Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday So What: A Writer and her MAN-uscript

post by Betsy Schow

I often hear it said that a WIP is like nurturing and having a baby. Recently, a single friend of mine was talking about the trials and tribulations she was having with her boyfriend. Though I'm married, I could completely relate because of my current relationship -- my manuscript.

Here's the DTR (define the relationship) breakdown for you.

Out of nowhere, an idea pops into my head. It is charming, alluring and I find myself chasing it around trying to know more.

After I've decided to commit time and effort to this MAN-uscript, I can't spend enough time on it. Everything we do together is pure gold! When I'm at the grocery store, I find myself thing about it, jotting down little notes. It consumes my every waking thought and I find myself neglecting friends, family, and chores for my writing dates.

Now that I've obsessed about things, the realities start to seep in. Plot holes, character flaws, and vastness of the commitment in front of me. My MAN-uscript is not shaping up to the perfect ideals I had envisioned in my mind. So I try to force it to change, to become what I want, but it resists and we fight. Sometimes I give it the silent treatment for days because I've started to hate it, just a little bit. Replaying those first chapters we had together, they aren't as magical as I remembered them.

The excitement is gone and it's not long before a new hot idea catches my eye. I tell my MAN-uscript that we need to take a break while I explore my options. Even though I have fun playing around with the new, the old tickles along the edges of my brain and I can't get it out of my head. All the possibilities we had, did I just throw them all away?

Now I have decided that I'm not ready to discard all the hard work I put into this relationship and I tentatively dip a toe back in. The huge problems I thought we had don't seem so bad anymore. I see our past with new eyes, deciding to let the MAN-uscript be what it needs to be. I push it to be the best it can, but know and accept that it will never reach perfection. Instead of hating the WIP for what it isn't, I need to work on my own skills so that I can improve.

PDA (public displays of affection)
Now it's time to share my love affair with the world. Some people won't get it, they'll mock or laugh. Outsiders will point out every pimple and line. However, some will connect the story to their own lives and feel something. It's always scary to be judged on the things that come directly from my heart, but in the end, I know the only thing that matters is the love and growth I shared with my MAN-uscript.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Writing Tips

By Nikki Wilson

I woke up this morning and realized that it was my day post! So what to write about? Well I thought about the different writing tips I've read and tried over the years and I thought I would talk about just a few:

1) Attend writer's conferences - I've been to several conferences, some even online and I can tell you that I've come away from each and everyone inspired to write! This is my favorite writing tip because it took me a long time to convince myself to go to one. After all, they cost money and I had to realize that it's ok to spend money on my dream of becoming a published author. I found that writer's conference make the dream seem more than possible, it makes it seem inevitable. Plus I meet all kinds of cool writers like me and awesome editors, agents, and published authors. It's definitely worth going to at least one!

2) Join a writer's group - This has been an invaluable tool for me. Plus it's saved my sanity  more than once. (Not that I'm professing to be completely sane or anything like that!) I joined ANWA (American Night Writers Association) about 4 years ago and was amazed to meet so many other LDS women in my area who have the same dream. We meet once a month at someone's house and in the 4 years since I've joined I've only missed 4 meeting. The reason for that is that I get so much inspiration and help from everyone around me. Plus they have become my writing family and I can't go very long without being around them. If you don't have a writer's group near you, start one! Or ANWA has online writer's groups as well!

3) Write at a certain time and place on a regular basis - When I do this, it's amazing how much writing I get done. I have found that the best place for me to write is at the library. I know when I sit down at a table in the library that I need to be studious and get to work on my writing. I also have found success with writing first thing in the morning before I even get out of bed. This is when creative ideas are abundant for me. Whenever I need a new writing idea I go to my morning writing journals.

4) Share your writing - When I wrote my first book I did it within 6 weeks and I credit the speed of this with the fact that my friend and I started writing together. We would meet online and time ourselves and see how much we could write, then we would email each other what we had written. Getting immediate feedback and encouragement really helped me at the beginning phase of my writing career. Even now, I need to share my writing with others to hear good feedback because I'm so critical of my own writing. This is a very important tip. Because we also need people to tell us how to make our stories better. When I come across someone who says they only let one person read their story before they send it to agents, I know that their odds of getting a rejection just went up. (Now it worked for Stephenie Meyer, but she seems to be the exception to every rule! LOL!)  Because different readers catch different things and are invaluable to understand what to do to make it better.

I could go on with writer's tips, but I'm late for work! So I'm asking you to finish this list of writing tips in the comments! What are your favorite writing tips? Don't be shy!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Just" Nothing

by Katy White

On Sunday, a friend of mine spoke in church and took the opportunity to first introduce her family, including her highly educated and accomplished husband.  When she got to herself, she said, "And I'm just a mom at home with the kids."
I felt like someone had tried to slap me.  And I felt like slapping her (just a little bit.  Lovingly). 
Before becoming a mom, I had a successful, high profile career for twelve years.  I was very well respected at work and only had more opportunities in front of me.  When my years of infertility were finally rendered obsolete (YAY!), I returned to work for a short time, but ultimately decided to stay home.  When I left my job, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who reached out to me with their regrets (and support).  Yet now, not even nine months after I closed my office door for the last time, conferences and trainings and site visits are all still happening.  My former coworkers are going to lunch together.  My boss has taken my replacement under his wing, complete with inside and practical jokes.  My directors are thriving under the new regime.  All without me.

On the other hand, when I leave my kid for two minutes to go to the bathroom, it's like the apocalypse has come early at our house (okay, not quite, but you get the picture).  I’ve never felt more important, loved, wanted, needed, or fulfilled.  Instead of managing grown ups who too frequently choose not to change or grow, I get to shape the entire life of someone who is constantly developing and learning and laughing and calling the wrong things “Daddy!”  I love it.  So when someone says "just" to staying at home, it saddens me.  And I'm not alone.

Patricia Holland, wife of LDS Apostle, Jeffrey R. Holland, said:

"If I were Satan and wanted to destroy a society, I think I would stage a full-blown blitz on women. I would keep them so distraught and distracted that they would never find the calming strength and serenity for which their sex has always been known. 
Satan has effectively done that, catching us in the crunch of trying to be superhuman instead of striving to reach our unique, God-given potential within such diversity. He tauntingly teases us that if we don’t have it all—fame, fortune, families, and fun, and have it all the time—we have been short-changed and are second-class citizens in the race of life. As a sex we are struggling, our families are struggling, and our society is struggling."1

She said this in 1987, over 25 years ago.  We all know the problem has only gotten worse.  We feel the pressure everywhere we go, sometimes even at church.  We see it in the media, read it in books, and are slapped in the face with it so frequently, our cheeks are numb. (And that’s not even mentioning Pinterest!)  Satan has one message for us as women:  you’re not enough.  You’re never enough. 

My mom passed away when I was a little girl.  I scour photo albums for glimpses of her (she hated having her picture taken) and pour over the baby journal she kept for me, eager to glean hints of her personality.  I pepper my grandma with questions about her and relive memories with my siblings.  When my dad or her old friends tell stories, I listen with wide eyes, an open heart, and a tightly closed mouth.  I cherish memories of the holidays that she took pains to make special, not because of the hand-crafted decorations-matching-the-invitations-matching-my-dress, but because of the thoughtful, personalized touches that made you know it was for you, not her. I revel in her wit and sass.  I admire her kindness and charity and the fact that virtually every woman in our small town felt that she was, in fact, my mom’s best friend.  I delight in her competitiveness and intelligence and her love of adventure and thirst for knowledge.  I miss her voice.  

She is with me always, a part of my world, an integral part of my identity, regardless of how little time I actually spent with her - less time than my career, in fact.  If someone tried to tell me she "just" stayed at home, I wouldn't be able to laugh or even grow angry at their ignorance.  I'd pity them.  

I respect the heck out of those moms who work, whether it's by choice or not.  It's hard and it's sometimes frustrating and it's sometimes wonderful.  And having experienced over a decade of unwanted childlessness, I know you can be happy and fulfilled in your life/marriage/career/church calling without a child, despite a righteous longing for one.  Whatever path we find ourselves on, we can know joy and know our Heavenly Father, if we want to.   

There’s no “just” to any of our lives.  No woman is “just” single or married or working or at home or any combination thereof. 

And no woman has ever, ever, ever “just” been a mom.
1. Holland, Patricia. "One Thing Needful: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ." LDS.Org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 01 Oct. 1987. Web. 26 Aug. 2013.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On becoming a Mother

by Anna Jones Buttimore
Terrible glasses, but I'm sure they were the height of fashion on 28th August 1995.
Indulge me, just for today, good readers. Because eighteen years ago today I became a mother for the first time. My precious firstborn, Gwenllian, is 18 today. (I now have a grown up child. Gulp. She can vote. Double gulp.)

Having children is, I think, the biggest life change we can experience in life. And possibly the biggest joy. Maybe also the biggest challenge. I've certainly loved motherhood, for the most part. There have been times I have wondered whether I would survive it with my sanity intact, but my girls have turned out mostly okay, despite my not having a clue how to do the mothering thing.

When Gwen was born it was just me and two lovely midwives in the Delivery Suite at Ysbyty Gwynedd, North Wales, because my husband (now ex) was enjoying his last night of freedom and none of the midwives on duty at the hospital had been able to reach him, even though he had one of those new-fangled mobile phone things. Looking back, I rather liked it that way. I had her all to myself for the first half-hour of her life. Not that that was anything like enough time to come to terms with suddenly being responsible for a tiny, helpless, human being. I'm not sure eighteen years is long enough, actually. Probably best not to think about just how much power we have to shape those little lives for good or bad.

But now she's neither tiny nor helpless. In fact, she's at college and making plans for her future. I can look at her and tick the box that says "successfully raise a child to adulthood".

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Carlie Webber's 60 Queries and What We Learn From Them

During Write On Con, agent Carlie Webber wrote a "60 Queries in 60 Minutes" post to give us all a little peek into her slushpile. It's a wonderful opportunity to see why queries get rejected, and it was an extremely informative post.

I'll let you go peruse the list, if you'd like, but I've crunched some numbers here that might brighten your day (or make you cry... but let's pretend it's the first thing, yes?)

First of all, I need to point out that she actually shared sixty-two queries with us. Her numbering got fumbled in the middle and we got bonus insight. SCORE. Of those sixty-two queries, only nine made it to the Sample Pages round.


That's around 14% of her slushpile made it to sample pages. That's not the people who get upgraded to a partial or full or even get an offer of representation. That's who made it past her inbox. Okay. So let's think on that and be intimidated for a moment...

Now on to the better news. Of those fifty-three who got form rejections right off the bat, eight were rejected for not following the most basic rules. They didn't submit a query letter because they "didn't feel like writing one," or they queried an entire series at once, stuff like that. That means about 13% of her inbox that day was people flat-out not following the rules of querying.

Another twenty-three (37%!) didn't do their research. And remember, this is just a query, not the actual novel. So we aren't talking about actual research, we're talking about easy research. Stuff like word counts (YA fantasy at 212K?!?), what publishers are looking for, what agents are looking for, or even how to write a query. Learn how to write a query letter. It's important. As important as writing your novel.

Don't let yourself be the person who writes a killer novel but then gets rejected because you didn't realize you shouldn't have rhetorical questions in your query letter. 

Lastly, and most heartbreakingly of all, are those who were rejected though there was nothing overtly "wrong" with their query. Twenty-two queries, or 36%, were sent form rejections for being "not compelling enough" or having "not enough spark." Lack of connection, lack of focus, lack of an obvious plot in the query. All these things were things that the author just probably has no idea they are doing wrong. On the upside, almost half of these were things that Carlie said would more than likely appeal to other agents and editors and she felt bad about rejecting them.

So here's what we learn from all this:

- You can make your chances better by following the rules. Yes. You. You must follow the rules. All of them.

- No seriously. Follow the rules. A full HALF of queries were rejected for not following the rules.

- Make your characters compelling. And your story. And your setting. And when you're done with that, make sure those compelling characters and storylines and settings shine through in your query.

- Sometimes, there's nothing wrong with you or your work. It just isn't a good fit. Keep working. You'll get there.

And that's what I learned from Carlie Webber's "602 Queries in 60 Minutes." What do you think? What did you take away from this post?

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Few Thoughts

        When I thought about what to write for my first post, my mind went blank.  (Go figure!) I started reading through some previous posts, and two things came to my mind.  First, I love that all the Mormon Mommies on here are real.  I like the fact that everyone writes about what they know.  And because they write about what they know, people want to keep reading!  I love it!  The other thing is that I figured my first post would be about what I know.  And that is what it is like being a single mom. 

         It's basically what being a married mommy is about... but with my limited experience in that area, I don't have a ton to compare it to.  I can only speak about what I see from this side of the river.  But I definitely have to get creative... I have to find new methods to do things, and organize my sounding boards.  I have to find different ways to meet me and my children's needs.  And I have to do a lot of swallowing of my pride, because it usually means doing a lot of asking for help.  It isn't easy because I was raised in a family that taught us that if we had a problem, we needed to find our own solution.  

        There were 5 girls in my family (1 brother), and when we had car problems, my dad, being the sympathetic mechanic he was, would tell us, "Well, get under the hood and figure it out!" We changed our own tires, spark plugs and AC belts.  

         Maybe that's why Heavenly Father gave me this package to work with.  It was what he knew would help me to continue to grow.  But these are my suspicions, as I am sure he probably has more than one purpose.  As Jeanna wrote about the different hats we wear, it made me think a lot about this one.  It's a big hat!  Ironically, I have a collection of hats myself, but hers are much more creative!  The number one comment I hear from a lot of my married friends, is "I don't know how you do it.  I don't think I could do what you do."  to which I respond, "You would if you had to."  I think this is true for any situation that we find ourselves in.  Have you found yourself in a situation where you had to make decisions you never thought you could?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lost Treasures

The other day I was going over some old documents on my computer and stumbled upon something I had completely forgotten about.  If it had been a physical discovery I would've had to blow off a few layers of dust, but since it was a saved document and not the Dead Sea Scrolls I clicked on the intriguing title, "Idea."  I was surprised to find it was a somewhat lengthy document, and best of all, it was a pretty good idea!  This got my creative juices flowing and I wanted to immediately start writing in new thoughts and develop this story.  As I read through I started playing the story out in my mind and building a mental structure for the story.  I have a pretty good handle on the direction the story should take.  Now the only dilemma is should Ashley and I stop working on our current WIP and work on this new project, or do we let it sit and stew a little longer.  We could probably work on both here and there, but it feels wrong to take time away from a project we're really trying to finish.  Hopefully we can power through our current story and add in all the froofy little details to make it a complete story so we can move onto something new. 
Have any of you found any lost or forgotten treasurers lately?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Finding Your Write Calling in Life

by: Lacey Gunter
I used to hate writing. I would always put it off until the last possible moment. It wasn't that I was particularly bad at it. I just would have preferred to have dental work done over writing an essay.

For so long I have been known as one of those math geeks. You know, the kind of person who claims numbers are a universal language (which they are, by the way). Moreover, I am a statistics instructor. So you can imagine how baffled I was when I got hit with the writer's bug last year.

Why in the world would I want to write books?!? I'm supposed to be analyzing data somewhere in a windowless basement, off by myself.  And, anyway, who would want to read a book written by a stats instructor? We don't even enjoy reading our own kind of books, most of the time.

Yet there it was, somewhere deep down inside, pestering me. "You should try writing. Just one little, teeny, tiny book. What's the big deal? You can do it!" And none of my logic and reasoning could make it go away.

So, I finally decided to give in, but only on the condition that it actually be a teeny, tiny book. That way my pain would be over quick and I could get back to what I knew I liked and was good at.

So a picture book it was. Luckily I had already done a lot of research in this area, reading countless numbers of picture books to my kiddos, over and over and over. And really, how hard could be, a few words here, a picture there, cute little story, slap it all together, done!

Well, not quite.

Turns out, picture book writing is rather difficult. How many really great stories have you told that can be written in only about 500 words? Every word counts.  Not to mention it's got to have a solid beginning, middle and end, should contain a conflict and a resolution, and needs to be able to keep the interest of a fidgety, easily distracted child. Yikes, it's starting to sounds like an impossible college final exam paper! Where's the door?

So, it should have been a big flop, right? One of those crazy ideas that pops in you head, you try it out and later think "where did that come from?"

Wrong again! Turns out the idea was just write. I loved it!!! And now I can't stop.  My only plausible explanation is someone up there knows more about us than we think we know about ourselves.  Good thing he loves us enough to show us. And maybe tomorrow you'll wake up a math genius. You never know, stranger things have happened.

Friday, August 23, 2013

When You Gotta Go

by Mare Ball 

I'm a mom to three children, but the mom-ness in my life I'm most in tune with these days is caring for my own mom.  She's 93, hard of hearing, and has a bit of dementia, but she gets around very well on her walker.  She's a tiny thing, but still holds her place as the stoic matriarch in our family.

My parents last year

Recently, Mom was called back to the Veteran's Affairs clinic (Mom served in the Navy for two years) for a second urine test.  Her doctor wanted a second sample, because the first one was problematic, so we again drove the half hour to the clinic.

Once seated on the toilet, Mom couldn' know.

I said, "Mom, let's go get some hot tea, that should help."   So, we wheeled down to the Canteen with her urine cup and sipped hot tea for twenty minutes.  Went back to the bathroom and tried again.  I ran the water in the sink, just like I used to for my kids when they were toilet training.  No luck.

I suggested we sit in the waiting room and read for a while.  We wheeled back to the crowded waiting room and settled into two cushioned chairs.  As I perused the latest issue of Time magazine, Mom fell asleep.

The tea ran through me, and I hit the restroom.  I was back in my chair, halfway through an article on Duck Dynasty, when Mom woke up.   She looked around, refreshing her memory. 

"Shall we try again?" I whispered to her. 

We scooted into the restroom for the third time.  After a few minutes, Mom's bladder cooperated. Happy campers, we began our slow roll back to the car.  Two hours at the VA to pee. 

On the way home, Mom apologized for wasting my morning.

"Hey, it's OK," I said  "It's not your fault.  When the doc wants a urine sample, you gotta go."

Quick as a whip, Mom replied, "And sometimes you can't go."

Boy, did we laugh.

Of course, as soon as we arrived home, Mom had to rush the bathroom.


Thursday, August 22, 2013


- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

I am a huge fan of hats. I’m positive that one of the great rewards of parenthood is that I finally have an excuse for my hat fetish: I simply call it the “dress-up box.”

But “hat” as a term for a “role” in life? This is where things get a little sticky for me.

Because it turns out that my favorite hats are not the ones I think I’m “supposed” to be wearing, the ones I watch other amazing women seem to wear perfectly. There is a young mother in my ward who is beautiful and creative, with neat Sunday hair and makeup and immense patience in her Primary calling. There is another whose gaggle of tiny children always appear well-dressed and polite, whose house is usually clean, who seems always chipper and optimistic. There are women who journal, play instruments, sing, and sew their own clothes. Women who love housework (!!!), who relish a good day digging in the garden.

I relish eating something that someone else dug from the garden and then cooked for me.

My favorite hats are quirky or silly. I don’t have practical hats, like a sunhat or a baseball cap. I have a Viking hat and a fake coonskin. So instead of sewing, I like watching spiders spin webs. Instead of canning, I make silly crafts with my children. I like to plan ridiculously themed parties (like “Come as your favorite fish!”). I love reading and writing. I don’t like to clean, and I certainly wouldn’t win any awards for patience. I have, therefore, tended to think that I am a slacker.

But something happened to me recently, and I started to think about the things that I do, rather than what I don’t. I stopped worrying that I would never be the “perfect” Mormon mommy and started trying to be happy that I’m a decent one. Instead of thinking I’d never catch up with these other awesome women, I discovered we aren’t running a race in the first place. We are building a kingdom—or better yet (to stick with just one metaphor), we’re making a really excellent dress-up box. Maybe instead of competing, we could be cooperating, all adding to the collection of unique and wonderful abilities and roles. Maybe the world needs women like me who have a random set of quirky hobbies, a strange sense of humor, and a tendency to see gospel metaphors everywhere (including in the toy box).

Even if we haven’t cleaned the toilet in . . . a while.

I have long measured myself by the standard that I thought was most important. But I think that I may have missed the point. I think maybe we need all the types, we need all the skills. Everyone has something to contribute.

I’m not a pioneer bonnet or a yarmulke or a standard yellow rain hat. I’m really more of an umbrella hat—and I think the world needs an umbrella hat.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Atta Girl!

by Charla J Schneider
Twice a week I cycle with the most wonderful group of moms.  They are lovely, friendly, motivated and tough.  These mamas fly up and down the many hills within the river valley trail system here in Edmonton like it’s nothing.  There are three groups:  The fast group, the medium group and the slow group.  I’m in the slow group….and I don’t really think they are very slow at all.  I huff, I puff, I wheeze my way forward almost always the slowest of the slow.  Those ladies cheer me on and without offering to ease up they embolden me with “You got this Char”, “You’re doin’ great Char” – I don’t find these words of encouragement patronizing because I need every single bit of positive energy I can get during those hard 70 minute rides.   During the last ride we had just gotten started and I really needed some exercise because I felt like I was having a crazy week.  I once read that one of the worst jobs someone with ADD can have is a homemaker.  There are other bad jobs that us ADDers should stay away from but when I read that I felt…understood.   I felt that way because it is monumentally difficult for me to keep my home organized and to offer the structure and consistency I know my kids need.  Only a few days before this last ride of mine when my mother called and asked what I was doing  I replied that I was sitting in a chair with a blanket over my head.  Sometimes the full time task of pulling my home together really feels that overwhelming.    So I showed up for Thursday’s ride already feeling tired and pushed and we began to climb uphill.  There was an especially steep part which everyone behind me passed me on and I just got off my bike, out of breath and started walking my bike up the hill.  Feeling a little annoyed that everyone else was already at the top of the hill, waiting for me I continued forward and saw an older man, cane in hand, coming down the hill in front of me.  Having watched all the other ladies zip up before me he looked at me, smiled then said “Atta girl!  You can do it – you just gotta go a little slower that’s all.”  I smiled back at him and then turned my head as tears started streaming down my face and I felt what he said all the way down to my toes and back again because what he said seemed very relevant to my life in general.  River valley hills, life’s hills – they can be real scoundrels sometimes,  but I can do hills, I just gotta go a little slower that’s all.  

Back-to-School Challenge

Last June, when my oldest graduated kindergarten, I knew assumed the summer would be a party without a need for a schedule to enslave us.  I quickly learned that my kids favorite summer time activity is driving me crazy.  I have spent most of the summer looking something like this.
 Yes, it is scary.  My kids have mastered the skill of getting mom frazzled beyond repair.  There has been bickering over the silliest things.  All that time I thought I would gain from not having to worry about school, was spent breaking up arguments.

They look so sweet. (They are sweet too)  Yet these two know the way to crazy town with their eyes closed, and then lose the keys to the car.  Most of my summer goals were quickly replaced with getting out of the house to refocus the misplaced energy.

Due to all of this chaos, I have not been much of a writer this season.  I realize there are many mommy writers that combat these same issues with varying levels of success.  I pretty much failed.  My writing muscles have atrophied, and I am in need of some serious writing therapy.

Technically, I still have two full weeks before school starts in our district.  So I am going to use that time to read a few more books on outlining.  I have been an unsuccessful pantser.  I know many of you are sending your kids back to school already, and maybe you are doing great with your writing.  However, if you have been more of a thinker than I writer this summer, and you need to kick start your writing, I am challenging you to set some hard fast goals for the month of September.  You can post them here if you want or keep them to yourself.  If you need an accountability partner, I am more than willing to help out.  Just let me know.

So I am declaring September to be a back to writing month for me.  And maybe I can find the keys and get myself home from crazy town.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Welcome Syra!

by Kasey Tross

As Nikki mentioned last week, the blog is a’changin! And I am excited to see the changes and be a part of them.

About a month or so ago, my sweet friend Syra was over at my house and mentioned the Mormon Mommy Writers blog. She said she thought she might enjoy writing for a blog like that. I told her that openings pop up all the time, and I’d be sure to let her know when one came around.

Well, one came around and so she applied! And shortly after that I got the e-mail from Nikki letting me know about the upcoming changes and asking if Syra and I would like to team up to take on Mondays. I said sure, why not?

Just FYI, I have decided that this change should lead to some changes for me as well, so I have decided to do a little resuscitation on a blog of mine called “Making It Up As I Go.” Basically, I always have random thoughts on life and writing and mommying and God and I want to have a place to share them. It’s possible I may also have some folks searching me out on the web due to the articles I’ve been writing for a local magazine, and I’d like to have a “home base” where they can find me. So if you start to miss me (I know, not likely, but it could happen, right?) come on over and visit me there. :-)

So now I am excited to step aside and enjoy reading all that Syra has to offer. She is not only a friend to me, but an inspiration. We are in the same ward at church, and she only lives about 4 minutes away from me. (Yes, I know you Utahns, that’s normal for you there, but not so much here in VA!) Her two awesome kids are in the same school as mine and her son and mine are in the same grade. Oh, and she drives a motorcycle. So that officially makes her the coolest mom I know. ;-)

Welcome, Syra!

Hi Everyone!  My name is Syra Mangus, and I am a photographer and single mother of two BEAUTIFUL children, a boy, J, 9 years old, and L, a girl who is just about to turn six this next month!

 I would tell anyone that my greatest love in this world is my children.  This being included, brings me to all the other things that us Mormon Mommies love to talk about!  I am addicted to my children and crafts.  I love the Gospel, music, DIY projects, bows, jewelry, sewing, photography, painting and drawing, working in my yard, my dad’s garage, my garden and occasionally you might catch me going for a ride on my motorcycle. 

 I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and haven’t done anything fancy or big, but my words come from my heart, and the wisdom from the experiences of my limited years.  Sometimes I write fancy, and sometimes it comes from something I scratched onto a napkin.  But I get a lot out of influencing others for good and lifting people up, so I pray I will be able to add to the wonderful knowledge that all these ladies give in lifting you up!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Family Tree

This last week my husband and I received an incredible blessing, a small miracle.  After waiting almost eight years we have been given the genealogy to my husband's paternal side.  Having access to this information was something we had pretty much given up hope for. 
The day after the packet of treasured information came in the mail I sat down to look through it.  The moment I took the papers in my hand I was overcome with emotion and a great sense of urgency to prepare this information and allow these ancestors to receive their long awaited ordnances.  I could feel a tingling sensation in my fingers as I turned each page.  All my life I've heard peoples' stories of doing genealogy for their family and I never quite understood the feelings they described.  I never felt the sense of importance of genealogy.  While going through these papers, though, I quickly learned why the people who have done genealogy work have such a passion for it.  The excitement I feel and the collective sense of urgency from somewhere beyond me is something I am unable to ignore.
As of yesterday I have made it half way through the packet of information and I've managed to create a very extensive family tree.  However, there are holes here and there where information has been lost.  . One name, or rather, a lack of name stood out to me.  In all the information that my husband's family had collected there was one woman, a second wife, where the only information was for her children, there was no information about the woman at all.  No name, nor birth date, no death date.  Nothing.  I immediately singled her out as one of my priorities.  Over the course of two hundred years this woman's name was forgotten, disappearing into history.  The idea that a prominent figure of this family had disappeared broke my heart and I committed to find out who she was.  It took some digging, but thanks to the amazing records and resources of the church I have found her. I don't think I could describe the feeling when I found her.  She became real again.  Even thinking about it gives me such a high and renews my excitement.  I'm hoping that this sensation will help pull me through some of the difficulties I may face in the process of completing this genealogical work. 
I have so much to learn and yet in spite of the fact that this is such an overwhelming task I don't feel overwhelmed at all.  I realize that this is only the beginning, but my testimony of family history and genealogy work has blossomed overnight, and is becoming something I never knew I had inside me.

Have any of you done genealogy work?  Have any tips for a newbie?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday So What: "Opportunity looks a lot like HARD WORK."

- a post by Betsy Schow

Usually, I'm not a big fan of Ashton Kutcher. To be honest, he always seemed like a moron. Recently I've had to revise my opinion. If you haven't seen his acceptance speech at the Teen Choice Awards, I highly recommend that you do.

He said one line in particular that stuck out to me: "Opportunity looks a lot like hard work." In the writing business, everyone knows there is definitely a bit of luck involved. Having the right book, at the right time, seen by the right person -- boom -- hello J.K Rowling.

There is so much more to the story. It was not an overnight success. It was not a magic spell that fixed her world. She worked her tail off to be where she is.

How many rejections did she get? No clue how many agents she queried and got put off by. As far as publishing houses go, 12 turned the manuscript down. It was picked up by a little publisher in England. The first print run was laughable. But it got bigger and bigger. Faster than you can say "alohamora" all doors were open to her.

Very few will ever attain the level of "success" that Ms. Rowling has. No matter how much we pour into our craft. However, I will never know if I don't put in the time and effort. Moving a little farther everyday. Not turning back when the road looks too long and the goal too far. Each blog post, each short story, each book gets me closer to where I want to be.

There is a famous LDS picture and saying that brought me great comfort as a teen.

Now as a wife, mother, LDS woman, and writer, these words are my daily mantra. And right next to them on my desk is a new little post-it note, "Opportunity looks a lot like hard work" - so get going.

Starting next week I will be sharing a bit of the hard work. Please tune in next Saturday to hear the wise words of my new blogday partner, Lacey.


Related Posts with Thumbnails