Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Promise of His Birth

I recently watched an interview of one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, and among all of her many quotable gems came this one in the middle of a discussion about revision:

The first sentence makes a promise the rest of the book will keep. The first paragraph enlarges that promise.

If we think about the entry of Jesus Christ into this teeming world of humanity in that way, what did the elements of his entry--the first sentence and paragraph of his life, so to speak--promise the viewer at that time, and the reader in our time?

A humble event in a tucked away corner of the world promised greatness to come, for all good stories show a wonderful character arc and what could be more of a change than a babe wrapped in poor rags ascending to the right hand of God?

A beaming new star promised sights never before seen, and indeed, Christ went on to perform miracles that were unimaginable--feeding thousands from a few fish, a small amount of bread, and a little wine; healing lepers, the blind, the crippled, the possessed at a single touch or word; and even raising the dead. 

Angelic choirs promised heavenly sounds never before heard, and how else would you describe the parables and teachings that followed? So many of God's children had turned a deaf ear to His call until Christ came. His voice opened the ears of the deaf so that they could, once again, sense the celestial music of truth.

Humble shepherds promised a multitude of followers and disciples, not the least of which would be the apostles He, Himself would select in order to organize His kingdom on earth.

Wise men promised the wealth of the earth laid at his feet--by rich men willing to give it all up for the pearl of great price . . . and by Satan, anxious to stop His ministry before it had hardly begun.

And a wicked king intent on destroying any and all possible heirs to his throne promised other rulers--rulers who would, in the end, see Him hung upon a cross in order to do away with the meddlesome rabble rouser. 

Little did they know that by killing Him, they would give birth to His story's sequel. 

And so, as in all great literature, the promise continues.

I wish you all peace, love, and joy as we enter into this Christmas season. May we keep His promise alive.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November A Month of Gratitude

For my first blog post on Mommy Authors I will list the things I am thankful for. Huge blessings come every day and I will never be able to express enough gratitude for the Lord's tender care.

 #1 I am grateful my daughter Serena found a new Neuro Oncologist whose philosophy and practice is integrative and include Naturopathic, holistic methods of treatment that blends with the therapy and supplements she has already been on since the beginning of her diagnosis with cancer: a Stage III astrocytoma-glioma (brain tumor)
#2 I am grateful that my son and his family were untouched by hurricane Sandy as they live in New York. 
#3 I am thankful for so many authors who support Writers Unite to Fight Cancer and came to the book event  to help raise money for my daughter's cancer treatment. We have so many new friends and feel surrounding by loving support.
#4 I am glad to have the Sabbath Day to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and his infinite atonement. I am happy to live in these latter days when the gospel is available in its fullness.
#5  I appreciate a car that runs so I go visit my daughter from time to time and go other places I need to be. 
#6 I am thankful to live in this wonderful free country where we are allowed to vote and choose our leaders.
#7 I'm thankful for my sweet little companion - Pepito, my 4 pound teacup chihuahua.
#8 I love my immediate and extended family members who are so kind and supportive of one another.
#9 I am blessed with an intact apartment when I arrive home - a sturdy roof over my head.
#10 I am grateful for independent bookstores who allow Indy authors to hold fundraising and signing events. 
#11 I am thankful for all the men and women who have sacrificed to serve our country and keep it the land of the free, as well as assist others throughout the world in need of protection.
#12 Technology is wonderful. I'm so glad I can see and speak with my granddaughters that live clear across the united states using computer applications. I miss them so much, and being able to stay in touch is the next best thing to being there.
#13 I am grateful for freedom of speech. I can say and write those things I am passionate about without censure.
#14 Music is the breath of life - I love music. I am glad I can sing, play, listen, and participate with others in making a joyful noise. I am grateful for composers over the ages that had scribed melodious renditions. 
#15 I am awed by natures harmonious gifts every day - the songs of birds, the babble of brooks, the patter of rain, peace. 
#16 I am thankful for temples and that I have the privilege to attend one so close by. I am grateful for sealing power so that Families Can Be Together Forever.
#17 I am grateful for kind and helpful friends and neighbors.
#18 I am thankful for advanced technology that allowed and continues to support my brother, Jan before and after his heart transplant.
#19 I am thankful for my brother Eldon and his super wife Carol who live near my mother and bless her life with grandchildren to visit and priesthood when needed.
#20 I am relieved and blessed that my sister Maria lives with and takes care of my mother.
#21 I love my sister, Nella and am glad her daughter is happily married in the temple with a child and her son is faithfully serving a mission in Washington state. She is an example to other single mothers.
#22 I am thankful that we as a nation take a day to celebrate our bounty and remember from where it comes. Happy Thanksgiving!
#23 I am grateful for being raised in the church by good parents who taught me so many needful things including a love for music, a love for reading, a love for education, a love for farming, a love of preparedness, a love of genealogy.  I miss my father since he passed away, but know he is watching over all of his children and grandchildren from above.
#24 I am thankful for my favorite time of year - when the weather is mild and comfortable here in Mesa, Arizona.
#25 I am thankful for my brother, Brannick on his birthday. I am also thankful we can celebrate the birth of Christ in one month - God So Loved the World that He Gave His Only Begotten Son.
#26 I am grateful that Serena's partner Shannon is so loving, thought, talented and supportive.
#27 I am thankful that Laura is a stay-at-home mother who raises my granddaughters in the loving manner I wish I could have done for my children. She is the best wife for Kevin, talented and supportive. She comes from a great family who are the in-laws you dream for.
#28 I am grateful for the rule of law. I am also thankful for the right to dispute photo radar pictures.
#29 I am thankful for this season of the year when hearts are softened and people are more charitable. I am also grateful for those who serve others every day of the year whether it's Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, or just another day we are able to breathe upon the earth God created for us.
#30 TGIF.  This comes once a week - 52 times a year. Yeah!
I hope that all of us will take time to thank our Father in Heaven for our numerous blessings. 
Margaret Larsen Turley, Administrator of Writers Unite to Fight Cancer (all published authors are invited to join.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


So it's November and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I think November is one of those months that gets mowed over in our haste to buy everything for Christmas. The stores go straight from Halloween costumes for prostitots, to advertizing great Christmas buys you MUST have or die.

I feel badly for Thanksgiving. Maybe it's the generation (or I'm just getting old and un-cool) but people seem to feel as if they are entitled to everything. They lay claim to buildings not theirs by tagging. They line of for free healthcare, food, gifts and countless other gratis goodies. Their hands are out for free toys and easy money.

But where is the gratitude?

When you think about it, we have so MUCH! My children have never known a day of hunger they didn't choose to inflict on themselves. They get a free education clear up to high school and sometimes through college. We have not just one car, but a couple of them. (Granted they don't run well and need fixing, but they have gotten us where we needed to go.) We have a house which isn't cardboard and has running water, along with a flush toilet. We have time for facebook and hobbies. We have some of the best doctors and hospitals in the world. We have places of matchless beauty. We can worship how we will. We have the freedom to vote and to travel wherever we want to go, to bear arms, to speak freely, and to peaceably assemble. The blessings are endless.

Perhaps when we are being grumpy about the check book not lining up or that we have to wait in line at the checkout stand, we can think of those people who don't have any of these things. We can ponder what it's like to have to run a half a mile under gunfire to the phone to find out if a loved one made it out of surgery. We can thank God for making this fabulous world full of interesting mysteries, natural wonders full of peerless, beautiful, intricate detail, animals in prodigious varieties, and an ever-changing kaleidoscope of people and cultures.

It's time to look beyond ourselves and make life better for someone else. Instead of running down to the mall for the unbelievably early Black Friday sale (which they're now having on Thanksgiving...BOO!) go do something nice for someone else. Don't just say you're thankful for something and quit there. Show it. That is my goal for this Thanksgiving. I'm going to be thankful.
By Heidi Murphy

Monday, November 19, 2012


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about my blessings a lot lately. I’ve decided that one of the things I am most grateful for is the fact that I’ve been able to travel a lot throughout my life.

There are a couple of different reasons for this. 1) I love seeing new places, 2) I think it’s important to see different cultures and perspectives in order to build charity and understanding for all of God’s children, and 3) each new place I see helps with my writing. I’m able to see new places that I can describe with authority, and they always, without fail, spark my imagination in a new way.

Obviously, you don’t have to travel in order to be an author. I get a lot of my inspiration from home too. It helps that I live in the Northwest, and it’s the most beautiful, most special, most amazing place on Earth, but you can always write straight from your imagination, even if you don’t live in Oregon or if you can’t or don’t want to travel.

But for me, travel has been imperative in developing my talents as a writer, and I’m very blessed to have had the opportunity to visit many wonderful places in my life. This month, I thought I’d share a list of just a few of my favorite spots, all of which have either intrigued my imagination, inspired settings for my stories, or helped me develop plots and characters in some way.  

#1: Albany River Rhythms

Albany, Oregon hosts outdoor concerts along the banks of the Willamette River every summer. Oregon in general is a great place to people-watch, but it was at this particular concert that I was inspired to write one of the stories in my first novel, The First Year.

#2: Oahu 
My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii this last summer (June 2012). It was a really fun trip, but I ended up writing a story about one of the more negative experiences we had there: kayaking. I wouldn’t have been able to write about it though unless I had experienced it, and I think I was able to adequately describe what it felt like to be out on the waves for the first time consequently.   

#3: Opal Creek

Words cannot describe the beauty of this place. Oh, and that’s my husband! We went backpacking together, and then I spent the morning writing on a large rock that overlooked crystal-clear water, while Josh froze his feet off wading. I was able to capture the spirit of the woods a lot better than if I had written this particular scene from the comfort of my own home.

I know that the more you reach out and try to understand the world outside yourself, the more lives you will be able to touch through your writing. Reading about other places can help you understand the universal condition of the human spirit, but it’s even better to go to those places.  

I’ve been to England, Scotland, Yellowstone, Disneyland, Southern Utah, Florida, Washington DC, Virginia, Seattle, and all sorts of other wonderful places so far. I’ve had so many great experiences, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to travel. I really believe it’s helped me be a better writer and a better person, and I want it to always be a part of my life.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Long Haul

This summer, we moved across the country into a house with a large basement. Between all of my responsibilities--family, church, and an extensive contracted writing project--I managed to get the main house livable in a matter of weeks. The basement was another story.

But this week, with holidays approaching, and with relatives and other visitors coming to stay who will want tours of our new place, I felt like it was time to tackle the basement. I knew it would be a huge job, and I knew that, due to circumstances and timing, I'd be doing it all by myself. I set aside time Tuesday afternoon and all day yesterday, and I got after it. 

Picture this: a dark, unfinished space, about 20 feet by 20 feet, with a concrete floor. Evidence of recent rat infestation. (We have a contract with a pest control company, but we are battling a situation that apparently has been going on for years.) And boxes. At least one hundred. Filled with winter clothes, sports equipment, camping gear, tools, holiday decorations, baby gear I can't give up yet, and lots and lots of memorabilia and keepsakes.

My goal was to finish the purging I started before the move, organize everything else, and to make the space as inviting as possible. Our exercise equipment is down there, and there's a workshop space, so the room needs to be usable. And I wanted things like Christmas decorations and sleeping bags to be readily accessible, yet out of the way.

I got to work. I sorted, I stashed, and I stacked. I hauled and shelved and swept. I checked my hair and the back of my neck for spiders frequently. The result, as of dinnertime last night? Fifteen huge, black garbage bags filled, twenty stacks of flattened, tied-up cardboard sitting out for the recyclers, and a driveway chock full and waiting for the veterans' donation truck. And a pristine basement with the remaining boxes neatly stacked and labeled, the treadmill and the rowing machine ready to go, and a workshop area that is tidy and waiting for the next Pinewood Derby car. 

I didn't give up--not even when I wanted to, which was only about every 20 minutes. The worst bit was when I was about two-thirds of the way through. That's when everything was at its messiest, the novelty had long since worn off, and I was hot, thirsty, filthy, and starting to ache. 

As I sat on the cement--surrounded by the detritus of eight lives, tempted to light a match to it all--the parallels to writing long-form fiction struck me. It's about at the 66% point that I want to give up on my novels, too. The great premise that so excited me at the beginning feels stale; I know my characters well enough that they start to annoy me; and the prospect of tying up of all the many loose ends of the plot seems overwhelming. It's all a mess, and I want to quit. 

But I go on with an eye of faith, holding out hope that I can finish. I trust the self that believed in this book enough to start it. I rely on past experience; I've been here before and know that my discouragement will pass once I clear some more hurdles. I take a deep breath and keep moving. I do my best to rediscover the joy in the journey (I always find it again)--and eventually? It all works out. 

Writing is exhilarating work, but it's work. Those of us who take it on are like pioneers, forging into the undiscovered country of our ideas and hopes and dreams. Pioneers with basements and novels to explore, tame, and conquer need vision and courage--and most of all, perseverance. Go forward and get it done!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Toddlers, Tinker Bell, and Time Management

I have toddlers. To be specific I have four children under the age of four years and a six year old. Between meeting their needs, and there are a good number of “special” ones, maintaining my household, and keeping my sanity I struggle like most moms to find time for the pursuits that bring me joy and personal fulfillment. My father was great proponent of the maxim that you make time for the things that are important to you. And while I agree, I have never quite perfected or even got a hold on the kind of time management that allows for everything that is needful in a given day.

What does Tinker Bell have to do with this? So glad you asked. She is the means by which I carve out an hour of get-it-done time every day. Well, her and Winnie the Pooh. We don’t have television in our home per say, just movies and Netflix. And more and more lately I have been keeping the idiot box switched off due to that nagging sense that my kids need to play more and watch less. But this has meant that my get-it-done time becomes Mommy-builds-blocks-and-has-tea-parties-time. Wonderful good fun, to be sure, but it left me with more undone at the end of the day than an hour’s worth of dishes and tidying. My one hour in the morning was apparently worth two and half or three hours of evening time. I would start on dishes after dinner, tidy a few things and it would be 9pm. I would go to sleep at 11 in order to get in writing and reading time, but my kiddos are obscenely early risers. I just couldn’t keep up.

And then I made a discovery. I had been stringing myself out, trying to give too many things my attention all at once. I was multitasking myself stupid. It happened one day while I was trying to send an email, while listening to an audio book, while trying to get my baby to settle down and go to sleep on the bed next to me. He was having none of it. I was getting nowhere fast. In a fit of frustration I pushed the computer away and looked my little guy right in the face demanding with my expression to know what on earth he wanted from me. He smiled. I melted, picked him up, and spent maybe five minutes singing him to sleep. I then finished the email, and went back to listening to my book.

Sometimes we have to split ourselves. We are busy. We’re moms, multitasking is in our nature. But we cannot be our best selves, as mothers, writers, wives, or friends if we are constantly splitting our attention. And until alchemy successfully bottles time (anyone know if they are close yet?), there is only one solution that I have found. Give time.  Give it away to one activity for a designated amount of minutes. I have a little digital timer, and I will set it for say thirty minutes. For those thirty minutes it is play time. Mommy is here, no distractions, no trying to listen to talk radio while we play picnic, just me and my kiddos. Then in goes Tink, and mommy is cleaning or making phone calls or writing or baking or something.  It only takes a little. And the work and the calls to be returned are still there when the timer goes off.  When I give my kids the time they need from me, which only seems like a lot when I am trying to do too much at once, they, shockingly are more willing to play nicely with each other, sit and watch their show until lunch, and be the angels I need them to be for the next hour or so.

I am still strung out. I still demand quiet mommy time on Saturdays when it’s Dad’s turn to watch the kids. But during the week, thanks to my timer and Tinker Bell, I know that the things that matter most are getting the attention they need.
Anika Arrington- Necessary Nurture

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Fresh New Start..............

Valerie J. Steimle

A while ago the four of us Mommy Authors were getting "cabin fever". We needed to get out of the house and move on with our writing.  We each had writing goals which  would take us in different directions and felt that our blog responsibility was getting very heavy.

So with much discussion and consideration, we all thought we would go our separate ways and shut down the blog.  I initially I agreed.  The next day I got back on the blog to take one last look and suddenly became very protective.

I knew we had worked hard to build up a great following and posted some great ideas and information about writing and being a Mom.  I didn't want to let it go!  I pondered and thought about what would happen if I took over the leader position and find more Mommy Authors to post during the month.  I suddenly became very excited and asked my cohorts in writing what they thought of the idea.  Everyone was in agreement so the search was on for eight new blog contributors.

It didn't take long after the post to our writer's group, American Night Writer's Association, to find eight wonderful writers who would take on this task.  Posting would only be once a month so it fit into every one's busy schedule.  Some of these ladies are published and some are not but are working on manuscripts and improving their writing. Most of them are moms and those who are not want to be. Some have adopted children, some have large families. All in all we have a very diversified group of wonderful women who will give us a great perspective and we will all learn from their experience.

So starting on Monday, we will have a new fresh start and I'm excited to see how it will go.  I hope you will all enjoy.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mommy Authors: Under New Management

Contest winner: Erika Name-Amonett has won our October Opening Words contest. Erika, please comment with an email address so we can send you your gift card.

The management here at Mommy Authors will be undergoing a major and exciting change as the new month begins.  As of next week Valerie Steimle will be blogging with a group of 8 new mommy authors!  The rest of the staff is, sadly, parting ways.  It has been a pleasure hearing from you and we hope that you will keep in touch with us each at our various other blogs.

Rachel has decided to focus her writing time on finishing her manuscript and actually making a post or two at her writer's site  She will be finishing out her "Book in 30 Days" series there, so make sure to stop by and read the final few posts.  Thank you to all of you and I wish you luck in your writing endeavors.

Ranee` has loved writing for Mommy Authors and connecting with all the great moms and writers out there, but as you all may know, she's got some exciting "mom" duties to keep up with for the next few months! So between a new baby and her own writing goals, she's made the tough decision to step away from Mommy Authors. Keep up with her at

Heidi has enjoyed her brief time at Mommy Authors, but is looking forward to spend a bit more time on other writing projects and her personal blog, Frantically Simple. Be sure to pop in on her there.