Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Me no likey...

In November I joined a 'club' with thousands of other anxious wanna be authors.  We all tried to write 50,000 words in one month.  And I can say that I wrote over 50,000!

But I don't really like to make goals.
Well, I don't like to make goals in January.  It always made more sense to me to make goals in the fall before school starts.   The smell of the schools floor cleaner always made me heady with great ambitions like a 4.0 and dating the quarterback/star forward/hunk.

I do like to make lists.  
I write to-do lists and shopping lists and books-I've-read lists.  I've made a list of chores each child can accomplish, what my own chores are daily and what we are eating for the month. 

I've made a list of the stories I've written and stories I've started and ideas for other stories. 
Those stories and ideas are sitting in my jump drive waiting to be finished or sent to a publisher.  But they are not sitting quietly.  They keep reminding me they are waiting.  But what do I do with all of them?  I have two that needed edited, one that is in rough draft and two short stories that need tweaked.  And that is just the ones that are close to the finish line.  There are 5-8 other stories that have been started or are in outline form. It's overwhelming!

So, dare I say it?  I need a goal.  Not a list.  A goal.

I learned in November that a goal/deadline is a great motivator.  I have heard many talks and read many books about goals and have actually made a few myself.  But until November, I have not FELT the way I did when the word count came back over 50K.

I want to FEEL it this year!  I want to feel what it is like to:
Have a book accepted by a publisher
Have a Christmas story published
Have a book published
And travel to another continent to research a book

I was browsing Tristi Pinkston's blog and she has sent out a challenge.  Check it here: Gearing Up for the New Year ...

Now I need to set the smaller goals that will take me in the direction I want to go:
I will write at least two hours everyday or average 5,000 words a week.
I will submit 2 stories by March.
I'll start with these two.  I made add more as I go.  But I will get three stories out this year.

Phew!  I can check that off the 'to do' list! :)
I now believe that because I have lists instead of goals I don't stick to the monthly menu, I averaged a B+ and never dated the quarterback.  
But I did marry a hunk!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Story: Santa's Gift Card

Here is the story I wrote for the contest. The story is based on a true experience in my extended family.
 I didn't win but now my story is out in the universe!
 I really want to make this story better so please leave comments and ideas!  THANK YOU in advance!

Christmas was not on my mind when I decided I needed to go back to college to get a better job. I applied for financial help and received a grant to college in another state. Jennifer and I prayed about our decision and knew it was the right one.

The move was hard. It was hard to leave family and friends. But the move was harder on us financially. We moved during the summer to get settled before I started school. I also had to start over with a new job. We watched our small savings dwindle. Jennifer and I looked over our finances when school started and I needed to buy textbooks. We decided we would need to drop our cell phone, internet and cable service. We would barely have enough money for food and diapers. We knew we were in the right place doing the right thing, it was just going to be tight.

A few weeks before Christmas my company downsized and I lost my job. I went home to tell my wife. She was putting in a pizza when the phone rang. I watched Jennifer paint Jordan's hand red and press it to a paper wreath while I listened to her end the conversation.

"Yes, I had heard the Wallace's baby was still in NICU." She painted Jordan's other hand green and pressed it to the paper. "We'll be happy to bring in a dinner." She hung up and looked at me. I nodded. Jennifer packed up our pizza, garlic bread and salad and left. We ate Jordan's favorite dinner when she got back: PB&J. Over dinner, Jennifer told of the Wallace's bare apartment.

I looked at our own little tree. We bought it when we were first married. It had one present under it. At Enrichment, Jennifer had made an etching on glass of the temple we were sealed in. I looked at Jordan. I knew he wouldn't know if he got anything for Christmas. But at two-years-old he made the best car sounds a father could hope for.

I looked around our little one room apartment. Jennifer and Jordan had colored Christmas and Nativity scenes and hung them around the living room. Paper snowflakes adorned the windows. I went to the kitchen and opened the fridge. It looked like we had a choice of PB&J or tomato soup for Christmas dinner. If the food lasted that long.

That night, I decided it was time to swallow my pride and talk to our bishop. Jennifer had loving suggested I make an appointment with him but I said no, we are fine. I called the bishop's secretary. He told me the bishop could see me tonight.

"Welcome, Brother Whitlock!" Bishop Draper shook my hand and motioned for me to sit in the chair across from him at his desk. "What can I do for you? Or sometimes I like to ask, what can the Lord do for you?"

"Well, Bishop, I came today because there is too much month at the end of my money. Our cupboards are bare and I have no job." I tried to smile.

Bishop Draper sat back in his chair, steepled his fingers under his chin and looked at me. He asked about Jordan and our medical bills. He asked me about school, my skills and previous jobs. His next question surprised me.

"Have you been paying your tithing?" he asked, quietly.

"Yes!" I replied, emphatically. It was always the first check written after I got paid.

He nodded and smiled.

"Then all will be well, Brother Whitlock. All will be well." He stood and walked around the desk to me. "Do you have enough faith?"

I hesitated while I thought about his question. I slowly nodded.

Bishop Draper extended his hand to me and I stood up to shake it.

He put a hand on my shoulder. "The Lord knows your needs. He loves you."

As I drove home, I wondered what I would tell my wife over another PB&J dinner. There was a knock on the door. One of the local youth held out a manila envelope, requesting a small donation to help a local family who lost their husband and baby to a house fire. The rest of the family were living with grandparents until they could get on their own feet again. I put all the money in the envelope I had on me: $1. Now I had no money for a toy car, but I knew I had given the widows mite.

The next day, I grabbed the mail. I had sent my resume to several organizations and was waiting for a phone call or a letter. All I found was the usual credit card applications and last minute Christmas shopping ads. I threw the mail on the table. A red envelope caught my eye. I picked it up and looked at the return address. "Santa Claus, North Pole." I looked at the postmark. "North Pole."

"Jennifer! We got a letter from Santa!" I opened the letter with Jennifer looking over my shoulder. The letter told us that Santa has helpers around the world who gave to those in need. One such helper wanted to help us. Jennifer and I looked at the gift card in her hand with big eyes. Arms around each other and tears flowing down our cheeks, we knelt in humble prayer to thank our Heavenly Father for his tender mercies.

We bundled Jordan up and went Christmas shopping. We bought Jordan a ball and a toy car. I bought Jennifer perfume and she bought me a robe. She said she was tired of seeing my holey pajamas. We also bought food for our cupboards and Christmas dinner.

When we checked out we were surprised to see the amount of money left on the card. Our Santa Helper had given us enough money to cover our purchases and more. Jennifer and I looked at each other and smiled. We took our purchases to the car and went back inside.

We went to the card aisle and found a big card with Santa on it. We went home and found the address of a family who needed a Santa Helper. We put the gift card inside the card and mailed it the next day. Now we were one of Santa's Helpers.

The feeling of this Christmas are indescribable on all levels. The joy of giving and receiving this season will not be forgotten.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.   
Norman Vincent Peale

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

what books are on your bedside table?

Here is my stack of books:

East of Eden
 by John Steinbeck (I'm returning this to the library after only reading 1/4.  I don't like it)
Arabella by Georgette Heyer
5 minute Feng Shui by Jane Garton (my DS6 carried this little book around.  Then gave it to me to read)
Forever Kate by Cheri J. Crane
Brisinger by Christopher Paolini (how is the title pronounced?)
Writing Popular Fiction by Dean R. Koontz
Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress

I wonder if I will finish any of the above mentioned books this weekend?  I have no major plans for the next few days.  Will my family let me cozy up in a quilt and read and nap over the next few days?  Ah, dreaming....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Story Contest

Do you want to read some new Christmas stories no one has read yet? Then hop on over to ldspublisher.blogspot.com for a Christmas story contest.

There are 24 stories you can vote on. 15 stories are from published authors and 9 are from unpublished authors.
My story is under the 'unpublished' author section! So make sure to read and vote on those stories! :)
I can't tell you which one is mine, but it will still be fun to read some new Christmas stories.

The rules for voting are on her blog but I'll also post them here:

Voting Rules:
VOTE any time from 12:01 a.m. on December 14th through 11:59 p.m. on December 20th. Time stamp on the voting comment determines whether or not your vote will count.

Anyone who visits this blog may vote.

You may make all the comments you like, but VOTING COMMENTS must clearly indicate that it is a vote. (Ex: I'm voting for this one...)

You may vote twice in each category: Published and Unpublished. You may only vote once per story. We're on the honor system here.

Easiest way to read and vote:To read the stories by Published Authors, click THIS Link, read the stories and vote for two.

To read the stories by Unpublished Authors, click on THIS Link, read the stories and vote for two.

You MAY vote for yourself.

You can vote by whatever criteria you want, just don't make it a popularity contest.

All stories have been posted anonymously. You may take credit for your story after the winners have been announced.

Authors, please let your friends know that you've entered this contest and encourage them to come vote, but don't tell them which story is yours.

We want the stories to win on merit, not the popularity of the author.
Due to the previously mentioned personal issue, I will announce the winners on Monday, December 22nd. I will post comments on the stories beginning December 22nd and continue until I've commented on every story.

Then I will take a break until the new year.Good luck everyone!LDSP

Friday, December 12, 2008

Twas the last good nights sleep

by Kim Golling


Twas the Night before inauguration, when all through the White House

Not a President or an Elect was sleeping, not even a gray haired mouse.


The Speeches were done, laid by the chimney with care

In hopes that ‘St. Nick’s Proofreading & Editing’ soon would be there


The Cabinet Members were nestled all snug with the Feds

While visions of Grandeur danced in their heads


And Mrs. “O” in her Armani and Mr. “O” with his cigs

Had just settled back to enjoy more Bush digs


When somewhere between the West Wing and the East

There arouse such a clatter, a big bang at the least


Away went the Secret Service to see what’s the buzz

Called out the National Guard and woke up the fuzz


The Moon shimmered somewhat, but dimmed by the smog

That’s what the environmentalists said, but it was really just fog


When what to the wondering eye should appear

But a van driving up, lights off and in low gear


With a little old driver so sly and so slick

I knew it was the editing services of little old St. Nick’s


More wicked and evil their courses they came

Mr. “O” whistled and chortled then called them by name


Reverend Wright, good to see you, help Miss Streisand from the van

Mayor Daley, Good Ol’ Tony, please help if you can


There was Ayer and George Clooney, even Oprah joined the crew

“Quick, down the tunnel, Whoopi, hurry, you too!”


The raucous that was caused earlier was just a sly scheme

To distract the police squads and the whole Secret Service Team


And then in a pounding, you could hear them all run

Down the corridor, up the passageway, happy he’d won


They made their way past the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room and West Wing

Past many other rooms of Blue, Red, even Green


A stack full of papers they clutched tight to their breast

They must get this done there was no time to rest


Mr. “O”’s eyes how they crinkled, his smirk ever so daring

His cheeks how they raised as he smiled, his teeth baring


His dull little mouth was drawn tight in a kink

As the cigarette butts in the ashtray were starting to stink


The end of a cigarette held tight in his lips

And the smoke it encircled him as he stood hands on hips


He had an announcement “I’m in quite a pinch”

For a moment he looked stunningly like the Grinch


A wink of his eye and a nod of his head

Soon gave me that sinking, horrible feeling of dread


They spoke many words as they shuffled his speech to eliminate all flaw

Many promises, lower taxes, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah


And reaching to shake hands to all who helped out

Giving a nod, he thanked all and slept well, no doubt


But to those who stand stunned at the majority of the nation

Don’t be glum, don’t turn the dial, don’t change the station


It’s only four years to endure the pain and to suffer

We’ve had harder times, really much tougher


But as we bid farewell to President George W. Bush

Store your food, save your money, buy more guns, save your own tush


As we exclaim ere we hide in our cellar

Merry Christmas to all, 2012 will be stellar!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Books and Toys and Chocolate

Have you been to visit Pleasant Grove's newest book/toy/candy store? If not, you really should stop by and browse their great selections of all the above merchandise. And while you are there, you can by me some gourmet TAFFY CANDY! :)

Provident Book & Humdinger Toys announces its amazing Refer-a-Friend Gift Certificate! Sign up on our website to get an instant coupon for use in the store. Then tell all your friends about it and you'll be entered to WIN a $50 In-Store Gift Certificate!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quotable Monday

Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.  Lenore Hershey

Friday, December 5, 2008

Contest time

Suzanne Reese just published her first novel!

Here is a link to her blog if you want to win Amazon $$ (and who doesn't want to buy a book?)


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Review

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I finally got my copy of this book from the library.  I was anxious to read this much heralded lecture.  
My first impression: I was surprised at the smallness of the book. 
My second impression: book filled with fun stories that didn't change my life.

I did love reading about his childhood dreams and how they came true.  All of us have childhood dreams.  Being a writer was the only one I could remember.  Maybe I will go back to my journals I kept when I was young and see if I wrote dreams.

I did pick up a few ideas from the book:

If there is an elephant in the room, introduce it.  You can't ignore an elephant or sickness that is looming in the room.

Keep teaching and pushing your children.  Teach them the fundamentals.  For me, I want to make sure my children understand the fundamentals of the gospel: Prayer and scriptures.

Fundamentals in home life means everyone pitches in with chores, cooking, etc and learning and serving.

And lastly, If you don't understand something,  be willing to admit it and keep trying until you do understand.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Random Book Quote

Here is this week's random passage from the most current book by the side of my bed:

"I tried to remember if I had any meds in my bag.  I might have something in my small bag. But I would have to get some strength in my limbs to get up and unzip the bag.  I would have to find more strength to search the dark recesses for the green bottle.  Just thinking about getting to my bag took the little strength I  had to keep my eyes open. 

I fell asleep again.

I woke sweat drenched. My sheet was wet. My eyes were crusted.  I couldn't open them.  I listened to the sounds of the hut.  Father was not snoring.  It didn't sound like he was around.  The heat in the hut was oppressive.  My throat ached. I needed to get to water.  I thought of the creek behind Old Man Hattie's hut. "

Last week's random book passage: 

"The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch

Monday, December 1, 2008

I wrote a novel in under 30 days

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

In 2007, we had over 100,000 participants. More than 15,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

I wrote 50,497 words from November 4-30!  

I did it! Yeah! I did it!  

It was  fun and hard and exasperating but I buckled down and wrote a novel! :)

A few of my favorite things I'm doing

I'm reading: Fiction: The Light After the War by Anita Abriel  It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban ...