October 12, 2017

Winner Winner

My essay "Aviophobia" won first place in the 2017 Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay Contest! You may read it here.



Finally, my habit of oversharing has paid off.

Speaking of, my essay about spiritual healing in the face of heartbreak, "The Gifts of a Broken Heart," appears in the October 2017 ENSIGN. Some have wondered why I didn't allow the infamous ghostwriter Name Withheld to author this piece, and while that would have been easier in some ways, I'm not ashamed of my experience and wouldn't want any readers going through similar problems to feel that they ought to be embarrassed too. Enjoy . . . ?

October 10, 2017

Halloween Picture Books, Southern Style

Living in the South now, I rely on holiday books more than ever to know what season it really is.



So it's been two years since I looked at this blog. In that time, I moved from downtown Salt Lake City, to my parents' basement, to a tiny condo overlooking the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to a quiet house in Denton County, Texas, overlooking . . . mosquitos. And squirrels. It feels good to be able to breathe again, and blog again, even if I'm covered in bug bites as I type.

My daughter isn't a toddler anymore, so her tastes in Halloween books have grown up a little, but mine haven't. These (mostly) aren't new, but they are great.









Plus, guys, this is not a Halloween book but my favorite picture book EVAH. How did I miss this one until now? I didn't know Mo Willems had THIS kind of story in him. One of my favorite illustrators too. Maybe I like this one because we keep moving across the country and saying goodbye and hello to friends.


Enjoy fall, all you all. (I can't skip straight to y'all. I haven't been here long enough.)

June 23, 2015

How to Write 10k a Day in 3 Easy Steps! And a Shout Out to Mentors

Thank you, LDStorymakers, for alerting me to this.

And thank you, Bree, for taking time to teach me this and this.

Study and apply all three, and you'll soon be writing 10,000* a day, even when you are in the middle of packing boxes, keeping preschooler from climbing box mountain out the fourth-story window, and navigating the general chaos of moving from 1,000 square feet into 600ish.

The writing community and conferences are so inspiring and supportive here in my home state. Thank you, all! It's been a long time since I've felt this peaceful with my creative pursuits, slow as they may be.

What conferences have you attended and found helpful in recent history? I loved LDStorymakers and WIFYR this year (more about that later), and now I'm looking forward to WriteOnCon, assuming it's happening again in August. Hope to see you there!

*This author meant 10k words a day, but I'm counting 10k characters, including spaces, as a huge success here. And "a day" to me is a loose guideline . . . I mean, with God, 1,000 years might be a day, right?

May 17, 2015

Pressure to Be Creative

I've been reading some books bashing compulsory education. Ever read any John Holt? If so, please speaketh up. I would love to know what you think. I'm torn between unschooling and this.

In my quest to understand formal education bashing, I recently read a book called FREE TO LEARN by Peter Gray and learned instead why I haven't finished writing another book I like yet.

He says:
Pressure to be creative interferes with creativity. . . .
In an experiment . . . , young children were asked to produce collages, which were then assessed for creativity by a panel of judges. Before producing the collage, some of the children were put into a playful mood by allowing them 25 minutes of free play with salt dough. The other children spent that 25-minute period at a non playful task, copying text. The result was that those in the play condition made collages that were judged to be significantly more creative than did those in the non play condition.
In another experiment, college students who had to solve problems creatively got to watch a comedy film for five minutes before being presented the problem. The ones who saw the comedy solved the problem while ones who watched a movie about math or no movie at all could not. Only 5 minutes of watching something silly prepared their minds to see a problem from a new angle.

So send me all your funniest YouTube clips. I have a lot of problem solving to do.

April 19, 2015

Books I'm Thinking About Reading to Rick

The Utah lit community is bummed my old mentor Rick Walton has had a rough battle with a brain tumor. Pretty much every single one of us Utah kid lit people can call Rick a mentor, and that is no small number. He kept me on as an "intern" and class assistant when I was a total flaky basket case, which is more than I can say for my other job during that time I was struggling with anxiety, hormonal craziness, and a million food allergies --- all without knowing it. I have leveled out since then but will never forget Rick's kindness when I was a little out of whack. He's generous beyond description and sees the potential in even the weirdest of us.

Many have been coming up with ways to rally around Rick the way he's always been supportive of us. Besides the usual GoFundMe option, some are thinking of filming ourselves reading favorite picture books and sending the videos along to help occupy his time during the wee hours we can't visit. (Or all the hours we can't visit since we have three-year-olds who are afraid of hospitals, even when it's Grandpa wearing the stylish gown.)

Rick, you've probably already read every book under the sun, or written them, or critiqued them before they were published. Here are a few that are close to my heart.

October 19, 2014

The Death of Blogging

In skimming my blogroll, it seems a lot of people are abandoning their writing blogs. I sort of am lately. There's not that much to say about writing when I'm not writing much besides the anonymous things I scribble for a weekly paycheck.

If you're reading this, what do you look for in a blog? What blogs do you keep up with and why? 

September 3, 2014

A Successful Query Letter

After taking Elana Johnson's query writing class at WIFYR in summer 2013, I had a 100 percent success rate at getting requests for my full manuscript for the rest of the year. My secret? Writing the query in the voice of my character and then changing it back to third-person. No other tip has helped me nail the tone of a query letter better. I also really appreciated the reminder that everything mentioned in your query should have happened in the first 50 pages of your novel---character goal established, conflict established, nemesis introduced. Thanks, Elana!

July 7, 2014

"Energy Profiling" and Creativity

MICHELLE! You won my 2-book pack last post. Sorry I forgot to tell you. Contact me and I'll get it to you, if you still want it.

Lately I've been looking into Carol Tuttle's energy profiling system. Anyone familiar with that?

I can't decide if it's "true" or just another trendy philosophy (because, according to Carol's energy profiling system, type 2s are always skeptical). But learning more about it has validated the possibility that some writers are just slow by nature and that's okay. It may even be a strength to take time to absorb all the details. You can check out her philosophy in depth here.

At the very least, I'm glad I looked into yet another person-categorizing-system because I think it will help me understand the characters I write better.

Anyone into personality-typing tests? Why or why not?

May 30, 2014

(Non)Fiction Friday again: SPARK

I finished another library book! I haven't read two books in a month since college. I'm on a roll here. It's because my doctor told me I'm so stressed out I need to find ways to relax. That means more reading.

I read a memoir, SPARK: A MOTHER'S STORY OF NURTURING, GENIUS, AND AUTISM. The author pulled her son out of early intervention and decided that if so-called "normal" children are allowed to just be kids and do what they enjoy, so could her severely autistic child, even if the things he enjoyed seemed weird to everyone else. While she let him stare at light and shadows on the wall instead of sending him to therapy, he was teaching himself how to read, memorizing the United States road atlas, and figuring out advanced physics.

I love child-prodigy stories because it makes me wonder what all our brains could be capable of if they were wired just a little differently.

May 23, 2014

FICTION FRIDAY: Books I'm excited to finish . . . and a contest

I have a bad habit. I keep requesting books from the library. And when they come in, I have to drop what I was reading before so I can finish the library book before I start accruing fines. This means I currently have bookmarks in all of the following half-read books:

THE SHADOW PRINCE by Bree Despain
ICEFALL by Matt Kirby
CONVERSION by Elizabeth Ann Freeman
THE LOST LANGUAGE OF SYMBOLISM by Alonzo Gaskill
WAITING by Carol Lynch Williams
MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool
ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

It's an illness.