Sunday, January 22, 2017

Even as I Am

While struggling with my own shortcomings, and feeling as if I fall short of the mark every day, I was touched by a video I recently watched in church.

The video begins with this scripture.

“Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” 3 Nephi 27:27

The video goes on to list the attributes of Christ.

Humble                      Obedient                       Healer                 Kind                 Teacher            Courageous            Servant               Submissive                Selfless                       Full of love

As I watched the Savior in all these roles, which the video portrayed, one thought crossed my mind. He’s genuine. In every role, in displaying whichever attribute, the Savior was Himself. He always expressed His true feelings, which were based on true motivations and love—Christlike love, which is charity.

And I realized that in my life, I only ever want to be genuine, even when I fall short and despite my shortcomings. I want to exhibit these Christlike behaviors with all my soul. I don’t want to grumble through life. I don’t want to complain when asked to do something. I don’t want to wallow in my sins. I want to be happy when I serve.

I want [to] “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny [myself] of all ungodliness; and if [I] shall deny [myself] of all ungodliness, and love God with all [my] might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for [me], that by his grace [I] may be perfect in Christ . . .” Moroni 10:32

I might have shortcomings, but perhaps the good in me can outshine the bad as I “come unto Christ” and be “even as [He is].”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

To My Indie Author Friends

This blog post is to all my indie author friends.

Writing a novel is hard work. Authors might spend well over a year writing, revising, and editing until the words are perfect. Often times, we authors want to jump the gun and press submit before the novel should have been published. Many authors can’t afford an editor and rely on friends and beta-readers to find errors. I’m not going to say this is wrong, but I am going to let you in on the most common errors I find in indie novels. I’m a rampant reader. I grab free novels from various newsletters. Most of the time I am let down by the quality of the final product. Often the stories are brilliant, but I’m left wondering, “Did the author decide to stop in the middle of edits?” Perhaps indies need help.

Number one thing to do. After you believe you have finished all your edits, and most especially if you can’t afford an editor, listen to your novel aloud. Word has a feature where it will speak selected text. Using this function will help you find sentences with missing or wrong words. You won’t believe how many indie novels I have read that are just simply missing words. This is so easy to fix.

Number two. Commas matter. Two independent clauses should be joined by , and, a semicolon, or made into two individual sentences. (Please, if you don’t know what an independent clause is, you must pick up a writer’s reference and educate yourself.) I often trip over sentences when I can’t tell the logical separation between two thoughts. Follow my examples.

I went to the store, and I biked home.
I went to the store; I biked home.
I went to the store. I biked home.

Another comma error I see. Commas are missing before participle phrases (the –ing phrase). Some of these commas are so crucial for clarification!

I went to the store, skipping all the way.

I saw my aunt skipping up the street. (The comma is not needed here because the aunt is the object skipping up the street. But what if you put the comma in?)

I saw my aunt, skipping up the street. (This would mean that the subject of the sentence, I, is skipping up the street. To further clear this up, the phrase can be moved to the front of the sentence.)

Skipping up the street, I saw my aunt.

But I would prefer this for clarification.
While skipping up the street, I saw my aunt.

Number three. Another issue I see with participle phrases is the time warp. I will refer you to this reference.

Number four. Those quote marks and apostrophes must face the correct direction! What do I mean? Some marks are straight and some are what are called smart or curly. Often when authors are copying and pasting parts of their documents from different programs, the marks end up being a mix of straight and curly. Use search and find function to replace all your quote marks and apostrophes from straight to curly. But after that, you’ll have to go through your document and make sure they are facing the right direction.

Go get ‘em. (wrong)
Go get ’em. (right)
Clare said, “I’m going to repeat her words so you understand. ‘Go get ’em.’” (right)

Number five. Once everything is a go with your manuscript and you have formatted your mobi or ePub, you must scroll through every page on your eReader and look for errors. Look for spaces before punctuation. Look for different paragraph indents. Even look for paragraphs that break in the middle. All these mistakes are easy to see if you scroll page by page. Make sure your final product is pretty and looks professional!

All right. With all this said, it makes sense, as a writer, to pick up a grammar book. I started with a simple writer’s reference, and now I’m digging my way through Chicago’s Manual of Style, a must for every author.

If you fix these simple things listed above, even if you aren’t great with grammar, readers will enjoy your novel without tripping over the bumps.

Do you have any other suggestions for indie authors?

Happy editing!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Working Resolutions Your Way

I’m pretty sure the root of all my problems is lack of sleep.

Actually, I am absolutely sure.

I suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). If you have it, you know exactly what I mean. My legs run in my sleep, wearing holes in my sheets; I go through two sets of sheets a year. My legs spasm during the day if I don’t get enough movement or if I overwork my legs. I have to have the perfect amount of exercise. My legs will “tweak out” on long car rides. How do I describe that? Because car space is so tight, even in the front passenger seat, if my legs can’t move how they want, they freak out. The sensation is much like ants using my blood vessels as a highway. Sometimes the sensation is like mild electric jolts.

And don’t get me started on plane flights. I take nerve medication to dull the pain.
Even though I take medication at night, getting a restful night’s sleep is still a miracle.

What does this have to do with my resolutions? 

Number one resolution is to get enough sleep. Why? Because if I don’t, I am a serious disaster, and my brain is foggy. I was worried I was suffering from short-term memory loss. I leave notes right in the middle of the counter so I can remember things for the next day. Sometimes the next hour.
Yeah, it’s that bad.

But once I made the connection of my irritability and my poor memory to my lack of sleep, I felt hope.

I can work with this.

Number one is to take my medication regularly. I don’t like taking prescription pills, but I have to suck it up and just do it for my sanity.

Number two to counter my foggy memory, make a lovely graphic of the things I want to accomplish every day, but also realize that I don’t have to do all of the things on the list every day. With the list, then in those moments when I stand there thinking I should be doing something but I can’t remember, I can consult the list.

Many of the things on my list are non-fiction books I want to read, mostly pertaining to my spirituality. I was getting discouraged with my scriptural reading and with keeping up with Sunday school lessons. I feel more power with a list. Plus, instead of feeling as if I need to do a marathon sprint with any particular book of scripture or other religious material, I can read a little of each every day.

I’m doing this with my writing education as well. I really want to read Chicago’s Manual of Style and my Emotional Thesaurus and Character Traits books, but just a few pages each day. That way I feel like I am moving forward.

Another thing about my resolutions. A few years ago I ran a half-marathon. The marathon destroyed my body and triggered an all over inflammatory response where my body attacks itself. My body still is and, I’m pretty sure, will always be messed up. An excess of anything, including inflammatory foods and too much exercise makes me swell, and my body shuts down. What? Yeah. How do I overcome that?

It sucks. I feel like I have an autoimmune disease. And who knows, maybe I do. I don’t plan on going to the doctor to find out. But I have noticed that tasks I could accomplish are growing more difficult. My husband has to dig the holes in our hard clay soil for me now when I garden. I can’t walk as an exercise for more than twenty minutes. Thirty minutes pushes it big time, and by the end of the day, I am nonfunctional. I can’t go clothing shopping or grocery shopping for more than two hours. And I have to come home and rest for half the day when that’s over.

But at least I know my limits.

What does this have to do with resolutions?

I discovered what works for me. I sit a lot, but I have to get up and move because of my nerve pain in my lower back and neck and my lymphedema in my ankles. But movement relieves all of these. Whenever I know I am going to be sitting for a while, I set a timer for forty-two minutes. Why forty-two minutes? That’s the length of a TV show or that’s how long it takes me to pluck out a scene. That’s also how I break up my reading tasks. Read Chicago for forty-two minutes or read my church materials for forty-two minutes. It’s a perfect amount of time. I read just a few pages, an article, or a whole chapter if it’s short, but I break things up if sections are too long. That way I don’t feel overloaded by spending too much time in one particular area.

And then I jump up and either tackle a chore like vacuuming or

I crank some music in my kitchen and dance like a crazy fool (while incorporating some hand weights). The dancing is my preferred form of movement. The Lindsey Sterling tracks I listen to are anywhere from three to five minutes and get my heart pumping. Plus the music inspires my writing, and I sit down ready to dive back in.

So, in the end, what matters is that you set up your resolutions so they work for you.

I have a mantra I like to follow. It’s posted on my blog side bar. “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”

Sunday, January 1, 2017

I am a Child of God

A beautiful hymn in my church begins, “I am a child of God, and he has sent me here.” Meaning, I am a spiritual daughter of my Father in Heaven, and he sent me to earth.

A group of children in my church meeting sang the first two verses of this hymn for the congregation and invited the congregation to join in on the third verse. As I sang the words, “I am a child of God,” my eyes teared up as the Spirit washed over me. I knew the words coming from my mouth were true.

I know that I have a heavenly parentage, and I know, just as the words of the song say, "I'll live with Him once more."

Read or listen the words of the song here