. As part of the LDS Writer Blogfest, I want to share a couple of (purple) quotes from Henry B. Eyring's "Opportunities to do Good. Or you can just click on the link I provided to read the original. It's better than my patchwork.

Our Heavenly Father hears the prayers of His children across the earth pleading for food to eat, for clothes to cover their bodies, and for the dignity that would come from being able to provide for themselves. Those pleas have reached Him since He placed men and women on the earth.

You learn of those needs where you live and from across the world. Your heart is often stirred with feelings of sympathy. When you meet someone struggling to find employment, you feel that desire to help. You feel it when you go into the home of a widow and see that she has no food. You feel it when you see photographs of crying children sitting in the ruins of their home destroyed by an earthquake or by fire.

This particular message struck a chord because there have been so many disasters, and of course we have friends and family out of work. A person can start to feel helpless, but there are ways to help both those who are close to us and those as far away as Japan.

I grew up on a farm, and we learned to work hard at a young age. My mom was the hardest worker I've ever met. She gave of herself at home, in the community, church, and with friends and neighbors. We had a neighbor, a single mother of three boys, who would come over to help with stuff like washing the windows. I didn't know my mom was finding jobs and paying her because she was out of work or that Mom would take her grocery shopping. Her boys came over and helped us with chores all the time, so they could play with us. They were good neighbors. She told me about it when Mom died, and there were so many others with stories.

In our church, we have a welfare system that helps people become self-sufficient. We fast on the first Sunday of the month and give what we might have spent on the food for those meals to help those in need.

President Marion G. Romney said of welfare work, “You cannot give yourself poor in this work.” And then he quoted his mission president, Melvin J. Ballard, this way: “A person cannot give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return.” 

I have found that to be true in my life. When I am generous to Heavenly Father’s children in need, He is generous to me.

I have also found that to be true in my life. When I work for the good of others, I'm a happier, more confident person than when I focus too much of my energy on myself. I'm also more productive in my own pursuits, which might seem like a contradiction, but in Luke 12: 31, the Savior says "seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you." He keeps his promises.

Elder Eyring also shared the lyrics to the following song:

If you're interested in reading more, you can follow the links below. Thanks for letting me share something more personal than usual. I'd be happy to answer any questions in the comments or in an e-mail, if you'd prefer.

Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jessie Oliveros: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Tamara Hart Heiner: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”

Monday, April 11, 2011


While several people I know in real life have recommended Michael Scott's THE SECRETS OF THE IMMORTAL NICHOLAS FLAMEL series to me over the last couple of years, I don't remember having seen it in the blogosphere. Did you know that Nicholas Flamel was a real person? I had no idea that J.K. Rowling borrowed him and the philosopher's stone from history. Of course the stone was only a rumor, but he and his wife were very wealthy, and when someone broke into their tomb, they found it empty. In this series, Michael Scott blends history, myth, and legend with his own unique story.
The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

In THE ALCHEMYST, Sophie and Josh Newman, get caught up in a very old conflict when they come to the aid of an elderly couple that they think they know (Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel).  Nicholas believes they're the twins from an ancient prophecy and that it's his responsibility to train them, so he takes them to Scathach, a warrior and trainer of heroes. I don't want to give anything major away, but the villain (Dr. John Dee) might be more interesting than the Flamels. This is my least favorite book of the three (not that it's boring - just a lot about prophecies and such), but it really picks up in the next book.
The Magician (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)

I loved the addition of Machiavelli and Joan of Arc in THE MAGICIAN.  She's always been one of my favorite heroines, and I felt like Scott nailed her character. Aside from Perenelle's POV, on Alcatraz, this part of the story takes place in Paris and below Paris. Paris can be such a great setting. I like the juxtaposition of the twin swords: Excalibur and Clarent. Sophie learns to use fire, and Josh finally gets to see some action, chasing Nidhogg through the streets of Paris to save Scathach (among other things).
The Sorceress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)

If anything, the intensity builds in THE SORCERESS. Perenelle shines in this one. Nicholas takes the twins to London to learn how to use water from King Gilgamesh, but where Paris was Flamel's home, London is Dee's. The importance of the two swords grows more and more sinister as the story unfolds, and the opposition calls in favors from increasingly powerful entities. The end left me wanting the next book, THE NECROMANCER, even though I know the series isn't finished. THE WARLOCK comes out next month, and it won't end the series, either.

It's still hard to believe that Scott made me sympathize with Gilgamesh and Machiavelli, but there were times I did. Though I also enjoyed this: "Nor have I told them that Gilgamesh is quite, quite insane . . . and that the last time we met, he thought I was trying to kill him." Exactly. It made me snicker. Scott's interpretation of various historical figures is nothing short of delightful. I highly recommend this series for anyone who enjoyed Harry Potter or Percy Jackson.

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, the following people would love to oblige you: 

Shannon Whitney Messenger (our founding mother)

Have a Marvelous Monday!               

Monday, April 4, 2011


I picked up this week's Marvelous Middle Grade because I thought it might appeal to my eight-year-old, and I was right. In HOW TO SAVE YOUR TAIL, by Mary Hanson, a rat named Bob tells stories to a couple of cats to keep them from eating him. He also feeds them cookies.

How to Save Your Tail: *if you are a rat nabbed by cats who really like stories about magic spoons, wolves with snout-warts, big, hairy chimney trolls . . . and cookies, too.

This one will appeal to younger and more reluctant readers, but my twelve-year-old and I also enjoyed it. Bob's fractured fairy tales feature his rat relatives as main characters and reminded me of Jon Scieszka's THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS! (one of the best fairy tale picture books ever). Almost every page made us giggle, and the cookie breaks between stories kept us wondering how Bob would outsmart the cats.   

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, the following people would love to oblige you: 

Have a Marvelous Monday!