Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Skank-ification of Halloween

Today, my mom was making a caterpillar costume for my 5 year old. It didn't exactly work out too well. With less than a week to go until Halloween, we headed to the Spirit of Halloween store for a backup. The store walls were filled with costumes, and nearly all of them were skank-aroo.  Let me ask you, what is the point of this costume?

Bloody Nurse Betty Adult Women's Costume

Sexy Lioness Adult Womens CostumeAside from being gross, she looks like she's about to have a Brittney Spears panty moment.

And this is what has become of the cowardly lion. Or maybe she's a teddy bear. I can't tell.

Point is, why would anyone want to look like this in public. And let's be honest, the people that buy and wear these costumes look nothing like these women. Cheap fabric can only hold in so much before bursting at the seams... just sayin' ladies.

And if it wasn't enough that nearly all the women's costumes looked like attire for the a corporate hooker party, the kids one's weren't a lot better. Other than the quintessential Disney Princess costumes, there was not a single thing I would let me daughter wear.

Look, mommy and me matching costumes.
Little Miss Muffet Tween CostumeClassic Miss Muffet Adult Costume

Yuck. When I was a kid, I was going as toothpaste, my sister as the toothbrush. And as a tween, I went trick or treating as the cowardly lion. I think you can agree it looked nothing like the costumes of today.

Why is the world sexualizing our kids so young? And worse, why are we letting them?! Don't buy these crappy costumes. Even if you put sweatpants under to make it more modest, don't do it. Why support an industry that wants to make our little kids look like streetwalkers instead of trick or treaters.

If you are talented enough, make your own costume. If you're not, like me, then find a friend who is. Anybody have a good pattern to make a caterpillar?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Guest Post: Bite of Magic Giveaway

Today I've ceded control of my blog to Danyelle Leafty with her magically delicious new book, Slippers of Pearl

Magic isn't a handful of sparkling dust, a star-topped wand, or a tame word captured on parchment.

It's alive. It has a mind of its own. And it's hungry.

To celebrate the release of Slippers of Pearl and Bitten: A Novel of Faerie, I'd like to offer a bite of magic to all those who love kidlit--and fairy tales in particular.

There will be eleven winners and six different prizes available:

A Bite of Cobbler

Shoes, unlike magic, are predictable. They don’t change shape, bite, or alter a person’s destiny.
And that’s just how Faryn likes it.

But his Uncle Harvey has a bad habit of dying. While inconvenient, this hasn’t ever been a problem until now. Thanks to an evil witch and a poisoned apple turnover, Harvey is dead again—permanently this time.

As his uncle’s heir, Faryn has to give up shoemaking in order to accept and refine his magic.
Magic he never wanted.

Unwilling to let go of his dream, but unable to escape his destiny, Faryn combines the two and discovers a knack for making magical shoes. He also learns that turning a person into a goose is a lot easier than turning her back, and that he severely underestimated how much trouble magic can be.
The witch who killed his uncle is trying to control all the magic of the land, and it’s up to Faryn to stop her. If only he can get his magic to cooperate in time. 

an autographed copy of Slippers of Pearl
a magical pouch to keep it in
and a Slippers of Pearl bookmark

A Bite of Faerie
(Available October 2nd-ish)

Fourteen-year-old Cherrie Wilding stopped believing in fairies after her Grams had a stroke that left her a silent, empty stranger. But whether she believes in them or not, one of them bit her, and now the venom is spreading through her system and causing  . . . complications. Like an allergy to iron and a craving for milk.

It turns out that fairy venom has the power to turn mortals into small, winged versions of themselves. And it gets better. Grams's stroke was the result of her light—her fairy soul—being stolen. The fairy who bit Cherrie demands her to help steal Grams’s light back. 

As much as Cherrie wants to save Grams, her need to protect her older brother from the fairies and the rest of the real world wins out. Who knows what lurks in a world populated by winged menaces? But when the fairy talks Cherrie’s brother into going to the fairy realm, Cherrie mounts a rescue attempt to save him. To her surprise, it’s not her brother who needs rescuing—it’s the fairies. Someone is stealing their lights and imprisoning them, and it’s up to Cherrie and her brother to free them. But saving the fairies, keeping her brother safe, and returning home requires the help of the Phoenix. And the price for his aid doesn’t come cheap. If Cherrie wants to succeed, she must be willing to part with her greatest possession: her heart.

an autographed copy of Bitten: A Novel of Faerie
a faerie habitat
a Bitten bookmark

A Bite of Books

1 $25 Amazon Gift Card

Two Bites of Music

2 $15 iTunes Gift Cards

Six Bites of Braun Books Certificates

6 $10 gift certificates to Braun Books; redeemable in store or through Amazon
(A special thanks to Megan at Braun Books!)

To enter, leave a comment. Extra entries available through the Rafflecopter below.

Thank you to all, and best of luck!

You can friend me on
 Facebook Author Betsy Schow
Twitter @betsyschow

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 7, 2012

Out to lunch

Writing and revising ... be back.... when I'm done 

If you don't see me in 2 weeks -- send help

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Freedom of Speech or Freedom to be a Psycho

Current events and public sentiment mystify me. Sometimes a thing is only right and just until it blows up in your face. Here is what is currently causing my nose hairs to twitch.

Recently there was public outcry over the detention of a former marine, Brandon J. Raub, who made some off kilter and well, violent remarks on Facebook. The sentiments were anti-government or anti-establishment I believe. Something to the effect of a revolution coming, day of reckoning. Saying he was sharpening his axe to sever some heads. The FBI and local police dept had some concerns for public safety as well as the man's own mental stability. They held him for questioning and a psychiatric evaluation. People are outraged. They have set up donation pools for him. He has had his right to free speech violated. How dare big brother step in?

Other side of the coin. Recognize this guy?
Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes sits with public defender Tamara Brady during his first court appearance in Aurora, Colo., on July 23, 2012.  (RJ Sangosti/REUTERS)'
This is James Holmes. The man responsible for the Aurora "Batman" mass shootings. Currently there is public outcry because a month or two before the incident, he made undisclosed and vague threats against the school establishment. The threats were reported, he was kicked off campus. Cue public outcry. Why wasn't more done? Why wasn't this maniac pulled from the streets and locked up before he hurt someone? The police knew he made violent statements, yet they did nothing.

Have you seen the problem with these two stories? If Mr. Holmes had been detained at the time of his statements, would there have been public offense and outrage at his detention? Would his rights have been violated? Why is it only after someone follows through with the violent and awful things they say, then... then it's no longer freedom of speech.

Here's a crazy idea. If you say violent, radical, psycho things... people should treat you like a violent, radical, psycho. I'm no law professor. I don't have a fine knowledge of the constitution. I just don't think we should have the right, or as a society should tolerate, the violent rantings of madmen. Much less hold them up as torchbearers for the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech should protect those who wish to oppose the ideas of the government. You can disagree vehemently without threatening to kill others or start a war. I'm pretty sure the founding fathers did not intend to the first amendment to be the freedom to be a psycho.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Foto Fiction: Unmentionable Vacation

I'm trying a new thing. Taking photos of odd sights I run across then writing little stories or thoughts for them. Gets the creative juices flowing. I took this picture while in Yellowstone last week.

Have you ever noticed that a sock is mysteriously absent after a wash? Or maybe your favorite bra has taken a hike? Well perhaps it really has. Yellowstone national park now boasts an all inclusive vacation package for lingerie that's tired of the same old spin and rinse cycle. Activities include hiking, climbing flagpoles, swimming and sunbathing (as pictured below). No people necessary for the trip, your unmentionables can take the magical wormhole in the dryer. After they are rested and relaxed they will be ready to return to their daily duty. So if you come across that camisole you haven't seen in a few weeks, and it smells vaguely like s'mores, you'll know exactly where it's been.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

School's Out for Summer

Finals are finished! I survived my first semester back at school after an 11 year absence.
It wasn't easy, and not just because of the shortened summer block, or the 6 hour Anthropology final.

College is a whole different world from when I was there the first time in 1997. We didn't have cell phones. No Facebook either. Heck, one of my first classes was on how to use the internet.

These days, every co-ed has their phone out - during class - texting or updating their status.  I feel like an old mother hen with my consternation glare and clucking my tongue at all the young'uns.

It's easy to forget that I was once one of those kids that might skip class to meet up with my boyfriend. Now I'm a mom trying to fit a few classes in here and there, and I want every ounce worth of tuition I paid.

Oh why is youth wasted on the young? I wish I could go back and give myself academic advice. Which classes to take. To stay in school and finish a degree before the kids and the mortgage. Not to blow off that one psych class. Ouch.

Instead I will settle on giving everyone else on campus academic advice. So while school's out for summer (all of two weeks) and before fall starts, feel safe young co-eds. But in two weeks looks out, because I will be back in full force with wagging finger equipped and the patented mother guilt trip.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Case of the Eeyores

I just realized that I have a serious case of the Eeyores. I've got this little black cloud following me. It's not actually raining on me yet, but I am flinching, waiting for that first drop to fall. If someone says they want to talk to me, it's like being called to the principal's office. I'm sure they are going to tell me they're mad, or that I've done something wrong.

Do you do that? Wait for the proverbial shoe to drop? Sure that you will end up the bug squished under said shoe.

I'm not sure why I think the universe has a nasty surprise in store for me. But I'm pretty sure if I keep expecting it, the world won't disappoint.

If I've gotta be Eeyore, maybe I should focus on one of my favorite sayings by the morose donkey, "Some days look better upside down."

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Spy with my little eye...

Camera phones are one of my most favorite inventions in life. I love taking snapshots of seemingly random things. I decided to start doing this for the blog as well. Here's my picture of the day.

Without the context of the scenery, you might think this is an aerial view of the ocean, with whitecaps dotting the water. Nope, it's the clouds in the sky. Today they look like cottage cheese, or the crumble with whipped cream on a blueberry tart. Hmmm, most of the my thoughts are leaning towards food. I think that means I haven't had breakfast yet.

What does this look like to you?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Game of Life

Back in the day, I used to love playing "Life". I even own the Pirates of the Caribbean edition. But the game isn't so fun when you're playing it for keeps. The "Real Life"  where stock markets can crash and send the value of the house card you picked into the toilet. And whose little plastic kids from the game scream, whine, and throw temper tantrums.

Oddly, my real life is echoing the game a bit. Only the stakes are higher than just a bad spin. Remember the go to college card so you can get a higher paying job? Well, my husband lost his job in February. We decided that it was in the best interest of the family and future jobs to send him back to school to get a degree. He should be done in another 10 months. So until then, we are living on our savings and a sandal budget (we passed the shoestring point).

As I watch the saving deplete, I can't help but wonder, did we make the right choice? I think so, and time will tell. But I still feel I am moving around the board waiting for one of those bad opportunity cards to smack me with a penalty.

Have you ever had to gamble a bit with your future, and did it pay off? How did you know you were doing the right thing?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

If you can't say something nice...

You should always listen to what your momma says you know. If you can't say something nice, keep your yap shut. Especially in politics.

If you haven't noticed, there's a pretty big election coming up this year. And so far I have no clue why I should vote for either one of these yahoos. I've heard an earful of why I shouldn't vote for the other candidate though.

It makes me ill that every time I turn on the news or check Facebook, there are pictures of Romney in a KKK outfit, or Obama looking like Hitler. Come on people. How exactly is this helpful, to anyone? To swipe a line from Buddha, It's like poisoning yourself and hoping the other guy falls dead.  Because make no mistake, this negative crap is poisoning you and everyone around you with hate. If you are a person that spreads these offensive and often false images and stories, do you realize how that makes you look?

So here's my impassioned plea to my friends and family on both the left and right... stop throwing poo at the opposing candidate. This goes for the campaigns themselves too. All we hear is how one of them is going to ruin America. I for one would like to hear what you- or your candidate of choice- are going to do to make America better.

Stop using bully scare tactics. Stop kicking the other guy in the nuts. If the only reason to vote is so the other guy doesn't win, we are screwed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Did the LDS church cross the line by stepping into a city dispute

Long title. I know. But nonetheless that is the question I find myself asking.

Little background info. BYU (Brigham Young University) and the LDS church are seeking to build a 9 story addition to the MTC ( missionary training center) in a little neighborhood named Pleasant View in Provo, Utah. To say some residents are a bit unhappy would be an understatement.

Normally if a company or organization wanted to build something against city code, they would present their case, residents would object, the planning council would decide. End of matter.

This story is a wee bit trickier considering the organization in this case is the church to which most if not all of the residents belong to. In fact the leader of the neighborhood resistance is also employed by the church. How's that for tricky?

Initially when opposition was voiced to church about the matters, the LDS church stated the matter was secular and would be dealt with as such. The residents of the neighborhood were free to voice their conscience.

That ended about a week ago when stake president Chris Randall read and spoke from the pulpit on Sunday July first. He reiterated a message that is purported to come from Elder Nelson of the 12. A higher up in LDS church organization. Anyway, the message "invited" the neighborhood opposition to support and "sustain" the church leaders in their decision that the building is necessary to the church and an important ecclesiastical matter.

Hmm. Anyone in the LDS community knows that when you are invited to sustain something, there is a deeper implication at hand. Those words in particular imply certain things with a certain religious connotation.

When I related this story to my friend, she immediately said it smacked of fascism. Perhaps. I think that is a little far personally though. It is interesting to note that immediately following the "invitation" the leader of the opposition and a good many members, dropped their protests. Did the leader, Paul Evans, feel like he might lose his church standing and more importantly his job if he dissented? It could definitely be implied as such. He does not state that as the case though, let me be clear.

What about the members on the planning committee? If they are LDS will the "invitation" from church leadership put them in an awkward position? Or put undue pressure to cede to the will of a church versus the city?

I don't know. It's an interesting quandary to say the least. In my opinion, the notice from the pulpit was in poor taste and poor wording. But the Mormon faith is one where the needs of the gospel, God and church comes first. The view from your front window would be second. There is definitely a doctrinal case that could be made for a member of faith.

I'm not disputing that. Not questioning whether or not you can be a faithful member and disagree with the church at times. Just questioning the transition from stating it as a secular issue then changing to an ecclesiastical one when the chips were down.

Faith and politics is not a new discussion. Nor is it unique to the Mormon faith. I have seen people using this case as a reason not to vote for Romney. Because the church would influence his decisions. What about a Catholic? Would the Pope order a justice or president to strike down Gay marriage or face excommunication?

As Americans we like to point to a separation in church and state, but the lines are never drawn as clearly as we might think. School prayer, in God we trust, one nation under God, etc.

So I ask you dear reader, did the LDS church go too far bringing a civil city matter into church meetings? Exerting pressure or merely asking for help from the congregation? And the broader implications... Can anyone truly consider themselves a member of faith and not have that leak into their political decision?

Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And before the haters start hating, I am a member in good standing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Just looking at some hard questions.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Everything I need to know as a writer, I learned from Buffy

My husband and I have been indulging recently in last year's Christmas present... the full series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but the show is brilliant. Joss Whedon is a freakin' genius. It is my fervent belief that if every writer watched Buffy, the quality of books would vastly increase. Here's what I learned.:

1. Witty irreverent dialogue makes characters interesting. Even the unlikable ones.
Principal Snyder is not a character you should like. He constantly causes problems for our heroine.  It would be easy to cast this character as a throw away. Just a boring voice of authority. Instead, Whedon has given him some of the best lines, making him worth watching instead of a snoozefest.
Principal Snyder: That's the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.
2. Sidekicks are almost as valuable as the protagonist.
Where would the Scooby Gang be without Willow, Giles and Zander? These characters are all essential parts of story. They add meaningful support as well as comic relief. Often sidekicks are relegated to very surface personalities. It's easy to fall into the stereotype trap. The fat best friend, the nerd, the snotty cheerleader.. you name it and it's been done. They don't grow. So take it farther, make the audience care and give your sidekicks depth. Think of the growth Willow had throughout the series.

3. Angel was the original Edward from Twilight
And Joss Whedon did it so much better. Edward comes off as too good to be true. He has no flaws. It's obnoxious. And unrealistic. Angel is awesome because he has issues. He's not perfect, we don't always like him; but in the end, we all root for him anyway. Have you ever had a relationship that was all sunshine and roses? Where the only problems between the two of you could be worked out through a little DTR (define the relationship). Didn't think so. Buys make you cry. Love makes you cry.And sometimes... true love doesn't conquer all.

4. Sometimes life sucks.
Throughout the series, Buffy goes through hell. How often do we read books where the main character is never in any real peril. Nothing bad really happens to them. Buffy got the crap beat out of her on a weekly basis. She doesn't often get what she wants, but she does what is needed. Don't be afraid to hurt your hero. If there is no true peril, the story isn't interesting. And if it's obvious that the hero will come out all peachy keen... why would we keep turning the page?

There are so many more lessons, but I think I'll leave it on just one final thought. Fun. In every Joss Whedon project I have ever seen, it is clear that he has fun. Look at Buffy, Firefly, Avengers... they do well and have cult followings because he has fun with his writing. When the writer has fun, the audience can't help but join in.

So until next week, live by my personal author tagline -- Having fun on the page

Friday, June 29, 2012

How Do You Get Published?

This is one of super obnoxious chicken and the egg type questions. In an effort to get a book published, authors often run into the wall of platform and previous works.
Agents and publishers want to know that you have an audience. That people like your work. That you actually already know how to write. You know, the stuff you put in that all important Bio part of the query letter.

 In other words to get published, you have to already be published.

There's always the slush pile. You can get picked out of inbox sitting on an editor or agents desk. It happened to me. This is one of those lightning striking kind of things though. Right place, right time, bottle ready to catch that lightning.

But there is another way grasshoppers. Build up your credentials. Enter Contests, start a super popular blog (I clearly do not have the machanics down on this one yet), submit short stories and essays to magazines, find places on the web looking for content writers.

Today I'm going to plug the first option: Contests.  One in particular.
Mormon Mommy Writers blog is having a contest. We are looking for personal essays, short stories, poems,  haiku, limmericks (just kidding), but you get the idea. The subject pertains to the title of our blog. Mormons, Mommies, and Writers. Write about one or all. You don't even have to be a Mormon or a Mommy to enter. Just a writer. Winners and honorable mentions will be published in an anthology.
Mormon Mommy Writers

So enter hopeful writers. What do you have to lose. Nothing. What do you have to gain. A publication credit. Something to put on that bio section.

Good luck! For more contest info use the above link. Submissions must be received by July 31. And yes, I am one of the judges.

Friday, June 22, 2012

De-sensitivity Training for the Zombie Apocalypse

Be forewarned. I am in a ranty mood today. Ranted on my other blog too. Ranting is good for the soul :p

Unless you've already hidden yourself in a bomb shelter, you probably are aware of the so called Zombie Apocalypse.  The rash of odd cannibal stories in the news. The homeless guy eating the face off another man in Florida. The Canadian Pornstar Psycho that killed his lover, taped it, did awful things to him post mortem, then ate him and mailed pieces all over Canada and uploaded the video of the whole thing on the internet.

It's the last instance that disturbs me to the core.  Not mainly the acts described above.  While horrifying and unconscionable, it's still just one psycho. No, what keeps me up at night is what happened after.

A high school teacher in Canada thought it would be a good idea to screen this psycho's little pornagraphic snuff film for his students. The fact that young minds were subjected to the atrocities that this man committed is horrible. Even worse, were the students reactions themselves.

After watching the killer perform sex acts on the corpse, eat him, then dismember him, one student said, "It was bad... yeah. But I've seen worse in the movies."

AHHH! What the heck? What are we saying when the movies are showing things equal to these real life horrors. And worse, that these kids cannot emotional tell the difference between watching a scripted show with red cornsyrup and CGI, and a real psychopath killing a real person who had a real soul with a real family.

So people, don't spend your time worrying about the Zombie Apocalypse. If this de-sensitivity to violence continues, we will have much bigger problems to worry about.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tut, Tut, looks like rain

One of the writer's in my critique group posed a question the other day. She was having trouble with character dialogue.All of her characters sound the same. She said, If it's going to rain, wouldn't the character just say that.  "It's going to rain. Or it's raining"No matter who they were.

The answer of course is...bzzzz... wrong.  If every character had the same way of phrasing something, there would be no character at all. Here are a few examples.

"Tut, Tut, looks like rain"- Winnie-the -Pooh

"The nicest thing about rain is that it always stops. Eventually." - Eeyore

"There's a storm blowin' up - a whopper, to speak in the vernacular of the peasantry" Professor Marvel, Wizard of OZ

"My breasts can always tell when its going to rain" Karen on Mean Girls

You get my drift. Characters are interesting and memorable because they have interesting and memorable things to say. A person is 3 dimensional, with a past and personality that colors their word choice.

Here's an exercise. Your character needs to say they're hungry.

Pooh would say "I've got a rumbly in my tumbly."

How would a colonist from space say it?

A Farmer?

An 11 yr old?

Have fun and be creative!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Facebook Faux Pas

Lately, Facebook has been driving me nuts. I decided to take a moment and post my thoughts on some good rules to follow when you're using Facebook.
Especially if you are using it as a public figure, like an author, actress, etc.

First off, I've seen so many people posting big long privacy notices in an attempt to keep their pictures and their information private. Here's a little internet tip: Once you post something on the Internet, it's no longer private. Even if you delete it, it's never really gone. It's out there... somewhere. That's why, if you really don't want the whole entire world to see that picture of you from Friday night's excess... don't post it.

And in that theme, be careful what you say. Often times we spout off in the heat of the moment, but those moments can be really hard to take back. Someone may have copied and pasted, quoted, or otherwise used your words. So watch em.

In particular, hot button issues like politics and religion. Posting endless streams of propaganda against a political opponent is annoying, offensive, and oftentimes just plain incorrect. It's my personal opinion the FB is not really the right forum for this. There's enough spin on the news networks without adding it to FB. In particular, with elections coming up. A sure way to alienate friends. I will admit to unfriending more than one person after 20 daily political status updates.

FB can be a powerful marketing tool. That being said, it is not our personal infomercial. If you treat it as such, what are people going to do? Same thing we do with real commercials, change the channel. Use self promotion sparingly, like a garnish as opposed to the main dish.

A personal pet peeve of mine? Telling everyone how great you are. In every post. How your own book makes you crack up. Or cry. Or even worse... Regularly quoting bits of fan mail that claim you're a better author than JK Rowling. If the work is good, it will stand for itself. You don't need to toot your own horn day and night. Your lips will get tired.

Be genuine. Be yourself. Be aware that other people having things to share too. Comment and participate in their lives as well. In the end, if you're dismayed about a post gone wrong, nobody liking your status, or feeling overwhelmed -- remember that's it's just Facebook. Not rocket science. In the end what matters most are things in your life that are offline. Your kids, spouse, family... You know, you're real life. ;)

PS. Emoticons are a necessary evil ;p

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Balancing Act

Something I have always struggled with is balance. Which is somewhat ironic since I have the kanji letters for it tattooed on my back.

My balance issues don't just stop with tree pose in yoga, I have difficulty balancing all the aspects of my life. Home, school, motherhood, writing, running... sleep.  I am notorious for picking one or two, and going gung ho and ignoring all the others. Lately that has been marathon training and writing. At least 5- 6 hours daily is devoted to the two. My poor children are orphans and my house is in shambles.

Next weekend I run my marathon. It's not an exaggeration to say I feel like I've been running myself ragged. I'm really looking forward to the change in pace. But I have been so all involved in the running and writing, that I am losing sight of all the other things in my life that need attention. I have been killing myself and stressing to finish this new book on some arbitrary deadline that I have created for myself. It's not much fun anymore, and I am getting too close to the story and I think it needs some breathing room. I need to spend some time on other things. In particular, I really want to walk through my house without tripping on toys and clothes.  Or tools... hint hint to my hubby.

So let the great house clean up begin. For the next two weeks I am dedicating a few hours everyday to cleaning the disaster formerly known as my home. Of course, when I clean, I still have trouble with balance. I tend to go with the torch it all mentality. If it's not necessary in my daily function, it gets donated to someone else. My husband almost hates to ask me to clean, because he loses so much stuff afterwards. But he's a pack rat and who really needs 5 old computer monitors anyway?

So wish me luck. Hopefully I won't fall victim to the mountain of crap in my garage, and hopefully I can still find time to get an hour a day in on the WIP. That would truly be a good sign that my balancing is improving.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

50 Shades of Ranting

One of these days I will do a little more research before I buy a book. In this case I didn't. So today this post is a rant in the guise of a review for 50 Shades of Grey.

Some of you are probably like, I think I've heard that name before. Others are probably like, Oh... that book.  Well, last week I was in the first group. I didn't pay a lot of attention to what was going on, just that I'd heard it was being made into a movie and it was Twilight Fan fiction. So when I saw it on the table at Costco, I thought I would see what the buzz was about. There's an innocuous looking gray tie on the front cover. Sheep's clothing people.

The first 3 chapters were torture. Absolute torture. It was forced, stilted, and generally made me want to run back to Costco for a refund. Terrible writing, but I persevered because millions of fans can't be wrong right? Well, I suppose that's a matter of taste.

I was expecting vampires, I was not expecting straight up S and M. I skimmed through the parts that I wouldn't show my momma. But still I was drawn in. Why? I have no clue. The writing was very basic, the character's personalities were swiped wholesale from twilight, and there were no paranormal elements at all. Just fifty shades of screwed-up soap opera-ness. This absolutely shouldn't have worked. She took the very worst parts of Twilight (whiny girl who think's she ugly even though she's hot, rich overprotective guy who thinks he unredeemable) and beat them like a dead werewolf. Yet, I kept turning the page because I still wanted to know if the power of love could transcend a messed up start.

Would I recommend this book or the series, heck no. If you choose to, be forewarned that it has mooey X rated parts. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I wanted to move past this and on to the rant. Content aside, this series has sold 10 million copies. My jaw is on the floor right now. It boggles the mind. It's right up there with Jersey Shore being one of the most popular TV shows.

Part of me (the author part) is enraged that this... stuff... becomes bestseller material. I have friends whose work is clean, smart, and emotion evoking. Their writing craft makes this looks like a high school essay. So I'm indignant on their and quite frankly my behalf.

Other part of me, the non-judgemental part, says that this work clearly has value. Just like Twilight is not a masterpiece in the literary world, they both tapped a vein that resonated with the public. People love LOVE these books. Don't ask me why, but they do. And isn't that really what it's about? Drawing people in with you story, making people care about what happens to your characters.

I think as an author, we can get especially snobby about good writing and using pretty words. Some literary writers look down on mass market paperback writers or romance writers, thinking their style is ordinary and   unintelligent. Yet, this seems to be what the general non-english major public wants to read. To lose themselves in a story without be belabored by big words and artsy metaphors.  Quick and light.

So can I really condemn this book and others like it as being subpar horrible pieces that should be burned? No, it may not be to my taste, but clearly others love it, so the authors must be doing something right.
And as much as I want to shake my head at it, E.L James is laughing all the way to the bank with her million dollar paychecks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: Variant

So this is my first book review. It's something I have generally avoided, because I'm a great big chicken. When you have author friends, they all have books. Duh. And they want you to review said book. But what if you don't like it? Do you stick to what you're momma taught you- If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all or do you lie through your teeth?  I'm going with neither. Honest and unbiased reviews. For good or bad. It's the truth, but it's only my truth
So why did I choose Variant by Robison Wells? For a few reasons. One, I don't know the guy personally. I know a few of his friends, but feel no pressure to stroke any egos. Secondly, because I had been put off reading this because of a friends bad review. 

Her reasoning to steer me clear? In her opinion, this was a less inventive version of Maze Runner, by James Dashner. So I went into reading this book already worried about that. I know that the James and Robison are friends. I believe they may have even been in the same critique group at one time. I have precious little reading time and didn't want to spend it on Maze Runner lite.

My friend warned me not to read this. 
I'm glad that I rarely do what I'm told.

This is probably one of the most expensive books I've ever read. Because after I cracked it open, I couldn't put it down. Meaning I missed my doctor's appointment and had to pay the $45 missed appt. fee.  Robison draws you in right at the get go. Because I was already on the Maze Runner wavelength, I immediately saw some thematic similarities. New kid is thrown into already completely jacked up civilization run by kids that have no idea what the hell they are doing. New kid bucks at establishment, yet finds a little bit of comfortable life. Then that gets tossed on its head and we have the great escape where not everything is as it seems. 

How many times have we heard this basic story? Not just in Maze Runner. But how many times have we heard Romeo and Juliet? Titanic anyone? Or a little book called Twilight? Great books often share common thematic elements. Or aspects of the heroes journey. It's what the author does with those themes that make a book really special. And this book is really special.

I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty, because I don't want to have any spoilers. But you should read this book if you like suspense, trying to figure what's going on, then kicking yourself because you didn't see that coming. You should also read this book if you like to think about the societal commentary long after the last page. How much do we turn a blind eye to because its convenient or easier? What is the cost to do the right thing? You should read this book for no other reason than it's a damned fine book.

My only regret in reading it was that I didn't wait until the sequel was in my hand. Now I have to wait and see what happens. Grrrrr..

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Having fun on the page - Not

When a friend told me I needed a tagline, I came up with "Having fun on the page". Because that's what I like to do. Be playful, light, maybe a little snarky. If I'm having fun writing , hopefully it means that the reader can have fun reading.

Lately, I have not been having fun. And it shows. My writing feels labored and forced. I'm just trying to get my character from point a to point b. Nobody has fun walking in a straight line.

My shoulders and my brain are weighed down, wondering- Is this sentence good enough? I used to able to just crank scenes out. Now I find myself second guessing whether something is worth reading.

Recently I went to LDS Storymakers conference. There were so many of my author idols in one room, it was sweat inducing. I met so many new friends, both published and published. I also went to a lot of great classes and learned things that I wouldn't have thought of before.

But now I find myself thinking too much. I'm having trouble constructing sentences for fear that Darth Editous (yes I'm looking at you Tristi) would make my paper bleed red.

I think one of my biggest problems is that I am trying to edit before I even write it. I am worried that I don't have enough character development, or that the plot is too simple.

Plain and simple, I am squishing my own creativity. I need to find the fun parts of the story again. After its on the page, I can worry about grammar, or whether I say was too often. I need to overcome the fear that it won't be enough. If it's not enough the first time, I will just have to tweak it until it is.

But I guarantee it will never be enough if I can't even get it on the page.

And where's the fun in that?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zaftig

Definition of ZAFTIG

of a woman
: having a full rounded figure : pleasingly plump
Origin of ZAFTIG
Yiddish zaftik-juicy

Whenever I get depressed that I am not a stick figure or tall willowy blonde, I tend to look up awesome adjectives that make me feel better about my curves. I stumbled across Zaftig not too long ago.

After I lost the 75 pounds, I was a little upset that I was still basically the same shape, just shrunk. Where was the delicate ballerina body I longed for? Why can I wear a size 6 and still have a mommy tummy?

Because I'm juicy and zaftig, that's why. 

And that's it. No more alphabet. YAY!  Ok, so it was a lot of work, but pretty fun too. I survived, but I think I will go back to once a week for this blog and keep up every day on my Finished Being Fat blog. Visit me there, or at Mormon Mommy Writers on Saturdays.

Thanks for reading, see ya next week.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for You

The question I get asked the most by aspiring writers is this, There are a million books about (mourning, weight loss, parenting, etc). I'm just a nobody. What can I bring that's any different?

My answer is always the same... you.

So What if you're not a celebrity? You have something that nobody else has: your story, your voice, and your life experience. Don't let anybody tell you any different.

Yes, there have been lots of books about losing a loved one. But there have been no books about losing your loved one.
That doesn't just apply to non-fiction. How many times have we read boy meets girl, or girl meets vampire? What sells books is your unique narrative voice. What do you have to say and how can you say it differently from everyone else?

As a writing exercise, my teacher had us all go outside and look at the road. Then he had us go inside and write a paragraph about the road. As you can imagine, the six of us, though we all looked at the same road, had remarkably different things to say about it. One of my favorites said it looked like a meeting place for lost souls.

Point is, you bring something to the table that is awesome and unique and deserves to be written. So don't try to make your book like any other that's been written before. Don't model it after a best seller.
Model it after you.
Tell your story.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Xanthippe

I will admit I was stumped by this one. I went in search of a new favorite words starting with X. I found it.

Xanthippe is an ill tempered woman. Taming of the shrew anyone? Yesterday, that described me to a T. Everything around me was uber irritating. The house, the kids, the big kid I'm married to. Nothing pleased me. I was a xanthippe.

So next time somebody calls you a something that starts with B and ends in itch, just tell them you're a xanthippe. It'll shut them up and they'll have to go look it up in the dictionary. And they'll probably look in Z.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Writing... duh

I love writing. It's cheaper than therapy and if you do it right, you can actually make money. Still working on the last part.

Biggest thing I've learned about writing? If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right. When I reread through chapters I've written recently, I can totally tell when I was having a fun and when I was forcing the scene to come out. If I had to guess, the reader probably can too.

When you write, you share a piece of yourself on the page. So thank you to all of the authors that I love that change my life. Thank you for sharing with me. From now on I will read your work and wonder exactly what piece of you I'm getting. The part where you're hashing out your high school issues, or the little moments of parenthood that make you want to take your kid back to the OBGYN.

My favorite thing you share, your first love, re-envisioned, so that it happens the way it was supposed to.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Validation

Facebook should be renamed Vaildation-Book. But it's not as catchy.

We, as a society, are putting ourselves, our kids, our thoughts up for the world to see. Then people validate that we are not crazy by "liking" us, or commenting. I find this incredibly interesting as a general statement on human nature. Every one needs to feel that they are not alone. That they are liked, loved and worth the oxygen they use each day.

I definitely have this mentality from time to time. Sometimes I need to take a step back and think to myself, Am I so busy seeking validation, that I am not validating others.

If you are going to use Facebook as a social media network and marketing tool, it has to be a multiway conversation. You can't just post funny things and ignore your "friends" posts. Take time to participate in their conversations and their days. You make more meaningful relationships that way and get deeper validation than just a "like"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Unicorn

This is a new fascination for my little one. If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, it's a unicorn. Specifically she wants to be Celestia from My Little Ponies.

Do you remember a time in your life when you wanted to be something like a unicorn, and it totally made sense to you. The world had yet to beat you down and shove you into a little labeled box. Infinite possibilities. Unfortunately, reality seems to seep in younger and younger.

So when my daughter dreams of being a unicorn, I don't tell her they don't really exist. I ask her what color hair she's going to have and what they eat for lunch. I want her to enjoy that magic for as long as she can grasp it with both hands.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tired and Time Out

This a-z challenge has been fun, but I'm tired. Blogging everyday on not one, but two sites has tuckered me out. So I'm giving myself a well deserved Timeout.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Success

So What is Success? What does it look like? When do you know you have it?

These are all questions that I've struggled with (ok still struggling).
Whatever I did, someone was better. Half of my friends went to Ivy League schools and the other half skipped school and became actors, writers, etc. And who was I? A stay at home mom. Big freakin whoop.
I didn't have a big important 9-5 corporate job. Hilary Rosen would accuse me of "... never having worked a day" in my life.

Well this past year I've learned how to look at success a little differently. I even have a whole chapter about it in my book, Finished being Fat: An accidental adventure in losing weight and learning to finish. (coming out in January 2013, :) thank you for asking ) As darn near every woman can tell you, motherhood is the hardest and lowest salaried job on the planet. First you have to grow a human being, which is pretty impressive considering I can't even get my veggies to grow.  You are responsible to teach your kids right from wrong, clean up sick, feed them healthy stuff, feed them crap when they won't eat the healthy stuff, get them to school in semi clean clothes, make sure when they're teenagers that they keep going to school, and the list goes on and on. Motherhood is definitely not 9-5, it's 9-life.

I've decided that if my kids are still alive at the end of the day, I'm a success. It doesn't matter if they're the cutest dressed kids on the block, or the lead in the school play.  As long as they are growing and improving as little people, then I must be doing something right.

Now for the hard part, applying what I've learned to writing. At first, my only goal was to finish a book. Once I did that the next logical step was to get it published. Okay, did that. Now I'm told that if I want my book to be a "success" it's up to me to market the heck out of it. So I'm working my butt off, doing all the things my publisher has asked me to do: work on building an author's platform, blog, gather facebook friends, tweet stuff, get endorsements.

I've started having nightmares. I'm over analyzing everything I do. Do enough people "like" me? Do I have enough followers? How many people are reading my blogs? Once again, whatever I'm doing, it feels like it's not enough. I feel like a failure compared to everyone else.

Stop. Reboot. Go back to my original question. What is success? Is it being on the New York Times Best-sellers list? Is it have 5000 Facebook friends and hundreds of likes per post? Is it getting on a daytime talk show? If I did all these things then could I finally call myself a "success"?

Those things are all nice and fabulous, but I think success is something a little deeper. Just like in motherhood, I think success is changing one life for the better. Even if it's your own. If your story, whether it's fiction or non-fiction, has touched someone... congratulations- you are a successful writer. So What if you self publish, or have a small indie publisher. Doesn't matter.You have made a difference. Something you created has made the world a little brighter.

If that isn't success, I don't know what is.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Recipe

Here's my favorite recipe for healthy whole wheat pitas.

Recipe for: Whole Wheat Pita Bread
To prepare: Bake in oven on pizza stone at 450° F.
3 cups whole wheat flour
1½ Tbs sugar
1½ tsp salt
2 pkg (1½ Tbs) active dry yeast
2 Tbs olive oil
1¼ cups warm water

Mix all ingredients and knead for about 10 min.
Let dough raise in an oiled bowl until doubled, 1-1½ hours.
Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450° F.
Punch down dough and divide into 8 equal pieces (divide again into 4 for mini-pitas) and roll into balls.
Roll out balls on lightly floured surface into thin, 8” rounds (2” for mini-pitas).
Place rounds on pizza stone and bake until they puff up, then about 30 seconds more (about 3½ minutes total).
Note: instead of a pizza stone, you can use a baking sheet. Just make sure to preheat it in the oven.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quilt

My mom is the quilter, I'm not. I attempt to quilt, but learn very quickly that I can not sew straight. At least that's what the puncture holes in my thumb tell me.

But I'm ready to try again.  I have a goal. I'm going to make a fat quilt.

 If you have been reading this blog as well as my Finished Being Fat blog, you would know that I recently lost 75 pounds. I have an entire wardrobe of ZZL clothes that I will never need again. And to prove it to myself, I need to get rid of them.

Vintage Pooh "Winnie the Pooh" Motif Pleated Front Denim Bib Overalls~sz SI debated for a long time what to do. Some of my ordinary clothes I gave away. Some of the more hideous ones I burned. Passing that blue floral muumuu on to another victim would be inexcusable.  Some of the rest have special memories attached. The dress I wore for my tenth anniversay. My Winnie the Pooh overalls always made me happy- even though they looked horrible.

So I have been cutting my favorite fat clothes into 6x6 squares so I can piece them and sew them together. It won't be pretty. It won't be fancy. But it should make me smile and keep my newly skinny butt warm on cold winter nights.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Potty Party

It's time to be proactive. I'm go to do the same thing I did for my first kiddo. She was ready, but we just couldn't make a clean break from the pull ups. So we did a potty party. Potty training in one day. 

I've about had it with my 2 and a half year old. She uses the potty about half the time. The other half, she changes her own diaper - and then hides the evidence.

In the case of the dreaded poopy diapers, all I can say is eewwww. For whatever reason potty training my second child has been much more difficult than training my first. But I'm busier now. Perhaps if I just spent more time. Well you know what they say about ifs and buts. But my problem is specifically about the butt.

The idea is to make it fun, almost like a birthday party. We invited a few friends over, there was a special cake, little presents, and lots of fun potty games. The whole day was spent playing with the potty and saying goodbye to the diaper. She was a big girl that could wear underwears.

This made a connection in my first daughter's brain. Of course we had a few accidents afterwards, but just like a birthday party to celebrate getting older, she had celebrated growing up and getting rid of the diapers.

So I think in the next month I am really going to push the little one to lose the diapers. Let the party planning begin.

What worked for you and little poopers?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Octopus

This is what I wish I was. For obvious reasons, the 8 hands.
It would be so nice to get laundry folded, while typing my WIP, playing with my kids, and burning dinner. 

Just a side note on my favoritism of the octopus. When I was a kid, my mom would send me to school with a brown bag lunch. But they weren't ordinary brown bags, my mother would decorate them with fanciful creatures. My favorite was a bag she made in 3rd grade. It had an octopus drawn on it, arms stretched wide. It said, "I love you THIS much". Kids would try to trade their cookies for my bags, but I would never part with them. My mom was an artist, and each bag was proof that she loved me THIS much.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for No

This would currently be my 2 1/2 year old daughter's favorite word. And if that wasn't enough, my husband, tired of the no, taught her other fabulous ways to say it. Nien, Niecht, nu-uh, no way jose, nope. All Ns.

Now while the little one has this down pat, I seem to have trouble saying it. When someone asks me to do something I immediately say sure. It isn't until I get home and have a panic attack when I input it into my schedule,  that I realize I may be a tish overstretched.

Why is it that sometimes we are incapable of saying no? Is it because we want to help and genuinely feel the desire to serve? Or (at least for me) the more likely culprit of not wanting to disappoint someone.

Oddly enough, when someone else offers to do something for me, I don't hesitate to say no thanks. I suppose I don't want to be someone's burden.

Just rambling out loud on the keyboard.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Mistakes in Motherhood

Not a day goes by without a moment where I think, yup I have scarred my kids for life.

Words sound a whole lot different coming out of my mouth than my five year old's. Sometimes I can't tell how harsh something sounds until it's parroted back at me.

The other night my oldest daughter was playing with her little sister. Apparently a two and half year old does not grasp the finer nuances of whack-a-mole and my preshcooler took issue with that.
 "If you can't play right, you don't get to play," she shouted and threw the game across the room.
I took issue with her behavior. My reply was angry and scolding,  "If you can't play nicely, you won't have any friends and no one will want to play with you." Then, since it was close to bedtime, I sent her off to her room to chill out and go to sleep early.

Alas she did not go quietly in the night. For the next half hour I could hear her screaming from her bed. "I don't want to go to sleep. I hate you. I'm going to go find a new family."  A little while later I heard the phrase that broke my heart. "I don't want to be alone. I need friends."

Somewhere along the line I had screwed up. I had made a colossal mistake in motherhood and made my daughter feel unloved. It had not been my intent to hurt, just a frustrated attempt at correction. So What was I gonna do about it now?

I felt it would be an even worse mistake to let my child go off to sleep thinking that no one loved her. So I sat down with her, gave her loves and took the 2 minutes to explain why her behavior was unacceptable. Basically what I should have done in the first place. Afterwards I got my kiss goodnight and she was out like a light.

Not so much for me. I sobbed to my husband that I was the worst mother in the whole world. That we should start saving now because my kids would end up having huge therapy bills. He reminded me that kids were pretty darn resilient and my daughter would get over it. And the next time I got angry, I should just love 'em to death.

Sure enough, the next day my daughter gave me oodles of love and hugs. Telling me she loved me, that I was the best mommy ever. What I learned was that everybody makes mistakes. In particular, I will continue to make mistakes. It's what we do afterwards that defines us as a parent.

I for one am going to apologize to my mother for the time I packed up my stuffed animals and ran away to my best friends house. I don't remember what she did that made me so angry, but I remember the tears in her eyes when she couldn't find me. Sure when I was discovered I got grounded, but I also got nearly hugged to death.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Lullaby

My favorite part of the day when my girls were little, was bedtime. Not only because the little beasts were going to sleep, but because of our lullaby ritual.

I would swaddle my baby and sit in the rocking chair and sing a song or two until there little eyes were nice and droopy. Sometimes I would sing Twinkle Twinkle, or Rock a Bye Baby. But I had a favorite lullaby for each girl that is a little... different. I figured, hey they don't know what the heck I'm saying. As long as it's low and soothing I could sing the phonebook.

So for my oldest, my favorite tune was Death Cab for Cutie's I''ll follow you into the dark. 

For my little one is was the Smith's Sing me to sleep.

To this day I get misty eyed when I hear those songs on the radio. They remind me of a time that was precious, crazy, and worth every minute.

What did you sing to your little ones?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kokomo

This was my mother's favorite song when I was a kid. My friends all thought I was a little weird when I picked the Beach boy song to lip sync to in 6th grade instead of U2 or Depeche Mode. Yep, branded a dork for life.

Eventually, my mom homeschooled me for the rest of 6th grade. We watched South Pacific, Carousel, and Camelot. I developed a love for the Beach boys as well as musicals. Though my tweeny counterparts may have disagreed, this made me a well rounded individual.

So thanks mom, for making me a dork. I love you. And I still sing Kokomo in the Shower.

Aruba, Jamaica, oohh I wanna take ya...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jarom

Jarom is my husband and my favorite person in the world...most of the time. We just celebrated our 12th anniversary.

My book is autobiographical, so my husband is a big part of it. In reading it, he was a little confused of my portrayal of him. He thought I made him out to be Superman. But isn't that what your spouse should do? See the piece of greatness that is hidden from yourself.

So this is my love letter to my husband. He champions my strengths, supports me through my weakness, and is the mirror in which only the best of myself is reflected.

I challenge you to write a love letter to your favorite someone: Mother, husband, father, child

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Invent



verb (used with object)
to originate or create as a product of one's own ingenuity,experimentation, or contrivance: to invent the telegraph.
to produce or create with the imagination: to invent a story.
to make up or fabricate (something fictitious or false): to invent excuses.

If you are a writer, you should add inventor to your list of titles. says so. Look at definition number 2. That is also the definition of what an author does. We are inventors of story, of worlds, of characters. 

With the right words we can change the world.