Tuesday, July 31, 2007


By Darvell Hunt

Deseret Book, a.k.a. Shadow Mountain, has certainly landed a big fish with the emergence of new author Brandon Mull. I’m sure both Deseret Book and Brandon Mull couldn’t be more pleased with the first appearance for each of them on the New York Times Best Seller List for children.

A big Harry Potter fan myself, I read the first Fablehaven book and was surprised to find that I liked it. I was even more surprised to find that book two is even better than the first. I can’t wait for the next in the series.

This is good news for LDS publishing, LDS writers, and LDS readers. In today’s blog, I want to concentrate on why it’s good for LDS writers.

Before this landmark event, some people have said that it was preferable to submit a “non-LDS” mainstream fantasy novel to a mainstream publisher, not an LDS publisher—even though LDS publishers have done fairly well within its own market with such books (for example, James Dashner’s Jimmy Fincher books).

But now, an LDS publisher has truly broken into the national market and made a big splash, continuing my big fish reference in my opening sentence. The whole idea of submitting to Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain has now changed. Just as President Hinckley has given the church real credibility in the eyes of the national media, Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain has now done the same thing with the fiction publishing market.

Should we be excited about this? Most certainly. Especially those of us, including myself, who have similar works they’d like to see published by Shadow Mountain and reach a broader mainstream pool of national readers than just "our LDS market".

As it turns out, I currently have such a novel at Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain, which they have had in their possession for a couple of months now. Whether they accept my novel or not (I hope they do, duh!), this move toward the national market with LDS-friendly stories can’t help but be a wonderful thing.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rebel with a Cause

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

The Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) guard at airport security looked at us sternly, opened our carry-on suitcase and rummaged around. “You’ve got something in here that could be a problem,” she said.

There we stood in our stocking feet, feeling vulnerable and wondering what we’d done wrong.

We were on vacation, and I’d given myself a two-inch streak of gray hair trying to make sure I’d packed correctly. I knew there weren’t any pipe bombs in there, because I’d used my last one the week before. I’d left my dynamite at home, along with our machete. And all my really dangerous chemicals—hair gel, hair spray and toothpaste—were in a Ziploc baggie that had already been cleared by security.

“Ah-ha,” the guard declared. She pulled out two one ounce, sealed jars of honey—mementos from a restaurant in Hawaii.

What insidious, terrorist plot did she think I’d contrived? Pour the honey on the passengers and stick them together? Throw it in the eyes of the pilot and take over the plane? I’m not admitting I’ve ever done this, but anyone who’s tried to throw honey knows it’s not exactly easy.

I watched as she confiscated the jars, and was certain she was thinking of tomorrow morning’s English muffin—with my honey on it.

The guard groped around in my suitcase again and a grin spread across her face. She pulled out two jars of macadamia nut-caramel popcorn.

Aack! Not my popcorn! I had visions of it growing wings and flying away. I gritted my teeth and gathered courage. History lessons about the Boston Tea Party came to mind—sort of. I couldn’t remember if the rebellion was about confiscation, taxation without representation, or a shortage of Lipton teabags, but I felt a kinship with the early American colonists. No longer would I put up with an infringement on my rights. This popcorn was not being seized without a fight. I could hear the Star-Spangled Banner ringing in my ears and the sound of fife and drums as I prepared my battle plan.

“Russ, you’ve got to save my popcorn,” I whispered.

My husband raised his eyebrows and nodded towards the gun on the guard’s hip. It had a barrel the size of a cannon. Okay, maybe I exaggerate slightly. But she did have a gun. And a deep voice. And a rather flat … um … chest.

Just as I opened my mouth to insist that Russ tell her caramel popcorn was not on the list of items forbidden in carry-on luggage, she smiled at us and said, “I could use these.” She held the two round, 12 ounce jars in front of her chest and said, “If I were to stuff these under my shirt, people would quit thinking I’m a man.”

She didn’t want to eat my popcorn? She wanted to stick the jars in her … ah … underclothing? Visions of a dark-skinned, Hawaiian TSA guard with a chest like Dolly Parton and a voice like Cookie Monster floated through my head.

The guard said, “Don’t worry, I’m teasing. These can go through just fine,” and put them back into the suitcase.

I laughed. I’m certain it wasn’t hysterically. We picked up our belongings and headed toward the boarding gate. “That was quite the experience,” I said. “But at least all we lost was the honey.”

Then I pulled my ticket out to see when the plane was leaving and the words were blurred. Unreadable. That’s when I realized the honey wasn’t the only thing we’d lost. My glasses were back there, in that tangle of security. Maybe sitting on some guard’s nose.

I could hear the Star-Spangled Banner again, ringing in my ears. I prepared my battle plan.

“Russ, you’ve got to go back and get my glasses.”

He looked at me and said, “You’re crazy. I’m not going through all that again. You can buy another $3 pair from Wal-Mart when we get home.”

Some revolutionary he was.

I’ve got news for the TSA, though. I'm a rebel with a cause. And the next time I go through airport security, I’m not bothering with contraband like honey. I’m bringing along some Lipton tea.

(Note: This blog is intended to be humorous and is not a political statement, an attack on the TSA, the US government, America, apple pie or um ... I don't know ... enhancements via popcorn jars. Please feel free to comment but save the political debate for a different site. Thanks.)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ramble On

By Keith Fisher

I wrote three blogs this week but I couldn’t get excited about the subjects. Tristi Pinkston tagged me for the Moaning Meme but I couldn’t get riled up enough to rant. (Perhaps next week.) I’m still recuperating from the huge family reunion we hosted a couple of weeks ago. The ladies in my family had girl’s night out, and they went to Lagoon for two days. I was left alone for a night.

I’ve heard a lot lately about the new Harry Potter book. I can’t wait to read the book she writes next. It should be a great test of her writing abilities. After all, how do you top the success of HP?

I know I’m rambling, but it’s been that kind of a week.

I’ve been getting great feedback from the proofreaders of one of my manuscripts. One of those readers pointed out an error in tense that I began to fix. Then I remembered why I wrote it that way.

In his book, Stein on Writing, Sol Stein suggests some ways to give exposition and back-story without making it sound like an endless flashback. He said to write in the present and give the story immediacy. Try to tell the past in the dialog that happened then. If you must write a flashback, segue into it, then write like it’s happening now. He said to avoid the words had or then. According to him, the cardinal sin is to use the word had twice, such as: Evelyn knew she had had enough.

Using had in that way is grammatically correct, but it sounds funny—it often puts your writing into the past tense and into the realm of flashback, back, back, back,
(Is there an echo in here?)

The point is to keep the reader in the story. He suggests that if a reader senses a flashback, they tend to read past it in order to stay in the immediate story.

So I’m debating with myself. Should I keep it the way it is? Or should I bite the bullet and do it the way my English teacher wanted it? Send your comments and tell me what you think.

On a related note, one of those wonderful appreciated, tremendously helpful, kind, thrifty, brave, reverent . . . proofreaders, is a blogger and offers writing advice. I expect my mistakes will be part of a blog soon. I’m biting my nails.

By the way, remind me to tell you about the appreciation program I’m developing for my proofreaders. I can’t tell you about it now, because you’d all want to read my manuscript and I need to get it finished.

I’ll keep you in mind for the next manuscript though. It should be done in a month or two. If you want to be a proofreader, send me an email and I’ll put you on my list.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hobby or Living?

By G.Parker

Being a writer is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and you find the thing you love is relegated to the spare moments of the day that you can fit it. If you’re really good and conscientious, you schedule your day so that you have the time you need, and you tell everyone so that they don’t bug you. But, even that doesn’t help if you’re working in your home–especially if you have children.

I have several children that have inherited the writing bug from me. My oldest daughter, for one, is very talented in the area of sci-fi and fantasy. She has some great story ideas, one of which I was tempted to enter for her in the quarterly fantasy/sci-fi contest that I came across a year ago. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea because she never finished it. The whole story is the prologue and one chapter. My husband is constantly on her case to finish something. Anything.

My hubby has a theory that he shares with us quite frequently, much to her dismay (and mine – because he’s usually right). He say’s that there is hobby, and then there is profession. A hobby writer is someone who does it for fun, doesn’t plan to do anything with it, and just does it when it’s convenient and fits into the time slots.

A professional writer, or someone who wants to make a living at writing (i.e. ME) schedules a certain amount of time each day to devote to the craft. They are honing their writing, submitting work on a regular basis, and generally WORKING at it.

I think it’s a great idea in principal. I’ve just been having a hard time putting it into practice. I quit my part time job this year because it was costing more than it benefited. I had a lot of time to write at that job, but now that I’m home, I should find it very easy to write here every day. I have loads of time in the morning or afternoon, or when my kids are on the computer doing their homework (since we stay in the room when they are on the computer–especially the internet)–but I don’t.

I find myself distracted by email and job applications (I’m still looking for that perfect part time job) and writing blogs (at least I’ve accomplished THAT goal). It gets to the end of the day and I realize I haven’t done anything constructive toward writing. So, then if I have a reason to be staying up - such as a son getting off at midnight - I stay up and write. The other night I got in over 900 words and part of that was finishing a short story. But that’s been one day this week. The rest of the week all I’ve done is blogs and one short essay which might end up as a blog later on. I guess I’ve got blog fever.

I think I’m using it as a tool to procrastinate. I wonder, thinking of C.L. Beck's blog about being afraid of success, if that’s my problem because I KNOW I want to be a full time writer. Somehow I’ve got to get a grip and test the waters.

I’ll never know if it doesn’t get done.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Free to Bloom

By Nichole Giles

Climbing wildly up my back yard pergola are vines of different varieties, some more mature than others, but all growing tall and thick. I was particularly proud of one Trumpet Creeper, which had grown taller and thicker than all the other vines, and just this year began to bloom with beautiful, fragrant flowers. That vine is my favorite this year, since it has proven to have great potential beauty. It became so lush and healthy, that it began to grow outward along the patio, and into other plants. The taller vines grew heavy and burdensome with lush greenery, and a great many began to hang down at about face height, threatening to break off and fall to their deaths on the patio below.

I stood on the patio a few days before I was to host a picnic, determined to tame this beautiful creature, but unsure of the best method. (As I have mentioned before, my thumbs are not completely green.) First, I tried winding the vines among themselves, twisting them together and training them up over the top of the overhang, but the vines refused to cooperate. Next, I bought some greenery wire and attempted to anchor the bulk of the vines to the pergola’s wooden beam, but as I said, the vines were heavy and thick, and only a few of the strongest vines stayed secure. Finally, as a last resort, I snatched a pair of trimmers and did the unthinkable. Standing on a ladder holding a fistful of greenery I began snipping and chopping, and I was brutal. I cut back every unruly, rebellious, or misbehaving branch of that beautiful plant. Including some of the very few branches that had begun to bloom. (sniff, sniff!)

It was a hard choice, but it had to be made for the good of the yard. I mean, lets face it, no one wants to be smacked in the face by a flower every time they walk down the stone steps, no matter how good the flower smells.

When I was finished, I dragged away the ladder, and then the city-sized garbage can full of vine clippings. When I came back and looked up, I was amazed with what I saw. I had expected my vine to look sad and bare with its wild beauty mostly thrown away, but the end result turned out differently. The vine wound magnificently through itself, some of the thick wood was exposed, and a great deal of greenery remained. Those branches I had managed to anchor to the pole wound up and around the top, adding natural shade to the slats above. And even though I had cut some of the blooms, I was now able to see that under all the heavy foliage were several tiny sun-seeking buds, just waiting for me to free them. (They have continued flowering all month.)

Though it was beautiful to begin with, my now tamed vine had strength and practicality, and though I never would have believed it when I started out, the trimmed down version was far more impressive.

There is a lesson to be learned from the vine. A story may be beautiful and strong. We may try our best to wind or anchor the branches, but sometimes it’s best to prune even our most precious blooms. But before you shed a single tear over the loss of these things you’ve cut, stand back and look at how impressive your story has become.

That is the end result, and what the editors will see: the trimmed down version that winds majestically to the climax, and then gracefully finishes with aplomb. So go ahead. Grab your delete button and a handful of words and get going. It’s time to free your story and let it bloom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tread the Hard Road

By Connie S. Hall

Something I read recently has stayed in my mind: “If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t climb it.” I find myself reflecting upon this thought often. The very idea intrigues me, and the more I contemplate it the more I realize how true it is.

I recall several years ago (1986) going on a wilderness committee trip while working for the State of Utah. During the trip, we visited many mountains in the West Desert. One of those was Crystal Peak in the northern end of the Wah Wah Mountains. Unlike the surrounding mountaintops, it has white cone-like points rising high in the sky. Its white volcanic tuff is visible for miles. As you drive closer, you can see numerous holes of all sizes.

Hiking the peak was short, fun, and for me, a challenge. Some of the volcanic rock was brittle and broke off easily. Once on top I could see out into Nevada. This mountain wasn’t smooth, yet for me it was difficult to climb. Of course, a skilled hiker would do it quickly.

The concept of “if the road is smooth you couldn’t climb it” appeals to me. I don’t think God intended for life to be easy. If it’s too easy, you won’t appreciate the things you have.

Maybe as a writer we need to tread the hard road so we’ll appreciate the glory at the end.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

If They Hadn't Kept Journals

by G.Parker

Today being Pioneer Day, I thought I would pay tribute as well as talk about writing. How would two such diverse subjects come together, you might ask? Well, let's remember what we know of these brave people. Much of what we know about them comes from their journals.

That's right. Journals.

These tired, exhausted, starving and freezing individuals still found the energy to write in their journals almost every night, if not once a week. Usually the entries were short - they were limited on energy and time after all - but they were succinct. They sometimes glossed over the tragedy and heartache, but we could read it between the lines of brave words.

We are told to keep journals. Many times I'm sure we ask ourselves why – we aren't pioneers and we aren't going through some monumental struggle. But aren't we?

Our descendants are going to be just as interested in what our daily lives were like as we are of the pioneers. They are going to want to know how we dealt with the difficulties that came our way. What did we do, how did we feel when our parents died, or a sibling strayed or a child did not follow the right path? If we don't record these thoughts and feelings, perhaps they won't learn from our mistakes and grow from our experiences. It is important to share them. It is a holy task.

Both of my parents died in my youth so we know nothing about them outside of what our uncle (the only surviving of their generation) tells us. I have two older brothers that have clearer memories, yet even so, they don't remember enough. We have no idea of medical history, or thoughts or feelings or how they dealt with being the only members of the church in both families.

If only they had kept journals.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What if I Succeed?

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

Although most of what I write is humorous, there are rare occasions when something serious comes to mind. This is one of those times.

Last Wednesday, our writing group had a guest speaker named Carolyn Campbell. She’s a soft-spoken, charming lady who was willing to share her writing expertise with less-experienced writers.

Carolyn makes a living writing articles for magazines. Yes, I did say, “makes a living”. For those of us who are making less than, um … zilch ... that’s a mind-boggling concept.

She gave us tips, tricks and hints. She told us how much money she makes. Well, approximately. She praised us for our efforts and encouraged us to keep at it.

I came home excited, ready to send off stories that I’d already written that might make good magazine fodder. But by then it was late. It’d been a long day of traveling to and from Salt Lake City, plus a couple of hours at the meeting. I figured it would be best to start in the morning, when my mind was fresh.

The next day I woke up pumped, raring to go after the magazine market. But first, I needed to get my newspaper column written before the deadline. And make a few birthday cards that needed to go out. And a thank you card to Caroline.

Then I needed to go across the street and pick up my neighbor’s paper, since she’s out of town. And make sure the Steller’s jays that come to visit had some peanuts.

When I was certain everything was taken care of, I sat down to write my magazine query. Before my backside even hit the chair, I was up and into the pantry for a snack.

That’s when it occurred to me: I was stalling.


I don’t know. But when I find myself gobbling Tostitos chips, it’s usually a sign that I’m anxious. I had to ask myself … what’s worrying me?

I wondered, am I afraid I might succeed? I know that sounds nuts, but there’s a counseling theory that states people tend to stick with those behaviors that make them comfortable. The longing to remain comfortable might be something that holds many of us back.

One of my favorite sayings goes something like this: “Lord, let me win the lottery to prove to you it won’t spoil me.”

Am I afraid of winning the writing lottery? I haven’t figured out the answer to that yet.

But how about you? Are you afraid to succeed?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Last Tag

By Keith Fisher

Years ago I saw a cute cartoon of an old man lying on his death bed. He motioned for a young man to come closer. When the young man did, the old man gestured to come closer still. The young man leaned down with his ear to the old man’s mouth, the old man touched the young man on the cheek. He said, "Last tag." and died. The young man was mortified. Who was he going to tag now? The old man was dead and the young man would be IT forever.

I just discovered G. Parker tagged me for this game on her blogsite. Then I found that Kerry Blair tagged me too. Lest you think I’m not a good sport, I decided I’d better play. To Gaynell, Kerry, and any others who might have tagged me thanks for thinking of me. Since everyone has already played I won’t be able to tag anyone. I guess I’m the victim of the last tag.

What were you doing ten years ago? Selling a house, buying a new one, and getting ready for a new arrival in our family.

What were you doing one year ago? Learning to be a typesetter, and re-writing a novel.

Five snacks you enjoy: Soft, cold, and gooey—depends on the day, and time of day

Five songs you know all the lyrics to: Love at home, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, Peaceful easy Feeling in fact most of the 60’s and 70’s music. (I’ve been listening since it was new). Number five would be Happy Birthday to you.

Things you would do if you were a millionaire: Buy a castle in Scotland, write best sellers like a young lady we all know. Actually, I’d start businesses in areas on the decline. (Create jobs in places that can’t support the next generation.)

Five bad habits: Coveting Nichole’s convertible mustang, internalizing innocent comments, procrastination, messiness, and snoring.

Five things you like to do: Family things, being in the zone with my writing. Camping, hunting and fishing.

Things you will never wear again: Most of my wardrobe. not because I don't like it but because they don't fit.

Five favorite toys: My computer, Camp Trailer, Swamp cooler (this time of year), Fishing pole, and Nichole’s Convertible (Have you checked the garage, Nichole).

Where will you be in ten years: sitting on my front porch with a shotgun threatening my daughter’s boyfriends. I will have my laptop beside me (still doing re-writes).

Five people to tag: Anyone who wants to play.

That was fun, stay tuned next week for an amateur writing workshop where I re-hash lessons I’ve learned before.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Death of Harry Potter

By Darvell Hunt

The last Harry Potter book comes out tonight at midnight.

As a “Borders Rewards” member, I got an email yesterday from Borders Bookstore entitled “The Biggest Book Ever.” So, Harry Potter is “the biggest book ever.” Hmm. I hope it’s not too big, or all those kids in line tonight and tomorrow won’t be able to carry it home.

Anyway, the whole point I’m trying to make with today’s blog is to emphasize the power of a single writer, or the creator of Harry Potter. We all know who she is and if I put her name here, there will be just one more listing in the 5,060,000 already in Google for her name. (Yes, I tried it. Yes, that’s how many references to her name are listed in Google. Yikes. I wonder if she Googles herself?)

Will Harry Potter die in this book? Some think he might. Some think he might lose his wizard power when the source of his power dies. Some think that what appeared to happen to Dumbledore didn’t really happen how we think it did and that perhaps, just perhaps, Snape will save the day when it’s all over.

But that’s what it is now: it’s all over. Today is the beginning of the end. Regardless of whether Harry lives or not, he still suffers a permanent death. Miss J. K., er, uh, the creator of Harry Potter, says there will not be another Harry Potter book. Some people will know what happens to Harry by the time they read this blog, and millions of others will be soon to follow, and then that’ll be that. The whole Harry Potter craze will be over, except for the continuing debates about what the author did or did not do, or should have or should not have done, in the final book.


The ending of this series will likely open the door for the next great series. Perhaps I will be the one to write it. Perhaps it will be you.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Spirit of Writers Past

By Nichole Giles

Unbeknownst to my readers, I was out of town last week. I know, I probably should have sought permission from my fans, or at least forewarned them, but...well, you know how it goes with vacations. Anyway, now that you know I was gone, I’ll bet you are wondering where I went, aren’t you?

I spent all of last week with my husband and kids in New York City. (Don’t get too excited, I wasn’t there meeting with agents and publishers, although I’d have loved that.) While there, I had the opportunity to visit places where so many of the worlds greatest writers have walked, lived, and created the works that would later make them famous.

It is apparent in the ambiance of the city that it has been and will continue forever to be a haven for artists of every kind. From the buildings bearing the names Scholastic and McGraw Hill, or even the enormous New York Library, to the streets in Greenwich Village and SoHo where the spirits of writers past can be audibly heard, visually imagined, and inspiration sings through the air.

In Battery Park, we stopped for a half hour while a stout, Oriental man did a charcoal sketch of our four children—and it turned out amazing. The streets outside the row known as Museum Mile (where famous museums such as the Met are located) were littered with artists of all kinds selling their wares. Besides handbags, jewelry, and paintings, books were also being sold. Actors lined up outside of production offices, and ticket agents fought hordes of theater-goers outside of little ticket windows while musicians played their guitars on the streets, hoping to sell a few of their self-published cds.

By now you’re thinking, “Cool, but why are you telling us this?” Well, here’s the thing. As I walked those streets, I had the strangest sense of belonging, a sort of knowledge that these great artists and I share a common thread. We are all struggling to get our art into the world for others to see. We share the hope that someday something we write (or say, or sing, or paint) will change the world in some small way, just as the artists of the past have done.

And those artists who have passed on to the next life have left a legacy for the rest of us to follow. We don’t have to live as starving artists in a studio apartment in the Village, or in Brooklyn, or SoHo, or Timbuktu for that matter. The spirit of inspiration can speak to all of us in its own way; all we have to do is listen.

As I walked the quiet streets in Greenwich village, and sat on the peaceful back porch of a family run pizza joint eating a piece of hot, steaming, New York-style pie, I looked up at the patch of blue showing through the leaves of the trees between the buildings, and felt a heavenly encouragement that I too, have the ability to do what the writers of the past once did.

So do all of you.

PS The above photo is the Metropolitan Muesum of Modern Art.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Listen to the Music

By Connie S. Hall

A few weeks ago, I received an email with the following quote, “Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming, or are too rigid to depart from their routine.”

I’m not sure who wrote this, but with all my heart, I believe every word. I know people who fit into every category, and I used to be at the top of the list.

There are some women I know who set up the first Tuesday (or maybe a different day) of every month to do their visiting teaching. No matter what, they do not stray from that day, month after month, and year after year, it is always the same. They expect you to adhere to their schedule, and they will not change. I’m sure if someone wanted them to go somewhere else on that special day their answer would be no.

Years ago, I heard about a famous writer that would not give up her writing time for anything. She was too rigid to depart from her daily routine. In the past I remember a time when I was a little like this. Since then I’ve given in on occasion to do something else, and I’m not as strict about following it. No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a schedule, because you do need to have a certain time set aside for writing. However, you should be able to change it once in awhile.

I’m still working, but my boss is very lenient, and I can have the time off I want. The past few years I have taken the opportunity to be spontaneous and leave when my mother calls and says, “Your sister is in town, let’s go to breakfast (or lunch).” I know my mom won’t be here forever, so I take the time to do what she wants. When I can get away from work, I take an opportunity to go to lunch each month with distant cousins. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought of taking an afternoon off unless it was an emergency. I never took a moment to be impulsive. If it wasn’t on my schedule then I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Another quote I received was, “Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.”

In the past, I have been so busy that I’m sure people thought I was in a race. Now I can honestly say that I have slowed down. I’m always busy, but I take time to do the things that are important. I take my grandchildren to do something special every year on their birthday. To some of you that may not sound like much. During July, my 18th grandchild will be born. I have 12 of them living close enough that I see them more than once or twice a year. So far this year I’ve attended plays, movies, dinner, slept under a dinosaur, and during an extremely hot day this summer I went to the Dinosaur Park in Ogden. I ran from one spot of shade to the next, but I survived, and my grandson had the time of his life.

Do something you WANT to do even if it is not on your to do list. I hope that some of you writers might also take this advice and do something you want to do, not just the things you have to do. Stop and hear the music before it’s too late.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

David Farland is Far Out!

By Darvell Hunt

David Farland, a.k.a. Dave Wolverton, is Far Out! And you could certainly do worse than listening to what he has to say on writing.

In fact, you can do just that. Yes, this is a blatant plug for Dave's upcoming novel-writing workshop. I took a week-long class from Dave Wolverton at BYU last month and I highly recommend him to any LDS or non-LDS writer who wants to learn more about his or her own craft. (Dave is LDS, but writes primarily for the mainstream science fiction and fantasy markets.)

You can find out more about his upcoming workshop on this web page at:

Dave Farland's Novel-Writing Workshop

If you take this class from him, you will not only be learning from somone who actually makes a living from his writing, but is making himself moderately rich over it. His day job is his writing. How many of us writers have that goal? I know I do.

If you do attend this class, tell him you heard about it on LDS Writers Blogck. We could use a plug, too!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Technologically Impaired

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

Technology befuddles me. I think that's a gal thing—meaning women are genetically predisposed to never understand technological instructions. Why? Because they’re usually written by men.

Most gals instinctively grasp the important things in life—like how to shave their underarms with a dull, albeit pink-colored razor and not end up wearing Band-Aids on their armpits for the next month. We understand how much fuzz we can let build up in the dryer’s lint trap before it sets the house on fire. We even know how to lick chocolate frosting off a sharp steak knife.

Okay, I take that last one back. Licking anything off a sharp knife generally gives you a forked tongue. This is fine if you want to resemble a boa constrictor, but otherwise …

What some of us (meaning me) don’t understand is a page of written instructions that makes no sense, and then when you finally figure them out, they still don’t work. It’s not the logic in the instructions that’s the problem. It’s the lack of it.

A couple of days ago, I wanted to post a picture into my blogging profile. According to knowledgeable sources—that would be either Paul Harvey or Sesame Street; I can’t remember which—it’s a good idea for a writer to have a photo of themselves on their blogging site.

I found a picture of me and my dog, Corky Porky Pie. It took hours to get it ready for public viewing, though. After all, I had to skinny it, airbrush it and remove several years’ worth of facial wrinkles. Corky is very particular about how he looks out on the ‘net.

Since I didn’t have my own URL to link to, I followed the site’s instructions to upload it into their URL. That took about 10 seconds. When I clicked the button to save it, nothing happened. I spent the rest of the morning re-reading the instructions and trying them from different angles.

I’m at a loss how to get a picture into the profile page. Or even why to do it. And do I care? Probably not.

There’s one last thing to try. I hope you’ll pardon me if I include my picture in this blog. Maybe the computer will understand what it’s doing and it’ll pull my photo from here and paste it into my profile page. I sure hope so.

If not, I’m just going to give up. After all the frustration I’ve endured, it would be more fun to go lick frosting off a sharp knife.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gone Fish’n

By Keith Fisher

We’re hosting 70 or so this week in a family reunion so I didn’t have time to edit. Please excuse this rough draft.

Last week, I took my daughter fishing. She’s nine and she’s a girly girl. She likes catching fish but she says ewww a lot when she disembowels them.

Judging by how much she nags me to take her fishing, I think she’s wise beyond her years. She knows she needs to capture moments with her dad before he can’t make them anymore.

At one point during our day together, she got bored and decided she wanted to fish with a lure. She was continually casting out and reeling in, when she hooked a big one. I enjoyed helping her with the struggle of landing it, but I noticed it was harder than it should’ve been. When she pulled the fish close to shore I discovered the reason why.

She had hooked the fish by the dorsal fin and had to pull it sideways through the water. It wasn’t an easy task, but she did it. Stupid fish, I thought. It didn’t know enough to get out of the way of the goofy looking man made bobble.

She said, "That was awesome." I said, "Yes it was awesome. My heart was full.

I began to think of all our life’s awesome moments, tucked away in our brains. Many people wish they could retrieve those moments from their gray matter in order to share with future generations. But they never do it, thinking they can’t write.

As writers we have the talent, and we’re developing the skill to tell the stories and transplant the feelings that go with them. It is our blessing to share those moments with our posterity. Or we can transform them into fiction and share it with everyone.

There are millions of moments writers draw from to tell a story that will touch the hearts of their readers. We all have similar moments in our memories. I hope you can use the moments to write a story that sparks a memory. While you’re at it, Live life and make a memory.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Joy of Writing

by G.Parker

I love to paint. Second to writing and reading, that is the way I would spend my days. Unfortunately, it is also something that gets pushed to the background due to family and laziness. As I was thinking about what to write today, I remembered a show we used to tape off the TV called The Joy of Painting.

It was hilarious - the whole idea that anyone could knock off a decent canvass in a half hour's time was crazy. But, he was good! The painter, Bob Ross, is dead, but his work lives on in those VHS tapes. He was famous for his phrases about ‘happy little trees’ and ‘happy mountains’. It always made me smile. But, as I’ve contemplated his philosophy, one of his common phrases is a good adage for writing as well. “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents.”

If you’re working on a piece and a scene comes out that wasn’t what you intended, sometimes it’s better. We hope for inspiration and guidance, so you never know. What comes through those finger tips is sometimes what is really meant to be read.

In writing, many times we get caught up in what needs to go where. Is that scene working, am I getting the words in per day, is that character too bold? Sometimes we need to take a moment and just write something that doesn’t have anything to do with our current project. We need to remember the reason we are writing in the first place – because we love it and it brings us joy.

See how much joy you can find in your writing today. That’s my goal.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'll Never Wear Leg Warmers Again

By Nichole Giles

One of the hazards of sharing your blog with friends is the fun little games of tag that get started. One person starts them, and they become a never-ending game, each friend passing a new question or tag back and forth between the rest.

One of the virtues of having a large writing group is the many diverse people involved in it. Lately, it has become a trend in our group to start personal writer's blogs. This is a great thing, as we love reading about the rest of the group.

I will admit, though, that occasionally there is a blogger's debt that must be paid in the form of embarrassing, or little known information. This was a game of tag, and this is my contribution. (I didn't start this, G. Parker tagged me.)

What were you doing ten years ago? Moving into my very first house, pregnant with my third child, teaching primary, and not writing a single thing. (But I had re-discovered my love for reading.)

What were you doing one year ago? Probably lying around at the pool, trying to write despite the glare of the sun off my laptop screen.

Five snacks you enjoy: Black Licorice, chocolate-covered gummy bears, tortilla chips and salsa, fresh veggies, fruit. (Oh, and most things chocolate.)

Five songs you know all the lyrics to: I know all the lyrics to all the songs on every cd I've ever owned. Also, I know most of the lyrics to songs that are played more than once a day on the radio, and a great many songs from my childhood. What can I say; lyrics are one of those things that really stick with me.

Things you would do if you were a millionaire: Travel the world, spoil my kids, share with my siblings, open my own publishing company, buy a house on the beach somewhere—and put a library in it.

Five bad habits: Allowing the clean laundry to become a mountain before I get around to folding, checking my email before writing, Dr. Pepper every day, worrying about what other people think, not communicating more often with my extended family.

Five things you like to do: Spend time with my family, write, read, drive my convertible with the top down, and travel.

Things you will never wear again: Bright orange, parachute pants, big frizzy hair, Size Zero, leg warmers.

Five favorite toys: 1) Convertible Mustang, 2) Laptop, 3) cell phone, 4) Internet, 5) credit cards

Where will you be in ten years: A best selling author who owns a beach house…somewhere…and—has written at least 10 smash hit books, of course. What else would you expect?

Five people to tag: NO fair! All my blogger friends are tagged already. Um, I tag, Rebecca Talley, Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen, Shauna Humphreys, Ali Cross, and Rachelle Christiensen. Ha. Have fun, guys!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm It Again

By Connie S. Hall

Most of you heard that last Friday, G. Parker tagged a bunch of us at LDS Writers Blogck. Since I don’t have a personal blog page I guess I have to post my answers to the latest tag game here. The rules are that you’re supposed to remove the blog site at the top of the list below, move all the blog site names up one, and add yourself to the bottom.

The Lyon's Tale
Sundial in the Shade
A Writer's Ramblings Musings from an LDS writing momLDS Writers Blogck (Connie S. Hall)

What were you doing ten years ago? Working for the same employer (Treasure Valley Real Estate & Construction) almost 14 years and at church the same stake calling (Activities) I’ve had for more than 12 years. For someone who likes changes this is sad. Imagine me caught in a rut. The only difference is now I'm spending some time writing which I didn't do 10 years ago.

What were you doing one year ago? I was getting ready to go to Europe.

Five snacks you enjoy: That's easy 1) chocolate candy 2) chocolate ice cream 3) chocolate donuts 4) chocolate strawberries and 5) chocolate pretzels

Five songs you know all the lyrics to: I'm not telling because that would date me.

Things you would do if you were a millionaire: Pay off bills, and help the grown kids. Then I would travel to every spot on the United States continent and then other places in our beautiful world.

Five bad habits: 1) eating too much, 2) not exercising enough, 3) not eating the foods I should (I'd rather eat junk food), 4) not spending enough time with my husband, 5) not relaxing often enough.

Five things you like to do: 1) Write short stories, 2) Write novels, 3) Write blogs, 4) Write historical fiction, 5) Write mystery.

Things you will never wear again: I will never wear high heels again, and probably won't wear nylons either. I won't wear short dresses, or girdles, or anything not comfortable.

Five favorite toys: 1) Alpha Smart, 2) Laptop, 3) Computer, 4) Car, 5) Camera

Where will you be in ten years: I hope to be far away traveling to many places, and seeing all that is possible before I leave this earth.

Five people to tag: This isn't fair because by now all my blogging buddies have been chosen. So now, I’ll choose a couple of past bloggers, Heather Justesen, and Danyelle Ferguson. I’d love to know more about both of them. My next choice will be authors Marsha Ward, Tristi Pinkston, and Heather Moore. (If any of you don't have a blog, you can post your responses at Author's Incognito, or as a comment at LDS Writers Blogck)

Have fun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tag, You’re It

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

Not too long ago, G. Parker tagged several of us at LDS Writers Blogck. The rules are that you’re supposed to remove the blog site at the top of the list (below), move all the blog site names up one, and add yourself to the bottom.

So, here goes …

The Lyon's Tale
Sundial in the Shade
A Writer's RamblingsMusings from an LDS writing mom
LDS Writers Blogck (C.L. Beck)

What were you doing ten years ago? 1997 : Wow, who can remember that long ago? Hmm, let’s see. I would have been 29 (again), so whatever I was doing, it was with a lot more energy and enthusiasm.

What were you doing one year ago? July 2006: The same thing I’m doing now … trying to come up with an idea so stupendous that every publisher in the country will want it. Okay, maybe not every publisher. I’ll settle for Simon and Schuster. Or maybe Random House. All right, the truth be known, I’ll settle for anybody that doesn’t make me pay to publish my stupendous idea.

Five snacks you enjoy: Aside from the Chex Party Mix that I shouldn’t have just eaten? Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Oh, and chocolate.

Five songs you know all the lyrics to: Almost any song that I like. And a few that seem to stick in my mind, unbidden—for example, the theme to “Dog, the Bounty Hunter”.

Things you would do if you were a millionaire: Start a scholarship fund for married students with kids; send my best friend and her husband to Hawaii for a vacation; start a publishing house so my blogger friends could easily get published; send medicine, food and books to kids in third world countries ... hmmm, I think I need to be more than a millionaire to accomplish all that I dream of doing.

Five bad habits: Reading email when I should be writing a blog, writing a blog when I should be writing a column, writing a column when I should be finishing my latest kid’s story, writing a kid’s story when I should be finishing that novel from a year ago.

Five things you like to do: Write, take photos, go camping (in a nice, plush trailer with an indoor potty), read, hobnob with fellow writers.

Things you will never wear again: Hot pants or a mini-skirt. Somehow they look funny with garments hanging out below. Not to mention the fact that I don’t have the legs I used to have. Apparently someone stole my legs in the night and left these short, fat things I have now.

Five favorite toys: Canon camera, Corky Porky Pie (my dog). As hot as it is right now, an air conditioner is one of my favorite toys!

Where will you be in ten years? Ancient. Heck, I’ll be as old as the trees. Oh ... sorry, I thought you said, "WHAT will you be in ten years?".

Five people to tag: Karen Hoover, Wendy Elliott, Callie Olsen, Cathy Witbeck, and Triple Nickle.(If any of you don't have a blog, you can post your responses at Author's Incognito, or as a comment at LDS Writers Blogck).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire—Final Episode

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

Just to give a short recap ... there were a couple of Stellar’s jay fledglings that couldn’t fly, hopping around my yard several weeks ago. Two of them made it back to the nest relatively easily, but one had a terrible time. It made me realize there were great gospel applications in what was happening. When he finally managed to flutter back into the tree, I rejoiced and said a prayer of thanks.

Then I went inside thinking, all is well, all is well. But was it … really?

The next week there was no sign of the babies. Not one. I fretted and worried. What if CAT had gotten them? What if they were so scared from the experience that they’d died of fright? I’d heard of wild animals doing that.

What if I were somehow to blame for their demise? I fussed and stewed, checking the yard every day for evidence that CAT had found the chicks and all that was left of them was a pile of feathers.

Whenever I walked under the pine trees, the parents would make a racket. That was a good sign, wasn’t it? Didn’t that mean the little ones were still alive? I just wasn’t sure. Every day hope grew dimmer and guilt that I might have somehow caused their death grew stronger.

Then on Friday, I looked out the window and saw a jay hopping around in the yard, eating bugs. Only he was a pint-sized jay. Was it one of the fledglings?

I ran outside in my pajamas. Oh my land, there were two of them. Two squawky, hoppy, pint-sized jays, eating bugs and doing the things that almost-grown birds do. Their white eyebrows had come in and their down feathers had been replaced by sleek black ones. Their Prussian blue tails looked beautiful in the sun … even if they were still a few inches short of being full-grown.

I wanted to run over and hug them. But you know, birds don’t usually go for that kind of thing. So I just watched with pride as they chattered, bounced about and then flew from treetop to treetop. No more fluttering from one patch of lawn to another. Now they were soaring.

As I watched one glide from the elm tree to the pine, it dawned on me. That’s how it will be for us one day. Some day we’ll get the hang of it. We’ll grow from telestial fledglings to celestial beings. Heavenly Father will hug us and watch with pride as we no longer flutter about with telestial attitudes, but soar with celestial purpose.

What a wonderful concept, the plan of salvation. And who'd have guessed that I'd gain a better understanding of it from a couple of downy chicks?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Comparing Apples to Oranges

By Keith Fisher

I was going to write a patriotic piece for Independence Day, but with all that has been written, I decided to post something else.

Have you ever asked somebody—usually someone close to you—for an opinion about your book, and they say, “Well you’re not insert their favorite author here ”?

Dealing with rejection is a common thing in the writing business. We learn to develop a thick skin, but being negatively compared to another writer is hard. Especially when that writer doesn’t even write in the same genre.

When asked what kind of books I write, I often say I write LDS fiction. I’m writing four mysteries, one historical, one fanfic*, and the rest are adult contemporary fiction. “A little like Dean Hughes,” I say, when pressed further.

I like having my work compared favorably to his Children of the Promise and Hearts of the Children series. I also loved Midway to Heaven. Being compared UN-favorably to him may not be fun, but I could use the criticism to improve my writing. Or I could reject the opinion out of hand.

I am developing a response for those I reject. I’m going to wipe my brow and say, “Phew . . . I was afraid I might be copying. I’m glad to hear I’ve developed my own style.”

In having others read my work I discovered a distinct difference in taste. Even though I write for everyone, some people aren’t going to like the way the story is told. So I’m adjusting to the largest group.

I’m not giving up on the others. I figure I can do what Dan Brown did. When everyone begins to talk about my book, the others will wonder what they’re missing.

Hang in there, consider the source, take comfort in the good reviews, and write for the largest group of readers.
Keep writing.

*Fan fiction (also commonly spelled as fanfiction and frequently abbreviated to fanfic or occasionally just FF or fic) is a broadly-defined term for fiction about characters or settings written by fans of the original work http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction

Friday, July 06, 2007

My Rights

by G.Parker

I was driving my son to work this morning, thinking about today’s blog, and it hit me. Do you realize that what we are doing is practicing our right to freedom of speech? Just like millions of others around our nation, we can say what we like because of those who founded our country and wanted to make it free of oppression of any kind.

I think it’s amazing when we look at what they accomplished, and what we enjoy as a result of that effort. One of my favorite movies is National Treasure. There’s a line where he states all the things that would have happened to the men that signed the Declaration of Independence if they hadn’t won the war. His favorite was ‘having their entrails cut out and burned.’ Ugh.

But because of their efforts, and their willingness to suffer whatever may come, we are able to sit in our homes and send out messages to the world of whatever we want to say.

I say "God bless America".

I am so very thankful to live in this country, I could go on for hours about how grateful I am. I’ve had a small taste of what it means to live outside our nation, and believe me, it was enough. I have NO desire to move anywhere else...unless it’s Canada, LOL. (My hubby is Canadian at heart.)

So while we talk about writing skills, rejection and all those things that go along with writing, I want to take this opportunity to exercise my rights and privileges as a citizen of this great nation. I’d like to see anyone else do what we have to influence the world and still take the pot shots that the world likes to throw at us. I’d like to see any other country survive 9/11 and come out with stronger pride and resolve than we did then. I just wish our leaders (not just the President) were as great as the nation they lead–but that’s for another time.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and wave the flag high. I will.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm Building a Time Machine

By Nichole Giles

In the business of writing, occasional rejection is inevitable. Editors will send your brilliant work back to you, sometimes with comments, sometimes with nothing more than a post-it saying, “No thank you.”

I have received a lot of rejections in my time as a writer. And I admit, some have hurt worse than others. The one I got today hurt. Do you want to know why?

Because rather than telling me my writing wasn’t good, or not age appropriate, or even that it didn’t fit the magazine’s current needs, they told me my bibliography was weak.

Now, under some circumstances, I can understand that. I’ve actually had a comment similar to that on a different article (but curiously from the same magazine). But this one bothered me a great deal because my sources are not only many, but they are solid.

The article was about George Washington. Not only did I read at least 6 adult and children’s books about the subject, but I also confirmed all my facts through the George Washington papers in the Library of Congress. I also confirmed with another source—the original Maryland Gazette—which printed GW’s report on the particular mission I wrote about.

So, because my current research methods are apparently not good enough, and the Library of Congress is not considered “up to date”, I have decided to build a time machine. I will invest years and years of my time, and more money than I will ever have in this life, or the future lives of all my children and grandchildren, in order to build this machine. Once it is up and running, I will go back in time to the year 1754, where I will find a 21-year-old militia commander just returned from his very first spy mission. I will ask him, “Mr. Washington, would you mind taking a few minutes of your precious time to tell me exactly how you found your way into the espionage business?”

Then, I will pray that he will actually take a few minutes to answer my questions, because if he doesn’t, my article will never be published. Well, at least not by that magazine.

Someone else suggested I find an angel channeling specialist and hold a séance to call up the spirit of good old George so that he may clarify the facts for me. But, I’m thinking the magazine might frown on that source as well.

It’s a good thing I have a really thick book of other magazines to which I can submit my work. Otherwise, I’d have to dedicate my life to finding bibliography sources for an 800 word article that might eventually make me somewhere around $200.

On the bright side, I haven’t actually received any magazine contracts this year, so I should have one in the mail anytime…right?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


By Connie S. Hall

I always look forward to celebrating the birth of our nation. Our entire country commemorates with parades, picnics, and fireworks. I wonder how many people know why we have this holiday. They all take advantage of the celebration, but many of them don’t stand in respect as we sing our national anthem. Several of them ignore the flags as they pass by during the parade. To me, freedom is everything.

I’m glad for the liberty I have to read what I want. I love stories about our founding fathers, pilgrims, and pioneers. Their life adventures make me feel like a wimp, but I certainly admire the struggles they endured.

One of my favorite presidents was John Adams, and his adorable wife Abby. Benjamin Franklin said, “He means well for his country, and is always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes, in some things, absolutely out of his senses.” Many people said he was a blunt-speaking man of independent mind.

In June 1776, Congress appointed Adams, together with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, to prepare the Declaration of Independence. For eight years, he served as vice president to George Washington, and then in 1796 the people elected him president of our nation.

He lived for a quarter century after he left the presidency, during which time he wrote at length. I don’t think we could find a better example of a good writer. Among some of his writings are The Works of John Adams, The Adams-Jefferson Letters, Diary and Autobiography, The Papers of John Adams, and The Political Writings of John Adams.

During the last few years of his life, he slept among his treasured 3,200 books, and liked to write his thoughts with his pen in the margins. Can you imagine having that many books? I think I’d feel as though I were in heaven. Until his eyes became bad, he would rise at 5 am every morning to have plenty of time for reading. He would also read late into the night. I haven’t acquired the habit of getting up early to read, but I certainly read and write late into the night.

As the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the declaration drew close, two of the founders were determined to live long enough to see that day. It finally arrived, and they had both made it. John Adams and his friend, and political rival Thomas Jefferson both went to their heavenly home together on that anniversary, July 4, 1826. On this day, this year I will think of both of these great men and give thanks for their lives, and the freedom I have.

John Adams said, “Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” I hope each of you have a good holiday and that you follow the example of John Adams and dare to read, think, speak, and write.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sweet Words

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

Although this isn’t normally my day to publish a blog, I’m filling in for someone who is unable to post. I won't be continuing yesterday's saga of the Steller's jay ... yet. But please don’t hate me for that—a writer is supposed to keep the reader in suspense, and if I tell you the ending to the story now, you’ll have nothing to wonder about for the rest of the week.

Instead, I'd like to talk about the impact of words.

The written word has such power that it can make us laugh or cry. It can improve our mood or put us in a blue funk. The best writers have such command over language that in a small space, with just a few words on the page, they tug at our heartstrings.

Below is one of my favorite poems. Thomas Moore wrote it for his wife after she contracted small pox and the disease marred her face.

Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms
By Thomas Moore (1779-1852) from: Irish Melodies

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly today,
Were to change by tomorrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy gifts fading away.
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And the cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear,
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look which she turned when he rose.

Do his words stir you? Do they make you want to weep over a love so deep it can only grow stronger with each tomorrow?

If you'd like, write a comment and tell me what you think of Thomas Moore's verse. Or post your own favorite poem ... the one that reaches out to you because it's filled with sweet words that touch your heart.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire, Part II

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

Just to remind you where we left off last week … there was a baby Steller’s jay in the yard that was trying to get back into the nest, and he couldn’t make it. His wings weren’t strong enough to fly yet, so all he could do was flutter and hop. Time and again he leapt for the limb that would take him to safety, but with each try he missed. Dusk was approaching and if he didn’t manage it before dark, he was sure to end up as some prowling animal’s supper.

I stood in the fading light watching him, encouraging him, holding my breath, helpless to do anything more than cheer him on every time he tried to get back home—my heart ached for the poor, worn out, downy-soft baby.

That’s when the thought hit me. This is how Heavenly Father feels, watching us!

We leap, flutter, squawk, and fuss. We run the other way when He sends help. We jump for the limb that’s the iron rod, and then lose our grip and fall with a thud to the ground. But He still sticks with us; He cheers us on—and stands there with His heart breaking when some of us become Satan’s midnight snack.

My unexpected insight was followed by inspiration. I knew what I had to do. It was the only thing that made sense and the only real help I could give. I said a prayer for the little guy. In fact, I pleaded for his very existence.

The chick leapt again for the lifeline to his nest. Failure. He jumped up on the next rail of the fence and rested. His breast heaved and exhaustion showed in the slump of his shoulders. Then, with a flutter, he dove for the limb and … made it! In the blink of an eye, he disappeared into the swaying branches of the pine tree.

I was elated, ecstatic … and relieved. From all the worrying I’d done, you’d have thought I was the chick’s mother. If birds can say a prayer of thanks, I’m sure the fledgling’s parents did. But just in case they couldn’t, I said a prayer of thanks for them.

With the struggle over, I went into the house, feeling triumphant. I was sure the babies would be safe now.

But wait … think about it. Can’t cats climb trees and find birds in the nest? Doesn’t the wind blow chicks out of the treetops and into the claws of waiting felines?

Would the fledglings really be safe? Tune in next week for the final episode!