Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I'm Just Sayin' . . .

So, it was my turn to blog yesterday, but I’ve been fighting off yet another nasty bug that has been going around. Good times/NOT!!! Today is a bit better, so I decided to take laptop in hand and make an attempt at writing a post. We’ll see how it goes; if it doesn’t make sense—we’ll blame it on the cold medicine. ;) 

It’s interesting, the thoughts that come to mind when you have time to sit back and ponder life. The first day felt rather muddled with feelings of, “Am I going to survive this one,” plaguing as a nasty cold wreaked havoc. Yesterday was more like, “Well, I’m still here, but I can’t breathe and my cough rather resembles animal life I’ve observed along the California/Oregon coast.” In between all of that, I found myself thinking about the past, the current time, and the future. Little things like that. At one point I remember analyzing the changes my grandparents observed during their respective lifetimes. In their youth, horse and buggy was the acceptable means of transportation. That morphed into trains, automobiles, airplanes, and launching men to the moon. Visiting friends, neighbors, and family members changed from talking over the fence, to using a contraption called a telephone, complete with cord and a person called an operator. There were party lines, private lines, and telephone lines that connected them with loved ones near and far.

They still wrote letters—one of my grandmothers in particular was very good at keeping in touch via the written word. This, I believe, has become a dying art. These days we send text messages and call it good. Or we instant message someone if it’s really important. We chat live via various programs online. 

I remember years ago when my father excitedly brought home a new-fangled gadget that allowed us to play a game on our television set called “PONG.” We were amazed at the stunning graphics. ;) Okay, they weren’t stunning, but it seemed really cool. Compare that game with what is now considered cool among video gamers, and it’s not so impressive.

When VCR’s emerged, we thought life couldn’t get any better. We could personally pick out whatever movie we wanted to watch, instead of relying on television stations to do it for us. DVD’s and Blue-Ray devices have pretty much taken over, or “streaming” via impressive bandwidth. I’m sure there’s something new on the horizon that will make all of that seem like pioneer days.

Our phones are now computerized, and some resemble tablets, since they’re growing in size yet again.
Ye olde TV sets are currently replaced with the flat-screened versions.

Planes, trains, and automobiles still exist, but each year sleeker models are revealed. I’m still waiting for those featured on “The Jetsons,” . . . you know, the family cars that fly around the atmosphere instead of enduring snarled traffic jams . . . oh, wait . . . they had traffic jams as well. Sigh . . .

If you’re wondering if all of this has a common link . . . it does. Ponder all of the technological wonders that have emerged during the past decades and consider this: THERE IS STILL NO CURE FOR THE COMMON COLD!!! I’m just sayin’ . . . we can send people into space, but we can’t come up with a way to stifle a malady that has been plaguing us for eons. To me, this is a very sad state of affairs!!!

I know . . . there are items out there that can help, but when one is lying on the couch, trying not to die, the last thing you want to do is drive to town to find something that can alleviate horrific symptoms, like coughing up one’s lungs, or not being able to breathe. I’ve been getting by with cold medicine I already had on hand, but it still doesn’t take away feeling like the last chapter.

So . . . all of you techie-types that are wailing because there’s nothing new to invent, have I got a suggestion for you!!! CURE THE COMMON COLD!!! Come up with a way to erase this vindictive bug from society on a permanent basis. You will be considered among the greatest scientists/inventers of all time.
And now, I’m climbing carefully down off my soapbox (since I’m still a bit dizzy) to lie down before I hurt myself. Au Revoir.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015



This month has been crazy.  There have been five family birthdays, a funeral, a wedding, a lesson to teach, and all the usual trivia of life. Plus I serve at the Oquirrh Mountain temple on Wednesdays, write a review column every other week, got my taxes ready, just sent off one book to my publisher, and I'm about a third of the way through a novella. 

My husband's sister passed away earlier this month after a series of strokes.  The funeral was in Sandy, but she was buried in Lorenzo, Idaho.  For those who never heard of Lorenzo, it's between Idaho Falls and Rexburg. It was great to see so much family, but sad to bid farewell in this life to a dear sister. Those of us who made the trek from Utah to Idaho for the burial stayed overnight in Idaho Falls where we had a spectacular view of the Snake River and the Idaho Falls temple. 

The following weekend we traveled to a different part of Idaho to my niece's wedding in the Twin Falls temple.  It was a beautiful occasion and the bride was gorgeous. Again we enjoyed visiting with family, but it was certainly a happier occasion.  We stayed with my brother and his daughter in the country.  From his windows we saw plenty of cows, a rock-chuck, pheasants, and mules. It was kind of sad to see a lone daffodil blooming beside the rubble that was once my parents' house next door.
On the way to my brother's house we stopped in Twin Falls where two of my high school friends met me for lunch. It was the first time the three of us had been together since high school which was a long time ago.  One other friend had planned to meet us, but had the wrong date and missed our

I discovered it's a real challenge to keep my blood sugar level steady while traveling and eating out. Not only is it hard to count carbs, but eating at irregular times creates problems too. 

And the month isn't over.  There are still two birthdays and a play.  Our oldest granddaughter has a part in her school's musical and we don't want to miss it. I wonder if April will be any better.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Words to live by!

I'm cleaning out files and drawers and cubby holes where I have stashed stuff for "later" when I have time to do something with it. It is too good to toss, but what do I do with it until I know what to do with it?  For example, I'm holding a yellowed newspaper clipping with a picture of a bespectacled older man in a jaunty hat with what is probably a colored ribbon band. He has signed the piece in a steady, readable script. This is what it says:

 "I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon if I can. I seek opportunity - not security. I will refuse to be a kept citizen, to be humbled and dulled by having my state and nation look after me. I want to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed - never to be numbered among those weak and timid souls who have known neither victory or defeat. I know that happiness can come only from the inside through hard constructive work and sincere positive thinking. I know that I can get a measure of inner satisfaction from any job if I intelligently plan and courageously execute it. I know that, if I put forth every iota of strength that I possess - physical, mental, spiritual - toward the accomplishment of a worthwhile task ere I fall exhausted by the wayside, the Unseen Hand will reach out and pull me through. Yes, I want to live dangerously, plan by procedures on the basis of calculated risks, to resolve the problems of everyday living into a measure of inner peace. I know if I know how to do all this, I will know how to live and, if I know how to live, I will know how to die."
Signed by H. B. Zachry

I'd like to meet this man but he has probably been dead for many years since I've had the clipping for at least twenty years. I love his message. Still don't know what to do with the clipping! So I'll tuck it back in the file with a beautiful page of Inspirations from Norman Vincent Peale and uplifting quotes by the prophets and others until I need it for a lesson or talk. In the meantime, my files are expanding, not diminishing, but I have been given food for thought. I hope you have.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Life is a lot like scrambled eggs or this winter's weather.  Here in the west we've had a few snow storms, but nothing like the East coast has seen and not enough to ensure next summer's water supply.  Daffodils and crocuses are blooming.  I've seen a few robins, but the weatherman keeps assuring viewers we have more snow coming. My husband has been trimming roses, building tomato cages, and clearing leaves out of the flower beds, but keeping the snow blower easily accessible.
A dear sister-in-law died this week and we have a niece whose wedding we'll attend next week. A nephew was a top scorer on an academic placement exam last week and a niece was the top scorer for her ice hockey team that finished second in state. 
Most people's lives are a series of contrasts, surprises, and unexpected jolts.  As writers struggle to make their stories realistic they walk a fine line between creating the unexpected and sticking to the main focus of the story.  Too many of life's intrusions and coincidences turn a story into a chaotic, confusing mess.  Not enough, makes the story incomplete and unbelievable. The perfect blend makes a story both memorable and enjoyable. 
A well placed element of the story which leads the reader to a wrong conclusion is called a red herring.  Even a red herring, however, must add to the story in a realistic way and enlarge the general picture the hero/heroine faces, though it doesn't lead to the solution to the mystery.
Life might be a bit boring if it flowed smoothly according to plan at all times. Books are like that too. As a reviewer for Meridian Magazine, I read a lot of books, and have been particularly aware lately of authors who achieve a nice balance in providing contrasts and enough day-to-day interference with their characters' objectives to feel realistic.  I've also read way too many that detail every second of the character's life and wander around in pointless trivia. Someone told me she skips over at least half of what she sees posted on Face Book.  May I suggest that if you'd skip over it on Face Book, don't put it in your novel?

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As a side note, please check out my reviews of four military and war books on Meridian

Monday, March 2, 2015

Stress Release

Once again I am sitting down to the computer, contemplating the blank screen. Yes . . . it's my turn to compose yet another blog post. ;) Usually the ideas just pop inside my empty head and I do my best to translate them into written word. Today I'm staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to strike.

That's the way it seems to be for most writers. Some days it seems like you can't type fast enough to keep up with the silent muse that eggs us on. Other days you sit staring at the blank screen and scratch your head. Or read through what you've already written and cut it to shreds, certain it is the worst thing that anyone has ever written. ;)

For me, writing has always been a release . . . a way to work through things that are bothering me. It's how I started, actually. After my father's death, on the nights I couldn't sleep, I wrote out everything I was feeling. Then I shredded every page. I didn't know it, but this was a healthy way to work through a very traumatic loss. Not long after that experience, I began writing a story about a young woman who was trying to come to terms with her father's death. I changed a lot of the details, but it was still my story. When it was finished, I remember feeling tremendous peace inside, and a sense of accomplishment. Then my husband read through it and he challenged me to send it off to a publishing company.

That proved to be a scary time. I'll never forget how I felt after I left my "baby" (the manuscript) at the post office. I wanted to dive back into the mail bin to retrieve it and take it home where it could be safe. Instead, I nervously waited 6 months for my first rejection letter. But by then, I had already started the second manuscript, and after pouting for a week or two, I continued to finish my second tome. I shelved the first one, certain there was something terribly wrong with it, since it had received a rejection letter. It would take me a while to learn that getting published is often a combination of meeting up with the right publishing company with the right idea, at the right time. No big deal. ;D

It would take me 8 years to get my first book published. I have an entire scrapbook filled with rejection letters. I titled it: "Opinions of Silly People." ;) Actually, they were my incentive to work on improving my writing skills.

For me, writing is still something I do from time to time (when I can find the time) and I'm currently working on a new manuscript that is pretty fun to write. We'll see what happens. For now, it's a great way to escape from the daily worries and responsibilities that fall to me. I have discovered that I feel better on the days that I write, so I've learned that this is one of my ways to release stress. That fact, alone, makes writing worthwhile.

I have several stress releases: photography, playing guitar, working in my gardens, going for a walk with a good friend, reading a good book . . . so on and so forth. I think these items are important to do on a regular basis. They help me stay balanced, and improve my mood if I'm having a less than stellar day.

So on those days when you're feeling bogged down, cling to the comfort of a good stress release. Since we're all unique, different things will appeal. For some it will be crafts, dancing, art . . . etc. and so forth. Find what makes you happy, and spend some time as often as you can, doing those things. I can promise that it will not only make you feel better about life, but it will also prove to be very enjoyable.