Friday, September 5, 2014

Writing Challenge- Enchanted Forest

One of the women in my writing group has been giving us daily writing prompts with the challenge to write for 10 minutes on that prompt. This is a great exercise to get your writing juices flowing and I love the way the story unfolds as you write. Also ten minutes is not much time. Even I can fit that in!

This was the prompt for Wednesday-

And this was my freewrite-

Enchanted Forest

Lauren sat still. Completely so. Nothing moved. Not the leaves around her. Not the bugs in the bark at her back. Even the air seemed to pause, miniscule water particles frozen in place.

“Laurie.”

The name touched her ears as a whisper. Still she didn’t move.

“Laurie, I know you’re here.”

Her lungs were full of breath. They ached for release. Lauren denied them.

“Come out and all will be well.”

Right. She’d believe that as soon as faeries stopped flying.

Footsteps against the mossy carpet echoed like thunder in the quiet forest. He wasn’t close. Not nearly as close as she’d feared. Lauren let out her breath slowly, soundlessly. Just as slowly, she filled her lungs again.

“And now you’ve made your mistake.”

The footsteps came closer. Surely he hadn’t heard. Of course, he did have elvish ears. Stupid pointed ears.

Just a stone’s throw away, Lauren saw his head poke around a low branch, his black hair falling in his violet eyes. She took in his long nose, his thin mouth. Ach. Stupid mouth.

Elros stepped forward, revealing his entire self. His velvet shirt and pants perfectly matched the trees around him so that he became one with the forest. Lauren closed her eyes against the pain of her held breath. And the sight of him.

“Please, Laurie. Don’t play. I don’t have the patience.”

You also don’t have manners. Please? When did you ever say please?

His footsteps stopped. Hesitation said many things. He didn’t actually know where she was. He was guessing.

Lauren wondered if her lungs might burst. She began to feel lightheaded. He had to move. Soon. And then he did. She listened intently, ignoring the buzzing inside her head. One step, two, three. When he’d gone twenty steps and his footfalls became almost too soft to hear, she opened her eyes. He was gone.

Her breath came out in a whoosh. Lauren gulped in a mouthful of air, tears running down her cheeks. Too loud. She couldn’t help it. He must be too far to hear now. Closing her emerald eyes she let the tears fall.

A hand around her throat forced her eyes back open. Soft fingers held her in a harsh grip, closing off the blessed air. Lauren felt his lips close to her ear.

“Did you think you could hide from me? Hmmm, little Laurie?”



*You can read other stories from my writing group here- 

Sabrina

Leah

Alison

Deb


Care to join?? Let me know if you write something, I want to read it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Season-New Start

It's September.

Those words are like a sigh for me.

The heat of summer has slipped away. There are hints of new color on the trees. And, the kids are back in school.

For me, fall is a new beginning more than any January. Maybe because of my birthday. Maybe because of the school year. Maybe just because the feel of cooler air and the sight of the autumn ballroom energizes my soul. Whatever it is, it makes me happy.

New beginnings are good. We all need them, imperfect humans that we are. It's about being better, doing more, and forgetting the failures or disappointments of the past. There are goals to be set- new heights to reach. This is what keeps us going. The push that comes from a fresh start.

Think of what you could do.

And, isn't autumn as good a time as any?



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.