My Day From Heck

I'm the author of my life, creating my own character; me. Only unlike most characters in books, I am real, and I can create, to a large extent, the plot of my life. (Which can be anywhere from exciting and fun to problematic. But it helps to know that a good problem or growing experience is essential to a good novel.) The point is to celebrate and enjoy my life journey.

One of the ways I do this is to remember that sometimes trials can eventually become funny with enough time. Such as the following experience I wrote in my journal several years ago. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent. :)

"My Day From Heck:

A couple of weeks ago I returned home after a shopping trip. My 14-month-old child fell asleep on the way home, so I left him asleep in the truck (which was parked in the garage) because I knew he would wake up if I put him in his bed, and I wanted him to have his nap. While I unloaded groceries, my seven-year-old daughter made herself a PBJ snack and my three-year-old girl wanted some too and was beginning to get upset that I wanted to finish unloading the groceries and bring the baby in before I made her one.

The phone rang at that moment, and it was one of my oldest child's teachers calling with some difficult-to-hear information about said child's classroom behavior. Now most parents do not enjoy hearing such news about someone they gave birth to, at least I didn't, and I was close to tears.

During the phone call, and while trying to defend my child and bring in the remaining grocery bags from the truck all at the same time, my three-year-old began screaming because she wanted her older sister's sandwich and tried to grab it from her. I took her by a sticky jam hand up to her room and closed the door, but that only muted the sound.

When I got off the phone, I was so close to tears that they almost leaked from my eyes. But I didn't have time to just sit and cry since my baby was still in the car, my three-year-old was still screaming in her room, and I still had a mound of grocery bags to go through.

While descending the stairs to the garage from the kitchen, (this was in a four-level split), my three-year-old ran out of her room crying even more because she had wet her pants.

So, thinking things through, I told her to take off her pants while I got the baby from the truck and then I'd come up and help her. But when I stepped back into the house with my sleeping baby in my arms, I heard a man's voice coming from the front door asking, "Is your mom or dad home?"

I sped up the stairs and found that my wet three-year-old had opened the door for a young man selling pizza coupons, only she had obeyed me first by taking off her wet pants, and stood at the door in nothing but a shirt and jam all over her face and hands.

Now at this point I could have just given up, but that wasn't really an option. Instead, I sent the man on his way, put down my baby who promptly woke up, and grabbed a wet cloth to wipe down my sticky-wet daughter, only to find her chasing the man down the sidewalk still wearing only her shirt."

Seven years have passed since this day, and now I look at it and laugh. I also look at it and think, that was a bad day? I've had many since then that would make this day look like nothing. But I try to remember the blessings, and I have much to be grateful for. I also try to imagine that life is like a novel, and a good novel is one where each page and each scene is worth reading.

"Very Slumping:" Things I've Learned from "Junie B. Jones"

Junie B. Jones is adorable. I discovered this during the summer when I read Junie B. Jones books to my kids. For those of you who may not have read them before or know what they’re about, Junie B. is a young girl (Kindergarten /First Grade) who gets into a lot of trouble.

But it’s the way she speaks to her audience while she’s getting into mischief that makes her adorable. This is because her voice is so close to an actual Kindergartener, though an adult, Barbara Park, created her. For example, she says that she “quick runned…” instead of ran, she can’t remember her teacher’s name so she calls her “Mrs. and that’s all,” and her heart gets all “pumpy” when she does something wrong and she’s about to get caught. Not to mention that she eats candy she found on the playground because she “…loves those guys, that’s why.”

One afternoon, I scanned through the titles of the chapters before reading to my kids, and noticed the chapter title, “Very Slumping.” I giggled when I read this, because I knew that something was going to go wrong and she would then feel very sad. But it was the description I loved because I could just picture her with her shoulders slumped and a sad, pouty face. Maybe it’s the mother in me, but sometimes I wish I could just reach through the pages of the book and wipe away her little tears.

From an author’s perspective, it’s easy to see how Barbara Park uses well the techniques of character, voice, dialogue, description, and show vs. tell. All of these are used and balanced well to engage and entertain the audience, which I might add includes everyone in my household from the ages of 8 to 40.

From an adult perspective, I’m thrown into the world of being a little girl again. I remember the promise I made to myself when I was little that I would remember what it was like being young so that when I was a mom, I could understand my children. I’m sad to admit that I very often forget what it’s like to be a kid, or even to be childlike.

But I’ve learned that I’m never too old to:

· Laugh,

· Play everyday (I like to read, write, talk with my kids, spend time with family, and ride on the back of my hubby’s motorcycle.)

· Identify with emotions quickly, especially negative ones, get them out, then get back to happiness or joy (sometimes I have happy feet that like to dance, others times I feel “very slumping” sometimes it’s in-between.)

· Forgive easily

· Be humble, submissive, and obedient to authority (God)

· Have a routine or schedule

· Learn everyday

· Do chores/work/service

· Be grateful

When I do these things, I have my happiest days. When I don’t, I have not-so-happy days. And who knows. Maybe on those days when I’m feeling “very slumping”, God is giggling at my pouty face and wishes to reach through the clouds and wipe away my tears.

An Attitude of Gratitude

A while ago, right when I was getting home from taking my kids to school, the sun was just coming out from behind Mt. Nebo. So I ran into the house, grabbed my camera and dashed out to take this shot. It was so fun to capture this moment on film that I didn't even care that I was standing in the gutter wearing my pajamas that make me look a bit like Elvis Presley. (Thankfully, there's a law in my town that says it's okay to take your children to school while wearing your pajamas--even Elvis resembling ones, and you can still be a good, ambitious mother, and that afterward it's okay to take pictures of the sunrise, still wearing said pajamas.)

Of course, taking a picture of the sunrise reminded me of the song "Sunrise" by Duran Duran. "Reach up for the sunrise, put your hands into the big sky. You can touch the sunrise, feel the new day, enter your life."

This song, and sunrises in general, remind me of being thankful, and when I'm feeling thankful and in an attitude of gratitude, I'm happy, and I like to be happy because it's really cool and way better than feeling sad or grouchy.

With that being said, I would like to share thirty of the many things I'm thankful for, in no particular order.

1. My family (husband, kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, grandparents, ancestors etc.)
2. The Savior
3. My house
4. My pajamas
5. Hugs and kisses (not the chocolate kind, the calorie free kind)
6. Food that tastes really good
7. Learning
8. My house
9. The gospel
10. Good books
11. Computers
12. Shoes
13. My car (legal and everything)
14. My talents
15. Socks to keep my feet warm
16. Walking outside barefoot in the summer (except when I keep stepping on a hornets in the grass)
17. My garden
18. Fruit trees
19. Clothes
20. Creativity
21. Chairs to sit on or I'd be standing all day
22. Fireplace to keep me warm
23. Spring
24. Autumn colors and harvest
25. Music
26. Nature
27. Friends
28. Good people
29. Freedom
30. Makeup (sorry, what can I say?)
31. Exercise (I tried to keep an even 30, but this one popped into mind.)
32. Oh, and when my kids obey
33. Just one more. Sorry. Forgiveness
34. Okay, this is the last one. I promise. Love
35. The stars in the sky (Might as well make it 35, it ends better than 34.)

I hope you can take a moment and write down those things you are thankful for and feel your gratitude for them in your life. :)


Several years ago, I wrote my fist novel. It is still sitting on my desk in manuscript form, collecting dust, because it was rejected by publishers. There are many reasons it was rejected, and one of them was because the main character had a huge flaw. She was perfect.

She was perfectly beautiful, perfectly behaved, perfectly everything and it was rather boring and maybe even a little annoying.

So when I wrote my second novel, I gave my main character, Lexi, some imperfections, something to make her relatable and approachable. She came alive and seemed very real, experiencing embarrassment, fear, insecurity, bravery, anger, and other emotions that we all experience in our life journey. This, in my opinion--because I created her so of course I would feel this, made her seem loveable, relatable, and unique. And if there is one thing I have learned as an author, it's that you want your reader to relate with your main character on some level, because when they care about the character, they care about what happens to them throughout the rest of the story. (You can read all about Lexi in Deadly Treasure. A novel based on the real life mystery surrounding the Lost Rhoades Gold Mines.)

So why is it hard to look at our own imperfections and flaws and feel loveable, relatable, and unique? The song "Freckles", by Natasha Bedingfield, was awakening for me. Some of the lyrics are: "A face without freckles is like a sky without the stars, why waste a second not lovin' who you are." Now, "freckles" could easily be changed to "wrinkles" for the aging, or even "pimples" for the youth. In any case, "those little imperfections make you beautiful, loveable, valuable, they show your personality inside your heart, reflecting who you are."

Not only are we still loveable despite our little imperfections, but maybe we're more loveable and valuable because of them. (Unless, of course, it's stealing or something like that. But then that would be a major character flaw, not a little imperfection.)

So take a step back and picture yourself as the main character in your life novel. What quirky little imperfections do you posses? I bet most of them make you unique, relatable, and loveable.

Listen to "Freckles" on YouTube.

The Mind, Body, and Soul Connection

The mind and emotions play a critical part on the health of the physical body. Just think about it. Thoughts can release different chemicals in the brain, which can either make us feel good or bad.

Things that help us feel good: love, gratitude, happiness, service, repentance, forgiveness, sharing, learning, growing, hugging, and the list goes on.

Things that help us feel bad: selfishness, greed, ingratitude, guilt, hate, shame, holding a grudge against yourself or others, holding things inside, and the list goes on.

I don't know about you, but I certainly feel better and am happier, when I focus on those things that help me feel good. It isn't always easy, but when I truly focus on things that bring a sense of happiness and well-being, I feel better physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Black Steak Sandwiches

A while ago, my eight-year-old boy informed me that he wanted for his night for dinner, black steak sandwiches. I kept trying to think of what he was referring to, and after a few minutes of listening to his descriptions like, "You know, those things that are black and crispy?" I finally realized he was talking about bacon, and he wanted BLT's for dinner.

Do I really burn the bacon so often that our entire family now refers to BLT's as Black Steak Sandwiches? Apparently so. It turns out that I burn them because I try to multi task, like slicing the tomatoes, washing lettuce, etc. and then remembering, oh yeah. I'm cooking bacon, too.

So recently when I've made BLT's, I stayed at the pan the entire time flipping the bacon over and over, and they turned out beautifully. I was able to do this because I farmed out the other tasks like slicing tomatoes.

I've realized that sometimes in my life, especially the summer, I try to do too many things all at once and then I get burned out. Sometimes I need to just stop everything, focus on one thing, and delegate other things. This brings much needed balance into my life. I've discovered that during the summer when my kids are home from school, writing and editing take a back seat, but I still like to read a good book or two, to sharpen the saw, so to speak.

I hope everyone has had an awesome summer!

"Behind Every Good Man" Giveaway!

My friend, Audrey Bandley, who just happens to have one of the most amazing voices ever, and has her first CD out, is giving away 5 copies of "Behind Every Good Man" on her blog. So go to her blog and become a follower by clicking here, and you can enter to win. :)

Why I'm Glad I'm a Woman

Recently I read a wonderful book called, Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin. While reading it, I realized how awesome it is to be a woman, so I came up with a list of ten reasons why I'm thankful for being a woman.

1. I realized that some of the traits I've had since I was a young girl are not necessarily character flaws, but actually feminine gifts I have been blessed with.

2. I get to be soft.

3. I get to be a mom. There is nothing in the whole world like motherhood.

4. I have someone to protect me. And I love the feeling of being protected and cared for.

5. I don't have to yell or be aggressive. Instead I can be the opposite and it's okay.

6. I can have long hair and wear makeup and it's socially acceptable.

7. I can own more than one pair of shoes.

8. I can cry.

9. I am an invaluable tool in creating the atmosphere of my home.

10. I have the amazing responsibility of training part of the future of our country to be responsible and capable contributing citizens.

Bottom line, I'm celebrating womanhood. :)

How To Write

I'm thinking about starting another fiction writing project, and I'm wondering to myself, how did I actually write a whole book before? If the truth were known, as it should be because I consider myself to be an honest person, each time I have written fiction, it has come out differently, and I've decided that each of these ways have their own benefits. They are as follows:

1. The I've-never-written-a-novel-before-so-I-really-have-no-idea-what-I'm-doing method. My first ever novel started with a wisp of a story line. I had written the whole story, everything in my mind from start to finish, and it was only 74 pages long. Well, I knew that novels were longer than that, and if there was any hope to getting it published, I needed to make it longer. Then a subplot idea came to mind, and I worked that in through the pages. By the time I was done, it was around 70,000 words, and it took roughly six months to complete it. (However, it never did get published.)
~Pros: I was able to crank this work out because I first focused on the base plot, then subplots.
~Cons: I feel less creative when I write this way because so much of what I write just comes as I'm typing.

2. The I-can't-type-the-words-in-my-head-out-fast-enough method. My second novel just came to me one day, and I had all these scenes rolling through my mind. I jotted them down on paper, then started typing at the beginning of the story and worked my way up to those scenes. It took about a year to finish it. I say finish, because I thought at the time that I was. In reality, it was just a rough draft I had completed, and it took a great chunk of time to learn about editing and other tools to turn my draft into something publishable.
~Pros: This worked well for me because there was a great deal of passion to help me get the story out.
~Cons: I fear that I was almost obsessed with this story while writing it, and probably bored many a people in my family with talking about it all the time.

3. The This-is-a-really-cool-story-but-I-have-no-idea-how-to-develop-it method. When my third story came to mind, I had a rough idea of some scenes and where I wanted the story to go, and I began typing, again, jotting down specific scenes so they wouldn't be forgotten. But this one was really different for me because so much of the story, subplots, character quirks and other things, just fell from my fingers as I typed. Often times I would sit at my computer at the designated writing time, with absolutely no clue what to write, and the words just came. I still don't know how.
~Pros: Allows for a great deal of random creativity. I was guessing how it was going to turn out. It was almost like I was reading it, only I was more actively involved.
~Cons: I still don't know how to end it just right.

4. The My-brain-is-aching-from-thinking-about-how-to-work-plots-so-I'm-going-to-write-with-two-other-brains method. My fourth fiction work was different than them all, because I wrote it with my two sisters. It was pure fun (something that's an absolute must for me in writing.) While writing it, we would each take a turn creating and typing a chapter, then we rotated through like this until it was complete. It was so interesting to see a plot and subplots unfold as we wrote and added onto what the others had written.
~Pros: There is no brain wracking, trying to think of a way to finish things off or tie them in.
~Cons: If you are stubborn about how you want the story to go, then this method won't work. But if you can create, type, and let go until it's your turn again, it's wonderful.

Now with this new work I would like to start, I'm thinking of typing up certain main scenes, kind of like a skeleton, then adding muscle and flesh with subplots. It's very similar to the first method I used, when I didn't realize that writing that way was actually a method.

So, what works for you?