Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Vacation

Everyone needs to take a summer break. So, I did too. I spent three weeks in Utah visiting family and taking my kids to swimming pools (because there are none here in No-Man's Land.) Then I entertained visitors for a couple weeks, cleaned out my garage and storage shed (woo-hoo!)
And last week was my biggest adventure. I went to Young Women's Camp for the first time as a leader. It was in the beautiful pines of California, complete with lake, canoes, and bears. And get this: the girl's actually sleep under the stars. It's tradition. Thirty degrees outside, with mountain lion sightings, bears digging through the trash dumpster, and gigantic nocturnal ants. And they sleep outside!! I slept in a tent, thank you very much, and prayed the bears left me alone. Every night we'd take our food, candy, toothpaste, gum, etc, up to the kitchen to put in a storage container so the bears would leave us alone. I even added my red-velvet-cupcake chapstick every night. I was taking no chances. However, without fail, every morning after stumbling out of my own personal cave I would see upon the picnic table one-and only one-last minute goody left out and forgotten after dark. One morning it was a huge chocolate covered peanut butter krispy-treat; another morning it was half an Oreo; the next, a sucker; then, half an apple...I started to think someone was purposely trying to kill me. But after four days I realized something about Young Women between the ages of 12 and 17. They will stare at a pair of flip-flops and tell you they aren't theirs, only to go in search of them an hour later and realize "Oh, yeah, they like, totally ARE!" We piled up an assortment on the last day of shampoo containers, t-shirts, towels, water bottles, notebooks, jewlrey and dumped them on a table. All the girls gathered and only one or two items were claimed before a majority was dumped in the garbage. Wow. Maybe it's from sleeping under the stars? They're probably all "moon-blinked" like the owls in Guardians of Ga'Hoole. Crazy. Overall it was amazing. I came home singing songs about Mormon Boys, Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe, squishing up baby bumblebees, and boom-chic-a-booms.
School starts in one week. My summer has been awesome.
How about yours?


Friday, May 24, 2013

Hitting the Wall

At writing conference I went seeking some bits of wisdom to help me with what I call the slump. You know what I mean. You sit at the computer and stare at a blank screen. Finally you get up and eat popcorn. You wipe your greasy fingers off. Then stare at the screen. You type a few words before finally giving up to clean the dirty cracks between the window sill and window with a Q-tip. Because it has to be done. Now. Somehow it seems more important and even more fulfilling then entertaining the complete mind-blank yet another hour. The next day you try a new story, or a new writing exercise, only to have similar results. Eventually you want to hide from your computer entirely because of the complete and utter failure you're becoming in its presence. Success can be found in other places, after all. Like in dirty diapers, clean toilets, mopped floors, baked cookies, returned phone calls. Life is full of filler activities, plenty to do and try to get done. During this time there are no good  books to read because books make you feel like a failure too. (All those perfect words, worded so perfectly...) And so it continues until after weeks and months you think:
Am I a writer?
Is this really who I am?
I could eliminate this stress.
I could quit.
Then I could bake lots of cookies. And my children would never be neglected again because I could read them numerous picture books.
And then the voices would leave me alone telling me I'm not good enough. Instead they would tell me I'm average. And there's nothing wrong with average.
(depressed sigh.)
And that's what the voices and I were discussing last night. Before the earthquake...and the second earthquake...and the fifty after shakes. 
At conference, I didn't really get any ideas for how to overcome this slump. I went to great classes that helped me with technique, voice, character shaping, etc. But they didn't tell me how I personally need to get over this particular slump. 
Neither did the earthquake. (I just added that for dramatic effect.) 
But at about 2:43 pm today I was suddenly struck with inspiration for a story. The first chapter, the characters, their drive, their goals, their motivations, the conflict, the dialogue. It was all there. And the only thing that brought this on was a walk with a stroller in my pajamas. That easy. No popcorn required. Weeks and days of wondering and BOOM, I whipped 6 pages out in an hour. 
I say it was easy, but the waiting wasn't easy. In fact, I don't think I've ever come closer to quitting as a writer. So, it makes me wonder. How do YOU get over the slump? Do you have tricks to speed it up? How do you keep motivated?

Monday, May 20, 2013

LDStorymakers Conference 2013

I recently attended the 2013 LDStorymakers Conference. http://ldstorymakers.com/  It was wonderful, and worth the time and money. My writing submissions did not place in the contest, but I got some fantastic feedback, so it was worth it. I learned there...that I have a lot to learn. But I also learned that blogging is important and crucial for a writer. So, I am going to try to forget how overwhelming it is for fifteen minutes and just do it. Here are some tips I learned about blogging:
*Blogs should be 500 words or less (FYI this particular posting is around 415)
*You should post 4-5 times a week
*You can and should link your Facebook, blog, and Goodreads
*You need to be professional
*You need to be yourself
*I also learned your name should be in the address line. Mine is not and I've wondered about this, but as I searched for blogs after conference I realized it sure makes it easier to find them if the name is part of the address!)

The thing I dislike most about writing conference is I have to choose which classes to go to--which means I miss out on some! However, the classes I did attend were amazing. The presenters themselves were amazing. These were some of my favorites:
*Sheralyn Pratt's class on writing action scenes. Loved this class!! Her blog is at http://sheralynpratt.com/
*Kathryn Jones: 15+ ways to market your book without spending a cent (and she has a book on it :) She owns a publishing business http://www.ideacreationspress.com/ and her writing blog is: http://ariverofstones.com/ Very nice lady!
*Tristi Pinkston knows her blogging stuff. Great writer and very knowledgeable http://www.tristipinkston.com/
*Rachelle J. Christensen's class on editing. Really needed this one. Her blog: http://www.rachellejchristensen.com/
*Becca Wilhite's class on overcoming the hurdles of writing. She's an awesome writer:  http://www.beccawilhite.com/blog/
*Jordan McCollum's class on character arc's. Her blog postings are always super informative. http://jordanmccollum.com/
*Amanda Sowards did a great class on writing historical fiction. Her books look really interesting. http://alsowards.com/
*Kathy Gordon (managing editor of Covenant) gave a superb class on rising out of the slush pile. It was a nice review for me, and I was able to pinpoint where my personal strengths and weaknesses are.

The thing I love most about conference is all the people you meet. It's a great place to network! I met a lot of great people and great writers, and it was wonderful to reconnect with writer friends. So glad I went!