Friday, August 26, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Writing is my time machine. It takes me to the precise time and place I belong."
~Jeb Dickerson

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Book Review--The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

 The Hiding Place is the heroic story of a 50ish-year-old spinster who lived with her father and older sister, Betsie, in Haarlem, Noord Holland during the German occupation of WWII.

Corrie's parents were devout Christians who strove to completely live by Jesus's example. Her mother looked after the poor and sick in their neighborhood until she passed away. After his own children were grown, Corrie's father fed and raised eleven more children. He led the family in scripture study every morning and evening. They were already in the habit of helping others when the Germans came in 1939.

Their faith-based background provided the strength they needed to deal with the usual trials of war shortages, neighborhood raids, and bombings. But it also provided them with courage to take in strangers when the need arose. I can't even imagine the terror they faced on a daily basis.

Persecution of the Jews slowly escalated. By 1941, the Jews in Haarlem were routinely rounded up and arrested, never to be seen again.

Corrie's family became involved with the underground resistance in 1941 when Nazis forced one of their neighbors from his shop at gunpoint. While the soldiers ransacked his shop and living quarters, Corrie ran outside and grabbed him and hid him inside her home. Later, she finds out that her brother, a clergyman, and another sister have also been hiding Jewish people and have their own networks established.

Corrie gets organized and becomes actively involved with a network in her own neighborhood and the family has a false wall built into Corrie's bedroom.

This faithful family helped many Jewish people in their escape to freedom, but eventually they were found out and arrested. Corrie's father was in his 80's, Betsie almost 60, and Corrie turned 54 in prison.

Through all of their trials and the horrible things they witnessed, they never held contempt for the Nazis. They felt sorriest for the Nazis and prayed for them. Even when stripped of all belongings and robbed of basic human dignity, Betsie continued to pray for the Nazis and reminded Corrie that the Savior once suffered what they suffered and more without complaint.

At the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp Corrie and Betsie found small ways to help their fellow inmates. Corrie had managed to keep a small Bible hidden from the guards. They read scriptures in the evenings, as often as they could to whoever wanted to listen. Betsie and Corrie realized the Lord wanted them in this camp to minister to the other women. Over 96,000 women died in this camp.

The title, The Hiding Place, not only refers to the hiding place Corrie's family built, but more to the hiding place they found in the concentration camp that Isaiah speaks of in Isaiah 32:2 ". . . an hiding place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." And Psalms 119:114, 117, "Thou art my hiding place and my shield; I hope in the word. Hold thou me up and I shall be safe."

This is a life-changing book. Take the time to read it if you haven't already. Truths resonate from its pages. It can strengthen us to face our own trials. It brings hope to know that the Lord has purpose for all of the experiences we face in this life.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Morning Motivation--The Power of Self-Prophecy or the Misuse of Labels

Have you ever wondered why we persist in repeating the same mistakes over and over again?

Why do I judge others? Why am I selfish?

Last year I had an epiphany as I pondered those questions. And here it is: I behave exactly as I tell myself I am.

It is Labels. Labels applied by others, and more importantly, labels I apply myself. And the labels I apply to others don't help either.

Labels are dangerous to ourselves and others. This is what they do:  (1)They excuse our bad behavior, and (2) They become prophecies. For example: If I say something unkind to someone I might feel bad, but I tell myself that I must be an unkind person or I wouldn't have said whatever in the first place.

I excuse my behavior because I believe myself to be an unkind person and that's what unkind people do. It takes all of the responsibility away from me. The next time an opportunity to be unkind arises it will be even easier to be unkind than it was the first time, thus proving that I am an unkind person.

The same is true if I tell myself I am a slow learner. I excuse myself from learning and trying new things. This is a normal human tendency to look for a scapegoat. We can't possibly be responsible for our faults because we were born that way.

Instead, I could believe myself to be a kind person who made a mistake and said something unkind. I could then apologize and work to never do it again, but it's easier to believe that I'm unkind.

I know I'm not alone in this. We do this to ourselves and each other a lot. In fact, I suspect the reason we do it to others is because we've had years of practice doing it to ourselves. We do it to our children and loved ones, the very ones we would normally protect from harm.

Labels are particularly damaging to children. They are so malleable and believe almost everything they're told. Part of their ability to problem solve hinges on whether or not they believe they can solve their own problems.

So, what do we do about a universal epidemic?
Simple--we start with ourselves. "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he. . ." Proverbs 23:7

Every morning when we face ourselves in the mirror we must tell ourselves that we are what we want to be and express gratitude for it. Maybe these things aren't all true now but they will be. We waste a lot of time telling ourselves what we can't do. Now it's time to be and do all that we desire. No one is holding me back but me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Book Reviews--Murder by Design by Betsy Brannon Green

Kennedy Killingsworth is the Librarian in her small hometown of Midway, Georgia. She suffers from a doting mother, a soon-to-be-engaged ex-husband, overbearing and demanding neighbors along with a passive-aggressive sense of duty and manners.

Having given herself the reputation of amateur sleuth, one of her neighbors demands that Kennedy find out who has been stealing barn wood from a dilapidated barn on a remote farm.

As Kennedy reluctantly investigates, the local sheriff asks her to help with the murder investigation of an artist tied to the missing barn wood.

Kennedy has two bright spots in her life. Hunky, rogue, FBI guy, who adds mystery of his own, and her boyfriend Luke, who actually helps out. A cast of small town characters and family add to the mix to keep her personal life stirred up.

The clues work up to a nice pitch, but another twist remains after Kennedy thinks everything is resolved.

Murder By Design is well written and suspenseful. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.  At the end, the author included extra bonus material--down home recipes of some of the food we read about.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Tips--Patterns of Dramatic Conflict

According to James N. Frey, there are three main patterns of dramatic conflict, two of which we should avoid.
Static conflict--the level of conflict is unchanging and the characters stop developing.

Jumping conflict--conflict leaps from one level to another without motivation or transition.

Slowly Rising Conflict--characters should face ever-increasing obstacles, problems should multiply, pressure mounts. Think in terms of attacks and counter attacks.

What does your conflict look like?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Morning Motivation--Don't Fear Adversity

This is a picture of my crocuses that bloomed last spring inspite of snowfall after snowfall after snowfall.
The truth is crocuses flourish in the snow, or adversity, if you will. Like it or not, we all do.
Nothing seems so important for me to have or do until someone tells me I can't.

Adversity, and the hope for better motivates humans into action. It is necessary for growth. Without it, we'd stagnate.

So, I'll be thankful for my rejection letters, and endless revisons. I will grow and stretch even when painful. And, I will enjoy the journey!

What motivates you past adversity?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hang'em High by Tristi Pinkston Book Launch

Yay! It's Tristi Pinkston's Book Launch of Hang'em High!

When: Saturday, August 13th, 12 – 4 pm
Where: Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
Prizes, games, Dutch oven cobbler (first come, first served)
Authors Tristi Pinkston, Nichole Giles, Heather Justesen,
Cindy Hogan, and J. Lloyd Morgan

Don't miss it!

Quote of the Day

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster."
~Isaac Asimov

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday Book Review--The Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

This is the first book I've read by Nicholas Sparks. From the beginning, his words flowed like a smooth, creamy, chocolate mint truffle, the kind that melts in your mouth leaving you with a desire for more. So smooth, in fact, I questioned why I even try to write.

Flashback sequences, from the narrator's point of view, are sprinkled throughout the body of the story. It was a little difficult for me to follow because the identity of the narrator is not revealed until the middle of the book when I realized what he had done. Even then his identity is masked. There is definitely a psychological twist in the narrator's confession.

As the story reached the climax, I realized the ending could go either way and I didn't get to know how the details worked out until the epilogue.

Although contemporary drama is not my favorite genre, there is no argument regarding Mr. Sparks' skill as a writer.

I appreciated the author's choice of keeping this a fairly clean read. Nicholas Sparks commented in a Writer's Digest interview that his grandmother is still alive and he writes to her. If she can't read it, he doesn't write it. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Nicholas Sparks also wrote The Notebook, Safe Haven, The Choice, The Rescue, A Walk to Remember, etc. He deals with very human stories tugging at the deepest human emotions.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Tips--The Crucible

By James N. Frey~
The crucible (or furnace) is the bond that keeps the characters in conflict. Characters remain in the crucible if their motivation to continue in conflict is greater than their motivation to run away from the conflict.

The strength of the protagonist x the strength of the opposition = the strength of the conflict.

The protagonist + his goal + opposition = conflict.

How do you maintain the heat in your crucible?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Morning Motivation--"Never Give up, Never Surrender"

My Great Grandmother
Henrietta McKay McCloy
I had my very first article published in yesterday's Deseret News. I submitted it over a year ago and never heard anything back so I assumed they wouldn't be able to use it. It just goes to show that we never know what might happen if we try.

This is my Monday Morning Motivation. This little accomplishment helps to motivate me to continue working on my craft; that maybe my writing isn't a lost cause and is worth spending the time on to polish.

The road to getting my first book published stretches on before me, but there is a light at the end, and I will enjoy the journey.

I'd just like to say, I've long admired our midwife ancestors for their strength and courage to do what had to be done for the benefit of others in such extreme circumstances.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday Book Review--Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston

Ida Mae Babbit is a Relief Society president in her hometown ward. She is an older, independent widow with lots of moxy and knows just how things ought to be done. She makes and eats a lot of cookies and brownies. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

This book is a refreshing romp into our LDS culture that allows us to laugh at ourselves. In the background story, Ida Mae has a huge 'to-do' list, which is very authentic. She also has to confront some of her own weaknesses and learns to be less critical and more positive.

Secret Sisters is a good study in character development. Each character has their own distinctive voice. Arlette, a counselor, is abrupt and down to business. Tansy, another counselor, is a little bit air-headed. She reminds me a lot of Gracie Allen (I watch reruns, okay?). Hannah, the secretary, is more quiet, which seems natural for a younger woman who may feel a little intimidated by a group of her elders. Ida Mae's nephew and Arlette's granddaughter also join the cast. All of the characters learn about themselves and each other by the end of the book.

Tristi Pinkston certainly makes storytelling look easy. I'm anxious to read book #2 before #3 comes out. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars for sheer delight.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Tips--Collecting Characters

I admit it--I collect characters. I don't just watch people, I collect them. And not the usual suspects, they're too usual. I like the 'just a bit off-kilter', not the rude or graphic or scantily-clad. I like the whimsical, though I collect all kinds.

Let me tell you where the best places to find them are: I started with my neighborhood. From the local conspiracy theory guy, to the stoner who sings his way home, to the neighborhood arms dealer; my neighborhood is full of colorful quirkiness.

Another good place is doctors' and dentists' offices, basically anywhere people have to wait: airport terminals (the best variety), buses and trains, city parks, the zoo, amusement parks, and last but not least, Wal-Mart.
I think people at Wal-Mart dress up, or not at all, because they know they'll be all over the Internet by noon.

Interesting people can be found everywhere you go. I started out of boredom. Every time I have to wait somewhere I think of all the writing tasks I should be doing. Well, this is another task. I can accomplish something wherever I go or whatever I do.

I collect unusual: unusual features, speech, attire, bits of phrases, habits, ways people find to entertain themselves, etc. So, be on your best behavior or you may end up in one of my books :o)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Morning Motivation

It's Monday morning and you're flying back east to attend a boring work seminar. You're plane veers south and flies through the Bermuda Triangle.

Where and when are you?

I've always wanted to know what lies on the other end.

Enjoy the journey!