Saturday, August 16, 2014

This Means War

I am not a competitor.

The last time I tried to play organized sports was the tryouts for 9th grade basketball. During practice I tripped over my own feet and twisted my ankle. (If I had a middle name, it would not be Grace.) {But I don't have a middle name.} [That's a blog post for another time.]

Anyway, my competitive spirit was squashed along with my cheap tennies.

I'm a lover, not a fighter.

But when it comes to my writing, I'll make an exception.
I'll even go to war.

What kind of war, you say?

Pitch War.

First, I stalked a bunch of people online. (Not just any people. Mentors for the war.) I may or may not know where they went to elementary school and their favorite drink. Also, I know what genre they write--that's a bit more pertinent. I also got active on Twitter. Sort of. It still confuses me. I'm a twitter-twit.

Then, I worked like a mad-woman to polish my manuscript and query letter. (Six years ago, I didn't even know what a query letter was. Sometimes I wish that were still the case. Queries suck.) I had help in the form of my amazing, fabulous, stupendous writing group. They are talented and smart and beautiful, and they tell me I'm wonderful, so you know, I love them.

And, last, on Friday I went to Brenda Drake's website and nervously filled out the entry form. I attached my first chapter and stared at the 'submit' button. After a few deep breaths and a prayer, I hit submit.

Now, I wait.

I do not like waiting. I worry. I check Twitter too much. And my email. I just might drive my family crazy.

If I get picked, the prize (and it is a prize!) is getting a mentor who will work with you on your book and query to get it ready for the agent round. Kind of like a personal editor. PRICELESS. If I don't get picked...well, we won't think about that now, I'm much more graceful than I used to be.

Soldier on!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Magical Books



I am a reader of books.
I am a writer of books.
I love books.

From my earliest memories, I loved books. I spent hours reading and imagining myself in the places and lives on those pages. I read about Helen Keller and Ann Frank. I read novels that took me to faraway lands and on fantastic adventures.

Books are magic.

Today, with rain pouring outside, Noah came in my room, flopped on my bed and said, "There's nothing to do."

"Let's go to the library."

This brought an immediate smile. As the recent owner of a library card, Noah bugs me almost daily to go.

While I perused the CD's and wandered the non-fiction section, Noah ran (don't run!) back and forth from the children's section to show me what treasures he'd found. At one point, he positioned himself at a computer so he could look up a book. And, then, he showed me the encyclopedias he'd found and I explained what they are. ("Before we had the internet, this is how we looked up stuff.")
He loves the library. Ain't nothin' wrong with that!

When he'd finally made his selection (3 movies and 3 books) he carried them to the counter. I watched as he took his wallet out of his pocket and took out the one thing in his wallet. His library card. He proudly handed it over to be scanned, then carefully put it back.

I love our time of technology and instant information, but I am nostalgic for those days when the best way to pass time was in the pages of a book. So often, we are looking for magic in our lives without realizing how close it actually is.



*By the way, this is the book I got. What are you reading?




Friday, July 11, 2014

Living Outside the Zone



For a very long time, I sailed through my life in comfort. Not financial or even true physical comfort, but that which comes of keeping things easy. No challenges, no goals. I had a husband and we kept having babies and I let those things envelope me in the security of sameness. I was happy on my ship called Comfort Zone. Or so I thought.

Then a few years ago, something happened. I took a tentative step, then another, until I'd walked the plank and faced the ocean below me. An ocean with tides and waves and shark-infested waters that would require me to swim, and work, and try. I stepped off the edge and plunged.

I began to write.

I wrote a book, began another. Then, I started my blog. I wrote. Not everyday, but enough. The gift buried deep inside me began to flower and bloom.

And, I met people. Other writers who inspired me with their talent and encouraged me with kindness and love.

I wrote. I blogged. I contacted complete strangers for help. I joined groups and let others read and critique my work. I tried. I failed. I tried again.

And, I began to grow.

Looking back, I realize how small and constrictive my comfort zone was. Like living in a box. Living outside it is hard. It's scary. Sometimes, it hurts.
But, it also feels good.

Living in the 'same old' seems easy. Status quo. Don't rock the boat, don't make waves. But, it is in the attempts to keep things the same that we get stuck. Constricted and boxed in, we tell ourselves that we're comfortable. We like where we are. But, the truth is, it's an illusion.

We are living, growing beings. Like children whose bodies are always changing and developing, our spirits and minds do the same. We weren't meant to stagnate. Challenges and efforts move us forward. Developing talents, learning new things, opening our minds, facing our fears--these all bring us closer to the beings we are meant to be.

Right now, I'm preparing for another step outside my comfort zone. It is big, it is frightening, it is filled with amazing possibilities. It could change the course of my career. Or it might not. But, the simple act of trying, surely, will change my life.

What can you do to step outside your zone? Take a class, read a book, write a poem. Try something today to stretch your spirit. You might succeed, you might not. But, your soul will grow and you won't be sorry.






Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Cokeville Miracle Movie Set

I believe in miracles. I do. I believe in angels and that God does, at times, reach down and touch our lives. 

A couple weeks ago, I had the priviledge of going to a movie set--right here in our humble town of Layton.  The movie's working title is 'The Cokeville Miracle', and it's based on a true story.
 Now, I have to admit, I don't remember the incident that happened in Cokeville, Wyoming in 1986. (Probably because I was 19 and didn't pay much attention to the news back then.) But, as my day on the set went on, I learned the story and why it's going to make such a compelling movie.

One of the best things about the day was meeting some of the crew. They were kind and personable. Every person I talked to went out of their way to answer questions, and take selfies. They. Were. Awesome.

I met Bob Condor, 1st Assistant Director (AKA- Handsome Bob). When asked what was the best part of being involved in this movie, he couldn't pick just one thing. But, he did say that he was struck by the faith of the people and the amazing story. He told me, "I'm a firm believer that we are put where we are, when we are, for a reason." And, this story is evidence of that.

 I  also met the director, TC Christensen (17 Miracles, Ephraim's Rescue, and Forever Strong). I was a bit star-struck talking to him, but he put me at ease with his openness and his great personality. ("A picture?  Of course. Here let's take our picture with the camera behind us.") He said when he first heard the story, he was surprised that no one else had made it into a movie and that he was honored to be the one to make it. He spoke of faith and the role it plays in our lives.



What left the greatest impression, though, was the hour I spent talking to Kamron Wixom, one of the survivors. I can't imagine going through such a traumatic event, especially as a child. And, even though a lot of time has passed, I was surprised by Kamron's candor and willingness to tell us about what happened.
Kamron and childhood friend/actor Christopher Clark


He told us about David and Doris Young who came to the school and took everyone inside hostage. They forced the children and adults into a first grade classroom, all 157 of them. At first, some of the kids thought it was an assembly. But,when they got into the classroom and saw the weapons, they realized it was something very different.

Kamron said that while the children were frightened, they didn't really have a grasp on the seriousness of the situation. How could they?  This was 1986, a different world than we live in now, long before school shootings and other violence had become so frequent.

At 12, Kamron was the oldest of the children, a sixth grader. He remembers well what his friend, also 12, told him, "We haven't done anything wrong, so we are going to be okay."  Kamron passed this message along to the other children. He said that after that, the mood in the room lightened. The kids played with legos and other toys, avoiding the circle made around the bomb.

At one  point, someone suggested they pray, which they did individually. Then, they decided they should also pray as a group. According to Kamron, these prayers were very upsetting to David Young.

They were kept in the room for a couple of hours, while their parents gathered outside the school, waiting, desperately waiting.
(Filming the scene with the parents waiting outside the school.
Many of the parents were played by actual survivors.)


The miracle part of this story started happening just before the bomb went off. Several of the children say that they saw angels in the room. Some saw them dressed in white, others saw them in regular clothes. Right before the explosion, one of the children saw a group of angels surrounding the bomb. While it was designed to explode out, instead the bomb exploded straight up, and the child saw the angels go up with the blast.  The force of the detonation threw Kamron out the door and many of the children were injured. But, the only casualties were David and Doris Young. Everyone else survived. (You can read the account on WyoHistory.org.)

Kamron told us that he didn't see angels himself, but he doesn't doubt the miracles of that day. In the book, Witness to Miracles, he said, "“I didn’t have to see angels, hear them, or even think that their presence might be required that day.  I did not have to imagine how God would move … that day when I said my little prayer just hours before, I simply knew he would.  He did deliver our salvation that day.  That much I know. I’m living proof.”

 I learned as I talked to the crew that this movie, which will come out in early 2015,  has already touched many people. The resilience of the survivors and their families is proof that, with faith, we can overcome the trials in our lives. Their story is also proof  that we are watched over by a loving Father in Heaven and that He does, indeed, provide miracles.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why I Love Where I Live- Jet Noise

Photo original here.
I  live just a mile from Hill Air Force Base--and directly in the flight path of the planes. After eight years, it hasn't gotten old. I love listening to the jet noise and seeing them soar over our city.
This weekend is their air show, which I'm sad to say, I'll be missing. Lucky me, they've been practicing today, and watching them has proven that even jets can be poetic.



Soar

Flocks fly across the horizon,

Their metallic wings gleam gray and blue,

With dizzying speed they ascend,

Their cries rumbling, thundering,

Stirring emotion and pride,

Trailing clouds of patriotism in their wake.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Body Love



I have a love/hate relationship with my body. Don't we all?

I read this article yesterday and it resonated with me. For so long, I avoided swimsuits. I just didn't go where they were needed. Then, came the t-shirt years, when I somehow figured wearing a baggy-knit-thing would hide who I was.
And, pictures? They have been erased and edited and cropped, carefully only showing my face, and, maybe shoulders.

I guess it's our human nature. To look in the mirror, and instead of seeing beautiful, glorious beings, we pick ourselves apart, honing in on each and every teeny-tiny flaw. We squint and frown, and often, just avoid the reflection altogether. It doesn't help that 'the world' is telling us what we need to look like and all the many things that are wrong with who we are.

There are things I hate don't like about my body. I would list them, but, well, that would be like saying 'Voldemort'-- giving power and substance to the thing I wish to avoid. Instead, I will tell 'the world' to shut up, and tell you what I love.

I love my hands. I love being able to use them to comfort my children, stroke their soft hair and tickle their feet. I love how they look when they're wrapped up with the hands of my husband, all petite and feminine. I love the way they move across the keyboard, tap-tap-tapping out my thoughts, an extension of my brain.

I love my feet. I love that they can carry me up and down stairs, across the lawn and into the water. I love that my second toe is so much longer than my first--a trait inherited from my father. I love the birthmark, pink and splotchy, that begins on my right ankle and travels up my calf.

I love my stomach. I love that it carried seven babies, seemingly stretched to the very limit. I love that my children wrap their arms around it without care, or even notice, of the size or softness of it.

I love my face. I love my eyes, once brown, now hazel, as if they matured as I did. I love that others see my face and see my mother. I love my upturned nose. I love my mouth, I love speaking and singing and eating (of course) and kissing. Yeah, I really love kissing.

I love what my body can do. It can walk and dance, clean house, create art and food and children. It loves my husband and brings me pleasure and joy. My body is not who I am, but it houses my spirit, and while it is far from perfect, it is enough.

We need to stop nit-picking at ourselves and embrace the magnificent beings we are. Let's look past the things the world says are wrong and unabashedly showcase the glory of a woman.

Today, I will don my swimsuit and take my boys to the water park. I will walk with head held high. Because I am beautiful. I am strong. And, I love my body.

My friend, June, and me--no cropping. 

**What do you love?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quiet Time

(Original here.)


The house is quiet.

The only sounds that stir me this morning are sleepy breathing across the hall, chirping birds outside my window, and the heavy, distant rumbling of trucks making their early rounds.

Soon enough, the house will wake. It will be filled with shouts and laughter, the ping-ring of video games, and the soft whoosh of the refrigerator door being opened--again and again. There will be arguments and footsteps and, most likely, the bang of toys hitting walls. This is the symphony of my life--the song I've learned to love.

But, for now...

I can ponder and plan, alone with my thoughts. I wonder about the future, both near and far. I pray for my children, especially those not here. I check my mental calendar, noting appointments and schedules.

But, mostly, I write. Stories run through my mind. I greet characters I love. They tell me about themselves, what they want to do, where they want to go. They whisper secrets in my ear and I am grateful for their trust. I hold onto their words desperately, so as not to lose them before I can write them down. They make me smile and sometimes they make me cry. I truly do love them, and, I daydream of the day when others love them, too.

I hear restless stirs, a cough. The day is about to begin.

Shhh...for now, it is quiet.