February 27, 2020

Hello, Old Crooked House!


This picture looks all shadowy because I took it on my cell phone, but the history of the house is shadowy too so I'll say my bad photography skills (maybe bad art skills too) are symbolic here.

In 1856, my great-great-great grandma sailed on a steamer from England, rode on a train to the Midwest, pulled a handcart to the Rocky Mountains, and is rumored to have moved into this house, which was just a log cabin at the time. My grandpa was raised in the same tiny house along with six siblings. One of his sisters, Helen, had to live in a chicken coop in the backyard to quarantine her from the family when she got tuberculosis.

A few years ago, the little family homestead came up for sale and a real estate agent friend offered to show the six remaining siblings around. I followed them from room to empty room and wondered why the air felt so thick, almost like the place were still packed with boisterous teenagers and a million grandkids opening Grandma's handmade knitted Christmas gifts.

February 24, 2020

Breathing at the Bottom of a Lake

One of my earliest memories is riding through a quiet town called Keetley with my parents. "We're driving through the bottom of a lake right now!" my dad told me. Keetley was doomed to wind up beneath Jordanelle Reservoir once the dam was finished.



February 21, 2018

I Spent Valentine's Day with My First Love

The winter Olympics!!

I think one reason I'm a writer is so I can revisit all the roles I coulda-woulda-shoulda had in life. I began watching winter Olympics in 1988 and was at an impressionable age when, due to changing of schedules, we got to have winter Olympics in 1992 AND 1994. Which is sort of like having Christmas in December AND July.

I wanted to be Bonnie Blair. Alas, I lived in a place without access to ice or coaches or, you know, money. So I took to running laps in my basement in case it would help.

My family ended up moving. That SAME YEAR, Salt Lake City won the 2002 Olympic bid.


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 . . . ?

April 19, 2015

Books I'm Thinking About Reading to Rick

The Utah lit community is heartbroken that 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, digestive issues, and wonky sleep, all because of a million food allergies I didn't know I had. I have leveled out since figuring out my diet 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.

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.

September 24, 2013

An Hour a Day

Here are the top five things I've been advised by various people over the years to do for one hour a day if I want to see success:

1.) Write.
2.) Read.
3.) Study scriptures and/or meditate.
4.) Exercise.
5.) Research vacation destinations.

I'm the one who said that last one. And I'm the only person whose advice I've followed so far.

September 20, 2013

Ghost Stories

Rumor has it that ghost stories are going out--too hard to sell these days, fading in popularity with all the vampires and werewolves and mermaids. Bummer. I don't think ghosts got enough airtime.

Do you like ghost stories? Which ones?

August 28, 2013

When Writing Means Pityriasis Rosea

Last week I met a new writer friend for ice cream at Hatch Family Chocolates. She's just getting into the madness, and she said, "How do you make writing time happen when you have a little one at home and you freelance edit?"

And I said, " . . . ?"

August 23, 2013

Who Needs a Plot? Or Seeing Beauty in the Ordinary

Most (American) writers and readers can recognize a good fiction narrative structure as including these vital components: inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.

I would argue that Lydia Minatoya's THE STRANGENESS OF BEAUTY doesn't have that pattern, at least not in the way I'm used to seeing. The main character doesn't have a clearly defined goal she pursues with dogged focus. The antagonism she experiences is subtle. And I can't pinpoint why or how she succeeds by the book's end.

August 19, 2013

Interview with a Painter

Today's creative person is painter Paige Anderson. On her website, she describes the inspiration behind her work this way:
My most recent project represents what I have found while discovering my ancestry: repetition, consistency, veiled connections, endless succession, commitment, diligence, and duty. . . . Methodical processes also underscore the connection my work has to traditional women’s work—like quilting—as well as daily family rituals, ceremony and pursuing genealogical research. The use of patterns and layers references the process of uncovering our ancestry and regaining connections to our progenitors.