Monday, October 31, 2016

NaNoWriMo- I Am Doing It!

(to be sung to the tune of Family History- I Am Doing It!)

NaNoWriMo- I Am Doing It!
Yes, Na-aNoWriMo!

And the stress I feel when I'm doing it
Will increase as I go!
I write words and words, and words and words!
I write my own story
I keep track of my wo-ord count
For everyone to see!

I wasn't going to do it, because I haven't been writing. At ALL.

But then Halloween weekend happened. Halloween weekend looked like this:

The Harry Potter-themed trunk for our ward Trunk-or-Treat.

The coordinated Harry Potter costumes, including my handcrafted wand carved from a stick in my backyard, a DIY brooch made from chipboard, and...

...this Hedwig the owl costume fashioned out of a hoodie, fleece, and felt.

And then there was this fairy house pumpkin I carved.
What does all this have to do with NaNoWriMo, you may ask? Well, as I was practically giddy throwing all of this creative energy into making all this stuff, at one point I thought to myself, What is the deal with me this year? I don't ever remember being quite so into Halloween before...

Then it dawned on me: I haven't been writing.
As it turns out, my creativity is like a geyser. If I don't use it, it just keeps building up inside me, and eventually it all comes spilling out all over the place into whatever outlet it can find. 

This time, it happened to be all over Halloween. 

I decided that as much fun as hand-carved wands and glue-gun owl costumes are, I could probably make better use of my creative flow, so I am choosing to redirect it back to writing once more.

My NaNoWriMo website name is KaseyLeigh- I would love to connect with other MMWs on there! Maybe plan a few live Facebook write-ins during November?

NaNoWriMo- I am doing it! Want to join me?

P.S. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Not That Patient, Not That Strong--Not That True

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay
Note: While this post is sort of about homeschooling and homebirth, mostly it’s about doing things that are important to you but hard. I’m not advocating my life decisions.

When I tell people I had my first child in a birth center, the other three at home, all unmedicated, people look at me like I’m insane or tell me it’s “too messy” (a myth, by the way). But I also get this a lot: “I’d love to do that, but my pain tolerance is too low. I’m just not that strong.

I am also currently homeschooling my children (if you have guessed by now that I am an introvert, you would be correct).* The most common response to that is “I couldn’t teach my kids. I’m just not that patient.”

In labor with #3. Trust me, I'm not feeling all that strong.
Well, my friends, I’m here to tell you a secret.** I’m not either. I am neither strong nor brave enough to birth without meds nor patient enough to homeschool. I’m just a regular person who decided to do certain things.

Here’s another secret, one of the main reasons I chose a birth center for my first child: I knew, with near certainty, that if I had easy access to an epidural, I would get it. And I had decided that I didn’t want to, so I placed an epidural out of my reach. (Why I chose homebirth afterward is another, unrelated story.) I knew I wasn’t brave enough without a little extra help, but to me this was important enough to find a way.*** Homeschooling happened in a similar way, except that with homeschooling we continue to have the ability to choose a different path in the future if ever we decide this plan really isn’t working for us.

Here’s what I think about sometimes: What kind of a world would we inhabit if we only did the things we were already good enough to do? What if at the beginning of the day, my eight-year-old said, “I’m not good enough at math to do that problem, so I won’t try it”? Or if my six-year-old said, “I can’t read because I’m not that smart”? Or if my favorite authors, who continually write difficult but amazing books, said, “I won’t write that book because I’m not a good enough writer”?

We become those things by doing them, not because we already magically are. We put ourselves in the position to try the hard things and become the big things. That’s how we grow. We constantly reach for something that is just a little bit beyond us (or—in the case of patience on a late Friday afternoon when my husband isn’t yet home from work—something that is very far beyond us), and we get closer to the qualities we seek.

That doesn’t mean we need to be striving for everything. It’s perfectly legitimate for you to say, “I don’t want to homeschool or do homebirth. That’s not right for me right now (or ever).” It’s fine to say, “I don’t want to learn piano/guitar/how to write a mystery novel or run a marathon/Ragnar/5k.” Or whatever. The point is, if there is something you want, something that you truly think is important, don’t let your lack of ability stop you. Do it, and by doing it, you will find that you can.

* Although, for the record, homeschooling isn’t exactly an introvert endeavor. And my introversion was not the deciding factor in these decisions, just the happy icing on the cave troll cake.

** Actually, it’s not much of a secret. My kids, my husband, my midwife—even my birth photographer friend—can all attest to my lack of patience and strength. Especially in hour 10 of labor or minute 10 of reading practice.
*** And no, I’m not judging you for feeling differently.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The 40 Book Reading Challenge for Writers

By Lacey Gunter

My son's fifth grade teacher has issued his class a 40 book reading challenge. The challenge seeks to encourage reluctant readers to increase their reading and to expose avid readers to a wide array of literature. In addition to the number of books that need to be read, the students are challenged to read a minimum number of books from 10 different genres. I think it is a wonderful idea. In fact I think it is so wonderful, I want to issue the same challenge to all our blog readers.

 According to the Pew Research Center Libraries Survey of US adults in 2015, 27% of American adults reported that they had not read even part of a book within the last year. Among all American adults, the average number of books read in the previous year was 12 and half of American adults had read 4 books or less in the previous year.

I am highly confident that all our Mommy Mommy Writers and Friends do not fit the typical American profile and are among the avid readers who are skewing the average much higher than the 50th percentile. So the reason I am issuing this 40 book reading challenge is not to increase you reading, but rather to expand your exposure to a wide variety of good writing.

A good way to improve your writing skills is to study how the experts do it, and to see many different examples of how it is done, especially when it is done well. So this is, in part, to improve your writing.  But don't just stick within your genre. Much can be learned by examining writing from other genres too.  So here is my 40 book reading challenge to you:

In the next twelve months read:

Number                 Genre
2 Poetry anthology
3 Traditional literature
5 Realistic fiction
3 Fantasy
2 Science fiction
2 Mystery
2 Romance
3 Informational
2 Biography or autobiography
3 Picture book
2 Translated from another language/culture
2 Religious or inspirational
5 Bestselling or award winning book in the genre you write 
5 Free Choice 

Feel free to adjust this list to better suit your needs, but remember this is supposed to be a challenge to stretch you beyond what you would normally do or choose. Of course, don't forget to learn and have fun along the way.

Happy reading!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Being a Mom, Standing in Line, and Writing a Book

by Kasey Tross

Sorry I've been a bit MIA on here lately- caught a nasty bug that doesn't seem to want to go away, but I'm trying to get back to a more normal routine.

So here are a few things that have been on my mind recently:

1. The Mom Conference

There is a FREE conference for moms coming up this week- it starts tomorrow, in fact- and if it's anything like it was last year, you are NOT going to want to miss it! It's an online conference, which means that once you sign up (again, totally free) they will send you the links to the presentations for each day. So tomorrow morning I will get an e-mail with links to all the presentations for the day (videos) and I can choose to watch whichever ones I want, whenever I want, anytime tomorrow. It's GREAT. Don't miss it!

2. I Don't Stand In Line.

This election season has been really good for me, because it has caused me to reflect a lot on what I believe, how I prioritize my values, and how I choose to act on those things. I have written a few strongly-worded Facebook rants, but there was one little epiphany I had that I felt merited a full blog post. As I share Mormon Mommy Writers with other women who have different viewpoints from me, and I want to respect that, I felt like this was a topic that would be better suited to my own personal blog. But I wanted to share it here in case anyone finds it interesting or useful: I Don't Stand In Line.

3. NaNoWriMo

It's coming! It's really coming! Do you think you will do NaNoWriMo? I'm thinking about it, but I'm still not sure...I have a book I'd really like to get out of my head, but I know from the experience of writing the last (STILL unfinished) book that I need to have a plan before I even attempt it, and lately I have had approximately ZERO time to write...or plan...or...anything...

So...for me it's a definite maybe. ;-)

Hope all is well with you beautiful writerly friends. Would love to hear from you in the comments. :-)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Writing Something Shorter

This school year, I’m teaching a short story and novel writing class to a group of teenagers at our homeschool co-op. We’ve only been going for a few weeks, but I’m having so much fun!

One thing we’re doing is writing stories in a wide variety of lengths. I thought I’d share some of the lengths we’re doing. I have really enjoyed thinking about these different styles of stories more. Sometimes you just need a break from working on novels, you know? And sometimes you even need a break from a traditional “short story.” If this is you, read on for some ideas!

1. Our biggest project is going to be a novel/novella/novelette (depending on how ambitious and excited each kid is; they’ll be setting their own limits). Incidentally, in case you were wondering, here are some generally accepted numbers for the lengths of those different types:
Novel: somewhere over 40,000 words
Novella: about 17,500 to 40,000 words (or about 70–80 pages)
Novelette: 7,500 to 17,500 words (about 30–70 pages)

(Did you know there are lots of specifications for short stories too, like “long short story” and “short short story”? Crazy.)

2. Six-word stories. This should be self-explanatory, right? Six words. The end. We did six-word memoirs on the first day of class, and it was amazing how much I got to learn about each of these awesome kids from what they said about themselves in just six words.*

3. Twitter stories. Yes, I know some people write Twitter stories that are contained in a long series of tweets, but I think it’s much more fun and interesting to write a story that can be contained in a single tweet—that’s 140 characters (which includes spaces and punctuation). Again, it’s interesting to see how much you really can pack into such a short space—and also what you really can’t.

4. Flash fiction. This is usually considered anything between about 500 and 750 words. Here’s what I love about this length: Let’s say you get a good idea one morning. You hop in the shower and think it out; by the time you’ve toweled your hair, you have an exact plan. If you have a typing speed of, say, 50 wpm, you could sit down to type and have a completed rough draft 15 minutes later! Instant gratification!

5. Typical short story length, somewhere in the low thousands. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about these, although I do think it’s great to write them occasionally.

Are you feeling stuck in your current WIP? How about taking a break. Write a Twitter story based on a side character. Write some flash fiction about what would happen if your main character woke up one day with a super power. Imagine your villain’s six-word memoir. It could be fun.

* In case you were wondering, it’s cheating in a memoir to just list qualities like, “Funny, creative, mother, wife.” You have to tell a story in those words. Try it, it’s fun!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Our Divine Potential

By Lacey Gunter

One of the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that is often ridiculed and misunderstood is that of the potential of man to become like God. For those who are not of the LDS faith, I want to share with you a little about what exactly we believe and why it is such an important part of my personal beliefs about the nature of God and our relationship with him.

Members of the LDS faith believe that God is our Father in Heaven. When we say the word 'Father', we mean so much more than some amazingly powerful being that delights in creating things and created us in some artistic or skilled fashion. Rather, when we say he is our Heavenly Father, we are saying our spirits or our souls are the literal offspring of God. We also believe in a Heavenly Mother who participated in this procreation of our souls. We are their spirit children. We believe that we existed as spirits with our Heavenly Parents before coming to earth and joining our spirit with a body. This life, in essence, is a period of growth and progression in what we believe to be our eternal existence.

Just like any good earthly parents, we believe Heavenly Father is actively involved it teaching us and helping us to achieve our best potential, which is to become like our Heavenly Parents. And just like good earthly children, as we grow and demonstrate our ability to manage ourselves and make good choices that help ourselves and those around us, Heavenly Father will continue to bless us with greater knowledge and greater responsibility until, with the help of our spirit brother Jesus Christ and his infinite atonement, we can ultimately become like God.

Some Christian faiths suggest that this belief in the potential to become like God diminishes the glory and greatness of God by pulling him down to our level. On the contrary, I can only see that it adds to the glory and greatness of God that he is capable of building us up to achieve his potential. It is one thing for a being to be great of themselves. It is even more glorious and amazing for a being to be personally great and also be capable of making others around them just as great.  Truly isn't this far more glorious and amazing?

With this knowledge that we are children of God, we not only get a better sense of our relationship to God, but also a better understanding of his relationship with us. When we recognize that all of us are God's children we are better able to understand why bad things sometimes happen and God doesn't just "destroy the wicked" when they hurt other people. Any of us who have more than one child and have had to discipline a child for hitting or hurting their sibling can grasp this concept. God loves all his children, even when they sometimes misbehave. He hopes that they can learn to behave and act better and continues to try and teach them and help them to become the best they are capable of being, despite their mistakes.

Understanding our divine potential also helps us better understand the purpose of our life here on earth. This earth life is difficult and challenging to help us gain knowledge and grow in our ability to act wisely. If we possess the potential to become like God, this kind of glory and power requires great responsibility in understanding the consequences of our actions and how they affect others.

These beliefs are also my beliefs and I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who believes in my potential and helps me to grow and improve.  If you would like to learn more about the LDS faith and our beliefs about God, I encourage you to check out or leave a comment with any questions you have.


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