Feb 122014
 

Lately I’ve been asking myself “Why am I trying to write?”

I started out writing to gain critique experience in hopes of one day becoming a content editor (which I still hope to do). I struggled and struggled to come up with a story idea for my first manuscript.

It took months before I finally had a very small idea. Isn’t a writer supposed to be deluged with so many ideas they can’t possibly write them all? Hm, maybe that was a sign.

Critiquing and being critiqued by the great members of my Fab Five group has taught me more than I could have anticipated. I love it. They are encouraging, supportive, and honest. They give me a safe place to learn.

Now, almost three years after starting my still incomplete first draft, I only have four ideas that are sticking around. And that first idea hasn’t even hit 30k words yet. In the writing world, I am moving slower than a slug. Granted, I have four kiddos and a traveling hubby and a busy book blog. And I haven’t been the most dedicated of writers when it comes to BIC-HOK. Kind of necessary if I ever want to finish a first draft.

So I was feeling all frustrated and discouraged and doubting.

And then I read THIS.

I am a big whiny baby.

Sarah is amazing. She has dedication and strength that inspires me no end.

It’s time for me to sit down and shut up.

And write.

Nov 192013
 

RandomReadsBW_200I finished reading Don’t Bite Me, I’m Santa Claus and headed straight for random.org to find my next Random Read. The number randomly selected for me was #1206 out of #1580–Someone Else’s Fairytale by Emily Mah Tippets. This book has been on  my “to-read” shelf since July of last year, and I have a review copy on my Kindle. As this is one of the review books I was sent but haven’t been able to get to yet, watch for my review on the LDS Women’s Book Review blog.

SomeoneElsesFairytaleAs I page through my Goodreads feed, I’ve realized that my Random Reads feature on this blog has had an unintended side effect. In the past, I have been a bit indiscriminate about the books I’ve added to my “to-read” shelf. Since starting this feature, however, I find myself considering whether I would really want to read a particular book if it came up as one of my Random Reads. I’ve been a little surprised at how many books I let slide past in my feed. Perhaps some decluttering of my “to-read” shelf is in order?

Do you ever “declutter” your Goodreads shelves?

Sep 192013
 

RandomReadsBW_200Though it took two months, I finally finished Random Reads #1Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (read my Goodreads review), and I’m ready to tackle my next Random Read. Yesterday I pulled up trusty Random.org and it selected #848 out of 1,523.

After scrolling, scrolling, and a little more scrolling, I discovered that “to-read” #848 is Don’t Bite Me, I’m Santa Claus by Tom Plummer. I don’t remember this book, but I must have come across it at some point because I added it to my “to-read” shelf on December 27, 2009, shortly after it was published.

dontbitemeimsantaclausI worried that I might have to find a different book for Random Read #2 because of its seasonal nature, but luckily my local library has a few copies on hand. I’ve put it on hold and will soon be reading my first Christmas-themed book of the year.

I have several more holiday-centered books coming up in the queue for review on the LDSWBR blog, but they are decidedly more fictional and romantic than Don’t Bite Me, I’m Santa Claus.

We’re only days away from the official first day of fall, and October is just around the corner. Is anyone else in denial that summer is almost over? As much as I love the cooler days of fall and watching the leaves change color on the mountainside, this year it is particularly hard for me to let go of the warmer days of summer.

But since there’s no holding back the earth in its orbit around the sun, I will kick-off the upcoming Holiday season by reading Don’t Bite Me, I’m Santa Claus, maybe with a cup of hot chocolate for good measure.

What Christmas-themed books are you looking forward to reading this year? Have you read Don’t Bite Me, I’m Santa Claus?

Jul 182013
 

RandomReadsBW_200My “to-read” bookshelf on Goodreads has over 1400 books on it.

I add more to it every week. There is no way I can remember everything I’ve added over the last several years, and rarely do I have the time to browse through 1400+ books to decide what I might like to read next.

So I’ve come up with something new that I’m going to try.

Have you seen that episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon uses dice to make his decisions for him? (I’m just remembering this episode now, as I am typing this post, so this is not where I got the inspiration for this, except maybe subconsciously.)

Ah, man, I love that show. (Click through to watch the clip if you’re not reading this on the BW blog.)

acrossfiveaprils

Anyway, I’ve decided to start a feature called Random Reads and this is how it works: On random.org, I will enter the range from 1 to the number of “to-reads” books on my bookshelf that day and whatever random number shows up, that’s what book I will read next. If it is a sequel in a series I haven’t started yet, I will read the first book in that series (or the next one in the series if I have read others previously).

The first random number selected for me was 462. The 462nd book on my “to-read” shelf was Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt. It’s a Newbery Honor Book. It’s been a while since I read one of those so I’m looking forward to it.

Have you read Across Five Aprils? What do you think of my Random Reads feature idea?

Mar 152013
 

 

imageThese are the books I’ve purchased just in the last two weeks.

I know. It’s a sickness.

Some of them are for me. Some are for my second daughter who reads so much it makes this book-loving momma proud. Other than It Starts With Food, they are each part of a series.

Does format matter when it comes to a series?

I have this thing about each book in a series being the same format. Purchasing the first book in a series in hardcover is a serious investment, because every sequel must be purchased in hardcover or it throws off the bookshelf groove. Well, it does for me, anyway.

I couldn’t find I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Book 1 in the Gallagher Girls series) by Ally Carter in hardcover. Kind of bummed about that. Oh, well.

Some of these books complete a series. Others are just the beginning, and my purchase of them pretty much guarantees I’ll buy the rest so as not to have an incomplete set.

I already said it’s a sickness. And I know I’m not the only one who suffers from it. Right?

Do you prefer hardcover or paperback? What series must you have in hardcover? Does an incomplete series on your bookshelf bother you?

 

Sep 202012
 

Those of you who read my PERFECTIONISM post know that I have struggled to gain momentum with my writing. I was paralyzed and stuck thinking I couldn’t write until this was done or that was finished or such-and-such was in order. I am still working to get past this, however, there was one huge issue that I simply couldn’t ignore anymore.

I’ve Got Mail. LOTS of Mail.

Just a few weeks ago, I had 20,000+ unread emails spread across three inboxes. The weight of all of that unread email created tremendous pressure for me every time I opened my inbox. These poor, neglected emails were calling out all manner of guilt-invoking messages:

  • “Look at all the electronic goodness you are missing out on by not reading us!”
  • “We are the manifestation of all your unfulfilled good intentions to improve your life!”
  • “We linger and multiply, continually reminding you of what a procrastinator you are!”
  • “If you can’t manage your inbox, how can you possibly manage the rest of your life?”
  • “No matter how hard you try, you will never, ever catch up on reading us. Feeling overwhelmed yet?”

Oh, yes. Overwhelmed is definitely the word I would use.

I didn’t have time to keep up with the 200-300 new emails I was receiving every day let alone deal with years worth of past emails. I would rather (and often did) read a novel instead of slog my way through thousands of outdated ads, old blog posts, and never-ending social-networking notifications.

Declaring Email Bankruptcy?

Some people declare email bankruptcy and making use of the “select all – delete” option. I knew there were some gems tucked away in the mass of emails awaiting my attention, and as sentimental as I am, I couldn’t bring myself to simply hit “delete.”

If I wasn’t willing to decimate my inbox, what other options were available? I found a few online articles about how to organize and process email. Some of the most common tips are listed below:

  • Unsubscribe from as many emails as you can
  • Only check email a few times a day and schedule those times in your calendar
  • Don’t look at your inbox unless you are ready to process your email
  • Decide quickly whether to delete the email, do it (if it will take 2 minutes or less), assign it to someone else to do, or make it a task or appointment (if it will take longer than 2 minutes)

(See these articles from Problogger, Microsoft, and n8tip.com.)

These are all great tips, but I felt like I needed a little more help. That growing number next to my inbox was like an avalanche burying me alive. Then I found something that looked like it just might be the ski patrol coming to my rescue. There is too much to go into here but don’t worry, I’ll tell you more about it in Conquering an Overflowing Inbox Part 2.

Do you struggle to manage your inbox? How do you “process” email? Would you add any additional tips to this list?

Aug 302012
 

When I was in high school, I often declared myself a perfectionist. I was young and ignorant, not realizing that the perfectionism I was so proud of was limiting my creativity. Instead I wore it as a sign of my exacting high standards and goals for myself.

Then I had kids. Children will either convince one to give up perfectionism (for the most part) or perfectionism will make parenting a living h-e-double-hockey-sticks. Shortly after I had my second daughter and became outnumbered at home during the day, I discovered FlyLady. She was the first to help me realize how destructive my perfectionism was to my happiness and home and family life.

I started realizing that there is such a thing as “good enough.” I learned about a concept called “point of diminishing returns.” (See this Lifehacker article for good points made about when “good enough” is good enough and when striving for perfection is worth it.)

There is a great article on LIVESTRONG.COM titled “Overcoming Perfectionism.” There are many facets to perfectionism. Some of those on the list in the article applied to me. For example, for me, perfectionism was:

  • “a habit developed from youth that keeps you constantly alert to the imperfections, failings, and weakness in yourself and others”
and
  • “an inhibiting factor that keeps you from making a commitment to change habitual, unproductive behavior out of fear of not making the change ‘good enough'”

as well as

  • “a reason why you may be fearful of success, i.e., if I achieve my goal, will I be able to continue, maintain that level of achievement”

Proof I’m Still a Perfectionist

I was so excited when I was first building this blog. The ideas poured forth in waves I couldn’t write down fast enough. I thought of everything it could be: a place to express thoughts and invite discussion, a place to document my efforts at balancing the various important aspects of life while still reading and writing the words I love, a place to use those words to define myself and my life’s goals, and a place to find and encourage others like me so we can support each other.

I posted my first two, shiny new posts and then–I froze up. Paralyzed by all of the bigger better blogs around me and thoughts that my blog would never be “good enough” for readers of those blogs. Overwhelmed by all of the blogging Dos and Don’ts on professional blogging sites. Insecure with the realization that posting my reviews on LDS Women’s Book Review is very different than the more personal posts that would appear on this blog.

What if what I wrote wasn’t awful and people actually visited the blog and read my posts and what if I messed up? What if I said something wrong or sounded dumb/naive/stupid/ignorant/dumb?

I recently recognized those thoughts for what they really were–my perfectionism rearing its ugly head. I started to feel inspired again. I wanted to break free from that restrictive, doubt-filled paralysis of perfectionism I had succumbed to once more.

Moving Past Perfectionism

There is a list of suggestions for overcoming perfectionism in that article from LIVESTRONG.COM. Here are some that I found helpful:

  • “accept that the ideal is only a guideline or goal to be worked toward, not to be achieved 100 percent”
  • “recognize that one’s backsliding does not mean the end of the world; it is OK to pick oneself up and start all over again”
  • “learn to accept yourself the way you are; let go of the ideas of how you should be”
  • “have support people who role model forgiving and forgetting when mistakes, failures, offenses or backsliding occur”

Luckily my husband is a supportive guy. He suffers from his own version of perfectionism, so we can help each other out.

I’ve also received a lot of encouragement from good author friends, both published and not, who have helped me get back in the saddle of writing again. I have yet to hit 10,000 words in my first ever official work-in-progress, but thanks to them that goal feels more attainable than ever before.

Having a good support system might be the most important thing on that list. After listening to voices in my head all day (both mine and those of my characters) I become a little deaf internally. Sometimes, hearing those external voices encouraging me to “Keep writing! Don’t give up!” and “You can do this–you really can!” is just what I need to keep my fingertips moving on the keyboard.

Are you a perfectionist? If so, how do you deal with perfectionism? Who inspires you to keep working toward your goals?

 

STUDY

 WORDS  Tagged with: ,
May 032012
 

I have been waiting for this day for 365-ish days.

Today is the first day (technically) of the annual LDStorymakers Conference. I’m sitting outside of the ballroom at the Provo Marriott listening to the murmur of many dozens of voices as hard-working authors bare their souls and share their written words with a table full of fellow Bootcampers. I can feel the room buzzing with potential and I’m not even in it.

It’s not an easy thing to subject one’s hard-fought, word-filled art to dissection by others, even if the story is ultimately better for it. But that’s why everyone is here.

To STUDY their craft. To ENDEAVOR, or make an effort, to improve their writing.

This is my third LDStorymakers Conference. I missed the first five or so. I will ENDEAVOR to never miss another if I can help it. I’ve heard several people in the industry call this the best writing conference out there. I believe them.

For me, LDStorymakers Conference isn’t just about improving my writing ability. It’s about the friendship. These people are MY people. Every year for two or three days I have 500+ automatic friends. And I don’t mean on Facebook. 🙂

This is seriously the most fun I’ve ever had STUDYing. Funner than Christmas. Definitely funner than my birthday. (Sorry, honey.)

Come join us!

 

 

Apr 132012
 

I find the irony of launching my WORDS blog with a NUMBER highly amusing. I don’t know why it delights me so, but it does.

THIRTY-FIVE.

That is how old I am today. It’s my first day on the 35 job. I’m not sure what to expect but portents abound.

For most of my adult life, 35 has loomed ahead as one of those benchmark ages of life. Like 16 or 21, but not so party-ish. Or 50 or 75, but not as…old-ish. Honestly, I have not been looking forward to being 35 years old. It’s a bit like I imagine a mid-life crisis might feel. After all, if I’m blessed to live to 70, the timing is right.

I had a few goals to accomplish before now:

  • Be done having children.

Check.

  • Be healthy, fit, and slender.

Um, hm. We’ll call that one “in progress.”

  • Have an organized house and perfectly landscaped yards.

Ha ha ha ha ha – right.

I’m the oldest of my siblings so I remember when my parents turned 35 and how far away that seemed. Now I’m here, my oldest child turning 15 this fall and my youngest a newly-turned 3 year old that is officially potty-trained.

Sometimes I feel like I live a double life. When my older children are at school and it’s just me and the two little ones, I can fool myself into thinking I’m still in my early twenties with babies at home. Then my teen and preteen come home and reality smacks me in the face.

Time is flying by.

No one can stop it or even slow it down. And while we can’t (or shouldn’t) live in the past, we can travel through time to visit on occasion.

Write everything down.

Take a lot of pictures.

Find a few minutes in every day to breathe and savor existence.

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean, and the pleasant land.
So the little minutes, humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages of eternity.

–JULIA CARNEY, Little Things

Looking back, there is very little I would change in the last 35 years. Both good and bad define us, and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else but me. While certain aspects of my life are over (childbearing, for example) I still have much to look forward to (grandchildren, for example). My hubby and I occasionally catch ourselves counting down to an empty nest, but we’re in no hurry even if the kids are in a rush to grow up.

My birthday wish for today: make a point to document those humble yet mighty moments that otherwise might have slipped away unnoticed. One day, you’ll be glad you did.

Do you have a “dreaded” age? How has your perspective of age changed?

 

Some Fun Stuff

Wikipedia has a page full of math facts for the number 35. If you are a number nerd (or not), go check it out.

The number 35 is a tetrahedral number. Uh… a what? Yeah, I didn’t know, either. Thank you, Wikipedia, for the birthday math lesson.

My favorite journaling app: Day One *

My favorite photography app: Instagram *

*No affiliation. I just really like them.

Here are a few of my favorite things that involve the number 35:

  • M35 is an open cluster of stars. Astronomy is my lesser known passion. My original plan was to become an astrophysicist, but then I met my husband and chose to become a wife and mother instead. I wouldn’t change a thing. There is a nice photo of M35 on apod.nasa.gov.
  • There are 35 finalists in the Whitney Awards this year. I have found some new and unexpected favorites. See who the finalists are and learn more about the Whitney Awards.
  • 35mm film. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t love taking pictures.While it’s been years since I used 35mm film, my memories of hours in the dark room developing pictures in are good ones. I can still smell the chemicals and hear the awesome 60s music my photography teacher would turn up full blast while we worked. (“Nights in White Satin” anyone?)

I love reading YOUR words so please comment below. Thanks!