Friday, December 28, 2007

Contest at "TheInkLadies"!

All right, all you out there who like winning things: An LDS authors' blog that I contribute to, "The Ink Ladies," is running a contest. You can win a free book from one of the authors! (Like mine...and seriously, who could win a better prize than that??) Just match each author correctly with the weirdest gift they've ever received, and you win! It's not hard, it's lots of fun, and right now you have a very good chance of winning because there aren't too many other entries. Just go to theinkladies.blogspot.com and start matching away!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Reason for the Season

When we were out shopping the other day, I decided to pick up a box or two of Christmas cards. Having them available in your home, after all, is a crucial step that must take place before the actual addressing of the Christmas cards and mailing them out. And frankly, I felt quite pleased with myself for even thinking of picking some up before Thanksgiving.

The store I went to had some really cute cards. But as I searched the shelves for that one particular style of cards that I felt good about putting our family's name on and sending to people all over the country, I made a startling discovery.

There were no cards that had anything to do with the birth of Christ.

There were cards with snowmen. There were cards with brightly colored ornaments. There were cards with Christmas trees. There were cards with presents tied with pretty bows. But there were no nativity scenes, wise men on camels, or anything else having to do with Christ.

I mentioned this to my husband, and he chided me for my concern. "What does Christ have to do with Christmas?" he said with mock seriousness.

Feeling a bit ornery, I decided that I would buy my cards somewhere else. I did find a couple of religious scenes at the next store I checked, but they weren't in styles I felt comfortable with. I finally bought a box of cards at the third store I checked. There's a picture of Joseph and Mary headed to Bethlehem on the front.

Sending out Christmas cards can be a wonderful opportunity to testify to others of the Savior and of His importance in our lives. As we turn our hearts to Him we experience the real meaning of Christmas.

Now the next step for me, of course, is to get those cards addressed and sent out. I know perfectly well that they won't do anyone any good if they're just sitting in the box. But I'm very good at putting things off like this. Any bets on how long it'll be before I tackle that project? New Years, maybe? Valentines? Easter?

Happy holidays, everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Time Out For Women

I just saw the 2008 schedule for "Time Out For Women," sponsored by Deseret Book, and I just had to make a plug. And no, they are not paying me to do this. I noticed that they will put on an event in Oklahoma City in April, as well as a host of other cities throughout the year. You can check the schedule here at http://deseretbook.com/time-out/schedule.

But with my ties to people in the Oklahoma City area, I did want to put in my 2 cents worth. I attended the event in Minneapolis in September. I went because several other sisters in my ward were going, and I thought it might be a fun girls' day out. I was frankly a bit leery of the way things were set up, with several Deseret Book authors speaking to us in the auditorium and their books for sale in the lobby. Being an author myself, I know how these marketing things work.

But it was such a great experience. From the time the first speaker got up there, I was scratching down all kinds of notes in my notebook and occasionally (I admit it) bawling my eyes out. Because these people were able to address us in a unique position. It wasn't an official Church meeting, so they could address the whole spectrum of what it means to us to be Latter-day Saint women, struggling with our families and callings and jobs, and trying to do the best we can. I came away with so many ideas I could incorporate into my life and with a firm desire to seek out what the Lord really wanted to be doing, and to try to simply become the best ME I could be in my own special circumstances. I felt assured of the Lord's love and His desire for me to excel in all areas of my life--from other women (and a man or two) who were working through the very same things.

It was amazing. And I really encourage you all to go when you have the opportunity. And reread those notes you take, and keep on hangin' in there.

So that's my plug for the day. And by the way, I did not buy any books there. I did, however, buy a very cute Family Home Evening assignment board and a scripture trivia game for my family. And I still love them. (That is, I love the things I bought...and, of course, I love my family.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Changing Truth

Well, one of the things I did this week was write a blog for LDSBlogs.com on "Things As They Really Are." At least, that's the published title of it. Since it's about truth, my working title was, well, "Truth."

So I hammered it out for a bit on my word processor, and then tried to close the window. Immediately a pop-up came up that said:

Save changes to Truth?

And that struck me as funny, since of all the things you can try to change in the world, you can't change the truth. That's the whole nature of it (and what my blog was about). We can try to change things we don't like, but once you start trying to change the truth, it stops being the truth.

But somehow I beat the system. Somehow, despite the true nature of it all, this week I accomplished the impossible. I successfully made (and saved) changes to Truth.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jennie Hansen, Family Home Evening, and a Big Fat Newsletter


One of my more memorable posts this week for LDSBlogs.com has been my interview with Jennie Hansen. She was truly delightful to visit with, and several people have told me how much they've appreciated reading the interview. She's become a very respected LDS author over the years. Two of the three installments are currently up; one more is on its way.

I have to say that along with that interview, I'm pretty proud of myself for getting the jpegs of Jennie and her books to fit in with the published blog.

Another blog entry I put up recently was called "Family Home Evening Basics." I wrote that one after talking to a friend who is an LDS convert. She admitted that she didn't really know how to hold a family home evening. And it got me thinking...when you attend church enough, you might pick up on how to give a talk in sacrament meeting, or how to give a lesson in Relief Society. But family home evening is something you don't see modeled so often, since it takes place in the home. The good news about that is, since it takes place in your home, you don't have to worry that the family home evening police will arrest you if you don't do it "right." The important thing is to take the time for your family.

In other news, I've been compiling the LDStorymakers New Release Newsletter for this month and it's just about ready to go. I'm thrilled at all the books announced in it; the LDStorymakers members have been busy! So check it out (click here to subscribe) and find yourself some good reading material. You can also visit the blog version at http://ldstorymakersnewreleases.blogspot.com/. (And remember that even though you won't see my name on it anywhere, I put the whole thing together. Unless, that is, you don't like it.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Am I Old Yet?

All right, all right. Even as we speak, my child is laughing at me for referring to a portable stereo as a "ghetto blaster." He thinks that's the funniest thing he's ever heard. Compound that with the fact that he sees no reason to carry one of those things around with him, in this day of the iPod. Why would you need to haul around something so huge with external speakers that force everyone else to listen to your music?

He thinks Pac Man is lame, too.

And if you think so, too...you're probably younger than I am.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

LDSBlogs.com, or Adventures in Blogging

I started blogging for LDSBlogs.com a couple of weeks ago. The site launched just last week and already it's grown into something pretty big. Right now I'm covering both the "Gospel & Doctrine" and the "LDS News" categories. I've already made some great contacts, I've got some fabulous LDS author interviews lined up for the coming weeks, and I've been pushing myself to up my output. It's been quite an experience already. I've been impressed with the site as a whole and the fine content that people have been posting.

So come on over to LDSBlogs.com and check us out! And then come again! As the site evolves and we add more blogs to the mix, it will only get better and better.

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Website Glossary Shows Autistic Behaviors

For a disorder that I don't think I'd even heard of until I was nearly grown, diagnoses of autism have become astoundingly common. According to an article on cnn.com, one out of 150 children have some form of autism. You may know a child--or several--diagnosed with the disorder.

One of my more memorable encounters with a student with autism came when I was helping in a high school special ed class. A young man with autism had been keeping busy alone with a book on tape. I went to check on him--and saw him sitting in front of the tape player without his pants on.

He wasn't able to speak, but when I asked him (calmly, I hope) about his missing trousers he showed me that he'd spilled something on them. Then he went back to his tape.

After my initial surprise, I realized that this kid saw what he'd done as perfectly logical. He'd spilled something on his pants, so he couldn't wear them anymore. He'd completely missed the social mores that require you keep your pants on at school--but in his eyes, he'd done the only logical thing.

Folks with autism may follow the rules. Their rules just leave some of the rest of us a bit baffled.

That's where the new video glossary at Autism Speaks comes in. They have videos illustrating various autistic behaviors to help people recognize them. This is potentially very helpful; articles and books with descriptions of these behaviors abound, but actually being able to see them is a completely different experience.

Critics caution that some viewers will jump to conclusions upon seeing any of these behaviors in others. It's important to leave making diagnoses to the professionals. In fact, every child is different and some of these autistic behaviors will occasionally be manifested in non-autistic children. So it's important not to appoint yourself a psychologist. But approached rationally, this new video glossary can go a long way toward educating the public about the true nature of this condition.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fun Website # 4576


I found a fun website today while I was looking for ways to make interesting scripture mastery clues for seminary. It's a license plate generator; you can choose a state and plate design, and then you can customize it with your own words. In this case, I'm putting in scripture keywords and then putting them on a worksheet for the students to do at home. But I'm sure there a million and one other uses for a fun website like this. Use them to customize your e-mails or websites, delight your children with customized license plate images from their own states, use them to make states-and-capitals worksheets...

The site is http://license.plates.txt2pic.com/ . Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kiss Your Brain!


I spent most of today helping students in kindergarten and first grade. While those little darlings were busily trying to learn how to write 2's correctly (and it can be pretty tough if you've never done it before), I learned a new phrase from the teacher. When they'd done a good job, she told them, "Kiss your brain!"

Now I don't know about you, but I don't think my lips will stretch up that far. Still, you can complete the image just fine by kissing your fingers and then touching your forehead.

So, everyone out there who's done a good job today, whether you've learned to write 2's, or written 3000 (or 500) words today, or managed to prevent kindergarteners from rioting on the playground, or designed a supercomputer and negotiated a pay raise with your boss, way to go! And go kiss your brain! It's been working hard and it deserves it!

And so do you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Making Progress



If you scroll down my sidebar a ways, you'll see my "stats" for a Book-in-a-Month I'm participating in. (See Tristi Pinkston's blog for details, this particular BIAM is her baby. And she's doing a great job, by the way.) The idea behind a BIAM is that the participants set aside some time every day for writing, and they write as much as they can without going back to edit. This is key; for a lot of writers, that internal editor will keep them from ever finishing anything because they keep going back and changing what they've written. After you've finished your book and your story has sufficiently evolved, you can go back and fix things.

During the BIAM, participants are held accountable for what they produce. Every day, they report back to the others how many words they've written. They might discuss their writing adventures and cheer each other on. And the BIAM ringleader (in this case, Tristi Pinkston) often shares words of motivation to keep people going.

Now, to be honest, I've participated in BIAM's before. And I really like the original idea behind them, where you actually begin and complete a whole book in a month's time. (See the NaNoWriMo site for more information on this adventure.) That requires a lot of writing, as well as time-juggling if you're not used to putting in that many hours at the keyboard. If you write 3000 words a day for 30 days, you'll have a 90,000 word book to show for it at the end. Pretty cool, huh?

But if it takes you half an hour to write 500 words, it's gonna take you six hours a day to write 3000 words. That's nearly the equivalent of the time spent on a full-time job. For many people, setting that kind of goal isn't practical. Much as we'd love to churn out a whole book that quickly, many of us don't have that kind of time. And besides, many of us can't think of that much to say in one sitting.

Well, back to my point. In the past, I've set higher word-count goals for myself. I've wanted to approach that finishing-a-book-in-a-month thing, and I've set higher word count goals than perhaps I should have. And I've also ended up missing many days because I simply couldn't spend the time writing that much.

So this time I've set what I consider to be a modest goal: 500 words a day. And it's amazing how much easier it's been to stick with it this time. Sure, I'm not going to have 90,000 words written by the end of the month. But check my stats--so far I have over 6000 words written and the number's only going higher. It's progress!

You can apply this lesson to your own lives in terms of realistic goal setting, sticking with things,
or whatever else you can dream up. As for me, put a star on my forehead because I'm actually moving forward! Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Typhoons vs. Hurricanes

No, it's not a football match-up. But in light of the typhoon that is currently pummeling China, the question has come up: What's the difference between a typhoon and a hurricane?

The basic answer is, they're the same kind of storm. The difference is that hurricanes occur in the Atlantic and the north Pacific east of the International Date Line. Typhoons occur in the north Pacific west of the Date Line. That's why we're always getting hurricanes in North America, but in China they're getting a typhoon. But it's the same principle. If you know what a hurricane is like, you can picture what's going on in China now. Let's hope and pray that all goes well for them.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Visiting Teaching Message: Unity

"Unity" is one of those words we throw around without perhaps fully registering its true meaning. We know we need to be unified in our homes, in our families, in our wards, and in our places of employment. Our governments need to be unified in order to accomplish anything. We need to be unified, "of one heart and one mind," in order to build the city of Zion.

And on it goes. Families, couples, and organizations that aren't unified can quickly find themselves in trouble. One vivid example comes from Bill Nye the Science Guy. In one of the episodes of his TV show, he showed a two-headed snake. Yeah, they're pretty rare, but he managed to come up with a film of one. The background sound featured some tiny voices saying, "I wanna go this way!" "No, I wanna go this way!" "No, this way!"

Bill Nye's objective wasn't to teach viewers the importance of unity, but the example of the two-headed snake still works pretty well. With two heads controlling it, and each trying to take it in different directions, the poor snake couldn't make any progress anywhere. The same happens in our families, our wards, and in our governments. When people in a group are not united, and they're each pulling in different directions, the net result is that the group stays still...or falls apart.

Now, I don't know about you, but I have to admit that sometimes I hear the admonition to be as one, and I start thinking, "Yeah, unity's very important. Everyone else should figure that out and come support my agenda so we can be unified!" Understanding the importance of unity doesn't get us very far unless we are willing to truly live the principle. And that means being willing to bend our own wills and work together towards righteous goals--not necessarily our personal agendas.

(Let's hope my husband doesn't read this post, or he's going to think I'm going to try listening to him more, or something...;-)

This month's visiting teaching message can be found at http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,2044-1-4227-1,00.html

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Marvelous James Dashner


I first heard about the Jimmy Fincher series by James Dashner a couple of years ago, about the time my book came out. I knew it was by an LDS author, and published by an LDS publisher, but the books weren't specifically LDS. I didn't know much else about them, except that kids liked them and some of my fellow authors thought they were really great.

So I bought the first book at our local LDS bookstore, and read the first chapter or so. It seemed to be some kind of scary dangerous fantasy adventure story. Except the tone of the narrator was so engaging lighthearted that as you read, you were tempted to both laugh and scream at the same time. It seemed like it might have possibilities.

My fourth-grader son liked fantasy-type stories, except for the fact that he refused to actually read any. I don't remember specifically what I did to get him to read this one, but I do remember he flat-out refused. He would not, would not, WOULD NOT read this book or any other book. But somehow he ended up seated on the couch, glaring, and reading the dreaded thing. A timer was set, and Junior had to read for half an hour before he was allowed to put the book down and leave the couch.

Two hours later, he was still reading.

Now, I could tell you how a few days later he was begging for all the books in the series (and they weren't all out at that point, so that was tough to deliver). I could tell you about how we then had to read them all aloud together at bedtime. I could tell you about how the stories kept us simultaneously on the edge of our seats and on the brink of giggles, and how Dashner's imagination thrust us into all kinds of wild and seemingly impossible situations, and how his characters never once had things made easy on them.

But I think my son's reaction speaks for itself. And I expect that Dashner's new series, The 13th Reality, which debuts in the spring, will be at least as thrilling and exciting and charming as the Jimmy Fincher series. If not more so.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If We Could Talk to the Animals...

I'm always fascinated with stories of animals who learn to communicate with humans. There are apes who speak sign language (such as the famous Koko and her kitten All Ball) . Parrots are fun because they actually learn to mimic human language. News was just released regarding the early death of one parrot who could identify fifty objects, said "I love you," and could even express his frustration when the research on him became too repetitive.

There is some disagreement over how much these animals are really communicating the thoughts of their hearts, and how much they are simply performing to please the humans.

Still, I wonder what my dog would say if he could speak. He'd probably talk of food and chasing rabbits and squirrels all day long. Maybe it's just as well that he can't.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Tragic Mistake


A story has been in the news lately about an Ohio woman who forgot her two-year old was asleep in the back of her car, and left her in there as she went to work. Here's a link to one of the more recent updates to their story. You can read earlier chapters in the saga through links on this page:

http://www.wlwt.com/news/14040944/detail.html

There's also a haunting video of the mother's grief that was broadcast on NBC Nightly News last night, and the Today show this morning. To view this, go to www.msnbc.com and scroll down to "Videos." You'll have to do this fast, though; this location will likely change. But the title of it is "Ohio Mom: I Want to Die."

Even if you aren't able to see the video here, the title should give you some indication of how the mom feels. Let's face it--how would any of us feel if a dumb mistake on our part caused injury or death to another person? Particularly our own child?

Sometimes dumb mistakes have small consequences--paper cuts, for example. Or spilled milk. Sometimes things happen that we didn't want to happen, but they are easily taken care of and forgotten.

And other times dumb mistakes have disastrous consequences. We're all capable of making dumb mistakes. In fact, we all make them. Period. Some of us just have the dubious distinction of creating consequences that make national headlines.

I really feel sorry for this mom. We all know we're not supposed to, but it is so, so, easy to leave those kids alone for a minute while we attend to other responsibilities. And (we hate to admit this part) our other responsibilities often run much more smoothly when we don't have a kid in tow. This could have happened to any of us.

This particular mom was an assistant principal at an elementary school. She had a million things on her plate, and left home early that morning to run some errands. Her daughter fell asleep in her car seat, and Mom left her there as she bought doughnuts for the teachers and then went to school to drop them off for a faculty meeting. Exactly what happened next is not clear from the news stories, but one can assume that she was bombarded with work responsibilities once she walked into the door at school. And, at some point, the mental note that she'd made to herself that her daughter was in the car and she needed to take her to the babysitter just disappeared.

And yet...how often do we ignore our kids, our spouses, or other important people in our lives "just for a minute" while we attend to other responsibilities or pastimes, only to have that "minute" away grow longer and longer?

Read some of the other news releases regarding this incident, and you'll see that this was not the first time this mom had left her daughter unattended in the car. There was another occasion reported only a couple of days earlier, and just how many other times she'd done it is something only she knows. (And God, too, of course...) How many times do we do things we know we shouldn't, but when they work out okay we do them again?

This family's heartwrenching story serves as a chilling reminder for all of us. Yes, sometimes doing things we shouldn't still works out okay, or at least seems to. And sometimes there are disastrous consequences.

...And the Latest on Harry Potter

Well, we finished it. A long time ago. We downed the book in a series of late-night reading sessions. I was reading aloud to everyone else, and when I became so sleepy that my speech slurred and I was reading other words besides those on the page, it was time to sleep.

The book was great. I wasn't sure how Rowling would pull off the ending to the whole series; it had to be something really good that would make sense within the world she had created, without alienating all the readers. I think she did a fabulous job.

And, of course, the memories of those late-night reading sessions together are priceless. If only there were more to the series.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Harry Update--The Latest

I'm a little over halfway through Book 7. All I can say is, I've still got something to look forward to in the Harry Potter series. Unlike the rest of the world. So there.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Surreal

We just learned of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis that happened this evening. We were in the area just yesterday. We didn't go over that particular bridge, though. That would have been really surreal.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. At this time we hope the rescue crews are able to work quickly and save as many as possible.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Harry Potter 7 Update

No, I haven't finished the book and this post isn't going to be full of spoilers. In fact, we're still barely at the beginning. Our tradition has been to read the Harry Potter books aloud together as a family, and finding times when we're all ready and able to read together has been a little tricky. So, alas, I am still unaware of how things work out for Harry--whether he lives or dies (though I suspect he lives), whether Snape is good or evil, who dies, whether Ron and Hermione end up together, and all that other stuff.

So, if you start spilling information about book 7, I'm going to stand here with my fingers in my ears and HUM LOUDLY so I won't find out anything too early. Unfortunately, I know this strategy won't work forever. It won't be too long at all before the world is freely discussing everything that happens.

You'll have to excuse me now...I've got some reading to do.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Moving Experience

Packing up everything in your home and moving it someplace else can be an overwhelming task. You don’t realize how much “stuff” you have until you try to pack it up and fit it in a truck. Just when you think you have things under control, you find another cupboard you forgot to empty, or you run out of boxes to pack things in. Some of the worst things are the odds and ends scattered throughout the house that manage to avoid getting packed into boxes until the very end.

During the past couple of days, we’ve had the opportunity to help a family in our ward prepare to move to another city. Despite their good-natured accusations that we’ve just been trying to get them out of here faster, we’re sad to see them go; they’ve been good friends and great assets to our ward.

As we and several other ward members helped this family last night with those pesky odds and ends and the ever-looming house-scrubbing, I remembered the help we received during one of our own moves. It was when we moved from our apartment in student housing to a house in the city. Feeling over-ambitious, we decided to fix some things in our new house before packing up our apartment. We were sure we had enough time to make our renovations before we had to get packed.

To make a long story short, the work we wanted to do on our new house was much more difficult and time-consuming than we’d anticipated. We finally had to admit defeat and turn our attention toward packing and cleaning our apartment. And the evening before we had to be out (by 7:00 in the morning), we weren’t anywhere near finished. We were already exhausted from the packing and moving we’d done so far, and all the work we’d tried to do on the house before that. At that point, I felt very small and pathetic as I followed the move-out checklist from student housing and attempted to clean the windows of our apartment with a bottle of Windex and a stack of newspapers and tried not to think about the catastrophe in the rest of the apartment.

One of the nice things about student housing at the University of Utah is that your apartment complex is also your ward. Ward leaders, home and visiting teachers, and those you have stewardship over yourself are all right there. And when the Relief Society president strolled by and saw me struggling with the windows, she not only offered to help but she also rounded up a couple of other sisters to come help as well.

That was several years ago, and it still means a lot to me now. The few hours that they spent cleaning windows and scrubbing the kitchen probably made the difference between us getting out on time and paying a fine, for starters. But there was more to it than that. It meant so much to know that others cared enough to help us with our struggles—even though those struggles could have been avoided if we’d used our time more wisely in the first place. They didn’t judge us for that. They didn’t even ask why we had so much to do at the last minute. They just went to work, knowing full well that we were moving out of the ward and we wouldn’t be around to repay the favor when they needed help in the future. It was help we perhaps didn’t deserve, but desperately needed all the same.

I’d like to wrap this up with a profound statement, but anything I can think of to say only sounds arrogant. I just know that, no matter how often I have to remind myself of this, helping others truly feels good. The Lord meets the needs of His children through the hands of others. Sometimes that means others are sent to help us. Other times it means we are sent to help others.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Spotlight the Youth Contest

To finish out the week, I wanted to put in a plug for the contest that fellow LDS YA author Anne Bradshaw's running over on her blog. It's your chance to give a special young person the recognition he or she deserves.

Here's what Anne says:
"Because of my concern for our young people's sense of worth, I’m creating some space in my blog for a competition of sorts. It’s a way of featuring young people out there who are doing fine things with their lives, maybe against all odds—or who love to serve others in some way, large or small—or who have an unusual talent."

For complete information and rules, visit http://annebradshaw.blogspot.com/2007/07/contest.html

There are some fabulous prizes lined up for the winners, so send those entries in and show those youth you care!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

LDStorymakers New Releases Newsletter

This week I'm spotlighting a few new resources in the LDS publishing world that bring authors and readers together. Earlier I mentioned the Whitney Awards. Today I'd like to discuss the LDStorymakers New Releases Newsletter.

The Newsletter is distributed via e-mail. It comes out bimonthly, with full-color images, and it features recently published books written by members of LDStorymakers. Many of your favorite LDS authors are members of this group. Check the bios page of the LDStorymakers website for a current list--we've got quite a group going here! Be sure to scroll all the way down--authors with last names that start with "P," for instance, don't show up until you're well through the list.

One of my favorite parts about the New Releases Newsletter is that upcoming releases are spotlighted (spotlit?) as well. So you get all the juicy information on new books that won't even hit stores for another month or two. Usually you get pictures of the covers as well.

We also include big news items. Our upcoming issue is going to cover the Whitney Awards and the "Spotlight the Youth" contest that is currently running. Previously we covered author Annette Lyon's "Best of State" award. There's always something important going on!

To subscribe to the LDStorymakers New Releases Newsletter, visit www.ldstorymakers.com and click on "New Releases" at the top. You'll be taken to a page with a button to bring you to the subscription page. You can also find us on yahoogroups.com, but I think it's easier to just visit the Storymakers website and click the button. If you're having trouble with any of the links, you can find the LDStorymakers website at www.ldstorymakers.com. Follow the links to the page you want.

There's still time before the next issue comes out, so be sure to join soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Announcing the Whitney Awards!


You've heard of the Pulitzers, the Oscars, the Grammys, the Pearls...now Latter-day Saint fiction has an award all its own : the Whitney Awards! Best of all, you don't have to just hope your favorite book gets nominated. You can submit your own nominations right now.

An online nomination form is available at the Whitney Awards site at www.whitneyawards.com, along with complete rules. I think it's pretty cool. However, while I know everyone is dying to nominate my book Just the Way You Are, only books published in 2007 are eligible for awards.

Send in your nominations!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Seven Tips for Saving Time

Today, as promised, I’m going to share some tips to help you save time in your busy lives. I had a huge response from readers hoping to share their tips; I’ll integrate some of them in here and discuss them as we go.

When you need to chop an onion for a recipe, try chopping the crosshatch pattern on the end of the onion first, before slicing. Then slice off the chopped-up end, and voila! You’ve got chopped onion. It beats slicing it first and then trying to chop up the slices.
--K.T. Parker


Thanks, K.T. I’ll have to give that a try.

Climbing stairs can wear you out if you aren’t in shape, and it can take precious seconds from your day. When you have something in your home that you need to take upstairs (or downstairs), try placing it at the foot of the stairs and taking it with you the next time you need to go that way, rather than making a special trip up or down the stairs just for one little thing.
--Kaytee Pahrkerr


Another excellent idea.

Two words, Katie: audio books.
--K.P.


Actually I think “audiobooks” is often used as one word, but my spell checker doesn’t like it. But yeah, these are great to listen to while you’re doing other things that don’t require your full attention. You can wash dishes or drive to work and “read” at the same time!

It often seems like cleaning up and keeping things organized takes extra time, but it can actually save you time later on. For instance, when you sit down to pay the bills, it can save you time if you already have a clean spot to work in, and if you know where your checkbook and calculator and stamps are.
--Kate E. Parkur


Good point. Sometimes we cut activities in our lives in order to save time, only to pay back double later on. The next comment brings this point home.

One thing to remember is that life isn’t just about saving time. Unimportant things can be cut out, and some tasks can be done more efficiently, but it’s important to recognize the important things and make sure they’re taken care of correctly. What happens if you cut out scripture study or church attendance in order to save time? Or family time? Will that help you make your life more effective?

The point is to make sure there is time for the important things, and use your time that way.
--Cady “Lady” Parkoor

You know, I don’t think I could have said it any better myself.

Finally, here are a couple of other ideas, in case all else fails:

Don't clean your house!! That saves lots of time!
--Tristi Pinkston
LDS Historical Fiction Author
Movie and Media Reviewer
http://www.tristipinkston.com
http://tristipinkston.blogspot.com
http://members.families.com/tristipie/blog



Hey, if we cut out laundry and dishes, we could have all sorts of time!
Erin Klingler
LDS Author
www.erinklingler.com


Very true, ladies. And sometimes, to make room for the important things, we need to do just that. Our families don’t exist for our clean houses; we clean our houses for our families. Sometimes our families need more than just a clean house.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lengthen Your Stride

President Spencer W. Kimball challenged us to "lengthen our stride" in the context of missionary work, but in the context of time management and getting stuff done in general, it still works pretty well.

Here's part of the original quote: “I wonder if we are doing all we can. … Are we prepared to lengthen our stride?” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, p. 5).

So here's the big question to all of us (especially me, I might add): Are we doing all we can? Or are we stopping our own progress by doing less than all we can?

What does it mean to lengthen our stride? It means we keep doing what we're doing, but we do it more effectively. We push ourselves a little harder and take bigger steps.

Once when I was walking home in the frigid Wisconsin winter, I wondered what I might be able to do differently that would get me home sooner. I was so cold, I really couldn't walk any faster. But it occurred to me that if I "lengthened my stride" and just took bigger steps, I'd take fewer of them and I'd theoretically get home faster.

Did it work? Actually, I don't remember. I was so cold that no matter how quick the trip was, it was still too long.

But the idea's still a good one. What can we do in our lives to lengthen our strides? Or, if bigger steps aren't possible, how about taking faster ones? Sometimes improved efficiency is the key. Sometimes we get so caught up in taking our time that we spend too much time on routine tasks that really could be done more quickly.

The real key, though, is to determine what you need to do and then do it. (Another of President Kimball's slogans.) Just do it. Period. I can tell you that I probably need this advice more than anyone else reading this will. It's easy to think big and decide you're going to do something different, but it's a whole 'nother thing to actually make it happen.

I hope you all feel suitably motivated now, because next time I'm discussing some time-saving tips that can help you "quicken your stride." Tips from readers are very welcome. What do you do to save time in the routine things in your life so you have more time for the important things?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Flexible Time

So much for the snappy title. I think one of the hardest things for me to deal with in terms of time management is flexible time. By this I don't mean free time, necessarily. I mean time that I have where I could do a variety of fairly important things, but none of them are pressing.

For example, in terms of taking care of my home, I've determined that washing the dishes and keeping up with the laundry are almost essential on a daily basis. (Yeah, I did say, "almost essential." There are ways around doing these things on a daily basis. But they usually don't end up very pretty.) Beyond that, and making dinner, I have a variety of choices. Do I balance the checkbook? Do I vacuum the floors? Do I clean out closets? Do I weed the garden? Or do I drop everything and go for spending "family time" with someone (preferably someone in the family)?

Well, any of you who have tried to take care of a family, or even just your own room, know that there are millions of choices you could make that fall under the umbrella of "Take care of the House" (or "Take Care of My Room," etc.). And that's where I often get stuck. Sure, everything's important, but I don't have time to do all of it today!

Nor should I have to. But, at the same time, I do need to make some progress or I'll never get anywhere.

The same thing goes for writing a book. Once you've written your quota for the day, what do you do? Do you work on promotional activities? Do you write something else? And if you do write something else, what do you write? Should you work on a new book, or churn out an article in hopes that some magazine will pick it up? Or should you post something to your blog? If you've made a name for yourself as a romance author, but you always wanted to write a fantasy, do you try that? Or do you stick with your romances?

Or do you clean out your closets?

That's where goal setting and prioritizing come in. When you know what's most important to you (and it may change sometimes), you're better equipped to make those choices about how to spend that flexible time.

You might take the Franklin Covey approach, where you divide your activities into broad categories of importance and then order them within the categories. Stephen Covey takes it a step further and uses four "quadrants" of importance. I've learned a lot from these systems, but I think Randy Ingermansen has a point in the article below: When you have too many to-do's on your list, it doesn't matter whether an activity is A29 or B32. You're probably not going to get to it today anyway.

Regardless of what planning style you choose, whether you go for the casual approach advocated in the article posted below, or something more formal like the Franklin Covey system, the goal is to move forward. Get the essentials done, and then do more. Maybe only a little bit more. Sometimes even the essentials won't get finished. That's life. But those days when you can stretch and go beyond the essentials--that's when you're really going to move forward.

(Those time management companies ought to pay me for this.)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Time Management Revisited

As someone who has spent far too much time stressing over her daily task list and whether a particular chore should be prioritized as #21 or #22, or whether it's a "low A" or a "high B" category, I found the following article very helpful. (For a take on my own "Time Mismanagement" system, see my post from May 19, 2005. You can find it in the archives.)

By the way, the following article is pretty long, and I didn't write it. I'm posting it here with permission from the author.

Enjoy!

_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________

Time Management for Writers -- Summary

Randy Ingermanson, Advanced Fiction Writing E-Zine, October 3, 2006, Volume 2, Number 7
I've been talking about time management in this e-zine
for the last several issues because it's important to
me and because I strongly suspect it's important to
many writers too. After all, we're the people who are
saving the world. And saving worlds is a big, big job.

I've laid out a number of ideas in recent articles. Now
I'd like to summarize and synthesize. You'll see that
I've improved on last month's Divide And Conquer method
by adding in an idea from an earlier column.

So here are the things I've been finding useful in
managing my time better:

a) Keep a log of how you spend your time each day. You
can't optimize something unless you can measure it.

b) Spend less of your time and money on things you
VALUE, and spend more of your time and money on
learning SKILLS or buying TOOLS that will make you more
productive.

c) Outsource or delegate stuff, but only when it makes
sense.

d) Make a list of the Big Things you'd like to achieve
in the next year. Put a star next to the ONE thing on
the list that you simply must get done, even if you
achieve none of the rest.

e) Make a list of several things you'd like to achieve
in the next quarter. These can be pieces broken off
from the tasks on your annual list, or they can be
smaller tasks that can be done in one quarter. Put a
star next to the ONE task on the list that you MUST
achieve this quarter.

f) Make a list of the things you'd like to achieve this
month. Again, these can be stepping stones to your
quarterly list, or standalone tasks. Put a star next to
the ONE thing you really insist on getting done this
month.

g) Make a list of things you want to get done this
week. You are clever and will know how to break down
your monthly list as needed. Put a star next to the ONE
thing that had better get done this week at all costs.

h) Make a list of things you want to do today. Put a
star next to the ONE thing that you will bust your gut
to get finished by the end of the day, (even if you get
nothing else done).

i) Every day (and week and month and quarter and year),
MAKE SURE you get the starred task done, even if it's
the ONLY thing that you do. It's nice to do some or all
of the other tasks on the list, but there is only one
that's required and you know which one it is because it
has a star beside it. Whatever else happens, DO THAT
ONE.

k) Whenever you cross a starred item off one of your
lists, decide whether you want to put a star on a
second item, or whether you're done with the heavy
lifting for that time period. It's OK to take a
breather after you accomplish something important.

l) If something happens to change your priorities,
change your lists to reflect them. This may even mean
(heaven forfend!) moving that star to another task.
You're the boss, so you get to decide.

m) At the end of the day, ask yourself two questions:
Did you spend your time well? Did you achieve your
starred item for the day?


If you read last month's column, you'll know that I've
souped up the Divide And Conquer method by adding a
partial prioritization to each list (putting a star on
ONE item). Note that assigning priorities to EVERY item
on a list would be a lot of wasted work and anyway it's
not very accurate. But you generally know what the #1
item is on the list. That's the one that should get the
star.

Here's why this scheme is efficient: It's a whole lot
less work to set one priority than to set 10 or 20.
When things change in your life, it's a lot easier to
reset one priority than 10 or 20. Be lazy! That's how
things get done.

Just so you'll know, I'm eating my own cat food (so to
speak). My list for today has 17 items on it. Of these,
the one with the star is "Write e-zine." The fact that
you are reading this is proof positive that I
succeeded. I've also crossed off 7 of the others. Yes, I
did some of the "lower priority" tasks first -- but
only because I knew they wouldn't interfere with
getting the e-zine out. I also delegated some tasks to
my wife.

If you ever cross off every item on your daily list,
call Oprah. You will have achieved Ultimate Success
and will probably get a book deal out of it. I have
never, ever crossed off every item on my list for the
day.

However, the odds are very good that I'll get
everything on my Annual List done by December 31. And
is that cool or what? Because it's the Big Things that
matter. Life is about selectively ignoring the Little
Things so you can achieve the Big Things you really
wanted to do all along.

This scheme is actually working for me. Some days it
works better than others, but it works. If it works for
you, don't tell me. Just send me large numbers of
unmarked $100 bills, because my Life Goal (achieving
Total World Domination) is going to be expensive. And
tell your friends that I'm responsible for making you
smarter, happier, sexier, and taller.

If it doesn't work for you, then please blame Congress.
They deserve a little recognition now and again.


Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing
E-zine, with more than 5000 readers, every month. If
you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction,
AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing
and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Your Comments--and Some Responses

My family is in the ending phases of PSFR (post-science fair recovery). My son was putting together a very ambitious but very cool science fair project--a robotic cart he could program to move by itself. With the deadline approaching last week, as well as the culmination of several other activities he was involved in at the same time, regular life as we knew it all but ground to a halt.

You'd think kids and their activities wouldn't cause this much trouble.

Nevertheless, we are now once again among the functioning members of society. And I'd like to take this opportunity to address some of the comments I've received that seem to have been piling up.

The first one comes to us from Janette Rallison, author of many fine young adult novels, including her most recent release, It's a Mall World After All: (how's that for a plug, Janette?)

My parents used to give me tomatoes with sugar on them when I was little. Really, I thought that was the only way people ate them. Since then everyone I've talked to about sugar on tomatoes thinks I'm hallucinating. I'm glad to know there is at least one other person on the planet who ate them (or in your case refused to eat them) that way. Janette

My answer: Wow! I never thought I'd come across another person who'd ever eaten tomatoes with sugar! Now let's talk about eating apples with salt...

Our next comment comes to us from Tristi Pinkston, author of LDS historical novels Nothing to Regret and Strength to Endure. She is also a blogger for families.com (which is quite a fun and informative site, by the way).

I was always so ticked off at Mahana's father. Honestly -- how dare he treat her like that?

And Johnny was a cutie. :)


My response: Well, first off, in case you can't tell, that comment was regarding the classic LDS flick Johnny Lingo.

And yes, I thought the way Mahana's father and everyone else treated her was highly disgusting. I could wax serious for a moment and point out that there are many people in the world who are unfortunately abused like this all the time. Verbal and emotional abuse are still as much abuse as physical abuse is. It all hurts.

(end serious aside)

But "Mahana, you ugly!" is such a memorable line. When my seminary students watched it, one of the guys shushed everyone else and told them, "This is the best part," right before the dad said it.

One more thing. Just in case my husband's reading this, I simply cannot agree with you regarding Johnny's cuteness. Besides, he already married some eight-cow chick.

Our last comment comes from Josi Kilpack, author of several LDS novels including Sheep's Clothing, to be released by Deseret Book in May. (Can you tell I edited the LDStorymakers New Release Newsletter last month?)

Josi's comment reads:

So what is it about Utes Gymnastics that has you so obsessive? :-)


My response: Well, it goes back to our poor starving student days when we lived in University of Utah student housing. As students we could get into the gymnastics meets for free. My husband's brother invited us to a meet or two. At first we thought they'd be pretty boring, but actually the Utah meets are really cool. They draw crowds of 10,000+ people, and there's a band and cheerleaders and loud screaming and the whole bit. The Utah gymnastics meets can be a great place to take little kids, because they don't have to be quiet. They can yell for the team and get hyper with the rest of the crowd. And the meets were free for us then. As poor starving students, we were always thrilled to find something we enjoyed that we could do for free.

Anyway, so we started going to all the home meets. It became a family tradition of ours for years...till that fateful day we moved out of the state and away from our gymnastics team.

The nice thing is, we can still see the home meets via live streaming video on the internet. It's not the same as watching in person at the Huntsman Center, but you can at least see what's going on. We can also still follow the team via press releases and newspaper articles released on the internet. And we can "watch" away meets via live scoring on the internet. This means you stare at your computer and watch the scores come in, one by one. (Heavy action, let me tell you.)

I enjoy watching gymnastics; it's an amazing sport. And of course I still love the Utes, and I'm really glad they stepped up and did a great job at regionals. I'll be rooting for them at nationals, via the internet! Go Utes!

That still doesn't explain why I had to check their website fifty times so I could find out where they were going for regionals. I haven't figured that one out myself.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Go Utes!

Well, it is now 5:00 PM and I finally know where the Utah women's gymnastics team is going for regionals. For some reason I thought the announcement would come out this morning. When I didn't see it, I kept checking back...and checking back...and checking back...

So if anyone at the Utes website is wondering who visited their site fifty times today, that would be me.

It's a good thing I don't pay attention to the basketball playoffs, or I'd never get anything done.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Scriptures

I've had the same set of scriptures since I was 11 years old. They saw me through four years of seminary, college, holding small children on my lap during sacrament meeting, family home evening, family scripture study, and now a year of teaching early morning seminary. I think this year really did them in. They went from looking well-loved to, well, pretty junky.

So I finally gave in and ordered myself a beautiful new quad, with my name embossed on the cover. I've been looking forward to having new scriptures, but frankly, I'm almost afraid to touch them. They just arrived at my door about two minutes ago. Rather than dive into them immediately, and start the ominous task of marking them with the years of notes and markings in my old scriptures...well, you can guess what I decided to do instead. My new scriptures are back in their box and I'm hiding out here!

Monday, March 26, 2007

102 Top LDS Books

Here's a list of favorite LDS novels compiled by several LDS authors. The original post can be found at http://www.josikilpack.blogspot.com/.

I can't say that these are the top 102 LDS novels of all time, since it's not compiled from 20 years of sales data or a massive church-wide survey or anything like that. But these guys have picked some good ones. I'm sure that if a more scientifically compiled list existed, many if not all of these books would be on there.

I pride myself on the fact that I've heard of most of these, but unfortunately I haven't read nearly enough of them. I'm boldfacing the ones I have read. Feel free to copy this list to your own blog and indicate the ones you've read yourself. (And don't forget entry #103; see below.) If you're looking for some great LDS books to read, here's a bunch of 'em!

1) A Heartbeat Away—Rachel Ann Nunes
2) Almost Sisters—Nancy Anderson, Lael J. Littke
and Carroll H. Morris (I haven't read this one yet, but I bought it this weekend)
3) Angels Don't Knock—Dan Yates
4) An Old Fashioned Romance—Marcia Lynn McClure
5) A Question of Consequence—Gordon Ryan
6) Ariana: The Making of a Queen—Rachel Ann Nunes
7) As the Ward Turns—Joni Hilton
8) At the Journey’s End—Annette Lyon
9) Baptists at Our Barbecue—Robert Farrell Smith
10) Charly—Jack Weyland
11) Charley’s Monument—Blaine M. Yorgason

12) Chickens in the Headlights—Matthew Buckley
13) Children of the Promise, Vol 1: Rumors of War—
Dean Hughes
14) Children of the Promise, Vol 2: Since You Were Gone—
Dean Hughes
15) Come Armageddon—Anne Perry
16) Daughter of a King—Rachel Ann Nunes (picture book)
17) Dead on Arrival--Jeffrey Savage
18) Double Cross--Betsy Brannon Green
19) Dusty Britches—Marcia Lynn McClure
20) Emeralds and Espionage—Lynn Gardner
21) Escaping the Shadows—Lisa J. Peck
22) Fablehaven—Brandon Mull
23) False Pretenses—Carole Thayne
24) Faraway Child—Amy Maida Wadsworth
(I really enjoyed this one)
25) Fire of the Covenant—Gerald Lund
26) First Love and Forever—Anita Stansfield
27) Flowers of the Winds--Dorothy Keddington
28) Ghost of a Chance—Kerry Blair
29) Gustavia Browne—Alene Roberts
30) Jimmy Fincher Saga Vol. 4: War of the Black Curtain—
James Dashner
(my son LOVES the Jimmy Fincher books)
31) House on the Hill—Annette Lyon
32) House of Secrets—Jeff Savage
33) House on the Sound—Marilyn Brown
34) In a Dry Land—Elizabeth Petty Bentley
35) Lifted Up—Guy Morgan Galli
36) Love Beyond Time—Nancy Campbell Allen
37) Mary & Elisabeth—S. Kent Brown (Non-fiction)
38) MaCady—Jennie Hansen
39) Molly Mormon—Tamara Norton

40) Mummy's the Word—Kerry Blair
41) My Body Fell Off—BJ Rowley
42) My Not So Fairy Tale Life—Julie Wright (I really loved this one)
43) No Longer Strangers—Rachel Nunes
44) Nothing to Regret—Tristi Pinkston
45) On a Whim—Lisa McKendrick
46) On Second Thought—Robison Wells
47) On the Edge--Julie Coulter Bellon
48) One in Thine Hand—Gerald Lund
49) One Tattered Angel—Blaine M. Yorgason
50) Out of Jerusalem 1 (Of Goodly Parents)—H.B. Moore
51) Out of Jerusalem 2 (A Light in the Wilderness) —H. B. Moore
52) Out of Jerusalem 3 (Towards the Promised Land)—
H. B. Moore
53) The Peacegiver—James L. Ferrell
54) Pillar of Fire—David Woolley
55) Poison—Betsy Brannon Green
56) Prodigal Journey—Linda Paulson Adams (this is a good one)
57) Pursuit of Justice—Willard Boyd Gardner
58) Return to Red Castle—Dorothy Keddington
59) Race Against Time—Willard Boyd Gardner
60) Sarah—Orson Scott Card
61) Saints—Orson Scott Card
62) Sixteen In No Time—BJ Rowley
63) Spies, Lies and a Pair of Ties—Sheralyn Pratt
64) Standing on the Promises Vol 1: One More River to Cross
--Margaret Young and Darius Gray
65) Strength to Endure—Tristi Pinkston
66) Surprising Marcus—Donald S. Smurthwaite
67) Tathea—Anne Perry (actually I only read part of it--does that count?)
68) Tempest Tossed—Josi S. Kilpack (excellent)
69) Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites—Chris Heimerdinger
70) The Alliance—Gerald Lund (on my to-read list)
71) The Book of Mormon—Nephi thru Moroni (non-fiction)
72) The Believer—Stephanie Black
73) The Coming of Elijiah—Arianne Cope
74) The Counterfeit—Robison Wells
75) The Emerald--Jennie Hansen
76) The First year—Crystal Liechty (reading it right now; very fun)
77) The Fragrance of Her Name—Marcia Lynn McClure
78) The Killing of Greybird—Eric Swedin
79) The Last Days, Vol. 1: The Gathering Storm—
Kenneth R. Tarr
80) The Last Promise—Richard Paul Evans
81) The Looking Glass—Richard Paul Evans
82) The Miracle of Miss Willie—Alma J. Yates
83) The Single Heart—Melinda Jennings
84) The Visions of Ransom Lake—Marcia Lynn McClure
85) The Work and the Glory Vol 1—Gerald Lund
86) The Work and the Glory Vol 2—Gerald Lund
87) The Work and the Glory Vol 3—Gerald Lund
88) The Work and the Glory Vol 4—Gerald Lund
89) The Work and the Glory Vol 5—Gerald Lund
90) The Work and the Glory Vol 6—Gerald Lund
91) The Work and the Glory Vol 7—Gerald Lund
92) The Work and the Glory Vol 8—Gerald Lund

93) This Just In—Kerry Blair
94) Time Riders—Sierra St. James
95) Time Will Tell by Julie Coulter Bellon
96) To Echo the Past—Marcia Lynn McClure
97) To Have or To Hold—Josi S. Kilpack
98) Towers of Brierley, Anita Stansfield
99) Twelve Sisters—Leslie Hedley
100) Unsung Lullaby—Josi S. Kilpack
101) Wake Me When it’s over—Robison Wells
102) Winter Fire—Rachel Ann Nunes

And, my personal addition to the list:

103) Just The Way You Are--Katie Parker :-) :-) :-)

Happy reading, everyone!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Vote for Nauvoo!

This link was forwarded to me, and I thought I'd pass it along to you all:

http://www.enjoyillinois.com/sevenwonders/western.html

Apparently the state of Illinois is designating "Seven Wonders" for their state, and if you go to this link you can vote for Nauvoo as one of them.

The restoration done at Nauvoo is truly a wonder, and people of all faiths should find the site and interesting and inspirational place to visit. It's a great slice of our pioneer heritage, and what the settlers accomplished here in a few short years is simply amazing. It would be great for the area to get some extra recognition and publicity.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Seminary: A Memorable Day

Early morning seminary teachers have certain responsibilities. One of these is to study the scriptures and prepare engaging lessons every single school day. Another is to drag themselves out of bed at 4:50 AM so they can get to church and set up before the students arrive at 5:50. And yet another would be to bring their keys to the church and unlock the doors so the students can all assemble inside.

I just started teaching early morning seminary in our ward this fall. So far I've done pretty well in carrying out these responsibilities, I think--well, except for a few days ago when somehow my alarm was set for 7:30 instead of 4:50. Mercifully, my eyes snapped open at 5:18 and I managed to be out the door about 15 minutes later. So that worked out okay. But today...well, today was a memorable day.

It all started this morning when I forgot my church keys. And, of course, I didn't figure out that I had done this until I arrived at church. (In case you're wondering, I did actually used to have all my keys on one chain. But because heavy keychains are not good for car ignitions, I divided mine up. Smart move.)

It is not a happy thing to be standing outside your car in the church parking lot in the middle of the night in subzero temperatures feeling really stupid that you left your church keys at home. You might spend several minutes searching every possible bag you brought, every coat pocket, and crevice in your car, just in case you really weren't that stupid--maybe you really did bring your keys and you only stuck them someplace stupid. Besides, you have nothing else to do while you stand in the parking lot in subzero weather. You can't get into the church.

I considered driving home and getting my keys, but the students would arrive before I could come back. Since I didn't have a good way of leaving a note for them, they'd wonder whether I was even coming, or if they were supposed to stay, or leave, or what. So this wasn't a good option (even though I suspected that several of them would just take the opportunity to leave). So I just waited for the students to arrive; a couple of them had valiant parents who drove them to seminary every morning and would hopefully arrive complete with church keys.

Sure enough, the students arrived, and we were in. But that was only the first hurdle. We were in the church, all right, but the only people who had keys to the seminary closet were me and the home study teacher. And the home study teacher wasn't there. To top it all off, in a stroke of brilliance, yesterday I had left the supplies for today's lesson in the closet and locked the door. So....

Well, to make a long story short, it's amazing how you can spend hours studying and preparing perfect lessons, but that doesn't impact your students the way a day like today did. I couldn't get into the seminary closet, but I could get into the library. So I pulled out the TV and VCR and--at the suggestion of the students--we watched "Johnny Lingo." It's so old and cheesy and delightfully quotable. ("Mahana! You ugly!") Despite this, it still has a great message regarding the worth of souls and how treating people kindly helps them reach their potentials.

I am not sure the students cared much about the message, even though after the video they were going around talking about how many cows they were worth. But ten years from now, like it or not, what seminary lessons are they going to remember? Are they going to remember our endless discussions on the law of consecration or the importance of building up Zion? They may vaguely remember some of the concepts, but I doubt they'll remember the specific lessons. (For that matter, even I don't remember too many specific lessons we've had.)

What they'll remember is the day that Sister Parker forgot her church keys so she let them watch "Johnny Lingo" instead of having the lesson she'd prepared because it was locked in the closet. I'll remember how they paid remarkably close attention--probably watching for cheesy lines to laugh at, but they paid attention just the same. I hope they'll remember something of the message of the film. But they're most likely to remember the disorganization of the day, and the fun and (dare I say it) bonding that ensued as we made the best of things. That can't be all bad.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Explaining What I Didn't Explain Last Time

I've been informed that I need to explain a few things--namely, what's this "Tag, You're It" business? (If you don't understand this, you probably didn't understand much of my last entry. Sorry.) Well, about a week ago, a member of LDStorymakers wrote a blog entry that "tagged" several people. These people, also bloggers, then had to tell five things about themselves in their own blogs that no one knew, and then "tag" five more people to write in their blogs. And these people had to tag five more people, and so on, and so on... I don't know who started it, but things got pretty crazy among many of your favorite LDS authors for a few days there as they were all busily "tagging" each other.

I haven't gotten around to issuing any of my "tags" yet, though. But you know what? Things calm down a lot when you put an end to them...;-)

In case you want to read some of the other LDStorymaker blog entries, here are some links:

http://sixldswriters.blogspot.com/--"Six LDS Writers and a Frog"
http://www.annettelyon.blogspot.com/--Annette Lyon
http://janette-rallison.blogspot.com/--Janette Rallison
http://mywriterslair.blogspot.com/--H.B. Moore
http://a-bad-hair-life.livejournal.com/--Tamra Norton
http://www.juliewright.com/blog.html--Julie Wright

These are only a few of them; I'll try to post more later. In the meantime, enjoy!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged! My friend and fellow LDStorymaker Annette Lyon tagged me on her blog. (See http://www.annettelyon.blogspot.com/.) This was after she got tagged by a couple of other LDStorymakers on *their* blogs, and...well, unfortunately I think we're about out of LDStorymakers with blogs, so I'm going to have to branch out a little if I'm going to tag anyone.

But first, I have to tell five things about myself that most people don't know. This could be tricky. There are things about me that even I don't know.

Here goes...

1) I don't know how to ride a bike. Not really. My parents never got me one when I was little. When I was older, they bought me a junky unappealing bike at a yard sale that I wasn't too interested in riding. Then they didn't show me how to ride it. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Oh, yeah, and there might be that little part in there about me being uncoordinated as all get-out. I have tried a few times through the years to learn how--I tried to teach myself when I was in grade school, but wouldn't let go of the side of the house. My little sister tried to teach me after I graduated from high school. My boyfriend tried to teach me in college. (His assessment of the situation was, "You have no sense of balance.") A few years later, after I married him anyway, I tried practicing late at night when we were living in student housing. Enough people talked to me about it later ("I saw you trying to ride a bike last night") that I didn't do it again.

A few years later, our son took me to the church parking lot and tried to give me pointers. But hey--last summer I even made it all the way down the block and around the corner. I was so proud of myself that I quit right then.

2) The last thing was so long, I think it should count for #2 also.

3) And #3.

4) I don't like tomatoes much. Actually, they're great in salsa, and really I can tolerate them just fine otherwise, but I still don't particularly appreciate them in my salads or on hamburgers.

When I was a kid I refused to eat them at all. My mom, apparently distressed about this, told me that sometimes little girls liked to eat tomatoes with sugar on them. I agreed to give it a try. So, next time we had tomatoes, Mom cut some up special just for me. As she brought them to me, she said, "I've got some tomatoes and sugar with your name on them."

Well, I looked and looked, and I did not see my name anywhere on those tomatoes. I couldn't eat them, of course, because I might eat the part with my name. Finally I gave up and asked my mom where my name was. Of course she thought this was very funny, and she explained that she just meant that the tomatoes were for me, not that my name was really on them.

After that, those stupid tomatoes just didn't taste very good anyway.

5) I still keep track of the University of Utah women's gymnastics team, even though we've moved to Wisconsin and I've completely missed attending any meets for the last two seasons. Go Utes!

Okay, now for my victims...

Well, now I'm supposed to tag five people with blogs. But most of my friends with blogs (mostly LDStorymakers) have already been tagged, darn it! I have a couple of other friends I'd like to tag, but since their blogs are geared towards close friends and family, I'll ask them before I link to their sites here for the world to see. Meanwhile, if you'd like to be tagged, hey, leave a comment and I'll add your site to my "tagged list" here! TAG! YOU'RE IT!!

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